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Thursday 31 December 2015

Aloha 2016

Sneaking a quick one in to get me to a round 100 posts this year. I'm off to a Hawaiian themed evening in my local, the excellent Eleanor Arms. Mine Host Frankie will be manning the turntables in his usual unique way. I doubt any of these will be making the playlist though. The Warren Zevon track in particular would kill the mood at even the chirpiest of parties.

"The Hula Hula Boys" - Warren Zevon

"Honolulu" - Michel Murphy

"Tiki Torches At Twilight" - David Lindley & El Rayo-X

This, on the other hand, should be compulsory. I'll be singing it to my dear friends just as soon as we finish "Auld Lang Syne". I hope you will all do the same.

"You Can Count On Me" - Sammy Davis Jr. 

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Tsonga Time

I have to confess to having been utterly useless when it comes to spreading the Tsonga love this year. I have no excuse - I have a decent-sized pile of CDs that I picked up in South Africa back in April just waiting to be shared with you, but for some reason I haven't got round to doing so. It's time to start putting that right.

Here are a couple of tracks from an artist new to us, Xikhongolotani, both taken from his album "Leswinga Mbilwini Yamina". If you are planning a party tomorrow night, you could do worse than stick these two on to get it going.

"Leswinga Mbilwini Yamina" - Xikhongolotani

"Mali Ya Kokwana" - Xikhongolotani

As feared I have not got round to sorting out Part 2 of a review of 2015. Suffice to say it has been a good year for live music, with gigs by Hiss Golden Messenger, Marcia Griffiths and Mexrrissey (the Mexican tribute to Morrissey) among the highlights.

However if I had to pick out only two live music memories from this year the first would be Peter Spence and True Identity's storming rendition of the old gospel standard "I'll Fly Away" in Catford of all places - sadly not captured for posterity - and the second would be this:

Sunday 27 December 2015

Yemeni Yuletide

You would think that with the current troubles in Yemen not even the most dedicated "crate digger" would want to go over there to browse through the second shops of Sana'a. But somebody did, and they came back with the tracks that comprise "Qat, Coffee & Qambus", a fine compilation of Yemeni 45s from the 1960s and 1970s. Here are a couple for you.

"Hom Bel Hawa Ya Nas Walaoni" - Raja Ali 

"Mushtaq" - Bolbol Al Hejaz And Soni Ahmad

I suspect nobody other than Mister F will get the connection with today's clip. I hope not anyway.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Seasonal Songs

Well I never said it was THAT season, did I?

"Springtime Reggae" - The Chefs

"Summertime Thing" - Chuck Prophet

"Autumn Light" - Ron Sexsmith

Have a good one, folks

Sunday 20 December 2015

The Bird Returns

I went to my friend Brandon's 8th birthday party yesterday, where a good time was had by all - after a bit of whining on my part his Mum gave me one of those bouncy rubber balls that flash brightly on impact with the ground, which are far too good to be wasted on children.

Anyway, while at the party I got talking to Joel from Trinidad. As inevitably happens when I meet someone from Trinidad, the conversation eventually turned to calypso. And conversation about calypso inevitably turns to the greatest calypsonian of them all, Mighty Sparrow. It has been a fair while since we featured him. Joel has given me the prompt I needed to put that right.

"Obeah Wedding" - Mighty Sparrow

"Ten To One Is Murder" - Mighty Sparrow

From Sparrow to a bird of a different variety. This song helped me win a pub quiz in Leeds once. If it is the answer, what the question? First correct answer gets a Christmas treat of some sort.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

2015 Part 1

Well, I call it Part 1. Whether there is a Part 2 depends on whether I can get my act together blog-wise, which has not been my strong point recently. Anyway, here are some tunes I have enjoyed this year. I hope you do too.

"Wah Wah" - Trembling Bells

"Dipo Nagizala" - Bobi Wine

"Been Waitin'" - Strange Faces

"Stepping Out Of Babylon" - Etana

In what passes for real life, the main event of the year for me was resigning from my job so I can try other things next year. I put it a bit more graciously than Johnny Paycheck when I broke the news to my boss, but it amounted to the same thing.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Troubled Times

Last night Mister F and I went to 229 Great Portland Street to see the reformed Any Trouble promoting their new album, "Present Tense". While admittedly they do not exactly exude the menace that might help them attract a more youthful crowd - as this shot of frontman Clive Gregson demonstrates - it was still a travesty that they were shoved down into the basement as the main room was booked for a Style Council tribute band.

The only songs I knew were the old singles from 35 years ago, two of which we have for you to enjoy. The new stuff was pretty good and in a similar style, so if you like these you might want to check the new album out as well. I've bunged in my favourite (alright, only) Clive Gregson solo song as well.

"Girls Are Always Right" - Any Trouble

"Second Choice" - Any Trouble

"I Love This Town" - Clive Gregson

Any Trouble's new single is called "Glen Campbell". In what may or may not be a spooky coincidence, Glen performed Paul Westerberg's "Any Trouble" on his "Ghosts On The Canvas" album. But which of them is the best? Decide for yourselves...

Sunday 6 December 2015

Single Song Title Sunday

A variation on our occasional theme - three different songs with the same title, all of them excellent. Includes the Mandatory Reggae Version courtesy of Mr Errol Dunkley. As a bonus, we have added a song by some Amazing guys about a slightly less amazing love.

"Your Love Is Amazing" - Eddie Floyd

"Your Love Is Amazing" - Robert Ward

"Your Love Is Amazing" - Errol Dunkley

"Third Rate Romance" - Amazing Rhythm Aces

Wednesday 2 December 2015


Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Eartha Kitt...

"Honolulu Rock a Roll-a" - Eartha Kitt

"I've Got That Lovin' Bug Itch" - Eartha Kitt

Sunday 29 November 2015

Gozando With Chico Time

Last time out I recounted how I had found myself at a very good gig due to mistaken identity. It was at an even better gig earlier in the year that I acquired a pretty decent CD by the same process.

After watching the legend of Latin soul that is Joe Bataan I went over to the concession stand where Mr Bataan himself was in charge of proceedings. I asked him which CD he would recommend, he thrust one at me, I handed over my money and moved on to make way for the rest of the queue.

When we got to the pub round the corner I had a look at it. Turned out it wasn't one of his albums at all, but a compilation called "Gozando With Chico Volume 1" to which he had contributed a couple of tracks. These aren't them. The album as a whole is pretty mellow, but that is no bad thing on a Sunday afternoon.

"Going To Call You" - Mestizo LA

"City Lady" - Recession

Wednesday 25 November 2015

The Wrong Turks

On Sunday, Mister F and I went up to Dalston to watch the Turkish psychedelic band BaBa ZuLa. When I saw the gig advertised a few weeks ago I dimly recalled that I had bought an album of theirs while visiting Trabzon in Turkey a few years back. I couldn't remember much about the record but decided that owning it was sufficient reason to go along and watch.

