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Tuesday 27 December 2011

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The Old

It is time for the monthly round-up of goodies folks have kindly sent to me via ReviewShine, and this month we will mostly be featuring reissues.

There is a new label, Real Gone Music, which - according to the PR blurb - "aims to establish itself as the most eclectic and prolific catalog and reissue label in the country". Whether they can achieve that remains to be seen, but if they can keep up the standard of their first two releases they will be welcome round my place any time.

Coming out on 24 January is "Seductive Reasoning", the 1975 debut album by Maggie & Terre Roche. First released four years before their self-titled debut as The Roches, after having been joined by sister Suzzy, it lacks the quirky production of that album (and one-third of the harmonies) but is very good in its own right. The songs of identifiably Rochean - to invent a word - and the singing is, of course, sublime. Any fans of their later work should consider this to be a must have.

On the same day, Real Gone will also be issuing a compilation called "Complete Epic Hits" by Jody Miller which, as the title subtly suggests, features her 1970s recording on Epic Records. That inevitably means lots of Billy Sherrill productions, so if you don't like his brand of country pop this isn't for you. Fortunately I do. Judging by the selection on this album, Mr Sherrill was trying the same approach as he pursued with Barbara Mandrell during the same period, with plenty of pop and soul cover versions in amongst the originals. Some of it is a bit twee, but when Jody gets the chance to show her chops she demonstrates a real talent.

"Down The Dream" - Maggie & Terre Roche

"Kiss Away" - Jody Miller

I don't know whether there is some special significance about 24 January - is it perhaps National Reissue Day? - but our third selection is coming out then as well. This is a remastered version of Dolly Varden's 1995 debut album, "Mouthful Of Lies". As cognoscenti like you lot will already know, Dolly Varden are a "they" not a "she" - husband and wife Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen plus pals - and must be one of the few bands named after a species of trout. 

While I have heard and liked a few of their tracks before I have never heard this album, and I have been missing out. I am not sure quite how to describe their sound - something like "fuzzy Americana", perhaps - and one track won't give you a taste of the whole album as the songs have quite a different feel depending on whether Diane or Steve take the lead, or whether they duet. A very loose comparison for the three styles would be Mazzy Star (Diane), Glossary (Steve), Buddy & Julie Miller (the duets).  

"Gone So Far" - Dolly Varden

We finish today, and this year, with the sole new album on the list - "Homefront" by The Great Unknowns. Inspired by the break-up of singer and main songwriter Becky Warren's marriage to an Iraq War veteran who returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder (dealt with most explicitly in "Long Way Home"), this is roots-rock of the highest order. There is nothing particularly original in what they do, but they do it very well indeed. There are some excellent songs, and Becky's voice has similar qualities to Lucinda Williams, which can't be a bad thing. The album comes out on 10 January and, like all the others featured this month, is well worth checking out.

"Birmingham" - The Great Unknowns

I am off to Italy tomorrow for a week's break, so I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone all the best for 2012. I'll leave you with some Italian music: this thoughtful insight into the complex subject of male/female relations from the woman they used to call "the female Umberto Eco".

Saturday 24 December 2011

Bah Humbug

Taking my lead from my postman, I had not intended to deliver a Christmas post. But then yesterday afternoon the acclaimed musician/writer/journalist/twitterati Rhodri Marsden unleashed this litle gem on the world, and I thought you should hear it.

"Heaven Knows I'm Christmassy Now" - The Free French

I particularly like the egg nog line - very clever and very funny. A big hand for Rhodri. Make that a giant hand. Actually, make two giant hands. Hands big enough for the Pointer Sisters to stand on.

Anyway, having broken the seal, so to speak, I thought we may as well pour out a few more seasonal smashes.

"Party For Santa Claus" - Lord Nelson

"Space Christmas" - Shonen Knife

"Kung Fu Christmas" - National Lampoon

"Merry Christmas From The Family" - Robert Earl Keen

And we will end with more traditional fare from Sir Shakin' Stevens (or Stevens the Shake as they call him in his native Wales). Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Thursday 22 December 2011

That Was The Year That Was

It is time to do the top album/gig of the year stuff. Let's all get it over and done with.

My top album without a doubt is Sarabeth Tucek's "Get Well Soon". Inspired (if that is the right word) by the death of her father, it is magnificent from start to finish.

Convention demands that I select a top ten. That is a lot more difficult, as whatever I say today I will have changed my mind about by tomorrow. But here are four more albums that are sure to be somewhere in the top ten:

"Borrow A Horse" - Old Calf
"I Love You, Go Easy" - Devon Sproule
"Long Player, Late Bloomer" - Ron Sexsmith
"Album Vakansi" - White Shoes & The Couples Company

And the rest of the top ten will probably be made up of five of these:

"The Constant Pageant" - Trembling Bells
"Poor Moon" - Hiss Golden Messenger
"Get Out Of Sin City" - Boca Chica
"Nothing Is Wrong" - Dawes
"Helplessness Blues" - Fleet Foxes
"Blessed" - Lucinda Williams
"I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive" - Steve Earle
"The Head And The Heart" - The Head And The Heart
"Last Of The Country Gentlemen" - Josh T. Pearson
"Wona Baba Maraire" - Baba Maraire

Choosing the top gig is just impossible. It has been a bit of a bumper year. In the Festival Hall alone I saw Roy Harper (his 70th birthday bash), Pentangle (Bert Jansch's last gig), Rickie Lee Jones recreating her first two albums and The Sonics, all of whom were excellent. Around the corner in the Purcell Rooms Dobet Gnahore put on a blinding show.

At the smaller end of the scale, at least in terms of venue size, the Scritti Politti birthday bash and the This Is The Kit/ Sarabeth Tucek double bill, both in Dalston, were fantastic nights. And you can never see Mike Heron too often.

Here is a selection of tracks from some of the artists mentioned in those lists.

"The Fireman" - Sarabeth Tucek

"There Are Men In The Village Of Erith" - Old Calf

 "Selangkah Keseberang" - White Shoes & The Couples Company (Featuring Fariz RM)

"Now's The Time" - Devon Sproule

"Luchea" - Baba Maraire

"Cote D'Ivoire" - Dobet Gnahore

"Sometimes The Sea" - This Is The Kit

"Don't Believe In Christmas" - The Sonics

And here are a few more, kicking off with the late, great Bert Jansch and Pentangle.

Monday 19 December 2011

Tea Time

Some songs about tea, just for you.

"Have Some More Tea" - Smoke

"Me And Milk Tea And Others" - Hiro Yanagida

"Please Have Ghee Tea" - Yixizhuoma

"Tea Is Famous" - Tee Set

"Where Would We Be (Without Tea)" - Gilbert O'Sullivan

All of that was just an elaborate ruse to enable me to play a track from Gilbert O'Sullivan's latest album, "Gilbertville", without drawing too much attention to my deep (but deeply unfashionable) love for his work. Especially this song, which I can, and often do, listen to over and over again.

And here is something I hadn't expected to find when trawling YouTube - Dusty sings Gilbert. There is also a Morrissey version of the same song, but the sound quality is terrible.

Sunday 18 December 2011


We continue our little global tour and move on from Brazil and Sweden to Poland. I visited Warsaw back in November, and while there picked up a two CD compilation of Polish folk and folk-influenced music called "Folkowa". There is a Folkowa festival in Ostroda in Poland every year, but whether the CD is connected to the fesival I don't know.

