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Saturday 31 December 2022

Sounds Of The Seventies

It's New Year's Eve, which for me and my friend Mr F means the annual themed party at our favourite local. This year's theme is the 1970s. I'm going as the three day week.

We have been trying to persuade the landlady to turn the back bar into a roller disco, but she is worried someone will bump into the fondue and cause boiling cheese injuries. 

To get me in the mood I've been listening to one of the classiest albums of 1976, "Silk Degrees". Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Boz Scaggs.

"Georgia" - Boz Scaggs

"It's Over" - Boz Scaggs

Have a good night whatever you're doing. May the year ahead be a good one and, especially for our Scottish readers, may your feet be first and your hogs be many. I think I've got that right.

Thursday 29 December 2022

They Also Served

Once again we have lost many musicians this year, and not all of their deaths got the attention they merited in the media. Here are some you may have missed. RIP to them and all the others.

We get things started with a trio of African greats, follow them with some super soul sounds and finish off with a folkie reflecting on when he first heard "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" by The Incredible String Band. 

Incidentally Mike Heron of ISB - one of my musical heroes who I have been lucky enough to meet - turned 80 yesterday. Happy birthday Mr Heron. 

"Ashiko" - Orlando Julius

"Amina" - Tshala Muana

"Awolo" - Ekambi Brillant

"Running Out" - Mable John

"Our Love Is In The Pocket" - J.J. Barnes

"Come On With It" - Lew Kirton

"A Gift For You" - Eric Mercury

"Then Came The Children" - Paul Siebel

Tuesday 27 December 2022

The Inevitable Best Of

It is that time of year when all music bloggers are contractually obliged to tell you about the music they have enjoyed in the last 12 months. So let's get it over and done with.

Gigs of the year: Elizabeth Cook and Bas Jan. Honorable mentions for Johnny Clarke, Tony Christie and the Ebony Steel Band play Kraftwerk (not all together, although that would have been even better).

Delayed gig of the year: For the third year in a row, the Abyssinians. Here's hoping it will be sixth time lucky in March 2023.

Art exhibition of the year (and contender for most eagerly anticipated album of 2023): Gina Birch.

Ten good albums from 2022 (in alphabetical order by artist):

Bas Jan - "Baby U Know"

Bonny Light Horseman - "Rolling Golden Holy"

Laure Briard - "Ne Pas Trop Rester Bleue"

Etran de L'Air - "Agadez"

King Jammy - "Destroys The Virus With Dub"

Noori & His Dorpa Band - "Beja Power!"

Erin Rae - "Lighten Up"

Pierce Turner - "Terrible Good"

Various Artists - "Adrian Sherwood Presents: Dub No Frontiers"

Derya Yildirim & Grup Şimşek - "DOST 2"

Here are just some of my favourite tracks from 2022 that aren't on any of the albums mentioned above:

"That's Okay" - Jeanines

"Saw You At The Record Shop Today" - The Red, Pinks & Purples

"Berkshires" - Ben Talmi

"Se Acabou" - João Selva

"Soul To Blessed Soul" - Swamp Dogg

"Vom Bosphorus Bis Zum Rhein" - Ozan Ata Canani & Karaba

"The Wrong Side Of History" - Regressive Left

"Golden Spoon Maroon" - Yasus Afari

And we'll round it all off with my favourite song of the year (well it is today anyway)

Friday 23 December 2022

Single Song Santa

In this special seasonal edition of our long-running series we bring you glad tidings and multiple versions of  "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Some are gold, some make frankly no sense, and some are just mehhh! 

We kick things off with the 1952 original by Jimmy Boyd and finish up, as is traditional, with the Mandatory Reggae Version.  Strangely Johnny Clarke didn't include it in his set when I saw him live earlier this year. 

There are eight more interpretations in between from a host of well-known names (and also Bobby Sherman). Obviously The Ronettes are the best but John Prine isn't far behind.

That's it from me until the 27th. Best wishes to all of you and to all of yours. See you on the other side.

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Jimmy Boyd

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - The Ronettes

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Amy Winehouse

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Bobby Sherman

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - The Four Seasons

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Mighty Sparrow

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - John Prine

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Twisted Sister

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Bill Doggett

 "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - Johnny Clarke

Wednesday 21 December 2022

He Wears The Crown

Some Lonnie Holley for you tomorrow, for no better reason than his surname is vaguely seasonal. One track each from "Just Before Music" (2012) and "Keeping A Record Of it" (2013). 

I was lucky enough to see Mr Holley live at the church down the end of my road a few years ago. I'm not sure how to describe his performance. Let's settle for "distinctive". 

"Here I Stand Knocking At Your Door" - Lonnie Holley

"From The Other Side Of The Pulpit" - Lonnie Holley

Very sorry to hear the sad news about Terry Hall, to whom others have already paid more eloquent tribute than I could. 

For much of the 1970s we lived in South Africa and I relied on John Peel's weekly show on the BBC World Service to keep up with the UK music scene. I can still remember the thrill I felt the first time I heard "Too Much Too Young" come fizzing through the static. RIP Mr Hall.

Monday 19 December 2022

Blues Monday

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Slim Harpo. And also Ms Phoebe Snow, with a song that isn't a tribute to Slim but which we are going to pretend is for the purposes of this post.

"Buzz Me Babe" - Slim Harpo

"That Ain't Your Business" - Slim Harpo

"Harpo's Blues" - Phoebe Snow

Friday 16 December 2022

Gathering Winter Newell

Earlier this week that Rol of My Top Ten fame featured The Cleaners from Venus in one of his celebrity tributes - David Bailey as you ask. This got me reminiscing about the period in the early 1980s when I lived in Wivenhoe just round the corner from Mr Cleaner himself, Martin Newell.

Back in those days Martin was only releasing music via the medium of home-made cassettes - apparently the most time-consuming part of the production process was colouring in the black and white photocopies that served as the cover sleeve - and I would pop round and buy them whenever he had a new one.

I still have a handful of those cassettes and I dug out this one from the winter of 1983 as it is vaguely seasonal. By this time Martin had worked out that you could speed up the production process considerably by just printing the covers on coloured paper.

