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Sunday 30 November 2014

Single Sentiment Sunday

A lot of folks use their blogs to have a bit of a whinge about the world, and goodness knows there are plenty of things worth whingeing about. But after moaning in my last post about my European tour falling through, I stopped and thought to myself: if the worst thing I have to complain about is the loss of a freebie to Athens, I should shut up. So - if only for today - let's all be thankful for what we've got.

We start with the full length version of the William DeVaughn classic and possibly the best known cover. Dating from 1974, the Donovan Carless track was the first of countless reggae versions, although the Johnny Clarke track isn't one of them. Then we have an old Fairport standard and a pretty ropey cover, before finishing up with two old pals each giving their take on the subject.

"Be Thankful For What You've Got" - William DeVaughn

"Be Thankful For What You've Got" - Massive Attack

"Be Thankful" - Donovan Carless

"Be Thankful" - Johnny Clarke

"Now Be Thankful" - Fairport Convention

"Now Be Thankful" - The Knights of the Occasional Table

"Thankful" - Louis Armstrong

"I've Got Plenty To Be Thankful For" - Bing Crosby 

At the risk of seeming both over-emotional and factually inaccurate, this is for all you lovely people.

Friday 28 November 2014

Going Nowhere

It has been a bad week for travelling. As of Tuesday afternoon my schedule was: Wednesday fly to Madrid and give a speech followed by a slap-up dinner; Thursday fly from Madrid to Athens; Friday have some meetings followed by another slap-up dinner; then stay on for the weekend to catch up with friends, see a gig and raid the record shops. But then the Greek air traffic controllers announced a strike on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday fog descended on London City Airport resulting in all flights getting cancelled.

Never mind. We can still have a musical trip to Spain and Greece. Fasten your seatbelts, make sure your luggage is safely stowed in the overhead lockers or underneath the seat in front of you, but don't turn off all electrical equipment. Now pretend you're on a jet plane in your rocking chair.

"Que Mala Suerte La Mia" - Los Amayas

"To '69" - Pavlos Sidiropoulos

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Fiesta Fun

Wakey Wakey! What better way to get you out of bed than with some Nicaraguan party pop courtesy of the lovely Las Nenas.

"Y Si Me Gusta" - Las Nenas

"Que Alegre Esta La Fiesta" - Las Nenas

I mentioned in my last post that there were two Yanqui hits of yore that will from now on always remind me of my visit to Nicaragua. The first was "Shake Your Booty", the second is a classic 1980s power ballad. The gent pictured below is Gerson Gonzalez, who drove me from the airport to Leon on the night I arrived.

Gerson took great delight in showing me the various ways in which he had "pimped his ride" - shouting "crazy taxi!" each time he did so - and in singing along with his "greatest power ballads" cassette. After 45 minutes or so I decided that I was not going to beat him, so joined in, and as we drove into Leon we were belting out this deathless dirge.

Sunday 23 November 2014

The Voice of Godoy

We will start our random trawl through the CDs I picked up in Nicaragua with Carlos Mejia Godoy, as his was the name that cropped up most when I asked people to recommend some local music. Although I fear that those of us who were not in Nicaragua at the time he first rose to prominence with never really be able to appreciate why he is held in such reverence there, particularly if - like me - you don't speak Spanish and so can't understand what he is singing about.

To give you the brief version of his Wikipedia biography: "Carlos started  his career on the Radio Corporacion, where he would daily compose songs that would rain ridicule and scorn on all politicians and political parties with a biting sense of humour. Many of his songs became associated with the Sandinista movement as songs of the workers and revolutionaries. He even composed a mass for the working classes of Nicaragua."

"Comadre, Téngame al Niño" - Carlos Mejia Godoy

"Alforja Campesina" - Carlos Mejia Godoy

There is plenty of love in Nicaragua for Yankee imperialist music from the era when Carlos was at his most influential, and two songs in particular will stick with me from my own visit. Today's selection is the song that - for reasons that are too confusing to explain - I sang with this lovely lady from Dona Elba's cigar factory in Granada while she rolled me a cigar. I'll tell you the other one next time round.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Jimmy Ruffin R.I.P.

Very saddened to hear of the death of Jimmy Ruffin. While "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" is an undoubted classic, this is the song that always meant most to me. And it clearly meant a lot to a young soul rebel way back when.

"I'll Say Forever My Love" - Jimmy Ruffin

"Reminisce, Part 2" - Dexy's Midnight Runners

Monday 17 November 2014

Disc Jacqui

Evening all.

I got back yesterday from an excellent holiday. The bulk of the time was spent in Nicaragua, somewhere I would recommend to all of you - groovy place, groovy people. You will not be surprised to learn that I picked up loads of local music - mostly on dodgy bootleg CDs retailing for 20 cordobas each (about 40p) - and I will be sharing the highlights with you as I work my way through it all. I am particularly looking forward to "Nicaraguan Hits of the 60s and 70s (Volumes 5 and 6)". If anyone out there has volumes 1 to 4, let me know.

Before coming home I made a slight detour to the wilder edges of New York State to see my cousin Jacqui and her family. Jacqui is even groovier than your average Nicaraguan, and this small selection of Jacquelines and Jackies (plus one Jaqee) is a sort of a tribute to her.

"Jacquelne" - Bobby Helms

"Jackie" - World of Oz

"Kokoo Girl" - Jaqee

"Both Ends Against The Middle" - Jackie Moore 

"Le Coeur Au Bout Des Doigts" - Jacqueline Taleb

"Jackie Blue" - The Ozark Mountain Daredevils