The first CD is billed as electric and the second as acoustic, although it didn't seem noticeably less electric to me. Here are three songs from the first CD.

"Polka Z Trzcianki" - Otako

"Maw Ja Raz Dziywczynońku" - Rusyczi

"W Kadzidlańskim Boru" - The Corps

If that has got you in the mood for more polkas, there is really only one man for the job.

Friday 16 December 2011

Swedes Ahoy!

It has got to that time of the year when you start looking back over the music of the last twelve months and drawing up lists designed to demonstrate that you have left the zeitgeist behind you and moved into realms of hipness previously unexplored. Mine may or may not appear between Christmas and New Year depending on when I get away from the Premier Inn in Watford.

But while doing so I rediscovered loads of stuff issued this year that I had intended to share with you but never got round to and, in most cases, probably never will. Here are three exceptions which have one thing in common - they are all Swedish artists.

Sakert! is Annika Norlin, formerly of Hello Saferide. This track comes from her album "På Engelska", released in October, which contains English language versions of songs previously head on her album "Facit".

Det Vackra Livet  is a side project from Henrik and Philip Ekström of The Mary Onettes, and one in which they appear to have been transported back to the 1980s.

Of Twiggy Frostbite I can tell you nothing, having long since lost the PR blurb I was sent, but this is what they look like.

"The Flu" - Sakert!

"Juni Berättar" - Det Vackra Livet

"By The Ocean" - Twiggy Frostbite

Because I am feeling in a holiday mood, here are another seven Swedish songs of various vintages. They include Träd Gräs Och Stenar's cover of the Teddybears classic "Punkrocker" and what appears to be a sincere tribute to Ace of Base from Jaqee. All that Swedishness is makin' me itch.

"And I Found This Boy" - Maia Hirasawa

"Beatmaker" - Doris

"Chris Craft No. 9" - The Shanes

"Crystal Shade Of Loneliness" - Turid

"Kokoo Girl" - Jaqee

"Mean Street" - Mando Diao

"Punkrocker" - Träd Gräs Och Stenar

Wednesday 14 December 2011


On Saturday I went down to Spitalfields Market for the Independent Record Labels Christmas Fair. There were some top labels there - the likes of Loose, Memphis Industries and the excellent Soundways to name but a few. With a grim inevitability I spent a lot more than I had planned buying a load of goodies, and a few pretty averagies as well.

Among the goodiest of the goodies was "Oi! A Nova Musica Brazileira!", which, for those of you whose Portuguese is less fluent than mine, means "Oi! New Brazilian Music". Released last year on the Mais Um Discos label, it is a two CD, 40 track compilation featuring all sorts of musical styles that is intended to be a beginner's guide to, well, new Brazilian music.

With that sort of breadth not everything is going to grab you, but there were plenty that did, including these two.

"Amarelasse" - Mini Box Lunar

"Carimbó Pra Maria (Luico K Remix)" - Mestre Curica

Here are four bonus Brazilan tracks of a rather less recent vintage:

"Não Quero Dinheiro" - Tim Maia

"Tao Longe De Mim" - Os Brazões

"Xica Da Silva" - Jorge Ben

"Tum Tum Tum" - Jackson Do Pandeiro

And we finish with something else quintessentially Brazilian for my friend Conical, who only really likes these bits. And Chuck Mangione.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Green's Christmas Party

The Victoria public house in Dalston undoubtedly has many charms (although a lack of proper beer is not one of them), and it has a nice big room at the back that can take about 150 people. Even so it is not the sort of place you would expect to see hotshot music types playing on a Thursday night in December.

However the Victoria also happens to be Green Gartside's local, which is presumably why he chose it as the venue for his first gigs as Scritti Politti in about four years. They played there on Thursday and Friday nights just gone, and Mister F and I were lucky enough to be there on Thursday to join in the fun.

And great fun it was too. Scritti played an excellent set which covered the very early days ("Skank Bloc Bologna"), the Eighties hits, the comeback album from a few years ago and a couple of new songs which Green described as "work in progress". The new ones sounded pretty good although some of the harmonies on the song provisionally called "Slow Deceit" were a bit too 10CC for my taste.

Not only that, to get us in the festive spirit there was a raffle, pass the parcel, mince pies and a cocktail of Mr and Mrs Gartside's own devising which included Guinness and Drambuie among other things and tasted like a liquid Christmas pudding.

First up on the night was our old friend Robyn Hitchcock. He is a bit of a poseur but he writes a nifty song and got things off to a fine start. He also reappeared at the end of the evening to duet with Green on a very nice version of Nick Drake's "Free Ride". Here is that performance captured on my trusty camera. Apologies for swearing in the middle when Mister F stuck his mobile phone in the way.

I knew Scritti and Robyn would both be good, but the surprise package for me was Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. I know nothing of their work but Mister F assures me that, like almost all modern music, there are no proper tunes, you can't make out the words and it is all just bang bang bang. So I hadn't been expecting the mellow, soulful set that Alexis gave us in the company of Rob Smoughton on guitar and vocals (Alexis himself providing keyboards and vocals). They bookended the set with covers of "Be Careful" by R. Kelly and "Let Me Roll It" by Wings, and listening to them you could almost imagine they had just stepped off the plane from Muscle Shoals.

You have been very patient so as a reward here is a track apiece from Scritti and Robyn. These weren't played on Thursday but if they had been it would have made an excellent night even more excellent. I don't have any of Alexis Taylor's music so instead here is the Wings original of the song with which he finished his set. And as a further nod to him, here is the old Willie Nelson classic he played when DJing later (in between the Incredible String Band and "Move Closer" by Phyllis Nelson - it was that kind of night).

"Asylums in Jerusalem" - Scritti Politti

"Mr Wife And My Dead Wife" - Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians

"Let Me Roll It" - Wings

"Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer)" - Willie Nelson

And here are a few photos from the night.

That's it now. I promise. 

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The Other Pistols

I said the other day that I would post some Two Dollar Pistols and, as I am a man of my word, that is exactly what I am doing. I really love John Howie Jr's baritone. His uptempo songs are pretty good, but his heartbreakers are even better.

"It's All Fun And Games (Til Someone Breaks A Heart)" - Two Dollar Pistols (from "Hands Up!", 2004)

"You've Grown Tired Of Me" - Two Dollar Pistols (from "You Ruined Everything", 2002)

I find it hard to listen to "You've Grown Tired Of Me" without (a) sinking into a deep gloom, and (b) sinking even further by listening to this companion piece by Mr. Chirpy himself, Richard Thompson.

"Why Must I Plead" - Richard Thompson (from "Rumor And Sigh", 1991)

I don't think I will put those three on my mixtape for Rita the Armenian barmaid in Tbilisi - it might seem a little needy. I think maybe I will go for something a bit more uplifting, yet also deep and thoughtful. Something like this, perhaps.

Monday 5 December 2011

I Blame Özkan

Way back in the early 1970s Mazhar Alanson and Fuat Güner were respectable Turkish psych rockers who hung around with the likes of Barış Manço being generally groovy - as this 1973 track shows.

"Sur Efem Atini" - Mazhar & Fuat

Then a mate of theirs called Özkan Uğur got out of the army and joined up with them. Under the name Mazhar Fuat Özkan (or MFO for short), they proceeded to hit the big time with a series of generally rather uninteresting AOR records - so successfully that they became one of Turkey's most successful ever bands. What was behind this transformation? I don't like to cast aspersions but it must be Özkan.

