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Wednesday 30 March 2011

Opening The Vaults

This will be my last post for a couple of weeks. I am heading off to South Africa this afternoon for a major Goggins family event and a bit of a holiday. Obviously I hope to dig out some more Tsonga Disco while I am there.

To tide you over, we are opening the vaults (there was a sort of clue in the title, I suppose). The link below takes you through to all 100+ Tsonga tracks that we have posted here since the blog started a couple of years ago. So for all you fans of Peta Teanet, Paul Ndlovu, Penny Penny, Joe Shirimani, General Muzka and the rest of the gang - fill your boots!

Hours and hours of Tsonga Disco fun

And as if that wasn't generous enough, here is a small selection of assorted other groovy African sounds.

"Vimado Wingnan" - El Rego & Ses Commandos (Benin)

"Tiyi Hobvu" - Zexie Manatsa & The Green Arrows (Zimbabwe)

"N'Kanou" - Sonia Carre d'As (Burkina Faso)

"Emonsou" - Alice Dekessa (Cote d'Ivoire)

"Nadina" - M'bilia Bel with Tabu Ley & Afrisa International (D.R. Congo)

"Gumba Gumba" - Cannonball Adderley

I realise Cannonball Adderley himself is not an African, but the song is by the great South African composer, singer, jazzman and all round top dude, Caiphus Semenya. I will have to do a special on him when I get back but in the meantime, here he is in concert with his missus, Letta Mbulu.

And we finish off with the traditional "Ernie's off on his hols" clip. Have fun, see you in a couple of weeks.

Sunday 27 March 2011

ReviewShine Special

No standing on ceremony. We've got a lot to get through today so let's get cracking.

I have recently been signed up with this service called ReviewShine which sends bloggers advance copies of forthcoming releases by independent artists, most of them performing what you might loosely call Americana. On the basis of the stuff I have been sent in the first couple of weeks I would draw two conclusions: there is a lot more out there than this or other, more distinguished, blogs like A Fifty Cent Lighter and a Whiskey Buzz will ever have time to listen to; and a remarkably high percentage of it deserves to be listened to. Putting those two together means inevitably there is good music that isn't getting heard.

So rather than give you a detailed run down of one or two CDs, I thought I would take you on a whistle-stop tour of some of the edited highlights of what I have heard, in the hope that it will encourage you to investigate further. I will try to do this at least once a month. Even if you tell me to stop.

Here goes with the initial selection.

First up, and possibly pick of the bunch, is Mia Dyson. Already well known in her native Australia, she has relocated to LA and her "You And Me" EP, which comes out tomorrow on Black Door Records, is her first release since doing so. Some reviews compare her to Lucinda Williams, which I understand, but personally I was reminded of Frankie Miller. This is blue-eyed soul of the highest order. Even the involvement of Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics could not put me off.

"Choose" - Mia Dyson 

Also vying for top spot we have Natalia Zukerman, whose fifth album "Gas Station Roses" came out earlier this month on Weasel Records and is available on her website and elsewhere. It is a really strong selection of songs in assorted folk and roots styles and I love the slightly smoky tone of her voice. I could have picked just about any track off the album as a highlight. It is well worth checking out.

"The Right Time" - Natalia Zukerman

Here are three more ladies. Victoria George's "Lately I" EP (self-released and due out in May) is what I would call modern pop-country. It is not the sort of thing I listen to a lot, but it is very well done and this track stands out for having a bit more "oomph" to it. "Beyond The Trees" by Melanie Budd is another strong album, in a style that blends a bit of all of the above. It comes out officially on 5 April. And I have been very taken by Jeanne Jolly's beautiful voice, which is shown to particularly good effect on this track from her "Falling in Carolina" EP, which came out late last year. It is available on eMusic and probably elsewhere.

"Two Of Us" - Victoria George

"Nothing To Feel" - Melanie Budd

"I'd Rather Be Lonely" - Jeanne Jolly

We'll finish off the mp3s with some men, in case you were worried that I had turned into an affirmative action blog. "Stacked" is the new album by Atlanta four-piece Fisheye and consists of good, solid country-rock tunes. The vocalist reminds me very strongly of old Robbie Fulks. And Billy Two Shoes are a more or less random assortment of dudes who donate all proceeds from their music to help feed the poor in Kentucky and Ohio, which gives you an added reason to support them. This is my favourite track from their latest album, "Full Breakfast", which came out in January.   

"The Bridge" - Fisheye

"Don't Ya Get Down" - Billy Two Shoes

And if you still have any breath left after all that, we'll bring things to a close with a couple of clips. First up is Natalia Zukerman with the title track of her new album. And then we have the mighty Frankie Miller, who I mentioned way back when, with a great rendition of Randy Newman's "Sail Away".

