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Friday 31 July 2020

From Far I to Faro

Until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of Rachel Faro, then a happy accident happened and I'm now a devoted fan.

I was online trying to find out more about Risa Potters, a 1970s singer-songwriters who I have one song by but about whom I know nothing. I still don't but my search led me to an online forum in which someone was raving about Rachel's debut album "Refugees" which came out in 1974. I tracked it down and was soon raving too.

Ms Faro's subsequent career is a textbook definition of "interesting and varied", as her biography explains. After one more album she moved mostly into production, working with Latin, folk and blues artists and many more besides, which in turn led to her setting up her own label. I'm pleased to say she's still going strong. 

Here's a couple of songs from "Refugees", and a live performance of a song originally produced by Rachel (and now brought to you exclusively by DJ Neno),

"Smooth Sailing" - Rachel Faro

"Time Passes Slowly" - Rachel Faro

Wednesday 29 July 2020

As Far As I Can Tell

Two tracks from the great Prince Far I for you today, both from his 1980 album "Jamaican Heroes". 

The album features an eclectic bunch of musicians. Some of them you would expect, like Sly & Robbie. Some are not completely surprising when you consider the era, like Ari Up from The Slits. And then there's all the Flying Lizards apart from the woman with the weird posh voice.

"Natty Champion" - Prince Far I

"Golden Throne" - Prince Far I

Monday 27 July 2020

The Lad Thad

An old favourite of mine has finally made a long overdue return. Thad Cockrell's first album under his own name in eleven years - "If In Case You Feel The Same" - came out last month. You can pick up a digital copy on Bandcamp for as little as $7, where it is also available in a tasteful pink vinyl version.

It wasn't meant to be this long a wait. Thad originally started raising the money for the album through Pledge Music way back in 2016, and was one of those still waiting to receive the money he was due when it went into administration last year. He has now managed to finish the record and despite not receiving a penny has sent CD copies to all of us who pledged - presumably leaving himself out of pocket as a result. He's an honourable man.

Thad has long since moved on from the country sound of his first couple of albums. It's still there on "If In Case You Feel The Same" but there is plenty of pop, rock and gospel in the mix as well. If you go back to the beginning and then listen to 2009's "To Be Loved" and the albums he made as part of Leagues you can see how it has been a progression to this point. 

To help you do that, here is one from the first album, one from "To Be Loved" and - in the video - a live version of one of the highlights of the new album.

"How Far Can I Drive Tonight?" - Thad Cockrell & The Starlite Country Band

"Rosalyn" - Thad Cockrell

Friday 24 July 2020

The Long Goodbye: Part 19

Part 19 of our grand tour of the EU brings us to Malta. I am dedicating this edition to my sainted mother, who was born there. She's not Maltese - my grandfather just happened to be working there at the time - but its the closest connection I have with that enchanting island (at least until I can raise the €900,000 needed to buy one of their passports).

One of the challenges with preparing a post on Malta is that is virtually impossible to find any music online from before the last 10-15 years. In other countries we have visited there are often labels dedicated to reissuing old favourites, sometimes by buying up the rights to the old state record labels like Hungaroton and Balkanoton, but there does not seem to be anything of the sort in Malta.

Which means all those of you hoping for a burst of Freddie Portelli or Joe Grech will be disappointed. However we do have a decent selection of more modern tunes, compiled once again with the help of George and Bandcamp. Let's get the show started with some singalong summery sounds. Even Old Ma Goggins will be tapping her toes to this one.  

"Xemx u Xita" - The Travellers

"The One I Love" - Bark Bark Disco

"Mur Imma Mur" - Mana Tapu

"Astroboy" - Beangrowers

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Cause And Effect

One leads inevitably to the other.

"Lonely Eyes" - Frankie Miller

"Lonely Teardrops" - Jackie Wilson

Monday 20 July 2020

The Goosen is Loosen

What better way to start the week, I can hear you say, than with some Afrikaans singer-songwriter stuff. Happy to oblige. Here's Anton Goosen.

"'n Vis Innie Bos" - Anton Goosen

"Pamperlang" - Anton Goosen

Here's Anton performing in two very different settings. He is nothing if not versatile.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Givin' It Back Again

Last weekend I featured various versions of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" in the latest edition of our "Single Song Sunday" series.

