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Monday 31 January 2011

The Early Years Part 2

Here are five more of the songs that I first posted back in the early days of 27 Leggies, for those of you who missed them first time round (i.e. everyone).

Today's selection were all recorded in the period 1967 - 72. We have some garage/beat from Massachusetts and the Netherlands, some funky sounds from Virginia and Nigeria, and some kick-ass hippy nonsense from Notting Hill.

"Romeo And Juliet" - Michael & the Messengers (1967)

"Lady Sex" - Eddy Dyan & The Saints (1970)

"Peacock" - Little Wink & Eddie's 25th Century Band (1972)

"James Brown Ride On" - Orlando Julius & The Afro Sounders (1970)

"Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga" - Quintessence (1970)

The Quintessence track is not the studio version from their self-titled album but a greatly superior live version released by Island on the "Bumpers" sampler. Here is more of the lads in action.

Sunday 30 January 2011

The Early Years Part 1

As I think I mentioned at the time, 27 Leggies celebrated its second birthday earlier this month. Back in the early days, before coming to the attention of discerning readers like yourselves, we were lucky to get more than a handful of visitors a week. Which meant that a lot of stuff was posted but heard by hardly anyone. So I thought over the next few posts I would bring back some of the tracks I originally posted in the first few months of the blog to bring them to the bigger audience they deserve.

We start today with the song that gave 27 Leggies its name. We follow it up with some prog and Japanese soft-rock from the 1970s, some Belgian new wave from the early 1980s, and a truly masterly cover version by the late, great Joe Dolan.

"They'm" - Rainbow Ffolly (1968)

"Ship" - Gnidrolog (1972)

"Natsu Nandesu" - Happy End (1971)

"Gorilla Dans De Samba" - Aroma Di Amore (1983)

"Psycho Killer" - Joe Dolan (2005)

Here is some more from Joe, a man still so popular they are having to reinforce his statue in Mullingar because people keep climbing up to be with him. Sing along now. And watch out for some knicker-flinging in the second clip.

Friday 28 January 2011

Tiken All The Boxes

You are all very tolerant of my inane ramblings, and I would not want to push that tolerance to the limits. But in the unlikely event you can stomach any more, my blethering can now be found in a one-off feature over at Pop Goes The Radio, an excellent blog that whizzes between London and Galway with alarming speed.

Josh, who masterminds Pop Goes The Radio, has very kindly - if rather misleadingly - described 27 Leggies as "a wonderful education in, for want of a better description, World Music". When I read that this morning I immediately shelved the in-depth comparison of the songwriting skills of Gilbert O'Sullivan and Neil Sedaka that I had originally planned for today, and desperately looked around for something more in keeping with Josh's hyperbole.

Which is why you are getting some top-notch reggae from Cote d'Ivoire, courtesy of Tiken Jah Fakoly. Here are a couple of tracks each from his albums Coup De Gueule (2004) and African Revolution (2010).

"Kuma" - Tiken Jah Fakoly (2004)

"Ou Veux-Tu Que J'Aille" - Tiken Jah Fakoly (2004)

"Laisse-Moi M'Exprimer" - Tiken Jah Fakoly (2010)

"Je Ne Veux Pas Ton Pouvoir" - Tiken Jah Fakoly (2010)

Mr Fakoly is apparently banned from Senegal after criticising the President while performing there in 2007. Of course, he is by no means the only reggae singer to have spoken out against injustice. Here is another example.

By the way, for those of you who are interested, I favour Gilbert lyrically but Neil for his mastery of melody. Controversial views, I know, but - like Pluto Shervington and Tiken Jah Fakoly - sometimes you just have to speak out.

Monday 24 January 2011

New Desert Blues

Here is a little something for fans of Tinariwen, Etram Finatawa, Mariem Hassan and other Saharan superstars. Atri N'Assouf - which means "The Star of the Desert" - is a newish group from Niger that released its first album, "Akal", last year. And very good it is too, as these tracks will demonstrate.

