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Monday 28 February 2011

A Bunch of Charlies

The title is not a reference to the performance of Messrs Szczesny and Koscielny in yesterday's League Cup Final - a performance that I had the dubious pleasure of watching at first hand - but something much more pleasant.

Last week I posted four versions of the old standard "Set Me Free". Judging by the number of hits each has received since, you lot favour the Charlie Rich version. So as a special treat, here are four more of his finest moments. Fill your boots!

"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" - Charlie Rich

"Life's Little Ups And Downs" - Charlie Rich

"I Take It On Home" - Charlie Rich

"Feel Like Going Home (demo version)" - Charlie Rich

Friday 25 February 2011

Set Them Free

Curly Putnam is one of the greatest country songwriters of all time, being solely or jointly responsible for "Green, Green Grass of Home", "D-I-V-O-R-C-E", "He Stopped Loving Her Today", "My Elusive Dreams" and many, many more.

Here are four versions of one of his finest moments. Three are by soul singers and the fourth is by Charlie Rich, who I consider a soul singer as well. They are all pretty good. If I had to choose one I would probably pick Arthur Alexander's version just ahead of Charlie, but fortunately we don't have to choose.

"Set Me Free" - Charlie Rich

"Set Me Free" - Arthur Alexander

"Set Me Free" - Esther Phillips

"Set Me Free" - Joe Tex

As a bonus, here is a different song with the same name by a new Australian singer-songwriter by the name of Israel Cannan. And very nice it is too. The song is taken from his debut album "Walk", which came out late last year and was composed and recorded while he travelled around Oz in a camper van. Very enterprising, the young folks today.

"Set Me Free" - Israel Cannan

I said it was a good job we don't have to choose one version of "Set Me Free". Even better that we don't have to choose one Curly Putnam song. Because if we did I would have to drop all the above for this - Ol' Possum's finest moment. It breaks me up every time.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Dancing In Dodoma

Here are a couple of chirpy tunes from Tanzania. That's all I have to say about them really. I could try to pad this out with interesting facts about Tanzanian music - for example, that the Tanzanian national anthem has the same tune as the national anthems of South Africa and Zambia, that Tanzanian hip hop is called Bongo Flava, and that the Zaramo people perform traditional dance melodies on tuned goblet drums -but I can't be bothered.

"Umasikini" - Twanga Pepeta International (from "Password", 2005)

"Dada Huyu" - Ally Choky & Muhudin Ngoromo (from "Special Remix Vol. 1", year unknown)

Here are Twanga Pepeta in action.

And here is something even twanga-ier.

Monday 21 February 2011


Apologies for getting round to this a couple of months late, but last December saw the 30th anniversary of the release of the triple album "Sandinista!" by The Clash.

Like all right-minded people I bought a copy at the time it first came out. I then listened to it a few times, decided it wasn't very good, put it away and eventually got rid of it. After those first few times I never listened to it again until recently when I picked up a CD copy for £1 in the Dalston Oxfam Shop. And I quickly realised I had been missing out.

My initial reservations about it were mainly that stretching it to three albums meant there was an awful lot of flab, and that it was nowhere near as good as "London Calling". The first point still stands to a degree - does anyone really need Mickey Gallagher's kids singing "Career Opportunities"? - but there is a lot less filler than I remember. With some judicious trimming you could certainly make a very good double album. And as for the second point, well, thirty years greater experience has taught me that albums as good as "London Calling" come along once in a blue moon, so judging anyone by that standard is unfair.

Anyway, thirty years and two months late, here are some new favourites of mine.

"Washington Bullets" - The Clash

"Corner Soul" - The Clash

"Charlie Don't Surf" - The Clash

Meanwhile, at number 14 in the singles chart the week "Sandinista!" was released, another classic sound that has stood the test of time almost as well.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Adja Worried

Sticking with the female singers, today we feature Adja Soumano from Mali. These are a couple of tracks from her 2004 album, "Kokabere".

