Author Archives: Andrew

Mohamed Badri Hassan – Parting

Various Artists – Rain in the Hills

Various Artists – Rain in the Hills

I’m late. Who to blame. How about daughter dear. She is not here to defend herself. She is off, swanning round the world. Lucky so and so. Follow her progress here.

On to the music – appropriately enough a track called Parting by Mohamed Badri Hassan. It is taken from the Original Music CD Rain in the Hills. I paid £0.99 for this and £0.99 each for two other Original Music CDs when Chappells had a sale at their Milton Keynes store prior to closing it down. Each of the CDs is fantastic – my best ever bargain CDs by a long chalk. (If you’d like a copy you’ll probably have to pay upwards of £40.00).

On this track Mohamed Badri Hassan is accompanying himself on a basankop. According to the sleeve notes Mohamed Badri explained that “before a musician can play the basankop properly, he has to spend the night in a graveyard.”

Mohamed Badri Hassan – Parting

BJ Cole – Gnossienne No. 5

Various Artists - Instruments

Various Artists – Instruments

An instrumental this week from an album called, appropriately enough, Instruments. It is one of two samplers put out in the ’90s by Hannibal Records, the other being Voices. The track I’ve chosen is the Erik Satie composition Gnossienne No. 5 played by BJ Cole. So, it is a piano piece adapted for pedal steel guitar.

BJ Cole is little known as a front man but if you look at the breadth of music he has created over the years, you wonder why he is not better known. Wikipedia have an enormous list of bands / acts that BJ Cole has played with or recorded for and I know that this is only a partial list! They name Cochise, Marc Bolan / T.Rex, Elton John, R.E.M., Cat Stevens, Kevin Ayers, Billy Connolly, Richard Ashcroft, The Verve, Luke Vibert, Graham Coxon, Roger Waters, Juno Reactor, Rockin Dave Taylor, Depeche Mode, Doll by Doll, Devon Sproule, Björk, Chumbawamba, David Gilmour, Hanson, Ian Siegal, Jah Wobble, The Stranglers, Sting, Icebreaker, Brian Joseph Friel, David Gilmour, The Moody Blues. Wow!

BJ Cole – Gnossienne No. 5

Burning Spear – Estimated Prophet

Various Artists - Deadicated

Various Artists – Deadicated

Lucky thirteen has brought us on to Various Artists. And the album the “Flying, Fickle Finger of Fate” has landed on is Deadicated, a 1991 tribute album of the Grateful Dead songs performed by various artists. According to the sleeve notes, the compilation is a rainforest benefit album, with significant proceeds from its sale being donated to the Rainforest Action Network and Cultural Survival.

The artists who contributed tracks are Los Lobos, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, Harshed Mellows, Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Dwight Yoakam, Warren Zevon with David Lindley, Indigo Girls, Lyle Lovett, Cowboy Junkies, Midnight Oil, Burning Spear, Dr. John and Jane’s Addiction – a good enough and eclectic list, I’m sure you’ll agree.

From the album I’ve chosen Estimated Prophet a song I’ve known from the Dead album Terrapin Station. This version is by Burning Spear and, while it may not be classic Burning Spear, is appealing to me. Enough said.

Burning Spear – Estimated Prophet

Chris Wood – The Lady of York

Chris Wood – Trespasser

Chris Wood – Trespasser

No deaths to report this week, though I may have missed some; so on with the show.

This week’s Lucky Thirteen selection brings us to Chris Wood‘s 2007 CD Trespasser. From it I have chosen The Lady of York for the simple reason that my daughter is in York, with her colleagues from Mali, for a debriefing session. As they meet, they will be mindful that the situation in Mali is still very uncertain. Today it is reported that Captain Amadou Sanago, the leader of last month’s coup, has rejected the Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) decision to send troops to help stabilise the country.

In the liner notes to Trespasser, Chris Wood explains that, “The songs on this album are about enclosure in some form or another. Spiritual, geographical, cultural, legislative, chronological, imaginative… they are an invitation to step upon these places we have been lured into believing are no business of ours.”

The song The Lady of York is a version of Child ballad number 20, The Cruel Mother, though Chris disputes this simple judgement- “Most people refer this song as “The Cruel Mother”. I just don’t buy it.”

Chris Wood has a very busy touring schedule this year. He is doing his own gigs early in the year and guesting on Joan Armatrading’s tour at the end of the year. Try to get to one or other of the gigs if you can.

Chris Wood – The Lady of York

The Unthanks – The Testimony of Patience Kershaw

The Unthanks – Here's the Tender Coming

The Unthanks – Here's the Tender Coming

It’s been another bad week for the deaths of ageing musicos. This week we’ve lost Levon Helm & Bert Weedon. I’ve no Levon Helm in my collection at present (memo to self – buy old Band CDs) and, I must confess that I’ve never,knowingly, owned any Bert Weedon music. But despite my failings, two great men have passed away and It is only right to commemorate them.

The music that I have chosen for this week’s post is far removed from the music of both Levon Helm & Bert Weedon. By virtue of the fate, Lucky Thirteen this week presents us with The Unthanks 2009 album Here's the Tender Coming. And from it I’ve chosen The Testimony of Patience Kershaw.

This song was written by Frank Higgins of Liverpool 1972 and is based on evidence given by Patience Kershaw to the Government Commission of Enquiry into Child Labour in 1842. Patience was a hurrier; a hurrier was a child or woman employed by a collier to transport the coal that they had mined. As a result of the Commission of Enquiry, an Act of Parliament prohibited the underground employment in the mines of women and boys under ten years old.

