Wednesday 29 September 2021
Monday 27 September 2021
Since yesterday I have had Bobby Vee's "Mr Blue" stuck in my head and it shows no sign of making any plans to leave. So I thought I should provide it with an outlet. This is it.
Joining The Bobster are Tom Paxton and Laura Nyro and their songs of the same name. They are both pretty good, but Bobby's is best.
All together now: "I'm Mister Blue, when you say you love me..."
"Mr Blue" - Bobby Vee
"Mr Blue" - Tom Paxton
"Mr Blue" - Laura Nyro
What's bluer than Mr Blue? I think you have already guessed the answer to that.
Friday 24 September 2021
A bit of culture for you today folks, courtesy of South African poet and performer Mzwakhe Mbuli.
Mr Mbuli is definitely a member of the firebrand wing of the poetry party. Under the apartheid regime his records were often banned and he himself frequently detained. He also spent three years in prison at the turn of the century for armed robbery, although he and his supporters claim this was a trumped up charge and that he was being punished for speaking up against corruption.
How unlike the home life of our own Pam Ayres.
"Triple B" - Mzwakhe Mbuli
"Kwazulu Natal" - Mzwakhe Mbuli
Wednesday 22 September 2021
Sunday 19 September 2021
Thursday 16 September 2021
I'm off for a long weekend later this morning. Most of it will be spent visiting pals in Southport but I'm making a little detour to take in the delights of Blackpool.
I originally set out to feature musicians from Southport in this post but with one exception, which we'll come to, it was slim pickings. You can't really lead off a post with 4/5ths of Gomez, can you? So I decided to make it about Blackpool instead, where there is no shortage of local talent.
We have a couple of bands that kicked off their careers there, Jethro Tull and The Nolans - inexplicably the two have never teamed up. There are a bunch of performers who were all born there but moved away at a young age - Graham Nash, Maddy Prior and Robert Smith.
And then there is Dave Ball, who went off to Leeds Poly where he met a lad from - you guessed it - Southport and formed a band that did quite well. One day I'll tell you the story of how a near encounter with that son of Southport led to me appearing on Russian television. But for now you will have to make do with a video.
"Military Madness" - Graham Nash
"Lovely On The Water" - Steeleye Span
"Up The 'Pool" - Jethro Tull
Monday 13 September 2021
I've recently acquired assorted Hong Kong pop tunes from the 1970s and 1980s - its a long, uninteresting story. Here is but a small selection from the mid 1970s.
Paula Tsui took the understandable commercial decision to capitalise on the popularity of kung fu at the time. You could not really call it gritty and earthy but it makes poor Ervinna sound very dated by comparison, even for 1974. Cheng Kam Cheong, meanwhile, was very much creating a scene of his own.
"Gong Fu Wu" - Paula Tsui
"Huan Le Ge Xing Chu Chu Wen" - Ervinna
"Sheng Huo De Xuan Luu" - Cheng Kam Cheong
Ervinna is an Indonesian singer who was a big star across Asia in the 1970s, mainly through performing covers of Western pop hits of the time. And non hits too. "Huan Le Ge Xing Chu Chu Wen" is a Cantonese version of "Shiddle De Dee", which Clint Holmes took all the way to No. 106 in the Billboard charts in 1973.
Clint is best known for "Playground In My Mind". I couldn't find a clip of that so I looked for Roberto Blanco's German version instead. I couldn't find that either but there were plenty of other clips of Roberto, who may perhaps be considered the German Ervinna. Here's one of them.
Saturday 11 September 2021
A couple of weeks ago we had our first ever visitor from South Sudan, so as is now traditional we welcome them by playing music they probably know already.
My collection of South Sudanese music could be described as small but perfectly formed. Apart from Emmanuel Jal's "Ceasefire" album, which we featured here a few years ago, this is pretty much it. Enjoy.
"Election Jai" - Mary Boyoi
"Nyaljj" - Emmanuel Kembe
Thursday 9 September 2021
I was looking through my records, as you do, and discovered that, to my great shame, we have never featured the great George Jackson on here. We're putting that right today.
George, who sadly left us in 2013, had great success as a songwriter but was also a fantastic singer in his own right. He released more than 20 singles between the mid 1960s and the early 1980s on labels including Fame, Hi and Chess, with an inexplicable lack of success.
