Friday, April 27, 2007

Squeeze my melodica

Nearly two weeks without a post – it’s high time I set the speed to 45 and moved the arm across. In my last post – if you can remember that far back – I was bemoaning a busy workload and looking forward to a long weekend break in Madrid with my wife and a couple of close friends. I can report that Madrid was great. We soaked up the atmosphere, the unbroken sunshine, plenty of wine, good food - and olives! - and seriously chilled out. We’re coming to the conclusion, having enjoyed a similar break in Barcelona last year, that we are not great culture vultures. Quite frankly the weather was just too good to spend wandering around art galleries and museums. Simple souls, we were happy just open top bussing it and walking around appreciating the architecture, and relaxing in the parks people watching.
Made a somewhat fleeting visit to the Rastro flea market on the Sunday. It was a bit disappointing – too many clothes stalls. Even so I could have happily spent more time there myself – especially in a record store – but my companions, unlike me, were definitely not predisposed to rifling through junk. Didn’t buy anything but made a mental note of the haul I could have come away with – a coatstand, a gas mask, some very succulent looking cacti, and a Rick Astley LP! Sense prevailed – the coatstand and the cacti would have been a nightmare to transport on the plane home – and besides, the hot chocolate and churros were calling, so off we went.

I think our abiding memory of Madrid will be the accordion players. They were everywhere. I have never connected Spain with the accordion, France yes, but not Spain. The sound of the accordion at a distance is very pleasant and certainly adds to the atmosphere. It’s not so good though when you’re sat at a pavement cafĂ© watching the world go by and an accordion player comes and stands right in front of you and starts pumping, and then of course passes his hat around almost demanding money. Sat in the Retiro Park after one such occasion a garbage truck drove by, stopped, and a man jumped out to empty a nearby bin. This bizarre image came to mind that, instead of the rubbish sack, he picked up the dubious musician and threw him complete with squeeze box in the back of the truck - which was full of other accordion players! I think that would make a good comedy sketch! Don’t get me wrong though, a lot of the street music we heard was excellent, and we happily dipped into our pockets for one group of four lads playing two accordions, a clarinet, and a tambourine. I bet they make a good living out of it.

I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of records in my collection that feature the accordion. The only one that came to mind was Elton John’s “Razor Face” from “Madman Across The Water”. A great track from a great album but I feel a bit twitchy about putting that up, and it doesn’t really fit into the soul/funk/jazz/reggae vibe that goes on here.

So let’s have something from the mighty Horace Swaby - aka Augustus Pablo. The melodica sounds a bit like an accordion and his reggae vibe fits well with the chilled out feel of our Madrid weekend. That’ll do.

Augustus Pablo – Power Of The Trinity Dub 1980
Augustus Pablo – Ras-Menilik Congo 1979

To build an Augustus Pablo collection you could start here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

..and more flowers

The warm weather in the UK (and most of northern Europe) has continued this week. Nature is now wide awake and Spring has well and truly sprung. I’m amazed at the speed at which the trees and shrubs are putting on their summer clothes. Only a couple of weeks ago there was hardly a leaf to be seen. Now the blossom and fresh green of new growth is really brightening up the cycle to work.

A busy time at work has continued this week and left the brain feeling decidedly frazzled by the evening. As a consequence the desire to compose blog entries has been somewhat lacking. A few days in Madrid later next week with my wife and a couple of our close friends should prove to be a timely break. Hopefully then, with batteries recharged, I will be back in the groove.

So with Spring in mind and continuing the theme from my previous post, here, for the bees and things, are some more Flowers – of the Emotions variety.

I wonder, did I really buy this on 7/7/77? The UK release would have been around then, but maybe there was a bit of artistic licence with the date. With 7/7/7 not far off maybe I should have kept this one to post then.

The Emotions – Flowers 1976

You can find this on a best of collection released in 1996.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Just bees and things and flowers

As I hinted previously the posts would likely miss a beat, and they did. All work and no play makes Darcy a dull boy and all that. Now I’m just starting to emerge from that manic period and look! – it’s wall to wall sunshine (in the UK at least). We have to take advantage of such periods here so no time for lots of words today.

To me Roy Ayers is the sound of sunshine. He of course dubbed his band Ubiquity so he should need no introduction from me.

The two tracks here are from his classic 1976 album Everybody Loves The Sunshine.

Can anyone tell me who is providing the female vocals on the People And The World track? I’m digging her.

Roy Ayers Ubiquity – The Golden Rod 1976
Roy Ayers Ubiquity – People And The World 1976