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Friday 29 April 2022

Whitney K-Mart

Those of you who read Uncut may have seen the short article about Whitney K in the latest edition. A track from his new record "Hard To Be A God" is also included on the cover CD.

If that piqued your interest in Mr K then you will want to know that, in an act of astonishing generosity, he is currently making his entire back catalogue up to and including last year's "Two Years" album available on Bandcamp for a mere 11 Canadian dollars. Yes, that's "11 (eleven)", as they put it on the football results when an unfeasibly large number of goals have been scored.

The back catalogue comprises three studio/ home recorded albums, one live album and assorted mini-albums and singles. Its not all gold by any means, but there is enough of the glittery stuff to make this a big old bargain. I have snapped it up, and here to prove it is a track each from "Mixtape" (2015) and "When The Party's Over" (2017).

"Some Fella" - Whitney K

"The Weekend" - Whitney K

To round things off for the week (and the month) here's another Whitney and another Mr K. We'll dedicate the first video to Mrs K (no relation) who had a special day yesterday and whose young man included another version of the same song in a mixtape of his own for her. 

Wednesday 27 April 2022

The Georgetown Groove

I am in the early stages of planning a musical tour of South America as a belated follow up to the tour of the EU we did in 2020. It will be a while yet because there are quite a few gaps to fill first. While I have loads of options to choose from for countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Peru the opposite is true for the likes of Paraguay and Surinam.

Research has started, though, which is how I discovered a truly fantastic Guyanese album that is too good to hold back and more than deserving of a post of its own. 

It is called "Fighting For Survival" and it was released in 1981 by the Yoruba Singers, a Guyanese band that formed in 1971 and are still going strong. The blurb describes their sound as "a heavy mix of calypso, jazzy funk, reggae and afrobeat", which sounds right to me. You can pick up a digital copy of the album on Bandcamp for the scandalously cheap sum of $7, and I strongly encourage you to do so. 

Here are a couple of tracks to whet your appetite, although any two of the others would have done the trick just as well.

"Frustration" - Yoruba Singers

"Me, Selwyn and Buddy Clyde" - Yoruba Singers

And here are the lads (and lass) in 2014. 

A sad story. If only the long grass hadn't gone blabbing its mouth off things might have turned out very differently. Its no better than that whispering grass.

Monday 25 April 2022

Satisfaction Guaranteed

On Friday we featured tracks from a couple of Mike Brooks albums that were reissued by Burning Sounds a few years ago. Mike was one of a number of less well known reggae performers from the 1970s and 1980s included in that series of reissues. One of the others was Well Pleased And Satisfied - essentially a gentleman called Jerry Baxter backed by the Revolutionaries.

I had never heard of Well Pleased And Satisfied (or WPS as I'm going to call them to save on typing) until I picked up a copy of the excellent "Can't Stop The Dread" compilation on the Doctor Bird label recently. That includes some 12" remixes of WPS singles, which I enjoyed so much I decided to track down more of their stuff. I'm glad I did.

The reissue includes two WPS albums on one CD, "Give Thanks & Praise" (1978) and "Love Train" (1979). Together they left me feeling both WP and S, which is all you can ask for really. Here is one track from each album.

"Chat Chat" - Well Pleased And Satisfied

"West Man Rock" - Well Pleased And Satisfied

The "Love Train" of the second album is nothing to do with the O'Jays hit of the same name, but the level of S provided is worthy of their Philly friends Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes.

Friday 22 April 2022

The Good Brooks

Mike Brooks is one of those reggae stalwarts who are highly respected by the fans but whose name mean little or nothing to the wider public. He has been active as a singer, producer and occasional label owner since the early 1970s, first in Jamaica and latterly in the UK.

Mike is still going strong. His latest single, "I'm A Superstar", came out a couple of months ago and he is sounding as good as ever. The new single does not seem to be on Bandcamp but plenty of his other recordings are including "Mother Earth" which came out last year. 

Back in 2017 the Burning Sounds label reissued what are probably Mike's two best known albums in the old 'two albums on one CD' format - "What A Gathering" (1976) and "One Love" (1983). It is worth tracking down if you can. Here is a track from each to whet your appetite.

"What A Gathering" - Mike Brooks

"Lovers Street" - Mike Brooks

Ten years ago Mike released a single addressed to the UK's then Prime Minister. That one was pretty dreadful and we have an even worse one now, meaning sadly that Mike's message is even more relevant now.