I am very glad we did. They put on a good show in front of an enthusiastic and largely Turkish crowd. One of the highlights was when this gent in the silly hat was pulled around the dancefloor on a speaker box by a roadie while playing an extended saz solo, at the end of which he attempted to spin the giant chandelier above the sound desk.

So it seemed obvious that my next post would be accompanied by a couple of tracks from the album I had at home. Except when I dug it out it transpired that my memory had been playing tricks on me. The album - "Crazy Love" to give it its name - was not by BaBa ZuLa at all, but by the similarly named Babutsa. So for everyone who likes one band, here's a different one!

"Babutsa" - Babutsa

"Gençlik Böyle Geçer" - Babutsa

Needless to say, when I realised my mistake I put my head in my hands and shouted out "Ay! Ay! Babutsa, Babutsa, Babutsa, Ay! Ay!"

Sunday 22 November 2015

Explain Yourself

Tonight Mister F and I are off to deepest Dalston to enjoy - or very possibly endure - some modern Turkish psychedelia. I will report back in due course.

In the meantime here are a couple of tracks from a compilation called "Hard To Explain", which features what the blurb writer calls "funky blues" from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s.

The title track is the pick of the bunch, and we follow it up with some outrageous bragging from Freddie Robinson. I asked some ladies I know if I should adopt this as my theme song. The consensus was that I would need to drop the "er" to make it fit.

"It's Hard To Explain" - Ray Agee 

"The Creeper" - Freddie Robinson

Friday 20 November 2015

Bomba The Tsonga

It has been far too long since we have featured our rhythmic raison d'etre, the old Tsonga Disco. We will be putting that right soon, I promise. Tonight we'll take you halfway there with Brian Bomba, a Tsonga singer whose style is more pop and (what the young people mistakenly call) R 'n B than the stuff we usually feature. Some tracks on his 2014 album "Tsalelani" are a bit bland for my personal taste, but there is some good stuff in between. Like these two. Listening to "Nwa Gezani" is like taking a trip back to the 1980s.

"Ka Tika" - Brian Bomba

"Nwa Gezani" - Brian Bomba

Let's stick with the 80s.


Sunday 15 November 2015

Big in Botofago

I mentioned a couple of posts back that I had acquired a job lot of "Rough Guides" CDs in a charity shop in Canterbury - luckily the Garden of England is not on Charity Chic's normal route so some things are left for the rest of us to find.

One of the CDs was the edition devoted to Brazilian psychedelia. Some of it is barely psychedelic in the way I understand the term, and there is a fair bit of self-indulgent twaddle, but there is enough good stuff on there to make it worth the investment. Like these two tracks.

"Alergico De Flores" - Laranja Freak

"Cantando Ciranda Na Beira Do Mar" - Siba

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Allen Toussaint RIP

A small and woefully inadequate tribute to Mr Toussaint, who died yesterday. He wrote these great songs and many more, and produced an even greater number of fantastic records.

"Soul Sister" - Allen Toussaint

"Fingers And Toes" - Allen Toussaint

"I'll Take A Melody" - Frankie Miller

"Freedom For The Stallion" - Lee Dorsey

"Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley" - The Mighty Diamonds

"Occapella" - Van Dyke Parks

Saturday 7 November 2015

Hopping In Hispaniola

I dropped into a few charity shops while in Canterbury earlier in the week, and in one of them I found somebody's discarded collection of "Rough Guide" CDs. As they were a pound a pop I bought a few, and can particularly recommend the Haiti compilation, from whence these tracks came.

"Marassa Elu" - RAM

"Gacon Bozo" - Coupé Cloué

I tried to find a clip of Steely Dan performing "Haitian Divorce" but failed. Never mind, though, because this is much better. Here is Steely Jam, live in front of a small but privileged audience in Playa Vista, CA.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Canterbury Tales

Finding myself at a loose end yesterday morning I decided on a whim to pop down to Canterbury for the night. Very nice it was too. I can recommend wandering round the cathedral cloisters after dark if you like a bit of the old atmospherics.

When I got home this afternoon I decided to dip into my collection of artefacts from the "Canterbury Scene" for today's post. It is not a big collection as, for me, much of the stuff created by the Scene falls firmly into the "tedious twaddle" camp. There are some honourable exceptions though.

"Place Of My Own" - Caravan

"Electrick Gypsies" - Steve Hillage

"The Lady Rachel" - Kevin Ayers

"O Caroline" - Matching Mole

I spent the night in an excellent Shepherd Neame pub called The Miller's Arms. And we all know what happened when the miller told his tale.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Single Song Sunday

What better way to see in November than wrapped in the warmth of some loving arms? The song of that name was written by Tom Jans and first recorded by Dobie Gray in 1973. Tom released his own version in 1974, when most of the rest of the world decided to do the same thing.

Dobie's version is probably still my favourite, although Millie Jackson has a good claim on the title as well. Actually, all of these are pretty good. We have doubled up on the Mandatory Reggae Versions this week. Hortense Ellis copies Millie Jackson, even down to the introductory rap, but good old Winston Curtis lopes along nicely.

"Lovin' Arms" - Dobie Gray 

"Loving Arms" - Tom Jans

"Loving Arms" - Millie Jackson

"Loving Arms" - Hortense Ellis

"Loving Arms" - The King

"Loving Arms" - Catherine Howe

"Loving Arms" - Bo Kirkland & Ruth Davis

"Lovin' Arms" - Winston Curtis

It is surprisingly difficult to find videos of people performing "Loving Arms" but I did stumble across this clip of Piet Veerman (of Dutch pop legends The Cats) and his granddaughter. They make a nice job of it.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Sickly Sisters

Last week I dedicated a post to my friend Stephanie, who was laid low with the lurgy. She is fully recovered, I am pleased to report, but now her big sister Pam is in the wars, suffering from what I understand doctors call "b*gg*red up foot syndrome". I believe this is a genuine affliction, rather than a slightly needy example of sibling rivalry, and we will treat it accordingly.

So today's post is dedicated to my dear friend Pam. The first selection is self-explanatory, the others take you gradually through the various stages of recovery. I hope you are soon back on your feet, literally and metaphorically.

"Sister Pam" - Ranking Joe

"Sitting And Watching" - Dennis Brown

"Queen Of The Hop" - Bobby Darin

"Walk Slow" - Little Willie John

"Run Around Girl" - John McLean

Actually, I missed out the stumbling stage. Let's put that right.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Some Velvet Evening

Sunday night found me and Mister F at the Barbican for an evening celebrating the songs of Lee Hazlewood. After a slightly slow start, things got better and better. Caitlin Rose and Josh T. Pearson (in the picture) were the star turns, with Gemma Ray and Kathryn Williams not far behind. It is probably best to draw a discreet veil over the bloke from Travis's ill-advised attempt at "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'".

Here are a few choice morsels from the great man himself.

"Ten Or Eleven Towns Ago" - Lee Hazlewood

"You Look Like A Lady" - Lee Hazlewood

Sunday 25 October 2015

Port Harcourt Happenings

I was in Paris last week and took my usual stroll up to the district around Chateau Rouge metro to visit the African record shops, Most of the stock is understandably from Francophone Africa - and I have goodies from places like Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire to share with you - but one shop had the "Nigeria Gold" series prominently on display.

And quite right too, if Volume 7 is anything to go by. It is the most recent volume - I could claim that this was further evidence of my zeitgeist-surfing tendencies but as these compilations are the Nigerian equivalent of the "Now!" albums that might be pushing it. The album is jam-packed with things that my good friend DJ Frizzie could turn to when needing a guaranteed floor-filler. "Jacuzzi" has barely left my own turntable since I bought the album.

"Jacuzzi" - Wizboyy featuring Ice Prince

"Nek-Unek" - Davido featuring MC Galaxy

Thursday 22 October 2015

Medical Matters

My friend Stephanie is feeling poorly at the moment. She thinks it is just the flu but you can't be too careful, so I thought I would round up a few medical practitioners to see if they can help. Dr Handy's dandy candy may be worth a try but I would implore her to steer well clear of Dr. Kitch, as no good can come of it. For that matter, even though she is a very virtuous woman, I am not entirely sure she could safely be left alone with Doc Sausage either.

"Unitone Skank" - Dr. Alimantado

"Dr. Handy's Dandy Candy" - Jim Ford

"Dr. Kitch" - Lord Kitchener

"Ilhe Chinyenre" - Dr. Sir Warrior and his Oriental Brothers International

"Rag Mop" - Doc Sausage

Monday 19 October 2015

Hello Darlings

I had a great night out with Tippa Irie and friends at the Jazz Cafe last night. The great man topped the bill, ably supported by Peter Spence and Sandra Cross. We have something from each of them.

The surprise of the night was Miss Aliya, an extremely talented 14 year old from Birmingham. We all agreed that she appeared to be channelling Jean Adebambo even before she did a lovely version of Jean's "Paradise". I don't have any of her recordings - I am not sure there are any yet - so have added the original instead.

"Girl Of My Best Friend" - Peter Spence & Tippa Irie

"Listen DJ" - Sandra Cross

"Paradise" - Jean Adebambo

Monday 12 October 2015

Leapin' In Liepāja

I am slowly working my way through assorted unlistened to CDs I have gathered on my travels this year in the hope of reducing the backlog before the pending pile collapses under its own weight. Today's tracks are from one I picked up in Riga back in May, which gives you an idea of how far behind I am. "Sviests V" is a compilation of Latvian folk music. It is not all  to my taste, but I like these two. The first is mean and moody, the second as jolly as can be. Tumsa, tumsa baby!!!

"Saules Deja" - Vējam Kabatā

"Tumša Tumša Tā Eglīte" - Otava Yo

I doubt very much whether Otava Yo is related to Ethiopian rapper Teddy Yo, but let's pretend he (or she, or conceivably they) is. That gives me all the excuse I need to dig this one out.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Jean's On

A real treat for you today - both sides of a single released in 1968 on Calla Records by Jean Wells. "What Have I Got To Lose" was the A-side, but I love them both.

"What Have I Got To Lose" - Jean Wells

"Broomstick Horse Cowboy" - Jean Wells

I have been able to find out precisely nothing about Jean. I can tell you that the record was produced by Clyde Otis, who made his name co-writing and producing hits for Brook Benton. Including this little number, which was improved immeasurably when the Welsh Elvis got hold of it. And asked Shakey to join her.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Single Song Sunday

I don't quite know how or when, but over the years I appear to have acquired 14 different versions of "Make It With You". Here are ten of them, starting with the original by Bread and ending with a Spanish language version by MC Blvd. The filling in the sandwich - bread metaphor! - is mostly soul, but there is a bit of jazz from Rahsaan Roland Kirk and the Mandatory Reggae Version courtesy of Little Roy.

"Make It With You" - Bread

"Make It With You" - Dusty Springfield

"Make It With You" - Teddy Pendergrass

"Make It With You" - Earth, Wind & Fire

"Make It With You" - The Whispers

"Make It With You" - Marc Cohn & India Arie

"Make It With You" - Rahsaan Roland KIrk

"Make It With You" - Little Roy

"Make It With You" - Ralfi Pagan

"Quiero Hacerte El Amor" - MC Blvd

Spare a thought tonight for Brendan Rodgers, who has just discovered that the directors of Liverpool F.C. have decided that there are not going to make it with him. Let's see if his Auntie Clodagh can help cheer him up.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Friend Of The Stars

Whenever I have to go over to Brussels for work I try to build in time to nip down to the Matonge district to check out the Congolese record shops. I was in one such emporium last week when this very dapper gent strolled in and introduced himself as Nkumu Mohamed from Groupe Bonyoma Djokisa. This is the photo taken to mark the occasion - I will leave you to ponder who is who.

Groupe Bonyoma Djokisa are a vocal trio who perform traditional music of the Congo, which bears only limited resemblance to the rumba sound which is the main Congolese musical export. You won't hear much guitar on their album "Petit A Petit (Mokongo Ya Nyama)", and on many tracks the only instruments are drums. It's good stuff though.

"Kota Pengele" - Groupe Bonyoma Djokisa 

"Festival" - Groupe Bonyoma Djokisa   

Monday 28 September 2015

Macka Splaff

Those folks at VP Records are on fire. Last week I featured a couple of tracks from their excellent "Reggae Gold 2015" compilation. Over the weekend they sent me the title track from Macka B's new album "Never Played A 45", and it has gone straight to the top of my charts. The sentiment - nothing sounds better than old vinyl - is one that old farts like me can only agree with. There is, as Mr B says, something about the feel and the vibe.

As a bonus for you I have bunged in three of Mr B's oldies, all of them collaborations. They seem to bring out the best in him. They are all good, but I am particularly fond of "Hamady Boiro".

"Never Played A 45" - Macka B

"Far Away From Babylon" - Macka B & Queen Omega

"Hamady Boiro" - Baaba Maal & Macka B

"Dread A Who She Love" - Macka B & Kofi

Unless I am mistaken, "Never Played A 45" samples the old "Boops" rhythm - just like this fellow does. I love this record more than I can possibly explain.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Golden Days

Those nice folks at VP Records recently sent me a complimentary copy of "Reggae Gold 2015", which features some of the biggest reggae hits of the year to date. I suspect I may be abusing their generosity by posting a couple of tracks, but hopefully doing so will encourage you to go off and buy the album - there is a lot of good stuff on there.

The first track is more golden oldie than "Reggae Gold 2015", being as it is a reworking by Inner Circle of one of their great songs from the 1970s, while the second is an all too rare example of fruit-based reggae.

"Tenement Yard (News Carrying Dread)" - Inner Circle (featuring Chronixx and Jacob Miller)

"Avocado" - Jah 9

I tried to find a clip of Barry Biggs' version of "One Bad Apple" to continue the fruit-based reggae theme, but I couldn't. So you'll have to settle for this instead.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Swamp on Saturday

Among the versions of "You Send Me" we featured last Sunday was one by Swamp Dogg. The day after I found myself in Notting Hill Gate for a meeting and I took the opportunity to pop into the Record & Video Exchange, a place where I have spent many happy hours over the years but rarely get to now. And there, waiting just for me, was a copy of Swamp's rare 1981 album "I'm Not Selling Out, I'm Buying In".

It is a class album, one of the highlights of which is a slightly bonkers duet with Esther Phillips which we will save for another time. On the album Swamp demonstrates his proficiency in both the profound and the profane, as these two tracks show. As a bonus I have added an old hippy standard as a sort of tribute to the Record & Video Exchange.

"Low Friends In High Places" - Swamp Dogg

 "Sexy Sexy Sexy # 3" - Swamp Dogg

"Notting Hill Gate" - Quintessence

Here's Garth Brooks who finds himself in the reverse situation to Swamp Dogg. Good to see he resisted the urge to create an overly literal staging for the song.  

Sunday 13 September 2015

Single Song Sunday

This Sunday we are keeping it mellow with Sam Cooke's classic "You Send Me". Sam wrote it himself but gave the writing credit to his brother L.C. Cook, allegedly in order to stop his record company nicking his share of the royalties.

Sam's original was a hit in 1957. In the US a "white" version was recorded Teresa Brewer, as was standard practice in those days when there was a reluctance to play "black" records on "white" radio stations, but fortunately good taste prevailed and it was Sam who got the number one hit. Teresa has not made the cut today either.

Many of the names below will be very familiar to you so I won't go through them all, but  you may not know Sam Butera (a Louis Prima protege who released his version in 1960) or the Ponderosa Twins Plus One (a soul group from Cleveland for whom this was a minor hit in 1971). Swamp Dogg has been round since the beginning of time but only released his version on his recent album, "The White Man Made Me Do It". Pam Hall provides the Mandatory Reggae Version.

"You Send Me" - Sam Cooke

"You Send Me" - Aretha Franklin

"You Send Me" - Otis Redding

"You Send Me" - The Ponderosa Twins Plus One

"You Send Me" - Swamp Dogg

"You Send Me" - Percy Sledge

"You Send Me" - Sam Butera & The Witnesses

"You Send Me" - Pam Hall

You are not getting any video clips of "You Send Me". Instead I am taking the opportunity to plug my new favourite musical fusion in all the world - Japanese cajun music (with two lady rub-board players!). Take it away, Zydeco Kicks.

Monday 7 September 2015

Dreary Monday

In Zimbabwe, as in other parts of southern Africa, it is quite common for parents to name their children for attributes or characteristics that they hope they will embody. You can't help thinking Mr and Mrs Matsito would have been well advised to consult a dictionary before choosing a name for their son. Fortunately for us all, his music does not match his name.

"Erina" - Tedious Matsito & Ngwenya Brothers

Saturday 5 September 2015

The Bobster

Last night we were in the Eleanor Arms finalising plans to get George Clinton and Parliament to perform there - Leslie reckons we could just about squeeze the Mothership into the parking bay. During a break in the planning, Frankie kindly leant me a 1993 single by Ultramarine featuring Robert Wyatt on vocals. Here it is, along with two more Wyatt collaborations.

"Kingdom" - Ultramarine

"The Doubtful Guest" - Michael Mantler

"The Winds Of Change" - Robert Wyatt & The SWAPO Singers

Robert had a minor hit in the 1970s with his version of Chris Andrews' "Yesterday Man". But for the best in Chris Andrews' cover versions, Bernd Spier is your man.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

V Are The World

For no reason other than because we can, here are some V people from Brazil, Iceland, Egypt, India and Ukraine respectively.

"Cada Vez Mais Distante de Você" - Vanusa

"Ég Bíð Pín" - Vök

"Keda Keda Ya Terella" - Vicka

"Bum Bum Chika Bum" - Vijay Verma

"Pidmanula" - Vopli Vidopliassova

And here are some other V People.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Not So Young, But Still Gifted

I went to a fantastic show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire last night. The headliner was Marcia Griffiths, who is celebrating 50 years of making music. She had brought a few friends along with her, and a mighty line-up it was too. When the wonderful Judy Mowatt is only fourth on the bill, you know you are in for a great night.

We were a little late in arriving so unfortunately missed most of Tanya Stephens's set. But here is one track each from all the others of the bill, in the order in which they appeared.

"Down In The Valley" - Judy Mowatt

"Fire Burning" - Bob Andy

"Honey In Dem Face" - Richie Spice

"Dreamland" - Marcia Griffiths

There were too many highlights to mention them all, but the two I am going to single out - as an excuse to play the videos - are when Bob joined Marcia for a rousing rendition of their biggest hit, and when Marcia led a ramshackle attempt at the electric slide featuring a number of audience members who appeared to lack both a sense of rhythm and a sense of direction. Which made it even more fun.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

A Load Of Cobblers

Some midweek chat for you courtesy of 1980s ragamuffin dude General Trees (that "trees" as in "one more than twos" - see also the old joke about two Irishmen failing to get jobs as tree fellers).

"Mr Belly" - General Trees

"This A The Boom" - General Trees

If Wikipedia is to be believed, General Trees made his living from shoe-making. So he should appreciate the quality of workmanship required for this. As for the rest of you, who knows.

Sunday 23 August 2015

Single Song Sunday

This Sunday our single song is "I'm Just A Country Boy". Best known through Don Williams' 1977 version, it actually started life as a Harry Belafonte B-side in 1954. I am not madly keen on Harry's version but it is included for historical reasons.

It wasn't just Harry. George McCurn (formerly of the Fairfield Four, gospel fans), Sam Cooke and Ronnie Lane all had a go before Don got round to it. After that, Alison Krauss changed it from the first person to the third person and Robert Ward changed the title completely for his excellent if ramshackle blues version, but it's the same song. Our Mandatory Reggae Version comes from Cornell Campbell.

There is allegedly a version by Richard Manuel from The Band which I imagine must be pretty good, but I couldn't find it. If any of you have it, any chance you could send it on over?

"I'm Just A Country Boy" -  Harry Belafonte 

"I'm Just A Country Boy" -  Don Williams

"I'm Just A Country Boy" -  Sam Cooke 

"I'm Just A Country Boy" -  Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance 

"I'm Just A Country Boy" -  George McCurn 

"I'm Just A Country Boy" -  Cornell Campbell

"You're Just A Country Boy" -  Alison Krauss 

"Silver And Gold" -  Robert Ward

And here is something that isn't the same thing at all.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Eddy, Teddy and Sauti

Hot of the presses, here are three brand new East African pop records for you. The first two come from a couple of old pals, Eddy Kenzo from Uganda and Teddy Afro from Ethiopia. Rounding things off we have Sauti Sol from Kenya - new to me although they have apparently been knocking about for ten years or so.

The message in Eddy's song is pretty clear, and one can hazard a guess as to what Teddy is saying. As for Sauti Sol, though, who knows?

"Royal" - Eddy Kenzo (featuring Patoranking)

"Korkuma Africa" - Teddy Afro

"Shake Yo Bam Bam" - Sauti Sol

Eddy is being helped out by Irish-Nigerian dancehall artiste Pat O'Rankin, which gives us all the excuse we need to feature this video from the similarly named Pat O'Banton (or as my lovely friend Pam calls him, Cousin Patrick).

Monday 17 August 2015

Dilijan Disco

More from Armenia today, after which we will give it a rest (you may be relieved to know). Today's selections come from "Assorti 2", an mp3 compilation of recent Armenian hits. As the nice lady in Vanadzor market who sold it to me explained, "these songs draw equally on traditional Armenian melodies and modern American rhythms and production methods to create a magical musical melange". Actually all she said was "Armenia, Good" over and over again, but that was clearly what she was attempting to convey.

"Boginya" - Vache Amaryan

"Yaro Jan" - Razmik Amyan

For our vintage video clip we recruit that well known member of the Armenian diaspora, Ms. Cherilyn Sarkisian. I hasten to add that the song title could never be applied to her esteemed countrymen and women.

Thursday 13 August 2015

Groovin' In Gyumri

Hello folks. I am back from Armenia and can thoroughly recommend it. The main reason for going is the amazing scenery, but Yerevan is worth a visit too. More specifically, you should make time to relax over a Kilikia beer or two at this zeitgeist-busting bar.

You will not be surprised to hear that I picked up a few local CDs while I was there. First of the rack is "Sazz & Jazz", a compilation album from 2013 which purports to provide jazzed up versions of traditional Armenian songs and melodies. I must admit I was not previously aware that the samba was indigenous to Armenia, but who am I to argue with Sona Shiroyan and his (or her) friends.

"Kaqavik à La Bona" - Sona Shiroyan, Ani Sahakyan, Khachik Sahakyan

"Hala, Hala" - Inga & Anush Arshakyans

Let's keep it mellow with Mr Andy Williams. Not sure about the elbow patches though.

Friday 31 July 2015

It's Ring-Rang-A-Dong Time

I'm off on my summer holidays tomorrow (Armenia, since you ask). As has become traditional on these occasions, here is a selection of tracks we featured in the very early days of the blog, back when we had about as many visitors as an Azeri disco in Yerevan. Hope you like at least some of them.

See you soon, folks. Stay groovy.

"The Invasion Is Coming" - The Invasion

"Macongo" - Letta Mbulu

"Radiation Vibe" - Fountains Of Wayne

"Vitale Famille" - Ziphus

"Tupelo Honey" - Little Milton

"I've Been Losing" - Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family

"Born To Cry" - Dion

"Nothing But A Miracle" - Diane Birch

"El Mundo Tras El Cristal" - Los Chunquitos

"London Life" - Anita Harris

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Random Rules

Do you ever get one of those days when none of the 22,053 songs on your iPad quite fits your mood? On those occasions I go to eMusic, click "New This Month" followed by "International" then have a stroll round to see what I can find.

That is what I did today, except I eliminated the strolling round bit - I just closed my eyes and dabbed. The result is today's selection. I have not listened to these tracks. They could be great, they could be awful. I am relying on you to tell me.

The band is called Makina Kandela, and they appear to be from Chile. The tracks are taken from an album of the same name released in 2012. Let me know what you think.

"Esclavo Moderno" - Makina Kandela

"Tocatesta" - Makina Kandela
With the same spirit of adventure, for today's clip I went to YouTube and typed in "Top of the Pops 1975". This came up first - Fantastico!!!

Thursday 23 July 2015

All Kinds Of Everything

Everything. It's all I've got, folks.

"I Can Only Give You Everything" - Them

"I'll Be Your Everything" - George Soule

"I'm Everything You Need" - R.B. Hudmon

Sunday 19 July 2015

Three Mighty Nubians

On Friday we went down to the Brixton Academy to see a Bunny Wailer and Beres Hammond double header. Beres was good, but Bunny was great - although admittedly I may be a bit biased as he has been a hero of mine for over 30 years.

If the show was good, the organisation was pretty dire. Doors opened over an hour late and we had to queue for nearly another hour to get in. On the plus side, I got to spend quality time with some friends that I don't see often enough. And I bought a CD off an enterprising fellow who walked the length of the queue selling the works of the niftily named Yeshuah The 1st Mighty Nubian (whether it was Yeshuah himself doing the sales I don't know).

Yeshuah describes his music as "conscious hip-hop". I am not a hip-hop buff but this is not bad, as you can tell from the sample below. If you like it and want more your best bet is probably to contact him directly on Tell him Ernie sent you.

"Who Feels It" - Bunny Wailer

"Queen and Lady" - Beres Hammond

"CRS" - Yeshuah The 1st Mighty Nubian 

The only real disappointment of the evening was that we didn't manage to meet up with my sister-in-law Pam (of True Identity fame) who was in the VIP lounge hob-nobbing with the likes of this lady.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Lutalo Pidgin

Our old friend Eddy Kenzo, the Prince of Ugandan Pop, released a new video yesterday. Glance down a little and there it is.

Before you watch it, here are a couple of tracks from Eddy's fellow Ugandan popster David Lutalo. Both come from his 2014 album "Far Away". The first is decidedly Kenzo-esque, while the second features the distinctive stylings of Sizo Lam (you know, Sizo Lam).

"Asimini" - David Lutalo

"Bigambire Nyowe" - David Lutalo (featuring Sizo Lam)

Sunday 12 July 2015

Beautiful Chickens

A couple of fine chugging tunes from 1970s Zimbabwe courtesy of the delightfully - and suitably for a Sunday - named Hallelujah Chicken Run Band.

"Kare Nanhasi" - Hallelujah Chicken Run Band

"Mwana Wamai Dada Naye" - Hallelujah Chicken Run Band

When I was in Rome a couple of weeks ago I was rather taken with the delightfully scatty receptionist at the hotel. The feeling appeared to be mutual, as when I left she clasped my hand, looked deep into my eyes and said in a sultry voice, "You are a beautiful chicken".

I suspect something may have got lost in translation but it was clearly heartfelt. So today's clip is a tribute to the lovely Anna at the Hotel Domus Tiberina. The oldies among you will recognise the tune.

Friday 10 July 2015

Blood and Suicide

I've been to a couple of interesting gigs this week, the first of which took me on a trip way, way back down Memory Lane.

This blogging malarkey is nothing new. Back in 1980 those of us who were surfing the zeitgeist produced fanzines (although given the rudimentary production techniques it was more a case of stapling the zeitgeist). I was involved in one such enterprise in Dorset, having been recruited mainly I think because I had access to a photocopier.

It was hard to get hold of suitable records to review as the only place you could buy them in our town was Woolworths, and they weren't known for their eagerness for experimentation. So I wrote to Rough Trade asking for some freebies, and to my amazement they sent me some. That little bundle contained two classics - "How I Wrote Elastic Man" by The Fall and "Are You Glad To Be In America?" by James Blood Ulmer.

Fast forward 35 years and I found myself in Cafe Oto in Dalston with my old pal Dr Cochrane watching Mr Ulmer in action. It was a solo acoustic set, which suited my tastes as it meant he focused mainly on proper songs, tempering any noodling tendencies. He was in fine form and it was a privilege to finally get to see him live.

The next evening Mister F and I were at the Barbican watching Suicide, who were joined by the likes of Bobby Gillespie and Henry Rollins (below).

There are two ways of thinking of the gig. The first is that you were watching a legendary and highly influential band performing in a style that was as "challenging" as you would expect given their reputation. The second is that you were watching one middle-aged man in appalling trousers assault a synthesiser while another hobbled around the stage occasionally bellowing incoherently into a microphone. I have not yet decided which it was. I can't say that I enjoyed it in a conventional sense, but I'm sort of glad I was there to see it.

Anyway, here is one apiece from James Blood Ulmer and Suicide. This is not the original 1980 version of "Are You Glad To Be In America?" - my single has been rendered unplayable and as far as I am aware the album it came from has never been reissued. The Suicide track is especially for the long-suffering Mister F. And as an extra treat, we have bunged that Fall track in as well.

"Are You Glad To Be In America?" - James Blood Ulmer

"Johnny" - Suicide

"How I Wrote Elastic Man" - The Fall

We will sign off with Mr Ulmer singing the story of my life.


Sunday 5 July 2015

Single Song Sunday

This episode of Single Song Sunday features the classic "Funny How Time Slips Away", a song so good that - judging by the versions I have heard - nobody apart from Mel Gibson has been able to bugger it up completely (although I am happy to be corrected).

Written by Willie Nelson, it was first recorded by Billy Walker in 1961 and was a mid-ranking country hit for him. The first version to hit the pop charts was by Jimmy Elledge later that year, while Willie himself only got round to releasing it in 1962. Over the next 15-20 years anyone who was anyone had a go at it, as did a fair number of people who weren't anyone at all.

Here is a small selection. I can particularly recommend the Dorothy Moore version - possibly my favourite if I had to choose - Junior Parker's blues workout, and Lea Laven's seminal Finnish rendition from 1976. There seems to be a surprisingly small number of reggae versions, so Dobby Dobson fills the mandatory slot mainly due to lack if competition rather than the intrinsic merits of his effort.

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Jimmy Elledge

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Willie Nelson

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Elvis Presley

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Al Green

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Joe Tex

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Arthur Alexander

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Dorothy Moore

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Junior Parker

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - Dobby Dobson

"Ei Se Mitään (Funny How Time Slips Away)" - Lea Laven 

Thursday 2 July 2015

More Heat

As the hot weather continues, so does the hot weather music - who knows when we will get another chance? We have some soca this time. This is for my colleague Nicole or, more accurately, for Nicole's Dad.

"Party People Rock" - Arrow

"Lorraine" - Explainer

"Dat Soca Boat" - Mighty Shadow

"Gimme The Ting" - Lord Kitchener

This is also an opportunity to pay tribute to Val Doonican, who sadly died today. He was a great family favourite when I was little. While of little consolation, at least now he's in Heaven he will finally get to find out whether he won that bet about the angel with the whiskers on.

"Paddy McGinty's Goat" - Val Doonican

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Bloody Hell It's Hot

Today's selections are probably self-explanatory.

"96 Degrees In The Shade" - Third World

"Hot Hot Summer" - Johnny Osbourne

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Wendell Holmes R.I.P.

I have been a bit preoccupied with what passes for real life this week, which is why it is only now that I am getting round to paying tribute to Wendell Holmes of the Holmes Brothers, who died last Friday.

With his brother Sherman and the also dear departed Popsy Dixon, Wendell was one-third of the greatest bar band I have ever had the pleasure to see. It is not my intention to damn them with faint praise - if you wanted a band guaranteed to get a groove going in a small venue, they were the people to call. I am not sure they ever quite captured their full magic on record, but they gave it a bloody good go. RIP Mr Holmes.

"You Can't Hold On To Love That's Gone" - The Holmes Brothers

"I Found A Winner" - The Holmes Brothers

"Love Train" - The Holmes Brothers

Saturday 20 June 2015

Ululate In The Evening

Who could resist a compilation called "Yodellin' Crazy: 25 Original Country Yodellin' Classics". Not me, for sure. Here are three of the self-same classics for you to yodel along with.

You clearly spell "yodelin'" without a "g", but the question of how many times you use "l" is unresolved. The compilers have gone with two, but I reckon a man called Yodeling Slim Clark probably knows what he is doing so will plump for one. Although Slim does bung a "g" on the end of his epithet, so maybe he is wrong on the big issue as well. Views please.

"Cattle Call" - Eddy Arnold

"I'm Casting My Lasso Towards The Sky" - Slim Whitman

"Take Me Back To Old Montana" - Yodeling Slim Clark

The polymaths among you will have spotted that the title of today's post is a poor attempt at a Paul Simon song title based pun. Specifically, this one.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

A Dream Comes True

Regular readers will know that we have a standard - some might say tired - format for these posts. We start with a bit of burbling from me, then you get the mp3s, then we finish things off with a video clip that is only ever tangentially linked (if at all) to the music, and more often that not features something naff from the 80s or 90s.

Well hold on to your hats folks, because tonight we are going crazy (or subverting the tropes as they might say on a more intellectually robust blog). We are reversing the order of the mp3s and the video!!! Before you switch off in disgust, let me explain. We have a very good reason to do so.

Some of you may remember that a few posts back I mentioned that the mighty Pierce Turner had agreed to cover the equally mighty Joe Dolan's "The Answer To Everything" if I pledged some money towards the cost of making his next album.

Well, he's a man of his word, and here he is performing it in Wexford earlier this month. For reasons best known to himself Pierce has chosen to change my name to Chris and exaggerate the amount of money that I pledged - but that's performers for you. And if his rendition is not quite as smooth as Joe's original, well what would have been the point of that? It's great fun and worth every penny.

Now to the music. I thought of trying an Irish link and combining "Irish", "80s/90s" and "slightly naff" led me immediately to "C'Est La Vie" by B*Witched. Inexplicably, it appears I don't possess it, so instead you are getting the Robbie Nevil hit of the same name - it is not Irish but it meets the other criteria admirably. And from Robbie Nevil, there is really only one way to go.

"C'Est La Vie" - Robbie Nevil

"Imagination" - Belouis Some

If you enjoyed any of that, or even if you didn't, please remember to Pledge for Pierce!

Saturday 13 June 2015

The Magic of Mariem

Last time out we were in Mauritania. Today we hop over the (much disputed) border to Western Sahara to bring you the finest Sahrawi singer in the business, the great Mariem Hassan. Today's selections are from her most recent album, 2012's "El Aaiun Egdat". I know our regular reader and fellow surfer of the zeitgeist George is a fan of this lady, so this is for him.

Dig the funky flute on "Annasr Shouru Tetnada"!

"Eftaht Almayal" - Mariem Hassan

"Annasr Shouru Tetnada" - Mariem Hassan

Speaking of funky flutes:

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Minty Fresh

Some Mauritanian magic for you tonight, courtesy of Noura Mint Seymali. These two tracks are the opening salvo on her excellent 2014 album "Tzenni".

"El Mougelmen" - Noura Mint Seymali

"Tzenni" - Noura Mint Seymali

It is difficult to make an accurate assessment of Noura's height from the album cover, as the photo of her is taken from above. But in every other respect she is a good match for Mungo Jerry's specification.

Sunday 7 June 2015

Single Song Sunday

You can blame Joe Bataan for this. At his London gig last week, Mr Bataan treated us to his version of "Crystal Blue Persuasion", and it reminded me of how many other good versions I know. So here they are.

We start with the Tommy James original, followed by the soul version from the Kelly Brothers, which is possibly my favourite of all. We have a double-headed Latin attack from Joe and Tito Puente, followed by the mandatory reggae version, before we give it the pop orchestral treatment courtesy of our new best friend, Frank Chacksfield.

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" -  Tommy James & The Shondells

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" -  The Kelly Brothers 

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" -  Joe Bataan 

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" -  Tito Puente

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" -  The Heptones 

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" -  The Frank Chacksfield Orchestra 

I haven't been able to find any clips of Tommy James performing the song when it first hit the charts in 1969, so you'll have to make do with this. I don't think you'll be too upset.

Friday 5 June 2015

Latin Soul Special

Great excitement last night when me and the gang went to see the legendary King of Latin Soul, Joe Bataan, in concert. The fact that the great man was playing in a half-full student union venue rather than a stadium or festival is a travesty of "wrong Smokie singer on 'Stars In Their Eyes'" proportions, but made it all the more special for those of us lucky enough to be there.

Joe was in good voice and looking very sprightly for a man of 72. Here are a couple of his classics that we were treated to last night.

"Ordinary Guy" - Joe Bataan

"The Bottle" - Joe Bataan

Joe was backed by London's own Grupo X, who were pretty impressive in their own right. Of course, England has a long and vibrant tradition of Latin music.

Sunday 31 May 2015

Single Song Sunday

We had a request earlier in the week for some Del Shannon. I am happy to oblige.

Del features in this week's "Single Song Sunday" line-up with his version of "Handy Man", sandwiched between the Jimmy Jones original and the slowed-down version by James Taylor which was a top 5 hit in the States in 1977. The mandatory reggae version is by Cornell Campbell, and for the first time we have a light orchestral rendition courtesy of Frank Chacksfield and his Orchestra. Ronnie Laws is mainly there as padding, to be honest.

"Handy Man" - Jimmy Jones

"Handy Man" - Del Shannon

"Handy Man" - James Taylor

"Handy Man" - Cornell Campbell

"Handy Man" - Frank Chacksfield Orchestra

"Handy Man" - Ronnie Laws

For the Del enthusiasts among you, here are a couple more cover versions of two of his big hits.

"Runaway" - Bonnie Raitt

"Little Town Flirt" - Electric Light Orchestra

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Joe, Pierce, Stephen and A.J.

Today's post has two parts. There is no relation between them.

We will start with the most exciting news. I am sure that the more enlightened among you will be familiar with the mighty Pierce Turner. Pierce is currently raising funds on PledgeMusic to enable him to make a new album, and as part of his efforts to drum up support he put this clip on YouTube explaining the inspiration behind one of the songs intended for that album - Joe Dolan fans.

Now, as some of you may know I am a huge fan of the late, great Joe. So when I discovered that Pierce was as well I tweeted him and light-heartedly said that I would pledge if in return he would play Joe's first big solo hit, "The Answer To Everything". Imagine my surprise and delight when he tweeted back to say he would. Watch this space - and while you are doing so, keep yourself occupied by pledging to Pierce and listening to Joe.

"The Answer To Everything" - Joe Dolan

Part 2. You may remember that a few weeks ago I was burbling on about Mexican cover versions of Morrissey songs. Well, I have now been sent a version of "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" by one A.J. Holmes and his band The Hackney Empire, which is performed in Sierre Leone krio dialect.

I don't know quite why A.J. chose to tackle the song in this way when he apparently stems from Dagenham (or "the heart of darkness" as Joseph Conrad calls it). But it works for me. I would also recommend checking out their new album "Soft Power", which is due out next month. It sort of blends 1980s pop with West African high-life and palm wine sounds. Just don't mention Jimmy The Hoover.  

"De Borboh Weh Get Chook Chook Na Inside" - A.J. Holmes & The Hackney Empire

Sunday 24 May 2015

Pork Sausages

We will skip quickly past the cavalcade of drivel that was yesterday's Eurovision Song Contest, pausing only to note that in getting five points the UK entry achieved five more than it deserved, and instead reflect on a much happier recent musical memory.

On Friday night I took my favourite auntie to the Albert Hall to see Al Stewart in concert. She claims to have first seen him live over 40 years ago, although as she only looks about 40 I am not sure I believe her. Al will be 70 this year, and he is wearing very well himself. It was an excellent show.

We were treated to two complete albums: "Past, Present and Future" and "Year of the Cat". Here is a track from each, plus one of my favourites from earlier in his career as a bonus. The encores ended with the great "Time Passages". I hope my insistence on singing "Pork Sausages" during the chorus did not spoil the fun for those around me.

"Old Admirals" - Al Stewart

"Sand In Your Shoes" - Al Stewart

"Old Compton Street Blues" - Al Stewart

Thursday 21 May 2015

Big In Beira

Some modern music from Mozambique for you, folks. Nice to hear a bit of penny-whistle on the first track. The young people should get subjected to more of that sort of thing.

"Ahinyoxeni" - Helena Nhantumbo

"Kare Nukare Kareko" - Romualdo

Monday 18 May 2015

From Basildon to Riga

I mentioned in my last post that a Goth record shop employee in Riga had recommended a band that he described as "the Latvian Depeche Mode". Since then I have been inundated with requests to feature them (well, I had one comment from George).

The good news is that we are doing exactly that today. The band in question is Jumprava, formed in 1984 and still going strong. The album I bought is a compilation of their work from 1984 to 1987.

The bad news - which I would have known had I taken the trouble to read their Wikipedia entry first - is that it was only after some line-up changes in 1987 that Jumprava adopted the musical style that led them to be compared to Basildon's finest. "Sestdiena" is about the only track on the album where you can hear any sort of resemblance.

Prior to that they would be better described as the Latvian Thompson Twins. I could not ask any of you to listen to that, so instead we have "Teatris" which has traces of a Latvian China Crisis.

