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Wednesday 30 May 2012

ReviewShine Time

Last time out we posted a track that was forcibly removed on copyright grounds. Today, by contrast, we have got some acts who are keen to be heard. And I am keen that you should do so, because you'll be the ones who benefit. Yes, it's time for our monthly round-up of a small selection of the albums kindly sent to me via ReviewShine.

A few weeks ago I went to see Michael Chapman in concert. When introducing "That Time Of Night" he mentioned how thrilled he was that Lucinda Williams was covering it on an upcoming tribute album. I said to myself at the time it was an album I needed to track down. Hey presto, a couple of weeks later there it is in my in-box. It's called "Oh Michael, Look What You've Done" and it came out yesterday on Tompkins Square.

The guest list is pretty eclectic, but then so is Michael himself, and the quality is uniformly good (which is rare on this sort of album). As well as Big Lucy we have, for example, Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth leading in to Maddy Prior from Steeleye Span. But the track we have selected for you today is by the man who supported Michael at that gig a few weeks ago

"Fennario" - Hiss Golden Messenger

Next up is our old friend Kathryn Caine from Charlottesville, whose "Down Home Girl" album we featured in this slot way back when. Her new album "When I Was His Wife" is in the same country/ bluegrass vein but is an even better album. I put that down mainly to the quality of the writing, the excellent vocals and musicianship being almost taken as read. Yet notwithstanding the many strong originals like "Forget About Me", the track I have chosen is the one cover version on the album - a very soulful version of a favourite old hymn.

"Abide With Me" - Kathryn Caine

We now move on to a couple of acts that are new to me. The first is Mike & Ruthy who are based in good old Woodstock (that's New York not Oxfordshire) and appear to be honorary members of the Guthrie clan, having worked with both Arlo and Sarah Lee. Which probably explains why they were asked to premiere a previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie song, "My New York City", which is the lead track on their new seven-song EP, "The NYC EP". And a very good song it is too, although my personal favourite is this next one which rounds off the EP. For me it has the feel of the recordings Mark Olson and Victoria Williams made together as the Creekdippers - particularly Mike's vocal.

"Raise Your Glasses High" - Mike & Ruthy

Speaking of Olsons, we finish with Dave Olson. He's no relation as far as I know, although he is based in St. Paul, next door to Minneapolis where Mark is from. His blurb describes him as having "a heartfelt delivery and a knack for catchy melodies" which I think sums him up pretty well. Both of these qualities are very much in evidence on his new album "No October". The blurb then goes on to say he has "a seasoned voice" which I am not sure is quite right. "Seasoned" is usually meant as a euphemism for "raddled" or "shot" but that certainly isn't the case here. There is something of Thad Cockrell about Dave's voice - not as pure but very affecting. Enough of my rambling - see for yourselves.

"Old Birds Sing" - Dave Olson

We finish off with a video that would have fit in very well with the Afrobeat post earlier in the week had I received it in time. It is by an outfit called Sheriff Ariff & The Wali Sanga, the song is called "Family Tree", and it is featured on their new EP "The Kraken" which you can download for free on Soundcloud or Bandcamp. Check it out.

Monday 28 May 2012

Afrobeat Is Back

I read in the Guardian a couple of months back that a new wave of Afrobeat artists were sweeping all before them on the dancefloors of the nation. So when I was paying one of my regular visits to the man in Roman Road market who sells dodgy reggae bootlegs and I saw a compilation called "Gotta Love Afrobeat Anthems Volume 1" I snapped it up.

It quickly became apparent that modern Afrobeat bears no more resemblance to what I consider to be Afrobeat than modern R 'n B bears to what I consider to be R 'n B. In fact, at least judging by this compilation, most of it is plain R 'n B that just happens to have been made by Africans. Very few of the tunes have any discernible local influence.

Most of it I didn't care for it all, but there are a few good numbers including the big breakthrough hit, D'Banj's "Oliver Twist". Here are two of the better tracks, both from Nigeria - "Adamma" by Flavour for me is the highlight of the album - and then we have our old friend Hugh Masekela to show the youngsters how it should be done.

