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 café 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.
To build an Augustus Pablo collection you could start here.