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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.