Archive for September, 2013

Fun: Some African Musical and other Resources.

September 28, 2013

Where did it start this morning?

This truly eccentric (now defunct) blog site titled Big Head Stevenson which has the wildest musical cloud categories I’ve ever encountered.

Spend some time exploring as it is quite an education in the world of highly marginal sounds and genres. Very taken with his Soul and perfectly ghastly Krautrock selections, and all the African categories are killers. Unfortunately, the sound files appear to be corrupted or beyond my skill set.

When one reflects upon the big musical influences of one’s life, there are no straight lines. By way of example, liner notes on a cassette I purchased of James Chance and the Contortions Live in New York led to a massive binge on Fela Kuti LPs….months of my student scholarship in fact. Short of becoming an international gunrunner, this was the only way of extending the musical boundaries into Afro Beat.

The truly overwrought Mr Chance’s version of JBs King Heroin. 1980. Pre- rehab, rehab,….

Anyway, todays less than linear straight line went from Big Head Stevenson’s blog to The Guardian and music wonk Alexis Petridis HERE on Who is William Onyeabor??

So lets get down with some Lagos funk circa the 1970s, positive lyrics encased in electro-funk. Funk bass lines and brass riffs to die for. And your IQ test for the day: Just what is it about funk musicians and their preference for cowboy hats???

OMG, that is fucking great, so lets have it again.

Onyeabor self-released 8 albums between 1978 and 1985, and his biography is a bit hazy. According to liner notes quoted by Discog, he has enjoyed an interesting life to put it mildly:

William Onyeabor studied cinematography in Russia for many years, returning to Nigeria in the mid-70s to start his own Wilfilms music label and to set up a music and film production studio……. William has now been crowned a High Chief in Enugu, where he lives today as a successful businessman working on government contracts and running his own flour mill.

Beside the Born Again thingy, there is also mention of an English law degree.

Anyway, 13 of his best tracks have now been rereleased on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label.

Interested in extending your knowledge of Afro Beat. Here is an interview with master drummer Tony Allen, the power house who anchored over 30 of Fela’s records.
And you can read about his biography on THIS SITE, which I follow on my twitter account.


On the internet radio front, try RadioPalmWine Nigerian Igbo Radio, and if you are into talking books, try Misha Glenny’s McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime. Glenny has an excellent if hilarious account of the genesis of the Nigerian 419 scam set within the context of the Potemkin state institutions of post-colonial Nigeria and the Biafran civil war where the Igbo people were on the receiving end of induced famine and global indifference. Subsequently deprived of access to the corruption possibilities offered by the institutions of State, the Igbo turned their attention to other means of fraudulent gain. Initially via the fax machine, and then to the instantly global possibilities offered by the internet. Educated and highly creative folk who cleaned big time before the scam became too well known.

For a fictional account of the Igbo perspective prior to and during the Biafran civil war, try Half of a Yellow Moon by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Half way thru this tome at the moment, and its nice to have the female protagonist perspectives of the two sisters.

Back to the 419 scam and think of it as payback for colonial greed. At least that is how many Nigerians view the whole scamming thing. “I go take your money and disappear / 419 is just a game, you are the loser I am the winner.”

Now, if the peasants in Tubbyland paid their taxes, I would be buying all 28 volumes of Ethiopiques, a free ranging and diverse collect of Ethiopian musics covering the 1960s and 1970s. Google album cover images HERE.

However, like peasants the world over, they ignore their fiscal duties to the State/Me, while privately gorging and guzzling themselves into oblivion when I’m OS on goodwill visits, surfing safaris etc. Consequently, we will have to settle for some Ethiopian funk courtesy of Ethiopian TV with a bit of salacious babe dancing thrown in for good measure.

All linked out.

It’s nice to have a new follower:
This site is well worth a visit.
Subtitled: Why the internet is a joy to the world.
Came across this tremendous article in Pop Matters: Lagos Disco Inferno by David Maine which was a review of a 70s compilation release. The title speaks for itself. David, a writer who bears a resemblance to Richard Brautigan, and who runs his own site focussed my attention on another site run by David Gossner, a music archaeologist/indie music entrepreneur of older Nigerian sounds.