But even Özkan couldn't sap their spirit entirely. Every now and then they came up with something decent. Take for example, this funky little number from their 1990 album "Geldiler". Admittedly it is more Spandau Ballet than Shriekback, but it isn't bad.

"Ik Ben" - Mazhar Fuat Özkan

 Who were Shriekback, you say? You're having me on, surely?

Saturday 3 December 2011

Tsonga Tsaturday

On 5 November there were fireworks for fans of Tsonga Disco as the Nkowankowa Stadium in Tzaneen hosted the 8th MLFM Xitsonga Music Awards. The winner of the best male vocalist was someone we have not featured here before, Mr Benny Mayengani. It is about time we put that right. Here's Benny.

"Tiba Ben" - Benny Mayengani

"Egiyani" - Benny Mayengani

Other winners included more familiar faces, such as Thomas Chauke and the Shinyori Sisters (for best song) and the Shangaan Svengali himself, Joe Shirimani (for best disco song). I don't yet have the winning songs, so here is a song apiece from their respective back catalogues.

"Wani Kolota" - Thomas Chauke & The Shinyori Sisters

"Nwa Mashalani" - Joe Shirimani

If that doesn't get you in the mood for Saturday night I don't know what will. Maybe this. If the Bay City Rollers and Ann Margret (why???)can whip an audience of pensioners into a frenzy just think they could do for you. Look out for the woman with the massive ear trumpet at 1:07.

Thursday 1 December 2011

They Had It All

Like a lot of what goes on here, today's post is inspired by - or ripped off from, depending on your point of view - Ramone666 over at 'For The Sake Of The Song'. Unlike me, he is a proper music blogger, and the rest of the 666 family must be very proud of him.

Earlier today he posted four versions of Donnie Fritts' classic tune "We Had It All". They were all good but did not include the version by Dobie Gray, which in my humble opinion knocks all others into a cocked hat. It is also the song that my Dad plays when he needs to get back in my Mum's good books or wants to make my sisters cry.

For good measure I have added three more. One comes from what I believe were Tift Merritt's first ever recordings, with the Two Dollar Pistols back in 1999 (I must put some more Two Dollar Pistols up here). One features my close personal friend Alan "Tyler" Tyler back when he was still fronting the Rockingbirds. And inevitably there is a reggae version, from Dobie's cousin Owen.

"We Had It All" - Dobie Gray

"We Had It All" - Two Dollar Pistols (featuring Tift Merritt)

"We Had It All" - The Rockingbirds

"We Had It All" - Owen Gray

Sticking with matters 666, here are Iron Maiden. I would like to dedicate this to my mate Dave. We were at a football match once and at half-time it was announced that the winning raffle ticket was number 668. Quick as a flash, he turned to me and said "668 - The Neighbour of the Beast". He's never been as funny since.


Tuesday 29 November 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

It's time for another small selection of the many riches I have been sent via ReviewShine. And we start with a couple of real crackers from two well-established artists.

First up we have the excellent Ruthie Foster whose new album "Let It Burn" will be released on Blue Corn Records at the end of January. It features a fine mix of soul, blues and gospel with guest appearances from the great William Bell and the Blind Boys of Alabama. As always with Ruthie there are some very interesting cover versions - including a rare, decent version of "If I Had A Hammer", a reinvention of "Ring Of Fire" and a very nice rendition of The Band's "It Makes No Difference", which doesn't quite match the original but only because that is pretty much impossible. Here's a bit of good old-fashioned soul music.

"This Time" - Ruthie Foster

Next up we have Otis Taylor. Otis is what you might call a grizzled veteran, being as he is a mere 63 years young. I would call it blues but the blurb that I got about his new album - "Otis Taylor's Contraband", out on Valentine's Day on Telarc International - calls it "trance jam blues". I don't really know what that is, but I like it a lot. Having said that my favourite track is not representative at all. There is not very much blues about it, let alone trance jam blues. It is, however, really rather beautiful.

"Blind Piano Teacher" - Otis Taylor

Next up we have a couple of new names (or at least they are new to me). First we have Pony Boy, who confusingly is neither a boy nor a pony. She's a human woman, but none the worse for it. I am struggling to describe her sound. Musically it reminds me a bit of Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, but vocally Karen Dalton is perhaps a closer comparison. However you describe it, it's good stuff. She has a new self-titled EP that is not yet generally available, but you can find more details and some live recordings on her website.

"Nobody's Girl" - Pony Boy

"Selfless Portrait" is the debut album of one John Henry Olthoff. It came out in September but I overlooked it at the time, so want to make up for it now. It is a solid set of good old "proper" songs. I particularly like the twangy, melodic country pop of "Hard To Know". I have been trying for a while to work out who it was his voice reminded me off and earlier today it finally came to me. He sounds like a male Amy Allison, who of course does a nifty line in twangy, melodic country pop herself. Maybe they should team up. 

"Hard To Know" - John Henry Olthoff

In the Ruthie Foster review I mentioned her very nice version of "It Makes No Difference". Here are The Band with their version from "The Last Waltz" - one of Rick Danko's finest moments.


Friday 25 November 2011

We're All Wejects Now

I have been a fan of the punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald since his "Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart" EP way back in 1977, still one of the prize exhibits in my small but perfect collection of 7" singles.

Patrik has been based in New Zealand for some years but played a very rare London gig a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I couldn't make it due to a prior engagement in Warsaw. Hopefully it won't be quite so long before he is back again.

Here is a small selection of some of my personal Fitzgerald favourites.

"Optimism/Reject" - Patrik Fitzgerald (from "Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart" EP, 1977)

"Don't Tell Me Because I'm Young" - Patrik Fitzgerald (from "Grubby Stories" LP, 1979)

"Improve Myself" - Patrik Fitzgerald (Single, 1979)

And here is a surprisingly sweet version of that last number from a 2008 tribute album called "All Sewn Up".

"Improve Myself" - Thomas Robsahm (featuring Vera and Jara)

Finally, here is some mob called Rank Strangers having a go at "Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart". They do a decent job, but I'm not sure about the bass player's jersey. This one is for Mister F. He fought the punk wars, you know.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Prize Giving

Yesterday was a bit of a landmark day here at 27 Leggies as we clocked up our 50,000th visitor. The person in question appears to be from Toronto. So especially for them, here is a band from Toronto playing a song by a fellow Torontonian (yes, that is what they are called).

But for the rest of you, we have instead some groovy Afro-disco from the modestly named Chris Third Prize. I am not sure where Chris is from. His album "Africa Zaboudaba" was released earlier this year on Bolibana Records, which is a Malian label, but he himself appears to be from an English speaking country. If any of you can help shed a little light, drop me a line.

"Africa Zaboudaba" - Chris Third Prize

"Ndolo" - Chris Third Prize

And here is a little prize-themed bonus from the excellent Sharon Van Etten.

"Consolation Prize" (Daytrotter Session) - Sharon Van Etten

Some people, though, see no merit in third places and consolation prizes.

Sunday 20 November 2011

The Bromley Contingent

Way, way back in the mists of time - sometime between the demise of the dodo and the invention of jet-powered boots - I spent my early years in Bromley in Kent.

At one point or another, so did all these people:

"Sorrow" - David Bowie

"Hong Kong Garden" - Siouxsie & The Banshees

"Cry Me Out" - Pixie Lott

"Show Me The Way" - Peter Frampton

"Rudie Can't Fail" - The Clash (Topper Headon)

"We Leave Tonight" - Starsmith (it's a he not a them)

 Another famous resident of Bromley was H.G. Wells. He did a bit of scribbling, but never really amounted to much until he got a lucky break and teamed up with Jeff Wayne. For this.

