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2008 - week 24, from 15 June

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:15 am
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Ry Cooder - Can I Smoke in Here? - I, Flathead - USA - Nonesuch - 7559 799 343

2 - Kumasi Trio - Asin Asin Part 2 - Living is Hard: West African Music in Britain, 1927-29 - Ghana/London - Honest Jon's - HJRCD33

3 - Natacha Atlas - La Shou El Haki - Ana Hina - UK - World Village - 450005

4 - Warsaw Village Band - Matthew (Horn Lane Skank) - Upmixing - Poland - Jaro - 4286-2

5 - CéU - Lenda - CéU - Brazil - Six Degrees - 6557036 1129-2

6 - Ashanti Afrika Jah - Onyame - Nigeria 70 - Ghana - Strut - STRUT035CD

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Ry Cooder - I, Flathead

I wish I could like Ry Cooder’s recent solo albums more than I do. But something in his tone makes it feel like he’s mocking the working class people who populate his story songs. The problem is still there on I, Flathead, the third in his trilogy based on 1950s Los Angeles, except on ‘Can I Smoke in Here?’ where the humour works nicely and we really believe the speaker is sitting in the gloom in a bar, striking up a conversation with somebody whose features he can barely make out.

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At the end of ‘Can I Smoke in Here?’ song, Ry is heard grumbling at the apparently unintended intrusion of a percussionist playing a clavé, the distinctive ‘tic-tic, tic-toc’ rhythm of Cuban music. I couldn’t resist leading into another song with a similar percussion pattern, taken from a collection recorded in London in the late 1920s by West African musicians either living in or visiting the city, now unearthed from the EMI archives by Honest Jon’s. The whole album is fascinating, and ‘Asin Asin’ by the Kumasi Trio sound timeless – you could imagine finding musicians playing the same song in the same way in a Ghanaian village today.

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Natacha Atlas

The day after this show is first broadcast on the World Service, Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble will be heard playing four songs during my World on 3 programme on Radio 3 (23.15, Monday night, June 16, then available on Listen Again for seven days). Featuring most of the musicians who recorded the album Ana Hina, the session confirms that Natacha has finally found her forte, singing sad ballads to the accompaniment of a small orchestra. Wisely abandoning those heavy programme beats that have dominated her records till now, Natacha is finally emerging as one of the greatest UK singers of her time, bearing comparison with Adele, Amy and Duffy. Hopefully she and the ensemble (led by Harvey Brough) will get a spot on the next season of Later with Jools.

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Warsaw Village Band

Most of Natacha’s previous albums were produced by Transglobal Underground, who continue to work under their own name (winners of the Club Global category at the Awards for World Music) and as remixers. On the Warsaw Village Band’s Upmixing, Transglobal’s reworking of ‘Matthew (Horn Lane Skank)’ stands out.

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Having already conquered the United States, the eponymous album by CéU is belatedly issued in Europe, where it is liable to sink leaving little trace unless she comes over to support its release. It will be unfortunate if it does disappear, because it’s among the better albums of the year.

There are so many Nigerian compilations albums around at the moment, drawing from the same period (the 19070s) and featuring similar covers, there’s a danger they will get confused with each other. Just to muddle things up a bit more, Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump includes at least one track which is surely from Ghana – Ashanti Africa Jah, with ‘Onyame’.

Re: "008 - week 24, from 15 June

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:53 pm
by Papa M
Charlie wrote:I wish I could like Ry Cooder’s recent solo albums more than I do. But something in his tone makes it feel like he’s mocking the working class people who populate his story songs.


I have not yet picked up this album and as always I look forward to it with, probably, similar reservations to you.

I think that Ry Cooder's worst move was to appear in the film of Buena Vista. He is not a particularly warm and openly friendly person and unfortunately his general frosty, slightly patronising, and (in the case of Buena Vista) nepotistic attitude probably turned many off his music.

I'm still a huge fan of Ry Cooder's back catalogue but I have to admit that I too am struggling slightly with his recent work.

Re: "008 - week 24, from 15 June

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:40 am
by uiwangmike
1 - Ry Cooder - Can I Smoke in Here? -

Not a title from his heart - back in the 70s, Ry was the first performer in my experience to request his audience not to smoke.

Re: "008 - week 24, from 15 June

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:40 am
by Papa M
uiwangmike wrote:
1 - Ry Cooder - Can I Smoke in Here? -

Not a title from his heart - back in the 70s, Ry was the first performer in my experience to request his audience not to smoke.


I saw him on that tour (I think it was 1980s not 70s). The request didn't go down too well here in Spliff City Brighton. :lol:

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:12 pm
by garth cartwright
10.30am on Sunday is the perfect time for hearing 30 mins of Charlie & music. Must admit, much of this week didn't move me but that's fine - getting to hear what interests CG is never dull. I too once worshipped at the alter of Ry but the Smoke song sounded like bad Tom Waits (and I'm not that keen on good Tom) so I wont need to hear that album. Ry really has lost the plot in recent years. The Warsaw Village Remix was so-so, Nat Atlas I'm trying to like but still find it makes little impression. Ceu may be the same. the standout track was the 1920s African recording from London - it shone above everything else and makes me think R Crumb and co' are correct in their estimation that music making has declined over the decades.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:29 pm
by Adam Blake
Didn't Ry Cooder smoke a cigar in "Buena Vista Social Club"? I'm sure he did, sitting on the porch at one point with his son. Perhaps he should have resisted the temptation to appear in the movie, his playing does stick out rather, but any musician in that situation who could have resisted would have to be some kind of saint. And Ry Cooder is no saint... He always seems to do rather tepid versions of really great music - but that's better than doing great versions of boring music.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:27 pm
by Hugh Weldon
He always seems to do rather tepid versions of really great music - but that's better than doing great versions of boring music.


Tepid? I think he's done some of the great cover versions of all time. "Great versions of boring music" sounds slightly oxymoronic (though perhaps there's a thread in there somewhere). However I'm not as impressed as Charlie seems to be by the 'Can I Smoke in Here' song, despite it being a question I often used to ask myself until the answer invariably became negative.

emails

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:28 am
by Charlie
email from R Allibone, Tamworth

protest or praise you ask for!

well. on a programme so short how did you find time for that ry cooder track?

if past glories means subsequent mediocrity gets played, we will have louis' hello dolly, sinatra's my way, loads of elvis and lonnie's dustman.

however thank you for the kumasi trio.