Here are both sides of the single. The sound quality isn't brilliant but as they are taken from a cassette that is nearly 40 years old its a miracle you can hear anything at all. If you listen right to the end of "When Fire Burns Dreams" you will understand the relevance of today's video.

"When Fire Burns Dreams" - Martin Newell

"Amateur Paranoiac" - Martin Newell

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Off Colour Remarks

The first album picked up on my recent weekend in Germany to feature here was recommended to me by the proprietor of Far Out Records in Duisburg. He knows his stuff.

"Monarchie Und Alltag" was the 1980 debut album by Fehlfarben, a band from Dusseldorf whose name means something along the lines of "off colour". It is widely considered by the local music critics to be one of the best ever German language albums. They know their stuff too. It's a cracking record.

The year after "Monarchie Und Alltag" was released the lead singer and main songwriter Peter Hein left the band to return to his full time job at Xerox. There is probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

"Militurk" - Fehlfarben

"Paul Ist Tot" - Fehlfarben

Fehlfarben broke up in 1984. The original line-up first reunited in 2002 and have got together to tour and release an album every so often since then. The latest - "?O??" - came out a couple of months ago. Here's one of the tracks. They are still sonding pretty good.

Monday 12 December 2022

Ankst In Your Pankst

After last Friday's post featuring Heather Jones we are sticking with the Welsh language music today, but for a very good reason.

Ankst Musik is a Welsh record label that has been running since 1988. In 1998 they released a 40 track compilation called "Radio Crymi Playlist" to mark their first ten years. There are some pretty well-known names on there - the Gorkis, the Super Furries, the Catatonias and best of all the mighty Datblygu.

As their Xmas charity fundraiser this year Ankst have made the album available again as a download for a limited period only. All proceeds go to the Osborne Trust, the only national charity dedicated to supporting the children of a parent with cancer. For just £8 you'll be supporting a very worthwhile cause and getting a lot of excellent music. Like this. 

"Sega Segur" - Ffa Coffi Pawb

"Bukowski" - Rheinhallt H. Rowlands

And here is some more chirpy Welsh music connected to Christmas and children.


Friday 9 December 2022

Get Together With Heather

Whatever the weather it's a good time for Heather. Heather Jones that is, the Grande Dame of the Welsh language music scene for many years now. 

Here are a couple of tracks from her greatest hits album "Goreuon". "Nos Du" also featured on the first of those Welsh Rare Beat compilations that Andy Votel's lot put out 15 years or so back.

"Nos Du" - Heather Jones

"Syrcas O Liw" - Heather Jones

Other Heather Joneses are also available. They aren't as good though.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

The One That Got Away

I'm back from my long weekend in Dusseldorf and surrounding areas. Very nice it was too, and a success on the music front. Thanks to the proprietors of Rainking Records in Dusseldorf and Far Out Records in Duisburg I managed to pick up this little lot for a mere €20 in total:

You will no doubt be hearing from some of them in the weeks to come, but today I don't want to talk about the records I bought but one that I didn't. Tucked away in the €2 vinyl box in the back room of Rainking I found this:

Being the fool that I am - and having been stung more than once before by records whose content doesn't match the great covers - I decided to pass on it. Suffice to say I am regretting that decision. 

Extensive research (i.e. Google) reveals that Framerowie were married couple Zofia and Zbigniew Frankiewicz, they hailed from Łódź and had a successful career during the 1960s and 1970s. This album - and I am not going to try to spell it - came out in 1972.

Unfortunately their career came to a sad ending. According to one of the darker Discogs entries I have read: 

"In 1980 Zofia decided she'd had enough of this life and decided to leave her husband and emigrate to her daughter, who lived in New York. She wanted to start a new life when she was 42 years old. Without luck and fell into poverty and depression. She begin sipping antidepressants and sleeping pills. The heart could not stand and died of a heart attack in 1983".

Let's remember them in happier times.

"Te Jesienne Rozstania" - Framerowie

Friday 2 December 2022

Love And Haiti

Very quick post this morning. In an hour or so I'm off to Dusseldorf for a long weekend. If I can't find some decent music to bring back for you all from there it is probably time for me to hang up my bargain bin boots. 

To tide you over until I return, here are some super sounds from Haiti. Both from the album "RAM III: Kite Yo Pale", originally released in 2001 but reissued last year and available on Bandcamp for a mere $7.

"Marassa Elu" - RAM

"Tout Nasyon" - RAM

Feed RAM some jam and this is what you get.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Gosh And Golly

You can thank/blame (delete as applicable) Rol of My Top Ten fame for this one. 

Yesterday he posted about his top ten bands called The Spinners. In the course of the post he mentioned Latvian trip hop. Now, any phrase that combines a nationality and unlikely musical genre provokes a Pavlovian response in me. So I went off and ate a meringue-based dessert.

One for our Antipodean readers there.

After that I had a look at the Bandcamp site Rol had provided a link to. It has loads of Latvian recordings from the 1990s by an ensemble called Yaputhma Sound System and assorted side projects. 

My eyes were immediately drawn to the album by the sensibly named Gosh & The Brand New Hedgehogs. Here is a track from them, and I've thrown in another gosh for good measure.

"(Silly song about) My Sharona [interpolated]" - Gosh & The Brand New Hedgehogs

"Oh Gosh" - Donovan

Monday 28 November 2022

Monday Mash

I'll be straight with you. This entire post is just a pretext for sharing a video of what may be now my second all-time favourite mash-up. 

I could have just played the video, but I didn't want you thinking I wasn't making an effort. So you'll have to sit through four songs with the word "mash" in the title first. 

Before you ask: no, it's not that Cary Grant; and yes, it is a shame that Earl Sixteen is being a bit of a party pooper with his anti mash-up views but just ignore him (and those contrarians from Melbeat who want you to mash down not up).

"Mish Mash" - Carrie Grant

"Satchmo's Mash Potato" - Girl Satchmo & The Mashers

"Mash Down" - Melbeat

"No Mash Up the Dance" - Earl Sixteen

If you've survived all of that and are still here, here's my second all-time favourite mash-up.

And what is Number One, I hear you ask. This one of course. What else could it be?