Thursday 17 November 2011

True Identity

A real treat for you today - some vintage UK lovers rock from 1982 courtesy of True Identity. The three singers (Rowena, Joanne and Pam) are still going strong, not looking a day older and sounding better than ever. They can be seen regularly at the Hootenanny in Brixton and elsewhere, both in their own right and backing visiting artists. Check them out if you get a chance.

I ought to declare an interest. Pam is my sister-in-law (well, sort of, it's a long story). And I'm not the only celebrity she is related to. Here is a little bonus from the man she knows as Cousin Patrick.

"Secret Thunderbird Drinker" - Pato Banton

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Better Red Than Dead

Before we get onto the main business, a brief follow-up to my post about the Roy Harper gig the weekend before last. I mentioned the cameo by his son Nick. Well it turns out Nick and I have a mutual acquaintance - Richard, the driving force behind the Wild Hare Club in Hereford.

Richard is almost single-handedly trying to keep the live music scene going in Hereford, a very worthwhile aim not least because the local residents will need cheering up after their team was resoundingly thumped in the FA Cup by the mighty Yeovil Town last weekend (Come On, You Glovers!). The next gig is scheduled for 17 December featuring Little Rumba - more details to follow on Richard's website in due course. If you are in the area, get down there. I am sure it will be a cracking night.

Right, on with the show. And this is a sort of follow-up to Roy Harper too. On the Saturday before last I sat in a famous concert hall watching an icon from the 1960s being cheered to the rafters by their ageing but enthusiastic fans. And on the Saturday just gone I did the same, only this I was in the Sala Kongresowa in Warsaw. The icons in question were Czerwone Gitary, the erstwhile Polish Beatles. Only two of the original members remain but they bashed out some great tunes and got the hordes of grey-haired Polish matrons very excited indeed.

Czerwone Gitary means Red Guitars. And as you can see from this shot of them in action on Saturday, they mean what they say.

I picked up one of their albums from the merchandise stall afterwards - 1971's "Spokoj Serca". While it is not bad by any means they had largely given up on the catchy pop songs in an effort be serious artists, so it wasn't quite the beat-tastic treat I had hoped. Here are a couple of the better selections.

"Uwierz Mi, Lili" - Czerwone Gitary

"Pierwsza Noc" - Czerwone Gitary

The lads were very highly regarded in their day and attracted the interest of a lot of Western musicians. Loudon Wainwright III was a particular fan. Here is his tribute to them.

"Red Guitar" - Loudon Wainwright III

And here are the boys in their pomp. Personally I can't see any Beatles influence there at all...

Friday 11 November 2011

Big In Bobo-Diaolasso

From the Congo we head vaguely north-west to Burkina Faso. There is a newish compilation out called "Best of Burkina Volume 1 (S. Pierre Yameogo & Nick Domby Présente)". I have absolutely no idea who Messrs Yameogo and Domby are but I am very grateful to them.

From the album we have the Burkina Band with what I believe used to be called a "slow jam" - it is the vocals that make it for me - followed by Jean Claude Bamogo with something a little more tasty.

"Espoir" - The Burkina Band

"Zwa Songo" - Jean Claude Bamogo

This also gives us the perfect opportunity to feature once more our old friend, the Grand Master of Burkinabe pop and soul, Mr Georges Ouédraogo.

"Gnou Zemes" - Georges Ouédraogo

"Ned Kon Yeele" - Georges Ouédraogo

Here is Jean Claude Bamogo in action. He is not perhaps a conventionally attractive man, but he is a cool dude and the ladies provide all the aesthetic pleasure you are likely to need.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

More From The Mpela Fella

A few months back I featured Alain & Bouro Mpela's excellent "Mortel Combat" album, which takes the traditional Congolese rumba sound and mixes in a few additional elements. When I was in Brussels earlier in the week I took the opportunity to visit Okapi Records in the Matonge (probably the best record shop in the district now that Musicanova has gone the way of all flesh), where I was able to pick up Bouro's solo album, "Vice De Procedure".

Released in 2008 under the name Jah Man Geko Bouro Mpela, at first listen I would say I probably prefer "Mortel Kombat". Quite a few numbers are romantic in nature and maybe a bit too smooth for my tastes. But when he gets cooking - as on these two tracks - he is very good indeed.

"Kwiti Ya Lotoko" - Bouro Mpela

"Palpiteur" - Bouro Mpela

The title track has more twists and turns that your average mid-period Incredible String Band song, although I can't really see Mike and Robin mastering these moves. Malcolm Le Maistre on the other hand, that is a different matter.

Sunday 6 November 2011

More Gigs-A-Go-Go

It has been a bumper weekend for live music - two nights, two venues that could not be more different, two thoroughly enjoyable gigs.

On Friday I went up to derelict but trendy Hackney Wick to The Yard, a jerry-built venue in the corner of a goods yard (hence the name). The occasion was a night dedicated to the music of the Safety First Record label, being held to launch "The Toast", the new EP by Swedish duo Polly Tones. Very good it is too. This is probably my favourite track so far.

"In My Room" - Polly Tones

Safety First was set up by the excellent Klak Tik, whose "Must We Find A Winner" album has been featured here previously. They played an all too short set featuring four songs from that album, and three likely to be featured on their next album. Judging by those three, the next album is going to be at least as good as "Must We Find A Winner". There was one song that may or may not have the words "salt water" and/or "sweet water" in the title that I particularly liked. [Update: John from Klak Tik tells me it is in fact called "Nympheus" - so now you know what to look out for.]

Klak Tik apart, the other highlight for me was Felix Holt, who looks and sounds like he belongs in Les Cousins back in the mid 1960s. It appears he hasn't released anything on Safety First yet but here is a clip of him from earlier this year. Since then he has grown a very natty goatee (I mean natty in the sense of stylish not natty is the sense of dreadlocked - that would be silly).

Speaking of the spirit of Les Cousins in the 1960s, last night we all went off to the Royal Festival Hall to join the legendary Roy Harper in celebrating his 70th birthday. It was everything I hoped it would be. Admittedly there did seem to be an abnormally large number of arseholes in the audience, but not enough to spoil the fun. We got to hear most if not quite all of my personal favourites, including this one.

"Twelve Hours Of Sunset" - Roy Harper

There were guest appearances from his boy, Nick Harper, and from Jimmy Page and Joanna Newsom. Jimmy joined Roy for an encore of "The Same Old Rock", the original of which has recently been posted by the tastemakers de jour over at 'For The Sake Of The Song'. Joanna stepped up for a very nicely done version of the classic "Another Day". As good as it was, I must admit I had rather unrealistically hoped his old mate Kate might turn up for that one. She has form.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Girls From The North Country

My lovely sister-in-law Maria is from the North East of England. She is of course a woman without a stain on her character, which is more than can be said for two of her compatriots.

"Elsie Marley" - The High Level Ranters

"Betsy Bell" - The Unthanks

You could argue that Betsy at least is more sinned against than sinning. That is certainly the case for this poor woman.

"The Fair Flower of Northumberland" - Dick Gaughan

There are any number of notable musicians from the North East we could have featured in the video clip today, but none more notable than the man born Brian Rankin in Newcastle on 28 October 1941. Belated happy 70th, Hank!

