Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Latin Playboys

Latin Playboys was a Los Lobos side project, consisting of two fifths of that band, David Hidalgo and Louie PĂ©rez, with the addition of Tchad Blake and Mitchell Froom. They produced a self-titled album in 1994, followed by another, 'Dose', in 1999. At the time these releases were difficult to track down in the UK - available, but unpromoted. The band were difficult to classify - sharing the roots heritage of Los Lobos, but taking the sound to more experimental places. Think post-'Mule Variations' Tom Waits, without Tom - told you they were difficult to classify! If you like 'Kiko'/'Colossal Head' period Los Lobos and are up for something similar, but a little more off-kilter, then hunt down the first album at the very least.

To whet your whistle, here's 'Ten Believers' from the debut and a very fine live version of 'Mustard' from 'Dose' featuring the brilliant Lisa Germano guesting on the fiddle.



Saturday, 22 September 2012

Saturday Scratch #11

In 1970 Lee Perry devoted much of his attention to writing with and producing Bob Marley & the Wailers. With 'Duppy Conqueror' already a hit, Scratch led The Upsetters through the not hugely dissimilar 'Earthquake', an instrumental he intended to use as a future Wailers backing track. On this occasion, however, a pre-'Double Barrel' Dave Barker ended up vocalizing the cut with close harmony assistance from just the one Wailer - Bunny. The following year, Perry re-visited the rhythm, and it's original title, for a double-tracked toast from the man Joe Strummer would one day come to call 'the mighty U-Roy'.

A kindly soul out there in cyberspace has put the two versions together for our aural delight. Enjoy them and your weekend.



Previously on Saturday Scratch.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Teen

Don't judge a book by it's cover. Or in this case, don't judge a band by it's name. Teen is a poor name and one that should be Googled with care, but their debut album , 'In Limbo', is a fine piece of work and is on heavy rotation round these parts. Kristina 'Teeny' Lieberson, a former member of  Here We Go Magic, put the band together with her two sisters plus Jane Herships, who also performs under the Spider moniker. There are five of 'em in the video, but information is scant, so the fifth part of the puzzle is un-named for the time-being. It's poppy, it's mournful, it's light, it's dark and it's produced by Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3.

Here are two contrasting cuts - see what you think.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Marc Bolan - 35 Years Gone



Today is the 35th anniversary of Marc Bolan's tragic and untimely death. His impact on my life is incalculable and continues to resonate down the years.

 Here's the final track on 'Dandy in the Underworld', the last album issued in his lifetime.




Keep a little Marc in your heart.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Scratch #10

Perhaps it's an example of where I went wrong, business-wise, with my record shop, but one day over the Christmas period in 1997 instead of playing a current chart album like 'Butterfly' by Mariah Carey or 'Falling Into You' by Celine Dion as my competitors no doubt were, I was giving some in-store airtime to the recently released 'Tibetan Freedom Concert' triple CD.

About a third of the way through the second disc, a customer wandered over and enquired who the singer of the current song was. I told him that it was the great Lee Perry performing 'Heads of Government' and asked him what he thought of it. 'I've never heard anyone sound so totally exasperated and pissed off in my life' he said!

He was right of course. Scratch screams and rants his way though an utterly compelling performance like a man possessed. It's a tune I still reach for to this day, everytime some jumped up nincompoop in power says or does something ridiculous - so it's on pretty heavy rotation here at chez Swede as you can imagine.

Enjoy your weekend and, to quote Scratch, 'Don't let anyone rule your mind.'




Previously on Saturday Scratch.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Simple Kid

Simple Kid's discography is slim - a couple of albums and a handful of singles. For a while it looked as if he was going to break through, performing on Jools Holland's show in the UK and Conan O'Brien's in the States, even supporting REM in concert. Perhaps that wasn't the point though or perhaps it just wasn't enough.

'Older now,
No longer hip to the groove,
I am roadkill,
As the headlights of mainstream culture throttle mercilessly down upon me.'

As parting shots go, they don't come much better than this. Simple Kid (aka Ciaran McFeely) 'retired' from the music business in 2011 and his swan song 'The Road', a positive spiritual anthem and personal statement rolled into one, was released in Spring of this year.


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Saturday Scratch #9

From slap bang in the middle of the 1970s comes Bunny Clarke, aka Bunny Rugs, soon to become lead vocalist with Third World, but here in a solo stylee with the follow up single to his cover of 'To Love Somebody', which, confusingly, he recorded as Bunny Scott.....I hope you're taking notes, there'll be a test later.

The tune in question is 'Move Out of My Way', a militant little groover that didn't trouble the chart compilers of the day to any great extent. What it did do, however, was spawn an oddly disturbing version, released under the title 'Kojak', by Lee Perry on the 'Revolution Dub' LP later the same year. Despite occasionally sounding as if he's watching the telly as he works, Scratch retains just enough of Clarke's vocal to inject a disorientating stab into an otherwise eerily stripped back rhythm track. I've always found it strangely unsettling, but perhaps it's just me.

Enjoy your weekend and please don't make any sudden loud noises - I'm spooked enough already.




Previously on Saturday Scratch.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Daniel Rossen

I have a friend who, if she's been kept waiting longer than expected for something, is prone to exaggeratedly describe it as having taken 'all of time' to arrive. Such is the case with the new Grizzly Bear LP, 'Shields'. It really does feel like all of time since the first of a series of tracks was drip-fed on-line, along with the album title and track-listing, back in early June. Now, at last, we're into the final two weeks before release and I've been reacquainting myself with their back catalogue in preparation.

I've been particularly enjoying the 5 track EP, 'Silent Hour / Golden Mile', put out, in a 'solo' capacity, by main Bear Daniel Rossen in March this year. I initially wrote it off as a slight and underwhelming piece of work, but I was way off the mark -  repeated plays have proved it to be a criminally overlooked gem.

Here's 'Return to Form' from the EP. 'Shields' is (finally) released in the UK on September 17th.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Saturday Scratch #8

Following the closure of my record store in 2000, I got a job in a coffee shop. A new outlet was opening nearby and with my passion for the bean and history in customer service, it was a natural fit. The last few years of running my own business were extremely stressful and I looked forward to the luxury of doing a day's work and walking away at the end of my shift with no responsibilities. It lasted three days.

I arrived at the store on the fourth morning to find the area manager running around getting his hands dirty - something was afoot. The manager had walked out. The team behind the counter was about 15 strong, most aged between 17 and 22 - then there was me at 40. A new manager would be in place within a couple of weeks, would I cover until then? Keys were handed over, banking and ordering procedures hastily explained and rotas amended. My stress-free honeymoon was over. 

For the next ten years I managed a succession of stores for the company and was on my feet for 10 -12 hours-a-day, six days-a-week in noisy, airless environments. My record shop flab fell away as I ate on the run and rarely stood still. It was only when I left in 2011 that my body began to revolt. Various aches and pains appeared and followed one after another - and still they come.

My lifestyle after leaving became comparatively sedentary, so I got into a routine of going for at least one good walk per day. In the city I would don my MP3 player for such excursions, but when we moved into the village last year I soon realised that the sounds of nature were all I needed to accompany me and the walks became longer and more frequent. In spite of this, my weight increased steadily and I felt that more was needed and so began power-walking interspersed with short jogs to get the ol' lungs and heart working a bit harder. I've never been a jogger, never-ever. What I do is more akin to shuffling, but by jove, I started to feel better for it.

Two Tuesdays ago I was about halfway round my circular route when a small discomfort on the inside of my right knee became a screaming pain. No pings or snaps, nothing dramatic - it just gradually began to hurt...a lot. After a couple of days of resting my leg, I realised that the pain wasn't just going to go away, so I went to see the friendly, family GP. During the previous 10 years of store management I think I visited my doctor once - lately,the practice is fast becoming my second home. Something has worn out in my leg, but they're not quite sure what - a ligament maybe, or a muscle perhaps - nothing too serious, but enough to stop me in my tracks for a bit. For the time being I'm on painkillers and booked in for a course of physio over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, back at Saturday Scratch.....The Hurricanes, fronted by future Meditations vocalist Danny Clarke, were one of a series of lesser known artists produced by Lee Perry in 1971. The single is a tough, brass-driven tune which was subsequently versioned in 1973 as 'Elephant Rock' on The Upsetters' seminal 'Blackboard Jungle Dub' LP. The title of the original Hurricanes cut? 'You Can Run'......are you havin' a larf mate? I can't even walk properly at the moment!

 Enjoy your weekend and remember to warm-up thoroughly before exercise.



Previously on Saturday Scratch.

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