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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).