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).
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!
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 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.
It has been one of those weeks that left me feeling emotionally, creatively and spiritually drained and I think some serious cheering up is in order. The stand-out laugh of the week came when my long-suffering housemate shared a surprising version of William Shatner (yep, Captain Kirk himself) ‘singing’ Pulp’s huge hit ‘Common People’.
My brother sent me a heads-up about an album a few days ago. The musicians recorded it under the name Equador, and I was happy to uncover that Equador is the brainchild of the uber-talented Henry Binns (of Zero 7 fame) and his lovely wife, the Lady Catherine Anna Brudenell-Bruce (daughter of the Earl of Cardigan), otherwise known as Bo Bruce.
I was transported back to a very different era of my life recently when South Africa’s Music Guru, Sean Brokensha, played Judy Collins singing Bread and Roses during his excellent weekend show on Johannesburg’s Mix 93 FM. Some may not remember who Judy Collins is, and fewer will know what the Bread and Roses movement was about, but it is an interesting bit of musical history that did so much for the social consciousness of the era’s music lovers. We’ll start with a little background about the movement’s driving force, Mimi Fariña.
I nearly didn’t write this article. When I saw a snippet informing me that it was the anniversary of the first Bubblegum Music chart-topper, I almost didn’t follow through. The song was Green Tambourine from The Lemon Pipers, and although not my favourite song of the era, it definitely beat some of the bubblegum crud we were expected to chew on the weekly hit parade. However, when I had a deeper look at this sugary-sweet genre I found it was quite an interesting topic and well worth some blog space.
Last week I fell in love and I think Yazmin and I are going to live happily ever after. This was all thanks to fellow music blogger (and member of our LTM group), Frank Darnell, who writes A Franke View posted two tracks from her debut EP that she released in 2017. My immediate comment was I can’t wait to hear more from this lady, and lo and behold, a few days later I stumbled across some more from this remarkable singer/songwriter.
Whenever I hear the song Vienna I have an overwhelming urge to join in and belt out the wonderfully dramatic hook. Dependent on the scenario, this normally results in others joining me, or raised eyebrows and mumbled comments, I’m used to both! By the time the Vienna album was released a lot of water and history had passed under the Ultravox bridge, and today I’ll attempt to take you on a quick trip through the history and background of this remarkable band.
One of the bands from the 80s that always stood out for me is Level 42. The funky jazz feel that they specialized in struck a chord with me from the outset. Today I am taking a few hours break from work to indulge in my favourite hobby and bring you a quick mini-feature about one of the masters of their genre, Level 42.
During the 50s and early 60s a morbid fad took hold in popular music with the event of the teen tragedy song, often termed ‘death discs’ or (my favourite) ‘splatter platters’. Doomed lovers and teen death stories have been popular for hundreds of years with Romeo and Juliet definitely being the most famous, but I doubt the oldest. The obvious rhyming of the words good-bye, cry and die may have something to do with it, but that’s just a guess!
Among the bands and musicians of the 1990s that have gone on to be household names and local legends is Arno Carstens, the Stellenbosch boy who rocked our world with Springbok Nude Girls and has continued his successful career (with and without ‘the Nudies’) to this day. Arno’s complete story is way too long and winding for a Tuesday mini-feature and deserves a major article to completely cover his musical journey. With this in mind, I have decided to share some background and songs from the Springbok Nude Girls part of his vast career.
The cover version is a contentious issue. Nowadays, a cover version immediately puts itself in the firing line of music lovers, and especially the musical press, all keen to judge and critique every note and nuance. Some offerings make it through the battlefield of personal scrutiny to be heralded as genius, while most are dissed across the various media platforms and consigned to the ‘don’t bother’ list. But this wasn’t always the case as we will find out in this fascinating look at the history of the cover version.
As it is my brother, Rob’s, birthday I thought I would share a few covers that have meant a lot to us both over the years (and in honour of him being such a wonderful person and such a special brother). I know it’s a bit indulgent on my part but I think this selection makes for some good listening, and apart from that, Rob is such a nice person I think he deserves to be honoured!