This represents something of a departure for the Rough Guide series. Up until now, theyâ€™ve been limited to a quick skim through the music of a specific country, or even region. I believe that this more focused trawl through the sounds of Basingstoke is the first in a planned series of overviews of provincial English music.
Basingstoke might not spring to mind as one of the well-springs of European song. But where other collections have barely hinted at the existence of the Hampshire town, this album succeeds brilliantly.
Purists might object that some of the musicâ€™s connections with Basingstoke are, at best, quite tenuous (the claim that the father of Orchestra Baobabâ€™s bass player used to work in Allders department store is, perhaps, the most obvious example). There could also be some quibbles about particular selections (the Spice Girlâ€™s â€˜Say Youâ€™ll Be Thereâ€™ appears here as a favourite of suburban parties, but it isnâ€™t clear why this has been chosen ahead of the far more complex â€˜Wannabeâ€™).
However, the plus side to these imaginative selections, is that we are spared the excesses of the more parochial outpourings from Basingstoke. And there is no dispute about the wonderful musical offerings on display here. Who can fail to be moved by the bulbous polyrhythms of Kate Rusby, or Djivan Gasparyanâ€™s muscular flute playing on his hauntingly anxious version of Whole Lotta Love? And who could complain about a previously unissued version of â€˜Sex Machineâ€™ (taken from the infamous James Brown Live at the Anvil volume 1 sessions which are now seen in retrospect as a millstone of mature funk)?
The excellent sleeve notes by Avril Bouffon, well-known in the local scene, really bring the local music scene to life. With a background as a peripatetic estate agent, she is able to employ her unparalleled knowledge of local housing prices to telling effect, making a convincing case for Basingstoke as being within reasonable commuting distance of London. As is becoming a standard for the Rough Guides, this comes with an extra CD rom track, with a map of the key venues and a brief tour of the high street on a Sunday morning.
Priceless. The millstone of mature funk - oh how we know what you mean. Bulbous polyrhythms? I can't wait. The good burghers of Basing will be dancing in the streets (obscure Scottish football reference). Now what about the Rough Guide to Auchtermuchty, Gordon, the world awaits.
I think we should acknowledge the background work done by WhiteVan â€˜Manâ€™ Duran in pulling this collection together. Heâ€™s done a lot of unheralded work for the Chavifuna people of Basingstoke who were transported en masse from the inner cities to this sparsely populated area of North Hampshire way back in the early â€˜70s. Without him the ritual folkloric expressions of downing twelve litres of White Lightning and teetering precariously down New Road in stilletos and two-sizes-too-tight mini-skirts at midnight on Saturday might never have been unearthed (admittedly, the women tend to be a bit more restrained).
Led by the jaunty urban-fake-folk of Tanita Tikaram (aka the Siren of Chineham Business Park), the angular provincial nihilism of The Other One From The Libertines (aka You Know, the One That Doesnâ€™t Do Smack and Supermodels, Carl Somethingorother)â€™s bass playing, and some obscure connection top session man Spreader had with the area somewhere in the dim and distant past despite all protestations to the contrary - not to mention that bloke from the Troggs whose wife still does temp work around Viables on occasion - the artistry, aesthetic values and passionate music of the area lives on.
Rumour has it that Duran has set up a studio in a lean-to in a semi on the Winklebury estate to further capture the captivating, organic sound of suburban Britain, a karaoke machine, twelve crates of Bacardi Breezer and the Whitney Houston songbook his only tools. The first essential release of 2008 is awaited with eager anticipation.
Apologies Con. I had completely forgotten that you're based in Basingstoke and would be much better placed to comment on this CD. I found your comments about WhiteVan â€˜Manâ€™ Duran particularly telling. As it happens, Duran Duran's 'Girls On Film' makes a welcome appearance on this compilation. I must confess I was mystified by this as I'd always thought that the group hailed from Birmingham. I'd assumed that the normally meticulous Avril Bouffon had made a mistake, but perhaps not.
No doubt you'll be covering this release for fRoots. Feel free to use any of my material as you see fit.
June, this is great news. Glad to see Putumayo have kept their tradition of cheerful homespun colourful cosy covers. Particularly liked the detail in the foreground. I wonder will it feature the twin brother duo The Dole Claimers?
Colin - Just to let you know how much we at World Music Network HQ enjoyed your Rough Guide to Basingstoke! An excellent spoof - the value added data track with maps of Basingstoke Roundabouts was perfect. Keep up the good work!
Sorry about that Howard. I didn't actually think of it as pinching 'bulbous polyrhthyms'; it was more of paying homage to your unique influence. How about 'polybulbous rhythyms'? Could Con use that instead?
PS I've always assumed that my name was 'Gordon' but, prompted by Phil Stanton's kind words, I searched out my birth certificate. There it was in all it's shocking starkness: 'Colin'. I must say I'm even more impressed with the meticulous research of the folks at Work Music Network. But now I have to break the news to my mum that she's been harbouring the wrong child for all these years.