Search This Blog

Friday 28 April 2023

Friday Is Thai Day

You can blame that Khayem from Dubhed for this. Earlier this week he did a post that featured not one but two versions of "Rasputin". That prompted me to dig out my own favourite cover version.

It comes from one my favourite albums. "Zud Rang Maa" is a compilation of Thai pop, funk and disco from the long 1970s released by a Thai label of the same name in 2008. 

The album was subsequently reissued by Light In The Attic under the name "Thai Funk Volume 1", but I have the original which I picked up shortly after it came out. It comes in a colourful cloth bag with all sorts of bits and bobs shoved inside. Very stylish but difficult to fit in the CD racks. 

Anyway, here's "Rasputin" and two other cover versions you'll recognise instantly. Behave yourselves and you may get another choice selection from this fantastic compilation next week.

"Rus Pu Tin" - Panadda Chayapark

"Chown Tur Ten Rum" - Pranee Thanasri

"Kod Hang Kam" - Kana TNT

Today's video features the song that was the highlight of the Boney M set that a local lady and I performed while standing on a table in a karaoke bar in Moldova several years ago. During our performance I pointed to a chubby besuited gent and announced that he was the real Daddy Cool. He was thrilled and insisted on buying me drinks afterwards.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Unlimited Tom

Older readers may remember that period in the mid to late 1980s when Zimbabwean music seemed to be everywhere (if you define everywhere as meaning John Peel and Andy Kershaw's radio shows) - the likes of the Bhundu Boys, the Four Brothers and the creators of Chimurenga music, Thomas Mapfumo & Blacks Unlimited.

Many of them have sadly fallen by the wayside since then, but Thomas Mapfumo is still going strong. He went into exile in the US in 2000 after getting on the wrong side of that nice Mr Mugabe, only going back to Zimbabwe to play some shows in 2018 after Mugabe had lost power.

Mr Mapfumo has continued to perform regularly over the last 20 years. He has also released the occasional record including in 2011 when his album "Exile" came out on the Sheer Sound label in South Africa (I don't know whether it was ever available elsewhere). I picked up a copy while I was in Cape Town earlier in the year. Very good it is too.

"Vagere Kunaka" - Thomas Mapfumo & Blacks Unlimited

"Mwana Wemurombo" - Thomas Mapfumo & Blacks Unlimited

And now, more Mr Mapfumo and two other unlimited things.

Monday 24 April 2023

The Devil Made Me Do It

I have mentioned previously here how I acquired a job lot of CDs that were being offered for 20p each just because the covers were missing. One was in fact two CDs which between them contained the complete recorded works of Robert Johnson. 

It was certainly a better deal than the one he was supposed to have struck at the Crossroads Motel all those years ago. A deal that meant he forfeited any chance he had to take possession over Judgement Day. I can only speculate but maybe the stones in his passageway were part of the deal as well. Very painful.  

"If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day" - Robert Johnson

"Stones In My Passageway" - Robert Johnson

Friday 21 April 2023

Akalé We Will Do Our Best

Today's post follows on from Wednesday's, literally. When the last track on the Akabu album finishes my mp3 device moves straight on to Akalé Wubé. So that is who you're getting today.

Akalé Wubé are a French band whose sound is based on pre-Derg era Ethiopian jazz and soul. It is a very cool sound to nick and they make a pretty good job of it. 

Once you have listened to these two tracks you can find more of their stuff over on their Bandcamp page. They are definitely worth checking out.

"Jawa Jawa" - Akalé Wubé

"Anbessa" - Akalé Wubé (featuring Manu Dibango)

Wednesday 19 April 2023

This One's On-U Too

After featuring Dub Syndicate's 1993 "Echomania" album on Monday we are sticking with mid-90s period On-U Sound for today's post. You never know, this may turn out to be the start of a new series called "Mid-90s Period On-U Sounds Weekdays" or something equally catchy.

Akabu were an all-female band whose two vocalists, Valerie Skeete and Vyris Edghill, provided harmonies on many On-U albums between the mid-80s and the mid-90s (including a couple of tracks on Echomania).

The only album they released on the label in their own right was 1995's "Warrior Queen", available from the On-U Bandcamp site for a bargain £5 (as are many other excellent albums). The songs and production are relatively mainstream compared to On-U's usual output, but none the worse for that.

Vyris Edghill sadly passed away in 2002 but Valerie Skeete is still going strong and fronting the latest line-up of the band, now going by the name Akabu Queens. A brand new track called "Murderation" came out last month and an EP is in the works. Something to look forward to.

"True Born" - Akabu

"No Crack" - Akabu

The sax player in the current line-up is Sarah Tobias who is a very well-known figure on the London live reggae scene having played with pretty much everyone, including my good friends True Identity.  That's her in the red top in the first video, I'm somewhere in the audience. 

Sarah has recently contributed to a Mandatory Reggae Version of Dolly Parton's "Two Doors Down" which takes Dolly's vocals and puts them up against a new backing track - which explains the second video. I wasn't in the audience for that one but would have loved to have been there.

Monday 17 April 2023

Echoes Down The Years

I have spent large parts of the last week or so writing a long and tedious report for a client, as a result of which my waffling wells appear to have run dry. So instead of the usual paragraphs of prattle and piffle, we are going to get straight down to business.

Here are two tracks from Dub Syndicate's 1993 album, "Echomania". The eagle-eared among you will spot Lee 'Scratch' Perry on the first one.

"Dubbing Psycho Thriller" - Dub Syndicate

"Rock Back" - Dub Syndicate

Saturday 15 April 2023

Cottage Industry

The occasional Single Song Sunday apart I don't normally blog at the weekend, being strictly a Monday-Wednesday-Friday kind of guy. But I belatedly realised last night that I had missed my usual Friday slot. The long Easter weekend has obviously put me out of sync.

So a day late and apropos of nothing at all, here are four songs about cottages. And before you ask, no, it's not the snooker Steve Davis (or Dennis 'Tyrone' Taylor or Little Willie 'John' Thorne for that matter).

"Cottage 3-0-12" - Steve Davis

"A Cottage For Sale" - Little Willie John

"Cottage In Negril" - Tyrone Taylor

"Cottage By The Sea Side" - Maria Anderson

 But if you did want that Steve and Dennis and Little Willie Thorne...

Thursday 13 April 2023

Cher: Covered And Covers

The original title of this post was 'Cher: Covered and Uncovered'. But I changed it because 'uncovered' prompted thoughts of that video where she is prancing about on a battleship wearing just a leather jacket and a few strips of gaffer tape, and nobody wants to be thinking of that while they are having their breakfast.

Anyway, the credit (or blame) for this post rests with that Charity Chic, so often a source of inspiration for me and I am sure for many of you as well. On this occasion, he kindly tipped me off to the self-titled album by Dollar Store, a rocking little band fronted by Dean from the Mekons (about whom you might be hearing more here soon).

One of the unexpected highlights of the album was Dollar Store's cover of "Believe" by Cher. I have combined it with another (Sonny &) Cher cover that in my view improves on the original, and a couple of covers by Cher which don't but are still pretty decent. The first is a cosmic cowboy classic by Michael Murphey, the other is by someone called Bob Dylan.

"Believe" - Dollar Store

"I Got You Babe" - Etta James

"Geronimo's Cadillac" - Cher

"I Threw It All Away" - Cher

"Geronimo's Cadillac" is taken from Cher's album "Stars" which was released in 1975. In the same year she was hosting her own TV show. That had a very different vibe...

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Its Now Or Neves

Today we have a couple of tracks for you from what is believed to be one of the first independently released Brazilian albums, "Tempo de Fratura" by Alcides Neves. Originally issued in 1979, it is now available again thanks to the good folks at Litoral Records

It is hard to describe Alcides' musical style because there isn't just one, he hops about all over the place. There are some tropicalia influences, some folk, some jazz and even a bit of prog (which might appeal to at least one Lusophone listener). As the blurb says, the album "revels in its own disformity". 

Come and join the revels.

"Lampião" - Alcides Neves

"Hibernante in Tempore" - Alcides Neves

Sunday 9 April 2023

Single Song Sunday

This is an unscheduled entry in our long-running occasional series. Not that there is anything resembling a schedule, but this song wasn't even on my list of possible selections until Friday.

Friday's post featured a video of the King of Latin Soul, Mr Joe Bataan. After finding that video on YouTube I dug out his records that I have in my collection. It wasn't long until I got to his great take on "Gypsy Woman", and I remembered that I have half a dozen versions of the song. So here they all are.

Before you switch off, I should clarify that this is the "Gypsy Woman" written by Curtis Mayfield we are talking about, not that irritating la da dee la da dum twaddle by Crystal Waters. 

We start with the original 1961 version by The Impressions. It was the first single featuring Curtis on lead vocals after the departure of Jerry Butler and it got to #20 in the Billboard Hot 100. 

In 1961 Brian Hyland was best known his big hit of the year before, a hard-hitting political folk tune called ""Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini". After several years in the doldrums his career revived in 1970 when his surprisingly decent version of "Gypsy Woman", which was produced by Del Shannon, went all the way to #3 on the charts.

Next up is the Joe Bataan version I mentioned earlier, plus one from Ry Cooder which sounds almost exactly like you would expect a Ry Cooder version of "Gypsy Woman" to sound.

We round things off with not one but two Mandatory Reggae Versions. The Uniques' version, with the mighty Slim Smith on lead vocals, is my favourite but The Mighty Diamonds do a decent job as well.

I have spared you the version Bruce Springsteen did for a Curtis Mayfield tribute album. I know some readers have strong feelings about Bruce. I don't, but I doubt even his biggest fans would consider it to be a career high. 

"Gypsy Woman" - The Impressions

"Gypsy Woman" - Brian Hyland

"Gypsy Woman" - Joe Bataan

"Gypsy Woman" - Ry Cooder

"Gypsy Woman" - The Uniques

"Gypsy Woman" - The Mighty Diamonds

Friday 7 April 2023

Pagan Party

Moderate your outrage. Unfroth your mouths. The title of the post is no oblique critique of our current Christian celebrations, just an invitation to enjoy the smooth Latin soul sounds of Ralfi Pagan. The sweet-voiced, salsa-tinged Stylistics soundalike is the perfect man to ease you all into a relaxing long weekend. 

"Loneliest Loneliness" - Ralfi Pagan

I can't find any videos of Ralfi performing on YouTube. So instead here is the King of Latin Soul, Mr Joe Bataan, live in 2015. I was at his show in London a couple of months before this was recorded. It was a pleasure and a privilege.

Have fun out there follks.

Wednesday 5 April 2023

The Bits Lambchop Chopped

I recently picked up a job lot of CDs for 20p a piece - a nearby record shop was virtually giving them away because they had lost the covers. Among them was "I Hope You're Sitting Down", the 1994 debut album by Lambchop.

I had never heard the album previously - like many people I only really became aware of the band when "Nixon" came out in 2000 - so it was interesting to compare it with what I knew of their later stuff. 

There was a lot that sounded familiar, but also some hunts of choices not taken and paths not travelled. Like these two tracks, on which they sound like a slightly weedy garage band using parping horns as a rhythm section. I like them. See what you think.

"Hellmouth" - Lambchop

"So, I Hear You're Moving" - Lambchop

I'll leave you with some more from 94. I'm heading off to listen to my CD collection of Bob Marley.

Monday 3 April 2023

You Bettye You Bet

On Friday we brought you a soul singer called Bette and a tenuous link to The Who. Today we have more of the same, except we have added a Y and made the link a bit stronger.

I know there are some Bettye Lavette fans among our regular readers, and some of you may already have her 2010 album "Interpretations". If you don't you really should.

The album's sub-title is "The British Rock Songbook" and as that suggests it is a collection of covers of songs by the big beasts who prowled these shores back in the 1960s and 1970s - The Beatles, The Stones, Elton, Floyd, Led Zep, they are all there. I have plumped for a couple of the less well known numbers, relatively speaking anyway.

The bonus track on the album - and today's video - is Ms Lavette's live rendition of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me". A song that never did a great deal for me in the original, Bettye grabs it by the scruff of the neck and turns it into something splendid.

"Salt Of The Earth" - Bettye Lavette

"No Time To Live" - Bettye Lavette