Wednesday 20 April 2022

In The Land Of Grey And Skink

On Monday we promised you a guest post by George and here he is, with his unique take on current affairs.

No tales of goats today, but instead, reptiles and amphibians. The latest cat to join our ranks, and the smallest, lives at the farm. She is not very big, so she only catches very small creatures, such as butterflies and grasshoppers. And what I initially thought were very small snakes. But on rescuing them, I noticed feet on them.  

So not snakes, but skinks, and the species native to these parts is Chalcides bedriagai, commonly known as Bedriaga's skink.  They are only found in Iberia, and hardly at all in northern Spain. And hardly at all in and around our farm (nowhere near northern Spain)

Told you it looks like a snake. And having wanted to shoehorn skink into these pages I then set about looking for relevant music. There’s a band called The Skinks. They sound a bit like Iron Maiden meets The Sweet, and not in a good way. And there is  a song called Skink Song. I bought the album, "Far And Familiar", by Colamo.

"Skink Song" - Colamo

And I would not want to waste the opportunity to give you a relevant prog track, and joy of joy King Crimson provide that, referencing a shingleback skink in the track "Neurotica":

"Neurotica" - King Crimson

The shingleback has a blue tongue. It is found in Australia.

And back to Iberia, and the accordionist Pascuala Ilabaca, from Girona. I have no idea if she has an interest in skinks, but I have an interest in her. That sounds a bit pervy. What I mean is she performing at the nearby World Music Festival in July, and if the song below is anything to by, this could be a very good thing:


What about the amphibians mentioned at the top? After a few days of much needed rain here a couple of weeks ago, it seemed to stir the local amphibians into action. On consecutive days my partner found a toad and then a frog swimming about in one of our wells. 

I was not unduly concerned about there being frog or toad pee in the water (we don’t drink the water) but nevertheless the hoppers were scooped out and relocated to the bottom of the farm. Look, it could have been worse, we could have flown them to Rwanda.

And why the Bedriaga’s skink? It is named after the famous Russian herpetologist Jacques von Bedriaga (not a very Russian-sounding name, is it?)

And there it ends. I'm still puzzling over why George mentions that these skinks aren't common in Northern Spain when he doesn't live in Northern Spain. And is the whole thing meant to be an elaborate allegory about Russians being where they shouldn't be? 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. What passes for normal service round here will resume on Friday.

Monday 18 April 2022

And The Winner Is...

On Friday I set you a little quiz, asking you to identify the link between Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and Clint Eastwood's "I Talk To The Trees". The correct answer was "Paint Your Wagon", as it is the name of both the film in which Clint sings and the Lorries' second album.   

The stalwart George was the only person to enter the quiz and he didn't know the answer, but he went to the effort of finding a couple of other fairly tortuous links so he's getting the prize anyway. The prize is getting a post dedicated to him, and this is it.

When I contacted George to tell him the good news I took the liberty of asking whether he would be willing to grace these pages with one of his distinctive guest posts. I'm delighted to say he has agreed to do so just as soon as the burdensome task of goat herding allows. Its a tough and sometimes lonely life.

By extraordinary coincidence, today music selections start with a tale of a man called George and his goat. The second song title is the English equivalent of Duque das Cabras, which is how the awestruck Portuguese villagers refer to our George, while the video tells the absolutely true story of how he met his other half.

"My Little Goat And Me" - George Formby

"Goatlord" - Goat  

Friday 15 April 2022

Keep On Truckin'

Leeds in the late 1970s and early 1980s was a hotbed of post-punk and gothic rock. Well we call it that now. At the time my late grandmother called it a dreadful racket, because there were no proper tunes and it was all just bang, bang, bang.  

One of the many bands to emerge from the fetid swamps of the Leeds scene were Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, who had a string of hits on the NME indie charts between 1982 and 1989. I can't claim to have been one of their most devoted fans but they had their moments. Here are two of them.

"Walking On Your Hands" - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

"Hollow Eyes" - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

Special prize for the first person to identify the link to the video.

In unrelated news, earlier in the week we went to the delayed launch party for Bas Jan's "Baby U Know" album, which I have raved about here before. It was an excellent show and if you get the chance to see them I would recommend it. And you should buy the album of course.


Happy Easter, folks. Go easy on the eggs.

Wednesday 13 April 2022

The Franco 5

We were in Poland on Monday, but we have traveled in a south-westerly direction to Italy - specifically Naples, where we find two men called Francesco, or Franco for short. Although both of them are locals they have surnames that suggest they are from elsewhere in Italy, Romano and Calabrese. It is most confusing.

