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Friday 29 November 2013

Rain And Snow

I am looking forward to what promises to be a memorable night at the Festival Hall next week, when friends and admirers gather to pay tribute to the late great Bert Jansch. I was lucky enough to see one of his last gigs with Pentangle there two years ago. Most of the surviving members will be in the line-up next week, along with the likes of Martin Carthy, Donovan, Robert Plant and someone called Clapton.

Today I have been working my way through some of the complimentary albums that pop up in my in-box, and about an hour ago came to "December Moon", the new album by a bunch of Irish sisters called the Henry Girls. Very nice it is too, and one of the stand-out tracks is their version of the old Pentangle standard, "Rain and Snow". Here is are both versions.

"Rain And Snow" - The Henry Girls

"Rain And Snow" - Pentangle

As I am feeling in a benign mood tonight, we'll give you some more rain and snow.

"Feels Like Rain" - John Hiatt

"Rainfall" - Bruce Cockburn

"Snow" - Georgia Seddon

"Snow Shadows" - Vince Martin

Wednesday 27 November 2013


There are some band names that are unlikely ever to be alighted on by more than one group of people - like "Fruupp" and "Frumious Bandersnatch", to look just at the "Fru"s. Others are more popular. Of late I have been banging on about the old British psychedelic band Kaleidoscope. When they were at their peak there was an American band with the same name plying their trade over there.

I have records by three different bands called Odyssey. Here is a track from each of them. The first comes from an album titled "Setting Forth" released in 1969, and is a mildly psychedelic blue-eyed soul version of the Janis Ian song. The second comes from an album called simply "Odyssey" that was released on various Motown subsidiaries in 1972. And the final one, from the best known of the three groups, was rightly a big hit here in the UK in 1980.

"Society's Child" - Odyssey

"Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love" - Odyssey

"If You're Looking For A Way Out" - Odyssey

Some bands have had to use different names in different countries to distinguish themselves from local acts. For example, the band we fondly remember as The Beat in the UK are fondly remembered as The English Beat in the US. But by far the greater indignity was inflicted on The Spinners, who were forced to call themselves The Detroit Spinners over here to avoid being confused with this lot.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Myths and Legends

I promised a brief review of the two gigs by legendary bands that I went to at the beginning of the week. Here they are.

On Monday morning, Mister F got in touch to say he had picked up free tickets to see Mott the Hoople that evening, so off we toddled to the O2 Arena. Had we paid, my view would probably be similar to that of the man from the Guardian. But as we didn't it seems a bit churlish to complain, so let's just say the last half an hour was great and you would have to be a bit of an old misery not to have had a bit of a lump in the throat when they finished off with "Saturday Gigs".

The Kaleidoscope gig the night before, on the other hand, was fantastic from start to finish. Peter Daltrey looked and sounded great, in the Trembling Bells he has found the ideal band to bring his songs to life, and we had the bonus of Ed and Danny from the original line-up joining them on stage for a few numbers. Even the tediously self-regarding support acts could not spoil a perfect night.

From legends to myths. Here are four pop-tastic songs with links to assorted mythical kingdoms.

"The Legend of Xanadu" - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

"Eldorado" - Electric Light Orchestra

"Atlantis" - Donovan

"Give Him A Great Big Kiss" - The Shangri-las

And here's that "Saturday Gigs" moment I mentioned, with thanks to Georlron and the man in front of him with a very emotional hand.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Papa Penny/ Nerija

UPDATE: I got an infringement notice today from Box telling me they had taken down "Keliai Savi". Now, they are an occupational hazard in this game, but to be honest I had not expected to get one for a track from a 1970s Lithuanian funk and schlager combo. However, the fact that the second track survives unscathed leads me to suspect this is the work of S. Vonderio's "people". Boo! Hiss!

Later in the week when I have a bit more time I will regale you with tales of the Kaleidoscope and Mott The Hoople gigs I have been to the last two nights. But for now, a quick public service announcement.

Our good friends over at Awesome Tapes From Africa have reissued Penny Penny's classic "Shaka Bundu" album in almost every format known to man. You lot being hipsters probably have it already but - if not - BUY IT NOW.

That was the announcement.

How better to follow the King of Tsonga Disco than with some vintage Lithuanian funk? You will recognise - or you would have done if the b*gg*rs hadn't removed it - "Keliai Savi" as a slightly luke-warm version of "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder (or S. Vonderio as he is called on the sleevenotes). The second track may possibly be an original, but I am happy to be corrected.