One of them is on the subject of sodomy. Not being able to understand the lyrics I don't know whether she is for or against, but seeing as they tend not to take a very enlightened view on the subject in many parts of Africa, I suspect she is against. If that is the case, I can't help thinking she has not helped her cause by having such a catchy tune, which must run the risk of making the listener think that it is fun.

"Sodome" - Adja Soumano

"Toumou Gnagnan" - Adja Soumano

Here is a clip of Adja performing the title track.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Sharon & Elyse

Mister F and I went to trendy Hoxton on Sunday night to see a set from Sharon van Etten. Normally at the sort of gigs we go to we are roughly the same age as the rest of the crowd, often towards the younger end, but on this occasion we very much stood out as the old farts, being surrounded as we were by fashionable young people. People like Anika in London, who has posted some excellent photos of the show.

Normally I look with disdain on the musical tastes of the young people of today, but on this occasion I think they are on to something. A large part of Sharon's set was taken from "Epic", her excellent album released last year. But being the hip characters that you are I expect you have that already. So instead here is something else from the set. Originally released on 2009's "Because I Was In Love", this version comes from a Daytrotter session recorded in March last year. You will want to download the full session, I am sure.

"Consolation Prize" - Sharon Van Etten

Sharon's voice really appeals to me. Immediately after the gig I found myself thinking that it reminded me a lot of Elyse Weinberg (or just Elyse to her friends). When I got home and dug out her self-titled album I couldn't quite see why, but it obviously struck a chord.

"Elyse" was first issued back in 1968, and was her only album. I first came across it roughly thirty years ago in a junk shop in South Africa and immediately fell in love with tracks like "Band of Thieves" and the first song we are featuring today. Unfortunately I lost the album in a house move or something some time back in the 1990s, and had resigned myself to never hearing it again. So imagine my delight when Orange Twin Records brought it out on CD a few years back. Here are two of the many highlights.

"Deed I Do" - Elyse

"What You Call It" - Elyse

Speaking of lady singers, we had such a positive reaction to the Leoncie clip on Monday that I thought you would appreciate another. This is one of her more, er, atypical numbers.

Monday 14 February 2011


This being Valentine's Day, here are four love songs of different sorts. One happy ending. One unhappy ending. One fellow who needs a slap because he doesn't realise when he is well off. And one that is frankly ridiculous.

"The Tale Of Mr. Morton" - Skee-Lo

"You Don't Know Me" - Ray Charles

"She Ain't No You" - Thad Cockrell

"Old King Kong" - George Jones

In the absence of a current Mrs Goggins, and with no immediate prospect of a future Mrs Goggins, I had thought about dedicating these songs to all the girls I've loved before.

But then I changed my mind. Because there is a woman I am madly in love with and have been for ages. I know there is no realistic chance that she will ever return my love. She is young, beautiful, bubbly, supremely talented and famous. What would she ever want with a humble middle-aged blogger like me?

But if I have learnt anything from sobbing away with Ray Charles it is this - better to say something and risk having your heart broken than say nothing and guarantee you will have your heart broken. So here goes:


Saturday 12 February 2011

South West Sounds

Some of you may be wondering where the Tsonga Disco has gone to recently. Well, I am having to eke it out a bit. There is only one CD in my collection that I haven't featured previously, and that will be coming up soon. But I am heading off to South Africa at the end of next month and hopefully will be able to top up the stocks of Tsonga music while I am there.

In the meantime, let's leave north-east South Africa where the Tsonga people live and head due west to Namibia. When you reach the capital, Windhoek, you might bump into a local outfit called Mweneni who are responsible for this "re-imagining" of an old Kaiser Chiefs' song. According to their page on Bandcamp, the song chronicles the hard life of a single lady in Windhoek and the lyrics are hilarious - although you really need to speak Ovambo to appreciate them fully.

