Amongst the wealth of new exciting new sounds and styles in music that the 80s heralded was a band that always stood out from the crowd – Shriekback. Their quirky dark lyrics and odd arrangements appealed to me.
American Pie is undoubtedly Don McLean’s most recognized song. The epic 1970’s tale of the demise of an era that charts the ideals of the optimistic 1950s through into the darker 1960s resonated with the Baby Boomer audience and ensured the song reached #1 or #2 in nearly every country around the world. In Britain the American Pie album remained amongst the top charting albums for an astounding 54 weeks.
Last month I shared the first single release from Wairunga, the (as then) unreleased album from Fat Freddy’s Drop. The full album was released a few weeks ago and I have had it playing in the background for the last few days. Why in the background?, because I find it the perfect ambient music to work to (although I admit to having blasted the album at a healthy volume a good few times).
From the moment I heard the B52s song Planet Claire I was hooked. When I saw a photo of the band I was in love. The B52s may not be the world’s greatest musicians but, in my eyes, they do deserve the accolade of one of the world’s greatest party bands. While I kind of liked some Punk music I found it alienating and pretty one dimensional. They cleverly took elements of Punk, Surf Rock, Rock n Roll and their own style of Art Pop trash-glam and turned it into something that was 100% fun.
The news from the weekend is that our Amapiano champion, Kabza De Small walked away with 4 SAMA awards. He took the coveted Male Artist of the Year for his ‘King of Amapiano’ album, and along with his musical partner DJ Maphoriso secured Album of the Year, Duo/Group of the Year for ‘Scorpion Kings’ and Best Amapiano Album award for ‘Time in Lockdown’.
I wrote a brief piece about Steve Winwood’s album Arc of a Diver quite a while back. On listening to the album again recently I’ve been inspired to re-work the article and re-share some info about a remarkable talent and an album that captures a period of my life that I call ‘The Cape Town Years’ perfectly.
I have sometimes wondered how the Violent Femmes career would have panned out if they hadn’t decided to busk where they did on the 23rd August 1981. The spot they had chosen just happened to be where Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders were going to be performing later that day. Pretenders guitarist, James Honeyman-Scott, heard the band and was impressed, as was Chrissie Hynde who invited the them to play an acoustic set after the opening act that night.
I watched a documentary over the weekend about that controversial musical invention; the Auto-Tune®. My knee-jerk reaction to songs that have been auto-tuned has always been negative, but that was challenged when some of the facts behind the invention and its use emerged. This morning I was inspired to find out more info about this contentious software and spent a couple of productive research hours putting my highly tuned ducks in a row before embarking on this article.
Harry Raab (or Harry ‘The Hipster’) was rocking and rolling decades before Elvis. He was a genius at the piano, master of boogie woogie, Dixieland, bop, blues, classical, ragtime, stride, Bach, and styles of his own. He composed songs that got his records banned from radio stations…drugs, adultery, drinking, murder, and frantic freaks, they were all included. What a man!
It is unsurprising that there have been so many covers of the Blind Faith classic ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ over the years. It is such a good song. The SecondHandSongs.com site alone lists 70 versions and I am I ascertained that there are even more out there. Why today’s fascination for a 51-year-old song that I’ve already featured three versions of over the years? The answer is Rachel Price, that beautiful Aussie/USA Jazz Blues singer from Lake Street Dive (whom I featured recently)
Today I am featuring three South African musicians of varying styles and all of exceptional talent. Two of them are from the same era and have been a part of the local music scene for decades. The third is a much younger, lovely man who hails from the South Coast of Kwa Zulu Natal. The three songs all hit my suggested clips over the past week so I thought it a good time to go local.
I often wake up with a song on my mind and have no idea what sparked the memory. Today I woke up with a whole selection of songs, all from an album that I have not heard in years, Donovan’s debut LP ‘What’s Been Did and What’s Been Hid’. It was released in 1965 and featured his first huge hit (and song that any guitar newbie learned at the time) Catch the Wind, and became a pretty special record in my life.
I’ve featured the Tedeschi Trucks Band quite often since the early days of our group and know that many of you are already fans. I recently got the heads-up of a new live album, Layla Revisited, which will be available from the 16th July. It was recorded in 2019 at the LOCKN’ festival and comes as a double CD and 3-LP album.
I received the heads-up about St Vincent’s 7th studio album, Daddy’s Home, in May and have been meaning to take a listen for the last few weeks. Today I did, and I reached the same conclusion as I did with her albums St Vincent and Masseduction, so much cleverness needs more than a cursory play.
I don’t avidly follow the Got Talent franchise but when something interesting pops up on my YouTube suggestions I put reservations aside and take a listen. A group I never expected to see in the AGT line-up recently was Gangstagrass. I’ll tell you why…
While YouTubing a few nights ago I came across a clip of one of my musical heroes that I hadn’t seen before at a series of events that was immediately added to my bucket list. The Jamm Jam events are a part of the Jamcard network. Jamcard is a social network for music professionals to let the music fraternity know availability and the movements of virtually any full-time music professional. Their website is pretty interesting for those interested.
I did a mini-feature about Wendy Oldfield in August last year and have been inspired to write another by the release of her new album. Salt, her 7th album was released at the end of April and I spent a very happy evening last night immersed in it. Two singles were pre-released earlier this year and received airplay, but the whole album deserves a hearing.
I have always been a fan of Crowded House’s music and so many of their songs became a part of the soundtrack of my life, particularly the 1985 – 96 period when they produced hit after hit. Today I’ve decided to share a couple of my favourite tracks and a little backstory behind the band.