UPDATE: It is now just one of the better tracks off the compilation. Box.Net have deleted "Adamma" after a complaint about copyright infringement. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

"Bunie Ya Enu" - P-Square

 "Afro Beat Blues" - Hugh Masekela

And here's the other good one from the compilation. I apologize on behalf of Kwame Joe for sticking his bloody logo all over the video.

Saturday 26 May 2012


Yes, folks, it's the biggest night in Europe's musical year tonight. Before we all sit down and enjoy the cavalcade of crap being beamed from Baku, spare a thought for those countries that lost out in the semi-finals. Maybe they would have done better with some of these artists.

One point: Georgia

"Lale" - Nino Cheidze

Two points: Israel

"High In The Desert" - Ron Eliran

Three points: Bulgaria

"Zarezan" - Srebunite Grivni

Four points - Austria

"Danndanke" - Effi

Five points - Belgium

"Out Of Planet" - 7 P.M.

Six points - Finland

"Itke Pois Kyyneleesi" - Kirka

Seven points - Portugal

"Maria Negra" - Quarteto 1111

Eight points - Croatia

"Pjevajmo Do Zore" - Film

Ten points - Switzerland

"Le Pistolet" - Mama Rosin

Douze points - The Netherlands

"Holiday Rap" - MC Miker G and DJ Sven

Inexplicably I really love that record. I have always felt that it is given a bit of extra grit by Miker G's slightly desperate tone. I suspect that is because, despite all of his "bigging up", deep down inside he knows Sven is better than him.

Belarus didn't make it to the final either. But then if this masterpiece could only finish 14th last year, there is clearly a conspiracy against them.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Tsonga Time: Matshwa Bemuda

When featuring Tsonga music up here I seem to write far too often that the individual concerned passed away well before their time, Paul Ndlovu and Peta Teanet being prime examples. You can add to that list Matshwa Bemuda, who sadly died last year. Let's remember him with these tunes from his 2007 album "Swa Tshongo Swa Matshwa".

"Xikoxa" - Matshwa Bemuda & Magenge Sisters

"Sherly Na Makhelwani" - Matshwa Bemuda & Magenge Sisters

I mentioned in the previous post that I was off to the Sandy Denny tribute concert at the Barbican last night. Very good it was too. One of the highlights was P.P. Arnold, who has a remarkable voice for someone who must be in her mid to late 60s. As she herself said, on paper she didn't obviously fit with the rest of the line-up. But her storming version of "Take Me Away" - available as a free download from her website - blew us all away. Here she is way back when, with added DLT.

Monday 21 May 2012

Wham, Twang, Thank You Ma'Am

I went to a couple of very enjoyable gigs over the weekend.

Last night I joined the pensioners at the Queen Elizabeth Hall to see the living legend that is Duane Eddy. He was twang-tastic. And the night before I was in Vienna, in a club called Fluc near the Prater funfair, where I had the great pleasure of seeing The Mokkers - undoubtedly my favourite all-female German garage band at the moment.

While the venues couldn't be more different, and the combined age of the Mokkers is roughly what Duane is by himself, there was a zest to both shows that meant they went well together. Here is one track apiece.

"Rebel Rouser" - Duane Eddy

"Dirty Trace" - The Mokkers

Duane's music is easy enough to get hold of, the Mokkers' less so. They have a few tracks to stream on MySpace and Soundcloud. I would particularly commend "Wild Man" on Soundcloud, which was the highlight of their set on Saturday. But if you want a copy of the five track EP that "Dirty Trace" comes from I think you need to contact the ladies directly at (unless you are in Berlin in which case you can pop into Holy's Hit Records).

I took a few ropey pictures of the Mokkers which are over on Flickr if you can be bothered. About the only one that came out well is this shot of the drummer, a woman of rare charm.

Another woman of rare charm was Sandy Denny. There is a tribute night to her at the Barbican on Wednesday that I am looking forward to greatly. To warm up for an evening of people singing Sandy Denny's songs, here she is singing a couple of songs by other people (first Bryn Haworth and then her old mate Richard Thompson).