"Talamt" - Atri N'Assouf

"Eghaf" - Atri N'Assouf

Here are the lads and lasses in action.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Hotels, Motels, Holiday Inns

Hotels. I've stayed in many in my time, some good, some bad, most just adequate. Inevitably it is the bad ones that are the most memorable. So I would like to dedicate this post to the likes of Hotel Brian in Amsterdam, Hotel Phoenix in Kinshasa, the hotel next to the market in Przemysl in Poland, and the hotel in rural Moldova where the staff locked us in our bedrooms at 9pm and went home for the evening.

Most of the songs about hotels that I know also fall into one of three types: the ones where there is something awry about the hotel, which quite often is a metaphor for something or other; the ones about lonely and/or weary travellers; and cheating songs. Here are a couple of each. They are all excellent, but I would particularly commend to you the contribution from the Wainwright family - Loudon's classic "musician of the road" number and his daughter Lucy's lovely version of Richard Shindell's "Next Best Western", which I first heard over at Cover Lay Down.

"Cheap Hotel" - Ron Sexsmith (from "Blue Boy", 2001)

"The Farmer's Hotel" - Silver Jews (from "Tanglewood Numbers", 2005)

"Motel Blues" - Loudon Wainwright III (from "Album II", 1972)

"Next Best Western" - Lucy Wainwright Roche (from "8 Songs", 2007)

"Paper Thin" - Denise Lasalle (on "Lady In The Street", 1983)

"Third Rate Romance" - Jesse Winchester (on "Learn To Love It", 1974)

To finish things off, here is a rather shaky video for one of my all-time favourite hotel songs. It was a big radio hit back in the late 1970s but inexplicably never did much in the charts.

Friday 21 January 2011

Funky Friday

Here is some early 1970s Nigerian funk for you, courtesy of Mr Segun Bucknor. Both tracks come from an excellent compilation of his work called "Who Say I Tire", released last year on Vampisoul Records.

"Love And Affection" - Segun Bucknor

"You Killing Me" - Segun Bucknor

And here is some more classic 1970s funk. Dig that bassline.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Dirk's Work

Today we feature one of the many brave foot-soldiers from the massed battalions of singer-songwriters who signed up to fight the good fight in the 1970s only to be mown down in their hundreds at the turn of the 1980s. Those of you who consider yourself veterans of the punk wars may sneer, but remember that the enemy were humans too.

The brave soldier in question is Dirk Hamilton, and happily he is still plugging away, like one of those Japanese soldiers who used to intermittently emerge from the undergrowth in Micronesia (to extend the military metaphor way past the point where it works). He had his shot at the big time in the second half of the 1970s with two albums on ABC Records and two more on Elektra/ Asylum. He then took a bit of a break before coming back in the late 1980s, since when he has been releasing albums under his own steam at regular intervals. And he is still gigging regularly in Texas, California and Italy (which was where he has his greatest commercial success). More details are available on his website.

I picked up last year vinyl copies of his two albums on Elektra, "Meet Me At The Crux" (1978) and "Thug Of Love" (1980). There is a very clear Van Morrison influence - which is no bad thing - and there are also hints of early Bruce Springsteen and Steve Forbert, which is no surprise as they were both pretty heavily influenced by Van around that time. While I wouldn't say Dirk was a lost genius, there is certainly enough good stuff on those two albums to suggest that with a few breaks he could have been much better known than he is.

Here are a couple of tracks from each album. Apologies for the sound quality.

"How Do You Fight Fire?" - Dirk Hamilton (1978)

"Every Inch A Moon" - Dirk Hamilton (1978)

"Colder Than Mexican Snow" - Dirk Hamilton (1980)

"Wholly Bowled Over" - Dirk Hamilton (1980)

I don't know whether Dirk wore white sox.

Monday 17 January 2011

Belgian Clones

27 Leggies is two years old today. And what better way to celebrate than with an album of cover versions by a load of unknown Belgians. If this blog stands for anything, it stands for unknown Belgians (and bringing Tsonga Disco to the masses of course).