All the above are worth a visit, especially the latter since you will be purchasing a copy of Lagos Disco Inferno. I know you will, after listening to Grotto’s Bad City Girl taken from the above compilation. And if the montage of really bad babes gets you all hot and bothered and leads to domestic discord, don’t ask me to mediate.

See ya.


September 14, 2013

Readers with too much time on their hands would be aware of the electoral shambles which took place in Tubbyland last weekend. Following a subsequent exchange with Justrecently, I’ve decided to form my own political party grounded in the key realities of the 21st century. As of yet to arrive at a name which will capture the essence of this new vehicle of political power, and readers are invited to make polite suggestion.

Key policy positions include:

The incorporation of the Pirate Party’s raft of left libertarian proposals for the management of the digital economy and intellectual property rights;

Non alcoholic ginger beer will be the only beverage served at State functions;

Julian Assange will be given the Order of Australia and installed as Governor General;

All males will take mandatory Creative Cooking Classes beginning in their primary school years;

Full civic rights for gay, trannie and transgenderist folk;

The State will take responsibility for the quality and distribution of all Old School Drugs (marijuana, LSD and high-end opiates). Individuals involved in the distribution of party/designer drugs will be prosecuted with extreme prejudice;

All web lords will be given full journalistic accreditation with the aim breaking the existing sodomistic relationship between mainstream media and the political classes;

All Australian country music will be banned forthwith. No ifs or buts. Its plain fucking embarrassing. (And there is a shattering backstory to this proposal.) As an adjunct to this proscription, Australia will establish a strategic relationship with Mali and other Sahelian states with the aim of re-engineering the musical taste of all citizens here in Tubbyland;

Mainland China would be classified as a Nation State Gaming the Rest of the World and treated accordingly in matters of trade and Sino investment (housing and agriculture in Tubbyland).

I anticipate considerable electoral success, and am certain to capture both the donkey vote and other disenchanteds, as this new grass roots party will be generously staffed by a bevy of Japanese surfer girls.

Furthermore, ASP Pro Surfer Nao Omura will be appointed Minister of Grrrl Power.

JR will be offered a ministry of his choosing, and if secret negotiations with two other weblords are successful, the electorate will have real voting options next time round.

To be sure, the above involves the renunciation of the principles of hereditary monarchy and absolutist rule (my preference), but sometimes one must consider the greater public good.

Now, to musical matters.

As young sprouts, we spent our teenage years living in a Police State, and I’m not overstating matters.

 Just before the Tower Mill police riot

Prior to Tower Mill police riot

In retrospect we should be thankful for that state of affairs, since it gave rise to great taste in all matters musical. The anthems of our teenage years were for the most part derived from Soul Music. Otis. Sam and Dave. The Four Tops. James and Bobby Purify. In fact, just about anything produced by Motown, Stax and Stax Volt. Being a bit of an Aretha fan is a hard gig sometimes, given that she covered a lot of plaintive dreck penned by the likes of Lennon McCartney, Dionne Warwick and Burt bloody Bacharach- swill of the first order.

Now, there is no denying that Chain of Fools is right up there in the pantheon of killer soul tracks. Alan Parker of The Commitments knew a centrepiece tour de force when he heard one, and he threw a ton of production dollars into his cover version.

This is Aretha at her torchiest best displaying her complete Gospel credentials. You are my Sunshine. Aretha Arrives. 1967. Perfect call and response. Understated brass. (As my producer friend Mark once advised in the studio: “How would Aretha cut it?”.)
Crank up the volume, children.

Finally, as part of this Australia-Mali pivot, this is what to expect to hear on all Tubbyland Ipods in the future:

And a nice description of the Desert Music Blues Project is found on this website.

Lot more on the net if you are interested.


The History of Fever.

September 5, 2013

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

Before we get down to this weeks musical history lesson, a really good spray is called for and what better target than the rapidly disappearing Sino-English blog world.

