Sunday, 24 January 2010

Guns of Navarone - Various Artists (Trojan Records 1969)

Picked this one up last week in the bargain bin of a second hand record shop in Brighton. The record is in pretty awful condition and the recording has a few skips and jumps, I imagine its seen its share of parties for this a great compilation of fantastic ska and reggae tunes. Some, like the title track or 'Bonanza Ska', will be familiar to many, but others are wonderfully obscure. Baba Brooks' jazzy sound was a revelation to me upon first listen, and I'm also loving the Skatalites' 'Ball O' Fire'.


01 Skatalites - Guns Of Navarone
02 Baba Brooks - Bank To Bank Part 1
03 Ike & Crystalites - Illya Kurayakin
04 Tommy McCook - Saboo
05 Carlos Malcolm - Bonanza Ska
06 Baba Brooks - Vitamin A
07 Lyn Tate & Jets - Something Stupid
08 Flames, The - Broadway Jungle
09 Tennors, The - Copy Me Donkey
10 Roland Alphonso - El Pussy Cat
11 Eric Morris - Penny Reel
12 Soul Brothers, The - Sound Pressure
13 Lyn Tate & Jets - Napoleon Solo
14 Skatalites, The - Ball O' Fire
15 Baba Brooks - Guns Fever
16 Baba Brooks - Bank To Bank Part 2

Get it HERE if you don't mind a bit of crackle and pop.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Hits of Rahul Dev Burman (The Gramophone Company of India 1973)

During the 1970s, R.D. Burman was the Bollywood dream factory's most popular composer of film songs. His music drew heavily on Western pop styles and so, on this compilation, we're treated to a healthy dose of fuzz guitars and echo chamber effects to complement the Bollywood strings and tablas. Here is the first song on the album, the classic 'Dum Maro Dum', from the 1971 movie 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna':

If you watched the video, then it should come as no suprise that the title translates to something like 'Puff, take a puff'. One of the reasons I find old records so endlessly fascinating is that they often offer us a window through which we can get a novel view of the world. This fabulous piece of film seems to be saying something about the invasion of India by disaffected Western kids in search of 'authenticity', enlightenment, and of course great drugs. This invasion started only twenty years after India was given independence from British colonial rule, and I think its worth pointing out here that much of Britain's colonial wealth and power was made during the 19th Century through its monopoly over the trade in opium.

In the 18th Century the colonial government of India expropriated land and used some of the displaced population as labour power to work the poppy plantations, increasing the production of opium for export to the lucrative Chinese market. In this way, the British government and the East India Trading Company established and maintained an opium monopoly that helped prepare the ground for capitalism in Asia by creating massive consumer markets. The trade generated enormous cash flows, while at the same time helping to establish trade routes, reorder class structures, change productive practices and create new political and economic structures throughout Asia (Fitzgerald, 2005). Even at this early stage opium was a controversial commodity subject to politicization, frequently modulating between official monopoly and contraband commodity (Fitzgerald, 2005). By the 1830's, the Chinese government came to realize it was trading away its wealth to pay for the population's growing love of the pipe; subsequent attempts to prohibit the trade led to the Opium Wars of 1839 and 1856 (Chambliss, 1977; Davenport-Hines, 2000). Marx pointed out the hypocrisy and ruthless profiteering of the British Government in correspondence for the New York Tribune. While highlighting the inflated profits resulting from the 'contraband character' of the trade, Marx also predicted the causes of the decline in British involvement in the opium trade:

"...the Indian finances of the British Government have, in fact, been made to depend not only on the opium trade with China, but on the contraband character of that trade. Were the Chinese Government to legalize the opium trade simultaneously with tolerating the cultivation of the poppy in China, the Anglo-Indian exchequer would experience a serious catastrophe”(Marx, 1858).

After 1859, the Chinese government did indeed legalize opium enabling them to levy a tax, while at the same time allowing farmers to cultivate their own poppies (Chambliss, 1977). This did not however, cause the catastrophe Marx envisaged, for the money capital generated during the opium boom flowed back to England and was used to fuel the growth of industrial capital, which by the mid 19th Century had already emerged, “...dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt” (Marx, 1990: 926).

Chambliss, W.J. (1977) “Markets, Profits, Labour and Smack” Contemporary Crises 1: 53-76
Davenport-Hines, R. (2001) The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics 1500 – 2000 London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Fitzgerald, J. (2005) “Illegal Drug Markets in Transitional Countries” Addiction Research and Theory 13 (6): 563-577
Marx, K. (1990) Capital Volume I London: Penguin
Marx, K. (1858) “Monopoly or Trade” in New York Tribune

Regardless of all that, I hope you enjoy these groovy sounds.


01 Dum Maro Dum
02 I Love You
03 Na Koi Umang Kai
04 Rampur Ka Bassi Hoon
05 Aaj To Meri Hansi Udai
06 Kahin Karti Hogi
07 Duniya Mein
08 Biti Na Bitai Raina
09 Deko Re Hua
10 Bangle Ke Peechhe
11 Jeena To Hai
12 Piya Tu Ab To Aja

Get it HERE.

