Alianza – Alianza!
Lucky Thirteen brings us back to the beginning of me collection for a second pass. And we arrive at Alianza! by Alianza – well I think that that is correct.
According to an early Show of Hands website, “Alianza was a unique Anglo-Chilean collaboration between three English musicians, Steve Knightley, Phil Beer, and Dave Townsend, and three exiled Chilean musicians, Sergio Avila, Mauricio Venegas and Vladimir Vega. The group sought out the common rhythms, themes and melodies to produce a blend of songs in English, songs in Spanish and songs in both languages ,and dance music from both sides of the Atlantic. The group produced one album Alianza in 1992, which included a number of songs that later became part of the repertoire of Show of Hands, the acoustic roots duo formed by Steve Knightley and Phil Beer.”
The current website of Show of Hands describes the venture this way, “During 1992 Steve and Phil were invited to join an inter-cultural music project which involved working with three exiled Chilean musicians. Out of this the band Alianza was formed and an album made. Alianza toured throughout 1992 and 1993 and influenced Steve and Phil greatly. They were introduced to a new range of rhythms and instruments and Steve was inspired to write songs that are now favorites with Show Of Hands fans including ‘Santiago’, ‘Armadas’ and ‘Columbus Didn’t Find America’. Some of these found their way onto the first Show Of Hands studio album ‘Beat About The Bush’ which was released in 1994.”
Show of Hands are an English folk phenomenon. They tour widely, release albums regularly and engage their fans at every level. If you want to catch them this summer, their summer dates can be found here.
The track I am posting is the fans’ favourite – Santiago.
Alianza – Santiago
Various Artists – World Circuit Presents …
I’ve been neglecting my duties as a blogger recently – sorry for that. My weekends have been taking up moving furniture round to house to allow new carpets to be laid and re-building my computer. And I shan’t be blogging for the next two weeks either as I am escaping this cold, wet country for a (currently) warm, wet one – Italy. Normal service should be resumed later on this month.
But I must post before I go as Lucky Thirteen has brought me to the end of my CD rack and unless I find a reason to post anything else, I’ll start again at the beginning. (It is a good job that the number of CDs I own is not divisible by 13)!
This week’s track is Abdel Gadir Salim’s Mal Wa Ihtagab from CD1 of World Circuit Presents … The track was originally release on the album ‘The Merdoum Kings Play Songs of Love’.
The sleeve notes tells us this: “Sudanese headmaster and master of the Merdoum rhythm, Abdel Gadir pared right down during this live performance which was recorded at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. It’s an incredibly easy, loping performance with a beautiful little bounce from the percussion, and some great oud playing by Salim. A very sweet, natural piece where there’s a spontaneous interaction between the performer and the audience which contained a large Sudanese contingent. Salim would ask for meticulous breakdowns of his song royalties, so that he could take those royalties back to the villages the song had come from, and give the money directly to the village school.”
A very sweet, natural piece indeed. I hope that you enjoy it.
Abdel Gadir Salim – Mal Wa Ihtagab
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
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 – 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 – 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
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
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 – 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
Various Artists – World 2000
More from Mali this week.
I have it on very good authority (and from some less reliable sources) that the Festival sur le Niger was a blast. Our IS team enjoyed fantastic music and met lovely generous people, including their Malian hosts, a couple of mad Americans who had driven an ambulance from London to Bamako and … Salif Keita himself. But don’t take my word for it – read the blogs linked above.
Here in the less exotic English Midlands, we had to satisfy our curiosities and musical appetites by reading the article about Amadou and Mariam in today’s Observer and enjoying the photos taken on the trip to Bamako to interview them. Much is made in the article of the school for the blind in Bamako where Amadou and Mariam met and there are photos of the school today in the photo gallery. The current IS group are working at the school as part of their project and have a Just Giving site to accept donations to support their work there. If you would like to support the the Just Giving page is here.
Today’s track is Amadou and Mariam singing and playing Bali Maou – taken from Charlie Gillett’s compilation World 2000.
Amadou & Mariam – Bali Maou