Friday 25 November 2022

Rest Easy Mary

It was very sad to hear the news of Wilko Johnson's passing. Some of the folks on the right hand side of the page have already paid tribute to him and I can't improve on what they have said. Instead I am going to honour the memory of someone whose death I was unaware of until I saw her name on the obituary page in the current edition of Uncut. 

Mary McCaslin was an American folksinger whose recording career was mostly in the 1970s and early 1980s but was still active until relatively recently. If you are a fan of Nanci Griffith or Iris Dement you might appreciate her work, and some of you may dimly recall we featured her bluegrass version of "Blackbird" on a Single Song Sunday once. 

Mary died last month of progressive supranuclear palsy. We lost my dear old Dad to that just over two years ago and it is a truly horrible disease. If her experience was anything like his then the last few years of her life will have been pretty awful, so I'm glad she is now at peace.

"The Bramble And The Rose", the album she made with her then husband Jim Ringer, has long been a favourite of mine so we have one track from that as well as a couple of solo numbers.

"Back To Salinas" - Mary McCaslin

"San Bernardino Waltz" - Mary McCaslin

"Copperfields" - Mary McCaslin & Jim Ringer

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Three Turks From Trabzon

After Monday's brush with brash modernity we are crawling back into our comfort zone today.

Üç Hürel (The Three Hürels) were three brothers from the Hürel family who decided to form a band. Having spent ages agonising over what to call it they released their first single in 1970 and went on to be one of the leading Anatolian Rock acts of the 70s.

While they were based in Istanbul by the time they started recording the Hürel brothers were born and raised in Trabzon. I spent a bit of time in Trabzon a few years back en route to Georgia. It is not the most attractive of cities but it has a lot of character and I have some fond memories.

Trabzon was also where I acquired a large chunk of my Turkish music collection including "3 Hur-El", the 1972 debut album by the lads. Here are a couple of tracks from that.

"Ve Ölüm" - Üç Hürel

"Pembelikler" - Üç Hürel

The Hürels weren't the only groups with three brothers making waves back in 1972.

Monday 21 November 2022

Basement Nights

Me and my friend Mister F went to an excellent little gig last week. In the basement of a local pub, three bands for £7.50 including one old favourite and one new discovery who I will definitely go and see again if they are in the area. The sort of night that reminds you of why live music can't be beaten.

The old favourite was Piney Gir, who has featured here on a couple of occasions before. The last time I was due to see her they announced a lockdown on the morning of the show, but there were no hitches this time. Piney and the band were clearly having a blast, as were we.

The new discovery was one of those bands with a vowel disorder, BCOS RSNS. I am sure they have good rsns for dropping the vowels and putting the name in capitals but I didn't ask what it was. I don't know whether the live four-piece line-up is a permanent one - their EP only features two of them - but I hope so because they sounded very good together, with a lot more oomph than on record.

Rounding out - and topping - the bill were Breakup Haircut. They were pretty good as well with a lot of pop-punk energy. All in all, a very good night.

Piney has a new EP out called "Alchemy Hand", and the Haircuts (or possibly the Breakups) recently released their debut album "Punk Dancing For Self Defence". BCOS RSNS only rcrdng to date is an EP released in 2020, but the singer told me they hope to do more soon. 

You can find all these releases, and in Piney's case her extensive back catalogue, at their respective Bandcamp pages. To warm you up, here is one from each of them (streaming only as it is new stuff).

"The Seventh Dial" - Piney Gir

"(First On At) The Buffalo Bar" - BCOS RSNS

"Am I Revolutionary Yet?" - Breakup Haircut

The live music odyssey continues tomorrow when we are off to see Mr Tony Christie sing the songs of old Ireland. No, we really are. I am sure it will be a grand night. Here he is last year with a few of his non-Irish hits.

Saturday 19 November 2022

Single Song Saturday

Before anyone points out it is meant to be Single Song Sunday, this is something different. Rather than a collection of covers of one song, this is just a single cover version. It does, however, qualify as a Mandatory Reggae Version.

A couple of weeks ago Sir Khayem of Dubhed featured Morgan Fisher in one of his customarily excellent mixes and commented that Morgan had "carved a varied and individual musical path". That is somewhat of an understatement, as this slightly out of date biography illustrates.  

Today's selection is not particularly representative of Mr Fisher's work, but then probably nothing is. It comes from an album of covers that he released in 1979 called "Hybrid Kids - A Collection of Classic Mutants" on which each track was attributed to an imaginary act.

I was never brave or foolish enough to buy the album but I did snap up the accompanying single. One side featured "McArthur Park" in the style of Madness under the nom de plume The Burtons; on the other was this masterpiece/ monstrosity (delete according to taste). 

One can only speculate as to why he thought Adge Cutler meets King Tubby was the way to go.   

"Wuthering Heights" - Jah Wurzel

Thursday 17 November 2022

Brazilian Bargains

I have returned to bring you news of a fantastic Bandcamp site that I recently discovered. It is called Hominus Canidae, and once a month the lovely folks behind it issue a compilation of independent Brazilian music and invite you to name your price. 

I picked three compilations at random, one from the top, one from the bottom and one from the middle. I enjoyed them all and there really is something for everyone, whether your tastes run to straightforward samba or 14 minutes of tuneless banging and twanging. 

Hominus Canidae have been issuing these compilations for more than ten years now - the next release will be Volume 150 - so I have a lot of catching up to do. In the meantime, here is a track apiece from each of my three random selections.

"A Chave" - Bárbara Eugênia (Vol. 7)

"Volta" - O Terno (Vol. 76)

"O Sentido É o Olho" - Bel Medula, Luczan (Vol. 146)

Friday 11 November 2022

For Pint And Potter

Birthday greetings I bring from Jah to all raggamuffins.

That's correct, today is the birthday of reggae's own Half Pint. Lindon Andrew Roberts (as his Mum would call him when he was in trouble) is a mere stripling of 61. Here is his signature tune plus another of his many fine moments as a bonus treat.

"Greetings" - Half Pint

"Mr. Landlord" - Half Pint

Today is also my sister Kate's birthday. She has not made any records, to the best of my knowledge, but she has had a song written about her. 

Many happy returns Kate, and Mr Pint too.

I'm off on my travels again this weekend. See you in a week or so.