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Toast Time

Here is some top Jamaican toasting for you. Both tracks have connections with 1970s TV detectives, and both are taken from an excellent Trojan Records compilation called simply "Trojan Presents: DJs". £6.99 for 40 tracks - what a bargain.

"Starsky And Hutch" - Trinity

"Fist-To-Fist Rub-A-Dub" - Kojak & Liza

 In a similar vein, here are Laurel & Hardy with their tribute to the late Sir Jimmy Savile.

Saturday 29 October 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

What with moving house, going on holiday and assorted technical problems it has been a couple of months since the last round-up of some of the albums I get sent via ReviewShine. Which means that my standard apologies - to the artists I have not been able to feature, and to you for not being able to feature them - are even more sincerely meant than usual.

Here is a taster from seven of the best. I would encourage you to check them all out further.

First up are Some Velvet Evening, a duo from Detroit better known to their friends and families as Carrie Shepard and John Holk. With a name like Some Velvet Evening they are presumably trying to evoke the spirit of Lee Hazlewood, but to me they are more of a mixture of traditional honky-tonk and a Laura Cantrell sound (particularly strong on the track I have chosen) - which makes for a pretty good combination. Their album is called "No Law Against Talking" and it is out now on Hole-Key Records.

"Springtime" - Some Velvet Evening

If you take the same formula but mix in some Neil Young to give things a draker edge, then you would not be a million miles away from the sound of Boca Chica. A Pittsburgh combo led by the clearly very talented Hallie Pritts, their third album "Get Out Of Sin City" comes out on 15 November. Independently released in the US, it will also be issued by Indiecater Records in Ireland. The Irish know a thing or two about country music and singer-songwriters, and they have picked another winner here.

"Cowboy Hat" - Boca Chica

Next up is Leslie Krafka, whose self-released "The White Cat Sessions" I am featuring for two reasons. Firstly, her sister has exactly the same name as me ("Ernie" in her case presumably being short for Ernestina). Secondly, and much more importantly, it is a bloody good record. Leslie is based in Houston and has been featured at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival amongst others. This is her first album, and hopefully the first of many.

"A Little White Lie" - Leslie Krafka

Now I realise that we at 27 Leggies are in no position to criticise anyone for having a silly name, but could I just say to Sinful Savage Tigers: lads, have a think about the name. I nearly passed on their album "Last Night Of The Revels" because I assumed it was going to be some dreadful "comedy country" album. Which would have been a real shame because there is some great stuff there. They describe themselves as an "art-first pop string band". I have no idea what that means, but if you like country mixed with a bit of folk and bluegrass you might well like this. The album is available from as well as the usual outlets

"End Of The Horse Drawn Zeppelin" - Sinful Savage Tigers

This next one is a bit of a cheat. Willie Nile is hardly a new name - his first album came out thirty years ago - and "The Innocent Ones" isn't really a new record, having first been released last year. But it is getting its first official release in the US next month and that is a good enough excuse for me. Those of you who know Willie will know what to expect - perceptive and powerful stuff from the same school as Springsteen, Steve Forbert and Graham Parker. Those of you who don't are going to like him a lot.

"Far Green Hills" - Willie Nile

This next one is also a bit of a cheat, because it is an album I got sent back in June and forgot to share with you then. It is England's own Mr. Plow with "Joyful In Song Are We" which came out on PinkBox Records way back when. It is a lazy comparison to say his sound is a mixture of Nick Cave and Johnny Cash, but it is a comparison everyone else has made so I will too. I would add that it is proper "boom-chicka-boom" era Johnny Cash here, not the American Recordings version. As you can tell from this track.

"I Am The Boss Man" - Mr Plow

Mr Plow sets us up nicely for the other big name act in this selection, Southern Culture On The Skids. If you ever get the chance to see them live you should take it. They are the only band I have ever seen that called women onto the stage and got them to hurl pieces of fried chicken into the audience while at the same time doing the shimmy (or it may have been the frug or the jerk - I was too busy dodging flying chicken to be sure).

Their new album, "Zombified", is even less new than Willie Nile or Mr Plow. Most of the tracks were originally released in Australia in 1998, but they have added some new songs and put them all out on Kudzu Records just in time for Halloween. To get you in the mood, here is the title track.

"Zombified" - Southern Culture On The Skids

SCOTS are also responsible for one of the greatest party songs ever made. This one. With the mariachi band and the Raul Malo lookalike on accordion it is everything "Dance The Night Away" should have been.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Mountain Songs

We went to see Steve Earle at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday evening. It took him a little while to get warmed up but when he had done so he was excellent as always. And very good value for money too, playing nearly two and a half hours.

The last time I saw Steve at the Festival Hall was back in 1999 when he played with the Del McCoury Band. As it happens one of the highlights on Tuesday was his rendition of "The Mountain", the title track of the album they recorded together. It inspired me - if inspired is the word - to dig out a load of other songs about mountains for your delectation and delight.

We start with Steve and the lads:

"The Mountain" - Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band

Then we have a bunch of people who don't seem to know whether they are coming or going:

"At The Foot Of The Mountain" - La Revolucion de Emiliano Zapata

"Halfway Up The Mountain" - Roger Whittaker

"Natty Dread On The Mountain Top" - Tappa Zukie

Some musings on mountain flora and fauna :

"Wild Mountain Thyme" - Lucy Wainwright Roche

"Wild Mountain Berries" - Kelly Hogan & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts

"Hares On The Mountain" - Steeleye Span

We enter the home straight with a couple of metaphorical mountains:

"Mountain Of Love" - Johnny Rivers

"Barstool Mountain" - Moe Bandy

Before finishing with a timely warning that mountains may not be what they seem:

"That Mountain Is A Volcano" - Eureka Birds

It is not just the people who don't know whether they are coming or going, some times it is the mountains as well.

Monday 24 October 2011

Tsonga Disco: Vuyelwa

A couple of months back I had some requests from anonymous Tsonga Disco fans to post something by Vuyelwa, one of the widows of the late Peta Teanet who has gone on to have a successful career of her own, working with General Muzka and other luminaries of the Tsonga Disco scene.

At the time I was not able to oblige as I had nothing by her in my collection. But we can now put that right thanks to the excellent Mano in Mozambique, who very kindly sent me a copy of her "Thembi" album. And very good it is two, as these two selections demonstrate.

"Rivalelo Maxaka" - Vuyelwa

"Thembi (Switsongwana)" - Vuyelwa

I don't know whether Vuyelwa and Peta ever recorded a duet, but if they did I reckon it would have sounded like a Shangaan version of this.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Raincoats and Red Crayolas

You know sometimes how something will pop up on the iPod that you haven't heard for ages which you then become a bit obsessed with? That happened to me yesterday morning. The song in question was "Running Away", the Raincoats' surprisingly sweet cover version of the old Sly & The Family Stone number. It was on their 1984 album "Moving", and here it is with the other stand-out track from that album.

"Running Away" - The Raincoats

"No One's Little Girl" - The Raincoats

As a bonus, here is Gina Birch moonlighting with Mayo Thompson a few years earlier.

"An Old Man's Dream" - The Red Crayola With Art & Language

 And to finish off, here is old Sly himself, blowing away a room full of geeks.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Big on the Bosphorus

From 1970 until his premature death in 1999, Barış Manço was one of the biggest stars in Turkish rock music. With hair like that, you can see why.

