Search This Blog

Friday 28 December 2012


We'll finish off the year with a quick run-down of my recorded and live music highlights of 2012. Bear with me, folks, while I pretend you are interested and not just after the freebies.

Best pop single of the year - and, to be honest, one of the few I heard - was "Sawa Sawelegn" by Ziggy Zaga and Teddy Yo, which ruled the airwaves when I was in Ethiopia a couple of months ago.

Best album of the year by some distance was "I Like To Keep Myself In Pain" by Kelly Hogan. Now, Kelly is one of my favourite singers of all time and we have had to wait eleven years for a new album, so to be honest she could have released a tribute to the Teletubbies and it would probably have made my top ten. Fortunately she rejected that option and instead treated us to the best album of her career.

The rest of the top ten, in alphabetical order only (and allowing for the fact that half of them would probably be different if I did this again tomorrow) are:

One Day I'm Going To Soar - Dexys
The Lion's Roar - First Aid Kit
Depending On The Distance - Jimmy Lafave
Traveling Alone - Tift Merritt
Leaves From The Family Tree - Polly Paulusma
Temple Beautiful - Chuck Prophet
Ghosts Of Browder Holler - Chelle Rose
Harmony Springs - Snowgoose
The Bravest Man In The Universe - Bobby Womack

Gig of the year is a much tougher choice, because 2012 has really been a vintage year. After much thought, I have decided I can't split first spot, so it goes jointly to two soul legends and long-time heroes of mine who I got to see for the first time this year: Betty Wright at the Jazz Cafe in July and Bobby Womack at the Forum last month.

Honourable mentions go to Chuck Prophet at Dingwalls, Trembling Bells with some promising support acts at the Victoria in Dalston, First Aid Kit at the Scala, Selda at the South Bank, Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat at the Applecart Festival, and Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby in a tiny room above a wine bar 100 yards from where I work. And I could easily have added half a dozen more.

We'll sign off for the year with a selection from some of those mentioned above. As well as the four winners I have added Chuck Prophet and First Aid Kit as they appear in both lists, and two acts that did not get the attention I felt they deserved - Chelle Rose and Snowgoose. All tracks were released this year with the exception of Betty Wright, which was on last year's "The Movie".

There are then - forgive the self-indulgence - a few of the more acceptable photos I took at gigs this year, before we finish off with a topical clip from another fine gig I was at, courtesy of one Phil Oxus.

"Sawa Sawelegn" - Ziggy Zaga featuring Teddy Yo

"Sleeper Awake" - Kelly Hogan

"Whatever Happened To The Times" - Bobby Womack
"Grapes On A Vine" - Betty Wright

"Temple Beautiful" - Chuck Prophet

"In The Hearts Of Men" - First Aid Kit

"Caney Fork Tennessee" - Chelle Rose

"I Will Wait For You" - Snowgoose

Photos: Josh T Pearson at the Applecart Festival; Sir Richard Bishop at Cafe Oto; Betty Wright at the Jazz Cafe; and Rodriquez at the Royal Festival Hall.

Sunday 23 December 2012

If I Had A Hammer

Today I bring you the latest in the intermittent "Single Song Sunday" series, in which you gets lots of versions of the same song. On a Sunday. This time round it is Tim Hardin's much-covered classic, "If I Were A Carpenter".

This is also doubling as the Christmas post. What, you may ask, have loads of versions of "If I Were A Carpenter" got to do with Christmas? Well, Jesus was raised by a carpenter, and we have managed to dig out TWELVE different versions - one for each day of Christmas. That's good enough for me.

We'll start off with the original, followed by the two hit versions by Bobby Darin and the Four Tops, before gradually descending into chaos. Country, soul, heavy rock, reggae, sax solo, Czech pop - it's all here.

 "If I Were A Carpenter" - Tim Hardin

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Bobby Darin

"If I Were A Carpenter" - The Four Tops

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Johnny Cash & June Carter

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Bert Jansch

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Lee Dorsey

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Chicken Shack

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Emmylou Harris & Johnny Hallyday

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Winston Groovy

"If I Were A Carpenter" - King Curtis

"If I Were A Carpenter" - Los Buenos

"Kdybych já byl kovářem" - Petr Spálený

We'll be back between Christmas and New Year with a brief "Best of 2012". Until then, on behalf of all us at 27 Leggies Productions, let me join with some other Carpenters in wishing all our readers a very soppy Christmas.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Still Here

Bloody Mayans! I was so convinced the world was going to end yesterday that I never bothered buying any Christmas presents. Needless to say, I'm now in a bit of a panic.

On balance, though, it is probably a good thing that the earth was not shattered by earthquakes or consumed in flames or whatever it was that was meant to happen. So here are some tunes to celebrate yesterday's non-event.

 "The World Still Turns" - Ukulele Jim

"World Come Back To Life" - Scritti Politti

"Anew Day" - Mary Margaret O'Hara

"New World In The Morning" - Roger Whittaker

"Beginning Tomorrow" - Joy Of Cooking

"Worlds They Rise And Fall" - The Incredible String Band

Thursday 20 December 2012

Unlucky Dip

Last week I was in a second-hand record shop - not in itself an unusual experience, it must be said - and they had a selection of "lucky dip" bags. For 50p you could acquire, sight unseen, 20 seven inch singles. I thought to myself, "well, whatever I get, that has to be a bargain".

It turns out I was wrong. I now have more Shakatak singles than I could ever want (one), and Neil Reid's "Mother of Mine" must have been sitting on the shelves for the best part of forty years before being palmed off on me.

These three are a pick of a not very inspiring bunch. They are OK. Apologies about the condition.

"Playground Romance (demo)" - Bakery Girls

"All The Myths On Sunday" - Diesel Park West

"Gold Rush" - Geezers of Nazareth

Amongst the other top hits I received was "Sit And Wait" by Sydney Youngblood. While searching for that on YouTube I came across his, er, reinterpretation of an old Etta James standard. Oh dear, oh dear. I feel I owe Elkie an apology. Compared to this, her disco version of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" is a stone cold classic.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Crackers From Conakry

Here are a couple of tunes from an album I picked up in Paris a year or two back. It goes by the name of "Guinée 40ème Anniversaire Syliphone Vol. 1" and it was originally released in 1998 to mark forty years of independence (you probably worked that bit for yourself). The Syliphone label was most active in the 1970s, and I am guessing that is when these tracks date from.

"So I Si Sa" - Super Boiro Band 

"Lalaba" - Kaloum Star

Internationally, Mory Kante is probably the biggest musical star to come from Guinea. Here is a clip of him gigging earlier this year to promote his new album.

Saturday 15 December 2012

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night

It's Saturday night and you have so many options. Personally I'm off down the pub with Lord Snooty and his Pals, but whatever you are doing have a good one.

