Sunday, 31 August 2014

Single Song Sunday

I had better start with an apology. I always knew that putting together different versions of the same song was not a remotely original idea. But I did not know that unconsciously I had borrowed the title of this series from Mr. BoyHowdy at "Cover Lay Down". If he gets to learn of this, I hope he will consider it a homage not a rip-off.

Anyway, back to the business of the day. You will all be familiar with "Try A Little Tenderness", but - like me - you may not have been aware that it was written way back when by three English songwriters, Harry Woods, Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly. It was first recorded by Ray Noble and His Orchestra in 1932, since when it has been covered by pretty much every crooner that ever crooned a tune.

I have tried to avoid the obvious versons that you will have, like those by Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, but there are still plenty of good ones to choose from. We will start with what I think is the earliest version in my collection, by the delightfully named Little Miss Cornshucks, and finish off with a surprisingly sprightly rendition by a Welsh youth choir. In between we have the obligatory reggae version , the less obligatory calypso and disco versions, and some sublime moments from the likes of Charlie Rich and Etta James.

 "Try A Little Tenderness" - Little Miss Cornshucks

Try A Little Tenderness" - Solomon Burke

Try A Little Tenderness" - Etta James

Try A Little Tenderness" - Charlie Rich

Try A Little Tenderness" - Ohio Players

Try A Little Tenderness" - Bitty McLean

Try A Little Tenderness" - Mighty Sparrow with Byron Lee

Try A Little Tenderness" - Cor Ysgol Glanaethwy

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tsonga Thursday

Followers of our intermittent offerings of Tsonga Disco will recall that we have spoken of the alleged bad boy of the Tsonga music scene, Benny Mayengani, who is accused of having been responsible for a series of spats with his former mentor, the great Joe Shirimani, and others. Might he have been misjudged?

On his most recent album, "Ntombi Ya Ku Xonga", Benny includes a track called "Jelly Na Custard". Now I don't speak Tsonga, so it is always possible that this is a vitriolic attack on his enemies who he accuses of having no more backbone than jelly. But can a man who writes songs about custard really be all bad?

Let Benny speak for himself.

"Byalwa" - Benny Mayengani (from "Tiba Ben")

"Bomba Na Maseve" - Benny Mayengani (from "Ntombi Ya Ku Xonga")

And sticking with Bennys (and, indeed, Ernies)...

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Show Must Go On

From the mid 1950s to the mid 1970s, the showbands ruled Ireland. Almost every town big enough to call itself that had a dance hall, into which every Saturday night as many locals as were able would squeeze themselves, in the gaps between the rhythm section, the guitarists, the brass section and the two or three singers.

There is a great four disc compilation called "The Fabulous Irish Showbands" which is pretty representative of the average showband repertoire. It consists of about 30% pop hits of the day, 30% country standards and 30% "I'm far away in Amerikay but I miss [insert name of town of county here] so", with a smattering of originals to round things off.

With such riches to choose from it was hard to narrow it down to three, but here goes. We start with a bit of pop-psychedelia from Dickie Rock, before moving on to an utterly bonkers version of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman" by Brendan "Hucklebuck" Bowyer. I find it hard to describe our last selection, but my guess would be it was inspired by East of Eden's "Jig-A-Jig".

"Uncle Tristan's Moonship" - Dickie Rock & The Miami Showband

"Kentucky Woman" - Brendan Bowyer & The Royal Showband

"Boola Boola" - Seamus Shannon & The Drifter Sound

I can't find a clip of Brendan in his prime doing the Hucklebuck, so you'll have to make do with this version instead.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Taxi Time

Any of you who have spent any length of time in a big city in Africa will know that the group of people who do more than anyone else to keep the place running are the drivers of the minibuses and collective taxis, without whom large chunks of the population would never get to work.

Here are some tributes to those undervalued African heroes. I was going to call them unsung heroes but as they are getting sung about that would not strictly be accurate. The songs come from Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, and the last two from South Africa.

"Taxi Driver (I Don't Care)" - Bobby Benson & His Combo
"Jo Le Taxi" - Les Garagistes
"Take Me Home Taximan" - The Soul Brothers
"Taximan" - eVoid
 I was at school in Boksburg with Erik Windrich, the lead singer with eVoid, many centuries ago. We were in the school production of HMS Pinafore together. Gilbert & Sullivan don't appear to have been a major influence on his subsequent musical direction. Understandable I suppose, but also a bit of a shame in a way.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Mixin' Ma Toasties

Here is some top notch toasting from the legendary Big Youth.

"My Time" - Big Youth

"Jah Jah Golden Jubilee" - Big Youth

And here is some less successful toasting from Paul Young and accomplices.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

ReviewShine Time

It is time for a quick, and long overdue, dip into the ReviewShine goodie bag.

First up is our old friend Kathryn Caine. Kathryn's new album is called "Better" and - with no slight intended to her previous records, all of which I enjoyed - I think it probably is. The backing band seems to have a bit more oomph this time out, and it suits the songs well, especially the title track. Check it out then track down the album on the usual digital sites.

The second act today is a sort of German alt-country super-group (although they would need to sign up the Dad Horse Experience to make it a real super-group). The album "Sample & Hold" is what happens when Mr A Million Mercies and Mr Broken Radio - neither I suspect the names they were born with - set aside their solo careers and make music. Very good it is too. It is out now on Hausmusik.

For our final selection we leave Germany (and ReviewShine) behind and head over to Sweden, where we find Johan Hedberg waiting for us. His new album, "Paradiset", is out on Labrador Records on 23 September, and the nice folks at Labrador have sent out a taster to share with you.  His whistling, while not exactly up to Roger Whittaker standards, is perfectly passable and sets the whole thing up nicely.

"Better" - Kathryn Caine

"Easy Come Easy Go" - A Million Mercies & Broken Radio

"Nackamasterna" - Johan Hedberg

I don't know about you, but "Nackamasterna" reminds me a little bit of this...

But somehow not of the bits of "Flight Test" that remind me of this...

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tsonga on Saturday

We are overdue some Tsonga Disco, so let's put it right with a couple of tracks from Sayicology. Sayicology was part of the old Limpopo Poison gang with Benny Mayengani, Prince Rhangani and Joe Shirimani before it all went pear-shaped (see earlier posts for the ins and outs of the story). What the future holds we will have to wait and see.

"Ghuwa" - Sayicology (featuring Joe Shirimani) [from 'Poison']

"Hosi Malumulele" - Sayicology [from 'Round 2']

Here he is in a sort of semi live performance at an awards show last year.