"Oh My God" - Mweneni

I lived in Windhoek for about a year when I was eight. I have many happy memories but I don't remember anything quite like that. Nor do I remember hearing anything quite like this next one when I lived due South in Cape Town seven or eight years later.

Emile YX? (real name Emile Jansen) is a hip hop pioneer who is from the South African ethnic group known as the Cape Coloureds. It is impossible to try to define their origins accurately, which is the point Emile is making in this song, which I found on a 2008 compilation CD titled "Cherry Picking from the Baobab Tree".

Who Am I?" - Emile YX?

That is a pretty searching question. So is this one.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Adama Fine Musician

After a brief foray into new music and new technology earlier in the week we are back in our comfort zone today. We have pop music from Francophone Africa, brought to you via (one extra click for you, but a lot less hassle for me).

First up is one Adama Namakoro Fomba from Mali, and his album "Walle". I came across this recently on eMusic - which seems for the moment to have become the "go to" place for obscure African pop - and I think it is a bit of a cracker. Here are a couple of selections, starting with some very catchy disco before moving on to something a lot more soulful.

"Africa" - Adama Namakoro Fomba

"Koma" - Adama Namakoro Fomba

Your bonus, found on the same trawl of eMusic, is my favourite track from Chebli Msaidie's very similarly named album "Halle" (strictly speaking, both "Halle" and "Walle" should have a jaunty accent over the "e" but my keyboard doesn't have a gift for languages). I know even less about Chebli than I do about Adama, but according to the only source I could find, which was in Polish, he is from the Comores and he plays an updated version of taarab, a traditional music of the Comores and Zanzibar. I have no way of vouching for any of that, but whatever it is it sounds pretty good to me

"Beramu" - Chebli Msaidie

Slightly to my surprise, I found a clip of Chebli in action promoting this very album. By the time he gets to about 1:30 in I am sure you will join the crowd in shuffling around in a slightly half-hearted way.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Warning - Newness!

Unusually for 27 Leggies we are making a change from the usual diet of Tsonga Disco, Thai funk, Hungarian garage bands and assorted old codgers to bring you some new music by new acts. Don't panic - this will just be a temporary aberration. Not only that, I am trying out some new technology as well - I suspect this will also prove to be temporary.

Apart from getting to know you, our wonderful readers around the world, the main benefit of running a music blog is that nice people send you free music. I have read posts by some bloggers complaining about being inundated with e-mails sending them stuff, which strikes me as churlish in the extreme. It's free music. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

27 Leggies is only a modest endeavour (although I prefer to think of it as "niche"), but despite that I receive a steady stream of links and downloads. Now most of them aren't my cup of tea, to be honest, but every so often something turns up that I really like and that I would probably never have got to hear otherwise. Last week that happened twice.

First we have the "Death" E.P. by Afterlife Parade, which was released last week and is available on iTunes and Bandcamp. Afterlife Parade is known to his Mum as Quinn Erwin, and this is his response to a series of losses in his life and the lives of those around him. He describes "Death" as "deep, dark and atmospheric", which sums it up better than I can. There is a second EP due out in April called "Rebirth" which, by contrast, will apparently be "upbeat, percussive and a bit electronic".

I have listened to the EP three times now and I like it more each time. To "deep, dark and atmospheric" I would add "emotional without ever tipping over into melodramatic". My two favourite tracks are "Simple" and this one, "Arrows Fly". The guitar, cello, drums and prairie winds work really well together and the lyrics draw you in as well - clearly a metaphor for something I can't quite put my finger on.

"Arrows Fly"

Speaking of metaphors I don't quite get but I'm happy to keep listening to until I do, next up is "Alarms Ring Out" by The Daydream Club. They are a vaguely folkie English duo - Paula Walker and Adam Pickering - whose debut album "Overgrown" was released late last year on Poco Poco Records. On first listen this is probably my favourite track. The harmonies are good throughout the album but work particularly well here. It reminds me a lot of Hem, which can't be bad.