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Unlimited Company

The time has come for us all to shake off these earthly shackles and live a life without limits.

Well I say that now. I doubt I'll say it when I go on my annual unwanted work trip to Dubai at the weekend as they probably lock you up for that sort of thing over there. 

But, at least until my plane takes off on Sunday, let us enjoy life to the full with these other Unlimited people.

"Daytime Nighttime" - Joy Unlimited

"Let's Change The Subject" - Satisfaction Unlimited

"Africa We Are Going Home" - Time Unlimited

"Chauya Chirizevha" - Thomas Mapfumo & Blacks Unlimited

Monday 7 November 2022

Brothers Sledge

Some groovy vintage sounds from Nigeria for you today courtesy of the extravagantly named Black Children Sledge Funk Group and their 1976 album "Love Is Fair". 

The album has recently been reissued by the nice people at Cinedelic records and is available on their Bandcamp site. Hopefully the sound quality is a bit better than on the possibly dodgy bootleg copy I picked up a while back.

"Feelings I've Got" - Black Children Sledge Funk Group

"Sledge Afro Funk" - Black Children Sledge Funk Group    

Friday 4 November 2022

Mightier Than The Sword

Back in August we did a couple of posts with music from the golden age of Cambodian pop featuring Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea, who were respectively the king and queen of the Khmer scene.

At the time I had intended to do at least one more post featuring other Cambodian artists from the same era but then I got all distracted and forget, as tends to happen with increasing frequency these days. But then yesterday a certain lady popped up in my Shuffle and it all came flooding back.

The lady in question is Pen Ran, who was probably the second biggest female star in Cambodia in the 1960s and early 1970s after Queen Ros. Deservedly so, she made some belting records. 

Here are three of my favourites, with English titles courtesy of Google Translate. The first sets us off at a cracking pace, I'm pretty sure the second is her take on "Well All Right", while for the third she teams up with King Sinn, an organist and a sax player to create a masterpiece.

"ជេរណាស់តាមណាស់ (Very Damn)" - Pen Ran

"ឡាឡាឡាយើងឡើងរាំ (La La La We Dance)" - Pen Ran

"ចិញ្ជៀនត្បូងប្រាំ (Five Gemstone Rings)" - Sinn Sisamouth & Pen Ran 

Wednesday 2 November 2022

A Brucie Bonus

I had an overnight work visit to York on Monday and Tuesday and stayed on to spend a few hours sightseeing and shopping.

It has been a good ten years since I was last in York for anything other than changing trains, and it was good to reacquaint myself with it. It is a fine city and seems to have approximately 17000 pubs. I can't vouch for all of them but if you find yourself in The Maltings I can recommend the blueberry, almond and fig porter. I think a pint counts as two of your five a day.

The charity shops were less appealing though, mainly because of the high prices (and I speak as someone from that there expensive London). All of the ones I visited wanted a minimum of £2 a CD, and one of them was asking £4 or more for the likes of Phil Collins. 

That said, I was very happy with the one CD I did buy, which was Bruce Cockburn's 1979 album "Dancing In The Dragon's Jaws". I used to have a vinyl copy way back when but that has long since gone the way of all flesh, so it was good finally to replace it.  

"Wondering Where The Lions Are" - Bruce Cockburn

"Hills Of Morning" - Bruce Cockburn

Sunday 30 October 2022

Single Song Sunday

I am being harassed by a Portuguese goat and its owner. 

The goat has been bleating about wanting a new edition of Single Song Sunday, while its owner has been badgering me to feature a song that conveys the sentiment - and I quote - "F*** off back to the Dominican Republic disgraced former PM Johnson". This is my attempt to satisfy both requests.

I used to think that Teresa Brewer's 1952 version of "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" was the original but in researching today's feature I discovered that is not the case. It was first recorded a year earlier by little remembered country singer Roy Hogsed. 

Roy's original had different lyrics to those we know and love. It was not a hit, so he recruited songwriter Milton Kellem to help make them more palatable for Middle America. It was that version that Teresa took into the charts.

The most successful version of the song in the US was by Pinky & Perky Patience & Prudence in 1956. In the UK, by contrast, it was Viola Wills' disco version in 1979. Sandwiched between them on our playlist today is the mighty Skeeter Davis. Dig that funky organ.

We round things off with The Lemonheads, a Spanish language version by Gervasio from Uruguay, and of course the Mandatory Reggae Version. Chevelle and Papa San get equal billing on that but Chevelle does about 80% of the work. Papa San is clearly the Johnson of the partnership.

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Roy Hogsed 

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Teresa Brewer

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Patience & Prudence 

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Skeeter Davis

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Viola Wills 

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - The Lemonheads

"Sera Damasiado Tarde" - Gervasio

"Gonna Get Along Without You Now" - Chevelle & Papa San 

Friday 28 October 2022

The Killer Is Gone

Very sorry to hear the sad news that the great Jerry Lee Lewis has left us at the tender age of 87. RIP Killer.

"Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes" - Jerry Lee Lewis

"Breathless" - Jerry Lee Lewis

If you only watch one video this weekend, watch the first one. 


Some of our regular readers may recall that we went on a musical tour of Europe in 2020 to mark the UK's impending departure from the EU.

One of the bands featured on the Polish leg of the tour was Skaldowie, with a track from their 1970 album "Od Wschodu Do Zachodu Słońca". This was their fourth album and according to a review I read the first to show progressive tendencies. Don't get over-excited, prog fans. There are a few but it is mostly good old-fashioned psychedelic pop.

Anyway, I was listening to the album for the first time since then earlier in the week and it is really rather good. So I decided to share a couple more tracks with you lucky people.

"Nadejdziesz Od Strony Mórz" - Skaldowie

"Cisza Krzyczy" - Skaldowie

"Od Wschodu Do Zachodu Słońca" translates as "From Sunrise To Sunset". And when Skaldowie finish for the day, that's when the Commodores clock in.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Ebo Meets Grebo

Like the heading says.

We start with the Ebo - specifically, veteran Ghanaian funkateer Ebo Taylor who is still going strong at 86. Both tracks come from his 2014 album "Abenkwan Puchaa", recorded when he was a mere 78.