"Let's Kill Saturday Night" - Robbie Fulks

"Saturday Night" - Pacific Express

"Saturday Night" - Suede

"Dancin' On A Saturday Night" - Barry Blue

"Saturday Night At The Movies" - The Drifters

"Tennessee Saturday Night" - Ella Mae Morse

"Lookin' For The Heart Of Saturday Night" - Dion

"One More Saturday Night" - Nils Lofgren

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Message From Ethiopia

It is time for another CD from the bumper bag of goodies I brought back with me from Ethiopia. This time out it is "Alhedima", the brand new album by Messengers.

Messengers are Abiy Yilma Tokichaw and Mulalem Shiferaw. Apart from that I know nothing about them. They produce shiny modern Ethiopian pop. I am not generally a fan of shiny modern pop on its own, but if you have a good strong Ethiopian element in the mix then it works for me, and these lads do exactly that.

Here are two of the stronger tracks from the album plus, as a bonus, one featuring their old mate MC Jacko. While I'm not sure I would want a whole album's worth of MC Jacko he is OK in small doses. But the real reason for posting this track is to ask whether you can confirm that, about three and a half minutes in, he does indeed claim that "Lincolnshire a be the place to be".

 "Robulo" - Messengers

"Tey Tey" - Messengers

"Tamagn Yetal" - Messengers (featuring MC Jacko)

One of the many famous people to hail from Lincolnshire is Rod Temperton. This proud son of Cleethorpes made his fortune working with another, slightly more famous Jacko - writing "Thriller" and "Rock With You" amongst others - but first made his name with this. That's our Rod on the keyboards.

This one goes out to the Spalding Crew and the Skegness Massive!

Monday 10 December 2012

Mr Brown Gets Down

I have just finished reading "White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns", the autobiography of Pete Brown, which first came out a couple of years back.

It is a bit of a mixed bag. The first part of the book is pretty entertaining, particularly his tales of the beat and poetry scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But towards the end, as we approach the present day, there are a series of chapters each dedicated to a calendar year which read rather like those round robin letters you get at Christmas - a list of things the sender has done that year that are usually of more interest to them than they are to you. 

Pete's music, by contrast, is always interesting and always worth a listen. Here are some selections from his various collaborations (no Cream or Jack Bruce - these are the collaborations where he is singing, not just writing).

"Twisted Track" - Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments (1968)

"Station Song Platform Two" - Pete Brown & Piblokto! (1970)

"Lost Tribe" - Bond & Brown (1972)

"Dark City" - Pete Brown & Phil Ryan (1993)

"Union Street" - T Mandrake (2009)

Here's another Mr Brown getting down.

Saturday 8 December 2012

ReviewShine Time

I expect this will be the last round-up this year of goodies that have come my way courtesy of the good folks at ReviewShine. That will upset some of you, I know. And the purists among you might be even more upset when I tell you the first act up have nothing to do with ReviewShine. They came to me via a nice man called Bryan and are just too good not to include.

"They" are Birds of Chicago, a duo made up Allison Russell of Po' Girl and JT Nero of, well, himself I suppose. Their self-titled debut album came out in October and is a bit of a gem. They turn their hands to all sorts of things - there's some soul, some torch songs, and a funky French number as well as the rootsy stuff - and it works very well when they put it all together. Favourite tracks after a couple of listens include "Cannonball", which has a sort of Delaney & Bonnie feel about it, and this one, which reminds me a bit of "Traffic From Paradise" era Rickie Lee Jones.

"The Wide Sea" - Birds of Chicago

Musically, Birds of Chicago bear some resemblance to our old friends Dolly Varden, who are up next (and who are themselves from Chicago, fact fans). The Dollies have always had a bit more of a pop element in the mix though, and its present and correct in this track from their new album. "For A While" is their first album for five years and comes out next month on Mid Fi Records. If you liked their previous albums - and any right-minded person would - you will definitely want to get the new one.  Other stand-out tracks include "Saskatchewan to Chicago" and "Thank You".

"Walking The Chalkline Again" - Dolly Varden

Next we have a couple of female singer-songwriter. I had never heard of either of them before. My loss.  Rebekah Pulley's fifth album "Tralala" came out last month. Jesse Lafser is only on her second. It is called "Land In Sight" and it came out in October. Both albums are well worth checking out. While you are doing that, I'll be looking into their back catalogues.

"The Drug Song" - Rebekah Pulley

"Pale Afternoon" - Jesse Lafser

We finish up with an old favourite of mine, Mr. Junior Brown. "Volume Ten" is a six-track EP and his first new music in absolute ages. Fans will be pleased to know that the twang and swing are there in good measure. There is also some blues and this rather endearing number about faded glory.

"The Phantom of the Opry" - Junior Brown

Here's some bonus Brown, from 1998's "Long Walk Back". The lyrics make more sense when you know it is an old Connie Francis hit.

"Lookin' For Love" - Junior Brown

Speaking of Connie...

Wednesday 5 December 2012

That's Mah Girl

Some midweek mellowness from Mali, courtesy of Mah Damba.

"Djeli Baba" - Mah Damba

"Doudiya" - Mah Damba

Apparently whenever the locals hear a bad cover version of either of those tunes, they turn to her and say "What have they done to your song, Mah?".

Saturday 1 December 2012

Soul Brothers

It's my baby brother's birthday tomorrow so, as a tribute to him and a treat for the rest of you, here are nine sets of soul brothers, and the Soul Brothers.

"Throw Away The Key" - The Bell Brothers

"Can't Change My Heart" - The Cate Brothers

"Love, Peace And Happiness" - The Chambers Brothers

"You Got Me On A String" - The Freeman Brothers

"To Make A Love Story Short" - The Holmes Brothers

"Behind A Painted Smile" - The Isley Brothers

"Ouch! Oh Baby" - The Kelly Brothers

"You Are Funny" - The Soul Brothers

"Sweetest Thing In The World" - The Turner Brothers

"I Need Someone" - The Wallace Brothers

Thursday 29 November 2012

Being Joe Strummer

There are many things you could try if you wanted to experience what it was like to be Joe Strummer, who died ten years ago next month. You could be a gravedigger, or live in a squat, or play minor film roles in Nicaragua, or front one of the greatest bands ever.

Or you do it the easy way by listening to Dillinger, Leroy Smart and Delroy Wilson (a cool operator). Then finish it off with some UK pop-reggae courtesy of Ken Boothe and - hey presto - it is just like being a white man in the Hammersmith Palais.

This is the easy way.

"Natty Dread A De Ruler" - Dillinger

"Ballistic Affair" - Leroy Smart

"Show Me The Way" - Delroy Wilson

"A Man Is A Man" - Ken Boothe

Here's the real thing. And if you've ever wondered what it would be like in French, you're in for a treat.

Tuesday 27 November 2012


On Sunday night we went up to the Forum in Kentish Town - somewhere I haven't been for at least twenty years, in the days when it was still the Town and Country Club - to see a man who has been a hero of mine for a lot longer even than that: Mr Bobby Womack.