"Alarms Ring Out"

After giving them both that build-up, let's hope I haven't buggered the technology up completely and you can actually hear them. As a back-up, here is another folkie tune built around a mystical metaphor.

They were never really the same after Adge Cutler passed on.

Monday 7 February 2011

Budapest Beat Club

I have finally got round to listening to the old vinyl albums I picked up in Budapest a couple of months ago. Disappointingly, most of them are patchy at best. There is one notable exception - "Rocklegendak", a 1982 compilation album featuring assorted Hungarian hits from 1966 to 1970. Here are three of the many highlights.

"Atmentem A Szivarvarny Alatt" - Kati Kovacs & Scampolo (1970)

"Hova Siet Ez Az Elet" - Dogs (1968)

"Par Csepp Mez" - Metro (1968)

Here is Kati rocking out a few years later.

In that clip Kati appears to combine the early vocal style of Suzi Quatro and the early hairstyle of Chris Norman of Smokie. Probably better that than the other way round.

Thursday 3 February 2011


I have been to three gigs in the past week - Richard Thompson last night at the Festival Hall, Laura Cantrell last week at the Water Rats, and in between the far-famed Catalina Blues Band in the Hare, a fine public house in Cambridge Heath Road (and not to be confused with Vejer, where Lord Roper has his summer residence).

Richard Thompson was in fine form as always, and backed by a top-notch band. Special mention should go to Pete Zorn for his astonishing versatility on guitar, mandolin, lute, flute (both normal and Moroccan nose varieties), gamelan, gimbri, spoons, kazoo, mbira, zither, ocarina and all four types of saxaphone. I had never expected to hear a version of "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" that featured the bass sax as a rhythm instrument, but it worked very well.

We got two sets off Tommo and the gang, the first a selection of songs from his current album "Dream Attic" (most of which I enjoyed more than the album versions) and the second from all stages of his solo career, kicking off with "The Angels Took My Racehorse Away" from his debut solo album "Henry The Human Fly". One of the many highlights was a blistering rendition of "Tear Stained Letter" featuring his grandson Zack on guitar, who has clearly inherited some of his grandad's talent.

Here is the song they started the encores with.

"Take Care The Road You Choose" - Richard Thompson (from "Live Warrior", 2009)

I find it slightly difficult to tell how good the Laura Cantrell gig was. I thought she sounded pretty good but we didn't see a thing because the Water Rats is such a poorly designed venue. There is a fairly spacious bar which leads, through a narrow doorway, into a back room where the stage is. When someone as popular as Laura is playing, you have a choice of getting there as soon as the doors open two hours before the headliner comes on and getting down the front, knowing that you will never be able to get to the bar or the toilets, or getting there at a normal time and not seeing a thing. Even though Mr F and I got there an hour before Laura came on, we ended up having to sit in the bar and listen through the door.

One thing we learnt was that Laura has a new album coming out in a few months. Called "Kitty Wells' Dresses", it consists of Kitty covers plus the title track, which is the only original. Here is a demo version of that song, put out last year on Radio Free Song Club, an excellent site which regularly showcases new songs by the likes of Laura, Victoria Williams, Freedy Johnston and Peter Blegvad.

"Kitty Wells' Dresses" - Laura Cantrell

In between those two gigs, Mr F and I had an unexpected bonus when we popped into the Hare for a pint on Saturday night only to discover that the Catalina Blues Band were playing. While, in the words of the miserable old bugger I was standing next to (not Mr F - the other side), they were "not exactly Jeff Beck", I thought they were pretty good for a band you can see for free in the local. Their repertoire mainly consisted of old blues standards, including this one.

"Dust My Broom" - Elmore James

Laura Cantrell was supported by James Walbourne, who has previously played with the likes of the Pretenders, the Pernice Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis and whose first album "The Hill" has just come out. Here he is performing the title track.

James is from Muswell Hill. So were this lot. James isn't bad, but I know who I prefer.