"Moments" - Sandy Denny

"For Shame Of Doing Wrong" - Sandy Denny

We'll finish where we started, with a bit of Duane Eddy. I couldn't stop grinning last night when he did this followed by "Dance With The Guitar Man", as cheesy as they are. Here he comes now...

Tuesday 15 May 2012

The Cone Zone

Later this week my dear friend Jonathan Field celebrates his 50th birthday. These days he is a highly respectable layabout and family man, but way way back in the early to mid 1980s he was an indie-folk troubadour going by the name Johnny "Conical" Field. He cut a swathe through the small but perfectly formed Dorset music scene of the time, and even made an appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival before real life intervened and he packed it all in.

Back then he made some recordings for the Dorset-based DIY label Cuddly Records. The recording quality was pretty primitive to start with - it would have made what today's hipsters consider "lo-fi" look very hi-tech  - and they were cassette only releases so the quality of my copies has deteriorated even further in the nearly thirty years since. But here are three of the slightly more audible highlights of his body of work.

"Chestwig Obsessional Vol. 4" - Johnny "Conical" Field

"The Navel Of A Policeman's Wife" - Johnny "Conical" Field

"Donovan Takes His Shirts To Mr. Wu's Chinese Laundry Now" - Johnny "Conical" Field

In case you are wondering: Yes the first one does nick the tune from Bob Dylan; the second one is his loose translation of a Georges Brassens number; and the third is what you might perhaps call a "mash up" of George Formby's "Chinese Laundry Blues" and this:

Sunday 13 May 2012

Real Gone Duck

Very saddened to hear of the death overnight of the legendary Donald 'Duck' Dunn of Booker T. & The MGs. His friend and colleague Steve Cropper has described him as the best bass player ever to live, and I am not going to argue with him. Here they are in action together.

"Hang 'Em High" - Booker T. & The MGs

"Slum Baby" - Booker T. & The MGs

Both of those are on the fantastic 9-CD boxed set "The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1968-1971". It has over 200 tracks and there is barely a duff one amongst them. Here are a few more featuring some of the less well-remembered acts on the roster. I don't know whether Duck actually played on any of them, but there is a fair chance he did and they are all worth a listen either way.

"Love Changes" - Charlene & The Soul Serenaders

"Mighty Cold Winter" - Dino & Doc

"Electrified Love" - Ernie Hines

"Don't Mess With My Money, My Honey, Or My Woman" - L.V. Johnson

As you may have worked out, Duck got his nickname from Donald Duck. Donald has inspired other musicians as well, of course (if inspired is the right word in this case).

Friday 11 May 2012

Tsonga/ Not Tsonga

Judging by the stats thingy on Blogger, Paul Ndlovu is one of the most popular artists we have ever featured here on 27 Leggies. A proud son of Limpopo Province, whose life was tragically cut short in 1986, he is considered to be one of the founding fathers of Tsonga Disco.

When I was out in South Africa earlier in the year I picked up a compilation from 2002 titled simply "Paul Ndlovu's Greatest Hits". I had most of the tracks already but there were two or three that were new to me. I've now got round to listening to it and, to be honest, you would struggle to discern any obvious Tsonga/ Shangaan influence on most of the tracks. Even those songs we have showcased here before, such as "Mina Ndzi Rhandza Wena", seem to have been remixed to make them more like pure Afropop.

So that was a bit disappointing. But one can't be too disappointed, because it is Afropop of the highest order. Here are a couple of selections, the first of which is a Ray Phiri song Paul recorded with an outfit called Ace.

"Zantinti" - Paul Ndlovu (with Ace)

"Khombora Mina" - Paul Ndlovu

Listening to that, some folks might cast doubts over Paul's heritage. But musicians the world over know the truth. For example, here is our old friend Elkie Brooks - fresh from giving evidence to the Leveson enquiry earlier today - to reaffirm what all right-minded people know: Paul's a Tsonga.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Black And White World

Fans of the old-fashioned virtues of good songs well played and sung are strongly advised to check out "I Climbed A Tree", the new release by (Dave) Gerard & The Watchmen, available now at Bandcamp and other outlets.