The gig was originally meant to be back in June, but it was postponed when Bobby was hospitalised with colon cancer and pneumonia. Having successfully fought that, most 68 year olds might prefer to take some time to recover before even thinking about doing anything as gruelling as touring. Not our Bobby.

He was looking good - not that you can tell from this photo, which is the least bad of the ones my cheapo camera took - and sounding absolutely fantastic.

We were treated to two sets. The first featured songs from his new album, the aptly titled "Bravest Man in the Universe", for which he was backed by Damon Albarn and his chums. Very good it was too, but the second set was what I, and I suspect at least 90 per cent of the audience, was really there for.

After the break we got the full soul revue experience - a seven piece band, three backing singers and Bobby in a different leather suit to the natty red one he wore in the first half. Over the next hour we got a whistle-stop tour of some of the highlights of his wonderful back catalogue. There aren't many people who could give you songs of the calibre of "Harry Hippie", "Daylight" and "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much", and then carry on without any drop in quality.

Bobby is playing the Forum again tonight. It may well be sold out, but if not you should really try to get along. And if you can't, you'll have to settle for this selection of my personal favourites that he did not have time for on Sunday.

"You're Welcome, Stop On By" - Bobby Womack (from "Looking For A Love Again", 1974)

"Just My Imagination" - Bobby Womack (from "The Poet", 1981)

"Surprise, Surprise" - Bobby Womack (from "The Poet II", 1984)

"Only Survivor" - Bobby Womack (from "So Many Rivers", 1985)

I don't normally approve of modern music, as you know, particularly when they mess with a classic. But this isn't a bad attempt at Bobby's standard, perhaps because - apart the irritating man with the ear flaps nattering away - they pretty much stick to the original.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Alright, Me Old China?

Here at 27 Leggies we love the nightlife and we love to boogie on the disco 'round - oh yeah! - but we also love to keep up to speed with important political developments. So, in a slightly belated nod to the changes in the Chinese leadership that took place last week, here are three songs by Chinese artists followed by three tributes to members of the Chinese diaspora.

Two of the songs involve laundry. Not speaking Mandarin, I don't understand "Song Of Doing Laundry", but I like to think that Caidanzhuoma is making a spirited response to George Formby's accusations of shoddy workmanship. In my version the first verse starts "Stop trying it on, Mister Formby, you know perfectly well your shirt had a perforated rudder when you brought it in to be cleaned".

"Xia Chong (Summer Insects)" - Xiang Xiang

"Eagle" - Zhang Limin

"Song Of Doing Laundry" - Caidanzhuoma

"Chinese Love Affair" - Mighty Sparrow

"Mr. Chin" - Yellowman

"Chinese Laundry Blues" - George Formby

As a bonus, here is a brief tribute to Larry Hagman, who died yesterday. We're a long way from Dallas, but you're still on our mind.

"Dallas" - Billie Jo Spears

Tuesday 20 November 2012

More Songs About Lakes

Here are some songs about lakes. I had completely forgotten until I had loaded them up that I did a post on a lake theme a couple of years ago. So I changed the title from "Songs about lakes" to "More songs about lakes".

That's about it, really.

"Cranberry Lake" - Ari Hest

"Fire Lake" - Bob Seger

"La Levenda Del Lago" - Gerardo Manuel & El Humo

"Lake Marie" - John Prine

"The Lakes Of Ponchartrain" (live version) - Paul Brady

"The Lakes We Skate On" - Säkert!

Here is Gordon Lightfoot with his song about the tragic events that occured 37 years ago last week on the Great Lake they call Gitchigoomee

I was going to follow that up with a clip of Neil Diamond doing "Gitchy Goomy", partly for the strained link but mainly because it includes the phrase "Goggin Noggin", which I have always taken to be a tribute to my mighty brain. I couldn't find Neil, but I did find this gentleman called Nissar from Kashmir.

He appears to be miming to his own recording, but don't let that detract from your pleasure. And if you like this, you should check out his versions of "Red River Valley" and "Beautiful Sunday".

Sunday 18 November 2012

Bare Necessities

I had an excellent day yesterday. The afternoon was spent at the Emirates watching Arsenal thrash Them 5-2, and the evening at the Royal Festival Hall listening to Rodriguez. I have been a fan of his since I was growing up in South Africa in the 1970s, and it was great to get to see him play live at last - something that for many years I never thought would happen.

Rodriguez was in excellent voice for a man of 70, but he is a mere stripling compared to the mighty Bobby Bare, who at 77 has just released a fine new album called "Darker Than Light". There was a tendency to dismiss him as a Nashville factory product but there has always been a lot more to him than that, and the passing of time has emphasised the grit and gravel that was always there in his voice.

"Darker Than Light" mostly comprises covers of old folk and country standards plus a few relatively contemporary songs, including an excellent version of this Alejandro Escovedo number.

"I Was Drunk" - Alejandro Escovedo

The stand-out track, however, is one of only two originals on the album. Here it is, with a couple of old favourites.

"I Was A Young Man Once" - Bobby Bare (2012)

"500 Miles Away From Home" - Bobby Bare (1963)

"New Cut Road" - Bobby Bare (1981)

Here are some clips of the great man in action way back when.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Nearly Egyptian Reggae

You will all no doubt be familiar with Jonathan Richman and his Egyptian reggae. Well I can't help thinking Jonathan missed a trick by only visiting Egypt. If he had hopped on a boat and kept going down the Nile he would have ended up in Ethiopia, which is not only the Holy Land of Zion for the Rastafarians but home to some fine reggae performers of its own.

Probably the biggest name in Ethiopian reggae at the moment is Jah Lude. Here are a couple of tracks from his current album, "Yachine Neger".

"Asha Bel Yaho" - Jah Lude

"Guro Wesheba" - Jah Lude

Now we've had absolutely no requests for me to tell you how we got on at Brendan Shine gig earlier in the week but I'm going to tell you anyway. I thought it was great and even the miserable Mr F - who went along in the mistaken belief that he is still young enough to be attending "ironically" - was clapping and singing along by the end. But then who could resist an ending like "Catch Me If You Can", "Clock On The Wall" and "Pub Crawl".

While I could maybe have done without a couple of the more sentimental ballads, it was great to hear Brendan belting out old favourites like "Rose of Castlerea", "Bold O'Donoghue" and "Three Pubs In Bohola". And he did a nifty line in cover versions as well, including Steve Earle's "Galway Girl", Sharon Shannon's "Munster Hop", George Jones' "There's The Door" and this little number.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Shining A Light On The Workings Of Power

I am inordinately excited about going to see the mighty Brendan Shine in the Fairfield Halls tonight. No doubt he'll be saving his biggest ever hit for one of the inevitable encores.

