Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In the summer of '78 Yukihiro Takahashi went to Paris for two weeks, and he spent the entire time reading the newspaper. Tammy Wynette had just married George Richey, and the Boston College basketball team was in the midst of a point-shaving scandal.

Yuki worried obsessively whether that "gold-digging baka yarou" would treat Tammy right, unlike her previous four husbands, and if his favorite team could ever bounce back from disgrace.

After two agonizing weeks the blues ensued. Yuki washed the newsprint off his fingers and caught the next flight back to Tokyo.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ice schmice. Any fool with half a brain, a Suzuki trained ear and a rotting tooth can immediately tell this is the Lafayette Afro Rock Band kickin' flappin n' crack-a-jackin at the Mysticon igloo saloon.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bahta Gebre Hiwot began his musical career as a member of the house band at the Ras Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For decades this legendary hotel was an essential part of the fabric of Addis Ababa, hosting famous guests including Nelson Mandela and Don Johnson.

The Ras Band formed in 1960, and in addition to Bahta G. Hiwot it included such well-known players as Tefera Mekonnen, Getachew Welde-Selassie, Zewdu Legesse, Lufanesu Spongelatke, and a bunch of other people whose names I can barely spell or pronounce. The band played every Friday night, and under strict house rules all guests had to be impeccably dressed and accompanied by a dapper date. Any man who was considered under-dressed was whisked off to Room 147 and promptly given a tie. Flip-flops were also a big no-no, but many patrons wore them on purpose just to be given the replacement leather loafers, handmade by the Bata Shoe Company in Kenya.

Hiwot (or "Batta-G" to his homies) played with the Ras Band for many years but he managed to record several solo singles, including the charming "Tessassategn Eko", which was arranged by Master Mulatu Astatke and is slated to appear on Ethiopiques Volume 648. All the while he was attending night classes to became an accountant. In fact, he abandoned the music scene completely in 1972 to count garbanzo beans at the Ghion Hotel right up until his retirement.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tincoãs - Banzo  (Escrava Isaura, 1976)

Escrava Isaura was a telenovela produced by the Brazilian television network Rede Globo in 1976. It was based on the novel by the same name, written by Brazilian writer Bernardo Guimarães in 1875.

The story is about a slave girl named Isaura who endures incredible hardships (including being engaged to a hunchbacked dwarf) before she is finally freed to marry her star-crossed lover, Alvaro. Not only was the series a big hit throughout South America, it was a smashing success all over the world, especially in the Eastern Bloc, Africa and China. In fact, it was the first TV series that the Chinese government even allowed to air in which a foreign actress played the main character (Isaura was played by Lucélia Santos). And it was the very first soap opera to air, PERIOD, in the Soviet Union and Poland. It was even broadcast via satellite to the research station in Antarctica. U.S. President Gerald Ford wanted all 45 episodes sent out to Mars, just in case, but the bill was vetoed by Congress.

The series was remade in 2004 but shhhh, we won't talk about that. Just like we won't talk about the fact that some fool is remaking Clash of the Titans and poor Sir Laurence Olivier is spinning in his grave as we speak.

In addition to the astoundingly great track by Tincoãs, the soundtrack (released by Som Livre) includes lovely music by Elizeth Cardoso, Francis Hime, and Dorival Caymmi. Orquestra Som Livre also contributes a nice little piece, accompanied by a chorus of hunchbacked birds who become increasingly wacky as the song goes along.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jeffersonville High School was founded in 1871 in the downtown area of Jeffersonville, Indiana. As one of the largest high schools in the state, it has garnered so many awards and achievements throughout the years that my mind is ready to explode. Its Air Force Junior ROTC program has won countless awards for its color guard. And the boys track team has won a record 38 championships in a row! But it is the Jeffersonville High School Band that has been the most impressive. This legendary band was the training ground for many of the world's leading musicians, writers, comedians, and heiresses -- including Steve Martin on flute, Desmond Dekker on trombone, Paris Hilton on e-flat clarinet, Thomas Wolfe on alto sax, and Russell Simmons on soprano clarinet. If you don't believe me, you can view the full list of famous band members by clicking on the photo below.

Here, have a listen!  And if you're craving a little calypso number, give this one a try.
Note: the sounds you are enjoying today were brought to you by Satan and the Citizens Bank & Trust Company. A full service bank, member FDIC.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nanette Natal - Lavender Thursday  (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 1969)

I'm not sure if this was recorded before, during, or after Nan's little run-in with Barbara Walters.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ray Williams - Cosmopolitan London  (It's Been A Long Time, 1978)

This was arranged and produced by the Grenadian-born Ray Williams and 'twas the very first release by Vasko Records. Speaking of cosmopolitan London, I really miss Trebovir Road, and Penywern Road, and the view of Oxford Street while hanging out of the window at midnight. Good luck, good vibes, and keep on, as it says on the back of the record.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Moondance - Moondance  (North Shore Appeal, 1977)

A lot of musicians have recorded albums on the North Shore of Oahu: David Cassidy, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Pebbles, just to name a few. But none of these folks have remotely captured the "North Shore Sound" (except maybe Pebbles). And yes, there is such a thing as the North Shore Sound, just as there is a Motown Sound, and a Waco Sound. The North Shore Sound is basically the sound of guitars with a strong undercurrent of the sea, the sky, and the wind of the Islands. Those natural elements make all the difference in the world.

Why the name 'Moondance', you ask? Thankfully it had nothing to do with Van Morrison. Instead the name originated on a night when the band was really cookin' at a place called The Proud Peacock in the shabby jungle of Waimea Falls Park. A fine foxy lady called "Moon" waltzed in, and naturally Harry (pictured below on the far right) asked her to dance. Believe it? Believe it!

