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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