Category Archives: Music

Streetlight Harmonies

Brent Wilson

“The main thing was all the girls used to come to the best group. And we were the best group … they used to come and crowd and load up our corner.” The Drifters’ Charlie Thomas on the motivation for starting a vocal group, then he pauses and looks off-screen and says, “Excuse me wife, those were my younger days.” This is just one of the many evocative scenes in the new independent documentary, Streetlight Harmonies. Director, Brent Wilson talked to Norman B about the making of a film which surprisingly, is the first to seriously explore the origins of Doo-Wop. The music is so very familiar, yet few people know the artists. Streetlight Harmonies traces the history of the genre from its street-corner origins through to 60s girl groups and beyond. The film is masterfully put together featuring interviews with Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, “Little” Anthony Gourdine, Lance Bass, and the Crystals’ La La Brooks, among others, as well as restored archival footage. The documentary also touches on the problems the vocal harmony groups faced performing in the segregated South, an issue so pertinent today. During our conversation with Brent Wilson, you’ll hear clips from Streetlight Harmonies and the director’s high regard for the artists and enthusiasm for their influential music.

Show #379

Black Says

In a recent edition of Life Elsewhere Music we invited Josh Idehen and Tom Leaper of Benin City to talk about their new, timely single, Hold Them Close. A song, written over a year ago, that urges us all to remember to care about each other, even in these trying times of Covid-19. Josh Idehen wasted little time in expressing his displeasure of our so-called leaders in the UK and the US on how they have handled the pandemic and ongoing racial problems. Josh, along with being a talented musician, is also an acclaimed poet and spoken word artist was motivated to speak at an event in London, after the tragic murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. We have included the audio from the video of Josh Idehen reciting Black Says in the latest volume of Life Elsewhere Music. The powerful words of Josh Idehen’s Black Says can be heard at the end of this volume. Please listen carefully.

We begin with Know Like Dat by East Man. The cut is from Prole Art Threat the new LP by producer Anthony Hart, aka East Man. On this long-player, Anthony brings together talented MC’s from all over London. And, the title, Prole Art Threat is a big nod of respect to the late, Mark E Smith of The Fall. Next up I Left You a track from the debut EP y? by Julia Sophie from Oxford who says, I Left You” is a song about struggling with love and life, being torn in all kinds of directions, choosing how to live and who to live for”. We admit to being fascinated by covers, so the EP Reestablishing Connection from Sega Bodega demanded our attention. Teardrop originally by Massive Attack was selected as reworked by Sega Bodega & Lafewndah. Salvador Navarrete is Glaswegian producer, singer, songwriter, and label head aka Sega Bodega. He shares that all profits will be donated to the AIM COVID-19 Crisis Fund, providing vital support to contractors and freelance workers in the independent music industry. Next, it’s off to Reykjavic, Iceland the home of Katrín Helga Andrésdóttir – also known as Special K with Dinner For 1 from her EP, Lunatic Thirst. Followed by Alpha Steppa out of London featuring Eva Keyes with Fever and Fever Dub, from a superb compilation, Raise The Ark on Steppas Records. We stay in London to hear from Joel Baker with, London She’s Just Not You a cut from Bran Flakes Vol 1.5. Originally from Nottingham, Joel has made an LP you need to check out. Su Lee has a fascinating charm which she happily demonstrates in what appear to be her home-made videos. She also makes enjoyable “indie pop on speed” she insists. The delightful, Go My Way is from her EP The Rough. Barry Snaith is a big fan of this show as we are of him. In his guise as TIJ (The Inconsistent Jukebox), Mr. Snaith has produced a new LP. Gig Economy demonstrating his excellent taste and talent, you’ll hear Left Me In A Dream. Mark Gardener & 2 Square are next with Chained. Gardener is best known as a songwriter, lead vocalist, and guitarist with Ride and 2 Square is Stephan Haeri of Telepopmusik out of France. From rural England comes Archie Stagers with Beneath The Surface, who sent a sound file to us with this message: “I’ve really been enjoying your isolation mixes so far and wanted to submit a song of my own”. We discovered Archie Stagers runs a small indie label, Crafting Room Records – a not for profit label for passionate musicians, based in Wiltshire. From rural UK go over to Nashville to hear from Sophia Boro with And He Said To Me from her debut EP due out later this year. We close the show with the eloquent Josh Idehen and Black Says.

Thank you for listening

The Food Of Dictators. The Music Of Love.

        

Imagine you have the task of cooking meals for a dictator? What was Pol Pot eating while two million Cambodians were dying of hunger? Did Idi Amin really eat human flesh? And why was Fidel Castro obsessed with one particular cow? Traveling across four continents, from the ruins of Iraq to the savannahs of Kenya, award-winning journalist, Witold Szabłowski tracked down the personal chefs of five dictators known for the oppression and massacre of their own citizens—Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Uganda’s Idi Amin, Albania’s Enver Hoxha, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Cambodia’s Pol Pot. Witold listened to their stories over sweet-and-sour soup, goat-meat pilaf, bottles of rum, and games of gin rummy. Witold Szabłowski joins Norman B to talk about his remarkable book, How To Feed A Dictator – Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, And Pol Pot Through The Eyes Of Their Cooks.

Over the last few years, London-based musician and spoken word artist, Josh Idehen has made frequent appearances on Life Elsewhere. First representing his band Hugh and their sublime music, then, more recently as part of Benin City, a three-piece with Tom Leaper and Shanaz Dorsett. “The name Benin City was chosen” says Josh, “because I grew up there, even though I was born in London and we are two-thirds black and two-thirds gay, so it seemed to fit.” It’s the slightly irreverent attitude that comes to the fore in their music. Benin City doesn’t shy away from expressing their opinions, yet they cleverly manage to concoct catchy popish sounds to do it. Their latest single, Hold Them Close was written over a year ago, long before Covid-19. While in isolation, they determined the sentiment of the song was exactly what everyone needed – Hold Them Close. In our conversation, as is typical when talking with Josh, we quickly diverted off into a tangent about politics and the responsibility of governments in the UK and the US. In listing major concerns, Josh touches on a topic not well known outside of the UK, the Windrush scandal a 2018 British political issue concerning people mostly from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office. Our conversation with Josh Idehen and Tom Leaper was recorded via Zoom and will be available soon. 

Show #374

Life Elsewhere Music Vol 176 Isolation Mix 2

Being in isolation means I’m listening to even more music, including going into my archives to revisit cuts worth playing for you. You’ll hear a fine example at the end of this volume. This isolation thing has changed our daily habits too, like going to the gym. So I’m taking long walks, exploring the neighborhood, selecting different routes every day. But, before I set off, I offload to my iPhone a random mix of older volumes of Life Elsewhere Music. Briskly padding past sedate, silent homes where I imagine families ensconced trying to cope with this deadly plague, all the time attempting to continue some form of normalcy. See the photo above.

We begin this mix with a large tip of the hat to Nico over at Shoredive Records, his Brighton-based label. His latest stellar release is Heirloom from Forever Vessels, who are Craig Douglas & Dani Mari, also known by her moniker Primitive Heart. You’ll hear the first single, Tide. Marketplace are next with Hard 2 Love, the second single from this quartet from Hartlepool. Nathen Jenkins follows using the name Bullion, the London-based artist says, We Had A Good Time. The photo of Delv on her Bandcamp page and her cryptic message, “on letting go” suggests the title of her album, Waning, is right on target. To See (My Heart) is a perfect example of the LA-based singer’s doleful songs. Bristol, the wonderfully vibrant city in the west of England, has long been a hive of creative activity, Charlie Satchell aka, Fiend proves his worth with Glow EP. We selected the top-notch title cut. This recording is on Chord Marauders a label look out for. Special note, the sleeve is cool. Succulent is LP title from Washington DC singer-songwriter, Be Steadwell. The title cut while being explicit about oral sex, is also, thankfully honest as are all the songs from Be who says, “With roots in jazz, acapella and folk, Be calls her music queer pop. Be’s original music features earnest lyricism, and proud LGBTQ content”. What I Want, is the cut selected – and we love it! Would it be too bold to mention that some of the finest soul artists are from the UK? Soul and R & B has always been a mainstay of British performers and the talented Cleo Sol is no exception. Her latest album, Rose In The Dark is worthy of playing all the way through without stopping and then repeating, again and again. You’ll hear the title cut and you are advised to hear the rest of this masterful recording. “I’m a cancer sun pisces moon take that how u will” writes Alexa Casino. We take it to mean we are lucky to have discovered the Wellington, New Zealand talent. Erase Embrace is an example of how to make minimalism sexy and listenable. The writing credits go to Alexa Casino and brownboymagik – is he the male voice? When we first heard Fear by Jacqueline Tucci we cranked the volume way up. That instrumentation works so well – (you gotta play it loud for full effect). This is a track from the  Toronto singer’s debut EP, Jungle Sounds, due for release later this year. Next, originally released in 2010, now remixed and remastered, Honey by Open Hand. We chose the title cut. Laura Marling’s exquisite seventh album Song For Our Daughter proves why you should check the London-based singer’s catalog. Strange Girl perfectly demonstrates Laura’s talent. Limpid from Birmingham, UK is Anna Palmer who makes electronic, experimental music we like. From the EP cleverly-named EP, we selected Game Changer. It’s always a pleasure to receive a new recording from singer-songwriter Neev. The Scottish artist now based in London continues to put out excellent music, deserving of your attention. Her latest song is Black Over Grey, (please listen carefully). To round out this mix, Curtain Maker from Wild Hxmans the 2018 album by Christian Kjellvander. The Swedish artist says he embraces the foreign, the unknown and seeks out the most profound sense of humanity.

Do let us know what you think of the music we curate, write to normanb@lifeelsewhere.co

Please be safe and be well.

LEM Vol 176

A Conversation With Rudy Tambala – Redux

Rudy Tambala is a smart guy, he’s well read, he’s articulate and he enjoys a spirited conversation. He’s sincere when he states, “Rock ’n’ roll is fucking sex! It’s the rhythm of your blood. It’s the most vital force. Without it, there isn’t any existence on this planet!” The irony of his words adds to the fascination of listening to a man whose creative talent has been on display for over three decades. Rudy Tambala first came to critical acclaim as one half of the influential duo, A. R. Kane. Released thirty years ago Lollita, their mesmerizing 12” EP for the enterprising 4AD label, remains as fresh and innovative now as it did way back then. During Norman B’s exclusive interview with Rudy, the forthright musician reveals how he and his bandmate, Alex Ayuli created their extraordinary and frequently emulated sound. He talks enthusiastically of the beginnings of A. R. Kane, detailing the creation of the noted Lollita artwork. Rudy shares his thoughts on current music, design and why style is important, “It’s not what you play it’s the way you hold your guitar. It not what you wear it’s how your hair looks…it’s a youth thing.” He says wryly. The legacy of A. R. Kane continues with his new band, Jübl and Rudy gives us an insider’s take on the demands of his new project. This is an interview full of warmth and candor. The conversation flows seamlessly from previously unheard details about recording techniques to spot-on observations about the business of life. Make a Donation Button

 

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