"Do You Want Your Old Lobby Washed Down" - Brendan Shine

Brendan's jovial manner and apparently nonsensical lyrics have led many listeners to miss the fact that this song is a trenchant call to clean up politics and reduce the shadowy lobbying that influences the way decisions are made - something as relevant now as it was when he first recorded it over 25 years ago. Here are a couple of other elder statesman on a similar theme.

"Politician" - Hugh Masekela

"Political Lies" - Robin Williamson

To get home from the gig I have to get the train from West Croydon. I was a little worried that it might run late and I would miss the last train, but then I thought: "Well, if I don't make it home, I'll be there in the morning..."

Saturday 10 November 2012

Go Team A Go Go

I was at the Emirates this afternoon watching Arsenal bugger up yet another two goal lead and wondering what to blog about next, when a man behind my shouted "Go, Team!". Problem solved - well, musical problem solved, if not the footballing one.

Here in chronological order is a track from each of their albums: "Thunder, Lightning, Strike" (2004), "Proof of Youth" (2007) and "Rolling Blackouts" (2011).

"Huddle Formation" - The Go! Team

"Grip Like A Vice" - The Go! Team

"Apollo Throwdown" - The Go! Team

Friday 9 November 2012

Tsonga Time!

It has been a while since we had any Tsonga disco here, and even longer since we featured the mighty General Muzka. When I was in South Africa earlier in the year I picked up a "2-for-1" CD of a couple of albums he released, I would guess, in the early 2000s: "Back By Public Demand" and "Swa Ku Tsokotsa". Here's one from each.

"Xibalesa Xa Ndlala" - General Muzka

"Xini Dlele Xiyisa" - General Muzka

Here is another military man.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Tompkins Square Dance

I have mentioned here previously that the Tompkins Square label is on a real hot streak this year. The streak continues. Today they have released a 3 LP/CD set called "Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard", which compiles a load of old hillbilly 78s originally released between 1923 and 1936. Nearly half of them have not been available since they were first released, and would have been lost forever had they not been rescued from a dump in Louisville.

Here are a couple of crackers from 1930. I mean that in the "crackin' good songs" sense, not the "they crackle a lot" sense - although that is also true - and definitely not in the "Southern white trash" sense. Heaven forbid.

"You've Got To Stop Drinking Shine" - Gid Tanner

"Poor Man, Rich Man (Cotton Mill Colic No. 2)" - David McCarn

Sticking with Louisville and hillbillies, here's Grandpa Jones.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Crisis, What Crisis?

China Crisis' "The World Spins, I'm Part Of It" popped up on the old iPod shuffle the other day, and it prompted me to dig out the album it came from - "Flaunt The Imperfection" from 1985 - and listen to it all the way through for the first time in years. I found most of their other records a bit weedy, with a few honourable exceptions like "African And White" and "Christian", but they really hit the spot with this one. Of course it must help to have Walter Becker from Steely Dan producing. His influence is particularly noticeable on the second selection.

"The World Spins, I'm Part Of It" - China Crisis

"You Did Cut Me" - China Crisis

And here they are doing the big hit from the album.

Thursday 1 November 2012

ReviewShine Time

It's time for our monthly round-up of some of the goodies I've received via ReviewShine. This month we have a couple of artists who have featured here before, a tribute to an old favourite, and a couple of folks who are new to this blog. As usual, apologies to all for keeping things brisk and business-like, and not remotely doing any of them justice.

First of the returners is Kelsey Waldon, whose 2011 album "Anybody's Darlin'" I really liked. She has a new six-track EP out now called "Fixin' It Up" - she clearly has a thing against the letter "g" - and, if anything, it is even better. Its a good mix of straightforward country and the more sparse, folky style of the likes of Gillian Welch - as heard on the track I've chosen today. All of them are carried by Kelsey's excellent voice.

"Dreaming Woman" - Kelsey Waldon

The voice is also the stand-out feature of our other returning artist, Jeanne Jolly from Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh is the only place I have ever visited where I have inadvertantly ended up having a late night drinking session with a lady fishmonger. It is also the only place I have eaten something revolting called "hush puppies" and been called "bubba". None of these things are directly relevant to Jeanne's new album it must be said.

Jeanne's new album, out now on +FE Music, is called "Angels" and it is a very worthy follow-up to last year's "Falling in Carolina". Much of the album is in the folk/country style we would expect, but on a few tracks she expands the musical palette and generally it works well. Never better than on the single, "Sweet Love", which harks back to her early days as a jazz singer. It has a really nice vibe to it and suits her voice extremely well.

"Sweet Love" - Jeanne Jolly

Next up we have "Lowe Country" which, as the title punningly suggests, is a country tribute to Nick Lowe. It actually came out a few months back on Fiesta Red records in the US, but has only just come to my attention. The general quality is excellent - as you would expect with an album featuring the likes of Ron Sexsmith, Hayes Carll and Chatham County Line - and, if that wasn't reason enough for you to buy the album, proceeds go to victims of 2010 Nashville floods and 2011 Texas wild fires. It is very hard to pick one stand-out track, but I have gone for this one from Caitlin Rose, mainly for the tinkling piano.

"Lately I've Let Things Slide" - Caitlin Rose

In the number four slot, we have someone I've admired for a while but never got round to featuring before, the marvellous Piney Gir. Her new album "Geronimo" has been out in the UK for a while and has just been released in the US. I hope she won't mind me saying that I have found some of her previous albums like "Peakahokahoo" a little hit and miss, but when she gets it right her perky pop is sure to put a smile on your face. I'm pleased to say the quality control is much higher on the new album and you will be smiling and/or singing along from start to finish. Particular favourites include "Oh Lies", "Outta Sight" - which has a distinct whiff of the Troggs' "With A Girl Like You" about it - and this one.

"Here's Looking At You" - Piney Gir

We round things off with Irish singer-songwriter John Cathal O'Brien, whose current album "Acid Week" is available at Bandcamp for a bargain $2.99. At that price you would be foolish not to snap it up. In some respects it is a very simple album - mostly just him and his guitar, and the tunes aren't overly complex. But the more you take in the lyrics and his distinctive voice, the more compelling it becomes. If that sounds a rather luke-warm recommendation, that is because of my poor powers of description, not any reservations about the record. Its an excellent listen.

"Warsongs" - John Cathal O'Brien

While I was listening to "Acid Week", John's voice and the style of his songs provoked a nagging memory of someone else. It took me a while to place it, but then it came to me - Nick Garrie, the late 60s singer-songwriter whose lost classic "The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas" was reissued a few years back. Here's the title track - see whether you agree.

"The Nightmare of J.B. Stanislas" - Nick Garrie

To round things off, and a propos of nothing at all, here are Chuck Prophet and Daryl Hall with a great version of Allen Toussaint's "Soul Sister" (now there's a line I never thought I would write).

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Teddy Time 2

Last time out we featured a couple of songs from the new album by Teddy Afro, the current king of Ethiopian pop. But unsteady rests the crown on the head of Teddy. There is no shortage of young pretenders wanting to steal it away from him.