Back in the mid 1960s they decided to form a singing duo by the name of Franco IV e Franco I. I don't know which Franco was which or what happened to Francos II and III, if they ever existed. Again, it is most confusing.

Anyway they had a big hit in 1968 with "Ho Scritto T'Amo Sulla Sabbia" ("I Wrote I Love You In The Sand"), after which they made a few more records before Franco R gave it all up to study the science of radiation protection. Here are two of the few more, both from 1970.

"Appuntamento Ore 9" - Franco IV e Franco I

"Oggi è Nato Il Redentor" - Franco IV e Franco I

And with that it is time to say goodnight to Napoli.

Monday 11 April 2022

With Love From Łódź

What better way to start the week that with a funky 1970s Polish radio orchestra. That's a rhetorical question, so don't bother writing in asking for something else because you won't get it.

A couple of years ago some bright spark decided to have a rummage around in the Polish Radio archives in Łódź, where they rediscovered the forgotten works of Henryk Debich and the Orkiestra Polskiego Radia i TV w Łodzi. Wowed by what they heard they have started to share it with a grateful world.

The series of reissues started with "City 1978", a compilation of Henryk and the gang's recordings from that year. Some are proper funky, others are more in the smooth style of Barry White - what you might perhaps call the Łódź Unlimited Orchestra. Here are a couple from their funkier side.

"Z Pustego w Próżne" - Henryk Debich & Orkiestra Polskiego Radia i TV w Łodzi

"Obsydian" - Henryk Debich & Orkiestra Polskiego Radia i TV w Łodzi

On the subject of Barry White and Love Unlimited Orchestra...  

Friday 8 April 2022

Furry Friday

The Psychedelic Furs' self-titled debut album came out 42 years ago last month. I loved it then and I love it now.  

Sometimes that is all there is to say. Have a good weekend.

"Pulse" - The Psychedelic Furs

"We Love You" -  The Psychedelic Furs

Wednesday 6 April 2022

An Afternoon With Josephine

Last Sunday afternoon I went to see Josephine Foster at hipster hangout Cafe Oto in Dalston. The concert started at 2.30pm and very civilized it was too - have a nice cup of coffee, stroke my imaginary beard while listening to some pleasant sounds and be home in plenty of time for tea.

Josephine has a voice that is probably best described as distinctive. It took me a long time to acquire the taste, and I still have the odd twinge of buyers' remorse when she is at her warbliest, but in the right setting it can be a thing of beauty.

Here is the title track from 2012's "Blood Rushing" - one of the highlight's of Sunday's set - and a track from 2018's "Faithful Fairy Harmony". Both of those albums and many more are available from her Bandcamp site.

"Blood Rushing" - Josephine Foster

"Challenger" - Josephine Foster

Monday 4 April 2022

Mighty Diamonds RIP

We lost two members of the Mighty Diamonds last week. Lead singer Donald 'Tabby' Shaw was killed in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday, and then on Friday Fitzroy 'Bunny' Simpson lost a long battle with diabetes. This leaves Lloyd 'Judge' Ferguson as the only surviving member, and all of a sudden one of the great vocal trios is reduced down to one. 

My introduction to the Mighty Diamonds was their sublime version of The Stylistics' "Country Living", which remains one of my all time favourite summer sounds. Here it is with a couple of other tracks that are sadly all too appropriate. RIP Mr Shaw. RIP Mr Simpson.

"Country Living" - Mighty Diamonds

"Why Me Black Brother Why?" - Mighty Diamonds

"Babylon Is Dangerous" - Mighty Diamonds

Inexplicably there are virtually no clips of Mighty Diamonds on YouTube, but I did manage to find this live set from 2018.

Friday 1 April 2022

A Bit Of Africa In Antwerp

Next up from the bargain bins of Belgium is "The King Is Among Us", the 2003 album by Belgian Afrobeat Association.

Apart from the limited information on the CD itself I have been able to find out very little about them. They are/were based in Antwerp, there are/were over 20 of them plus a guest piccolo player, and this appears to be the only album of which the Internet is aware. It's not bad, if a bit jazzy at times, and I imagine they are/were a decent live act.

"Babalu Aye" -  Belgian Afrobeat Association

"Afroporn" -  Belgian Afrobeat Association

Also based in Belgium are the predominantly Tuareg group Kel Assouf. I was lucky enough to see them live six years ago while on a work trip to Brussels and they were excellent. So here's something from that very gig to take you into the weekend.