Saturday 26 March 2011

Only Joshing

I am a bit slow off the mark with this, but if you haven't already checked out Josh T. Pearson's "Last of the Country Gentlemen" you ought to do so. But you ought to do so properly. This is not an album to be put on in the background while you do something else. Do that and you will probably just find it dreary and dragging on. This is an album you have to make a bit of effort with, but if you do you will be rewarded. You also need to listen to it all the way through to really get yer actual ambience of the piece, which for me is reminiscent of some of Johnny Cash's 'American Recordings' and the good bits of Johnny Dowd.

Here is alternative version  of "Country Dumb" from that on the album, that Josh has kindly made available on his website.

"Country Dumb (Piano Version)" - Josh T. Pearson

And, to pad things out a bit, here are some more Joshes.

"South Carolina Low Country" - Josh Turner

"Kentucky Flood" - Josh Rouse

"Kathleen" - Josh Ritter

And here are Daphne and Celeste with some light-hearted joshing of their own.

Thursday 24 March 2011


I have just got back from a few days in Riyadh. I can't say I would recommend it as a holiday destination but if you do find yourself in the area you could do worse than pop into the Rotana shop in the Al Faisalah Mall (next door to the tower of the same name, which is the skyscraper with the giant golden ball in the middle). They have a large selection of Saudi and other Arabic CDs going for 15 riyals a pop - roughly £2.50 in your English money.

Needless to say I could not resist a bargain like that, so came away with CDs by Majd El Kasem, Talal Maddah, Khaled Abdulrahman, Saif Shaheen, Mansour El Mohanadi, Mishal Alarouj and Nabeel Rodeh. If any of you have information about any of them I would be delighted to hear from you.

No doubt you will get pestered with some of that in due course, but let's start things with the only CD I bought by a female singer - "Shu Mghaira...!" by the Queen of Lebanese pop, Najwa Karam. Known to her devoted fans as "Shams E-Ghinnieh" (The Sun of Song), Najwa has been strutting her stuff since winning a Lebanese version of The X Factor in 1985. Well I say strutting - presumably only in a very demure way if she ever tours in Saudi, covered head to toe in black and maybe swaying very slightly. In the same way as her female Saudi fans do while waiting in the women only queue at the MacDonalds in the Al Faisalah Mall.

"She Mghaira...!" came out in 2004. To be honest I am not sure Najwa's music is entirely my cup of tea, but see what you think.

"Shu Mghaira" - Najwa Karam

"Akher Dawa" - Najwa Karam

Here she is creating havoc at an army checkpoint last year.

And, with a predictability that regular readers will have foreseen:

Saturday 19 March 2011

Riyadh, Rage & Roddy

This will be the last post here until at least mid-week, as tomorrow I am off to Riyadh to work for a few days. From what I have heard of it, I don't imagine I will be returning laden down with interesting music by local acts, but you never know.

Until now Saudi Arabia has not seen any of the sort of protests taking place in neighbouring Bahrain but, perfectly timed for my arrival, disaffected parties are planning some for tomorrow. They are calling it a "Day of Rage".

Here's a song about that.

"Days of Rage" - Tom Robinson Band (1979)

Given the Kingdom's reputation for tolerance and broad-mindedness, I imagine you would have to be a particularly bold Saudi to climb up on the barricades and belt out this TRB number:

Moving on to something more light and fluffy, and linked only by the initials TR, let's talk about Ted Roddy. Ted is one of those Texan polymaths who gets by in the music business by doing a little bit of everything. He makes the occasional record, he leads assorted bands, he is a blues harp gun for hire. And for the last 25 years he has had a sideline as possibly the best Elvis tribute act around.

Ted would never win an Elvis impersonator contest as he does not make any great attempt to mimic the King's voice - it is similar but he doesn't incorporate all those exaggerated tics and slurs that most of them do. Instead he recreates the feel of the records - specifically the Memphis recordings of the late 1960s and early 1970s - by surrounding himself with a crack band. Twice a year - to mark the birth and death of Elvis - they put on what sounds like a fantastic show at the Continental Club in Austin.

In 2002 Ted and the gang made an album. Instead of doing straight covers, they took songs written or released during the period Elvis was recording in Memphis that he could easily have done himself - some well known like 'River Deep Mountain High', others more obscure. Their song selection and arrangements are pretty much faultless. You really could imagine Elvis belting them out. Which makes it the next best thing to the man himself.

Here are a a couple of selections.