Among them is another Teddy - the rapper Teddy Yo. One of the tunes I heard most frequently when I was travelling round Ethiopia was this very tasty hit from him and his good mate Ziggy Zaga (who I assume chose his name as some sort of misguided tribute to the Spice Girls).

"Sawa Sawelegn" - Ziggy Zaga featuring Teddy Yo

To give you value for money, here are a few more Teddies. Messrs Pendergrass and Thompson you are probably familiar with. Teddy Chilambe was big in Zambia in the 1980s. And I will let you work out for yourself where Teddy Palmer comes from.

"Turn Off The Lights" - Teddy Pendergrass

"You Made It" - Teddy Thompson

"Imilongo" - Teddy Chilambe

"Nobody Loves Like An Irishman" - Teddy Palmer

Here are Mr. Zaga and Mr. Yo with a few of their close personal friends.

It will no doubt be pointed out that they nicked the song from Flavour over in Nigeria - which is a fair charge as you'll see below - but then Flavour himself based it on the old Cardinal Rex Lawson classic so let's not get too precious. (According to Wikipedia, Flavour had a hand in the Ethiopian version as well, but whether that is true your guess is as good as mine).

Sunday 28 October 2012

Teddy Time

Its been at least three days since I last droned on about my holiday in Ethiopia, so its long overdue for me to do so again. This time we will focus on the one disappointment of the trip, which was that the dose of Lalibela belly I succumbed to last weekend meant I had to miss the biggest gig in town - the live return of Teddy Afro. Teddy played the Ghion Hotel in Addis. I had a ticket but in the event was unable to leave my hotel bathroom.

As cosmopolitan types like you probably already know,Teddy Afro is one of Ethiopia's biggest (and most controversial) pop stars. Teddy - whose real name is Tewodros Kassahun - released his first album in 2001 but really hit the big time in 2005 with his album "Yasteseryal". The biggest selling Ethiopian album of all time, some songs were critical of the Government, which responded by banning them. Subsequently, Teddy was imprisoned in 2008 on charges of manslaughter caused by a "hit and run" accident. He continues to protest his innocence and there are those who believe the charges were politically motivated.

Teddy released his comeback album, "Tikur Sew", earlier this year to great acclaim. To be honest there are some tracks that are a bit too homogenised and bland for my personal tastes, but when he gets the balance between traditional Ethiopian sounds and modern production values right he makes marvellous pop music. Here are a couple of examples from the new album.

"Minilik" - Teddy Afro

"Senay" - Teddy Afro

Although I missed Teddy's gig I saw plenty of live music while I was in Ethiopia. The so-called "cultural clubs" are a great place to hear singers accompanied by the masinko (a single stringed bowed lute), drums and sometimes synthesizers, and to see some spectacular dancing - including, on one occasion, my own unsuccessful attempt to teach the locals how to boogie like Status Quo.

Some of the religious music is pretty special as well, especially if you are lucky enough to hear it early in the morning in one of the rock churches of Lalibela, which is where I shot this litle clip:

The production values (and bling levels) are slightly higher on this old Teddy Afro video.

Saturday 27 October 2012


How better to kick off the weekend than with a six-pack from the late, great Kevin Coyne.

"Sugar Candy Taxi" - Kevin Coyne (2000)

"Almost Invisible" - Kevin Coyne (2002)

"Juliet And Mark" - Kevin Coyne (1978)

"Born Crazy" - Kevin Coyne (1995)

"Mrs Hooley Go Home" - Kevin Coyne (1975)

"Mona Where's My Trousers" - Kevin Coyne (1983)

Thursday 25 October 2012

A Tale Of Two Tombs

While I was in Addis Ababa recently I popped into the Holy Trinity Church, probably best known as the final resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie. That's Haile on the right:

The grounds surrounding the church also host the graves of many other celebrated Ethiopians. For example, while I was visiting they were in the process of building a tomb for the recently deceased Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi. Probably the most "bling" grave is that of Tilahun Gessesse.

Tilahun (also spelt Tlahoun depending on how you translate from Amharic) was one of the biggest stars of the golden age of Ethiopian swing and soul in the 1960s and 1970s. He died three years ago at the age of 68. Here are a couple of hits from his heyday.

"Ine Negn Way Antchi" - Tilahun Gessesse

"Sigibgib Joroye" - Tilahun Gessesse

And here he is back blowing L.A. away in the 1990s (I think). What a dude.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

We're Back!

Evening All. I got back a few hours ago after an excellent trip to Ethiopia, laden down with goodies (and no doubt some baddies) to share with you. It will take a little while to get them sorted so please bear with me.

I enjoyed my holiday but as I sat at Frankfurt Airport for hours this morning after my first two attempts to get to London were thwarted, by fog and bird damage respectively, there were times when I found myself sharing the sentiments expressed so beautifully by Madlyn Quebec.

"Will I Ever Get Back Home" - Madlyn Quebec

"Back Home" - Bert Jansch

"Home Again" - Hem

"Welcome Home" - Ruthie Foster (with The Blind Boys of Alabama)

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Decisions, Decisions

I am off on holiday tomorrow, so this will be the last you hear from me for a couple of weeks. But what are you going to do? You could sit around moping until I get back. Or you might think about going away for a bit yourself. You deserve a decent break after all.

Where to go though? Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking. There is something for every taste and budget.

"London (I'm Coming To See You)" - Glen Campbell

"Timperley Travelogue" - Frank Sidebottom

"Give Paris One More Chance" - Jonathan Richman

"Beautiful Belgique" - Lord Invader

"I'm Going To Spain" - Steve Bent

"Morocco" - Tudor Lodge

"Weekend On The West Coast" - Joe Simon

"Greyhound Bus Station" - Plush

"Down In Mexico" - The Coasters

"Sea Cruise" - Frankie Ford

"Tropical Island" - Betty Wright

"Discovering Japan" - Graham Parker

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Following The Footsteps

A litle present from Italy for you tonight. While I was in Naples at the beginning of the year I picked up a compilation CD by Le Orme - a name which translates, if the automatic translator thingy is to be believed, as The Footsteps.

The CD was remarkably cheap by Italian standards and went by the name "I Successi". I strongly suspect a more accurate name would have been "I Records They Made Before I Successi". But from my perspective this misrepresentation may have been a blessing in disguise. Because apparently when at the height of their "successi" in the 1970s they were considered to be the Italian Emerson, Lake & Palmer - let us pause for a moment to consider the full horror of that statement - while this, on the other hand, is top quality 1960s garage and pop-psych.

"Dovunque Andrai" - Le Orme

"Mita Mita" - Le Orme

Before we get to the videos, it would appear from the comments on yesterday's post that I have once again inadvertantly upset some Elkie Brooks fans. I am sorry to keep dragging the rest of you into this long-running dispute, but I will have another go at clarifying my position. At no point have I ever said that Elkie is not a good singer. Of course she is. All I have said is that her decision to do a disco version of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" was - how to put this - perhaps a little misguided and, in my humble opinion, the end result was not up to her usual standard.