I would heartily recommend the Kent compilation "George Jackson in Memphis 1972-77" - 21 tracks and not a duffer among them The first two tracks come from that compilation, the third was a 1969 single on Fame.
"How Can I Get Next To You? " - George Jackson
"Things Are Getting Better" - George Jackson
"My Desires Are Getting The Better Of Me" - George Jackson
And now, three of George's hits as a writer, the first of which goes out especially from one George to another.
Tuesday 7 September 2021
Most of you will know Kimberley Rew as the guitarist and songwriter with Katrina & The Waves and the man responsible for "Walking On Sunshine", "Going Down To Liverpool" and other top tunes. Being a hip crowd, many of you will also know that before that he was the guitarist in The Soft Boys.
You may well also know about his 1982 solo album "The Bible Of Bop", on which he is backed by various members of The Soft Boys and The dB's. I wasn't aware of it until earlier this year, but then I'm not as cool as you lot. Here's a couple of tracks.
I'm reasonably sure that most of you won't know that way back in 1973 Mr Rew was in a Cambridge band called Puzzle which featured on a local compilation LP called "The First Lame Bunny Album". I suspect that this fact may be known only to the members of the band and those of us who were subsequently taught French by the drummer, who mentioned it at every possible opportunity.
We round things off with a tribute from his fan club.
"Hey, War Pig!" - Kimberley Rew
"Walking In The Dew" - Kimberley Rew
"Consuelo" - Puzzle
"Kimberley Rew" - Karate Bikini
Sunday 5 September 2021
Having received some slightly tart remarks about the five month gap between the two previous posts in the series, I am trying to do a bit better. This one arrives a mere six weeks after the last one.
I have always thought of today's song as a Motown standard, but it turns out that it was surprisingly unsuccessful when first released. The Four Top's version of "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" only reached No. 45 in the US and No. 21 in the UK when it came out in 1966, thus making Nick Kamen's 1987 effort - No. 16 in the UK - technically the most successful version.
Any song has an immediate advantage when its sung by Levi Stubbs, and the original is still my favourite. But you can say the same for any song sung by Frankie Miller so I have put his 1976 single next. He runs them a pretty close second.
After that we have smorgasbord of sounds from 1968/69: some soul from Chuck Jackson, something a bit folkier from Dion, and then South African pop sensations The Square Set who had a local No. 1 with a cover of "Silence Is Golden" so are probably covering The Tremeloes' cover which came out in 1967.
Moving forward to the early 1970s we have some supper club soul from Leslie Uggams before handing over to The Band and Bryan Ferry to give the song a bit of welly.
We finish off with a surprisingly good French version from 1967 from the man who co-wrote "My Way" and sang "Tears On The Telephone" and, of course, with the MRV. For the first time in this series we welcome the great Mr Delroy Wilson.
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - The Four Tops
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - Frankie Miller
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - Chuck Jackson
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - Dion
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - The Square Set
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - Leslie Uggams
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever (live)" - The Band
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - Bryan Ferry
"N'est-ce Pas Etrange?" - Claude François
"Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" - Delroy Wilson
Thursday 2 September 2021
We had our first ever visitor from Mauritius last week, so to mark the occasion here are a couple of tracks from "Soul Sok Séga", a compilation of 1970s Mauritian music that came out on Strut Records a few years ago. It is still available on Bandcamp in various formats, and no doubt elsewhere too.
To quote from the marketing blurb: "Séga is the traditional music of Mauritius and is known as the blues of the Indian Ocean. Though initially marginalised, by the mid-1960s séga music had become a symbol of national pride and identity for Mauritius. With the advent of electric instruments, the influx of funk, soul and jazz from the West and the growth of LPs, séga went commercial. Dancefloors started grooving to a more soulful, funky séga beat".
"Soul Sok Séga" - Ti L'Afrique
"Z'Enfant Misère" - John Kenneth Nelson
Of course, the trend of once scorned music becoming both popular and progressively more funky during the 1970s was not limited to Mauritius.
PS In other exciting news, since preparing this post we've had our first ever visitor from South Sudan. I'm on the case.