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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.