Summer’s here and oh, the time is right…

The summer hols are with us! It’s that time where habitually-beleaguered teachers can be seen strolling ostentatiously through town, whistling jaunty tunes and looking indecently chipper; appearing in bars, dusting off their cycling shorts and baking their own bread. In short, catching up on “life”…

And so it is over at PP Penthouse Suite too.

Although… you’d think there might be a little more activity over here – a web-based spring-clean, perhaps; a few more gig reviews; an in-depth Incredible String Band retrospective – but, well, no. What there is is a substantial stepping up of music consumption, but sadly possibly even less dodgy writing about it.

To be honest, my over-stretched car stereo has struggled to keep up with the pace this week, as I flutter from one thing to another. In the last few days, I reckon we’ve had a dose of each of the following:

  • some goofy seventies funk from Somalia
  • a fair bit of the Barr Brothers (after Thekla)
  • further Somali incursions
  • a Josephine Foster record sung in Spanish (mostly too hard for me)
  • the first Incredible String Band album (because I’m reading a Mike Heron book)
  • some disappointingly leaden psychedelia
  • Dragnet (because… well… c’mon I don’t have to do this, do I…?)

I’ll tell you, I’m struggling to keep up with myself. But anyway, here we go…

And now, I’m back on to this irresistible Somali collection obtained from the kind folk at eMusic and courtesy of New York label Ostinato Records:

 

The basic premise of the whole record is that during the seventies and eighties, there was a brief period of enormous musical fun (as testified above) which was eventually silenced as the regime became more and more repressive, and the artists were driven into exile (or far worse). This is, of course, a horribly familiar tale that I’ve made reference to before in posts about Ethiopia and Cambodia, and I’m sure there are more.

I’ve got nothing factual of my own to add about the record but there’s a pretty good article about the Sweet as Broken Dates collection from the BBC, here.

It’s a gorgeous record though, full of exotic r’n’b, led by squiggly organ lines, over-confident brass sections and unlikely bluebeat rhythm sections, that I really can’t recommend highly enough. Lyrics are of course completely unintelligible to most, but I read somewhere that a lot of songs of the time were necessarily sycophantic odes towards the Barre regime, and as such best swiftly passed over. I’d love to find out more about the Waaberi band, but I’m given to understand that it was something of an all-star collective of session players formed on the spot with the main purpose of performing current hits and singing the praises of President Barre.

LikembeBest thing of all, is that as a result of all this, I’ve come across a cracking Blog called Likembe that I heartily recommend you all visit. I’ve recently hooked a bunch of beautiful, energetic Somali and Ethiopian records that the good gentlefolk there have made available in the best spirit of the Blogosphere. God bless them!

Fill your boots and tell ‘em I sent you…

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