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Thursday 30 August 2012

ReviewShine Round-Up

It's time for our monthly look at some of the many fine records I have received via ReviewShine. I mentioned in the previous post that we have a real treat for you this time, and so we do. It is the new album from Jimmy LaFave, "Depending on the Distance", which comes out on 18 September on Music Road Records.

I am a total sucker for Jimmy's voice, particularly on the slow numbers. He could sing one of the endless Indian take-away menus that get shoved through my letterbox and it would bring a lump to my throat (as I suspect would eating anything off those menus). His version of "Emotionally Yours" is shortlisted for the first dance when me and the next Mrs Goggins get married.

I have listened to the album two or three times now and it's a really strong set of songs. For overall consistency and quality it is up there with albums like "Texoma" and "Road Novel". It doesn't break any new ground - if you know Jimmy, it is exactly what you would expect. But then if you know Jimmy, that is exactly what you will have wanted. And if you don't know Jimmy, you should.

"Clear Blue Sky" - Jimmy LaFave

Jimmy is a hard act to follow but these next three folks - all of them new to me - give it a damn good go. First up is Bow Thayer from Vermont, who I have somehow missed over the last 15 years or so that he has been making music. Earlier this month he put out a retrospective collection of some of the highlights of his career to date. It is called "Hindsight", it is out on Tweed River Productions, and there is enough good stuff on there to encourage you to dig further. I will be. If I have understood the blurb properly, today's selection features the late, great Levon Helm - that would certainly explain the muscular groove that makes it so good.

"Stoned Kid" - Bow Thayer

Moving over the border and over to the distaff side, and picking up some twang on the way, we bring you Melissa Payne from Ontario. Her self-titled debut album comes out on Seventh Fire Records in a couple of weeks time. With a bit of blues, a bit of soul, a bit of folk - a bit of all the things I like, in other words - and the bonus of Melissa's throaty vocals, it is a very fine album indeed.

"This Feeling" - Melissa Payne

Last up we have Nicolette Good for San Antonio. Her self-released album "Monarch" came out a couple of months ago and can be found on iTunes, Amazon and no doubt elsewhere. As you know already I am useful at describing things, but even if I wasn't I would find it hard to describe this one sensibly and succinctly. The basic starting point is Americana, and there are some songs that have hints of Shawn Colvin or - in the case of today's selection - Gillian Welch. But then along comes a track like "Marathon", which sounds like Mazzy Star if they had learned to enunciate propoerly. The one common theme is that it is all good stuff. Like the other three albums we've covered today.

"Hurricane Caroline" - Nicolette Good

This isn't the greatest quality video clip we have ever featured here but if you are reading this, Future Mrs G, gird up your loins and get ready to dance. He does it a bit slower that the version on "Texoma", but it still works for me.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

New And New Old Releases

I don't know if it is Autumn release schedule time in Record Label Land, but for whatever reason my inbox has been flooded with fantastic freebies over the last couple of weeks. Some of them are from our reliable friends at Reviewshine, and we'll get to them later in the week (including at least one real treat). Today we have the best of the rest.

We'll start with some very welcome re-releases. I am sure many of you are fans of Swedish pop titans Acid House Kings. They celebrate twenty years of melodic marvellousness this year and to mark the event Labrador Records have today reissued three of their albums: "Advantage Acid House" (1997), "Mondays are like Tuesdays and Tuesdays are like Wednesdays" (2002) and "Sing Along With Acid House Kings" (2005). From that last album here is "This Heart Is A Stone". You'll want to get all three of them though.

"This Heart Is A Stone" - Acid House Kings

Next an even older reissue courtesy of Tompkins Square who, if I had a Label of the Year Award, would be the front-runners for the title. They have put some great stuff out this year - His Golden Messenger, the Michael Chapman tribute "Oh Michael, Look What You've Done", and now this. "This" being "Ever Changing Minstrel" by Bill Wilson, available for the first time since 1973. If you read Uncut you may have seen the review which explains the alleged circumstances in which it was made (in brief Bill turned up uninvited at Bob Johnston's house one night, played him some songs and Bob rang up the cream of Nashville session men and said "Let's do the show right here"). I am not sure I entirely believe the story but it doesn't really matter. It's a very good record.

"The Good Ship Society" - Bill Wilson

Another regular source of goodies is Noisetrade, and right now you can pick up some fine free samplers from a couple of old favourites of mine. Tift Merritt has her new album "Travelling Alone" coming out in early October, which is also when Iris Dement releases "Sing The Delta", her first album for eight years. Judging by the samplers it sounds like both albums are going to be well up to their usual standards.