"Nobody's Fool" - Ted Roddy & The King Conjure Orchestra

"Lay Lady Lay" - Ted Roddy & The King Conjure Orchestra

But as good as that is, you can't beat the real thing.

Friday 18 March 2011

Forty Shades of Green

We're reposting this from yesterday as it seems to have become corrupted or something. Just so you know.

Or to be strictly accurate, eight shades of green. To mark St. Patrick's Day I did think about posting one song for each county in Ireland. But there are 32 of the things and some of them are a bit light in the song department - does anyone out there know any songs about Offaly, Carlow or Longford? - so I decided just to give you two for each of the four provinces instead.

Regular readers will not be in the least but surprised to discover that I have used this as an excuse to treat you, yet again, to the mighty Joe Dolan's "Westmeath Bachelor". I'm sure they will be dancing around Joe's statue in Mullingar tonight, or they will if it is back from being repaired.

Anyway, starting from the top and then going clockwise


"The Homes of Donegal" - Paul Brady

"Pretty Little Girl from Omagh" (Tyrone) - Frankie McBride


"Westmeath Bachelor" - Joe Dolan

"Wicklow Hills" - Pierce Turner


"The Old Dungarvan Oak" (Waterford) - Sean Treacy

"Lisdoonvarna" (Clare) - Christy Moore


"Boyle in the County Roscommon" - Hugo Duncan & the Tall Men

"Three Pubs in Bohola" (Mayo) - Kevin Prendergast

And from whichever of those places you start your journey, you shouldn't start from there. Because it's a long way to Tippa Irie (and even further now to Smiley Culture - R.I.P.)

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Rumba Time!

Keeping it short and very, very sweet tonight, here are some top notch Congolese rumbas courtesy of Mr Abeba Lipordo. They are taken from his album "Lifelo Ya Mondele", which came out last year.

"Lisolo Ya Mpese" - Abeba Lipordo

"Hiper Tension" - Abeba Lipordo

I like a good rumba. And I like a good sports car. But they don't go well together. Because, as Elvis can tell you from bitter personal experience, there's no room to rumba in a sports car.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Salty Seadogs

I don't know what they were putting in the sea-water in the folk and hippy clubs of Britain in the early 1970s, but it produced a spate of songs - well, at least three -about real or imagined grizzled old seafarers.

"The Strange Tale of Captain Shannon and the Hunchback from Gigha" - Bread, Love and Dreams (from "The Strange Tale..." - I'm not typing all that out again - 1970)

"The Sea Captain" - Sandy Denny (from "The North Star Grassmen and the Ravens", 1971)

"Old Buccaneer" - The Incredible String Band (from "No Ruinous Feud", 1973)

I suppose you could always add Procol Harum to that list, at a stretch.

Of course the saltiest of all salty seadogs was old Captain Pugwash.

I used to have a side-table in the shape of Captain Pugwash. I bought it in St. Ives. It was a right b*gg*r to lug back to London on the train, I can tell you, but worth it.

Friday 11 March 2011

Four Of A Kind

You lot seemed to like the four versions of "Set Me Free" I posted a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I would try to same trick again - but with a different song, obviously. You can call it a lack of imagination or you can call it giving the people what they want. Up to you.

"You'll Lose A Good Thing" - Barbara Lynn (1962)

"You'll Lose A Good Thing" - Denise Lasalle (1972)

"You'll Lose A Good Thing" - Little Royal (1972)

"You'll Lose A Good Thing" - Freddie Fender (1976)

Barbara wrote it and recorded it first. Here is a fantastic clip of her playing it way back when.

And here she is in 2005 sounding better than ever with a great rendition of "Misty Blue".

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Big Lucy

I am greatly enjoying the new Lucinda Williams album, "Blessed". It is definitely up there with "West" as the best of her recent albums, and I suspect after a few more listens I may end up thinking it is her best since "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road".

We don't have any tracks from the album for download here. I'm not going to mess with Big Lucy (as she is affectionately known in the Goggins household) - she wants you to buy it, and so you should. Instead here are three of the many contributions she has made to tribute albums over the years. The tributes are to Kate Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt and Alejandro Escovedo respectively.

"Here In California" - Lucinda Williams (from "Treasures Left Behind", 1998)

"Angels Laid Him Away" - Lucinda Williams (from "Avalon Blues", 2001)

"Pyramid Of Tears" - Lucinda Williams (from "Por Vida", 2004)

Going back to "Blessed", the opening track - and lead-off single - "Buttercup" is particularly awesome. Here is a slightly ropey clip of Lucinda in Fayatteville last September, when she was still learning how to play it. It's great stuff.

And from way back when, here's a slightly more polished version of an old favourite.