There was a fair bit of enthusiasm for The Isley Brothers' version, which was on their 1971 album "Givin' It Back". It is an early example of the "covers album with tracks chosen to enhance the artistic credibility of the performer" genre, and still one of the very best. Its up there with "Russ Abbott's Krautrock Klassics" as far as I'm concerned.

Here are a couple more choice cuts from the album, one by Stephen Stills and the other by Neil Young (with a bit of something by an obscure former member of their tour band tucked in the middle).

"Love The One You're With" - The Isley Brothers

"Ohio/ Machine Gun" - The Isley Brothers

Other cover versions of "Love The One You're With" are available.

Thursday 16 July 2020

The Long Goodbye: Part 18

We are now two-thirds of the way through the Grand Tour and we find ourselves in Luxembourg, home of hedge funds, cut-price petrol and - when I was there - a mixed grill that consisted of five different bits of a pig and a small sauerkraut garnish. Delicious.

I have been to the capital a few times over the years for work, and its quite nice when you get away from the EU and business districts. But if I go back I would like to visit some of the smaller towns with mellifluous names like Differdange and Dudelange amd Liddle Lamzydivey.

On to the music. It was a bit of a struggle because there is not a huge amount of Luxembourgish music readily available, but with the help of the twin titans - Bandcamp and George - we got there in the end. 

I think my personal favourites are probably Nicool - the Queen of the Luxembourg hip hop scene - and the 14 minute freakout by The Choppy Bumpy Peaches. But if you have ever wondered what a Luxembourgish version of "Polk Salad Annie" sounds like we can help with that too. 

"M.I.A.U" - Singsong-Girl

"Quetschendrepp Nelly" - Buffalo C. Wayne

"The Moons of Uranus" - Benoit Martiny Band

"Gugu" - The Choppy Bumpy Peaches

Luxembourg hasn't participated in Eurovision since the mid 1990s, but when it did it had a lot of success. This was because they had a sort of Galacticos policy, buying in the likes of France Gall, Nana Mouskouri, Vicki Leandros, Baccara and - bizarrely - Plastic Bertrand. In fact, only 25% of their entrants were actually Luxembourgers. I had intended to feature only some of those plucky few in the videos, but have bent the rules slightly because it would be a crime to deny you Papa Pingouin,

Tuesday 14 July 2020

All About The Roosevelts

Our ludicrous Prime Minister has recently taken to claiming that he is the new Franklin D Roosevelt. He's not even the new Teddy Roosevelt. And he's certainly no match for these two magnificent Roosevelts.

"You Got Me Diggin' You" - Roosevelt Matthews

"Satellite Baby" - Roosevelt Sykes

Sunday 12 July 2020

Single Song Sunday

Single Song Sunday has returned - I would like to say by popular demand but that may be pushing it a bit. Anyway, this time out we have James Taylor's "Fire And Rain". 

James's original version came out in 1970, reaching the Top 3 in the US, and almost instantly became a modern-day standard. Johnny Rivers and R.B. Greaves had minor hits with it in the same year, which is also when Blood, Sweat & Tears released their version. 

In 1971 there was a whole wave of cover versions from soul stars, and it was also when our Mandatory Reggae Version appeared - it's not the only MRV out there by any means, but it's my favourite.

We round things off with Willie Nelson, some 70s English rockers, some punks and a man called Stoner who released his version on an album called "Ain't Nothin' Freaky". He was right, but compared to the efforts of Dido, Marti Pellow and Cliff Richard his is positively unhinged. 

"Fire And Rain" - James Taylor

"Fire And Rain" - Blood, Sweat & Tears

"Fire And Rain" - The Isley Brothers

"Fire And Rain" - Gladys Knight & The Pips

"Fire And Rain" - Bobby Womack

"Fire And Rain" - The Gaylads 

"Fire And Rain" - Willie Nelson

"Fire And Rain" - Hookfoot

"Fire And Rain" - Me First And The Gimme Gimmes

"Fire And Rain" - Geoffrey Stoner

Friday 10 July 2020

Funky Turkish Friday

Today: some smashing sounds from Derdiyoklar (sometimes known as Derdiyoklar Ikilisi - maybe they dropped the Ikilisi when they became famous enough to be known by their first name only). 

