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Monday 29 April 2013

Massive in Maputo

We are overdue some Afro Pop. Here are a couple of tracks from an album I picked up in Cape Town over Easter. The gentleman's name is Dimas. He is from Mozambique. His album "Txotxoloza" was released in 2004. The fast tracks are quite catchy, the slow tracks are quite soulful. That's all I know.

"Txotxoloza" - Dimas

"Mukonwana" - Dimas

On my iPod Dimas appears between Dillinger and Dinah Shore.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Playing Possum

I don't have the words that could come remotely close to doing justice to the glory that was George Jones, so we'll let him speak for himself. Here a just a few of my personal favourites. I thought about leaving "He Stopped Loving Her Today" out for being too obvious, but that would have been foolish. It is, after all, possibly the most moving record anyone has ever made.

"He Stopped Loving Her Today" - George Jones

"The Grand Tour" - George Jones

"She Told Me So" - George Jones

"Brother To The Blues" - George Jones

"Radio Lover" - George Jones

"The Bird" - George Jones

Thursday 25 April 2013

Kinky Corner

Last night I went to 229 Great Portland Street - a new venue for me - to see the legendary Kinky Friedman perform a solo set. It was part of the European leg of his Bi-Polar Tour - 34 gigs in 35 days culminating, appropriately, in a show in Germany. Appropriately because, as he revealed, Germans are his second favourite race. "My favourites? Everybody else".

Kinky is best known for his humour and his "robust" approach to political correctness, and there was plenty of that on display last night. But he has always had a sensitive side as well - just listen to songs like "Rapid City, South Dakota", one of the highlights of last night's show for me - which means he manages to avoid the trap of becoming a one-dimensional caricature.

One of the most pleasant surprises last night was a very touching version of the old Irish rebel song, "Kevin Barry", which you can find below. He also covered "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" and Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd", so I've bunged in some versions of them for you as well. And we'll finish off with probably my favourite cover of a Kinky song, from the excellent tribute album "Pearls in the Snow".

"The Ballad of Kevin Barry" - Kinky Friedman

"The Ballad of Ira Hayes" - Johnny Cash

"Pretty Boy Floyd" - The Byrds

"Autograph" - Delbert McClinton

Here is some more kinkiness for you.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Richie Havens R.I.P.

Very sorry to hear that Richie Havens passed away yesterday. I've always loved his voice, and "Alarm Clock" is a great record. "Younger Men Grow Older" is from that album. That and the other two titles seem sadly appropriate today.

"You Can Close Your Eyes" - Richie Havens

"Younger Men Grow Older" - Richie Havens

"There's A Hole In The Future" - Richie Havens

Sunday 21 April 2013

Popping Out For Sunday Lunch

Over the last few days I been making a concerted effort to reduce the huge pile of CDs I have bought but not got round to listening to before it causes permanent structural damage to my shelf. During this morning's shift three that seemed to go together fairly well came off the pile in a row, so I thought I would use them for today's post and pretend it was planned.

First up was "In Our Bedroom After The War", the 2007 album by Stars. The title track is an absolute classic, the rest of it is pretty good as well. Next was "Intro 2007", a sampler of artists whose records were released on the Popfrenzy label in Australia and NZ. It includes the likes of Camera Obscura and Of Montreal, as well as the two featured here.

And finally, purchased in Gare Midi in Brussels for €1, was a greatest hits compilation by Belgian 90s popsters Pop in Wonderland. This cover version of an old Melanie hit, on which they are joined by the lady herself, was top three in Belgium in 1995. So now you know.

"Today Will Be Better, I Swear" - Stars

"Can't See Your Face No More" - David Vandervelde

"Little Things That Tear Us Apart" - Irene

"Beautiful People" - Pop in Wonderland (featuring Melanie)

That's not a bad Melanie cover. This is the best one though.