"Abenkwan Puchaa" - Ebo Taylor & Bonze Konkoma

"Papa Kwame" - Ebo Taylor & Bonze Konkoma

Now here's the grebo.

Monday 24 October 2022

The Sounds Of Sherwood

Another new album to tell you about today.

I know there are a fair few Adrian Sherwood fans among our regular readers so they may already be familiar with "Adrian Sherwood Presents Dub No Frontiers", on which he teams up with female vocalists from various parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. It has been a long time in the making - I have found references online to its impending release dating back as far as 2011.

If you haven't heard it already head over to Mr Sherwood's Bandcamp page. My favourite tracks include those by Saba Tewelde, from Eritrea but now resident in Germany, and Maria Wenda from West Papua. But they are all good.

Today's selections come from an On-U compilation of an earlier vintage - 25 years ago to be precise. "15 Years In An Open Boat" came out in 1997 and as the name suggests features tracks going way back to 1982. I have handpicked a pair of Little gems for you.

"I Think Of You" - Little Annie

"New Song" - Little Roy

Here is the video for the first single off the new album.

Friday 21 October 2022

Wounded Women

I was listening to the title track of Sandra Wright's "Wounded Woman" album when the news broke yesterday lunchtime that Liz Truss was resigning as Prime Minister. 

I think it was a coincidence, but just in case I had somehow acquired predictive powers I turned the album off before it reached "I Come Running Back" so that her equally execrable predecessor wouldn't hear it.

If you feel the need for some Seventies soul to help soothe the stresses of the poo parade that passes for Westminster politics at the moment, then I would heartily recommend "Wounded Woman". The whole album is a joy from start to finish. 

"Wounded Woman" - Sandra Wright

"I Come Running Back" - Sandra Wright

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Do The Fussell

Last Friday evening I went to our local church, not for the reasons you are meant to go but to see the mighty Jake Xerxes Fussell in concert. Here he is with the band.

I have been a fan of Jake's ever since I first saw him in 2017 when he was touring his second album "What In The Natural World". There was a much bigger crowd this time round, which was good to see. Not a pew was left unfilled.

Among the many pew-fillers were a surprisingly large number of idiots whooping between tunes. I have no idea why. I love him dearly, but Jake isn't a man you whoop for. Even his best mates wouldn't describe him as a showman - not that it matters in the slightest when he starts picking and singing. It was a very good gig.

Jake's fourth album "Good And Green Again" came out earlier this year. You can find it over at his Bandcamp page, along with his entire back catalogue. 

To whet your appetite here is a track apiece from the first three albums - the selt-titled debut from 2015, "What In The Natural World" and then 2019's "Out Of Sight" (which is possibly the pick of the bunch but it is a close run thing). Each tune generated multiple whoops when he played them on Friday.

"Push Boat" - Jake Xerxes Fussell

"Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine?" - Jake Xerxes Fussell

"The River St Johns" - Jake Xerxes Fussell

We'll pause briefly now so gentlemen of a certain age can wipe the mist from their eyes off their glasses in order to see the video clearly. 

Ready? All together now, Do The Fussell!

Monday 17 October 2022

Another Macedonian Monday

Before we get to the business of the day, a brief cultural update for you. The Polymath Gina Birch (The Raincoats, artist, filmmaker etc etc) has a new exhibition on at Gallery 46 in London. I popped along for the opening afternoon on Saturday and was privileged to get a guided tour from Gina herself. As a fanboy of longstanding, I swooned.

Now I don't know much about art but I know what I like, and I like this a lot. Some works relate to Gina's early days in The Raincoats, including a room recreating their old squat and this painting called "Knitting Before Soundcheck". The exhibition runs until 3 November, and I recommend a visit if you are in the area, or even if you're not. 

Now on to the main business of the day. In the last of our short series on Macedonian music we feature a couple of albums I spent some scouring Skopje for unsuccessfully only to discover I could get them for next to nothing at home. As can you.

When preparing for these work trips to exotic locations I try to do a bit of research into local acts that sound like they might be worth checking out and then take a list with me when visiting the record shops. 

While doing this for Macedonia I came across a number of references to the two "Makedonski Dokument" compilation albums from 1994 and 1995 which brigaded together the best of the Macedonian underground from the early 1980s onwards.

I searched high and low for them there with no luck. It was only when I returned home that I discovered they were reissued in 2015 and are now available on the Bandcamp site of the Skopje-based Trot label on a very generous "name your own price" offer. 

You can click here for links to Volume 1 and Volume 2, and below for a track from each. The rumour is that the Xavier Acid track recounts the tale of a visit to the Balkans by our very own Walter (no doubt enjoying one of the good times in his life). 

"Istata Sostojba" - Padot na Vizantija

"Walter Go Brani Sarajevo" - Xavier Acid

For the video we are going back to Gina and her old pals (although you don't get to see a great deal of Gina herself). 

Friday 14 October 2022

A Bonny Bunch Of Folk

Take one word from each these song titles...

"The Bonny Earl of Moray" - The Ian Campbell Folk Group

"Hallucinating Light" - Roy Harper

"Fine Horseman" - Lal & Mike Waterson

And what do you get? Why, "Earl Hallucinating Fine" of course. Or this...

"The Bonny Light Horseman" - Planxty

All of which is a convoluted way of saying that I have my copy of "Rolling Golden Holy", the second album by Bonny Light Horseman. It came out last week and is available from Bandcamp and many other places.

I have also booked my tickets to see them in London when they are over in February next year. It is part of a UK mini-tour - the other gigs are in Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. 

I have listened to "Rolling Golden Holy" a couple of times now. I liked it the first time, I liked the more the second time, and I daresay I will like it even more when I next listen to it. It is a worthy successor to their self-titled debut album (which if you haven't heard by now you really should).

Favourite tracks so far include "Exile", "Summer Dream" and this one... 

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Bobby Dazzler

We've not had any soul music on here for a while. It's time to put that right, and how better to do so than with the great Bobby Womack.

I recently picked up a copy of a compilation called "It's Party Time". It consists of two of his albums from the mid/late 1970s, "Home Is Where The Heart Is" (1976) and "Pieces" (1978), minus one track from "Home". I've already got both albums in download form, but decided it was worth paying the princely sum of £1 to have a physical copy.