Derdiyoklar were a couple of cool Turkish dudes living and working in Germany in the 1980s where they became the toast of the local ex-pat community, and many more right-minded people besides. These tracks are both from their "Disco-Folk" album. If anyone is expecting Donna Summer doing "The Gypsy Rover" they are in for a bit of a surprise.

"Seker Oglan" - Derdiyoklar

Just in case there is anyone out there who got their hopes up when I mentioned Donna Summer doing "The Gypsy Rover", here is something that may help you get over the disappointment. Dedicated, for reasons that will quickly become obvious, to No. 1 Reader George.

Derdiyoklar released "Disco-Folk" in 1980. Here is what other disco folk were up to that year - in two parts.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Arctic Hysteria

Pete Brown is probably still best known for writing the lyrics for Cream. Personally I have never cared for Cream very much. His own stuff, on the other hand, is excellent.

His first proper band was Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments, but the battered bastards sacked him so he formed Piblokto! instead. Here are the A and B sides of their first single from 1969.

"Living Life Backwards" - Pete Brown & Piblokto!

"High Flying Electric Bird" - Pete Brown & Piblokto!

I'm pleased to say Pete is still going strong, and will turn 80 later in the year. After Piblokto! he made albums with Graham Bond and then Phil Ryan, released a very entertaining autobiography called "White Rooms and Imaginary Westerns" in 2010, provided lyrics for Procol Harum and others, and he's still touring (when touring is allowed). Keep it up, Mr B. 

Monday 6 July 2020

The Long Goodbye: Part 17

It's Part 17 of the Grand Tour, and Part 2 of our Baltic double-header. We've left Latvia behind us and hopped over the border to Lithuania.

I've visited Vilnius for work a couple of times and on one occasion tagged on a long weekend in Kaunas. Both cities are well worth a visit, and if you get to Kaunas the Devils Museum is a 'must see'. It contains many delights such as this one:

Musically this has turned into one of the unexpected highlights of the tour so far. I hope that doesn't sound patronising, it's just that the CDs I bought on my visits in no way prepared me for the sheer variety and quality of music that has been and is being made in Lithuania.

Special thanks to Shishi,"a trio of Lithuianian mermaids" if their promo blurb is to be believed, who very kindly sent me their excellent new album "Mafitishei" which comes out at the end of July. You should buy it when it does, and in the meantime go to their Bandcamp page to pick up their 2018 album "NA x 80", from which today's track comes.

And while you're on Bandcamp, make sure to make a beeline for the Zona Records page where you can find Antis, Ministry of Echology and many other gems at bargain prices. 

"Slight Tension" - Shishi

"Laikas Meilei" - Ministry of Echology (featuring Eazystyle MC)

"Lapela" - Atalyja

Saturday 4 July 2020

A Different Bobby

Me and my friend Mr Perfect - I've mentioned him here before - have been bonding over Bobby Womack lately. I thought you might want to join us, so here are a couple of tracks from Bobby's 1975 album "Safety Zone".

"I Wish It Would Rain" - Bobby Womack

The best known track on "Safety Zone" is probably "Daylight". Being an old fart I am normally a bit sniffy about attempts by modern so-called pop stars to update old soul classics, but I have to concede that Kelly Rowland of That Destiny's Child made a decent fist of "Daylight". Not sure about the fellow's headgear though.

Thursday 2 July 2020

Double Digital

Part 2 of our belated tribute to the late Bobby Digital. Today's tracks are from the "Serious Time" compilation on VP Records. 

"Kingly Character" - Garnett Silk

"How Them Flex" - Cocoa Tea (featuring President Brown)

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Bobby Digital RIP

I heard earlier this week the sad news that Bobby Digital passed away in late May. Bobby was one of the most influential reggae producers of the last 30 years or so, working with the likes of Shabba Ranks, Garnett Silk, Sizzla and many more.

If you want a good introduction to his work I can recommend two 2-CD compilations released on VP Records in 2018. The first is called "X-Tra Wicked" and the second "Serious Time" (although confusingly the song "Serious Time" appears "X-Tra Wicked").

Here are a few selections from the extra album, we'll add some from the serious one next time.  

Belated R.I.P., Mr Digital.

"Sweet Jamaica" - Tony Rebel

"Little Sound Boy" - Johnny Osbourne