Let me try to illustrate the point. Here is Elkie and Vinegar Joe back in 1972 with a barn-storming rendition of "Ride Me Easy".

Now, surely even the most ardent and indiscriminate Elkophile must concede that is just in a totally different league to this?

Sunday 7 October 2012

Single Song Sunday

I am not sure whether two posts in under 24 hours constitutes a blogging frenzy, but it is as close to frenzied as I get. The main reason is that I'm off on my hols in a few days and I'm trying to clear the shelves before I go, but it is also an excuse to send out some lurve to you wonderful people.

This post was prompted by listening to the very good covers EP that Marika Hackman has kindly made available through her website. It includes her version of "These Days", and I was prompted to dig out some of the other versions I have of that song. There are loads. And here are some of them.

We start off with Nico, the first recorded version and probably the best known, then bring you the version by the man who wrote the song, Jackson Browne. We then take you briskly through folk, country and indie before ending up with Marika, being the most recent.

"These Days" - Nico

"These Days" - Jackson Browne

"These Days" - Kate Wolf

"These Days" - Johnny Darrell

"These Days" - Paul Westerberg

"These Days" - Marika Hackman

Last time we featured a single song it was Neil Young's "Only Love Will Break Your Heart", and we rounded things off with a disco version by Elkie Brooks. As far as I know Elkie has never got her claws into this one. Glen Campbell has, though, and as you would expect it is really rather lovely.

Sunday Morning Tsonga

It's about time we had some more Tsonga Disco up here for you. Today's selections come from another one of the CDs I picked up while in Cape Town earlier in the year. The album is called "Tekani Milawu Vananga" and it is credited to Skadlama.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot that Skadlama features our old friend Madlaks, whose "Ndlho Ndhlo" album was what turned me on to Tsonga Disco in the first place. He is credited with co-writing all the songs with Pat Hlungwani and the mysteriously named KK, and you will recognise his dulcet tones on a number of tracks.

But neither of these young folks featured on the album sleeve are Madlaks. Possibly one is KK, but which and what the other one is called I haven't a clue. The only "help" (if you can call it that) is on the inner sleeve where is says "Skadlama is the combination of This Time and Gift from Limpopo". So that must be them, although I suspect those are not the names their parents gave them. Whoever is involved, it is a very good record. I particularly like the introduction to the first track below.

"Rirhandzu Ra Corruption" - Skadlama

"Munhu Anga Pfuniwi" - Skadlama

It may be that This Time and KK are one and the same, which would be quite spooky. Probably the best known KK in the UK is Kevin Keegan. He sang on the smash hit single by the 1982 England World Cup squad. Which was called...

Thursday 4 October 2012

Kev & Kath

I mentioned in my previous post that I acquired a few old vinyl albums for 50p apiece last Sunday. The Frankie Paul album I featured then is the pick of the bunch. Here are the other two.

First is a Kevin Ayers' album that I had never previously known existed - "That's What You Get Babe", released in 1980.

It was his last album on Harvest Records. Apparently the label got in an outside producer to add more polish, which seems to me to miss the point of Kevin Ayers entirely. If not exactly a career high, it is not all bad by any means.

"Miss Hanaga" - Kevin Ayers

"Where Do The Stars End" - Kevin Ayers

The other album was by someone I had never previously heard of, one Kathy Dalton. The album came out in 1974 on the DiscReet label under the name "Boogie Bands & One Night Stands", although all but the title track had been released previously on an album called "Amazing".

Not knowing anything about Kathy Dalton I had no great expectations. Then I googled the album and discovered that Kathy was backed by the likes of Little Feat, Van Dyke Parks, Carl Wilson and Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Learning about this stellar cast meant that by the time I got round to listening to the album my expectations were way too high. It is an enjoyable listen without in any way being exceptional. These two tracks are among the highlights, and "Justine" reminds me very much of the sort of record Bonnie Raitt was making round about the same time.

"Cannibal Forest" - Kathy Dalton

"Justine" - Kathy Dalton

Speaking of Bonnie Raitt, here she is doing Del Shannon.

And as an extra bonus, here is another Del Shannon cover courtesy of the magnificent, and late lamented, Joe Dolan.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Dancehall Paul

I went down to Brick Lane market on Sunday and picked up a selection of vinyl albums at 50p a time. Getting on the bus to go home, I paid my fare and sat down but was then called back by the driver. I assumed I was in trouble for some reason, but he just pointed to the record on the top of the pile and said "I've got that at home. That's a good album that is".

The album in question was "Sara" by Frankie Paul. It is a King Jammy's production from 1987, back when Frankie was ruling the dancehalls. And the driver was right.

"Musical Explosion" - Frankie Paul

"Know The Way Of The Weakheart" - Frankie Paul

"(A No) String Build Me Up" - Frankie Paul

Yes, 1987 certainly was a vintage year for music.

Sunday 30 September 2012

Fiddlers Three

In the last few weeks I've been sent a couple of fine albums with fiddle tunes on, so I thought I would combine the two for you in a single post.

First up is father and daughter combination Dick & Judy Hyman, whose album "Late Last Summer" is due out on 23 October. They both have long and distinguished careers but remarkably this is the first time they have recorded together.

Since he started out playing with the likes of Lester Young and Charlie Parker in the 1950s, Dick has done just about everything. The list of names he has played with includes Streisand, Stravinsky and Aretha Franklin. He won an Oscar for scoring 'Moonstruck' and worked on a dozen Woody Allen films. His 1960s moog albums have been sampled by Beck and Busta Rhymes. Judy is no slouch either, having been a long time member of the Horse Flies, played regularly with Natalie Merchant, and scored films and television programmes.

Judy also wrote all the tunes on the new album, many of which are dedicated to family members or friends. The track I have chosen is "Hannah". The original Hannah is Judy's great-niece, and as it happens I have a niece of that name too. So this is for her.

"Hannah" - Dick & Judy Hyman

Wendy MacIsaac is one of the many excellent fiddle players to come from Cape Breton, where they have probably the strongest Gaelic music scene outside of Scotland and Ireland. On her latest album, "Seinn", she has teamed up with equally excellent traditional singer Mary Jame Lamond. Mary Jane does not feature on this one, but the songs are as good as the tunes and the album as a whole is well worth checking out.

"Yellow Coat" - Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac

I spent a week in Cape Breton many years back, including a few days in Cheticamp. This is a fairly typical street scene:

Although surrounded by Gaelic speaking areas, Cheticamp itself is a French speaking town, having originally been settled by Acadians. On the Saturday night I was there I went down, along with just about the whole town, to the Royal Canadian Legion hall and danced the night away to local country legend Wendell Roach.