I picked up a few of his albums while in Turkey recently, including his 1976 English language album, "Baris Mancho" (that isn't a typo, they spelt it phonetically to help non-Turkish listeners work out how to pronounce his name). Most of the album is fairly standard 1970s soft rock but there are a few stand out tracks, most notably the slightly bonkers - but utterly fantastic - ecological anthem "Nick The Chopper".

"Nick The Chopper" - Barış Manço

"Old Paulin" - Barış Manço

Barış was a big hit with the ladies, and for many years was the benchmark against which Turkish manliness was measured. If a Turkish woman considered a man had big blue eyes and was able to satisfy her, and/or was big and strong enough to turn her on, he was said to be "So Manço". This phrase formed the basis of a hit single, which was later adopted and slightly adapted by Sinitta for the British market. As you can see.

Monday 17 October 2011

Goodbye Bert

Having been travelling for a couple of weeks, I only heard the sad news of Bert Jansch's death yesterday. It was only two months ago that I had the great pleasure of seeing him when the original Pentangle reunited at the Festival Hall. We all knew at the time it was a special night. With hindsight it becomes even more special because of the knowledge that we will never get to see them again.

Rather than me burble on inadequately about how great Bert was, far better for him to show you himself. Here is just a small selection of some of my favourite moments, in roughly chronological order. Rest in peace, Bert.

"I Am Lonely" - Bert Jansch

"When I Get Home" - Pentangle

"Market Song" - Pentangle

"Daybreak" - Bert Jansch

"Ask Your Daddy" - Bert Jansch

"The Banks Of Sicily" - Bert Jansch

Sunday 16 October 2011

Young Turks

We're back! And may I suggest to those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Georgia, you really ought to. It is a beautiful country and I had a great time there. I managed to pick up some Georgian folk and pop CDs which will no doubt be featured here in the future. I also lost my heart to the lovely Ana at the Stalin Museum in Gori, who is required under the terms of her employment contract to wear a Soviet era uniform. It made an old man very happy.

We reached Georgia via Trabzon in Eastern Turkey. It is not a particularly scenic place but it is not without its charms, among which are a couple of music shops just off the main square. One is really a DVD shop but the gent who runs it has an extensive collection of Turkish and other music available in mp3 format, and for three lira (roughly £1) he will fill up a CD for you with as many mp3s as it will take. So I am now the proud owner of the complete works of Turkish psych guitar legend Erkin Koray, and many more besides.

The second shop has a small but high quality selection of CDs, and it was there I picked up "Gecekondu", the current album by modern day Turkish psych band BaBa ZuLa. According to the blurb on their website, "Gecekondu takes its name from the Turkish word for a neighbourhood constructed without planning permission, a kind of squatters' district that has become part and parcel of Istanbul's urban fabric". So now you know.

Here are a couple of selections from the album.

"Hopçe" - BaBa ZuLa

"Temptation" - BaBa ZuLa

Those of you who have noted my tendency to add at the end of my posts clips of dodgy 1970s or 80s hits with only a tenuous link to the subject matter may have predicted you would be getting Rod Stewart's "Young Turks" today. And if the embedding device had not been disabled on the only copy of the original video I could find you would have been right. Instead you will have to sit through this.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Tbilisi (Or Not Tbilisi)

Hello there. Apologies I have not been about much recently, but I have been without a telephone line or Internet access for most of the last fortnight while I moved house. But it seems everything is finally working again (or possibly not. While typing this post I have also been on the phone to some idiot in the BT call centre who claims they have cut the line off again in the last couple of hours. I don't think this is true as the new number seems to work when I dial it, but to be honest with BT nothing would surprise me).

Anyway, no sooner do I say hello, than I have to say goodbye. I am off tomorrow for a couple of weeks in north-eastern Turkey and southern Georgia, which should be fun. Who knows what musical treasures will be found there? I will no doubt inflict some of them on you when I return, and I will also try to catch up on the backlog of things I had planned to share over the last couple of weeks, which include some fine stuff via ReviewShine,  assorted African chanteuses and some photos of the mighty Pierce Turner at his recent London gig.

To keep you going until then, here are 15 (count them) songs about Georgia. Unfortunately they are all about the wrong Georgia, but they are so good I am sure you can overlook that. There are the standards from Ray Charles, Brook Benton and Gladys Knight of course, but the rest aren't far behind - I would particularly recommend Joe Simon, Robbie Fulks and the Gosdin Brothers.

"The Little Grave In Georgia" - Charles Louvin

"Rainy Night In Georgia" - Brook Benton

"Night Like This In Georgia" - G.C. Cameron

"Midnight Train To Georgia" - Gladys Knight & The Pips

"How You Goin' To Georgia" - Eddie Hinton

"Have You Ever Been To Georgia" - The Peddlers

"Going Back To Georgia" - Nanci Griffith (with Adam Duritz)

"Georgia Song" - Odyssey

"Georgia On My Mind"- Ray Charles

"Georgia Morning Dew" - Johnny Adams

"Georgia In A Jug" - Johnny Paycheck

"Georgia Hard" - Robbie Fulks

"Georgia By Morning" - Tim Rose

"Georgia Blue" - Joe Simon

"Georgia" - The Gosdin Brothers

There can only be one choice of clip. Before we got barred, me and Mister F used to trawl the karaoke nights of the East End trying to persuade women to sing this just so we could pretend to be the Pips. We know all the words and movements. Maybe there will be some nice woman in Batumi who will let us accompany her.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Hello There!

Service is going to be a bit irregular for the next few weeks. I am moving house in a couple of days time and then next weekend I am off to Eastern Turkey and Southern Georgia for a fortnight with my old sparring partners Mister F and Lord Roper. No doubt much fun will be had by all.

I had intended to cram a few extra posts in this past week to tide you over the fallow period to come, but the marvellous folk at British Telecom decided to cut my telephone line and broadband off a week early for reasons best known to themselves. As a result I have not been able to upload any mp3s to share with you.

Still I am one hundred percent confident they will redeem themselves and get it all set up at the new place on the right day, so I will hopefully be able to squeeze a couple of posts in before I go off to traipse around Trabzon, bathe in Batumi and pontificate in the Pontic Alps.

Until then, here is a song about moving out.

And especially for my friends at BT, here are New Edition. All together now: "Mister Telephone Man, there's something wrong with my line, and its your fault you useless b**t**ds, dum dum dum de dum dum".

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Glorious Gnahore

The South Bank in London hosted a festival of African music last week, and on Sunday night we went along to see Dobet Gnahore perform in the smallest venue, the Purcell Rooms. It was a fantastic show and I am sure she will be playing somewhere bigger next time she is in London. She certainly deserves to, and if you get the chance to see her - go.

Born in Cote d'Ivoire but based in France since 1999, Dobet's music has a traditional African base with a few jazzy flourishes - fortunately just enough to make it interesting without tipping over into noodling. Visually very striking, her dancing is almost as entertaining as her singing. She was backed by a fine three piece band. I was particularly taken with Willy, the smiling drummer from Cameroon.

We were lucky enough to be in the front row so had an excellent view of proceedings. I took some photos, some of which came out reasonably well. If you are interested you can find them all over at Flickr.

There are hazards of being that close to the stage, however. During the encore I had a brief moment of panic when she appeared to be instructing us to join her on stage. Fortunately just as we were about to get up, four people next to us leapt up and launched into a clearly rehearsed and extremely energetic dance routine. I am not sure Mister F and I would have enhanced the experience with our random dad-dancing.

