Search This Blog

Wednesday 22 February 2023

It Was 60 Years Ago Today

I am briefly interrupting my holiday with the South African branches of the Goggins clan to share with you the UK Top Ten from this day in 1963. I will let you draw your own conclusions as to the reason.

We will count down from Number Ten to Number One, as Alan Freeman no doubt did on 'Pick Of The Pops" back then.

10. "Sukiyaki" - Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen

9. "Bachelor Boy" - Cliff Richard

8. "Island Of Dreams" - The Springfields

7. "All Alone Am I" - Brenda Lee

6. "Loop-De-Loop" - Frankie Vaughan

5. "Little Town Flirt" - Del Shannon

4. "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" - Bobby Vee

3. "Diamonds" - Jet Harris & Tony Meehan

2. "Please Please Me" - The Beatles

And at Number One, an affliction that affects me increasingly as I age...

1. "The Wayward Wind" - Frank Ifield

Bubbling under - no further pun intended - we find The Rooftop Singers, up seven places from 18 to 11. Take it away, Rooftops!

That's it for now. pop pickers. I'm back home at the end of the month, see you all then.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Minty Freshness

I am off on my hols in a few hours, heading to South Africa to see the local branches of the Goggins family.

Once on board the plane I am tempted to have a chat with the pilot to see if they would be willing to make an unscheduled stop at Nouakchott International so we can all head to a club and dance the night away to the sounds of Noura Mint Seymali - sounds like these two smashes from her 2016 album "Arbina", available from Glitterbeat.

"Ghlana"- Noura Mint Seymali 

"Suedi Koum" - Noura Mint Seymali 

Back at the end of month. Until then, stay groovy.

Monday 13 February 2023

Newness Abounds

As an international tastemaker and renowned surfer of the zeitgeist I get sent a lot of music to review, far more that I can ever listen to. The vast majority gets unfairly neglected but I do try to find time to listen to records by some of the artists whose names are new to me as well as any old favourites who happen to appear in the inbox. This small hand-picked selection of stuff I have received over the last couple of months is a mix of the two.

First up, and pick of the bunch, is "Cadence" by Cinder Well, one of the finest new folkie types I have heard in a while. The album isn't out until 21 April but is available for pre-order on Bandcamp now. While you are there you should check out her back catalogue as well, in particular her 2020 album "No Summer".

Next we have MF Tomlinson, whose new album "We Are Still Wild Horses" grows on me more with each listen. It is a distinct step up from 2021's "Strange Time", which is worth a listen in its own right. The second side consists of a single 21 minute epic. I thought of posting that what with this being Monday but opted for this relatively modest 8 minute number instead. 

"We Are Still Wild Horses" comes out on Friday, as does "All In Good Time" by Blues Lawyer, the first of the three acts of which I was not previously aware. The others are Jesse Blake Rundle ("Next Town's Trees" - out 3 March) and Darren Jessee ("Central Bridge" - out 24 March).

It isn't entirely accurate to describe Darren Jessee as a new name. He was the drummer in Ben Folds Five and has also appeared on albums by the likes of Josh Rouse, Hiss Golden Messenger and Sharon Van Etten, but this is the first time I've heard his solo stuff. 

As always, many thanks to all the lovely people in Promoland. I'm sorry I can't do you all justice, but keep on doing what you do.

"Two Heads, Grey Mare" - Cinder Well

"The End Of The Road" - MF Tomlinson

"Make Up" - Blues Lawyer

"Yes I'm Angry" - Jesse Blake Rundle

"Riding The Horses" - Darren Jessee

Also worth looking out for is "Ears Of The People", a new compilation of music from Senegal and Gambia featuring the ekonting, a sort of West African banjo, which came out last week on the Smithsonian Folkways. Here is a live version of one of the tracks from that album.

Sunday 12 February 2023

Single Song Sunday

Today is the first Single Song Sunday of the year and, if my records are correct, the 61st in total since we first started doing this back in 2010. At this rate we will reach the 100th instalment some time in 2031. Be there or be square.

Today we are bringing you an old country standard, always a reliable source of the series if I am lacking in inspiration. This time round it is "Sweet Dreams" (not to be confused with the Eurhythmics' song with a similar name of which there seem to be even more cover versions than there are of this ome).

We will kick things off with Don Gibson's original from 1956. It was then covered by pretty much every country singer you can name from the 1950s and 1960s, most notably Patsy Cline's posthumous release in 1963. Also from 1963 - the divine harmonies of the Everlys. 

Patsy's was the most successful version until gnarled swamp-rocker Tommy McLain mooched his way up to No. 15 in the Billboard charts in 1966. Tommy released a comeback album last year with the support of famous fans including Elvis Costello who pops up next. 

Elvis C plays it pretty straight, unlike The Mekons whose version I prefer for that reason. We then round things off with two very fine soul covers, a bluesy instrumental and the Mandatory Reggae Version. Because some of us know the rules.

"Sweet Dreams" - Don Gibson

"Sweet Dreams" - Patsy Cline

"Sweet Dreams" - Tommy McLain

"Sweet Dreams" - The Everly Brothers

"Sweet Dreams" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions

"Sweet Dreams" - The Mekons

"Sweet Dreams" - Mighty Sam

"Sweet Dreams" - Bettye Swann

"Sweet Dreams" - Roy Buchanan

"Sweet Dreams" - The Pioneers

Friday 10 February 2023

Burt Bacharach RIP

I don't have the words that can do Burt Bacharach justice but Hal David, Bob Hilliard and Carole Bayer Sager do. RIP Mr Bacharach.

"Please Stay" - The Drifters

"The Answer To Everything" - Joe Dolan

"I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" - Dusty Springfield

"Make It Easy On Yourself" - The Walker Brothers

"On My Own" - Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald

"One That Might Surprise You"

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Twinkle Time

I'll be brisk and business-like today. Things to do, people to see, places to build - you know how it is.

The Twinkle Brothers have been making top notch reggae music for nigh on 60 years now. They released their first single back in 1965 and are still going strong under the leadership of the mighty Mr Norman Grant. Here are two personal favourites from their huge back catalogue.

"Since I Threw The Comb Away" - The Twinkle Brothers

"(This Man) King Pharoah (12" mix)" - The Twinkle Brothers

For the video I couldn't decide between "Terry" by the Brothers' near namesake or Sue Thompson's heartfelt tribute to Mr Grant so you are getting both. You lucky, lucky people.

PS In unrelated news, I went to see this lot last night. Great show. Go if you get the chance.

Monday 6 February 2023

Boom Chicka Wau Wau

Last Friday was Bandcamp Friday so I did as I always do and headed to the Sahel Sounds page to take advantage of their 'name your own price' offer. I came away with a copy of "Mariage", the second album by Wau Wau Collectif which came out three months ago.

The Collectif is a collaboration between a group of Senegalese musicians and Swedish musician/ producer/ label owner/ weaver of artisan beards Karl Jonas Winqvist. Like its predecessor "Yara Se Doom" the album is a bit of a mish-mash of all sorts - or "stylistically expansive" as the blurb would have it - but in a good way. 

Some parts are pretty traditional with just kora and vocals, others have synths and a bit of desert blues guitar. There is a children's chant behind which a groove gradually emerges. And then there are the two tracks I have selected. 

The first is almost prog-jazz, while the second sounds like something that Augustus Pablo might have made if he'd been given the xylophone instead of the melodica in his school orchestra. George may wish to note that there are flutes on both.

"Yay Balma" - Wau Wau Collectif

"Yonou Natange" - Wau Wau Collectif

From Wau Wau to Wow Wow. This will mean nothing to any youngsters out there watching it while riding your jet packs.

Friday 3 February 2023

Hellbound, Homesick & Demented

I got my second gig of the year under my belt on Wednesday, at the always excellent What's Cookin' club night in swinging Leytonstone. 

Steve and Ali are stalwarts of the live music scene in my part of London and have been setting up gigs for the best part of 20 years now. Steve wasn't there on Wednesday as he is recovering from a bout of nastiness that put him in hospital for a while, but hopefully he'll be back to his best soon. 

Top of the bill were Morton Valence. They are a duo (Rob Jessett and Anne Gilpin) who have been making records for even longer than Steve and Ali have been giving them a stage to play on. On this occasion they were promoting their most recent, self-titled, album which came out last year. The album was produced by the legendary B.J. Cole who also joined them on stage. 

Rob is living in Spain these days which might explain why there are a number of songs on the album, and in their set, in which he gets all misty-eyed about old London town - including the one below.

Support came from Hellbound Glory, all the way from Reno, Nevada where they presumably shoot men just to watch them die. I didn't know their stuff previously and I suspect I would have enjoyed them more with a full band line-up to give things a bit more oomph. They were still worth a listen though, and did a particularly nice version of the song I have selected.

As an extra treat for you all, today's video is one I took myself at the gig. It features Anne, B.J. and the looming heads of the two twerps in front of us. It's a cover of Iris Dement's "Our Town" which is elevated by B.J. Cole sprinkling his magic over it.

As well as being a good listen in its own right, it gives me the excuse (not that one is needed) to tell you that Iris has a brand new single that came out yesterday. It is called "The Sacred Now", it is on her upcoming album "Workin' On A World" which hits the shops later this month, and you can hear it here.

"Summertime In London" - Morton Valence

"Streets Of Aberdeen" - Hellbound Glory

Oh alright, you can have a proper video as well then.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Kaboom Shakes The Room

I hadn't expected to be back in Uganda so soon after our recent Winston Mayanja post, but then again I hadn't expected to discover a previously unknown music genre - Electro Acholi!

I am not sure whether that is a real thing or was invented by the good folks at Kampala's Nyege Nyege Tapes to promote their 2019 compilation album "Electro Acholi Kaboom from Northern Uganda".

Either way, I like it a lot, possibly because there are elements of the sound that remind me very much of my dearly loved Tsonga Disco. Like Tsonga Disco they have retained the traditional rhythms and call and response vocals but added drum machines and synths and sped things up a bit. 

According from blurb "the electronic re-interpretation of traditional Acholi courtship songs began in Northern Uganda, primarily in the cities of Gulu and Lira around 2003, when Northern Uganda was still mired in a brutal civil war. First performed at weddings, they replaced the much larger traditional bands that under war time conditions had become too costly for many newly weds to afford".

The album consists 15 tracks from the scenes heyday between 2003 and 2008, including these two corkers.

"Bandera Pa Kaka" - Bosmic Otim

"Can Deg Ming" - Brother Q & City Boy

I can't confirm it definitively but I am pretty sure that it isn't this City Boy performing with Brother Q.