"Hommage À Un Ami" - Wendell Roach

Back to the fiddling. I don't think you can have a post on fiddle tunes with having Dave Swarbrick in there somewhere. Here he is with the Fairport boys, way back when...

"The Hen's March Through The Midden/ The Four Poster Bed" - Fairport Convention

And here is that line-up live.

Friday 28 September 2012

Reviewing and Shining

Yes, it's that time of the month when we tune you in to some of the many fine records that have come our way courtesy of ReviewShine.

You aren't going to get the usual amount of woffle from me. Real life has been rather hectic over the last couple of weeks and, as I woffle for a living as well as for a hobby, I find tonight that the woffle well has run dry.

Fortunately I don't think it matters too much, because this music speaks for itself. We'll give you the name, rank and number and then get straight on with it.

The first album is "The Ghost & The Scratch" by Doran Danoff, who describes himself as a folk-jazz pianist and songwriter. He's a lot better than that sounds though. The album came out last Sunday on Urbivor Records. Here is the title track.

"The Ghost & The Scratch" - Doran Danoff

Next, the UK's own Mat Gibson, whose album "Long Goner" comes out in November. This is the opening track and it is probably my favourite along with the epic closer, "Water Bomber". The stuff in between isn't too shabby either.

"Before The Dawn" - Mat Gibson

Third up, City Dwelling Nature Seekers with their folk-rockish album "The Winter Year", which came out at the end of August. For a song called "Autumn Sings", this one has more of a summery feel than you might expect. Dig the harmonies.

"Autumn Sings" - City Dwelling Nature Seekers

And if you like harmonies, you'll like Bobtown, about whom I know nothing at all except their album is called "Trouble I Wrought". Who could resist this cover of a classic?

"Don't Fear The Reaper" - Bobtown

All the albums (except for Mat Gibson's) are currently available on Amazon, and no doubt elsewhere. But before you head off there to buy them, we had to finish with this, didn't we?

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Rickie Lee Covers/Covered

One of my all time favourites, Rickie Lee Jones, is back with a new album. "The Devil You Know" comes out in the UK on Monday. It is her third album of cover versions following "Pop Pop" (1991) and "It's Like This" (2000), and from what I have heard of it so far it sounds pretty good to me.

To be honest I would rather have another album of her own material building on "Balm In Gilead", which for me was her best album since "Traffic From Paradise". But I am not going to complain. Anything is better than nothing, and Rickie Lee being Rickie Lee she always brings something a bit different to a cover version, and more often than not it works.

So in anticipation of the new album, here are three of my favourite moments from her catalogue of covers. The first two are from old Merseybeat bands, and on the third she teams up with the Blue Nile to remake an old song of theirs. To hear her and Paul Buchanan singing together is just too much.

"For No One" - Rickie Lee Jones

"Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying" - Rickie Lee Jones

"Easter Parade" - The Blue Nile with Rickie Lee Jones

I am not aware of all that many cover versions of Rickie Lee songs, and I've certainly never heard one that matches the original - maybe she is just too unique to reinterpret successfully. But here are three of the more valiant events. The originals come respectively from "Flying Cowboys", "Traffic From Paradise" and her self-titled debut album.

We start with Daryl Braithwaite, who took "The Horses" all the way to number one in Australia in 1991. Redbird are an occasional aggregation made up of Kris Delmhorst, Jeffrey Foucault and Peter Mulvey, and this is from last year's "Liive at the Cafe Carpe". We finish off with some French jazz - the horror! the horror!

"The Horses" - Daryl Braithwaite

"Stewart's Coat" - Redbird

"On Saturday Afternoon in 1963" -  Perrine Mansuy Trio

If you are asking yourself whether it could be that Daryl Braithwaite, you know, the lead singer of Sherbet - well, yes it is.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Wganda Time!

A month or so back we featured a selection of swinging sounds from Colombia. Judging by the number of hits, you lot seem to have been particularly taken with "Elyoyo" by Wganda Kenya. So I have dug out some more of their tunes for you.

And if you are looking at the title of the third track and thinking to yourself "It can't be, can it?" - oh yes it can.

"El Abanico" - Wganda Kenya

"Tifit Hayed" - Wganda Kenya

"Combate A Kung-Fu" - Wganda Kenya

That last one is a slightly belated birthday tribute to an artist friend of mine (I'm much more cultured than I appear, you know). So is this, whether she likes it or not.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Return of Mpharanyana

When I started this blog three and a half years ago I had two aims: to spread awareness of the sublime Tsonga Disco sounds I had recently discovered, and to do the same for the late Jacob Radebe, better known as the seventies Sesotho soul sensation Mpharanyana. In fact the only reason the subtitle at the top of the page does not read "Bringing Tsonga Disco and the Seventies Sesotho Soul Sensation Mpharanyana to the Masses" is because I couldn't fit it into the box on the standard Blogger template.

I have stuck with the Tsonga Disco, and during that period it has even become vaguely hip under its alternative name Shangaan Disco - not that I can take any of the credit for that, it was more to do with that Damon from Blur puting some out on his record label. But poor old Mpharanyana has rather fallen by the wayside. It has been over a year since I last posted anything by him. This is an appalling omission on my part, and one that should be put right straight away.

"Khotso" - Mpharanyana

"Ramasedi" - Mpharanyana

"Disco" - Mpharanyana

If you liked that - and if you didn't you are not the discerning music lover I take you for - then I will let you into a little secret. Contrary to my normal practice of removing downloads after a month or two, all the other Mpharanyana tracks I have posted are still available. But you have to promise not to tell.

There was a theory at one time that Mpharanyana modelled his distinctive coughing sound on the throat clearing sound of Bobby 'Blue' Bland. But apparently he just had a very persistent cough and his producer got fed up with having to keep re-recording things. There are no Mpharanyana clips out there in YouTubeLand, so here's Bobby instead. Watch out for the throat clearing at about 2:23.

Monday 17 September 2012

Gigs A Go Go

I had expected to go to two gigs over the weekend. I ended up going to three.

On Saturday night we went up to Cafe Oto in Dalston to see a solo set from Meg Baird.

Meg did what she does best, and very pleasant it was too. But between her and the support act we got barely 75 minutes of music, so I was left feeling a little short-changed.

We wandered round the corner to the Victoria for a late, and rather cheaper, drink, only to discover there was a gig going on there too. We arrived just in time to see the headliners, Black Manila, who are part of what seems to be a burgeoning "garage revival" scene. They would benefit from a better singer in my humble opinion, but they weren't bad.

Sunday was a class apart though. We were down at the Barbican to see the revived Dexys touring "One Day Going To Soar" which, if not quite the flawless masterpiece some critics would have you believe, is definitely one of my favourite albums of the year to date. I missed out on seeing them first time round, so I was doubly looking forward to the show for that reason.