North Shore Appeal was released on Hula Records in Honolulu. The banana on the cover was courtesy of Bananas, Inc. (yes, that's actually written on the back of the record)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On a chilly October morning in 1965, Gökçen Kaynatan glanced at his watch for the twentieth time as he waited for his mates to show up for band practice at the Erkek Lisesi gymnasium in Istanbul. The same tired thoughts ran through his mind -- would Orhan have bothered to take a shower within the past week? Would Yuksel have forgotten his bass lines again? Would Mustafa even show up at all or would he claim yet again to have choked on a mulberry at breakfast? In short, Gökçen was fed up. What else could he conclude except that humans were far too lazy, unreliable, and just plain STINKY to collaborate with on a musical basis? And so it came to pass on that fateful autumn morning that the music world became a vastly more exhilarating place, when Gökçen Kaynatan ditched his rock band (The Shadows) and bravely set off on a solo journey into the world of electronic music. Please join me in shouting Şa şa şa!   I'm pretty sure that's turkish for hip hip hurrah.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Featuring champion wrestler Nancy Kumi on the sleeve. Here's one of her exciting matches against Monster Ripper in 1980 (I couldn't resist jazzing it up with the theme music):

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ismail Haron - Tolong Damaikan  (Ilham Pujangga, 1972)

As the leader of the The Vigilantes in late 60s Singapore, Ismail Haron borrowed so heavily from Tom Jones' song catalog and unique style of performance that he was given the nickname "The Tom Jones of Singapore". (Actually that was one of the daily-doubles on Jeopardy last night). Izzy wasn't offended by the moniker, but he insisted that Tom Jones was not his main idol. He said his inspirations were black singers, and he claimed that he was the very first musician in ALL of Singapore to "do a James Brown ditty."   (Only God and Alex Trebek know the truth)

After a successful solo career, Mr. Haron moved to Australia in 1977 and spent the next 18 years performing in Aussie nightclubs, including The Gat Club and The Pinocchio.

And now for some door prizes. Whoever is holding ticket stub #CW2355 and is able to name the original performer of this song will receive two free passes to Ismail's 10pm show at the Gat Club this Friday night.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This record also has a decent version of "Love On A Two Way Street". But unfortunately, the flunky known as Ashton Kutcher has ruined that song forever with his ridiculous new recording called "Love On A Two Way Tweet". (I mean seriously, Ashton, if you really sit down and analyze it, does it make any sense whatsoever that you "found love on a two way tweet, and lost it on the information super highway?") For the love of god, stop the insanity.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Samir Hilmi - Theme from Al Hodoud

The Syrian film Al Hodoud is the story of an Arab traveller who loses his passport between two Arab countries, and is forced to live on the borderline where neither country will let him in. Made in 1987, the film was a sharp criticism of regimes that preach unity, yet are far from it. I came across the video randomly on youtube and was dazzled by the music. Unfortunately the title, description and comments were entirely in Arabic, so I had no idea what it was, who it was, where I was, or why I was holding a half-eaten shish kabob. But after extensive research I was able to obtain the name of the film and (more importantly) the composer: Samir Hilmi. Hilmi did the scores for some other Syrian films, such as Al Kampars, but it seems there is no way to obtain his music on LP, cassette, or CD -- well, no way short of going to Syria, which I'm very tempted to do. I wanted to investigate further but the video had been removed by the youtube police... luckily I had saved a copy. If anyone out there knows how to obtain some of Samir Hilmi's music please get in touch.

I edited out the non-musical parts in the clip above, but included the first scene so you can have a look at this awesome car:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

James Jeans was the very first company in Finland to produce American-style jeans. The company's advertising executive, Oie Salo, insisted that the jeans be designed exactly like the ones he saw American sailors wearing down at Helsinki Harbour every Friday night. He also insisted on naming the jeans after the hottest film star of the time: James Dean. The latter request was flatly refused by the elderly CEO of the company -- well, at least until his son took him to see East of Eden. After that, not only was he was gung-ho about the idea, but he snuck downstairs in the middle of the night and used his wife's sewing machine to make his own pair of super tight jeans with the letters R-E-B-E-L embroidered across the butt. James Jeans became an instant success and continued to be the biggest jeans brand in Finland until the mid-1970s. Many Finnish rock bands performed on tours sponsored by James Jeans, and some of them, including Utopia, recorded songs for their commericals. The "King of the Road" ad featured a shirtless guy wearing James' signature Western-Style jeans.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Shusha - The Violet  (From East To West, 1978)

Shusha Guppy was born into a traditional Persian family, the daughter of a distinguished theologian who was the longtime chair of philosophy at Tehran University. As a teenager she moved to Paris to train as an opera singer, where she became bosom buddies with Jacques Prévert. Jacques encouraged her interest in traditional Persian folk songs as well as contemporary French chansons and ballads. On From East To West she collaborated with Paul Buckmaster, attempting to fuse eastern and western instruments and combine the polyrhythms of Persian music with the rhythms of jazz, blues, and rock.

She later gave birth to a school of Trinidadian guppies.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One of the last releases on Chicago's On Top imprint, before Calvin Carter packed up and moved to California.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marta Szirmai - Bagira  (Marta Szirmai, 1964)

This is definitely THE standout record from the oft-overlooked ventriloquism genre. Frankly, it beats the pants off those Little Marcy and Jimmy Nelson albums all the cool kids are listening to.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Not to be confused with Boca Terry, the Florida-based company offering men's and women's bathrobes of all colors and styles -- including terry bathrobes, velour bathrobes, waffle bathrobes, and microfiber bathrobes. You can find them at Ritz Carltons, Four Seasons, and other 5-star hotels across Europe and the Far East. Come and explore Boca Terry, the company that will handle all of your needs.

(Not sure of the date on this Promakov release out of Benin).