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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.