There's lots more great R.D. Burman stuff to be found at Music from the Third Floor, a great blog that's well worth a look.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Pascal Bony et les Cantadors de la Capital (1977)

I found this gem in a charity shop in Bath at the end of December, and its been getting some heavy use since I got it home. Can't really tell you much about it as there's little info about Pascal Bony (or Bony Pascal) to be found on the internet. What I can say is that its very lo-fi and sounds like it was recorded in the midst of a really great party. The music is a frenetic blend of a variety of styles from the Cote d'Ivoire and Western Africa. There are some gloriously chaotic moments on 'Abobgna' where the whole thing sounds like its about to fall apart, but this just seems to increase the excitement.


01 Abobogna
02 Alakamin
03 Assouo Kpla Mousouo
04 Annee de la Femme
05 Ahouan Foue

Get the goodies HERE.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

BBC's Folk on 2 Presents Northumbrian Folk (1971)

English folk music is not something I could claim to know anything about, or even have any particular liking for, however I had to grab this album for two reasons:

1. It contains folk music from Northumbria, an area that encompasses Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne & Wear. County Durham is the area in which I was born and raised and I think I might have a few good memories of the place.

2. It was released in the year of my birth.

So you see, I couldn't really pass it up for a pound.

Little did I know that this album would be so evocative of my childhood, binging back hazy memories of the '70s. Hearing The Washington Greys Marching Band performing 'Bobby Shaftoe' on drums and kazoo brought back memories of watching the local Jazz Band in my home town of Newton Aycliffe. As a child I wanted to play drums in one of these marching bands, I loved the splendid mock-Napoleonic outfits, but remember being especially taken by the white plimsoles they wore.
Some of the interviews are really interesting, particularly the one where Archie Bertram talks about his life as a was recorded 40 years ago but its like he's describing another planet.

My favourite piece on the record though, is 'In The Bar Room'. Driven by the sound of the jaw harp, the song is an ode to the communal pleasure to be found in the pub, and a sly diatribe against work.


01The North Walbottle Rapper Sword Dance - The Monkseaton Morris Men
02 Morpeth Rant - Dennis Osselton & Archie Bertram
03 A Border Shepherd - Archie Bertram
04 The College Valley Hunt - Bob Davenport & The Marsden Rattlers
05 Bobby Shaftoe, Cushy Butterfield - The Washington Greys
06 The Lambton Worm - The Marsden Rattlers
07 Chevy Chase - Colin Rose
08 Blow The Wind Southerly - Anne Norman
09 Sea Lore - Bob Davenport
10 The Story of Grace Darling - Mrs. Kate White
11 My Bonny Lad - Bob Davenport
12 The Keel Row - Anne Norman
13 The Keel Row (2) - The Edith Adamson Carillon
14 Hadrian's Wall - Scott Dobson
15 Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinnie - Bob Davenport & The Marsden Rattlers
16 The Durham Miners' Gala - John Elliot
17 In the Bar Room - The Elliots of Birtley
18 Waters of the Tyne - Anne Norman
19 Woe Nannie's a Mazor - The Marsden Rattlers
21 Dan Leno's Hornpipe - Johnson Ellwood
22 The Blaydon Races - Bob Davenport & The Marsden Rattlers

If you're interested, then you can get it HERE.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Mahmoud Guinia

It's been far too long.


01 Mimouna
02 Moulay Ahmed
03 Makawiya
04 Soudan

Get it HERE.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones - Spiders in the Moonlight (1977)

Today is the first day of 2010 and many of you young whippersnappers will be nursing sore heads, so today I'm posting a suitably booze-soaked album of goodtime hillbilly music. Some of you might know Jeffrey Frederick and the Clamtones from his songs on 'Have Moicy' (which must be one of my desert island discs), though he remains more obscure than his misfit collaborators, The Holy Modal Rounders and Michael Hurley. These musicians have deep roots in the counterculture of the '60s, and it shows, not through extended guitar solos and cosmic sound effects, but rather through the outlaw spirit and the irreverent, anarchic humour that pervades many of these songs.

While The Holy Modal Rounders and Michael Hurley were both part of the East Village folk scene that spawned The Fugs, Jeffrey Frederick was a country boy, originally from Vermont, and later settling in Oregon, where he recruited the Clamtones and recorded this great album. Here's some footage of the band playing an outdoor reunion concert in 1993:

Jeffrey apparently lived a life as colourful as his songs and one of his bandmates has collected a bunch of stories like the one that follows, on the Freakmountain website.
"Another time Jeff had been on a 2 day drunk.He had charmed this chicken
into sitting on his shoulder.By Sunday morning the chicken had been sitting
there for 8 hours or so --The gang goes to the End of the Trail for Sunday
Brunch-- The restaurant is packed with the after church crowd from Carson--
-Vida comes to the table and sez--"Jeff,,, you cant have that chicken in
here!!"--So Jeff takes the chicken off his shoulder,sticks it's head in his
mouth and bites it off.The headless chicken goes flyin',floppin'and flappin'
thru the restaurant,squirtin' blood all over the sunday suits and dresses.Vida
was NOT happy.Jeff was kicked out for a few days. He had to sincerely

01 Rotten Lettuce
02 Lazy Bones
03 juanita
04 Toilet
05 Stolen Guitar
06 Beer Shits
07 Window
08 Rosebud
09 Oh Me Oh My
10 Singing to the Dentist
11 Let Me Down

Get it HERE, though I would encourage you to buy the completely remastered CD entitled 'Resurrection of Spiders in the Moonlight' from over here.