They did not disappoint - it was just as bonkers and brilliant as I had hoped - and clocking in at just over two hours they showed the young people how to put on a show. Kevin Rowland is in fine voice for a man in his late 50s, and it was great to see him and other old stagers like Pete Williams and Big Jim Patterson having a whale of a time. And getting to hear personal favourites like "I Love You (Listen To This)" and "Tell Me When My Light Turns Green" was a real bonus.

Here's a track from each of our acts, all of them released this year. The Dexys track is from "One Day I'm Going To Soar". Meg's comes from "Oh Michael, What Have You Done", the Michael Chapman tribute album we have featured here before. And "Fiasco" and other Black Manila tunes are streaming on Soundcloud.

"Nowhere Is Home" - Dexys

"No Song To Sing" - Meg Baird

"Fiasco" - Black Manila

Where have the last thirty-two years gone?

Saturday 15 September 2012

Darling, Pal Of Mine

The references in today's anecdote are likely to mean nothing to anyone apart from our British readers, so the rest of you may prefer to skip straight to the music. So might our British readers, to be honest.

I was in the queue for the security check at London City Airport yesterday morning and found myself standing behind our former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alastair Darling, who in retrospect appears to be an economic genuis compared to the current holder of that position.

In preparation for being screened, Mr Darling was asked by security to remove his belt, which he did without any fuss. Thinking this was in some way symbolic, I leaned over to him and said, "I wonder how your successor would have responded to an instruction to loosen his belt". He gave a polite half-smile, replied "I don't know" and hurried away as quickly as he could.

A little later when I got on the plane to Edinburgh, I spied him sitting in seat 8A. He spied me at the same time and you could tell from the look on his face he was thinking "Here's that idiot". I enjoyed the look of alarm on his face when it became obvious that the idiot was sitting in 8B. He buried his head in his paper and, apart from when they brought the breakfast round, didn't look up again until we were safely at the other end.

As a memento of that encounter, here is a reggae tribute to that litle Darling pal of mine.

"Hello Darling" - Tippa Irie

"Darling Don't Do That" - Clancy Eccles

"Hush Darling" - Gregory Isaacs

"Goodbye Pretty Darling" - Basil Gabbidon

"Come Back Darling" - Johnny Osbourne

Thursday 13 September 2012

Scots Wha Hae!

I have to make a day trip to Edinburgh tomorrow. Unfortunately I won't have time to see anything other than the airport, a few offices and the view from the bus into town. But it is enough of an excuse to play some fine examples of what we used to call Scotpop back in the 1980s.

Well, when I say "we", I really mean "I". And when I say "back in the 1980s", I really mean "I just made that up". But not to worry.

"18 Carat Love Affair" - The Associates

"Animation" - The Skids

"Candyskin" - Fire Engines

"E102" - BMX Bandits

"Super Popoid Groove" - Win

"Whole Wide World" - The Soup Dragons

And let's not forget the distaff side.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

It's That Man Again!

If you have been paying attention to what has been going on round here recently, you will recognise this fellow.

That's right, it's Shadrack "Man" Nkuna from the top Shangaan outfit Khwaya Ra Masesi, whose album "Tshikani Kudlaya Vana" we featured last week.

As you may have guessed from the album cover above, he does solo work as well (albeit with some assistance from the extravagantly named Peter Magolongondlo). The style is pretty similar to that of the Khwaya boys, which is no surprise as they get songwriting credits on the album. Here are a couple of tasty numbers.

"Kaya Limpopo" - Man

"A Wulewa Ku Ri Wena Man" - Man

 Man signs off his sleeve notes with the enigmatic expression, "I love you all chess!!!". Now as it happens, way back in 1984 I did security backstage at the Barbican for the world premiere of "Chess: The Musical". As well as meeting Bjorn and Benny, and taking flowers to Elaine Paige's dressing room, I got to escort such celebrities as Dickie Davies. It really was a night of a thousand stars.

Here is one of the big hits from that show.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Do The Monkey Time!

With thanks to Major Lance for the title, here are some songs about monkeys and apes.

"Baboon Boogie" - Jimmy Murphy

"Chimpanzee" - Count Yates

"Miss Orangatang" - Lincoln Chase

 "The Monkey That Became President" - The Brotherhood

"Ape Is High" - Mandrill (monkey bonus!)

"Old King Kong" - George Jones

"Le Gorille" - George Brassens

"It's A New Day" - Leroy Gibbon

I realise that last one is a bit of a cheat, but I don't appear to have any gibbon-related songs in my collection and I refuse to pay good money to download this:

Thursday 6 September 2012

Tsonga Time

It has been about a month since we had some Tsonga Disco up here, which is far too long. So let's put that right with a couple of new names - Kenneth Shvambu and Shadrack "Man" Nkuna, better known to their fans as Khwaya Ra Masesi.

Their album "Tshikani Kudlaya Vana" came out a couple of years ago through Majozientertainment Music, the same folks who bring you our old friend Madlaks. With that pedigree you would probably be expecting some high quality Shangaan sounds. And you would be right.

"Tlurhula Xibelani" - Khwaya Ra Masesi

"Rhwala Maghujha Hi Ya Kaya" - Khwaya Ra Masesi

You'll be as amazed as I was to learn there are no Khwaya Ra Masesi videos on YouTube. Cheer yourselves up with this instead.

Monday 3 September 2012

Jive, Bunny

I have just finished reading "I & I: The Natural Mystics", a book by Colin Grant about the original Wailers - Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

While it is very good in parts - in particular when describing live in Trenchtown in the 1950s and 1960s - I found it a bit unsatisfying. It veers between being a history of recent Jamaica and a biography of the Wailers, and in my opinion does not quite manage to be either. If it is an insight into modern Jamaica you want, I would recommend Ian Thomson's "The Dead Yard" instead.

One thing that irritated me in Grant's book was his portayal of Bunny Wailer (or at least of his music since splitting from the Wailers). He opens the book by recounting the occasion in 1990 when Bunny was bottled off-stage by over-exuberant Shabba Ranks' fans. He seems to see this as a highly symbolic rejection of the old values, and in order to fit his thesis portrays Bunny as a po-faced puritanical Rasta who scorns pleasure in all its forms other than smoking the chalice.

That characterisation only works if you are unfamiliar with his work. For as any fan knows, Bunny has been putting out dancehall tunes alongside his more righteous releases for over thirty years. Here are a couple of examples from 1981's "Rock 'n Groove".

"Rock 'n Groove" - Bunny Wailer

"Ball Room Floor" - Bunny Wailer

And my guess would be that his biggest ever pay-packet came from writing this irate condemnation of the iniquities of Babylon, which was a Billboard smash at the end of the 1980s.

"Electric Boogie" - Marcia Griffiths

I'm pleased to note that Bunny was awarded the Order of Jamaica last month for his contribution to the cultural life of the island. It's hard to think of anyone who deserves it more. Unless Eek-A-Mouse gets his long-overdue O.B.E.