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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.

Saturday 1 September 2012

Groovy, Baby!

There are many groovy things in the world...

"Groovy People" - Lou Rawls

"Groovy Situation" - Keith Rowe

"Groovy Relationship" - Kenny O'Dell

"A Groovy Kind Of Love" - The Mindbenders

... but there is nothing more groovy than Groovey Joe Poovey...

"Ten Long Fingers" - Groovey Joe Poovey

... with one possible exception.

"Kicks" - The Flamin' Groovies

Alright, maybe two exceptions. Here's Nancy with some added Elvis.