Monday 7 March 2011

Home, Home Op Die Plaas

Here is something that will enable us here at 27 Leggies HQ to tell the men from the boys (metaphorically speaking, of course) among our loyal readers. Afrikaans country music.

Country music is enormously popular among the Afrikaans-speaking population of South Africa, both in its more traditional form (known as boeremusiek) and the more modern pop-country, most of which is about as dire as American pop-country but with the added advantage for most of you that you won't understand the words.

We start with a few standards from way back in the 1960s: Danie Pretorius' "Die Ou Kalahari", which was covered in a bilingual version by none other than Jim Reeves, followed by Die Sangende Beesboer (The Singing Cowboy) himself, Mr Charles Jacobie. Finishing off this segment, we have Groep Twee with their 1966 hit version of a song that dates back to 1940 and was apparently first popularised by musically minded jukskei players (jukskei being a sort of Afrikaans version of boules which involves throwing wooden pegs at a stick - more details here in the unlikely event that you are interested).

"Die Ou Kalahari" (The Old Kalahari) - Danie Pretorius

"Ruiter In Die Nag" (Rider In The Night) - Charles Jacobie

"Die Oukraalliedjie" (The Old Homestead Song) - Groep Twee

Bringing us more up to date, we have Emo Adams with a tarted up version of the same song, which also incorporates another old standard, "Vat Jou Goed En Trek, Ferreira" (Take Your Goods And Go, Ferriera). This comes from his 2008 album "Tall, Dark and Afrikaans". Then we have Andries Vermeulen with a tribute to girl known, for reasons unclear, as Cauliflower Anna, before finishing off with Wicus Van Der Merwe and his frankly hilarious - honest - account of a day's fishing on Hartebeespoort Dam. It cracks me up every time.

"Die Nuwe Oukraalliedjie" (The New Old Homestead Song) - Emo Adams

"Blomkool Anna" (Cauliflower Anna) - Andries Vermeulen

"Hartebeespoortdam" (It's the name of a dam, folks) - Wicus Van Der Merwe

I always think of Wicus' tale of good old boys having fun by the water as the Afrikaans equivalent of Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochee". Unfortunately the powers that be at YouTube have disabled embedding by request, but for one more click you can treat yourself to a bit of AJ.

And for those of you wondering why Emo Adams descibes himself as tall, dark and Afrikaans, here's why. In this clip he is expressing his undying devotion to his teacher, Mrs de Kok, who appears to be considerably younger than he is.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Poetry Corner

In a probably doomed attempt to "improve" you Philistines out there, with your noisy records that just go bang bang bang and the words that you can't make out, we at 27 Leggies are bringing you some culture. Some poetry, to be precise.

"The Way I Feel" is a 1975 album by American poet/activist/educator Nikki Giovanni on which she recites her poems to a generally fairly mellow soul and jazz backing. The music was written and arranged by none other than Arif Mardin and performed by such notable session players as Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie and Richard Tee.

"Just A NY Poem" - Nikki Giovanni

"My House" - Nikki Giovanni

"Poem For A Lady Whose Voice I Like" - Nikki Giovanni

It's not bad, although it doesn't begin to compare with the majesty of the immortal William McGonagall, whose complete works - and extraordinary personal history - are all available online. Take, for example, the climax to his moving account of the terrible collapse of the Tay railway bridge in 1879 (or his terrible account of the moving collapse, if you prefer):

"Oh, ill-fated bridge of the silvery Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side by buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed."

But we've saved the best poetry for the end.

Friday 4 March 2011

Tsonga Disco Returns

Some long overdue Tsonga Disco for you all tonight. It is our old friend Penny Penny with a couple of crackers from his 1995 album, "Yogo Yogo". As I think I may have mentioned recently, I am off to South Africa at the end of the month and hope to be able to stock up on some Tsonga sounds while I'm there.

"Ama Owners" - Penny Penny

"Kulani Kulani!! (Remix)" - Penny Penny

And apropos of nothing at all...

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Happy Birthday Mr F

My dear friend Mister F (of F-Life fame) celebrates yet another birthday today. At various points in the last twelve months or so he has been mistaken for a police officer, my gay partner and - best of all - my father. So today's selections have been chosen as a sort of tribute to him.

Happy birthday Dad/ lover boy/ officer (delete as applicable).

"Police Car" - Larry Wallis (1977)

"Johnny Are You Queer?" - Josie Cotton (1983)

"My Father's Name Is Dad" - Fire (1968)

I tried unsuccessfully to track down a video of Josie back in her heyday, but all I could find was this live clip of her performing a rather dire electro version last year.

I had slightly better luck with Larry, though.

And the biggest surprise of all: