Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Sandra Sings

Some late 1980s lovers rock for you today, courtesy of the Queen of the Scene Ms Sandra Cross. Both tracks come from her 1988 album "Comet in the Sky".

Coincidentally, "Styler Boy Whitewash" is also the official codename for the recently announced public inquiry into the behaviour of corrupt ex UK PM David Cameron.

"Styler Boy" - Sandra Cross

"Whitewash" - Sandra Cross

Also from 1988, here's Lady G.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Same Name Different Noise 4

For the latest episode in our not particularly acclaimed series we have a guest contribution from The Stalwart George. How you feel about that may depend on your views on whistling and the importance of sticking to the tune.

The first Fred Lowery was a blind professional whistler with a recording career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. He had a Top 10 hit in the US with the theme from the film "The High And The Mighty", and his version of "Indian Love Call" sold over two million copies. 

Both of those achievements pale in comparison to his greatest triumph, the album "Fred Lowery Whistles Your Gospel Favourites", from which today's selection comes. Apparently George once played it to a class of students during a maths test. I imagine they all failed.

The other Fred was a soul singer from Dallas. I have another one of his records on which he is backed by the magnificently named Big Bo & The Arrows. I must dig that one out for you some time.

It was hard to find anything that fits well with the first Fred. In the end I settled for a bit of langarm music, a style that remains popular with South Africans who hanker after the days of joined up dancing. The first Bobby Hendricks was considered by many to be the King of Langarm (although Jimmy of Jimmy's Grand Six fame may beg to differ). 

The other Bobby was very briefly the lead singer of The Drifters in the late 1950s and went on to have a few hits of his own, including this one.

"The Church In The Wildwood" - Fred Lowery

"Wait And See" - Fred Lowery

"Agadoo" - Bobby Hendricks

"Itchy Twitchy Feeling" - Bobby Hendricks

We'll round things off with Slim Whitman and his version of Fred One's million seller. Whistling, yodeling and Agadoo all in one post - it doesn't get any better than this. 

Friday, 9 April 2021

Head Sounds of Sumatra

We end the week with some rather splendid modern psychedelic soul by Hello Benji & The Cobra. They hail from Medan in Indonesia, but other than that I know nothing about them. Even the connoisseurs at Record Crates United - who know a good sound when they hear it - don't seem to have any more info.

If you like these two tracks - and you should - help support the band by buying them from their Bandcamp page. 

"Anak Muda" - Hello Benji & The Cobra

"Ku Datang Kembali" - Hello Benji & The Cobra

Have a good weekend and make sure to come back on Monday as we will have some atonal avant-garde religious whistling courtesy of George (by which I mean it has been provided by rather than performed by George - although I only have his word for that). Until then, back to Benji and the boys to play us out.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Asylum Songs

Back in 1981/82 the hip kids had a bit of a thing about asylums. What was all that about, eh?

"Storm The Reality Asylum" - Rip Rig & Panic

"Asylums in Jerusalem" - Scritti Politti

Monday, 5 April 2021

Same Name Different Noise 3

We're sticking with this for now.  We have some blue-eyed soul from the first Frankie Miller and the first Little John, who are a them not a him. 

Mr Miller will be familiar to our Caledonian readers. The Johns hailed from San Francisco, and this track comes from their self-titled 1971 album. When you listen to it you will not be surprised to learn that it was produced by the man who also produced Blood. Sweat & Tears. 

The other Frankie and the other John make good old-fashioned proper music, each in their own sweet way.

"Just A Song" - Frankie Miller

"Blackland Farmer" - Frankie Miller

"Turn Your Face To A Smile" - Little John

"Clark's Booty" - Little John 

Friday, 2 April 2021

Tuareg Tunes

More from the back catalogue of the excellent Sahel Sounds label for you today, with Tuareg sounds from Northern Mali courtesy of Idassane Wallet Mohammed and her colleagues. Just voices, handclaps and water drums, I find it utterly entrancing.  

"Aïmina" - Idassane Wallet Mohammed

"Inaregh" - Idassane Wallet Mohammed

Of course, the Tuaregs of Northern Mali can rock out too when they want to. Here's a bit of that. 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Strut Your Stuff

When Peter Blegvad's "King Strut & Other Stories" came out in 1990 I bought it on cassette - younger readers may want to Google that. In due course that cassette went the way of all flesh. I was sad, but not sad enough to pay the outrageous amounts that were being asked for second hand copies. 

Every now and then I would look for a replacement only to be deterred by the price. Until the other week, that is, when I managed to find a reasonably priced CD on German eBay. I snapped it up. I am very glad I did.

"King Strut" - Peter Blegvad

"Gold" - Peter Blegvad

Monday, 29 March 2021

Same Name Different Noise 2

Following a flurry of enthusiasm for the first post, almost all of it from George, I have decided to carry on a bit longer with the nascent series featuring different acts with the same names.

We have a particularly fine selection for you today. I am indebted to my old pal Mister F for pointing out that at least three of these four bands have totally inappropriate names.

"Sunrise" - The Originals

"Got To Be Irie" - The Originals

"Not Too Long Ago" - The Uniques

"Love And Devotion" - The Uniques

The Jamaican Uniques were one of the finest ever reggae vocal groups, with the great and prematurely late Slim Smith backed up by Jimmy Riley and Lloyd Charmers, both of whom went on to have very notable careers of their own.

The same can be said of the lead singer of the other Uniques. In the 1970s he reinvented himself as a country singer and had a string of hits both in his own right and with his good buddy Moe Bandy - the Chas to his Dave, if you like. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Joe Stampley. 

Friday, 26 March 2021

More Kalbells!

Regular readers may recall me raving away about "Hump The Beach" by Kalbells last year. From memory I think I even made it one of my singles of the year. 

Well now Kalbells have a brand new album for you to enjoy. Its called "Max Heart", its out today and its decidedly groovy. If you click on the album title it will take you over to Bandcamp where you can snap it up.  I suggest you do.

While we are at it, I would also like to give a well-deserved plug to "Revelation" by Lara Taubman, which originally came out last year but is currently being re-promoted as too many of us missed it the first time. Its a bit folky and a lot 70s singer-songwriter, and a very good listen all round. 

"Diagram Of Me Sleeping" - Kalbells

"Heartbreak Garden" - Lara Taubman

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Habibi Funk, That's What It Is...

We have previously featured here albums released by the excellent Habibi Funk label, which dedicates itself to rediscovering the music of the Arab world. I may even have raved about "Habibi Funk 007", their fantastic sampler album. 

Either way, I am doing that now. With 16 great tracks for a mere €8, you have to buy it. Just in case you need persuading, here are a couple of the many highlights to whet your appetite. If your mind isn't blown by Fadoul, Morocco's answer to Little Richard, then I fear that you have no mind to blow.

"Bsslama Habiti" - Fadoul

"Al Asafir" - Kamal Keila

I'm slightly regretting my choice of title for this post, because it has led to this being stuck in my head for the last couple of days. 

Monday, 22 March 2021

Same Name, Different Noise

The best part of a year ago I had a bright idea for a series. Now I'm not very reliable when it comes to keeping series going, so I thought I would pitch my idea to the acknowledged King of Series, Charity Chic, to see if he fancied picking it up. The Great Man politely declined, so I left it at that.

Until yesterday that is, when I found myself completely lacking in any inspiration for today's post and I decided to dust the idea off. This may or may not turn into a regular feature, who can tell? Not me that's for sure.

Anyway the idea was a simple one - two different acts with identical names. We'll have a double bill today just in case this turns out to be your lot. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you two Chords and the truth - or at least the truth as our pair of Willie Williamses see it. 

"Maybe Tomorrow" - The Chords

"Sh-Boom" - The Chords

"Ease Up The Pressure" - Willie Williams

"The Baa-Baa Song" - Willie Williams

Here are one of The Chords appearing on the UK's premier music show of the early 1980s. 

Friday, 19 March 2021

El Subterraneo de Paisley

We finish the week with some mid-1980s Spanish psychedelia. I can't help being hidebound by convention.

Los Negativos were formed in Barcelona in the mid 1980s. They released a couple of fine albums - "Piknik Caleidoscópico" (1986) and "18º Sábado Amarillo" (1987) - before splitting up. They got back together about ten years ago and, if badly translated Spanish Wikipedia is to be believed, are still going strong.

Here are a track apiece from the first two albums.

"Cigarras Panameñas" - Los Negativos

"Recuerdos Desde el Gran Hotel" - Los Negativos

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Dusty in Philly

You'll all be familiar with "Dusty in Memphis", an album that is rightly considered to be an all-time great but one that did absolutely nothing when it first came out. The same was true of Dusty's follow up, 1970's "A Brand New Me", but that album hasn't gone through the same process of rediscovery and reappraisal. Which is a great shame.

For "A Brand New Me", Dusty headed to Philadelphia where she teamed up with Gamble & Huff and Thom Bell. This was a year or so before they set up Philadelphia International and became a guaranteed hit machine - a case of being in the right place at the wrong time perhaps.   

Here are a couple of tracks from the album. If you can find the 2017 reissue by Real Gone Music you get seven bonus tracks all recorded by the same team for a follow-up album that never happened. 

"Bad Case Of The Blues" - Dusty Springfield

"Silly, Silly, Fool" - Dusty Springfield  

Monday, 15 March 2021

Zamrock Zeitgeist

We start the week with news of a reissue of a fantastic 1970s Zambian rock album - "45,000 Volts" by Ngozi Family. It came out last Friday, and is the latest in a long line of great Zamrock reissues by the admirable Now-Again label.

There is a slight catch, which is that it is only available in vinyl (at least for the moment). But if you have a spare £25 burning a hole in your pocket there are many worse ways of spending it. Don't just take my word for it, ask people who do proper reviews like The Vinyl District.

If you are looking for a slightly cheaper introduction to the delights of vintage Zambian rock, then I would heartily recommend Now-Again's "Welcome to Zamrock" compilations, either Volume 1 or Volume 2. As well as Ngozi Family you can also find the likes of Amanaz and Chrissy 'Zebby' Tembo, both of whom we have featured here in the past.

Here is the opening track of "45,000 Volts" followed by one selection of each of the two volumes of "Welcome to Zamrock". Then we wrap things up with a fascinating mini-documentary about the history of Zamrock. Never say I don't spoil you.

"Nizakupanga Ngzo" - Ngozi Family

"Fwe Bena Zambia" - Five Revolutions

"Love And Freedom" - Keith Mlevhu

Friday, 12 March 2021

A Little Bit Of Politics

We're keeping it hard-hitting and topical today, courtesy of the Golden Gate Quartet. And short, courtesy of me.

"Atom And Evil" - The Golden Gate Quartet

"Stalin Wasn't Stallin'" - The Golden Gate Quartet

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Phnom Penh Pop

I think I have mentioned before that I have a historical subscription deal with eMusic which entitles me to 40 tracks a month for about 20p a pop. I treat it as an oppotunity to experiment with music I might never try otherwise - at that price it doesn't really matter if there are as many misses as hits. 

Anyway, this month I have gone big on Cambodian pop from the 1960s. Here are a couple of crackers from perky Pen Ran.

"ប្តីខ្ញុំគាត់ចាស់" - Pen Ran

"ទន្សាយរាំ Jerk" - Pen Ran

If Google Translate's mastery of Khmer can be relied on - which I guess is a big If - the title of the first translates as "My Husband Is Old" and the second as "Jerk Dancing Rabbit". 

Jerk Dancing Rabbit, meet Disco Duck.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Poetry Corner

Morning, Philistines! We have some much needed proper culture for you today. Poetry.

The 1950s brought us the Beat Poets. The 1970s brought us poets with beats, among them The Last Poets, Nikki Giovanni and today's featured poet, Sarah Webster Fabio. 

Between 1972 and 1977 Ms Fabio released a number of albums of poems from her 'Rainbow Signs' series of books. At least three of those albums are now available again thanks to the Smithsonian Folkways label.

"Glimpses" - Sarah Webster Fabio

"If We Come As Soft Rain" - Sarah Webster Fabio

The poetry revival of the 1970s was not just a phenomenon in the US, of course.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

From Soweto to Cinderford

Welcome to the weekend, fellow surfers of the zeitgeist. Today we are making one of our rare forays into modern music and featuring a couple of newish records that turned up in my inbox this week.

First up is "Africans From Outer Space" by Afronaut, leading lights in the 'So Punk' movement that is sweeping Soweto. They describe their style as "an interstellar compound of cosmic folk and tropical rockabilly". 

I have no idea what that is but I like the noise they make. One review I read said they reminded the reviewer of the Violent Femmes and I can see what they mean, at least on this track.

Next we meet Garden of Live Flowers, whose "Sticky, Sweet and Dirty" came out last month. They are a "mystery band from the darkest Forest of Dean", and add to the mystery by using what I strongly suspect are not the names they were born with (unless there are Forester families called Blue-Sky and Sweetpea). 

The sound is spacey, proggy and at times a bit poppy. One might almost call it an interstellar compound. Personally I particularly like the eight minute closing track where they give themselves space to stretch out a bit, so that is what you are getting. 

You can - and should - get hold of the Garden of Live Flowers album on Bandcamp. At just £5 it is a bargain. There are three different Afronauts on Bandcamp; however, none of them are this one. But you can find "Africans From Outer Space" on Spotify, Amazon and possibly elsewhere.

"Barfight" - Afronaut

"MRI" - Garden of Live Flowers

For today's video I searched on Wikipedia for famous musicians from the Forest of Dean. Unless Edna Healey made an album that inexplicably slipped under the radar the choice seems to be between Jimmy Young, Joe Meek or EMF. Tough call, but I've opted for Joe's finest moment.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Bunny Wailer RIP

Very saddened to learn that we lost Bunny Wailer earlier this week. I was lucky enough to see him live a few years back. Majestic is the only word to describe him. RIP Mr Livingston.

"This Train" - Bunny Wailer

"Bright Soul" - Bunny Wailer

"Scheme Of Things" - Bunny Wailer

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Creations Of Dub

Today we have some classic Dub tracks for you - Willis 'Dub' Dickerson that is. Here are a couple of singles he released on Capitol Records way back in 1951.

"My Gal Gertie" - Dub Dickerson

"Under The Heading Of My Business" - Dub Dickerson

Dub was apparently born in Van Zandt County, Texas, which gives us all the excuse we need for this.

Monday, 1 March 2021

The Mittoo Movement

Let's get you in the mood to face the week with two lumps of sunshine from the great Jackie Mittoo, the Keyboard King of Jamaica. 

After spending most of the 1960s in the Skatalites and various other ensembles, as well as being involved in pretty much every recording session at Studio One, he emigrated to Toronto. It was there in 1971 that he recorded the album "Wishbone", from which these two tracks come. 

That is Jackie himself singing on "Soul Bird". The singer on "Right Track" is uncredited on the album, so I'm going to claim its Pierre Trudeau, or possibly Gordon Lightfoot. Definitely one of the two.

"Soul Bird" - Jackie Mittoo

"Right Track" - Jackie Mittoo

Jackie did a bit of songwriting as well, including co-writing these old favourites.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

The Fox's Progress

You're an intelligent bunch, so I'm sure you don't need me to point out the connection. 

"Imagine Me, Imagine You" - Fox

"(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days" - Inez & Charlie Foxx

"Fast Car" - Foxy Brown

"Oh Yeah" - Foxygen

Thursday, 25 February 2021

More Mariem

Last time out I posted a video featuring the great Mariem Hassan, which led me to dig out her albums for the first time in ages. I haven't listened to anything else since. So here's some more Mariem, starting with the song from the video.

"Haiyu" - Mariem Hassan

"Hinwani" - Mariem Hassan

"Gdeim Izik" - Mariem Hassan

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

The People of El Aaiún

We're off on one of our regular visits to North Africa courtesy of the always excellent Sahel Sounds label. Today it is Western Sahara or, to be entirely accurate, the Sahrawi refugee camps just over the border in Algeria where the supporters of Polisario are exiled. The band is El Wali, the album is "Tiris", and you really ought to buy it.

"Youth Of The Nation" - El Wali

"Brave People" - El Wali

A lot of fantastic music has come out of the Sahrawi camps over the years, the most notable being that made by the late, great Mariem Hassan. Here she is. 

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Single Song Sunday

It is the first Single Song Sunday of the year, and the choice is such an obvious one I was under the impression I had done it before. But it seems I was wrong so here, for the first time, is Bordleaux Bryant's classic "Love Hurts". 

We start with what are probably my three favourite versions - the Everly Brothers original from 1960, Roy Orbison's version from the year after and Gram and Emmylou's great duet from "Grievous Angel". Following them we have the two hit versions from the 1970s courtesy of Nazareth and Jim Capaldi. Fife's finest were the most successful everywhere but the UK, where Jim inexplicably made it to the Top 5.    

Next we have what might seem an unlikely duet between Little Milton and Lucinda Williams. I'm a fan of both of them, but to be honest I'm not sure this arrangement really plays to Big Lucy's strengths. It's still pretty good though.

After that we are off all over the place. The cotton-picking Osborne Brothers don't appear remotely hurt, scarred, wounded or even marred; James Last smothers the pain with cheese; and then there is... erm... a Spanish rap version. Thank goodness for the always reliable J.C. Lodge, whose Mandatory Reggae Version sounds exactly like you would expect. 

"Love Hurts" - The Everly Brothers

"Love Hurts" - Roy Orbison

"Love Hurts" - Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris

"Love Hurts" - Nazareth

"Love Hurts" - Jim Capaldi

"Love Hurts" - Lucinda Williams & Little Milton

"Love Hurts" - The Osborne Brothers

"Love Hurts" - James Last

"Herida De Amor Rap" - Xhuzer (feat. Song Kill & Grupo Yndio)

"Love Hurts" - J.C. Lodge

Friday, 19 February 2021


Very saddened to learn that the great U-Roy passed away a couple of days ago. He may have left us but he shall never be removed. RIP Mr Beckford.

"I Shall Not Remove" - U-Roy

"Gorgon Wise" - U-Roy

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Pea Souper

Last time out I made mention of the appalling food pun based cover of the old Island Records sampler "El Pea". Gasp at the full horror.

"El Pea" was a formative album for me. It came out in 1971 but towards the end of the decade, when I first started getting seriously into music, it could be found in charity shops almost as regularly as the works of James Hadley Chase. It is through "El Pea" and "Bumpers", another Island sampler of similar vintage, that I first discovered Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Fairport and many more artists who became life-long favourites.

There are all sorts of big names on there - Traffic, Jethro Tull, Mott, Cat Stevens etc - but we are going to feature some of the lesser lights.

"Sudden Street" - Bronco

"Song for Suzie" - Heads, Hands & Feet

While Head, Hands & Feet had only limited success as a band, they had a pretty luminous line-up. Members included Albert Lee (of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band fame), Chas (of & Dave fame), and Tony Colton who wrote and recorded the original version of this cracking tune.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Big In Blaenau Ffestiniog

I have noticed over the years that many album compilers find it hard to resist bad puns when choosing titles. Some even extend the pun to the album cover, like the old Island Records sampler "El Pea", the cover of which comprised a photo of a giant pea. Another example is the one we are featuring today, "Welsh Rare Beat".

For our non-British readers, Welsh Rarebit is basically cheese on toast. It is considered to be the high point of Cambrian cuisine. 

As naff as the title is, the album itself is excellent. It is a compilation of mostly 1970s Welsh language psych, folk-rock and the like that had been originally released on the Sain record label. The compilation and the follow up ("Welsh Rare Beat 2" - why change a winning formula?) are available on Bandcamp, and I would heartily recommend them both.

"Y Penderfyniad" - Edward H Dafis

"Cynnwrf Yn Ein Gwlad" - Yr Atgyfodiad

"Penhryn Gwyn" - Heather Jones

The original plan was to have some videos featuring some of the other acts featured on the album like Elleri Llwyd and the great Meic Stevens. But then I discovered Brodyr Gregory.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Hilton Valentine's Day

14 February seems like an appropriate day to pay a belated tribute to Hilton Valentine, guitarist with The Animals, who passed away at the end of January. RIP Mr Valentine.

"Baby Let Me Take You Home" - The Animals

"Outcast" - The Animals

Friday, 12 February 2021

Rebels Without A Pause

Today, the Nat Turner Rebellion, a Philadelphia soul band named after the slave rebellion of 1831 (but you knew that I'm sure). 

Active from 1969 to 1972, they made a few singles that were compiled with some previously unreleased material on an album called "Laugh To Keep From Crying" which came out in 2019. Think Norman Whitfield-era Temptations without the production budget.

"Plastic People" - The Nat Turner Rebellion

"Ruby Lee" - The Nat Turner Rebellion

Notorious smoothie-chops Major Harris was in the band for a while, but I don't know whether he features on those tracks. Here he is with his big hit.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Day of the Jackal

Today we bring you the groovy sounds of Big Jackal & The New Cream - or, as they were better known to their many fans, Chacalón y la Nueva Crema. The same fans also referred to Chacalón as 'the Pharaoh of Chicha music'. His dear old Mum referred to him as Lorenzo Palacios Quispe. 

Chacalón and the lads were big stars in Peru back in the 1970s, when they were credited with taking chicha out of the ghetto - literally - and into everybody's home. And they did it with a great deal of fuzz, buzz, pizzazz, razzamatazz and other words ending in 'zz' (but fortunately not jazz).

"Amor ¿Por Qué?" - Chacalón y la Nueva Crema

"La Paz y La Dicha" - Chacalón y la Nueva Crema

Apologies about the quality of the video; the few others I found were in an even worse state. To make up for it I've added some modern chicha courtesy of Chicha Dust. They are actually from Arizona not Peru, but don't let that put you off - they're very good.

Monday, 8 February 2021

Dem Delmores

The Delmore Brothers were country music's first major brothers act. They were stars of the Grand Ol' Opry way back in the 1930s when the Louvins and the Stanleys were still in short trousers and the Everlys were still a few years off arriving. 

Both the Louvins and the Everlys subsequently covered their "Blues Stay Away From Me", as did just about everybody else - everybody apart from reggae artists, that is, otherwise I'd have saved it up for a Single Song Sunday. Anyway, here's the original.

"Blues Stay Away From Me" - The Delmore Brothers

"Field Hand Man" - The Delmore Brothers

Friday, 5 February 2021

The Slovak Sisterhood

I've had a subscription with eMusic for 15 years. It is probably not worth signing up now as it is no cheaper than most other download sites and most US and UK record labels refuse to license anything to them, due to past problems with poor payment it seems. 

I stick with it for two reasons. One is that there is a huge amount of stuff from all over the world on there. The other is that I'm on the same package I first signed up for which means I now get 40 tracks a month for about £7. At that price, it would foolish to forego the opportunity to expand my musical horizons.  

Which I why I have been acquiring a lot of old Slovak pop recently. Some bright spark has reissued the back catalogue of the former state-owned Bratislava based Opus label and there are lots of gems among the dross. 

In particular, the 1970s and early to mid 1980s seem to have been a vintage period for female singers in Slovakia. Here is a small selection to see you through the weekend.

"Boľavé Námestie" - Marika Gombitová 

"Keď Je Zima" - Eva Kostolányiová

"Deň Bláznivých Radostí" - Marcela Laiferová

"V Siedmom Nebi" -  Eva Máziková

 "Znovu Na Mna Svieti Slnk" - Jana Kocianová

"Psychologické Testy" - Beáta Dubasová

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Of Zeitgeist And Ziggurats

As a surfer of the zeitgeist I am in the fortunate position of being sent lots of new music, far more than I ever have time to listen to, which means something about the email has to catch my eye if I am going to investigate further. Sometimes its the artist, sometimes its the label, and sometimes its the promo pitch. 

For today's selection it was definitely the latter. How could I resist a press release that starts: "The title of the new album is taken from the name of a Babylonian ziggurat that was constructed with the aim of reaching the heavens and is thought to have inspired the story of the Tower of Babel"?

When it then went on to say "It is a concept album on which each song is told from the perspective of a mythological creature of the artist's own invention" I was hooked. And even more hooked when I listened to it.

The album in question is "Etemenanki" by Kate Koenig. She describes her style as 'experimental folk', which sounds about right to me. 

I know what you're all thinking: "Not that old chestnut again! Does the world really need yet another concept album about Babylonian ziggurats and mythological creatures?". Well I'm here to tell you that it does.

It is mostly an acoustic affair, but with some restrained, atmospheric arrangements that work really well with Kate's voice, particularly on the title track and "Fell To Stone", the first single. The latter has a bit of the feel of The Roche's "Hammond Song" when Robert Fripp noodled away in the background to great effect. It does it me anyway. 

The album is available now on Bandcamp and Spotify. You can also get hold of Kate's previous album "Haircuts for Barbers" on Bandcamp. 

Here's the lyrics video for the title track. You may get a message saying that the NFL has blocked its use on this application, but if you click on "Watch on YouTube" it works fine.

For me the only downside of preparing this post is that the regular repetition of the word "ziggurat" has got it stuck in my head, and I find myself incessantly singing it to this old Dave Dee rune. But even that isn't really a downside. 

Monday, 1 February 2021

Listen To The Lion

The world was a more carefree place 40 years ago when Lion Youth released his album "Love Comes And Goes". It was still a more carefree place 12 months ago by which time Lion - Clarence Williamson to his friends - was more middle-aged than youthful.  

Hopefully it will be again soon. Hang on in there, folks, and may all your skanking be easy.

"Easy Skanking" - Lion Youth

"Chant In A Dance" - Lion Youth

Friday, 29 January 2021

All Hail King Thad

We end the week with a rare good news story.

Regular readers may remember me enthusing about Thad Cockrell, most recently last year when his long overdue new album "If In Case You Feel The Same" was released. As I explained at the time, Thad was one of the artists left high, dry and out of pocket when Pledge Music collapsed, but despite having lost money himself honoured his commitments and sent all of us who had pledged a copy of the album.

By the time Thad was finally able to release the album the pandemic had arrived and he was unable to tour to promote it. So sustained was his run of bad luck that he contacted his management at the beginning of the month to tell them he was thinking of packing it in.    

Fortunately, fate intervened. Jimmy Fallon, host of the Tonight Show, happened to hear one of the tracks from "If In Case You Feel The Same" playing in a store, fell for it and instructed his people to track Thad down. All of which led to Thad performing the song on the Tonight Show on Tuesday this week. 

Since then, things have really taken off. The likes of Rolling Stone have picked up the story and the record is flying off the shelves. Hopefully it will encourage the new fans to check out his back catalogue too.   

It is nice to see that, every now and then, good things still happen to good people. To celebrate, here are a couple of oldies followed by the Tonight Show performance.

"Are You Still Missing Me?" - Thad Cockrell

"Pride (Won't Get Us Where We're Going)" - Thad Cockrell

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

The Ragin' Trajan

Today I had been planning to plug a new release, but the release date seems to have been delayed so I'll hold on to that for now. With a gap in the schedule and absolutely no idea how to fill it I turned to the "this day in history" page on Wikipedia in search of inspiration.

The first entry for 27 January reads "AD 98: Trajan succeeds his adoptive father Nerva as Roman Emperor". Now that sounds suspiciously precise for an event that took place over 1900 years ago, and they were also on a difficult calendar back then. But it serves its purpose.

Here are a couple of tracks from "Firm Roots", the 1969 album by Alan Trajan (no relation - his real name was Robertson and he hailed from Livingston).It is very much in the style or Procol Harum and Pete Brown, and not bad at all.

"Dislocated Seaside" - Alan Trajan

"Time" - Alan Trajan

Other notable 27 January events include Dante Alighieri being exiled from Florence in 1302.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Khartoum Kapers

One of the great delights of recent years has been the emergence of a whole bunch of labels dedicating themselves to tracking down African music from the pre-Internet age - the likes of Strut, Soundways, Analog Africa, Obstinato, Now-Again and my old buddy Awesome Tapes From Africa, al of whom have had releases featured here.

To that number you can add Habibi Funk, a Berlin-based label which specializes in vintage funky sounds from the Middle East and North Africa. If you are not familiar with them, their compilation "Habibi Funk 007" is a great place to start.   

One of the shiniest jewels in their crown is "Habibi Funk 013: The King of Sudanese Jazz", the King in question being a gent called Sharhabil Ahmed. Fortunately for us all, Sudanese Jazz bears no resemblance to 'normal' jazz. It is more like slightly wonky rock 'n roll.

"Argos Farfish" - Sharhabil Ahmed

"Kamar Dawa" - Sharhabil Ahmed

There is something about the opening to "Argos Farfish" - particularly the squawking sax - that reminds me of this old favourite from Blurt. And they both have fish in the title!

"A Fish Needs A Bike" - Blurt

Ten bonus points if you can tell me the link between that and this.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Rude Mechanicals

As an internationally renowned timewaster tastemaker I never regularly get asked what I think the next big thing will be, genre-wise. It's always hard to pick just one, but right now I would plump for Turkish blues-rap.

Is there even such a thing, I hear you ask. Why, of course there is. In fact earlier this week Denizli's very own Mechanical Rooster, one of the leaders of the scene, released their first single. You can hear it on the YouTube audio clip below, and download it from all the usual outlets. 

This being Friday I thought we should give you a bonus to help see you through the weekend. Sticking with the mechanical theme, here are a couple of tracks from Mechanical Bride's 2011 album "Living With Ants". 

I don't know much about her other than that her real name is Lauren Doss and she is still making music. This seems to be be her only album using the Mechanical Bride name. Very nice it is too.

"Colour Of Fire" - Mechanical Bride

 "Peach Wolves" - Mechanical Bride

We'll be back with more zeitgeist-busting sounds next week. Until then - more machines!

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Man Smart, Leroy Smarter

Today it is the turn of the mighty Leroy Smart. Both tracks come from his great 1981 album "Too Much Grudgefulness". And that is really all I have to say on the matter.