Enough rambling. Here are a couple of her songs. Hopefully after listening to them you will go off and buy some more.

"Palea" - Dobet Gnahore [from "Na Afriki", 2007]

"Evigne" - Dobet Gnahore (featuring Soum Bill) [from "Djekpa La You", 2010]

And here she is live in Dakar in 2008.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Achili Funk

A few weeks back I picked up a promo copy of a compilation CD called "Achili Funk: Gypsy Soul 1969-79" for £1 in the Crouch End Oxfam shop. I am not quite sure what I thought Gypsy Soul was going to be, but it probably wasn't this, which in the main Spanish rumba spiced up with the pop and disco sounds of that period. That isn't a criticism. There are some great Saturday night tunes on the album - these three for a start.

"Pares O Nones" - Los Marismeños

"Gol" - Trigal

"Baila Mi Ritmo" - Los Chunguitos

Also from Spain around that time, here is a group that started with the rumba, added some pop and disco sounds, and then took the rumba out again. It's Baccara!

Thursday 15 September 2011

Catching Up

It isn't a good idea to dismiss something or someone too quickly. Way back in 1989 I bought Cindy Lee Berryhill's "Naked Movie Star" album, played in a couple of times, didn't much care for it and got rid of it. Since then I never bothered keeping up with what she has done since.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I found her 2007 album "Beloved Stranger" going for £1.50 in the sale at Rough Trade. At that price, and with the promise of guest slots from the likes of Dave Alvin and John Doe, I thought I would give it a go. And I'm very glad I did. It is an excellent album. Here are a couple of choice cuts.

"When Did Jesus Become A Republican?" - Cindy Lee Berryhill

"Beloved Stranger" - Cindy Lee Berryhill

I was sufficiently enthused to go back and reappraise "Naked Movie Star". I prefer the more recent stuff, but it is an awful lot better than I remember. Here is an oldie but goodie.

"Old Trombone Routine" - Cindy Lee Berryhill

And here she is in action a couple of years ago.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

It's Spooky O'Clock!

I was on the Eurostar coming back from Paris earlier this evening, laden down with newly acquired CDs from Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Benin, which you will no doubt be subjected to soon enough. It was about 8.50pm local time and this came up on the iPod shuffle (no it did, it really did). Spooky!

"Nine O'Clock In France" - Elk City

Here are some more "o'clock" songs, in numerical order.

"It's Five O'Clock" - Aphrodite's Child

"Six O'Clock News (Daytrotter Session)" - Lambchop

"Ten O'Clock" - Question Mark & The Mysterians

"12 O'Clock Whistle" - James McMurtry

"Thirteen O'Clock Flight to Psychedelphia" - Plato & The Philosophers

Shortly after that we went into the tunnel. Emerging on the other side I had to follow the example of Mr Tyrone Davis.

Saturday 10 September 2011

All Over The Place

Tomorrow morning I head off to Paris for a few days - mostly work, but I also hope to get a chance to visit all the African record shops between the Marcadet-Poissonniers and Chateau Rouge metro stops. You'll know soon enough if I do.

To tide you over until I return here are eight tracks that have only two things in common: they all featured back in the early days of this blog when it was a sad and lonely pursuit, and deserve another hearing; and they are not from round here.

"Betty Boom-Little Monster-Doggie And Peggie At The Witches Castle" - The (Saint Thomas) Pepper Smelter [Peru]

"Cachete A Cachete" - Los Amigos Invisibles [Venezuela]

"Ruidos En La Ciudad" - Los Monjes [Mexico]

"Sola Oka Dancer" - Stiger & Sister [Botswana]

"Hobusemang" - Vagilased [Estonia]

"Goodbye Teens" - Plavi Orkestar [Bosnia]

"Pidmanula" - Vopli Vidopliassova [Ukraine]

"Citron Girl" - Sadistic Mika Band [Japan]

As a special bonus, how about some brand new, top notch Indonesian pop. The excellent White Shoes & The Couples Company release their new album, "Album Vakansi", next week. From what I have heard of the album so far its a real winner - classic 60s pop meets the Cardigans and Camera Obscura. This is the lead off track.

"Senja Menggila" - White Shoes & The Couples Company

Here is one of their old videos from a few years ago.

And here are the normally sombre members of Plavi Orkestar letting their bad 1980s hair down back in 1985.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Pledge For Pierce

Later this month the great Irish troubadour Pierce Turner will be making an all too rare London appearance, at The Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. I would heartily recommend any London readers to try get down there. The tickets are a snip ar £7, but it is a tiny venue so you may want to book early to be on the safe side.

To give you an idea of the treats that might be in store, here are a couple of tracks from his 1994 live album, "Manana In Manhattan".

"The Sky And The Ground" - Pierce Turner

"Musha God Help Her" - Pierce Turner

As it happens, Pierce is currently raising money to finance a new album over at PledgeMusic. If you like what you have just heard, you should head over there and dip into your pockets. It would give you a warm glow from knowing you have helped to make the world a better place. And if a feeling of smug satisfaction wasn't sufficient, he is offering some great incentives for you to invest.

Pierce is a Wexford man. I have Wexford roots myself through my mother's side (the Sinnotts not the Gogginses), so I am naturally well-disposed to anything from the area. The Clancy Brothers, on the other hand, don't have a good word to say about the place.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Boogaloo From Peru

The Vampi Soul label, home of many excellent reissues from Africa and Latin America, has put out "Gozalo", a four part series of CDs featuring 1960s Peruvian boogaloo and big band tunes. "Four volumes", I can hear you ask yourselves, "surely one would do?". Well, judging by the first volume - the only one I have heard so far - you would be wrong. Wrap your listening ears around these two gems.

"Push Push Push" - Charlie Palomares y Su Yuboney

"Baby Boogaloo" - Nilo Espinosa y Orquestra

It appears Ringo was not an enthusiast.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Soul On Sunday

We have some top quality 1970s soul for you today from Mr Garland Green. Best known for his 1969 hit "Jealous Kind Of Fella", he was never able to capitalise on it in terms of chart success but continued to make great music for many years.

Here are three selections from an excellent 24-track compilation called "The Very Best of Garland Green" that came out on Kent Records a few years back. It ought to be required listening for any soul fan.

"Just My Way Of Loving You" - Garland Green

"I've Quit Running The Streets" - Garland Green

"You Played On A Player" - Garland Green

According to his Wikipedia entry, earlier this year Garland signed a contract with CDS Records, a soul label based in California, to release a new album. While it would be great it that is true I don't know whether this is reliable. There is no mention of it on the CDS website. CDS have however just released the latest record by Carl Sims. Here is Carl in action.

Friday 2 September 2011

Esta's Back!

We have had a request from Mano in Maputo for some more hit tunes from Esta M. It has only been two weeks since we last featured Esta and normally I would spread things out a bit more, but as Mano is a man renowned throughout the length and breadth of Mozambique for his sophstication and good taste, I am going to make an exception in this case.

So here are a couple more Joe Shirimani productions from the erstwhile Queen of Tsonga Disco.

"Swikwembu" - Esta M

"Loss Matheka" - Esta M

As I discovered last time I posted Esta, there don't seem to be any clips of her performing on YouTube. So I did some lateral thinking. There is one other feisty female singer whose name begins in E and whose fans have been in touch with me recently to make some imaginative suggestions (some of which, if taken literally, are physically impossible).

It's The Mighty Elk of course!!! Here she is, doing what she does best. With Robert Palmer on handclaps, and lots of men with lots of hair.