"Home Is Where The Heart Is" is a great record. "Pieces" is a little patchy but it is still Bobby and he could weave gold from straw. Here is a track from each album.

"Home Is Where The Heart Is" - Bobby Womack

"When Love Begins Friendship Ends" - Bobby Womack

Ten years ago next month I was lucky enough to see Bobby play live in London. The first set was a run through his recently released "Bravest Man In The Universe" album with the likes of that Damon from Blur. 

That was pretty good, but for the second set he brought out his own band and they did the proper show. We were completely blown away - as you will be when you watch this 15 minute extract from that gig. Apologies for the slightly ropey quality. 

You would never have known that night that Bobby was in remission from cancer and showing early signs of Alzheimers. Sadly he was taken from us just 18 months later. 

Continue to RIP Mr Womack. And RIP Angela Lansbury too.

Monday 10 October 2022

Macedonian Monday

It's just a Macedonian Monday. Dum de dum Sunday. Something about a fun day. Another Macedonian Monday. And so on.

Yes, that's right. Today we are featuring another one of the CDs I picked up on my recent visit to Skopje. It is something a bit different from our normal fare, let's see what you make of it. 

When I asked my local contacts which traditional musicians to check out a number of them mentioned Esma Redžepova, also known as the Queen of the Gypsies. Once voted one of the 50 great voices of the world, she was quite a woman - as you will gather if you read her Wikipedia entry. 

Esma made a fair few records over the course of her 55 year recording career which ended only with her death in 2016. I chose this one mainly because of this striking cover but also because it contained two albums for the equivalent of about £3, Under the photo you'll find one track from each.

"Odzačar, Odzačar" - Esma Redžepova

"Bojate Bane Buski" - Esma Redžepova

I was surprised to discover that Esma was involved in a minor Eurovision controversy later in her career. In 2013 the Macedonians recruited her to the cause and teamed her up with a slip of a lad called Lozano. The song they were originally going to perform had to be replaced as it was blatantly pushing the agenda of the very nationalist government of the time and the Skopje 2014 project I mentioned in an earlier post.

We will never know how the original would have fared, but with the replacement tune they battled their way to a plucky 16th out of 17 in the second semi-final. See if you can work out from the videos which song is which.

Friday 7 October 2022

The Sounds Of Sekondi

Some fine funky tunes from Ghana for you to see out the week, courtesy of a proud son of the twin cities of Sekondi-Takoradi - the great Gyedu-Blay Ambolley.

Both of today's selections come from an album on the Essiebons label titled "The Simigwahene", which is a reissue of his 1975 album "Simigwa" with some bonus tracks. Slightly confusingly, one of the bonus tracks is "The Simigwa" which wasn't on the original album of the same name. I don't know why.

Mr Ambolley is still going strong and has a brand new album coming out today. It is called "Gyedu​-​Blay Ambolley and Hi​-​Life Jazz" and you can pick it up from his Bandcamp site. 

"The Simigwa" - Gyedu-Blay Ambolley

"The Hustling World" - Gyedu-Blay Ambolley

Here's the Great Man live back in 2019, sounding as gravelly and groovy as ever.   

Wednesday 5 October 2022

From Dundee To The Great Beyond

This post comes in two parts, one happy and one sad.

The first, happy part commemorates George's recent triumphant return to Dundee after an absence of ten years. To mark the event here are a couple of tunes from his fellow Dundonians Spare Snare. I doubt he would have seen them while he was visiting as I don't think they have left their bedrooms since 1995.

Both today's tracks come from their 1998 album "Animals And Me", which is currently available to download for a bargain £3 on Bandcamp (as are many of their other albums).

"We Are The Snare" - Spare Snare

"I Feel The Sun, And It's Mine" - Spare Snare 

On to the sad part. Loretta Lynn left us yesterday at the tender age of 90 and will be sorely missed. She really was a force of nature. RIP Ms Lynn.

There is a connection of sorts between the two events, in that when I first saw the title of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City" I assumed it told the tale of her own visit to Dundee. Turned out I was wrong.

Monday 3 October 2022

Bread And Salt

Today I come bearing the first fruits of my visit to the Jugoton record shop in Skopje. If you are in town I would recommend a visit. You can find it on the third level of the GTC Shopping Centre which is a couple of minutes walk from Macedonia Square. Just look for something like this:

While I was in Macedonia many of the locals I spoke to told me that Leb i Sol (Bread and Salt) were the best band they ever had, so when I found a copy of their "Greatest Hits Collection 1978-89" I had to snap it up.

This compilation is tilted more towards their late 1980s period which is a shame because their music became progressively less interesting over time - and progressively less prog as well. 

Their first three albums from 1978-79 are described by the ProgArchives reviewer as "largely instrumental Macedonian ethno-jazz-fusion". By the late 1980s they were a bog-standard AOR outfit, at least judging by the tracks on this compilation.

Here is one track from their self-titled debut album and one from 1984's "Tangenta", which was produced by that notorious Macedonian maverick, the Skopje Svengali himself, Kevin Ayers.

"Devetka" - Leb i Sol

"Tako Blizu" - Leb i Sol

Friday 30 September 2022

Do You Like Seoul Music?

Join me now on a journey through space and time. We are going back to South Kora in 1974, where a singer called Kim Jiyeon teamed up with a band called The Revival Cross to make an album. But when they handed it over to the record company the executives were evidently so alarmed by the weird and uncommercial nature of the music that they refused to release it.  

The album in question was "Losing My Mind" and it was finally released in 2018 by Korean reissue label Beatball Music. You can find it on their Bandcamp site along with many other intriguing releases that I plan to explore when I get the time. 

Listening to the album now it is hard to see why the old executives got so agitated. It is mildly funky in some  places and mildly psychedelic in others, but its not exactly avant garde. The selling point is Kim Jiyeon's great vocals, as showcased on today's selections.

"내 마음 흔들려 (Losing My Mind)" - Kim Jiyoen & The Revival Cross

"밤 12시 (12 O'Clock At Night)" - Kim Jiyoen & The Revival Cross

Speaking of losing your mind... 