"Too Much Grudgefulness" - Leroy Smart

"This Love I Am Feeling" - Leroy Smart

Monday, 18 January 2021

Mr Hatcher Comin' Atcha

Some smooth 70s soul sounds to start the week, courtesy of Roger "By Name..." Hatcher. He comes across very much as the sort of man who would ask a lady her star sign before seducing her.

"Caught Making Love" - Roger Hatcher

"We're Gonna Make It" - Roger Hatcher

Speaking of star(r) signs - we don't just throw this together, you know - here's a little something from Roger's better known cousin.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Turner's Turn

Today we have some Turner Cody for you. He normally gets bracketed with the Anti-Folk movement (or Antifo as they are presumably called by right-wing Americans), but he is distinctly country tinged.

If you are not familiar with his work I would recommend checking out his 2018 compilation album "The Great Shadow", on which you can find both of today's tracks. It is available on Bandcamp along with the rest of his extensive back catalogue.

"The Bright Side" - Turner Cody

"The Wee Wee Hours" - Turner Cody

Here are two more Turners for you to enjoy. The video features two of the worst haircuts you are ever likely to see.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

King Karol

Karol Duchoň was one of the biggest Slovak pop stars of the 1970s and early 1980s. He could really belt out a tune and was often referred to as "the Slovak Tom Jones". If you listen to the first of today's selections, his take on "Soul Man", you can see why. 

Karol would no doubt have been a star for much longer if he had not sadly left us at the tender age of 35 due to his wild ways. As his shakily translated Wikipedia entry puts it "He lived fast, he didn't want to miss or experience anything. He was a heavy alcoholic and this was a sign of his early departure. He died on 5 November 1985 in Bratislava".

"Kos Zázrakov" - Karol Duchoň

"Kreslím Si Ta Ráno i Večer" - Karol Duchoň

Here's Karol wowing local office workers with his funky backing band. I don't know their name but my guess would be the Beige Brothers. 

Monday, 11 January 2021

Pilon: The Pressure

Today we are starting with a photo of Santa Antao in the Cape Verde islands which I took when I was on holiday there 25 years ago. It's a bumpy old place.

The excuse for the photo is that we are featuring the work of Grupo Pilon today, with a couple of tracks taken from a compilation called "Leite Quente Funana de Cabo Verde", released last year on Obstinato Records.

In the interests of full transparency, Grupo Pilon are actually second generation Cape Verdeans who first met in Luxembourg back in the mid 1980s. But I didn't think you would have been as impressed by a photo of Luxembourg.

"Longi Di Bo" - Grupo Pilon

"Kanta Nstaba Nobu" - Grupo Pilon

Thursday, 7 January 2021

She's Gone And Done It

Earlier in the week I received a confusing request for more "songs about sheese". I never did work out what that was about, but it prompted me to start listening to songs with titles that begin with "She's". 

To my surprise and delight I discovered that I have five "She's Gone"'s in my collection. They are all different songs so don't qualify for Single Song Sunday, but in the spirit of Sundays there is a Mandatory Reggae Song. 

"She's Gone" - Jimmy Lewis

"She's Gone" - Little Beaver

"She's Gone" - 17 Pygmies

"She's Gone" - Tony Tuff

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Sausage Songs

Some slinky sounds from New Orleans for you today, from the utterly magnificent 1976 self-titled album by The Wild Tchoupitoulas (and not, as I believed for many years, The Wild Chipolatas). 

The Wild Tchoupitoulas were members of one of the 'tribes' of Mardi Gras 'Indians' who take part in the Mardi Gras Carnival and various other parades, and a lot of the lyrics relate to those traditions. On the album they were backed by The Meters, which explains the funkiness.

"Big Chief Got A Golden Crown" - The Wild Tchoupitoulas

"Meet De Boys On The Battlefront" - The Wild Tchoupitoulas

Monday, 4 January 2021

The Sound of Swinging Yorkshire

 Some wailing and wassailing courtesy of The Watersons

"Swarthfell Rocks" - The Watersons

"I Went To Market" - The Watersons

And as a tribute to Gerry Marsden, who died over the weekend, here he is with his finest moment. RIP Mr Marsden.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Hats Off To 2021

This being my first post of 2021 I thought long and hard about the songs to share with you. I was after something that would sum up our hopes and fears for the year ahead and leave us feeling optimistic that it will be an improvement on the year just gone.

And then I thought "Sod it. Let's have a couple of songs that mention the Mad Hatter in the title". So here they are.   

"The Mad Hatter's Song" - The Incredible String Band

"Mad Mad Hatter" - I Roy