This, on the other hand, isn't. When I was about 12 I saw this lot in a double bill with Leapy Lee. A formative experience.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

Let's get your libido loosened up and raring to go with both sides of a 1964 single by Muddy Waters. If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the phrase "John the Conqueror Root" it won't take you long to work out what he is referring to. Suffice to say, it is a source of great agitation for the ladies.

"Short Dress Woman" - Muddy Waters

"My John The Conqueror Root" - Muddy Waters

And here are a couple of "muddy" songs from the mighty Johnny Rivers, neither of which are a tribute to Mr McKinley Morganfield. Although the first has most of Muddy's surname in it and the second has most of Johnny's. So maybe, and a deeply psychological level, they are a tribute after all.

"I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water" - Johnny Rivers

"Muddy River" - Johnny Rivers

I think the only conclusion you can draw is that Johnny has a bit of a thing about mud. And who can blame him...

Monday 15 April 2013

Big And Brassy

Last night I went to an excellent Battle of the Brass Bands at the Barbican. In the left corner was Germán Lizárraga y su Banda Estrellas de Sinaloa from Mexico; in the right corner, Serbia's very own, Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra.

I am not sure who won officially. I would have it down as a very high-scoring draw. The Mexicans looked to have nicked it with an enthusiastic stage invasion by their supporters but then the Serbs hit back with one of their own, much to the irritation of the stewards and the delight of the neutrals. I think the last time I have seen such a crowd reaction at the Barbican was when Rachid Taha played there a few years ago. It probably helps to have the Brits outnumbered.

At one point in the proceedings the Markovics did what appeared to be a cover version of Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya". Here is another foreign language cover version, plus a bit of Lee himself.

"Ya Ya Twist" - Petula Clark

"Neighbor's Daughter" - Lee Dorsey

"Occapella" - Lee Dorsey

"Freedom For The Stallion" - Lee Dorsey

Sunday 14 April 2013

Jah In Japan

I have finally worked out what this blog has been missing - Japanese Ragga. Let's put that right.

"Reggae Is My Life" - Express

"Buju Or Shabba" - Rudebwoy Face

"Norainu" - Dribbla

Thursday 11 April 2013

Words About Birds

Regular readers may recall me raving late last year about the self-titled debut album by Birds of Chicago, who comprise Allison Russell of Po' Girl and JT Nero of JT & The Clouds. Well I went to see them last night and am happy to report they are even better live than on record. They were both in fine voice and there was a friendliness and warmth about their performance that really drew you in.

The pair of them are supplemented on their current UK tour by the admirable Peter Mulvey - who opened the evening with an all too short solo set - and a drummer whose name I have forgotten but I am pretty sure his initials were WW. Possibly Wally Whyton or Willie Wonka. Anyway, he is not in the picture but Peter Mulvey is. That's him on the left.

Peter's latest album, "The Good Stuff", is a collection of covers, one of which he played as part of the band's set last night. Titled "Old Fashioned Morphine", he called it a Jolie Holland song. But I am not sure you can really call it her song when all she has done is taken the vintage gospel tune "Old Time Religion", crossed out "Religion" and written "Morphine" over the top in her best handwriting.

Here is the evidence. I have also bunged in Bunny Wailer's "Bald Head Jesus" because he sings a couple of verses of "Old Time Religion" at the end.

"Old Time Religion" - Melvin Lastie

"Old Fashioned Morphine" - Jolie Holland

"Bald Head Jesus" - Bunny Wailer

Here is some more old time religion.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

This Other Elvis

We're back!

As I had feared, the Tsonga Disco pickings in Cape Town were slim, albeit perfectly formed. They comprise an album by one of the founding fathers of Tsonga music, a new member of the Maluleke clan (Alpheus), and a Patson Chauke production with a totally bonkers cover.

All that is to follow. For now, let's get this show back on the road by heading north to join up with the Cameroon king of disco, our old pal Elvis Kemayo.

"Oho Baby" - Elvis Kemayo

"Bibam" - Elvis Kemayo

Here is the other Other Elvis.

And here is the other Other Elvis's Dad