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Archive for the ‘All – Songs’ Category

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited – Shumba (1981)

September 2, 2016 Leave a comment

This is a staggering record – relentless cyclical guitar and bass, beautiful intertwining melodies and Mapfumo on top form with his socially conscious lyrics.

Thomas Mapfumo is widely regarded as Zimbabwe’s greatest and best known artist. He invented and popularized Chimurenga music – literally “struggle” in Shona – which was often overtly political. In addition to his modern incarnation of traditional music, his lyrics were sung in Shona. In the late 1970s singing in Shona instead of English was a political statement in and of itself. In Mapfumo’s case, it was specifically critical of the white ruling class of Rhodesia. The government, underestimating his popularity, eventually banned his records and imprisoned Mapfumo without charges in 1979. After a series of large protests demanding his release, he was set free three months later.

Though he initially celebrated the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980, he became increasingly disillusioned with the regime of Robert Mugabe.

Shumba (or Lion) was a particularly popular song during the fight for liberation and is a cautionary tale warning of spies in the midst …

Do not talk of secret issues or give information in public

Informers are everywhere.

A perfect record

Neu! – Leb’ Wohl (1975)

August 29, 2016 Leave a comment

I’m struggling to understand why it has taken me so long to post anything by the incomparable Neu! on this blog. No matter, an omission now rectified.

Alongside Kraftwerk and Can, Neu! are my favourites among the wonderful Krautrock genre of the 1970s.

I “re-stumbled” upon this song today while listening to the four CD set “Who’s That Man. A Tribute To Conny Plank” – Conny Plank was the engineer on all Neu!’s LPs and also on numerous other classics by Kraftwerk, Harmonia, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, etc. This track is taken from Neu’s third LP “Neu! ’75

This is a beautiful piano based song which, until recently, I might have considered as a potential candidate for part of the soundtrack for my funeral … However, having recently started to work my way through Michel de Montaigne’s Essays (written in the 16th century), I have been persuaded that specifying the desired details of my funeral would be a pointless and egotistical imposition and burden on those who live on. Thus, the great essayist quotes Saint Augustine:

The arranging of funerals, the conditions of burials, the pomp of obsequies, are rather a consolation for the living than any help to the dead”

Anyway, a perfect record!

Feargal Sharkey – More Love (1988)

June 12, 2016 Leave a comment

With Northern Ireland about to kick off their Euro 2016 fixtures this afternoon, what better way to get ready than to hear this classic piece of 1980’s pop from Ulster’s finest?

Definitely the best thing Feargal Sharkey recorded in his solo career and, in my view, right up there with the classics from his Undertones days.

Written for Sharkey by Benmont Tench (a founder member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), the song also features the unmistakeable sound of Keith Richards on guitar. Tricky to track down on iTunes or Spotify, Youtube comes up trumps!

Bram Tchaikovsky – Girl Of My Dreams (1979)

June 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Couldn’t resist the segue from Pyotr to Bram ….

A powerpop classic and one of my favourite songs when I was 15. Peter Bramall was originally a member of The Motors and then left to forge a new career by forming Bram Tchaikovsky to a largely indifferent world.

Released as a single, “Girl of my Dreams” was taken from the Strange Man, Changed Man which appeared on the wonderful Radar Records label (home of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe around that time).

Perfect pop music!

Ernie K-Doe – Mother-In-Law (1961)

June 5, 2016 Leave a comment

Written by the late Allen Toussaint and released as a single on the wonderful Minit Records in 1961, Mother-In-Law is not (spoiler alert) a song that is overly complimentary about the woman in question. A few lines to illustrate this:

The worst person I know ….

Satan should be her name …

But if she would leave that would be the solution …

A jolly tune though!

Eddie Curtis – The Louisville Lip (1971)

June 4, 2016 Leave a comment

A very sad day indeed for the world.

This song would have been worth posting on any day of any year but, today, it just has to be essential. A great song, which I first heard when I bought the superb compilation “Hits And Misses: Muhammed Ali And The Ultimate Sound Of Fistfighting” a few years ago (released on the wonderful Trikont label, details here)

I remember the “Thrilla in Manila” quite well because I was a young boy living in Hong Kong in 1975 in the same time zone as the Philippines. My mum was very excited and followed it avidly!

I’ve previously posted an Ali tribute here (using the medium of reggae) but Eddie Curtis’ “Louisville Lip” is a worthy addition to the bestmusicofalime.

The Grubby Mitts – To A Friend’s House (2011)

June 2, 2016 Leave a comment

One of my great pleasures in life is receiving my monthly copy of The Wire Magazine. It’s a bit esoteric and, to be frank, a lot of the “experimental” music they cover is unmitigated tosh.

Nonetheless, three or four times a year, the magazine comes with a free CD and the “Wire Tapper” series now stretches past 40 volumes …. I do try and listen to these all the way through but they can be a bit of an endurance test. Occasionally, however, you hear something that makes you pause and really sit up. This track is one such example.

To A Friend’s House” by The Grubby Mitts appeared on Wire Tapper 37 early in 2015. While this was the first official CD release of the track, it actually dates back on vinyl to 2011. Whatever its provenance, this is an intriguing and beguiling track – for me, a blend of classic English folk with the lo-fi, indie-pop nous of the bands on New Zealand’s peerless Flying Nun Records label. It turns out that The Grubby Mitts are from Bedford in the UK; only 20 miles from where I type this missive … guys, can I have a beer for plugging you?

A bit of accordion, a spot of bass and some multi-layered spoken vocals adds up to considerably more than the sum of its parts.

Give it a go!

 

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