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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.