As regular readers know I am not very good at describing things, but it is a lovely, warm little record. The banjo on tracks like "Stables" and "Hesitate" makes them sound to these uninformed ears like a more masculine version of our favourites This Is The Kit, with a bit of mellow Neil Young thrown in for good measure. Today's selection, "Monochrome", is more like Tim Hardin with a pinch of Bert Jansch. Which can't be a bad thing.

Gerard & The Watchmen are gigging around the South East of England at the moment, including shows in Dulwich and Shoreditch this weekend. More details are available from their website.

"Monochrome" - Gerard & The Watchmen

And on the subject of monochrome:

"Eine Symphonie Des Grauens" - The Monochrome Set

"Black And White" - Moussa Doumbia

"Black And White World" - Elvis Costello & The Atractoins

"Hand Held In Black And White" - Dollar

"Black Stations/ White Stations" - Martha & The Muffins

Monday 7 May 2012

Gig Gallery

I am coming off the back of a busy week for gigs. Last Tuesday it was Michael Chapman and Hiss Golden Messenger at the Slaughtered Lamb. Friday was This Is The Kit, supported by Eliza Shaddad and De'borah at an extremely intimate gig in the chapel behind the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green.

I enjoyed both of those very much, but they were topped by the psychedelic extravanganza that was the Trembling Bells and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy at the Union Chapel last night. Support there was an acapella set from a quartet made up of Lavinia and Alex from the Trembling Bells and Katy and Harry from the traditional four-part harmony group Muldoon's Picnic. I am not sure this particular combination had a name, so let's call them the Trembling Picnic.

We featured tracks by Chapman and HGM last week. I don't have anything in my collection by Eliza Shaddad or De'borah. I intend to put that right but in the meantime would encourage you to click on their names and stream what is there - they both have very appealing voices. Which leaves us with the Kit, the Muldoons and Billy & The Bells. Here is one track apiece.

As a bonus I have added a track from "The Opposite Is True", the 2005 album by Morning Star (aka Jesse D Vernon, guitarist with This Is The Kit). It is a spiced-up traditional song so fits quite well.

"Fighting Talk" - This Is The Kit

"Thousands Or More" - Muldoon's Picnic

"Riding" - Trembling Bells & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

"Cuckoo" - Morning Star

And now, in a sad and misguided attempt to show that I am a man equally at ease with all the arts, here are a load of photos I took at the gigs followed, right at the end, by a clip of This Is The Kit doing that old favourite "The Turnip Turned" last Friday. Please forgive my self-indulgence.

Michael Chapman:

Hiss Golden Messenger:

This Is The Kit:  

Eliza Shaddad:


Trembling Bells & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy:

The Trembling Picnic (with added Billy):

Saturday 5 May 2012

Addis Here I Come

Much excitement in the Goggins household today. I have booked my flights for a holiday in Ethiopia in October. I am counting the days already. Which is why you a getting a song from some other folks who are off there, followed by some superb Ethiopian sounds.

"Get Ready To Ride The Lion To Zion" - Culture

"Afer Yemegneshal" - Alemeyehu Eshete

"Aweyo" - Techome Wolde

"Belaya Belaya" - Mahmoud Ahmed

"Mewdeden Lingeresh" - Tlahoun Gessesse

"Wetetie Mare" - Muluqen Mellesse

"Ynegal" - Hibist Tiruneh

And here are some more Abyssinians.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Kings Of Chisinau

Time for some Moldovan magic from the mighty Zdob Si Zdub. I went to Moldova a few years ago, and had one of the best holidays I have ever had. The memories of duetting on Boney M songs with the local karaoke diva, playing air guitar with a mad keen Whitesnake fan to seal our eternal friendship and meeting women with giant vegetables on a ferry to Transdniestr will live with me forever.

"Bune Diminyatca" - Zdob Si Zdub

"Everybody In The Casa Mare" - Zdob Si Zdub

 Here are the lads with their entry in last year's Eurovision.

And here is a bonus clip for you. I mentioned a few days ago that I was going to see a double header of Michael Chapman and Hiss Golden Messenger at the Slaughtered Lamb. That was last night and very good they were too. Here is Hiss (as is parents presumably call him) with a new and as yet unreleased song, the title of which he didn't see fit to share with us.