Saturday, 31 March 2012

SFR Soundsystem 31032012

Back to normal this week after last week's dose of the doldrums caused me to pull my show. I pretty much stuck with last week's playlist but with a few alterations. 

I saw the Selecter this week and they were brilliant so in honour of that I added a 3-in-a-row of Selecter tracks: one of their 2Tone hits in a live version, a track off the Rare album and their wonderful cover of Amy Winehouse's Back to Black. The two Bombskare tracks were sent to me by the band last week and on the strength of this material their new album promises to be an absolute belter. I also played Stop Press!'s new tune. I love this band's fresh and energetic take on ska; their English Life EP is great, here's hoping for more CD's in the not-too-distant future. 

For me though, the highlight of the playlist is Nicky Thomas's live performance of Is It Because I Am Black. The YouTube link is below the playlist - the man is on fire! I've lost count of how many times I've watched that clip. I've got the whole concert as a video, if YouTube ever get round to letting me put videos longer than 30 min's up I'll post it.
  1. Desmond Dekker & the Aces - Reggae Recipe
  2. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Sun Is Shining
  3. Bad Manners - Walking In the Sunshine
  4. The Amphetameanies - The Sun Shines Down
  5. Determinations - Cooked Ska
  6. A.R.T.S. - Afro Freak
  7. Oi Skall Mates - Nutty Sound
  8. Bombskare - Yellow Pages
  9. 1 Stop Experience - Mentally Ska'd
  10. Susan Cadogan - In The Ghetto
  11. Symarip - These Boots Are Made For Walking
  12. Nicky Thomas - Is It Because I Am Black
  13. Roberto Jacketti & the Scooters - Moscow Nights
  14. The Voodoo Trombone Quartet - Voodoo Trombones
  15. Stuck Lucky - Dry Drowning
  16. The Selecter - Too Much Pressure
  17. The Selecter - Madness
  18. The Selecter - Back to Black
  19. Laurel Aitken - Reggae 69
  20. Lee Perry - Soul Man
  21. Stop Press! - Rocksteady Melody
  22. Prince Perry - You Won't Say It
  23. Maddie Ruthless & the Secret Affair - Rudie Blood Pact
  24. Winston Riley - Black out
  25. Skin, Flesh & Bones - Butter Fe Fish
  26. Bombskare - Granton Ska Cause
  27. The Simmertones - Bring Your Love To Me
  28. The Hotknives - David Jones
  29. Dandy - Move Your Mule
  30. The Kingstonians - Sufferer
  31. Roger Rivas - Cold Serenade
  32. Hot Rod All Stars - Skinhead Moondust
  33. Derrick Morgan - Moon Hop
  34. Prince Buster - Cincinnati Kid
  35. The Skatalites - Guns Of Navarone

Friday, 30 March 2012

Can I get this on prescription?

I haven't posted anything for a while, mostly because I've had a major attack of the miseries and haven't felt like doing much except the essentials: work (sadly), eat (too much), sleep (not enough) and smoke. I even cancelled my radio show last week; it must be a bad dose of the doldrums if even playing some killer ska can't lift the mood. Today, however, I got up with more of a spring in my step, even if at my age and waistline it's the sort of spring you get from an overused Slinky (see foot of page for a further, bonus Slinky reference).

Thankfully even the darkest of walks with the Black Dog can be illuminated by an evening of great live music - especially if you're also lucky enough to share it with great company. Such was my experience last night. Despite feeling like a bag of shite I got myself down to Exeter Phoenix to watch the Selecter. So, so glad I did too - it was like an intravenous dose of the best anti-depressants money could buy! Pauline Black was superb and it was such a bonus to see her accompanied by the awesome ball of energy that is Gaps Hendrickson, but for me the show was stolen by their keyboards player, Greg Coulson. Pauline introduced him as 'Boy Wonder' and she wasn't kidding - his playing was absolutely superb. I met him briefly after the gig and at the risk of sounding like an old fart all I can say is 'What a nice young man'!

There are other reviews of the current tour dotted around the web and the set list was predictable enough (in a good way!) so I won't go into 'review-mode', but there were a couple of things which stood out for me. Firstly, the band seemed to be really enjoying themselves and that can make all the difference in the world. The newer tunes stood up well against the old favourites from the 2Tone days. My England was performed with a vigour and passion that left us in no doubt that Pauline meant every word of her anti-EDL introduction. I couldn't help smiling at the way a couple of so-called fans stared at their shoes and shuffled uncomfortably when the EDL was getting a slagging. Just how anyone can pretend to understand what ska music in general and 2Tone in particular are all about when they support the odious aims and opinions of that bunch of cocks is beyond me. It was also good to see another particularly charmless tool get a bollocking off the band for slapping a woman, bet he felt so proud of himself! Suffice to say that the band were tight, energetic and passionate; they delivered.

I mentioned good company as being the second active ingredient in this blues-busting evening. I met up with a guy who I've been following on twitter for quite some time and who also presents a radio show - although his is presented from a real studio rather than my distinctly home-made efforts! Jas co-presents the Morning Dews show on Ridge Radio on Thursday mornings from 10 to 12 - you can listen at and I'd recommend that you do, it's always a cracking show with a cool mix of indie, ska and alternative music. Jas tweets as @The_MorningDew on Twitter and is one of the most enthusiastic and genuine music tweeters you could hope to find.

All in all the evening was the perfect antidote to my dark mood. So here's my suggestion: live music on prescription. Much faster-acting than anti-depressants, probably cheaper in the long run, plus the added bonus that watching a band doesn't make you fart.

Bonus Slinky reference: 
  • What does an EDL member have in common with a Slinky? 
  • Neither serve any useful purpose but they both make you smile if you push them down the stairs.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

SFR Soundsystem 17032012

Bit of a shorter show than usual this week, partly because the preceding show previewing Paul Weller's new album finished just after 8pm but mostly because I pressed the wrong button to start broadcasting and merrily played music just to myself for a few minutes! I also got my adding-up wrong and finished early too. Not to worry, there was still time for 33 tunes and some of them are real belters. Had more new tunes from The Nomarks & Pikey Beatz plus a cracking track from Swiss band Alaska. Big thanks to Urang Matang for sending me Teddy Cut A Dash too, another corking track.

I fancy doing another 'theme' show next week or the week after but am bereft of inspiration - any ideas or suggestions would be gratefully received! 
  1. Winston Jarrett - Mini Dress
  2. Bongo Man Byfield - Bongo Man
  3. Madness - You Keep Me Hanging On
  4. Sonic Boom Six - Scatterbrain
  5. The Nomarks - Saturday Night
  6. Bad Manners - Lorraine (live)
  7. Easy Star All Stars - Us And Them
  8. Pikey Beatz - D Minor
  9. Urang Matang - Teddy Cut A Dash
  10. The Upsessions - Lucille
  11. Rico - Gunga Din
  12. Prince Buster - Freezing Up Orange Street
  13. Dave Barker & the Wailers - Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying
  14. Alaska - Kissed By The Wind
  15. Razika - Nytt Pa Nytt
  16. Too Hot - The Two Of Us
  17. Don Drummond - Roll On Sweet Don
  18. The West Indians - Oh Lord
  19. Danny Ray - Can't Get Used To Losing You
  20. The Skints - Ring Ring
  21. The Dualers - Kiss On The Lips
  22. The Pietasters - G to F
  23. Joe's All Stars - Tony B's Theme
  24. The Cimarons - Grandfather Clock
  25. Nora Dean - Mama
  26. Rico - Man From Wareika Dub
  27. The Skatalites & King Tubby - Dub of Love
  28. Aston Barrett - Ten Thousand Tons of Dollar Bills
  29. The Caroloregians - Pum Pum Hotel
  30. Moon Invaders - Walk Don't Run
  31. Prince Fatty & the Mutant Hifi - Up The Creek
  32. The Upsetters - Dollar in the Teeth
  33. Bombskare - Fistful of Dynamite

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Does anyone speak Russian?

I don't mean that literally. I expect lots of people speak Russian. Lots of Russian people probably do for starters. What I mean is: can anyone translate any of the text from the pictures below for me please?

Yep, it's yet another charity shop vinyl discovery. I can't begin to imagine how three Russian singles ended up in the FORCE charity shop in Heavitree but I'm rather glad they did. The first is the Anthem of the Soviet Union on Melodiya records; very stirring stuff. I've uploaded the audio into a video and added it below. (If anyone can tell me how to put just audio on here I'd love to know.)

I can't make out a date on the label but I'd suspect all three are of the Cold War era; conjuring up for me a romantic vision of an old Russian dissident sitting in his safe-house (perhaps near Heavitree Park), listening to these records and wiping away a tear at the memory of his homeland while children of the Free-West ride past on their bourgeois BMX's and capitalist dog-walkers leave surreptitious turds outside his front door. (By the way, if the cock who regularly fails to clear up his dog's dooings between my house and the park is reading this: I WILL see you leave it there one day. And I WILL rub your sodding nose in it. Yes, yours. Not the dog's.)

Sorry about that, but it gets my back up something rotten. Dirty git. Anyway... The second disc has vocals on it and the tunes are vaguely familiar. I've scanned the label in the hope that someone can identify it for me. I've been trying to Google the names and serial numbers but the script is defeating me. I've also had a good look on eBay to see if they're worth anything but again, no luck.

The third one is by far the strangest. It was tucked inside the gate-fold sleeve of the second one and I thought it was just a square of cardboard until a mate told me it was actually a cardboard record - a kind of flexidisc I suppose. I had a job playing it, either the needle skated straight off or it just stopped it revolving completely. I suppose Soviet bloc turntable arms were built like their tanks but the application of a roll of parcel tape in the middle demonstrated why the superior innovation and technology of the West caused the defeat of Communism. Or something. 

This one helpfully has English(?) text on the back: "Primo Sekundo on Greek The music bu Musak. performer N. Bregvadze. Where are you mu dear, The music bu Georga Sabadze - Paromer Nani Bregvadze."

The sound quality is atrocious and I don't want to play it more than once because the whole thing seems very fragile. I've never seen anything quite like it and I love it.

So if anyone reading this can shed any light on the text or the music I'd be most grateful. I originally picked them up with the thought of sticking them on eBay in true Western-Capitalist style and seeing if I could turn a profit on my £1.00 investment. I'm quite taken with them though and may well keep them. Unless they're worth shed-loads of dosh, in which case the bidding starts at £15. 

Postscript: I knew the second one was familiar: it's the 'original', I suppose, of Kenny Ball's Midnight in Moscow -  one of the tunes I grew up listening to on my Dad's old Pye Jazz singles.

And being the dutiful ska-fanatic that I am I searched for a ska version. Found one and pretty good it is too!

And they keep coming! Petula Clark gets in on the Moscow action:

Saturday, 10 March 2012

SFR Soundsystem 10032012

I did two things tonight I swore I'd never do on my show. Firstly I over-ran because I rambled on too much. Secondly I played a Judge Dread tune, albeit one without him singing on it. As well as the usual mixture of old and new ska, reggae & dub I also had three brand-spanking-new tracks that I was sent this week. Huge thanks to The Nomarks, Pikey Beatz & The Riviera Rockers for sending me their latest tracks. Quite apart from feeling honoured, I'm chuffed to bits because they are all absolutely cracking tunes. I've had a couple of days off work with man-flu this week and to cheer myself up the vinyl came out and I played quite a few tracks that I'd recorded off singles & albums - apologies for the crackle, my vinyl varies from pristine to ploughed-field and all points in between. So here's the list, please take time to check out the stuff that's new to you, Cheers.
  1. The Bluebeat Stompers - I Need Your Loving
  2. The Nomarks - Hai Karate
  3. Dave & Ansel Collins - Karate
  4. The Upsetters - Exit The Dragon
  5. Magic Lord & the Mighty Drakkars - 5 Commandments
  6. Maralians - Rickshaw
  7. Ska Cubano - Natty Bo Dead (Sammy No Dead)
  8. The Hoovers - The Day They Made Him King
  9. Bigger Thomas - I Can't Remember My name
  10. The Skatalites - Tough Talk
  11. Alton Ellis - Cry Tough
  12. Stranger Cole - Rough & Tough
  13. The Selecter - Bristol & Miami
  14. The Specials - Man at C&A
  15. The Beat - Dream Home in New Zealand
  16. Madness - Not Home Today
  17. Bad Manners - Suicide
  18. The Riviera Rockers - Dancehall Steppa (The Operator)
  19. The Skints - On A Mission
  20. Judge Dread Sound - Dread
  21. Desmond Dekker - Sugar Dumplings
  22. Max Romeo - She's But A Little Girl
  23. Pikey Beatz - Reggae Protagonist
  24. Orange Street - Rough
  25. The Amphetameanies - Speed Fever
  26. Pat Kelly - A Thousand Years
  27. Prince Buster - African Rock
  28. Ernest Ranglin - Below The Bassline
  29. Joe White - Seven Heaven Rock
  30. The Brass Action - Kiss My Brass
  31. Save Ferris - The World Is New
  32. GG All Stars - Barbarus
  33. Jo Jo Bennett - Musical Pressure
  34. Roland Alphonso - Jerk Pork
  35. Boris Gardner - Don Juan
  36. The Hippy Boys - Dreams To Remember
  37. Dave Barker - Hot Sauce

None Shall Escape The Judgement

Don't let the title of this post put you off - I haven't gone all Scottish-Cardinal and started handing out damnation and promising hell-fire on account of archaic and ill-thought-out opinions based on nothing more than dogma, tradition and 3,000 year old moral codes. Twat. But I digress, this is about another of my charity shop finds and an excuse to post a couple of cracking tunes. 

I picked up a 45 of Egyptian Reggae by Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers this week for 50p. Not a track I was familiar with; to be honest I bought it because: a) it had the word 'reggae' in the title, b) it was in lovely condition for a 34 year old charity shop record, but mostly c) because it was cheap. 

So I took it home, stuck it on the turntable and gave it a play. It was strangely familiar so I did a little research and thanks to Wikipedia I found out that it was indeed a cover of the Johnny Clarke tune None Shall Escape The Judgement

I've got the Johnny Clarke version on a couple of Trojan Compilations and its a cracking track, but what I didn't know was that Clarke's version was also a cover. Thanks to the wonderful Duff Guide To Ska site I found out that the original was by Earl Zero and the Duff Guide page tells a rather sad tale about how he wrote the song but ended up not even being credited as the writer on Clarke's hit version of it. A little bit of searching on YouTube turned up this clip from the film Word, Sound & Power - not a film I've seen, yet. I'll be seeing if I can put that right ASAP.

By complete coincidence I also came across another instrumental version this week too. I've been listening to a lot of Ernest Ranglin recently, his Boss Reggae album is absolutely sublime and this week I got the Below The Bassline album which is also bloody magnificent. This is from Below The Bassline.

So, there you go: four cracking versions in one blog post. Much more enjoyable than the page I was tempted to write about a bigoted old man. A man who represents an organisation that denies millions of their followers the right to protect themselves against AIDS, that forbids women made pregnant by rape to abort an unwanted child, that has routinely and deliberately covered up the most sickening child abuse. A man who now thinks the biggest threat facing this country is gay marriage. Like I said: twat.

Postscript: I recently picked up the Owen Gray album Forward on the Scene and found this gem using the same riddim: 

There's a list of other tunes which use the None Shall Escape The Judgement riddim here: when I say 'list' I actually mean 'shopping list', as an incurable anorak I'm going to have to get myself all of them!

Post-postscript: Another vinyl purchase led to the surprise discovery of this slice of wonderfulness from Sly & Robbie and Bunny Lee:

And another one! 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Dread, but not dreadful.

Every once in a while you come across an unexpected gem tucked away on the b-side of an extremely unpromising single. This is one such gem. The a-side is Big Seven by 'hilariously rude', cod-reggae singing, pretend skinhead Judge Dread (yes, pretend - he had long hair for God's sake!) You may have gathered that I'm not exactly a fan of Alexander Minto Hughes. Whilst I applaud him keeping reggae just about on the radar of the British record-buying public for quite some time, it's just a shame he did so with such atrocious tunes. 

Of course the God-like genius that is Prince Buster is partly to blame, having started the whole thing with his Big-5 album. Big-5, however, was just continuing a long and fine tradition of rude reggae; Alexander's Big-every-other-number were just Carry On films & seaside postcards transmitted to vinyl, except without the charm or wit. I know I'm not alone in feeling this way about Mr Dread, a quick poll of Twitter users when asked for 3 words to describe Judge Dread resulted in the descriptions "boring, sexist claptrap" and "pile of shite". OK so I only polled two people but I'm sure they are representative; after all the Daily Mail prints polls based purely on their fevered, frothing, 'you couldn't make it up' imagination. Quick note to Mail sub-editors: you could make it up, in fact your paper frequently does.

