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2009 - week 12, from 27 March - World music Hits, Part 8

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 1:27 pm
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Bert Kaempfert - A Swingin' Safari - Instrumental Memories are Made of This - Germany - EMI - VTDCD 629

2 - Chavela Vargas - Macorina - Grandes Exitos - Mexico - Orfeon - JCD 13848

3 - Wilmoth Houdini - Black But Sweet - Poor But Ambitious - Trinidad - Arhoolie - Cd 7010

4 - Perez Prado - Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White - Our Man in Havana - Cuba - Camden - 74321 588102

5 - Elias & his Zig Zag Jive Flutes - Tom Hark - Instrumental Memories are Made of This - South Africa - EMI - VTDCD 629

6 - Bhundu Boys - Hatisi Tose - The Shed Sessions - Zimbabwe - Sadza - Sadza 1

7 - Jean-Baptise Nemours - Ti Marie Cherie - Musical Tour of Haiti - Haiti - Ansonia - HGCD-1280

8 - Sergio Mendes - Magalenha - Brasiliero - Brazil - Elektra - 7559 61315-2


One of the arguments against using the term world music is that it has somehow discouraged mainstream radio from ever playing anything that could possibly be categorised (and therefore dismissed) because it qualifies for the description. This week’s programme includes several songs from the period before the term was coined, that were big hits regardless of their ethnic origins.

Bert Kaempfert

Given how familiar it sounds, it’s a surprise to discover that ‘A Swingin’ Safari’ by Bert Kaempfert was never actually a hit. His South African-flavoured tune became well-known through being used as the theme music for an American TV show, inspiring band-leader Billy Vaughn to record a cover version which actually did make the charts. Until researching this show, I had not realised what a successful songwriter Kaempfert was – based in Germany, he had worldwide hits with ‘Wonderland at Night’, ‘Strangers in the Night’, ‘Spanish Eyes’, ‘Wooden Heart’ and ‘Tenderly’, and his arrangements provided the template for the sound of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

Chavela Vargas

Chavela Vargas is revered throughout Mexico, where she was hugely popular during the 1960s, but she may be best known in the world music era as a major inspiration to both Lila Downs and Lhasa, both of whom have recorded versions of ‘Macorina’.

Wilmoth Houdini

Wilmoth Houdini just might be the very best of all those clever and witty songwriters who recorded calypso music in Trinidad in the 1920s and ‘30s. He has resurfaced in my consciousness because the Australian singer CW Stoneking’s second album Jungle Blues is inspired by the sound and arrangements of Houdini’s songs. Thanks to Mark Lamarr for supplying a copy of his album Poor But Ambitious.

Perez Prado

As a teenager, I was never very clear whether the popular mambo style derived from Cuba or Mexico. Part of the confusion may have been due to the fact that the biggest mambo star of the day, Perez Prado, was a Cuban based in Mexico. Perez Prado had several huge hits during the 1950s, including ‘Patricia’ and this reworking of a French tune, ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’.

Elias & Hs Zig Zag Jive Flutes

Back in the days before videos, records regularly made the British charts based entirely on their sound. We didn’t know what the singers or musicians looked like and may not have cared. We were told that Elias & Hs Zig Zag Jive Flutes were from South Africa and that they called their music kwela. Was this tune the inspiration for Bert Kaempfert’s ‘A Swingin’ Safari’?

Bhundu Boys

For almost forty years, BBC Radio One’s DJ John Peel based his selection of what to play with no regard as to whether the records might be commercial, and he may have sometimes been surprised at which of his choices hit the charts before the rest of radio knew what was happening. But while Peel can be credited or blamed (depending on your point of view) for the success of the Manchester group, The Smiths, he may have been disappointed that his equally ardent support did not result in such conspicuous success for the Bhundu Boys of Zimbabwe. The band did everything they could to manifest his faith, coming over to do relentless tours of the UK, and for a while became household names in a select category of households, particularly after a second Radio One DJ, Andy Kershaw, joined the fray to fan the flames. Tragically, several of the group subsequently died from AIDS, and lead singer Biggie Tembo committed suicide after being dropped from the group.

Jean-Baptiste Nemours,

I don’t think I ever heard music from Haiti during the 1950s and only caught up with Jean-Baptiste Nemours, the island’s biggest bandleader from that period, many years later. Yet there’s a powerful nostalgic recognition whenever I listen to the fluid arrangements of his melodic horn section.

Sergio Mendes

The final track by Sergio Mendes is an anachronism from a later period – sometimes, the logic of my selections defies my own understanding only a few weeks later. But the track itself sounds as great as ever.

Listen again at: ... lett.shtml

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:52 am
by Charlie
emails from:

1. Arlene Blade, Mason Hall, Tobago

Thank you so very much for the Houdini calypso.These are the happiest 26 minutes of the week!

Haiti, Zimbabwe and even the flutes from South Africa - how wonderful.



2. Mayra Diaz, Orlando, Florida, USA


Love your program, thank you for bringing such an eclectic collection of music from around the world. This is how we grow culturally and mentally. Please continue to do so for as long as you are able.

Mayra Diaz, Orlando, Florida,

I must agree with Arlene!

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 12:59 pm
by kastamonu
What a lovely, happy 26 minutes this week!

I listen on the internet and the new BBC World system means the slider works - so I can dip in and out all afternoon - fab & many thanks again Charlie. (I can just picture you in that football game on Clapham Common!

Re: I must agree with Arlene!

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:34 pm
by Charlie
kastamonu wrote: (I can just picture you in that football game on Clapham Common!

Very happy that you liked it, but unfortunately my football days seem to be over. My friendly Eritreans are still there, this Sunday and every other Sunday, in green and red tops to indicate sides. But I'm passing by, unable to join in.


PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:46 am
by Charlie
emails from:

3. Patrick Powers, Harpenden, UK

I was interested to hear your two versions of Tom Hark and to hear you mention its success in the UK in the fifties. I remember it from then though the second (more authentic?) version that you played was not the one I remember.

I thought that the one that was so popular in the fifties was indeed that produced by the original band see

for a fascinating insight into those times. But what was the version that you played...?


CG reply: aha, I must listen again to the version on EMI's compilation and compare with my 45. It did not cross my mind that there might be two recordings of Tom Hark by Elias and his flutes. Did anyone else notice the discrepancy?


4. Doris, UK

Tripping round the BBC Services on my Sony Walkman whilst doing boring mending I came across the BBC World Service.

I remember Perez Prado and 'Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White' and
was so happy to be transported back in time and thoroughly enjoyed listening - and I'm listening again.

I would sing in Canterbury Cathedral Sunday Evening Choir, go home and listen to things like this on my radio set:
I saw no reason why both should not be enjoyed.

Thank you!

Doris, uk


5. Name: Christopher Hart, London SW6 4EE

I listened to your programme for the first time today. I am not usually awake at that time. But was I glad to be awake this morning to hear the very interesting selection you made of music from around the world. I was particularly impressed that you included music from the 50's. We can be very parochial about music before our time, but evidently, as we should have known , some great music was being made then and it's very good to hear it and to expand our knowledge and appreciation, and to learn


6. Jane Henderson, Ipswich, UK

Re Swinging Safari by Bert Kampfaert on the current Charlie Gillett programme. Charlie wonders why so many of us know this tune - I remember it well as it was in the charts in about 1963 when I was at primary school. A group of us at school did a dance routine to it to entertain fellow pupils at lunch time - we weren't allowed out for fish and chips in those days!



7. James Wells, Cambridge, Cambs, UK

I heard your show last night. When you said you'd be going far back for some reason I expected you to play Swingin Safari and was amazed you started the programme with it. I listened to my mother's record of this as a child and it is enchanting. I also remember Wimoweh was re-released later as the Lion Sleeps Tonight which was not as good. It's a real pleasure to hear it again.

I catch your programme frequently when I happen to be woken up by it on the radio and it is always interesting.


8. Nduka Uzuakpundu.

Top of the day to you. "A Swinging Safari", which your featured in a recent edition of your programme, on the BBC, was an interesting reminder of "Attention Please", a session of paid advertisements on former Radio Bendel, Benin, in Nigeria, in the late '70s, where it was a sigtune.
Nduka Uzuakpundu.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:35 pm
by Dominic
By coincidence, I've just heard for the first time "Joe Public (Tom Hark)" by The Dynamites. It's on The Trojan Skinhead Reggae Collection, (re-?)released today.

Re: emails

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:13 pm
by Alan Balfour
Charlie wrote: aha, I must listen again to the version on EMI's compilation and compare with my 45. It did not cross my mind that there might be two recordings of Tom Hark by Elias and his flutes. Did anyone else notice the discrepancy?
Whilst we are discussing this song does anybody think that popularity of Tom Hark in the UK could have anything to do with the six part series "The Killing Stones" screened in March 1958 by ITV which was all about dirty dealings in the South African diamond business the theme music being Elias & Hs Zig Zag Jive Flutes performing Tom Hark?

Re: 2009 - week 12, from 27 March - World music Hits, Part 8

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 10:44 am
by r.allibone
many things to say

thanks for this week. first that instrumentals got a fair share of time, pity one of them was b kampfert swingin' safari though you describe it has a pastiche of south african music, i think complete sanitisation.

i wonder what is your take on eve boswell - part south african inspired hit for an orchesteral piece with similarities to swingin' safari but more red blooded and liveley. how about ZAMBISI by lou bush orchetra?

plese do not let my negative coments deter you from spreading net widely

you can't win them all, and we did have elias and his zig zag jive flutes. there have of course been subsequent versions of tom hark, thank you CG for reminding of where it came from.

w houdini a delight.

as for cherry pink, at the time i much preferred eddie calvert's version but i think you got it right , test of time

now a belated thanks for bringing to attention C.W. STONEKING.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:10 am
by RussellC
I'm surprised there hasn't been more comment on this very retro selection.

My dad was Bert Kaempfert fan, so naturally I was dismissive when I heard this. I've been listening to 'world music' since before that famous meeting to define it, sorting through the international sections of folk music or second hand shops. But I never thought of A Swingin' Safari as 'world music' until now.

'Cherry Pink ...' goes back further but perhaps I recall the Eddie Calvert version better.

Fond memories of the Bhundu Boys, particularly when they played the drill hall at the end of my road.

Perhaps Edmundo Ros should be included in a future Greatest Hits, if you want to follow my (late) dad's favourites, but I am not sure what would be classed as a 'World Music Hit'. I seem to remember Sue Steward saying she was writing Ros' biography, but perhaps that is still work in progress. He will be 100 next year.