Wednesday 28 September 2022

My Kind Of Town

I got back from my little jaunt to North Macedonia on Monday night with a small selection of local CDs in tow. I have not had a chance to listen to them yet but you can be sure that some of them will be featuring here in the near future.

The reason for my visit was to perform at a conference on the banks of the beautiful Lake Ohrid, which is down in the south bordering Albania. I then spent a long weekend in the capital, Skopje. I was last there back in 2007 and there have been quite a lot of changes since.

Visually Skopje is one of the most weird and wonderful places I have been. Large parts of the city were flattened by an earthquake in 1963 and over the next 20 years it was redeveloped by a group of brutalist architects from Japan and all parts of Yugoslavia. So the city is awash with decaying concrete structures from the 1970s and 1980s.

Fast forward to the early 2010s and the Government of the day decided that in order to make Skopje a greater source of national pride they should erect a load of large buildings that were meant to look like they were built in the 1800s. Some do, but mostly they look like the modern knock-offs they are. Many of them are completely over the top, and they don't exactly fit seamlessly next to the brutalist bits.  

Then to top it all off they liberally sprinkled new statues in every park and square, on every street corner and on some of the new buildings that are pretending to be old buildings. They even went and built two new footbridges just to put more statues on. The whole place is mad but I loved it.

Here are a few holiday snaps of monstrous carbuncles for you - in order, the university, the central post office and the opera house - followed by a musical selection loosely inspired by the Skopje skyline.

"The Brutal Here And Now, Part 1" - The Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock

"Concrete Reservation" - Syl Johnson

"Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect" - The Decemberists

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Double Durs

If I were to say to you "Dur Dur" would you think of the leading Somali funk band of the 1980s or the opening bars of the Pink Panther theme tune? If the former then you are in luck, as here are a couple of sizzlers from Somalia. 

The first is from an album released by Analog Africa titled "Volume 1" - you can find that combined with Volume 2 plus some bonus tracks on their Bandcamp page. 

The second is from "Rafaad iyo Raaxo", which was first released in 1986. I can't remember how or when I got hold of it and it doesn't seem to be readily available, but someone has uploaded the full album on YouTube. Apologies for the slightly ropey sound quality, I'm not sure whether that is the fault of my copy or the original.

"Yabaal" - Dur-Dur Band

"Muraadka Waa Helee" - Dur-Dur Band

And here is something for the rest of you.

I'm heading off in a few hours to the Republic of North Macedonia (as absolutely nobody calls it) - a couple of days work then a long weekend of fun. Hopefully I'll have better luck finding music than in Romania and Bulgaria. 

See you in a week or so. Until then, take it away King Ferus...

Monday 19 September 2022

Strapping Lads

On Saturday I visited the Bishops Stortford branch of the Goggins family. While there I popped into Ecco, a shop supporting a local environmental conservation charity that always has something interesting in stock. I popped out again shortly after, having nabbed three CDs for the grand total of 50p.

Among those three was "Here We Go", a 1997 CD single by those boys in the Arab Strap. The B-side clocks in at just over 12 minutes, making it a perfect fit for a new and entirely original spot that I'm calling Monday's Lengthy Listen.

"Trippy" - Arab Strap

Today's videos are the answers to the little Austrian cover versions quiz I set you on Friday. Congratulations to George for correctly identifying them all. The Zappa track comes with a health warning.

Friday 16 September 2022

Österreich Eggs

Knowing my interest in pop from around the world, the landlord of my local recently lent me Volumes 1 and 4 of a series called "Weltberühmt In Österreich: 50 Jahre Austropop". He normally has decent taste so I can only assume they were an unwanted gift.

The CDs came out in 2006 which means that according to the title there should be songs going back as far as the mid-50s. On Volumes 1 and 4 almost everything was from the 80s and 90s. There were three songs from the 70s but nothing before that. Maybe all the really old stuff is on Volumes 2 and 3. 

Maybe all the good stuff is on there as well because these two volumes are pretty dreadful apart from Falco and a couple of others you might know. Rather than subject you to anything that purports to be original here are three cover versions that were included. 

The first is a schlagered-up standard, the second is somewhat surprising and the third utterly inexplicable. There will be a prize of sorts for the first person to identify all three. 

"Gö, Du Bleibst Heut Nacht Bei Mir" - S.T.S.

"Meier" - Heli Deinboek

"Berti Braun" - Ostbahn-Kurti & Die Chefpartie

Here are a couple of original Austrian hits featured on the volumes that I endured. Well I say original, the tune for Peter Cornelius's verses is clearly a slowed down version of "Heroes and Villians". Minisex were a relative highlight.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Mr Stewart Stops By

It has been a while since we have had a visit from the late great Gary Stewart, one of my all-time favourite singers. When it came to putting tears in your beer he's up there with George Jones and Merle Haggard, and he could put a fire in your belly too when he was in the mood. 

Here he is with a song about love gone bad, one about good love in hard times for balance, and then one more about love gone bad. Call it a bad love sandwich. 

"Ten Years Of This" - Gary Stewart

"Shady Streets" - Gary Stewart

Monday 12 September 2022

Kingly Character

This time last week King Khayem of Dubhed shared an excellent home-made Sahel Sounds selection that featured King Ayisoba of Karaga in Ghana. It's obviously a King Thing.

Anyway, I was so enthused by discovering that others also admire King Ayisoba that I committed then and there to featuring a couple of tracks from his fabulous 2017 album "1000 Can Die" - still readily available on Bandcamp

And here they are, with a wide array of guest stars including luminaries such as M3nsa, Steven Anaho and some obscure newcomer called Perry.

"1000 Can Die (feat. M3nsa & Lee "Scratch" Perry)" - King Ayisoba

"Anka Yen Tu Kwai (feat. Atinbila & Steven Anaho)" - King Ayisoba

Saturday 10 September 2022

Not Big In Bucharest

I set off to Romania on Tuesday hoping for more success in hunting down decent local music than I had when on holiday in neighbouring Bulgaria recently. Instead I had even less and have come back completely empty-handed.

I managed to track down two record shops during my morning off in Bucharest, although the first turned out to consist of a couple of racks of overpriced vinyl in the corner of a hipster coffee bar. 