Wednesday 31 August 2011

Of Admirals and Duchesses

On the way to the Vortex Jazz Bar in Dalston on Monday night, Mister F and I popped into a Nigerian grocers round the corner in Bradbury St. On the back wall were hundreds of bootleg Nigerian CDs going for £2 each. Inevitably I snapped a few up in a half-crazed frenzy.

When I got them home I found that the number of tracks on the CD often bore little resemblance to the track listing on the sleeve. And in some cases the sound quality is pretty rough where it has obviously been ripped from a battered vinyl copy. But at £2 each you can't really complain, and the music is pretty good.

As a sample, here is some juju music from Admiral Dele Abiodun and His Top Hitters Band. This is from their album "Abanije" and it may be the title track. Then again it may not. The album cover lists ten tracks, but their are only two on the CD. Any help identifying it will be gratefully received.

"Track 1 on Abanije" - Admiral Dele Abiodun and His Top Hitters Band

Dele is in the news in Nigeria at the moment, but sadly not for his music. He is currently standing trial on charges of fraud relating to his Presidency of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria.

We had gone to the Vortex to see Mike Heron and the Trembing Bells (yet again), and a very enjoyable evening it was too. The Bells in particular were in fine form, although I do wish they would drop the overly wordy acapella number about the inebriated children of the Mediterranean. They performed some songs I had not heard them do before, including a track from a forthcoming album with Bonnie Prince Billy which sounds highly promising. Another "new" song was a cover of Scott Walker's "Duchess". It occurred to me about half way through that I could video it to share with you all, and here are the results - sorry it is not complete.

As a bonus, here is the original and a very nice rendition by Neko Case.

"Duchess" - Scott Walker

"Duchess" - Neko Case

We wrap things up with a seamless move from Duchesses to Dukes.

Monday 29 August 2011

Pity The Fools

How many fools are there at loose in the world? Kevin and Yossy - or Mr. Coyne and Ms. Noise Weaver as we should call them if we are being formal - represent the two extreme views, but most people come down somewhere in between.

"Fool" - Yossy Little Noise Weaver

"Fool, Fool" - Buck & The Sixteenth Movement

"Fool, Fool, Fool" - The Clovers

"Ship of Fools" - Grateful Dead

"The World Is Full Of Fools" - Kevin Coyne

On the subject of fools, here's a treat for all you Elkie fans.

And here is Hank Snow in an unusually self-deprecatory mood.

Saturday 27 August 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

It's time for our monthly round-up of some of the goodies I've received courtesy of ReviewShine. The standard has been particularly high over the last weeks, and I should apologise to all those who I haven't got space to feature today. As well as the four acts below, I would recommend checking out the likes of Bare Bones, Grainne and Jessi Robertson.

The four we are featuring could be described as a bunch of blokes doing proper rootsy songs - you know, the old-fashioned virtues like good words and good tunes, not all that bang bang bang and knob-twiddling stuff. Two of them are familar names, two of them new (or at least they were new to me). We'll start with the new boys.

First up is Stephen Simmons, whose album "The Big Show" is out now on Lower 40 in the US and Blue Rose here in the UK and in Europe. There are twenty songs on the album with a much higher hit rate than you would think spread over so many tracks - there is a consistently high quality throughout. This is probably just about my favourite.

"Parchcorn Falls" - Stephen Simmons

I know we have some readers in Knoxville. According to his website Stephen is playing over your way in a couple of weeks, so you might want to pop down and see him. I was in Knoxville once about twelve years ago and had the great pleasure of seeing Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown play. What a show that was.

Enough of that rambling, back to business. Next we have Donal Hinely with his new album "The Famous Rocket Cage", out now on ATOM Records. As I said, what you get is proper songs of a very high order, with a level of insight that might be explained by the life he has led. I would like to dedicate this one to my friend Jeni, who occasionally calls herself Pauline for some perverse reason that only she knows. 

"Saint Pauline" - Donal Hinely

On to the artists I was familiar with with now. Slaid Cleaves had his big breakthrough in 2000 with "Broke Down". That album featured a tribute to Auston's Horseshoe Lounge, and he has gone back to the Horseshoe Lounge to record his first live album (or double album to be precise). Called "Sorrow and Smoke", it comes out on 6 September on Music Road. To be honest, for some reason I have never really got into his studio albums, but this is excellent from start to finish. It is mostly original material, but there are a few choice covers as well, including this Karen Poston tune.

"Lydia" - Slaid Cleaves

We finish off with Australian legend Paul Kelly. I have in my collection "Songs From The South", a greatest hits compilation released in 1997. Volume 2 came out in 2008. The two have now been brought together as a 40 track double album and are being released on 25 October. I believe this is the first time the two albums have been available in the US, and apparently the list price for you lot over there is going to be $13.98, and only $9.99 for the digital version. That has to be one of the bargains of the year, and you would be mad not to snap it up. And for readers in London, you might want to try to get to one of the gigs he is playing at Bush Hall next week.

Today's selection was originally released on "Ways And Means" in 2004.

"The Oldest Story In The Book" - Paul Kelly

 As for the clip, there was a clue in my earlier rambling (or, as I prefer to call it, my seamless linking). Here is the mighty Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, accompanied by a hot band featuring a fat saxophonist with a most unfortunate mullet.

And if you think he is good on the guitar, wait until you hear him on the fiddle. If there had ben a roof when I saw him in Knoxville, he would have taken it off when he did this little number. And his rendition of "Never on a Sunday", on which he gradually increased the tempo each time round until we were collapsing with exhaustion, had to be heard to be believed.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Addis Pop

Here is the Ethiopian pop I promised you the other day, courtesy of a young lady called Hibist Tiruneh. It has all the modern production techniques but retains enough of the old Addis funk sound of the 1970s to satisfy an old fart like me as well.

Judging by the cover of her 2008 album "Tetaltenal Wey?", from which today's selections are taken, Hibist is not just a fine singer but a bit of a saucepot as well. Or a Wat Pot as they are probably known in Ethiopia.

"Tagesegne" - Hibist Tiruneh

"Siebastopol" - Hibist Tiruneh

This is just a guess, but I think "Siebastopol" may be about a giant cannon rather than the town in the Crimea. According to Wikipedia, a 6.7 ton mortar of that name was built by Emperor Tewodros II in the 1860s. Or, rather more prosaically, it might be about this cinema in Addis Ababa.

We're going to pretend it is the cannon, so we can link to another mighty Cannon.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Jerry Leiber R.I.P.

We were going to feature some groovy Ethiopian pop today, but we'll put that on hold for a few days in order to pay our respects to the late, great Jerry Leiber, who died yesterday. He was one of the greatest writers of popular songs there has ever been, as this small selection demonstrates.

"Lucky Lips" - Ruth Brown

"Ruby Baby" - Dion

"If You Don't Come Back" - The Drifters

"Don't" - Elvis Presley

"Kansas City" - Wanda Jackson

"Jackson" - Johnny Cash & June Carter

"Girls, Girls, Girls" - The Cornell Hurd Band

"Baby I Don't Care" - Bryan Ferry

"Spanish Harlem" - Laura Nyro & Labelle

"On Broadway" - Jess Roden

I know there are a lot of Elkie Brooks fans out there who hang on my every word, so it would be remiss of me not to mention that Jerry had a hand in this smash hit as well:

Although if you could only choose one Leiber-Stoller cover version, it would probably have to be this one: