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Chris Glenn "youngkit" (london)

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Ethiopiques, Vol. 1: Golden Years of Modern Music
Ethiopiques, Vol. 1: Golden Years of Modern Music
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 12.18

5.0 out of 5 stars what better place to start?, 22 Oct 2011
See my full review under mp3 downloads - a fine album and a much better place to start than 'the very best of...'.

Ethiopiques, Vol. 1: Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music (1969-1975)
Ethiopiques, Vol. 1: Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music (1969-1975)
Price: 4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Where better to start?, 12 July 2010
Where better to start than Volume One of the ever expanding Ethiopiques series? I have an ex-girlfriend to thank for turning me on to this music. This outburst of sound from a liberalising Ethiopia in the late 60s to mid 70s is the most original music I have heard in years. Volume 1 showcases five vocalists, including Mahmoud Ahmed, who additionally has three Ethiopiques cds devoted to him alone. I'm not a great one for non-English vocals, unless it's Stereolab, but here the heartfelt and incantatory vocals only add to what is the strangest mix of music you are likely to hear. The first thing to understand is that these are seasoned Ethiopian big band jazz musicians who have been turned on to electric Miles Davis and the funk of James Brown backing superb vocalists and fine uplifting or melancholic tunes. It is very hard to describe this remarkable and accessible music - a track, on a soul jazz compilation called Universal Sounds of America, by the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Fontella Bass which shows what jazz virtousi playing soul sounds like; the declamatory anthems of Burning Spear as backed by the Buddy Rich Big Band perhaps gets somewhere close. There are additionally three instrumentals which, in my review of the Best of Ethiopiques I perhaps unkindly implied were musical filler, which are lovely psychedelic jazz on top of laid back insistent rhythms. One of the marvellous features of so much of this music is the tantalisingly out of reach snippets of western music - is that a Phil Lesh bassline? Or maybe it's influenced by a classic reggae riddim? Or there could be a spoonful of The Electric Prunes' I had too much to dream last night. The Brotherhood of Breath at their riffing best, a dollop of Fela Kuti. It really is impossible to describe. If any of the above touch your musical bases I would strongly recommend dipping you toes into Ethiopiques with this wonderful volume.

From Punjab to Pit Top
From Punjab to Pit Top
Price: 23.32

5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure, 12 July 2010
This review is from: From Punjab to Pit Top (Audio CD)
I have to agree with the sentiments of the first two reviewers. I too bought this by chance as the title and musicians' names suggested an interesting fusion. These are really very good musicians on acoustic and electric instruments - tablas, accordions, guitars, drums and more - with hints of house beats and general electronica. The lack of vocals provides a seamless melange of very melodic and captivating eastern and western folk-influenced sounds. A treasure.

Easy Now
Easy Now
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 9.27

5.0 out of 5 stars One gorgeous record, 12 July 2010
This review is from: Easy Now (Audio CD)
This is one gorgeous album. I saw it reduced to 3.99 in a now defunct Bromley record shop. I liked the cover, was intrigued by the strange name. I took a punt and have to say this is one of my all time favourite 5 star albums. This is southern soul with a mellow but cutting edge. Better than beautiful has to be one of most tender love songs ever written. Jeb Loy's honeyed vocals and the laidback but swinging backing is reminiscent of JJ Cale. There are very few cd length albums that keep you engaged all the way through. This is one of those - unreservedly recommended.

Ethiopiques - the Very Best of Ethiopiques: Hypnotic Grooves from the Legendary Series
Ethiopiques - the Very Best of Ethiopiques: Hypnotic Grooves from the Legendary Series

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the very best of ethiopiques, 2 April 2010
The ethiopiques compilations contain some of the most exciting and spine tingling music that I have heard in recent years. I was priveleged to see the tour starring mahmoud ahmed, alemayehu eshete and getatchew mekurya at the barbican last year. I would travel a long distance to see them perform again - there was a real sense of being in the presence of legends, but legends who were still alive and jumping and in the moment. The flaw in this compilation is that it emphasises the laid back trip hop, rare groove, more Westernised parts of the series rather than the incantatory scorching horn-driven vocals that show the true originality of the genre. I would go along with the recommendations of D.M. Binns (and add Volume 9 by alemayehu eshete). Go straight there and you are much more likely to understand the buzz and addictive nature of the ethiopiques. I even suspect that some who have heard about the buzz will, not unnaturally, have bought the very best of and wondered what all the fuss is about. To illustrate the point - Volume 1 is represented on this compilation by two interesting enough dreamy instrumentals and one booting vocal performance. However on the original Volume 1 compilation the three instrumentals are clearly intended to break the mood of the other 14 generally highly energetic, often psychedelic, vocal performances. On the volumes that I own, the number of essential tracks is much higher than on most CDs. So on Volume 1 the first eight vocal tracks are of really high quality; on Volume 9, the first 11 tracks are all winners. It is really disapointing that the same cannot be said of this compilation - definitely not the very best of. I would recommend that to catch an initial flavour of some of the best of ethiopiques listeners go to youtube and watch the performances at WOMAD. There are also some classic vintage performances of some of the stars from Ethiopian TV and elsewhere. You will then be hooked!

Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival
Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival
by Colin Harper
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.19

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The only disappointment...., 27 Nov 2006
This is a fine book that uncovers a rich history of the folk revival and much more. Great anecdotes and tales are recounted. The influence of the Communist Party is dealt with well although this could have been analysed in greater detail. The CP really had quite a reactionary position in relation to music at the time. Folk was good because it was represented horny handed sons of toil, the new developments in jazz and rock'n'roll, mod culture etc were viewed with deep suspicion. In certain cities the CP had enough influence to be able to mobilise significant numbers and surely one of the organisation's many low points on the artistic front was the encouragement of the barracking of Bob Dylan's 1966 electric tour. Harper charts their declining influence as the young turks of the acoustic revival eschewed categorization, embracing jazz, blues, improvisation and 'world' music. Davy Graham, Robin Williamson, John Renbourn and Jansch were not interested in having their searching creativity confined by sterile cardboard cutout dogma.

I've always been puzzled by the lack of the widespread appreciation of John Renbourn. I saw them both within weeks of each other at the East Dulwich Tavern in South East London in about 2000. Renbourn was astonishing - easily Bert's equal and as the book acknowledges the superior technician. I think Mojo did a 50 greatest guitarists a few years ago and Renbourn didn't even figure whilst Jansch was number 9 or thereabouts. Maybe his life is not so romantic - a bit like John Martyn struggling to be recognised to the same extent as Nick Drake.

The only disappointment was the lack of detailed track-by-track analysis of his key albums - in a book of such length surely this is justified given that ultimately its the music that the man's reputation stands or falls on. For instance there is no mention of Nottamun Town from the Jack Orion album - a stunning, terrifying, vocal performance from a man whose voice is not always easy to love. A song which later appeared on Fairport Convention's second album and so signposted the folk/folk revolution and was in all probability first encountered through Jansch's version.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2013 8:02 AM BST

Shakara/London Scene
Shakara/London Scene

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fela twofer finds funkmaster at the top of his game, 16 May 2006
This review is from: Shakara/London Scene (Audio CD)
These Fela CDs bringing together two presumably previously hard to find albums really are good value. Three of the tracks clock in at 13 minutes and follow Fela's recipe of hard driving funky afrobeat rhythms, searing horn lines and call and response vocals.

The horn lines are sprightly, tuneful and tight on songs such as 'Egbe Mi O' where Fela exhorts 'Everybody outside of this record' to sing along. Impassioned vocals, coruscating lyrics, burning horn solos and Tony Allen's magnificent drumming abound. 'Buy Africa' has great horns and rhythm section that could have come straight from the very best of US funk but with the special touch of Fela's political lyrics, chilled out and then heating up electric piano and Tony Allen afrobeat rhythms. This combination makes Fela truly unique. 'Lady' with its comments on the changing position of African women in the age of women's liberation are a little more complex than they first appear and the groove builds imperceptibly until the vocals kick in. 'Shakara' kicks off like a funk version of Miles Davis' 'Milestones' with the World Saxophone Quartet's Hamiett Bluett on baritone sax. Great stuff!

El Rockers
El Rockers
Price: 15.60

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Tubbys meets rockers uptown versioned, 1 May 2006
This review is from: El Rockers (Audio CD)
This is a marvellous companion to King Tubbys meets rockers uptown. It contains full instrumental and alternative dub cuts to all but two of the originally released tracks, previously only to be found on obscure 45s. So we are treated to xylophone (Black Gunn) and melodica (Brown Jim) cuts to Keep on Dubbing/Keep on Knocking; alternative versions of the Cassava Piece/Rockers Uptown rhythm; a marvellous instrumental cut of the Braces a Boy/Braces Tower Dub rhythm with Pablo overblowing on his melodica; and a wonderful melodica charge through Frozen Dub with a drum and bass cut, Hot Dub; and on it goes......

Sound quality incidentally is excellent.

This ranks along side Rockers Uptown, Original Rockers and his debut This is Augustus Pablo as an essential purchase for those entranced by the master of the melodica.

Social Living
Social Living
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: 6.05

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spear's greatest album, 14 April 2006
This review is from: Social Living (Audio CD)
To these ears without a shadow of a doubt Burning Spear's best album - the original vinyl is supplemented by two bonus tracks including the 12" cut of the title track. Spear's vocals at their most impassioned and committed. The music is possibly the most imaginative to be found on a reggae album - there is a deep, multilayered quality to the backings that make it sound like dub and funk. Lots of horns and keyboards give the album a really full sound - compare this to what to my mind are the somewhat thin backing tracks on the Marcus Garvey album.

This is the kind of album which would get an honorary 6 star review such is the quality on every level.

Mighty Baby
Mighty Baby
Price: 10.78

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And they played live last night!, 14 April 2006
This review is from: Mighty Baby (Audio CD)
Completely agree with the previous reviewers - if this had been an American band the album would be in Top 100 polls. Such a tight and inventive band. It's hard to define just what style it is they are playing in as they fuse rock, psych, power pop and jazz fusion so seamlessly.

And get this on 13th April 2006 - 35 years after last performing - Martin Stone, Roger Powell and Mike Evans reformed in London as Might Baby with Matt Deighton of Mother Earth taking the Alan King role. They were bloody fantastic, playing most of the first album and encoring with a long improvisation on Coltrane's India. Real high energy stuff that knocked today's bands into a cocked hat. Martin, Roger and Mike had lost none of their skills - Martin said on stage 'this is coming easier than we expected!' and how right he was as he ripped out one stinging solo after another. A marvellous night at the Rocket in Holloway Road. If they join the summer festival circuit go and catch them - ooo-wee!

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