The other one was a proper record shop that displayed its entire stock under the category "pop/rock international". I checked through it all anyway just in case a few Romanian albums had snuck in somehow, but they hadn't.

When I asked about local music I was directed to a cupboard at the back of the store that contained their complete Romanian collection. A grand total of 11 CDs most of which, judging by the covers, contained either divas or drinking songs. Possibly both.

There was one interesting looking CD but they wanted £20 for it, and when I saw it was on the Strut label I knew it would be readily available for a much lower price on Bandcamp. And so it proved. 

The album in question is "Lost Tapes", a 2013 collection of previously unreleased 1980s electronic music by one Rodion G.A. which defies my descriptive powers. You can find out more about him and pick up a copy via the Strut Bandcamp page.

Joining Rodion G.A. today are our old friends Phoenix (or Transylvanian Phoenix as they are called in some territories). I featured a track from their 1974 album "Mugur de Fluier" on the Romanian leg of our European tour a couple of years ago, and here is another one from the same LP.

"Caravane" - Rodion G.A.

"Pavel Chinezu, Leat 1479" - Phoenix

Monday 5 September 2022

Big In Barranquilla

A real treat for you today - Elia y Elizabeth, sisters from Barranquilla in Colombia who made a couple of great albums in 1972 and 1973 with ace producer Jimmy Salcedo and then stopped recording to return to their studies. I love their sound, which mixes a bit of Latin and a bit of ye-ye with a mild sprinkling of psychedelia. 

The good folks at the Vampisoul label reissued both albums a few years back along with a compilation called "La Onda de Elia y Elizabeth" which is what I bought. All the albums are still available on Bandcamp, and the compilation in particular is an absolute snip at €9 to download.

"Descripción" - Elia y Elizabeth

"Pesadilla" - Elia y Elizabeth

I spent a night in Barranquilla back in the mid 1990s when my plane from Houston to Costa Rica was rerouted there because of fog. Apart from the airport, a B&B and the bar next door I didn't see much of the place so can't say whether it is worth a longer visit. As well as Elia y Elizabeth other musical locals include Shakira and the man they call El Rey de la Guaracha, Anibal Velásquez.

Speaking of foreign travel, I'm off to Romania tomorrow for a few days. Its a work trip but if all goes well I will have a few hours spare to scour Bucharest for sonic splendour. I'll be back at the end of the week, but until then here's Craiova's very own Gil Dobrica with a tune you might recognise.

Friday 2 September 2022

Cup Half Full

This was meant to be a tale of two gigs - and not just any old gigs either - but turned into a tale of one. Still, better than none.

On Tuesday we were due to see the Abyssinians but on the morning of the show it got postponed for what is now the fifth time. Previously the reasons were lockdown, lockdown, international travel restrictions and the Home Office not getting their visas sorted in time (something that is happening to quite a lot of African and Caribbean artists - Black Uhuru recently had to cancel their UK gigs for the same reason). 

On this occasion the Abyssinians actually managed to get to London but then one of them came down with Covid. Let's hope it isn't severe and he recovers quickly. And fingers crossed it will be sixth time lucky.

Much better luck last night when my pal Mr Perfect (his real name) and I went to see the great Johnny Clarke at the Fox & Firkin public house in Lewisham. I've not been there before but will definitely be going back, its a nice little venue.

Mr Clarke was in excellent voice and was well backed by the Dub Asante band. Rather than attempt to describe the gig further I will just refer you to the video below which contains an entire concert by the same combination from 2019. Before you get there, though, here are two of the many highlights of last night's set.

"Move Outta Babylon" - Johnny Clarke

"Rock With Me Baby" - Johnny Clarke

Wednesday 31 August 2022

Cambodia Comes Back

After the Phnom-Penh-omenal (did you see what I did there?) response to the Ros Sereysothea track in my previous post I thought you lovely people deserved another one. You are also getting a song from her male equivalent, the King of Khmer Music himself - Mr Sinn Sisamouth. 

Sadly both of them "disappeared" during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the mid 1970s, along with nearly two million others.

On a happier note, doing this follow up post means I can play the other 1980s hit with Cambodia in the title. Dead Kennedys vs Kim Wilde, that's a heavyweight battle to rival Nirvana I vs Nirvana 2.

"ទៅ Surprise ម្តង (Tow Surprise Mtong)" - Ros Sereysothea

"Dance a Go Go" - Sinn Sisamouth

Monday 29 August 2022

A Mild Fever

On paper, Dengue Fever and what the blurb on their website calls their "trademark blend of sixties Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock" should be right up my street. However, when I listened to them back in the mid 2000s when the critical acclaim started they didn't really do much for me.

I found their 2008 album "Venus on Earth" going for 50p in a local charity shop recently and decided it was time for a reappraisal. Having listened to the album a couple of times I am still not convinced. It isn't a bad record, but compared to the original Sixties Cambodian pop it is just a bit timid and restrained.

Here is perhaps the wildest track on the album, alongside one by the Queen of the Cambodian scene Ros Sereysothea so you can compare them for yourselves.

"Laugh Track" - Dengue Fever

"Old Pot Still Cooks Good Rice" - Ros Sereysothea

Friday 26 August 2022

Apologies All Round

According to Elton John, sorry seems to be the hardest word. I think that tells you a lot more about Mr. John than it does about the act of apologizing. Plenty of other musicians from all over the world seem to manage it, even those arrogant enough to refer to themselves in the third person.

"I'm Sorry" - Esther Phillips

"I'm Sorry" - The Steelers

"I'm So Sorry" - Carroll Thompson

"I Am Very Sorry" - Kamai Ahmed (featuring Noor Jehan)

"Very Sorry" - Elijah Madzikatire & Ocean City Band

"Keith Sykes Is Sorry" - Keith Sykes

Apologies are due from me as well. The service has been a bit irregular round here recently and is likely to continue that way for at least the couple of weeks - there's lots going on in the real world, both work and pleasure.

NEWS FLASH. Stung by the discovery that even raging egomaniacs like Keith Sykes and Ernie Goggins can say sorry, Elton John has decided to give it a go himself. Over to you Elton... 

Still some way to go. Watch and learn, Elton, watch and learn.