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Monday 30 January 2023

Haines 57

Regular readers may dimly recall me raving about an art exhibition by Gina Birch a few months back. That was held at Gallery 46 in London's swinging Whitechapel, and on Saturday just gone I went down there again for an exhibition by Luke Haines (ex Auteurs, Black Box Recorder etc). It runs until 5 February and it is worth popping in if you are in the area.

If you are familiar with his lyrics you won't be surprised to hear that his art is also heavily influences by pop culture of the 1970s and 1980s. The exhibition is called 'It's A Royal Knockout' and features the likes of Brian Jacks of Superstars fame and Dennis Waterman dressed as Les Gray from Mud. 

Here are a couple of the pieces on display. The first one features Ulrike Mienhof, the second Rod Hull and Eno (top punning there by Mr Haines). I have shared a few more over on Flickr if you are interested, including a good one of Geoff Capes. It includes a rude word so I didn't display it here in case anyone is reading this before the watershed.

The pictures are followed by a track apiece from his two best known bands, followed by one from "All The Kids Are Super Bummed Out", his new album with Peter Buck which came out late last year.

"Show Girl" - The Auteurs

"I Ran All The Way Home" - Black Box Recorder

"Waiting For The UFOs" - Luke Haines & Peter Buck

When I visited on Saturday I was the only person there apart from the curator, who turned out to be famed promoter and former Subway Sect and JoBoxers drummer Sean McLusky. Inspired by our surroundings we shared a trip down Memory Lane, visiting Mick McManus, 'Logan's Run' and all points in between. Here is Sean with his mates back in the day.

Friday 27 January 2023

Tunji Jumping

In the unlikely event that any of you haven't spent all your Bandcamp Xmas vouchers yet you could do worse than pop over to the Soundway Records page and pick up a copy of "A Nigerian Retrospective 1966-79" by Tunji Oyelana. At just £8 for 24 tracks it is an absolute steal.

Tunji has had an interesting life and is still going strong at the tender age of 83. As well as making a lot of excellent music with his band The Benders he has also been a university lecturer and an actor, in which capacity he regularly worked with Wole Soyinka. The two of them wrote a musical called "I Love My Country" sending up the Nigerian political elite, which eventually led to them both being forced into political exile in the 1990s. 

Tunji settled in the UK and until fairly recently could be heard regularly strutting his stuff at his wife's restaurant in Camberwell - as featured in this short documentary made by his family and friends to mark his 80th birthday in 2019.

I've cut out the middle, man, and gone with the first and last tracks on the compilation. "Which Way Africa" is a magnificent piece of polemic. Unfortunately it seems that neither Africa nor anyone else was writing down the directions.

"Ojo" - Tunji Oyelana

"Which Way Africa" - Tunji Oyelana

Video clips of Tunji in his prime are rarer than hen's teeth, but there are plenty of other "Which Way" songs to choose from. I chose this one.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Saravah Palaver

After Yukihiro Takahashi left us recently I decided to look on Bandcamp to see if I could find his 1977 solo album "Saravah!", released after the Sadistic Mika Band had folded but before he became a founder member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. I did, but only after an interesting and unintentional detour.  

I got the R and V the wrong way round the first time I typed the album title into the search box. Instead of Mr Takahashi's mellow magic I found myself at the page of a band called Savarah. They hail from Bordeaux and describe their music as being "like Blonde Redhead making love to King Crimson in Brazil".

I don't know about that but they're not bad at all and this particular track of theirs fits quite nicely with the sounds of "Saravah!". 

"Present" - Yukihiro Takahashi

"La Meute" - Savarah


Monday 23 January 2023

Wobble Like A Duck

I picked up another bargain last week, this time from our local Buddhist charity bookshop. "I Could Have Been A Contender" is a 3 CD collection of the works of Jah Wobble that was released in 2004 and for which I had to fork out all of 50p. Buddhists are clearly very charitable.  

As well as his solo and Invaders Of The Heart stuff it includes a small number of tracks from his PiL days and collaborations with the likes of Eno, Holger Czukay and Natascha Atlas amongst others. It came out on the Trojan label - one to put next to my well-worn copy of "1000 Volts Of Holt".

Today's first selection clocks in at just under 25 minutes so it counts for my occasional and entirely original Monday's Lengthy Listen series. His Wobbleness is joined by an all-star cast including Bill Laswell, Harold Budd and Jaki Leibezeit.

I have also added the shortest track on the compilation for those of you who are too busy to listen to the long one.

"The Mystery Of Twilight Part 2" - Jah Wobble's Solaris

"So Many Years" - Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart

Those of you who feared the worst when you saw the title of this post were right to do so. Come on in, Coast To Coast (or Jah Wobble's Coast To Coast as I prefer to think of them).

Friday 20 January 2023

Kampala Kool

I don't know whether this has been happening to other bloggers, but I have recently been bombarded by messages the gist of which are "this stuff you play is all very well, but what we really want is some mid-90s reggae from Uganda".

After extensive efforts on my part - those bargain bins don't rummage themselves - I am now in a position to oblige. I have tracked down a CD by one Winston Mayanja which contains two of his albums, "Bloodshed in Africa" (1993) and "Abafumbo" (1995).  

Mr Mayanja seems an interesting character. I discovered from a 2018 interview with him that he has a parallel career as a promoter - by his own account a very successful one although his does omit to mention the time he was briefly imprisoned and declared bankrupt after some shenanigans involving the no doubt blameless Chaka Demus & Pliers. He's also had a few spats with fellow performers.

As far as his own music is concerned you would not call it cutting edge but it is perfectly pleasant and Fine For A Friday. Here is a track apiece from both albums.

"Winston Dubstyle" - Winston Mayanja

"Okwagala Kuling'obudde" - Winston Mayanja

This post was written yesterday. I woke up this morning to the news that David Crosby has left us. This one's for him. RIP Mr Crosby.

Wednesday 18 January 2023

A Big Bash For Barış

I got my first gig of the year under my belt last week. Billed as "The Psychedelic World of Barış Manço", it was a boisterous tribute to the late Anatolian rock legend and multiple 'Moustache Of The Year' winner. This has been an annual event in recent years, pandemics permitting, but this year's edition also marked what would have been the Great Man's 80th birthday earlier this month.  

Not just that, but way back in 1975 Barış released a concept album - they were de rigueur at the time - called "2023". I don't speak Turkish so I don't know what the particular concept was, but I imagine the lyrics are full of references to jetpacks and robot butlers. Either that or it is a vision of a dystopian future that has turned out to be spookily accurate.

We present for your pleasure and delight the title track of the concept album - apologies for the slightly wonky sound quality - and a couple of  Barış's big bangers.

"2023" - Barış Manço

"Hal Hal" - Barış Manço

"Binboga'nın Kızı" - Barış Manço


Monday 16 January 2023

Three For Free

In my previous post I told a long and rather dull anecdote about how the pricing policies of my local second-hand record shop had led me to buy four CDs I would not have bought otherwise in order to save £1. One of them was the excellent eponymous debut album by Melt Yourself Down. Today we'll take a brisk run through the other three.

We'll start with the only one of the three acts I had previously known about. That is El Khat, a Tel Aviv based band led by Eyal el Wahab, a member of the Yemeni diaspora. I have a couple of tracks from their 2019 album "Saadia Jefferson", and am now the proud owner of last year's "Albat Alawi Op.99" which aims to evoke traditional Yemeni music. You can find it on the Glitterbeat Bandcamp site if you are so inclined.  

Next up is "Piece Of Me", a decent slab of retro-soul by Lady Wray (real name Nicole Wray) that also came out last year. Her Ladyship started her career back in the late 1990s as a protege of Missy Elliott and even had a Top 10 hit in the US in 1998 under the name Nicole.  Time passed and she became one half of a retro-soul duo called Lady and a backing singer for Lee Fields. "Piece Of Me" is her second album as Lady Wray. Also available on Bandcamp, naturally.

Which brings us to "Deadhorse" by buMMer, an album acquired solely because of the title of the track below. Unfortunately as the vocals are just a load of incoherent grunting I am none the wiser as to why they want to bash the Boss in his boy bits.

"La Sama" - El Khat

"Through It All" - Lady Wray

"I Want To Punch Bruce Springsteen In The Dick" - buMMer

Here is Lady Wray with her big smash hit from way back before she was ennobled. Personally I prefer her new old-sounding stuff.

Friday 13 January 2023

Truth Is Molten

Our local second-hand record shop has a couple of boxes tucked away in the corner containing CDs that are priced at £1 each or £5 for 10. Once a month or so I pop in for a rummage. Sometimes there's only trash, but sometimes there's treasure.

Last week's visit yielded treasure with a capital T. Someone who either sends or receives promo CDs had dropped a load off and in a matter of moments I had picked out six albums that I definitely wanted.  This put me in the position of needing to find four more in order to reduce the overall price.

That in turn gave me the freedom to select artistes and albums I knew nothing about - there was nothing to lose and £1 to gain. So that is what I did. One of the four I chose had no information on either the cover or the CD itself  It looked like this:

I was delighted to discover when I got home and slipped the disc into my CD drive that I had acquired the self-titled debut album by Melt Yourself Down, who have described their music as "Nubian inspired party-punk music". I don't know what if anything that means but if you think Pigbag meets Omar Souleyman then you'll have a rough idea. Anyway, it is a rather splendid racket that I imagine may sound even better live.

The album came out in 2013 and you can find it and the 2016 follow-up "Last Evenings On Earth" on their Bandcamp site. The Melts have since released a couple more albums but they are on Decca so you'll have to go to less reputable websites to find them.

"We Are Enough" - Melt Yourself Down

"Kingdom Of Kush" - Melt Yourself Down

When you've listened to those tracks try playing the two videos at the same time to see whether my description holds up.

Wednesday 11 January 2023

Wilma Lee, Stoney And God

For the second Wednesday in a row we have some gospel for you - for me that counts as a series. Today's selections are very different in style to last week's funky outpourings though.

Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper hailed from West Virginia and were big names on the bluegrass and traditional country music scene from their marriage in 1941 to Stoney's death in 1977. After that, Wilma carried on as a member of the Grand Ol' Opry until retiring 2001 at the age of 80. 

Here's a couple of tunes of theirs from the early 1950s.

"Are You Walking And A-Talking For The Lord" - Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper

"I'm Taking My Audition (To Sing Up in the Sky)"  - Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper 

Monday 9 January 2023

Holes In The Oz-zone

Last week Khayem over at Dubhed featured one side of an Australian compilation cassette containing allegedly psychedelic sounds. This was what prompted me to get down from the shelves for the first time in many years a compilation of Australian psychedelic pop from the late 1960s.

The compilation is called "Peculiar Hole In The Sky" and it came out in 2002 on the Big Beat label (an Ace Records offshoot I believe). I have no idea whether it is still available, but I suspect not.  

Today we have for you the title track by The Valentines together with a little something from Cam-Pact. The lead singers of both bands went on to bigger things. The Valentines were fronted by one Bon Scott, while Cam-Pact's Keith Glass became the first manager of The Birthday Party - not the easiest job in the world one suspects - and released their early records on his Missing Link label.

"Peculiar Hole In The Sky" - The Valentines

"Drawing Room" - Cam-Pact

"Peculiar Hole In The Sky" was written by famed songwriting duo Harry Vanda and George Young when they were in The Easybeats. George was the big brother of Malcolm and Angus with whom Bon Scott teamed up a few years later. Here are a few of Harry and George's hits.

Friday 6 January 2023

Sweet Talkin' Guys

First Glasgow on Monday, then Gospel on Wednesday and now Ghana. Our celebrations marking National Words Beginning With G Week reach their climax with an album that I picked up for next to nothing while in Germany (another G!) last month.

"The Kusum Beat" by The Sweet Talks was originally released in Ghana in 1974 and reissued for a global audience by the ever excellent Soundway Records in 2010. You can pick up a digital copy on their Bandcamp site for a mere £4, a bargain if ever there was one. They have got the album title and band name mixed up but never mind.

I have chosen the first and last tracks for you but every one of them is a cracker. The album will have you smiling from start to finish.

"Akampanye" - The Sweet Talks

"Kyekye Pe Aware" - The Sweet Talks

I couldn't find a clip of The Chiffons performing "Sweet Talkin' Guy" - I should really have checked that before choosing the title for this post - so here is a sweet talkin' woman instead.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

In Greg We Trust

I recently acquired a copy of "Greg Belson's Divine Funk", a compilation of rare gospel soul and funk that was released on the Cultures of Soul label back in 2021.

According to the blurb Mr Belson is "one of the world's leading collectors and DJs of gospel music", and to be fair I can't name another one. I do wonder what the artistes make of his shameless self-promotion though. I suspect they thought they were glorifying God not Greg.

Having said that it is a fantastic record and well worth picking up from the Cultures of Soul Bandcamp page. Here is a couple of selections, plus a clip of someone you may have heard of who was also quite good (and a phenomenal afro in he background as a bonus).

"Troubles Of The World" - The Christian Harmonizers

 "Who's Your Boss" - Pearl Farano & The High Lites Of Joy

Monday 2 January 2023

What The Cutler Saw

And so it begins. 

We kick off this year's musical meanderings in Glasgow, home of such luminaries as Charity Chic, Citizen Bravo and the late Ivor Cutler. Mr Cutler would have turned 100 in two weeks' time so you can consider this an early celebration of his centenary. 

It's not as early a celebration as the one co-ordinated by Citizen Bravo though. Way back in 2020 he released "Return To Y'Hup - The World Of Ivor Cutler", featuring the songs of Ivor and guest vocals from many well-known names on the Scottish indie scene - including Emma Pollock, who has recently been seen over at Charity Chic's place.

I saw Ivor live once about 40 years ago. At the time I thought he was a bit of a cantankerous old sod, although now I am roughly the age he was then I probably am too. I can't comment on the other two fellows. 

You can pick up the Citizen Bravo album from Bandcamp if you are so inclined. Here are a couple from that plus one from Ivor's own "Jammy Smears" album.

"Size Nine And A Half" - Citizen Bravo (featuring Emma Pollock)

"Pickle Your Knees" - Citizen Bravo (featuring Karine Polwart)

"A Wooden Tree" - Ivor Cutler