Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Other Logs from the Fire: Lollywood (link restored)

Although I’m guilty of the crime as much as anyone, I really don’t like referring to the Mumbai-based Indian cinema industry as Bollywood.  It rings false, as if it somehow were not serious, frivolous and needs to be associated (linguistically) with Hollywood to be legitimate.  But most of all, it is the narrowing of the frame of what defines an Indian film that makes me most uncomfortable. India is full of regional cinema with some of the world’s most acclaimed directors working in non-musical based cinema. (full post and goodies)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Almost Superstars: Pradeep

Kavi Pradeep

Ramchandra Narayanji Dwivedi, was born in a small town near the central Indian, and very holy and ancient city of Ujjain. Ramchandra developed a fascination with Hindi poetry at a young age, which he studied at university and later taught in Lucknow. He was a notorious popular participant in public poetry readings/recitals known as kavi sammelansand by the early 1940s was already well regarded.

Entire post and goodies here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Blue Birthdays: Ella Fitzgerald and Albert King

Ella and Albert

A couple of birthdays today.

Ella Fitzgerald and Albert King.

Happy Birthday to you!!!

Track Listing: (Ella Fitzgerald)
01 Jail House Blues
02 In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)
03 See, See Rider
04 You Don't Know My Mind
05 Trouble In Mind
06 How Long, How Long Blues
07 Cherry Red
08 Down Hearted Blues
09 St. Louis Blues
10 Hear Me Talking To Ya

Track Listing: (Albert King)
01 Don't Burn Down The Bridge ('Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)
02 I Believe To My Soul
03 For The Love Of A Woman
04 Blues At Sunrise
05 I'll Play The Blues For You
06 Little Brother (Make A Way)
07 Roadhouse Blues

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Almost Superstars: Geeta Dutt

Geeta (Roy) Dutt  was for a while in the late 1940’s one of the most sought after female voices in Indian cinema. She, a Bengali, and her contemporary and peer, the Maharashtrian, Lata Mangeshkar, were breathing down the neck of the grand lady of film song Shamshed Begum, who had held the top spot for most of the 40’s. 

The whole story and goodies here

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Almost Superstars: Mahendra Kapoor

So dominant have the voices of Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Mohammad Rafi been in Bollywood playback singing that you could be forgiven for believing that these three recorded every film song recorded in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  But in fact, the vocal field is much more diverse, including such names as Manna Dey, Hemant Kumar, Pradip, Talat Mehmood and Bhupinder. Sadly, the conservative risk-averse mentality of most composers, producers and directors meant that these voices were never given the exposure they deserved.
Mahendra Kapoor, the focus of tonight’s post, is one of those underappreciated voices of Indian cinema.
To get the whole post and goodies click here

Monday, April 22, 2013

Change in the Weather: Washerman's Dog and Harmonium Music

As most of you are aware, one of my great passions is the music and musical culture of South Asia. That part of the world that stretches from Afghanistan in the West to Bangladesh in the East, and from Bhutan and Nepal in the Himalayas to the Maldives and Sri Lanka in the watery expanses of the Indian Ocean.

About a year ago I set up a separate website cum blog dedicated to music from that part of the world called Harmonium Music.  For a number of reasons, the biggest being, I was not sure of what I intended to do with it, Harmonium has languished on the vine.  I have thought of folding up this blog and concentrating only on Harmonium but my heart wouldn't allow it. I love South Asian music, true, but I also love African, American, Brazilian and Australian music too. I didn't want to betray one blog in order to keep the other alive.  So I have put most effort into Washerman's Dog serving up an eclectic mix of stuff, with lots of South Asian tunes thrown in.

Well, at long last I have made the decision to keep both blogs alive but by making a change to both of them.  This blog will hence forth focus on music from all over the world EXCEPT South Asia. In other words, if you like the Bollywood or Indian folk or Pakistani ghazals I've posted about here, you're going to have to click over to Harmonium.  But if that was not the main attraction for you then you don't need to do anything new or challenging. Just keep visiting as often as you like and leave your comments and suggestions, which I'll do my best to fulfill.

From now on all music related to South Asia (historic, folk, classical, contemporary) will be available on Harmonium.  I'll keep cross posting for a few weeks but then you'll have to come over to Harmonium to keep track of what I'm posting from South Asia. For those of you who visited Harmonium from time to time you'd remember that there was a 'shop' included on the site. Well, that no longer exists. The site is completely about the music with lots of informative content but nothing for sale.  