This brings us to The Diplomat, the military tech-head site where US and PRC keyboard warriors gameplay the forthcoming war between these two superpowers. While I’m pretty agnostic re this Clash of the Titans, the possibility of a second 21st Century of Han Shame is a rather attractive proposition. Combine that with the mass butchery the Shia and Sunni seem intent on inflicting on each other within the Tent of Islam and hey, we are heading for a new New World Order where retard cultures get their justifiable comeuppance.

At this juncture, Mainland China is in a no-win situation: genuine reform is an impossibility and the old tried and true methods of domestic social management are reaching their effective end-points. The social, political and environmental ecologies are all pretty toxic. Sowing and reaping, it all comes down to the flawed cultural DNA of 5,000 years of so-called Han racial uniqueness. The exceptional empire of the Middle Kingdom. And what about the glue which holds this empire together – language. Reuters reports today that:

BEIJING (Reuters) – More than 400 million Chinese are unable to speak the national language Mandarin, and large numbers in the rest of the country speak it badly, state media said on Thursday as the government launched another push for linguistic unity
Ministry of Education spokeswoman Xu Mei said that only 70 percent of the country could speak Mandarin, many of them poorly, and the remaining 30 percent or 400 million people could not speak it at all, Xinhua news agency reported.

To make matters worse, Liz Carter writing in The Atlantic notes that middle school text books have been dumbed down with the removal of Lu Xun’s essay The Kite plus other works. Apparently, the old fucker and alleged founding father of Chinese literature was too bloody negative and cynical. Probably not in lockstep with Xi’s China Dream. That’s the sub-text, since they offered up the western weasel rationale of offering something more “age appropriate”.

An article analyzing the changes published by Xinhua News Agency, China’s state-run media, noted that, “Middle school students should not be reading anything too deep.” Zhao Yu, an author quoted in the article, voiced his agreement with the decision, stating that, “We shouldn’t make students undertake reflection and critical thinking too soon; instead, we should let them gradually accumulate knowledge.

Draw your own conclusions and read the original. It’s tremendous.

Back to The Diplomat. Not content with their existing monopoly on potential hi-tech blood and gore, they recently stepped onto my turf which the Dear Reader knows to be African music (and non-classical musical more generally), namely Jonathon DeHart’s interview with two Ungandan Afro-Beat artists who are touring the Mainland. Anyway, I was compelled to tap in a semi-respectful comment to the effect that Mr DeHart failed to acknowledge the late great Fela Kuti in the miserable link he provided, and fuck me if they didn’t moderate my comment into the realm of being and nothingness. Obviously, Dehart has a very fragile ego and undue influence with the editors of this site.

Soldierman Nature @ Lio D

Soldierman Nature @ Lio D

All decked out like a couple of Kivu/Democratic Republic of Congo warlords wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Forget these pussy Afro-Beat contenders and go for the Founding Father Fela.
Fela live in 78 – Berlin.

Coffin for Head of State.

Fela’s Burial….brilliant.

And for some background on the monumentally corrupt military dictatorship which hounded Fela, murdered his mother (listen to Unknown Soldier) and sent him into exile, here is Sani Abacha who was poisoned by a couple of Indian hookers out of Dubai while on a viagara jag.
A fabulous google snap shot of all Fela’s album covers HERE and if you want a killer intro to his more accessible oeuvre, try Black President.
black president
Sticking with musical matters, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention Beijing Cream. Okay, we know Corporal Tao has hit on a winning formula centred around Road Kill in its many variations – dysfunctional elevators, scooter and car accidents, cinema verite violence, airport brawls, etc – perfect net fodder for the loawai trailer trash set.

However, it is the musical thread on this site which gets up my craw. Here Tao is again, again and again spruiking fucking Andrew Lloyd Webber. ALW is a major league transmittable disease and here’s hoping Tao gets something in the ear beyond antibiotics.

As for those two twerps he employs to write on Sino musical matters – Josh Feola and Morgan Short – I’ve been baiting both for weeks now in the comments section, but they’re bunkered down in a non-responsive sulk. Pussies!

Oh yes, to the web lord’s recent invitation to do a once-off on his site.
“Sorry Digger. Way below my pay grade”.

Apol for not writing up The History of Fever.
Maybe tomorrow or the next day. Whichever comes first.