"Sweet Spot" - Tift Merritt

"Go On Ahead And Go Home" - Iris Dement

We'll finish off with an act that is new to me, and fairly new to the world generally I would guess. They are from down Bristol way and they are called Tidy Street. They have recently put their first demos up on Bandcamp and they are not bad at all. Who they remind you of rather depends on what I will pompously call your cultural frame of reference. They tell me they have been compared to Willy Mason and Noah & The Whale, which means nothing to an old fart like me. This track sounds to me like the resurrection of The Chefs, which probably means nothing to young whippersnappers like them.

"Love Is A Verb" - Tidy Street

 Speaking of Bristol, here's Johnny of that ilk.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Carnival Weekend

Before we get to our scheduled post, let's pay tribute to Neil Armstrong with the help of Messrs Stewart, Fredericks and Goulden. Bow your heads respectfully for a few minutes, folks.

"Armstrong" - John Stewart

"Take A Giant Step" - Taj Mahal

"Walking On The Surface Of The Moon" - Wreckless Eric

On with business. It's August Bank Holiday here in the UK, which means the Notting Hill Carnival. And being a bank holiday weekend, it also means rain. If the weather is like it was yesterday they will be better off parading in boats than floats. Let's play a few sunshine carnival tunes in the hope they will keep the rain away. Some of these have been transferred from aged cassettes so the sound quality is a bit ropey, for which apologies.

"Notting Hill" - Explainer

"Don't Stop This Party" - Mighty Swallow

"Flag Woman" - Lord Kitchener

"Same Time, Same Place" - Mighty Sparrow

Thursday 23 August 2012

The Celtic Fringes

There was great excitement in the Goggins household earlier in the week when an email from former Pipette Gwenno Saunders appeared in my inbox. I was a big fan of theirs and was always surprised and disappointed they didn't make it much bigger than they did, although the membership turmoil and long silence after "We Are The Pipettes" meant they were not in a position to capitalise on the attention they got early on.

Since the demise of the Pipettes Gwenno has gone back to singing in Welsh, and the result is a fine five-track EP that comes out on the Peski label next Monday. The title track is "Ymbelydredd", which means "Radiation", but you don't need to know what she's on about to appreciate a bloody good pop record when you hear it. My favourite tracks are probably "Ti Yw Madonna" ("You Are Madonna") and this one, the title of which probably does not need translating.

One thing I had not realised before was that Gwenno is half Cornish, speaks the language and once represented Cornwall in the Alternative Eurovision Song Contest. Being part Cornish myself that makes me love her even more. She's the new Brenda Wootton! (And if you don't know who Brenda Wootton is you should be ashamed of yourselves).

As a bonus for you, here are some more Welsh language hits of yesteryear:

"Nid Yr Hen Gwestiynau Oedd Wrth Y Llyw" - Galwad Y Mynydd

"Hedfan" - Gillian Elisa

"Heddiw Ddoe A Fory" - Meic Stevens

"Gwlad Y Rasta Gwyn" - Sobin A'r Smaeliaid

And we'll finish up with two videos featuring Gwenno, one for the new EP and one from her days with the Pipettes.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Hidden, Trembling, Magnetic Fun

I went to an excellent gig at the Victoria in Dalston on Monday night. Top of the bill were our old friends the Trebling Bells, who were fantastic as always. They treated us to some very promising new material. One new song - I think it was called "The Bradford Riots" - really stood out, sounding like a "Liege and Lief" out-take with Alex Neilson channelling Dave Mattacks. But what made the evening extra special was the quality of the support acts. It is not often you see such a strong bill.

Second on the bill were The Magnetic Mind - think a young Cher fronting a particularly scuzzy garage band. The openers were Hidden Manners, a dynamic trio from Glasgow who dabbled in all things psychedelic. Think of a prefix or suffix that goes with "psych", they do them all and often in the course of the same number, showing a healthy disregard for conventional song structure. If I was forced to choose between them I would pick Hidden Masters, but only just.

Both bands have a single out. The Magnetic Mind's "Maybe The Stars, Maybe The Sun" is on Heavy Soul 45s, while Hidden Master's "Nobody Knows That We Are Here" is on State Records. Check 'em out!

Back to the Bells. With Lavinia, Alex and elongated guitarist Mike Hastings commanding so much attention there is a danger of taking for granted Simon Shaw on bass. That would be very foolish, for he is a bit of a polymatch in his own right. Amongst other credits, in 1999 he co-founded Lucky Luke, whose members included at one point a certain Alex Neilson. The Luckies were more overtly folky than the Bells, but their strain of Celtic psychedelia can still be heard very strongly in their successors' sound.

Lucky Luke released their debut album "Patrick The Survivor" in 2005. A second album, "Travelling For A Living" was recorded around the same time but not released until last year. Here is one song from each.