The album goes by the name of "Clone: Version 0.1" and it came out in 2005 on the Sounds Familiar label. According to the sleevenotes Clone played most of the musical instruments, but there is no further information about he/she/them. There are lots of guest vocalists, who may well be Big in Bruges but none of whom had ever impinged on my consciousness before I spotted the CD going for €3 last week in the CD shop in Gare de Midi in Brussels.

Apart from the price, what attracted me to the CD was the choice of cover versions. These plucky Belgians have a go at the likes of Richard Hell & The Voidoids, The Jam, Roxy Music, Wire and many more of the sounds of my youth. Bung in a bit of Johnny Cash, Petula Clark and Peter Hammill and how could I resist.

As with all such endeavours, it is a bit of a mixed bag. Here are some of the more interesting efforts - covers of Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, The Ramones and Them respectively. As a bonus, and a birthday treat for the blog, we also have Them with the original version of "I Can Only Give You Everything", the garage band standard and one of the first of many moments of musical genius from Mr Van Morrison.

"Some Velvet Morning" - Guy Swinnen with Ivy Smits, Kristin Brown and Catherine M

"Blitzkrieg Bop" - Perverted

"I Can Only Give You Everything" - Eric Judah & Prince Far Out

"I Can Only Give You Everything" - Them

Friday 14 January 2011

Multiple Marabastads

A couple of months ago the excellent Soul Safari blog featured some old Township Jive singles from South Africa. Among them was a cracking little tune from 1969 called "Marabastad No. 2" by one Kid Zondi.

Jump forward to 2006 and our old friend Joe Shirimani, one of the premier movers and shakers on the Tsonga Disco scene, releases his excellent album "Tambilu Yanga". It features a different but equally cracking little tune also called "Marabastad 2".

Here they both are. Compare and contrast.

"Marabastad No. 2" - Kid Zondi

"Marabastad 2" - Joe Shirimani

For a bonus, here is Joe's first attempt at mastering that Marabastad beat.

"Marabastad" - Joe Shirimani

Meanwhile, elsewhere in South Africa...

Thursday 13 January 2011

More Magyars

We are sticking with the sounds of swinging Hungary, and today we really are swinging. Back in the early 1970s there was a bunch of cool dudes called Bergendy, led by the brothers Istvan and Peter Bergendy and including assorted other Istvans, Peters, Ferencs and Gyorgys. They were Hungary's premier exponents of "horn rock" and, on the basis of the one album I have heard, a really rather groovy blend of classic rock, psychedelia, pop and blue-eyed soul.

The album is called "Bergendy" - I wonder where they dreamed that up? - and was released on Pepita Records in 1972. It was re-released the following year in the then East Germany with the same title, a different cover and slightly different track listing. I picked up a copy of the original in Budapest last month with no great expectations, but it turned out to be a very nice surprise and well worth a listen if you can track it down. What follows are a few edited highlights.

"Zold Pokol" - Bergendy

"Skot Dudas" - Bergendy

"Jojj Vissza, Vandor" - Bergendy

Replace the "e"s in Bergendy with "u"s and you have burgundy. Burgundy is a type of wine. So is champagne. As these boys would be happy to demonstrate.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Mellow Magyar Magic

Something suitably mellow for a wintry Sunday evening. I bought "Gingallo" by Agi Szaloki at the Christmas market in Budapest's Vorosmarty Square a few weeks ago. I heard it playing at a little wooden stall selling Hungarian folk albums. With the snow, the Christmas lights and the steam coming off the mulled wine it seemed to fit the mood perfectly. And it still sounds pretty good on a dull, cold day in London.

Agi Szaloki (or Szaloki Agi as it says on the album cover - for reasons best known to themselves the Hungarians print surnames first) is a folk and jazz singer whose voice I really like. As well as releasing her own albums she has also issued a joint effort with fellow female Hungarian singers Szilvia Bognar and Agnes Herczku, and has made a couple of guest appearances on albums by Oi Va Voi. "Gingallo" was released in 2009.

"Gingallo" - Agi Szaloki

"A Szeretom Pakular" - Agi Szaloki

Here is Agi in action a few months ago.