So, hopefully this change will be a win win for everyone, as they say in business circles.  Appreciate any comments or suggestions!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Record Store Day 2013: Little Richard

Today is 20 April. Famous world-wide as Record Store Day.  This is the day to ignore iTunes and every other online record store and trundle, pedal, walk, run, race, stumble, hop, skip, gambol, weave or dance your way down to your local INDEPENDENT record store. Go through the LPs, CDs, DVDs, T-shirts etc and buy something that catches your fancy.

I'll be doing that myself. I've got my eyes on a few old LPs in local favorite shops and can't wait to get round and hand over my money.  Incidentally, I think this Record Store Day thing is really catching on because my favorite shops are thriving, indeed bursting at the seams with all sorts of vinyl, weird CDs and stuff.  Everytime I go in there is more and more to browse through.

I picked up this great early rock 'n roll record a couple RSD's ago.  A joyous, no nonsense shot of classic American music from non other than the incredible Little Richard.  I bought it at Quality Records on Glenferrie Rd., Armadale, which has a great selection of new and old (especially jazz) vinyl not to mention CDs, books and other music related. The staff are very knowledgeable and always ultra friendly.  A great place to pass some idle moments between stress and strain of daily life.

Happy Shopping!

Track Listing:

01 Long Tall Sally
02 Send Me Some Lovin'
03 Good Golly Miss Molly
04 She's Got It
05 Jenny Jenny
06 Miss Ann
07 Ready Teddy
08 Hey!Hey!Hey!Hey!
09 Slippin' and Slidin'
10 All Around the World
11 Tutti Frutti
12 Lucille
13 Ooh! My Soul
14 True Fine Mama
15 Heeby Jeebies
16 Boo-Hoo Hoo Hoo
17 Rip It Up

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tuareg Trending: Tinariwen

I’ve had this album since it came out a few years back. But hesitated to really listen to it because something about a Tinariwen record with lots of American and European ‘guest stars’ did not appeal.  So I ignored it, preferring the older and earlier efforts by the Tuareg collective.

Well, what a mistake. I can listen to nothing but this record these days.  This is album Nr. 5 for the group and for my money their acme. It wallows in laid back rhythms, tightly tweaked guitar riffs and spare, world weary vocalisations.  Here you will find the lost chord of a sleepy Mississippi bluesman sipping flat 3.2 beer near the end of a Sunday evening set. Singing almost to and only for himself.  Yet the message and spirit is not diminished. In a lot of ways it is all the more arresting because of its simplicity. 

And as for those American guests, well like well behaved visitors, they speak only when spoken too.  They actually add some nice color to the desert sound, especially the contributors from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Here’s Pitchfork’s review.

In southeastern Algeria, there is a vast plateau set aside as a national park called Tassili N'Ajjer. It's close to the border with Libya, and years ago, in the 1980s and early 90s, it was a place of relatively safe passage for Kel Tamashek fighters moving between the refugee camps in Libya and the battlefront in northern Mali. To look at it in satellite images, you might think you were looking at he surface of some distant moon, long ago scarred by geologic activity but now barren and strangely beautiful. It wasn't always this way. Thousands of ancient cave and rock paintings dating from 8,000 to around 1,700 years ago depict a place of plenty that slowly dried to become the modern desert. There are lost religions and civilizations out there.

The Tassili N'Ajjer covers some 45,000 square miles. Near the southern rim of the plateau is a town called Djanet, and it's out in the rocky desert near this town that Tinariwen chose to record its fifth album. The group would have preferred to record near its homebase, Tessalit, in northern Mali, but the security situation was too precarious. The re-flaring of a conflict the group hoped was put to bed clouds some of the album they made-- the first couplet on the album, sung in weary Tamashek by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, translates to, "What have you got to say, my friends, about this painful time we're living through?" It's not only about the new conflict, though. From there, the song calls out to people who have given up the nomadic life of the desert, lamenting that they've left but seeming to understand why they have.

These complex emotions run through the album, and the predominant feeling that comes out of them is longing, for home, for peace, for old friends, for a way of life whose place in the modern world is uncertain. Tinariwen have mostly put aside their electric guitars for this album and returned to the acoustics they first played together, backing the rhythmic playing with small hand drums and clapping. They've invited in a few friends as well. Nels Cline contributes a beautiful wash of ambient guitar to opener "Imidiwan ma Tennam", two members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band add rough, sonorous texture to "Ya Messinagh", and TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe, who traveled out to the desert recording site, are on hand on five songs, adding subtle backing harmonies and even a bit of lead vocal on one song.

With Mali making the evening news of late (for all the wrong reasons) it is a good time to remember that those ancient people are among the most amazing music makers on the planet.

I hope you enjoy this the Washerman Dog's 501st post!

Track Listing:

01 Imidiwan Ma Tennam (feat. Nels Cline)
02 Asuf D Alwa
03 Tenere Taqqim Tossam (feat. Tunde Adebimpe & Kyp Malone)
04 Ya Messinagh (feat. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band)
05 Walla Illa
06 Tameyawt
07 Imidiwan Win Sahara
08 Tamiditin Tan Ufrawan
09 Aden Osamnat
10 Tenidagh Hegh Djeredjere
11 Swegh Attay

 Groove and mellow down here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Suez Canal Social Club: El Tanbura

El Tanbura are a collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians, singers, fishermen and philosophers. For the past seventeen years they've been custodians of some of Egypt's oldest folk melodies at their home in Port Said, the Mediterranean gateway to the Suez Canal. 

No one knows the exact origins of the Simsimiyya. One Egyptian legend tells how the first instrument was fashioned from the shell of an unfortunate turtle that had swum too far along the Nile and ended up as dinner for a hungry musician. Other stories say the Simsimiyya has existed for centuries in the Arabian Gulf, and her music (the lyre is always referred to as feminine and her players as lovers) has the ability to calm the waters of the Red Sea. Another folk tale attributes her origins to a mysterious enchanting Siren who slowly seduces both the lover and the audience with mesmerising melodies derived from ancient exorcism rituals.

We do know that the instrument only arrived in Port Said during the 1930s; much to the frustration of the local Suhbagiyya (musicians) who had previously enjoyed the undivided attention of local audiences with Damma songs - a fusion of Sufi inspired vocal chants and frenzied drumming. It was only after the Suez Crisis of 1956 that Dama and Simsimiyya musicians embraced both repertoires. The War drew the former rivaling musicians together as the Simsimiyya provided a voice for the resistance movement through protest songs; a tradition that continued in the subsequent War of 1967 and exile of the people of Port Said during the Israeli occupation of Sinai. In exile, the diaspora communities would gather and sing the old songs reminding them of home.

In the 1950s Zakaria IbrahimEl Tanbura's founder, first heard the Suhbagiyya in Port Said as a young boy. The music he heard as a child haunted him all of his adult life and, on returning to Port Said in 1980, and seeing the desperate musical conditions, he spent nine years seeking out the old masters and building friendships, trying to convince the musicians to perform once again. And El Tanboura group was born.

At first, news of the group's rehearsals drew scorn and ridicule from the commercial musicians; however the infectious atmosphere of the initial performances convinced others with an interest in Sufi philosophy and the pre-War traditions of Port Said to join the floating collective of El Tanbura's members.

Over time, the band grew to include not only folk musicians and percussionists, but dancers and singers drawn from local fishermen, market traders and builders, alongside the unlikely addition of master instrumentalists from some of the State-approved music troupes who were desperate to perform with others who had a vibrancy of spirit and to play long-forgotten songs from antiquity - praising something other than the government approved subjects.

Band members dress in an eclectic mix of gallibiyas and Levis with Gucci sunglasses, fez and Nike caps.  Their music is driven by the seductive call of the Simsimiyya. They perform regularly in Port Said and at Masrah El Damma in downtown Cairo. (http://www.el-mastaba.org/el-tanbura.html)

This is great music. Sometimes sacred sometimes frolicking always pleasurable.  A real Suez Canal Social Club!

Track Listing:
01 Ghosen el Habib
02 Friends of Bamboute
03 Noh el Hamam
04 Khaly anka al yhom
05 Song for the Prophet
06 Lally
07 Heela Heela
08 Afra
09 Badr Arid
10 El Madad