So here it is: The Judge Dread Sound with Dread. A cracking little slice of hammond-driven skinhead reggae which, after the slightly too jaunty opening bars, pops along nicely with some choice reggae guitar & drumming helping it on the way. And no vocals: the perfect Judge Dread tune!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

SFR Soundsystem 03032012

I didn't do my usual show on Saturday due to having had a complete git of a week during which I did no preparation at all for it and also had a major attacks of the miseries. Thankfully the wonderful Nikki stood in at very short notice and delivered a cracking show. I've been trying to find time all week to type up Nikki's playlist and can only apologise that it's taken me until 5am on Thursday to get this up here. I'll type it up fully later & add some links but here's the playlist, better late than never (sorry Nikki):

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Faith, hope & charity shops.

I haven't written a blog post for a wee while although I was tempted to start another blog anonymously where I could describe how being a chronic depressive made you lethargic and idle. But I couldn't be bothered. I don't intend to go into that sort of detail here; might get round to the other blog one day but as an attack of the miseries fades there doesn't seem to be much point in re-visiting the Dark Side. 

I suppose the fact that I'm feeling inclined to write a blog post again is a good sign that I'm on the mend, even if it is likely to turn into a bit of a rant about charity shops. Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not against charity shops per se and indeed I'm a huge fan of grabbing a bargain whilst also helping out a good cause. In fact given that Mr Cameron and his cabal of cocks are seemingly determined to freeze (i.e. reduce) my pay until I retire, I may well have to rely on charity shops just to keep me clothed. So, given that I applaud their aims, love a bargain and may well end up clothed in cast-off brown slacks and cardies, what could I possibly have to rant about? I think if I had to give my gripe a name I'd call it the 'Oxfam effect'. 

I'll start with an example. I recently spotted the album Jerusalem by Alpha Blondy & the Wailers at a charity shop in town at the price of £6. Not a bad price for a good album in decent condition but given that pennies are tight I didn't buy it immediately. I don't begrudge the charity concerned the money, I was just a bit hard up & decided to wait and see if it was still there on pay-day. However, having mentioned it to a mate at work who also collects records I discovered that the Oxfam shop further up the same road had the same album for £20 (in slightly worse condition). Now I had to have it; my reasoning being that someone would see it in Oxfam then wander down the road and see it for less than a third of the price and snap it up. A search on Popsike didn't throw up any results for the album but I would say £6 was a good price but £20 was ridiculous; either way how on earth can Oxfam justify charging more for vinyl than you'd pay at a record fair? 

Here's another example, admittedly it's hearsay but the chap who told me this tale is a decent bloke who was genuinely shocked at his treatment: John took 2 boxes of books into his local Oxfam shop; at a conservative estimate they would fetch upwards of £100. They took his donation gracefully enough and he left wallowing in the glow of self-satisfaction from a good deed done well. On the way out of the door he spotted a book he fancied priced at £1. He checked his pockets - 80p. "Can I have this book for 80p?" "No." He remonstrated that he'd just given them at least a ton's worth of books but they were unmoved. They patiently explained that their shop was run as a business and it wasn't their policy to give discounts. Fair enough if he'd just wandered in on the scrounge, but given the circumstances I'd say there was a distinct lack of charity in their attitude.

I'm no expert on the charity shop industry but I always understood that they had business rates waived due to their charitable status. Again, I must stress that I'm not against these shops doing their best to maximise the amount they raise for their respective charity but there does seem to me to be something of a contradiction in charity shops being run along the same lines as any other money-grubbing, profit driven, capitalist venture. If I want to pay top-dollar for records there are any amount of places I can buy it, I'd rather like charity shops to remain the cuddly, lovable emporiums of bargains they on the whole are at present. I'd really miss the well-meaning but slightly befuddled pensioners who staff them if they were replaced by thrusting young retail-warriors. I'd miss the 'oh, have you got a gramophone' style comments I sometimes get (repeatedly from one particular lady!) My worry is that the other charity shops will see the prices Oxfam are charging and fancy a piece of the action. Shopping for music is miserable enough when you're skint without the Mrs Miggins Home For Wayward Cats shop pricing me out of the market too. I'm not scaremongering either, my favourite source of bargain vinyl now has a 'music guy' who prices up the records. Thankfully he know bugger-all about anything about but heavy metal so the decent stuff still gets priced sensibly & shoved away amongst the Jim Reeves albums. As a final thought, does anyone, anywhere actually own a Jim Reeves album that they bought and hung on to? I am absolutely convinced that every  single charity shop that has more than 20 records in a box has at least one copy of 'Gentleman Jim Reeves'.

Here's a couple of my recent charity shop bargains, hoping there will be many more: