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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.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Kampala Kool

Last time out we were in 1980s Kenya. Tonight we are hopping over the border into Uganda and forward thirty years for some modern pop. Thanks to a tip-off from my friend Lina - international brain-box and nail artiste - here is Mr Eddy Kenzo with a couple of tracks from his current album "Sitya Loss". Very catchy they are too.

"Come Over" - Eddy Kenzo

"Nze Nsinga" - Eddy Kenzo

To the best of my knowledge, Eddy Kenzo is no relation to Eddie Kendricks. He could learn a thing or two about dress sense from him though.

Monday 20 April 2015

Issa Super Stuff

Let's get back on track after Saturday's ukulele aberration. One of the albums I picked up in South Africa recently has the captivating title "World Defeats The Grandfathers: Swinging Swahili Rumba 1982-1986". It is a compilation of album tracks by Issa Juma & Super Wanyika Stars.

Tanzanian by birth, Issa's early career was divided between there and Uganda, but only really took off in the late 1970s, by which time he had been living in Kenya for a number of years. I would not claim to have any expertise in East African music, so I don't know to what extent his travels influenced his style. To be honest, it all sounds pretty Congolese to me.

These two tracks to date from 1982 and 1984, the year in which the Kenyan authorities threw Issa in jail for working without a valid permit. Sadly his health was affected and he never fully recovered. A stroke in 1988 left him unable to perform, and he died a few years later. But, as you will hear, he left quite a legacy behind.

"Si Mimi" - Issa Juma & Super Wanyika Stars

"Ma Eliza" - Issa Juma & Super Wanyika Stars

And if that interloper from Tanzania wasn't authentic enough for you, here is genuine Kenyan superstar, born in Nairobi a mere 79 years ago. Long may he run.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Ukulele Ladies

This is for my old friend Mister F, who has an inexplicable weakness for ladies with ukuleles.

"Two Ton Tessie" - Tessie O'Shea

"Pineapple Princess~Blue Muumuu" - Churamana

"Madame Moskovitch" - George Formby

"Ukulele Lady" - Arlo Guthrie

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Percy Sledge R.I.P.

I had hoped my first post after my holidays would be a chirpy one - perhaps one of the 15 Tsonga CDs I picked up while in South Africa - but sadly not. Instead we need to pay tribute to the great Percy Sledge, who passed away earlier today at the age of 74.

Because of the ubiquity of "When A Man Loves A Woman", Percy is sometimes thought of as a one-song man. Nothing could be further from the truth. He made some of the best soul records in the business, one of which - his version of George Soule's "I'll Be Your Everything" - is a serious contender for the first dance when me and the next Mrs Goggins tie the knot. Here it is, with a few other personal favourites. There are many, many more I could have chosen.

"I'll Be Your Everything" - Percy Sledge

"You Got Away With Love" - Percy Sledge

"First You Cry" - Percy Sledge

"If This Is The Last Time" - Percy Sledge