"Sestdiena" - Jumprava

"Teatris" - Jumprava

If you are looking for proper Depeche Mode inspired music, try this lot from Bogota. I just can't get enough of them.

Saturday 16 May 2015

Randoms Rules

I was in Riga earlier in the week for work and found time to pop into Randoms record store in the heart of the Old Town. With the assistance of a very helpful Goth I came away with a small pile of CDs, including one by a band that he described as the "Latvian Depeche Mode", Heaven forbid.

This is not them. When I asked the assistant if he could recommend any cheerful local tunes he uttered the immortal reply "No, we are not sunny people". After further consideration, he recommended "Tilti", the new album by Oranžās Brīvdienas (Orange Holidays to you and me). It's a sort of Baltic metal ska and I rather like it. Se what you think.

"Sesas Pedas" - Oranžās Brīvdienas

"Aizliegtie Asoli" - Oranžās Brīvdienas

Just round the corner from Randoms is the Rockabilly House diner, where I would recommend you stop at least for a drink to enjoy the decor.

For those of you wishing to dine, the Rockabilly House features dishes which have been assigned names that Latvians evidently feel are redolent of rock 'n roll on an apparently random basis. My goulash was called "Rock It", and the burger selection included "Big Bertha" and "Kentucky Rain". Speaking of which...

Saturday 9 May 2015

Two For The Price Of One

I have been out and about quite a bit of late, with the result that I have got a little behind in my orders (to quote from the old butcher - baby - bacon slicer joke). This is likely to continue for a while yet. I am off again on Monday to spend a few days in Latvia - a first time for me - and before I go I thought I would try to squeeze two posts into one. Watch out for some Latvian death metal on my return.

To help squeeze a quart of quality into a pint pot of post, I will cut back on the verbiage and get quickly to the tunes. So first up we have some all-female Swedish pop courtesy of Those Dancing Days. Both tracks are from their 2008 album "In Our Space Hero Suits". They are followed by a similar number of tracks from "The Girl I Adore", the 1983 album by Winston Hussey. Mr Hussey was clearly hoping there was a market for Gregory Isaacs impersonators back then, and if the real thing isn't available he is a pretty good stand-in.

"Those Dancing Days" - Those Dancing Days

"Run Run" - Those Dancing Days

"Every Man Should Be Friends" - Winston Hussey

"Rosey Come Back" - Winston Hussey

"Run Run" was something I could be heard shouting at Ascot yesterday, where we had a most enjoyable day out from work. I was hoping to be able to play a clip of the Intruders' "She's A Winner" in tribute to one or more of the fillies I backed. Unfortunately most of them bore more resemblance to the hero of this story, but without the happy ending.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Weasel Words

My new found enthusiasm for the modern pop music of Uganda continues apace. With thanks again to the indispensable Lina for acting as my guide, here are Radio & Weasel (not, I suspect, the names their parents gave them).

"Dembessa" - Radio & Weasel

"Number 1" - Radio & Weasel

As good as the lads are, for a novice like me, the current king of Entrancing Entebbe Beat (as I will persist in calling it until it catches on) is Eddy Kenzo. Two of his big hits are on heavy rotation round here. The first is "Come Over", which we featured a couple of weeks back. This is the other one.

Viewers of a sensitive disposition should be warned that about halfway through the video we are subjected to some rather alarming breast and bottom shaking - you may prefer to close your eyes and just enjoy the tune at that point. Now I am no prude, and I am willing to accept that sort of thing if it is artistically valid, but I am not convinced it is in this case. The lyrics of the song suggest it tells the story of Eddy's commanding wife who wants to destroy his life. It is not entirely clear if the young lady in question is playing the role of Mrs Kenzo, but if she is it is surely implausible to imply, as the video does, that she intends to destroy his life through excessive wobbling of her womanly parts.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Single Song Sunday

As you will have spotted, this time out it is "He'll Have To Go". I did wonder whether to bother because the Jim Reeves' version is as close to perfection as you get and one of my favourite records of all time (I believe George at Jim McLean's Rabbit has similar views). But while the rest of them are no match for Jim they are worth a listen anyway. So here goes.

Including Jim we have a paltry nine versions of the song for you, featuring the obligatory reggae version from Luciano and non-obligatory mento and Tex-Mex versions from the Jolly Boys and Ry Cooder. We also have one of those answer songs that used to be popular in country music in the 1950s and 1960s courtesy of Jeanne Black. It is not exactly another  "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which set the bar for that sort of thing, but hey!

"He'll Have To Go" - Jim Reeves

"He'll Have To Go" - Solomon Burke

"He'll Have To Go" - Ry Cooder

"He'll Have To Go" - Frankie Miller

"He'll Have To Go" - Luciano

"He'll Have To Go" - The Holmes Brothers

"He'll Have To Go" - Wilbert Harrison

"He'll Have To Go" - The Jolly Boys

"He'll Have To Go" - Tav Falco's Panther Burns

"He'll Have To Stay" - Jeanne Black

We end with a short tribute to a man who decided on Friday that he had to go, when it really would have been better if he'd stayed. RIP Ben E King.

"Into The Mystic" - Ben E King

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Vernon Time

You want Vernon's, we got them. You don't want Vernon's, we got them anyway.

"I'm At The Crossroads" - Vernon Garrett

"Hazard County Saturday Night" - Vernon Oxford

"You Know What I Mean" - The Vernons Girls

Two musical pioneers passed away earlier this week. I dare say there are plenty of clips of Jack Ely of the Kingsmen belatedly kicking off the 1960s in the USA with "Louie Louie", so I have gone for the other one. His sidekick wished he could fly right up to the sky, but he's the one whose done it. RIP Keith Harris.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Mexican Mash Ups

Last night I had the great pleasure of participating in "Mexrrissey" at the Barbican. A specially selected group of Mexican musicians - many of whom are apparently big names back home (shamefully I had heard of none of them) - paid tribute to Morrissey.

In advance I had this down as one of those events that would be either be totally fantastic or utterly dreadful - Morrissey songs translated into Spanish and "Mexicanised" could go either way. Fortunately it definitely erred on the side of fantastic.

While there were mariachi elements, courtesy of Alex Escobar on trumpet, it never became cheesy, and when needed they really rocked out - on "Panic" they kicked off like they were the Ramones, and the Bo Diddley beat on "How Soon Is Now?" was something else. They are playing a few more shows this week in Bristol, Manchester and elsewhere. If you get the chance, go.

Unfortunately the gang haven't made any recordings of the songs they perform on this tour, and I don't have any of their own work (though I'll be putting that right). So instead here is another Mexican who specialised in adapting the works of musical icons.

"En El Barrio" - El Vez

"Rock 'n Roll Suicide/ If I Can Dream" - El Vez

We were at the gig as a birthday treat for the girl of my dreams, who has just had a big one. If I remember correctly, this is her favourite Smiths song. Happy birthday. LYM.