Wednesday 29 June 2016


To describe my interest in football as scant, is to wildly over-exaggerate my feelings for the game, which in reality reside in some murky sub-scant region of the subconscious. Recently, however, word reached this sporting backwater, that the previously unfancied Leicester City emerged unexpectedly victorious in the league at the end of the latest footie season. A perfect time then, to share the gloriously sleazy anthem that is 'Leicester Holiday', by Bat-Bike. It's the opening track on the band's 'Getting Back' LP, which was issued on the fabulous Trashmouth Records in January. Listen to more of the album here.

Monday 27 June 2016

Red Gold & Green #1 - Stranger Cole

I've been meaning to start a more wide-ranging reggae series for a very long time. Saturday Scratch, my long-running series devoted exclusively to the work of Lee Perry (here), ran out of steam a while ago and is now on an indefinite hiatus. Scratch's music will still crop up in Red Gold & Green from time to time (how can it fail to?), but I've got many more roots, rocksteady, ska and dubwise selections by other great artists in my collection that could also do with an airing.

Much of what ends up in Red Gold & Green will date from the 1960's, 1970's or early 1980's, though to buck that trend at the very outset, here's veteran recording artist Stranger Cole with the excellent 2004 cut that gives this new feature its name. This version is actually a re-recording of the tune, the original having appeared on Cole's 1976 LP, 'Forward In the Land of Sunshine', under the slightly amended title 'Red Green and Gold'.

Stranger Cole - Red Gold & Green.

Friday 24 June 2016

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Attack Of The Glam Soul Cheerleaders

If it's infectiousness you're after, look no further. TeenCanteen's Carla J Easton returns in her guise as Ette, with a single that is poptastic catchiness personified. 'Attack Of The Glam Soul Cheerleaders (Parts 1 & 2)' is from the forthcoming album 'Homemade Lemonade, due on July 22nd.

Friday 17 June 2016

Mbongwana Star

Too many times already this year, not least the past few days, it's been difficult to find a ready excuse to smile. So to leave a gig on Tuesday evening with my jaw aching just as much as my legs, was a real treat for the soul. I can't remember the last non-comedy show I saw that had me continuously beaming from ear to ear, quite as much as Congolese six piece Mbongwana Star did. The band's debut album, 'From Kinshasa', made my long-list at the end of 2015 and they are still out there promoting it in a truly joyous fashion. Guitarist Jean Claude (aka R9) appeared to be the musical director, keeping things gloriously tight but loose, while occasionally lurching into wildly off-kilter, Tony Iommi-esque solos. Meanwhile, Theo Nzonza, one of two wheel-chaired vocalists, was a blur, busting moves that put this able-bodied old fool to shame - ' good? good...?' Theo repeatedly asked us in broken English. The roar of the audience's reply required no translation. Catch them if you can.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

One For Rol

Some blogs are given an off the wall moniker, while others do exactly what it says on the tin. Step forward Rol, over at My Top Ten. Once a week he pulls together and posts ten songs on a theme or subject of his choosing, inviting and welcoming comments and further suggestions after the event. It's a simple and thoroughly entertaining idea. This week, his theme is the humble taxi and I have to say that he's picked ten corkers - check here if you don't believe me. After a bit of head scratching, I managed to come up with a couple of additional tunes that he hadn't already selected. One, 'Cab It Up' by The Fall, just missed the cut by all accounts, while the other, 'Taxi Driver' by Tanzanian dance band The Mlimani Park Orchestra, eluded Rol's best efforts to track it down. I've got 'Taxi Driver' on a well-recommended budget-price compilation, 'The Rough Guide To A World Of Psychedelia', click on the title for more info.

Meanwhile, here's the tune in question Rol.

Mlimani Park Orchestra - 'Taxi Driver'

Monday 13 June 2016

Moon Duo

Five days after sharing a second massive 2016 Bruce Springsteen gig with 80,000 fellow revellers at Wembley Stadium, I joined just a couple of hundred like-minded souls in the intimate surroundings of the Norwich Art Centre, for a long awaited date with Moon Duo. The Duo is now technically a trio, with the addition of excellent live drummer John Jeffrey, who adds welcome flesh, bone and muscle to the previously programmed drum patterns. I've liked Moon Duo's music for a long time and really feel that the addition of Jeffrey is savvy move, allowing Sanae and Ripley the freedom to stretch, manipulate and extend each fuzzy, effects-laden riff for exactly as long as they please. The three of them locked-in tight from the very first moment of the 90 minute set and didn't let up. The light show deserves a mention too - it was pretty wild and reinforced the early Velvet Underground vibe that hung over several of the tunes. Sadly, there's no light show to accompany this live performance of 'Wilding', but hopefully you'll get the musical gist.

Saturday 11 June 2016

The Low Anthem

Do you ever find yourself singing a song in your head, but being unable to remember what the heck it is? It happened to me while I was out and about just last week. The tune went round and round until it finally clicked. It was 'Boeing 737' by Rhode Island band The Low Anthem - what a relief, I could relax. Then I started to wonder what on Earth ever happened to Low Anthem and resolved to Google them when I got home. Needless to say, remembering to Google The Low Anthem became just one of the many things to fall out of my brain when it gets too full. So imagine my surprise this morning when, while idly clicking around, I came across an advert for 'Eyeland', a brand new LP by The Low Anthem - coincidence or what? It's their first release in 5 years and appears to be a psych-folk concept album, which sounds intriguing. 'The Pepsi Moon' is the first taster.

Tuesday 7 June 2016


'Refugee' is a new compilation LP, due for release on Glasgow's Brainfog Records in the first week of July. As the title suggests, the aim of the album is to raise funds for the Migrant Offshore Aid Station Foundation (MOAS), an organisation that provides help to migrants escaping war-torn countries. MOAS has saved more than 13,000 lives in the Mediterranean Sea since 2013 . I'm delighted to note that several favourites of this parish (Alasdair Roberts, Richard Dawson, Bonnie Prince Billy) are among the artists who have donated an unreleased original song to this worthy endeavour, though the quality really doesn't dip throughout the entire album. Here are Kathryn Joseph and Linda Thompson with their sublime respective contributions to 'Refugee'.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Dread at the Controls

The late Michael Campbell, a.k.a Mikey Dread, was born 62 years ago today. Broadcaster, producer and performer, Mikey brought a good deal of fun along with his own brand of roots rock reggae, just listen to the wonderful 'African Anthem' LP if you don't believe me. It's an album crammed full of crucial Dread at the Controls dub-plates, interspersed with a selection of brilliantly individual jingles, created for his late 1970's Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation radio show. If you've never heard 'African Anthem', do yourself a favour and take a listen here.

For all his many achievements, it's Mikey Dread's work with The Clash for which he's possibly best remembered. Spinning dubwise selections before a show, performing support slots (sometimes with Joe and Mick skanking in the shadows) and often joining the band onstage for a couple of songs during their headlining set. Plus of course Mikey got involved in the studio, producing the 'Bankrobber' single and sections of the 1980 triple LP, 'Sandinista!'

In the mid-noughties, Mikey Dread (fronting American band The Blizzard of 78) recorded 'Silicone on Sapphire', his contribution to 'The Sandinista! Project', an ambitious tribute to the Clash's epic LP, which was eventually released in May 2007.

In October of 2007 it was announced that Mikey was receiving treatment for a brain tumour. Mikey Dread passed away on March 15th 2008.

Mikey Dread - Silicone on Sapphire

As a bonus, here's the great Wreckless Eric with his one-man-band reading of 'The Crooked Beat', another track taken from 'The Sandinista! Project'.

Wreckless Eric - The Crooked Beat

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Men of North Country

A tip of the hat to Monkey (he of the esteemed Monkey Picks blog), who pointed me in the direction of Fusion On Air, an online radio station whose tagline is; Life's Too Short to Listen to Bland Crap - now that's an emotion I'm more than happy to second. Sunday evening's Kitchen Boogie show, hosted by Mick Collins, was absolutely outstanding from start to finish and the hour just flew by. I did have to pause the show for a couple of moments though, to research Men of North Country. Mick played their cover of Lou Pride's 'I'm Com'un Home In The Morn'un' and it just about stopped me in my tracks. It turns out Men of North Country hail from Tel Aviv and have recently released their second LP, 'This City', on the Acid Jazz label. So I paused the show for a little longer, clicked around and purchased said album. And it's a belter.

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