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Murkey's Marvellous Mixtape 2017

PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:13 pm
by MurkeyChris
It's taken me four months to write up, but as usual, I’ve made a Spotify mixtape of my favourite music (and, this year, spoken word), both new and old, that I discovered last year.

Here it is: ... KiSGUnJJ6v

If you like something you hear, please follow the artist on social media, buy their music and/or go and see they live, because Spotify pays diddly squat.

1. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

A hero. Cohen wrote this song (with Patrick Leonard) for his final album, speaking pretty directly about his own mortality and embracing his Jewishness. His son Adam Cohen was the producer and the Shaar Hashomayim Choir from the synagogue of that name in Montreal feature. Of the choir he wrote, ‘ Even as a boy I loved their singing. It is what made compulsory synagogue attendance enjoyable. I’ve wanted to work with the cantor and the choir for a long time. The touring years interrupted this intention. On a secondary but still urgent note, there are times when you want to show the flag, when you want to indicate that there is nourishment to be had from this culture, that it is not entirely irrelevant to the present situation, that it does not serve a nation’s best interests to reject and despise it. This is more important in some countries than in others.’

There’s a short and interesting article on the making of the album in Cohen’s in ill health at: ... ph-w447921

From 'You Want It Darker' (Sony Music, 2016)

2. Carole King – I feel the Earth move

The album Tapestry has been a favourite of my parents for years. I think the CD disappeared when they were burgled (in the days when CDs were worth stealing!) and wasn’t replaced for years, so I never got to know it until it was album in residence in the car on holiday in Extramedura, Spain this year. Me and Owen loved it and I could have picked almost any of the tracks for this mix. ‘I feel the Earth move’ is a song I didn’t know already from covers, so made the cut.

From 'Tapestry' (Ode, 1971)

3. Sylvan Esso – Kick Jump Twist

I heard this on 6 Music. Lauren Laverne’s show I think. I like it. Other than that, I know nothing. Time to dip into Wikipedia: ‘Sylvan Esso is an American electronic pop duo from Durham, North Carolina formed in 2013. The band consists of singer Amelia Meath (Mountain Man) and producer Nick Sanborn (Megafaun, Made of Oak).’

From 'What Now' (Caroline International, 2017)

4. Ella Fitzgerald with Ernie Hecksher's Big Band - Sunshine of Your Love

Another 6 Music discovery, this one courtesy of my old mucker Cerys Matthews. This is from an album recorded in the Fairmont hotel, San Francisco, in October 1968, of contemporary covers by the American jazz singer and a local big band. The original was, of course, by Cream.

From 'Ella Fitzgerald’s Sunshine of Your Love' (MPS Records, 1969)

5. Edgelarks - No Victory

All my favourite bands are changing their names! Jenny M. Thomas and the System became Bush Gothic a while back, Lynched are now Lankum (see below) and mixtape regulars Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin are transitioning into Edgelarks - Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin.

From 'Edgelarks' (Dragonfly Roots, 2017)

6. Macy Gray - Slowly

In a less sexist world that didn’t discount ‘kooky’ women, Macy Gray would be credited as a truly inspired and inventive artist on the strength of her first too albums alone. This is from her ‘jazz’ album and is a reworking of a song written by Phillip White, Jared Gosselin, George Pajon Jr, Natalie Hinds (aka Macy herself) and Justin Meldal-Johnson and originally recorded on Gray’s 'Big' (Polydor, 2007) album.

From 'Stripped' (Chesky Records, 2016)

7. Joan Shelley - Where I’ll Find You

The latest wonderful folky country singer, in the Gillian Welch and Diana Jones mold, who can make even a song of passion and lust like this sound insufferably so poignantly, beautifully sad.

From 'Joan Shelley' (No Quarter, 2017)

8. Mike Waterson - One of those Days

Written by Lal Waterson and sung by her brother Mike, this beautiful and achingly sad song was recorded as a demo but never released on the 1972 album, Bright Phoebus. Trapped in the vaults for decades by some record company shenanigans - a company called Celtic Music owned the rights, but refused to release it except as a limited run CD-R that through, a legal loophole, meant that royalties didn’t have to be paid - this near mythical recording has finally had a lavish reissue. It sounds just as good as my dodgy copied tape promised, and as a bonus comes with a second disc of simple, stripped down demos. I’ve no idea who the ‘Chris’ that Mike refers to at the end of the song is!

From 'Bright Phoebus: Songs by Lal & Mike Waterson' (album originally released 1972, re-released with demos in 2017 by Domino)

9. Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band - Devil in the Woman

Mike and Lal Waterson’s niece Eliza Carthy still never puts a foot wrong. Conveniently post-Bellowhead 11-piece the Wayward Band, bring everything to this arrangement.

From 'Big Machine' (Topic, 2017)

10. HanHan with DATU - World Gong Crazy

I seem to have a propensity for finding my Filipino friends, and yet when I’ve tried to uncover decent music from the islands I’ve never struck gold. Until my friend Jill (of shared this with me. Canadian-Filipino rapper HanHan and singer DATU are joined in the video by dance troupe HATAW for a modern, North American interpretation of the trio’s ethnic roots.

From 'Hanhan' (Han Han, 2014)

11. Claudia Aurora - Lua

Fado singer Claudia Aurora is originally from Porto but is now based in London. This is the final track from her second album. The title of this self-written song translates as ‘Moon’ and Aurora is joined by Javier Moreno on acoustic guitar and Kate Shortt on cello, among others. I’m particularly gripped by the impassioned coda.

From 'Mulher do Norte' (Red Orange Recordings, 2016)

12. Natalie Merchant - Texas

The first of two new discoveries of older music, courtesy of ‘best ofs’. America’s wonderful Natalie Merchant released this song (about George W. Bush and dynasties more generally) on her 2014 self titled album. I discovered it in 2017 from the streaming only album Wonder: Introducing Natalie Merchant. Here’s a live version from Later...:

From 'Wonder: Introducing Natalie Merchant' (Nonesuch Records, 2017) and, originally, 'Natalie Merchant' (Nonesuch Records, 2014)

13. Lau - Far from Portland

The second of two new discoveries of older music, courtesy of ‘best ofs’. Actually I first heard this live at Glastonbury Festival 2015 when Lau played the Park Stage. But I don’t think I heard it the recording until Lau released their 2017 compilation, 'Decade'. Lau are from Scotland (with a bit of English) and are one of these islands’ finest bands.

From 'Decade: The Best of 2007-2017' (Lau Scotland, 2017), and, originally, 'Race the Loser' (Reveal Records, 2012)

14. Lankum - Sergeant William Bailey

The next three songs I will call my ‘protest song from then to now’ selection. ‘Sergeant William Bailey’ is thought to have been written by Dubliner Peadar Kearney around the time of the Easter Rising of 1916, and is performed here by brilliant Dublin band Lankum (formerly Lynched). They say:
‘Satire in times of unrest is a potent a weapon as any, and this fact was not lost upon the ballad makers of Ireland’s past. Songs poking fun at the British Army recruiting sergeant were common in the Irish tradition and represent a class of anti-war song unto themselves. [...] In our present era of social and political unrest songs that seek to lampoon and make fun of figures of authority, military or otherwise, are as relevant as ever.’

Here’s a live video:

From 'Between the Earth and the Stars' (Rough Trade Records, 2017)

15. Odetta - Masters of War

Here’s a second protest song, written by Bob Dylan in 1962/63 and recorded by American folk singer Odetta for her 1965 album, 'Odetta Sings Dylan'. I heard this on one of the episodes of The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick and instantly loved the slow, shimmering almost painful unfolding arrangement of this anti-war classic.

From 'Odetta Sings Dylan' (RCA Victor, 1965)

16. YG with Nipsey Hussle - FDT

Right up to date, this 2016 pre-election rap track may not be the subtlest protest song, but did anyone get through 2017 without at some point thinking, ‘Fuck Donald Trump!’?

From 'Still Brazy' (Virgin EMI Records 2016)

17. Bargou08 - Mamchout

Bonkers electro-folk from north west Tunisia, with slight echoes of Punjabi MC on this track. Sadly the band have already broken up, just months after their international debut release.

From 'Targ' (Glitterbeat Records, 2017)

18. The Hulversum Radio Orchestra, conducted by Hugo de Groot - Top Dog

The great pleasures of 2017 was listening to classic radio comedy on the BBC iPlayer. One of my favourites has been 'The Men from Ministry', a sort of precursor to 'Yes, Minister' that focuses on two blundering civil servants and their weekly mix-ups. Not like the civil service these days, oh no. The theme tune, 'Top Dog', is a cracker in it’s own right

From 'Top Dog - A Retrospective Of Classic TV & Radio Themes 1960-1982' (De Wolfe Music, 2010)

19. 박지하 Park Jiha - 멀어진 간격의 그리움 (The Longing of the Yawning Divide).

Jiha and I go back. I first met her at Womex 2013 as part of the duo 숨[suːm] (her first show in the UK I believe, but I could be wrong). I interviewed 숨[su:m] for a feature in fRoots alongside fellow Koreans Jambinai. Now solo, it’s been fantastic to see the positive response to Jiha’s album, 'Communion'. The live show at Kings place as part of K-Music 2017 was extraordinary.

From 'Communion' (Park Jiha, 2016)

20. Richard Thompson - They Tore the Hippodrome Down

For many years, Richard Thompson was my absolute favouritist musician in the world. I obsessed over everything he did. He was (is?) a genius. Then came 'Dream Attic' (Beeswing, 2010) which I just couldn’t like. Subsequent albums have had their moments but haven’t captured me the way his music used to. It all felt too throwaway, too formulaic. ‘Will this do?’ His last three releases have been water-treaders: 'Acoustic Classics' (Beeswing, 2016), 'Acoustic Classics II' and 'Acoustic Rarities' (both Beeswing, 2017). Rubbish titles, rubbish artwork, clunkily produced, but still, a fine selection from a wonderful songwriting career played by a phenomenal guitarist. That’s still something worth celebrating. His October solo show at Cadogan Hall reignited my love for the man’s music. 2018’s new studio album of original songs will be the test of whether he’s got it back for good. In the meantime, this Thompson rarity (which I was totally unaware of until now) is an example of what he does at his best - exemplary playing, a finely crafted melody, astute lyrics and a painstakingly captured sense of beautiful, desolate ennui.

From 'Acoustic Rarities' (Beeswing, 2017)

21. Ustad Rahim Khushnawaz - Rag Shivaranjani

I was introduced to this by Sam Lee, who was on some BBC radio programme or other talking about birdsong and music. The late Afghan rubab player Rahim Khushnawaz (c. 1947-2011) is heard here recorded at home by Veronica Doubleday, accompanied by his two canaries.

From 'Afghan Rubab with Songbirds' (Felmay, recorded 1994, released 2016)

22. Lisa Knapp - Padstow May Song

More birdsong to introduce this track, from Lisa Knapp's brilliant new album of May songs. Listen out for folklore (and folk song) expert historian Steve Roud in the the mix. I interviewed him for fRoots Magazine #361.

From 'Till April is Dead: A Garland of May' (Ear to the Ground, 2017)

23. Chango Spasiuk Sexteto - Tristeza

Near the beginning of the year I flew to Argentina for a wonderful holiday around the north east quarter of the country with my amigo Miguel Raspanti (the photographer behind Imagenes En Marcha). There I attended the Fiesta Nacional del Chamamé for fRoots and spent time with many wonderful musicians, not least among them Chango Spasiuk. Chamamé is the dominant folk music style from the north east of Argentina (and stretching into southern Brazil and Paraguay). It is sometimes dismissed as unsophisticated rural music by Porteño snobs in Buenos Aires, which was the impetus for Chango to take chamamé to the most prestigious venue in the capital, the Teatro Colón. On this, the opener to the concert, he plays with a full sextet. Later on he was joined by Ensamble Estación Buenos Aires for an even fuller sound.

From 'Tierra Colorada en el Teatro Colón' (Sony Music, 2014)

24. Anna & Elizabeth - Here in the Vineyard

Absolutely gorgeous harmony singing on an old spiritual from these Appalachian musicians. I first heard this sung by Elizabeth LaPrelle on a failed trip to sing with nightingales, and wrote about it for fRoots.

From 'Hop High/Here in the Vineyard' (Trade Root Music Group, 2017)

25. Ten seconds of silence before…

26. Hancock’s Half Hour: The Junk Man

I mentioned classic BBC radio comedy above. Radio 4 Extra has been good enough to repeat all the episodes of Hancock’s Half Hour in order over the last year or so, and it has been some of the funniest comedy I’ve ever heard. Having been trying to sort out my own flat of late, this one seemed a good choice.

First broadcast on the BBC in 1958. Available on 'Volume 8' (Shellshock, released 2013).