"Fear Eats The Soul" - Lucky Luke (from "Patrick The Survivor")

"Jackie" - Lucky Luke (from "Travelling For A Living")

And here are some more lucky, lucky people.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Ballad Songs And Snatches

It is too hot to come up with any well-thought out and clever links, so here are ten self-proclaimed ballads. That's about it, really.

"Ballad of a Chocolate-Coated Candy Bar" - A Cuddly Pair

"The Ballad of El Goodo" - Big Star

"Ballad of the Bastard" - Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat

"Ballad of the Blue Ox Babes" - Blue Ox Babes

"Ballad of a Crystal Man" - Donovan

"Ballad of Ira Hayes" - Johnny Cash

"Ballad of Handy Mackey" - Larry Jon Wilson

"The Ballad of Rory Gallagher" - Pierce Turner

"The Ballad of the Kingsmen" - Todd Snider

"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" - XTC

The more cultured among you will have recognised the title of this post as a line from "A Wandering Minstrel I", from Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado". You may also have anticipated what comes next. This breaks me up every time - no idea why.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

La Americana

After yesterday's cavalcade of Colombians, we are right back with some more Latin music.

Our old and dear friend Vanessa Lively has kindly tipped me off to "La Americana", the upcoming debut album by Leticia Rodriguez which comes out at the beginning of October on the catchily named Chicken 'n Beanz label.

Leticia is from Austin but her music is from all over Latin America. "La Americana" is a collection of covers of standards from Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and ranging from the 1920s to the present day.

My knowledge of Latin music is pitifully weak, so I could not tell you which song is from where and what the different musical styles are. But you don't need to be an expert to recognise good music when you hear it, and this album is jam-packed with it. Here's just one of many examples. I'm guessing Cuba from the piano line and the vocal interchange in the middle of the song, but I'm probably wrong.

"Usted Abuso" - Leticia Rodriguez

Leticia comes from a very distinguished musical family. Her aunt was Eva Garza, one of the first Latin crossover artists and the original performer of some of the songs on the album. She herself is the aunt of Carrie Rodriguez, who may know from her solo work and/or her partnership with Chip Taylor. Here she is with a very nice Richard Thompson cover from her 2010 album "Love And Circumstance".

"Waltzing's For Dreamers" - Carrie Rodriguez

As for Vanessa, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that if you live in Copenhagen, Berlin or assorted places in the Netherlands she is gigging round your way over the next few weeks - more details on her website.  The bad news is that there are no new recordings in the pipeline. So those of us unable to make it to Die Oude Remise in Bad Nieuweschans on 1 September will have to make do with digging out our copies of "Uncovering Stones", the excellent album she put out last year. Here's a track from that.

"Skeletons" - Vanessa Lively

As I explained, Leticia Rodriguez's album brings together a lot of Latin standards. It's just a shame she couldn't find room for these two.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

The Bully Boys From Bogota

Yesterday I received a notification of copyright infringement from Blogger. I get two or three of those every year from either them or Box.Net and normally just shrug it off. It is usually a fair cop, and it is one of the occupational hazards of music blogging. But this one has annoyed me.

The complaint has come from Sony Music in Colombia, who were acting to protect the creative rights of Colombian pop singer Maia. The post they objected to, and which Blogger has now removed, dated from September 2009 and was titled "More Maia".

The most annoying thing - even more than the fact that I took the links down nearly three years ago - is that it was not that Maia I featured. To be honest I had never heard of her until yesterday. It would be immediately obvious to anyone who actually read the post that it was in fact a tribute to the late, great Brazilian soul singer, Tim Maia. So I can only assume that Sony Music in Colombia made their spurious claim based solely on looking at the title of the post. Which does seem a bit of an abuse of the system to me.

Still, to show there are no hard feelings to the country, here are some fine Colombian tunes. Let's just hope none of them came out on Sony.

"Elyoyo" - Wganda Kenya

"El Gavilan" - La India Meliyara

"El Escándalo" - El Sayayin

"Mini Kusuto" - Colombiafrica

"Pescao Envenenao" - Choc Quib Town

Here is a clip of their Maia, followed by one of mine. She's OK, but give me Tim any day.

Saturday 11 August 2012

Stortford Special

I was sitting on the train to Bishops Stortford this morning, on my way to see Brother Goggins and family, when the shuffle function on my iPod threw out this:

"I'm On My Way To A Better Place" - Chairmen Of The Board

I think the iPod must have felt a bit embarrassed at showing such enthusiasm because it immediately qualified that statement with its next selection:

"It's Alright" - Gleeson

Before we get any irate messages, I am not having a go at Bishops Stortford. Its a perfectly nice place. And it certainly a good deal better than these hell-holes.

"Frog Dick, South Dakota" - Bob Martin

"Rock Bottom, Pop. 1" - Dallas Wayne

"The Kettering Song" - Principal Edwards' Magic Theatre

Thursday 9 August 2012

The Bournemouth Bill

Way back in 1980 I saw the Clash play in Bournemouth on the "London Calling" tour, supported by the unlikely combination of Joe Ely and Mikey Dread.

By coincidence over the last couple of weeks I have picked up old cassette copies of Joe Ely's "Down On The Drag" (1979) and Mikey Dread's "Pave The Way Parts 1 & 2" (1985). Here are a couple of tracks from each. The sound quality of the Mikey Dread cassette is not all that great - apologies.

"Standing At The Big Hotel" - Joe Ely

"Maria" - Joe Ely

"Nowadays Youth" - Mikey Dread

"Knock Knock" - Mikey Dread

Having given you the undercard, I suppose it is only right we give you something from the headliners as well, so here is a little something from "London Calling".

"The Card Cheat" - The Clash

The thing about playing cards is, you've got to know when to hold 'em...

Monday 6 August 2012

More From Mr Shirimani

The last time we featured Tsonga Disco a few weeks' back it was Prince Rhangani, younger brother of the mighty Joe Shirimani. Today we feature the Tsonga Svengali himself, with one of the two albums that he released under his own name last year (the first - "Banana" - we featured back in January).

This album is called "Nyimpi Ya Nghena" and it is credited to Joe Shirimani and Bangoni Bandawu. To be completely honest I am not sure whether Bangoni Bandawu is a man or a group. The sleeve notes say Bangoni (if it is a "he") handles lead vocals, but according to the Sheer Sounds website they are a group and the lead vocals are a combination of Joe's current protege Benny Mayengani and Marhoya Chauke (yet another Chauke to add to the list), and possibly Prince Rhangani as well. Both sources agree that DJ Mkon'wana is involved somewhere. I think on the whole I'll trust Sheer Sounds - they did put the record out after all. One thing that is completely indisputable is that - as usual - Joe writes, produces and plays half the instruments.

Most of the album is the usual top quality Tsonga Disco that you associate with Joe but, rather like Penny Penny with his "Tsonga Jazz" album last year, Joe is experimenting a bit with other styles. "Sabelo Sami" has a nice jazzy feel, with some nifty guitar work from Prince Rhangani. But the weird one is "Baai Baai" which is an apparently sincere attempt at tackling boeremusiek, the folk music of the Afrikaners, with its mainly Afrikaans lyrics and prominent use of the squeeze-box. Here they both are, along with one of his "normal" numbers.

"Mbhambhazi" - Joe Shirimani & Bangoni Bandawu

"Sabelo Sami" - Joe Shirimani & Bangoni Bandawu

"Baai Baai" - Joe Shirimani & Bangoni Bandawu

Here is some more boeremusiek - Valiant Swart & Ollie Viljoen, who we have featured here many times before.

Friday 3 August 2012

He's The Don

The Selda gig last night was very good - thanks for asking. While we were in the pub afterwards, my cool friend Mister F made a special request for a feature on Don Fardon. I'm happy to oblge.

In the unlikely event that there is anyone who doesn't know already, here is a potted history. Don was born in Coventry, a town with a strong musical tradition including the likes of The Specials, Selecter, Edgar Broughton, Jigsaw, The Enemy and... er... Lieutenant Pigeon.

He started his career with The Sorrows who were, in modern parlance, a freakbeat group (one of the more ludicrous genres to have been imposed on the past by modern hipsters). He went solo in the mid 1960s and enjoyed a reasonable degree of success. His biggest hit, "Indian Reservation", went top three in the UK and top twenty in the US in 1968. You won't be hearing that today though - Mister F has banned me from playing it in case he comes across as too populist.

Don will be 69 years young in a couple of weeks time, and I'm pleased to say he is still going strong. His version of "I'm Alive" was reissued in the Netherlands last year and went into the top twenty, and he is gigging again with The Sorrows. Keep up the good work, Don.

"Cara-Lin" - The Sorrows (1965)

"On The Beach" - Don Fardon (1970)

"Lady Zelda" - Don Fardon (1973)

"Belfast Boy" - Don Fardon (1970)

Regular readers will have guessed which two Coventry artists from the list above we have in the clips section. Well, you're half right.

Oh, alright then.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Turkish Time

We're off to see the vintage Turkish protest folkie Selda Bagcan at the Queen Elizabeth Hall tomorrow, as part of Antony Hegarty's Meltdown Festival. To get me in the mood, here are four tracks from the Godfather of Anatolian Rock, the mighty Erkin Koray.

"Hayat Katari" - Erkin Koray

"Hele Yar" - Erkin Koray

"Iz Ve Ben" - Erkin Koray

"Yagmur" - Erkin Koray