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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.