"Keliai Savi" - Nerija

"Ar Nebuvai Miške?" - Nerija

Here is Stevie showing us how to do it properly.

Saturday 16 November 2013

ReviewShine Time

I've kept you waiting long enough for a round-up of some new releases sent my way by the nice folks at ReviewShine, so let's get straight down to business.

The pick of the bunch is Declan O'Rourke. Declan, as his name hints, is Irish, and like many Irishmen he coaxes much more beauty out of the English language that we English do. I saw him support John Prine at the Barbican earlier in the year. "Time Machine" was the highlight of that set, and it leads off his new album "Mag Pai Zai". The other "must hear" is a great live acapella version of "Marrying the Sea", but the whole album is well worth a listen.

"Time Machine" - Declan O'Rourke

We'll round up the round-up with some tasty blue-eyed soul from Saint Jude's new album "Saint Jude II", and some funky Dutch Cajun sounds from Cochon Bleu's "Not Blue" to put you in the mood to face the world this chilly Saturday morning.

"Remember" - Saint Jude

"Eh Ya Ya" - Cochon Bleu

I mentioned up the top that I saw Declan O'Rourke supporting John Prine. Here's John with what - if pushed very, very hard - is possibly my favourite of all his wonderful songs.

Monday 11 November 2013

Kwela, Bless My Soul

Quick one tonight, folks. Some sparkling South African pop courtesy of Mafikizolo and their very special guest, Mr Hugh Masekela. Both tracks taken from their 2004 album, "Kwela".

"Uyakwazi Ukwena" - Mafikizolo

"Kwela Kwela" - Mafikizolo (featuring Hugh Masekela)

Here's more Hugh for you, with a song by Fela "Rhymes With Kwela" Kuti.

Friday 8 November 2013

Old Friends

Evening dudes (and, indeed, lady dudes). You'll be pleased to hear I don't have long to linger, but I wanted to give a quick plug to a couple of old favourites who are back with new material.

First up, Eureka Birds, who I had the pleasure of seeing play in Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn a few years ago, in the company of several of the band members' parents. Their new album, "Strangers", was released a week or so back and is available on Bandcamp. And it is very good too. Here is the lead off track, "Baby's Got A Blade":

Even more exciting, we have a - possibly exclusive - pre-release from Annie Dressner. You may remember me raving about her 2011 album, " Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names" (I made a pledge only to mention albums with the word "strangers" in the title today). Well, she has a lovely new single coming out soon, and here she is introducing it. If you want to hear the whole thing you will have to wait until 25 November, but you can pre-order it on Bandcamp.

Vocally, Annie has a similar sort of tone to one of First Aid Kit (don't ask me which one). They are one of my favourite new acts of the last few years, and you can tell they have made it by the number of "new First Aid Kits" whose PR stuff turns up in my inbox. They are of variable quality but these two, whose video turned up today, sound pretty good to me. They have an album out too, but it does not have "strangers" in the title so you will have to research that yourself.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Faintly Blowing My Mind

Great excitement in the Goggins household today. I have bagged a ticket to see Kaleidoscope at the Islington Assembly Halls on the 17th. Creators of a couple of classic albums of English psychedelia, "Tangerine Dream" and "Faintly Blowing", who last released a record in 1970, it is one of those gigs you never thought would happen.

It must be conceded that you could not claim the band have reformed, as only one member of the old line-up will be involved. It is the important one, though - the singer and songwriter Peter Daltrey. And his pick-up band for the night is none other than the Trembling Bells, of whom regular readers will have heard me rave many times. His magic mixed with their magic promises to make it a very special night.

"Black Fjord" - Kaleidoscope

"Do It Again For Jeffrey" - Kaleidoscope

Here's another Daltrey for you.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Massive in Moscow

I mentioned in my last post that a charming gentleman in Rostov-on-Don had persuaded me to part with £1 for a disc containing what he called a "rock classic mix - 200" of Russian rock. It turned out there were only 190 tracks and, of the ones I have heard to date, you would struggle to argue they were all classics. But there is some good stuff on there.

Here is a small selection to whet your appetite, including the only known case of a band naming themselves after a writer of detective stories (I stand ready to be corrected, as always).

"Triller" - Agata Kristi

"Www" - Leningrad

"Devochka" - Mumij Troll

"Labrador-Gibraltar" - Vjacheslav Butusov