The Unthanks – The Testimony of Patience Kershaw

Jerry Hansen & The Ramblers Dance Band – Ekombi

Various Artists - The Rough Guide To Highlife

Various Artists – The Rough Guide To Highlife

I learnt this week from the excellent Likembe blog that “Jerry Hansen, founder of Ghana’s influential Ramblers International Dance Band, passed away in Accra Saturday, April 7th. He was 85. Besides leading the band and composing many of its hit songs, Hansen was a founding member and President of the Musicians Union of Ghana

The Ramblers, the last of Ghana’s great “danceband highlife” orchestras, were founded in 1961 when Hansen left King Bruce’s Black Beats. Their innovative sounds held them in good stead through the political upheavals of the 1970s and ínto the ’80s when the band finally expired thanks to changing tastes and poor economic conditions.

Jerry Hansen was one of the last giants of the classic highlife sound and will be sorely missed.”

Highlife is an unsung musical genre and I never know why. It is so infectious and is a much easier listen to western ears than say the Desert Blues of Mali. I have several compilations of Highlife music including my latest purchase – The Rough Guide To Highlife. Today’s track, commemorating Jerry Hansen, is taken from this album.

Jerry Hansen & The Ramblers Dance Band – Ekombi

Danny Thompson & Whatever – Major Escapade

Danny Thompson & Whatever - Elemental

Danny Thompson & Whatever – Elemental

This week Lucky Thirteen takes us the double album Whatever Next & Elemental from Danny Thompson & Whatever. Choosing a track based on favourites would have been a hard task as all the tracks are great – in my opinion. Choosing one on the basis of the title was easy. After Frances’s adventures in Mali, it could only be Major Escapade!

Even before instigating the Lucky Thirteen series, I usually managed to include a Danny Thompson track around this time on the basis that he had been spotted in the Transatlantic Sessions tv series. This year, Danny was again featured and was, it goes without saying, fantastic. Great music and great fun – he looked as if he was loving every minute. And who wouldn’t, when invited to play with some of the greats of folk and country music.

Oh, and by happy co-incidence, it was Danny Thompson’s birthday last week – many happy returns, Danny.

Danny Thompson & Whatever – Major Escapade

June Tabor – He Fades Away

June Tabor - Against the Streams

June Tabor – Against the Streams

Just a quick post before heading to collect Frances from Heathrow. She and her colleagues have managed to get a flight home from Bamako, 6 days before their scheduled flight. Today, with the situation worsening in Mali, the Foreign Office advised British subjects to leave Mali as soon as they could. We will be pleased to see Frances and her colleagues safely home and can do no more than hope that stability returns to Mali soon.

I’ll return to the Lucky Thirteen series with a track from June Tabor’s Against the Streams album. The track I’m posting is Alistair Hulett’s He Fades Away. The song, especially performed by June Tabor, is an incredibly moving story of a miner dying of mesothelioma after working in an asbestos mine.

For those who don’t know, Alistair Hulett himself died of cancer in 2010. The Guardian, in his obituary described Hulett as: “an outspoken, staunchly leftwing singer and songwriter who built up a dedicated following in his native Scotland and in New Zealand and Australia, where he spent much of his life.”

June Tabor – He Fades Away

Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra – Tapha Niang

Various Artists - World Circuit Presents ...

Various Artists – World Circuit Presents …

On Thursday (March 22) there was a coup d’etat in Mali. It is still unclear exactly what is happening there at the moment, the BBC are reporting that:

“Amadou Toumani Toure, the army general credited with rescuing Mali from military dictatorship and handing it back to its people, appeared to have been overthrown in a coup in March 2012.

He was due to step aside at the end of his current term and presidential elections were due in April 2012.

However a group of army officers announced on state TV that they were taking over because of the incompetence of President Toure and his government’s “inability” to handle a Tuareg-led insurrection in the north of the country.”

Frances and her colleagues are safe though they are confined to their local area. This means that they can’t finish the work that they are in Mali to do which is a great shame – for their friends in Mali and for them. The airport is closed but may re-open this week. They may well be evacuated out of Mali as soon as the airport is open and it is safe to fly out. They are due home in two weeks anyway – fingers crossed that they can get home soon.

For them and all the people of Mali, who deserve a stable democratic government, I’m posting a Malian track – Toumani Diabaté‘s Symmetric Orchestra – Tapha Niang. It comes from their album Boulevard de l’Independance, but I have it on the World Circuit compilation World Circuit Presents …

Toumani Diabaté’s Symmetric Orchestra – Tapha Niang

Radio Tarifa – La Tarara

Radio Tarifa - Temporal

Radio Tarifa – Temporal

Apologies for the no show last week, I was away celebrating my 60th birthday. Happy Birthday me! The frolics were held in Surrey at The Parrot Inn in Forest Green – good beer, good food, good service … and good company. What more can you ask for?

This week, no Lucky Thirteen and no Ry Cooder track to in honour of his birthday (65 last week). Instead, we mourn the death and celebrate the work of Benjamín Escoriza, the Spanish singer and frontman of Radio Tarifa.

The Proper Music blog reporting his death wrote “Benjamín Escoriza passed away on 9th March 2012 following a long illness. His husky vocals defined the sound of one of Europe’s most popular world music bands of the nineties. Radio Tarifa explored the close relationship between Arabic, Sephardic and medieval music, mixing tradition with modernity in their own compelling way.”

Robin Denselow, in his Guardian obituary, said that Escoriza “became celebrated for his musical experimentation, his skills as a lyricist – often writing about love and passion – and his rough, smoky and emotional voice, influenced by flamenco and rumba.”

I have posted a track from Radio Tarifa before; today I am posting La Tarara from the wonderful CD Temporal.

Radio Tarifa – La Tarara