If Mister F could calm down and try to focus after that, this next clip has been added at his particular request.

Off you go, son...

Friday 7 January 2011

Landmark Moment

At some point today 27 Leggies welcomed our 30,000th visitor. I was so thrilled a did a little dance, made a little love and got down tonight. That figure puts us level with Steve Forbert and we have already started reeling in Traffic.

"Thirty Thousand Men" - Steve Forbert

"(Roamin' Thru The Gloamin' With) 40,000 Headmen" - Traffic

I thought I should play something by way of a tribute to our milestone visitor, but it proved more confusing than it should. The counter thingy in the bottom right can display details of visitors either by country or city. For some unknown reason when you look at the details by city, the total number of visitors shown is eleven higher than when you look at the details by country.
So depending on which total you believe, our 30,000th visitor either came from Hanoi in Vietnam or Port Elizabeth in South Africa. I have plumped for Port Elizabeth because... well, because to the best of my knowledge I haven't got any music from Vietnam in my collection. The shame!

The cool jazz dude Stompie Mavi, who sadly passed away just over two years ago, has been featured here several times before. Port Elizabeth was Stompie's old stomping ground, so here are a couple from him.

"Tyamzashe" - Stompie Mavi

"Stharara" - Stompie Mavi

For our other visitor, by way of consolation - if that is the right word - here are Hanoi Rocks.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Magical Milton

We haven't had any Little Milton up here for absolute ages, which is a sin of omission that needs to be put right.

Known to his Mum and Dad as James Milton Campbell Jr, the late Little Milton was a great blues guitarist and, in my humble opinion, one of the finest soul singers in the business. Today's picks are from the soulful side of his repetoire.

"We're Gonna Make It" - Little Milton

"Somebody's Changin' My Sweet Baby's Mind" - Little Milton

"Let Me Back In" - Little Milton

"Just One Step" - Little Milton

And for those of you with a hankering for some blues:

Sunday 2 January 2011

Looking Forward And Back

I thought about using my first post of 2011 to look forward to what the year might bring, but rapidly came to the same conclusion as Noel Coward.

"There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner" - Noel Coward

So instead I decided to look back. Join me as we journey to Denmark at the beginning of the 1970s, courtesy of a couple of CDs I picked up when in Copenhagen a couple of months ago.

First up is an outfit called Pocket-Size, whose CD "In One Or Another Condition" contains - according to the only other English words on the cover - "newly discovered Danish psychedelic masterpieces from 1970". I don't know whether they are less hyperbolic in Danish. It is alright, but rather too heavy for my personal taste. This is probably the pick of the bunch.

"I'm So Sleepy/ Bake Your Own Cake" - Pocket-Size

Much better is a CD called "Hippieology Vol. 1", released by the Danish label/ online music shop Karma Music in 2005. It contains two albums: "Foreningen Til Livets Besyttelse" ("Society For The Protection Of Life") from 1971 and "Den Lille Prins" ("The Little Prince") from 1972.

From what I have been able to piece together, both albums came out of a hippy commune in Aalborg. The line-up appears to have been largely the same for both records, with the notable exception of one Susanne Hamilton from Copenhagen who sang and wrote several of the tracks on the first album.

"Foreningen Til Livets Besyttelse" is the more experimental of the two albums. "Den Lille Prins" is fairly conventional by comparison, containing as it does some discernible tunes and even some displays of musical competence, possibly as a result of them all being slightly less stoned without the malign influence of that Susanne and her fancy Copenhagen ways. Both albums have their charms; here is a selection from each.

"Betjent Larsen" - Foreningen Til Livets Beskyttelse

"Cirkus I Byen" - Den Lille Prins

For the clip I was going to feature a Prince video, but he has decreed they shall not appear on YouTube. Then I thought of trying the cover of "Raspberry Beret" by the Hindu Love Gods, who were the late Warren Zevon and most of R.E.M., but I could not find that either. So here instead is a solo performance from Warren in which he expresses a similar sentiment to that voiced by Mr Coward way back at the beginning of this ramble.