SONG OF THE DAY The Islanders – The Enchanted Sea

Today’s little capsule in time was unfortunately the only hit for its creators, The Islanders!  I’m not quite sure why, but this US band proved to be one of those ‘one hit wonders’ who come along, shone a little glow of promise and then faded out!?  

The Islanders formed in the mid 50’s and consisted of Frank Metis on accordion, Randy Starr on guitar (born Warren Nadel) and Ralph F. Curtiss on special sound effects!  Apart from being a musician, Randy Starr was also a licensed dentist working in the Bronx, New York City, but he also worked as composer for other artists such as Fred Wise (“Kissin’ Cousins”) and Elvis Presley (for whom he wrote 12 songs for!!).

With the help of Ralph F. Curtiss’ on special sound effects duty, the Islanders honed an individual sound.  Sadly though, this unique attribute didn’t secure them a very long musical future and their only hit turned out to be today’s aqueous voyage of dreams entitled, The Enchanted Sea.  Released in 1959, the song reached the Billboard’s Top 20, but The Islanders weren’t able to follow it up and so this song became their only hit on what turned out to be their one and only LP, The Enchanted World of the Islanders.

The Enchanted Sea…….an alluring instrumental that spins countless threads of wandering fancy into an oceanic journey! 


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SONG OF THE DAY Rabii Harnoune & V.B. Kühl – Sowiyi

Earlier this month collaborating artists Rabii Harnoune (Moroccan Gnawa-master -maâlem) and V.B.Kühl (Frankfurt electronic producer) released an exploratory album entitled GNAWA ELECTRIC LAUNE. 

The desire for their debut record was to construct a passage that would connect old sounds to the the new, extending from Africa to Europe and from to person to person.  This cross-cultural fusion not only succeeds in entwining these old and modern realms together, but seamlessly marries the sounds of North African Gnawa music with modern club sounds.  Not only has this duo managed to seamlessly entwine such seemingly contrasting styles, but they have the got the balance just perfect! The beats are charmingly subtle, integrating electronic rhythms with traditional percussion, melodies are vibrantly authentic and the vocals are uplifting and often hypnotic!

Gnawa music is among Morocco’s richest and oldest continuous traditions, dating back to pre-Islam. Rabii Harnoune’s mastery at the Guembri, a three-string lute, and Gnawa singing (a central aspect to the culture), has seen him play at world-class festivals in Essaouira, Fes, Marrakesh, and Casablanca – all spiritual centres for the genre.

V.B.Kühl realised his own musical vision and ambition when he inherited his first ghettoblaster (boombox) and bought a four-track recorder: “rhythm is deep in me, and although music is not my profession, the passion never stopped”.  V.B.Kühl caught the attention of DJ Shadow with two stellar remixes, which would later lead to commissioned remixes by Tru Thoughts for acts such as Anchorsong and Lakuta. V.B.Kühl and album co-producer Achim Sauer founded t&TT together, a DIY label that was used as a vehicle to release both artist solo projects.

GNAWA ELECTRIC LAUNE is an exceedingly inspiriting listen and today’s song, Sowiyi, demonstrates their work perfectly! Check it out above and you like what you hear you can listen/purchase the whole album from here. 

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SONG OF THE DAY Art Feynman – Not My Guy

Unveiling his latest project under the guise of Art Feynman three years ago, accomplished recording artist and producer Luke Temple is to release a new record on the 26th June.

Weaving a heady blend of Nigerian highlife, world beat and other lesser-known genres into his diverse musical tapestry, the music of Art Feynman also dips its toes into the realms of psychedelia. Half Price at 3:30 will be his second release as Feynman; he made four albums with New York-based Here We Go Magic (which I featured a few years back here), and five under his own name….so this upcoming record is actually his 10th album!

New track Not My Guy accompanies three other tracks already available to preview/purchase and (so far) is the only one I’m familiar with! Inspired by the election of President Trump and written soon after election day you know where Temple is coming from as he declares, “Came in through the back, jack, on America’s heart-attack.”  Vocals remain steady and composed as they repeat,  “To raise the monster from the swamp/to raise the monster from the swamp/to raise the monster from the swamp/to raise the monster/the Frankenstein from the swamp”  With its rich worldy influences steaming in through the many layers of vibrant melodies and jiggly Afrobeat rhythm, splashes of spice and light scatter into this cool and exceedingly likeable song as lyrics protest, “You’re not my guy, you’re not your guy, you’re not anybody else’s guy….”  Wonderfully done Art Feynman!!

Half Price at 3:30 will be available on 26th June 2020 on Western Vinyl – Check out the songs already available and pre-order the album from here. 

Posted in African, Afro beat, Experimental, Highlife, Psychedelic, Psychedelic rock, Western Vinyl | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Sharhabil Ahmed – El Bambi

When a song dances and sparkles into your ears and starts in such a joyous way, you can’t help but feel instantly elated! I mean, who wouldn’t welcome such a feeling? So, if you like the sound of an immediate boost, today’s burst of sonic sunshine may be just the thing!

Courtesy of  the great Berlin-based Habibi Funk Records, we are to be introduced to the “King of  Sudanese Jazz“, Sharhabil Ahmed via an upcoming album due later this summer!  The record, entitled “Habibi Funk 013: The King Of Sudanese Jazz,” celebrates the work of this Sudanese jazz musician, sharing the vibrant sounds of this pioneering artist over seven dynamic (and often groove-laden) tracks!

The sound of Sharhabil Ahmed has been described by Habibi Funk as a “unique combination of surf, rock’n’roll, funk, Congolese music and East African harmonies.” It’s a crazy fusion that erupts like dynamite and lingers like a thousand rays of tingling sunshine! It’s a sensation overload!

Born in 1935, Sharhabil aimed to modernise Sudanese music by incorporating western influences and instrumentation alongside Haqiba –this being a predominately vocal style that sound tracked weddings, family gatherings and parties, as well as the oud.

Haqiba drew inspiration from indigenous Sudanese and other African musical traditions in which backing singers clapped along rhythmically and the audience joined in both song and dance. The lead singer’s incantations induced a trance-like experience in which spectators swayed along to the rhythm of the beat”- as Gamal Nkrumah wrote in a 2004 article Al Ahram Weekly newspaper.

Included in the release Habibi Funk Records have included a selection of music from across Sharhabil’s career, alongside interviews and archival photographs.  In these interviews Sharhabil describes how, “In Europe, the rhythms of swing and tango were being replaced by jazz, samba, rock’n’roll. We were influenced by this rejuvenation in Sudan, too.  I started out by learning to play the oud and traditional Sudanese music, and got a diploma from the music institute of Khartoum University. But my ambition was to develop something new…”  After listening to his music there is no doubt that he more than achieved his ambition – this is such a diverse sound!!!!

There is a wealth of information accompanying this new album and if you like what you hear, I strongly recommend you have a read through on the release page here.  You can also pre-order the record (due on 10th July) from this same link!

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SONG OF THE DAY Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio – Inner City Blues

I find that instrumental covers can sometimes be very hit and miss when it comes to doing the original song justice, but today’s mighty fine rendition of Marvin Gaye’s classic, Inner City Blues, is very much a hit!

When Marvin Gaye wrote this song in 1971 (listen on my page here), he gave a voice to all those suffering in the poorest reaches of inner cities, outlining the economic crisis of the times.  To create a version without the expression of vocals, whilst still capturing the essence of what was being conveyed is something this Seattle, Washington trio have nailed!  Led by a powerful, dynamic organ melody, the song is layered with deep bass riffs that ripple under the surface, creating an edginess to what is also a body of strong funk! It works a treat and through flowing instrumentation comes this zesty interpretation!

Describing their sound as “improvisation over organ grooves” and “soul music with a strong jazz influence,” the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio (a.k.a DLO3) have been devising tasty grooves since 2015.  Creating this dynamic fusion of sounds using a Hammond B3 organ, tasty guitar lines & old school style pocket drumming, this lively trio successfully recreate an organic and authentic 60’s & 70’s vintage soul sound!

Inner City Blues is Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s latest offering and was released via the fantastic Colemine Records just five days ago!

If you like you can grab yourself a copy from here and you can also listen to much more from the band on their Bandcamp page here. 

Posted in Colemine Records, cover version, Funk, Jazz, Seattle, Soul | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Mary Love – Born To Live With Heartache

It’s quite ironic to think that with a name like ‘Love’ you would ever find yourself Born To Live With Heartache, but this was the case for Mary Love in her rare soul/funk classic from 1971!  This rare classic was released on the Sacremento, CA Elco label and is currently fetching in the realms of £800 if you are lucky enough to find a copy!!!!

With a voice of fire she sets this track ablaze and her pained hollers seemingly require no effort to soar into these dizzying heights!!  The vocals definitely match this big, big song!

Born Mary Ann Varney in 1943, Mary Love Cromer (a.k.a Mary Love) was known for her soulful vocals and gospel singing!  After being discovered by Sam Cooke’s manager, she began singing on sessions in Los Angeles before recording her first single for the Modern record label in 1965.  Later records for the label met with little success until the single Move a Little Closer made No. 48 on the R&B chart in 1966.

Her recordings for Modern (some of which were issued in the UK) became popular on the English Northern soul scene, but after releasing her 1968 hit, Josie, she made fewer and fewer recordings.  It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that she re-emerged singing gospel-flavoured soul as Mary Love Cromer!

In Born To Live With Heartache Love asks, “Why oh why must I suffer/Suffer this way/ When all/All I do each day/Is love him, love him, love him……” ….Mary Love’s suffering is truly our salvation, for this song reaches into the soul and pleads with the heart! It’s a little cracker!

Posted in Funk, R&B, Soul | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Lightning Orchestra – For Those Who Are Yet To Be Born

Lightning orchestra is a syndicate of interstellar sorcerers and deranged mutants masquerading as a band of human musicians from the planet Earth.
They would like to wish one and all…

If ever a song could give the world a voice to deliver a message amidst this current climate of ever-looming chaos and imminent destruction, this would be it!  This is a song for the future, this song reaches out to every mortal being…this is an anthem for all future generations!

Dubbing their music “psychedelic booty-shake,” Lightning Orchestra’s expansive debut (recorded in their Atlanta base) arrives on Acid Jazz on the 10th July.  Taking its influences from a wide range of sources you’ll hear nods to Hendrix and Isaac Hayes, Orchestra Poly-Rythmo and Fela Kuti, Sun Ra and Talking Heads.  Source and Deliver is big, bold and commands attention!!

Attracting attention from BBC 6Music and Jazz FM, Lightning Orchestra’s first offering is a truly rejuvenating listen, requiring no effort to get absorbed into.  Fusing many elements over the records six tracks gives their sound a unique edge; this is a place where heavy rock guitar riffs harmoniously entwine with jazz melodies and afrofunk grooves.  This music is electric!!

Source and Deliver is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Travis Murphy who was inspired by jam sessions on Atlanta’s Elliot Street where he met most of two dozen or so musicians who are regular or irregular members of the Lightning Orchestra.

First single from the upcoming record is entitled For Those Who Are Yet To Be Born.  It’s a song that instantly grabbed my attention and I love the way it dances round an immense rhythmic groove whilst afro funk melodies fire off against lightning brass in an explosive sonic collision!  It’s striking enough just as an instrumental, but when the half-spoken, half-sang vocals appear in the mix they add a contrasting coolness, delivering a message with discernible fervour! Check out the lyrics below:

..if we’re already gone and the sun’s burning out
then what’s this whole trip really about
and if it ain’t a trip and it’s only a dream
then why pretend anything’s what it seems
maybe we’re already under the ground
subterranean bunkers a few miles down
are we really here

a Godless chaos careening through space
a nowhere a nothing located no place
attempting to cope in the face of mortality
non-dual escape, deny all reality
eschatology themes in all generations
the search for meaning, a vain recreation
a last ditch attempt in a bad simulation
bi-local dimensional mind aberration
if we’re past the point of no return

and apocalypse looms and the Earth’s gonna burn
and the tides may rise but they ain’t gonna turn
guess there’s nothing to value and nothing to learn

this is for those who are yet to be born
this is for those who are yet to be born
this is for those who are yet to be born
this is for those who are yet to be born (it’s for the babies)

Source and Deliver will be released on neon yellow vinyl, CD and digitally on the 10th July, so if you like what you hear you can pre-order the album from here. 

The band will also be touring throughout the US in early Summer and in Europe later in the year.

Posted in Acid Jazz, Afro beat, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic rock | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY The Sorcerers – The Terror

Its been quite an instrumental few days as far as song choices are concerned and today’s song is another fine example of how music can move and groove you without any need for words!  The Terror has been playing over in my head all day so I couldn’t resist sharing it!!

Last week saw the release/reissue of a funk-filled compilation entitled, Early Works: Funk, Soul And Afro Rarities From The Archives (get a load more of this on my blog page here).  Initially released in 2014 on a limited run of 300 copies the record quickly sold out, but last week ATA Records founders (and multiple band members) Neil Innes and Pete Williams re-released the album on vinyl and as a digital download.

Included amongst these 14 tracks are three Sorcerers songs (The Sorcerers being just one of Innes/Williams musical projects – hear lots more here) – two of which were only ever released on this record!  It was a tough choice between Elephant (which I featured last week) and their other offering, The Terror, as both are are captivating and mysterious as the other….so I’ve decided to share both!  One listen to The Terror and you will see why those hypnotic keys and punchy rhythms get stuck in your head!  Check it out above.

Posted in ATO records, Ethio-Jazz, Ethiopia Jazz, Funk, Instrumental, Soul | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Mary Afi Usuah – From Me to You

Some of you may recall the sweet sweet sounds of Mary Afi Usuah cropping up on The Listening Post Blog back in January?  It’s taken me a while to revisit this wonderful vocalist, but tonight I’ve found another little gem of hers to share.

A powerful woman of funk, soul and afrolife, Mari Affiong Usuah hailed from Oron town, by way of Calabar in southeastern Nigeria.  With a voice that carries itself over many genre borders, she was trained as an opera singer at St Cecilia Academy in Rome, after which she spent 13 years touring Europe with artists like Duke Ellington and Deep Purple!

Her strong, powerful vocal skills were the perfect match for Robert Plant when she performed with Led Zeppelin and when she eventually returned to Lagos, Nigeria she blew away even the top names on the scene!   Mary Afi Usuah only released two albums but she is undeniably one of the greatest female singers the African continent has produced and through a blend of gospel, soul, funk, jazz and rock her sound is nothing short of impressive and captivating.

Teaming up with the South Eastern State Cultural Band for her 1975 album, Ekpenyong Abasi, Mary wrote all eight tracks including today’s progressive, soul-fuelled and divine little number, From Me to You.  The conviction in her vocal delivery leaves no doubt in your mind that each and every pained croon is for real and that every melodic howl is a cry straight from the heart.  Usuah has a way of expressing the anguished fallout of a fractured heart with so much tenacity and groove that it literally transforms pain into power.  Musically I love the way this track progresses; it’s slow start lays a steady foundation, but you can feel amidst the calm that something else is brewing and when the beat kicks in and the flow gets funky, your anticipation pays off!  Deep grooves carved out by dancing bass and flurrying percussion gives this melodic composition a rhythmic form and from this advancement comes a feeling of growth…It’s another beauty…in fact, the whole record is worth a spin!! Listen above and check out the rest of Ekpenyong Abasi  here.  (which was reissued on the Voodoo Funk label in 2015)

Posted in Afro beat, afro funk, Afro jazz, Funk, gospel, Jazz, Soul, World | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Polyrhythmics – Chelada

“Slipping through the cracks of infinite timelines, Man from the Future just can’t put his past behind him. His journey can be filed as a score for breaking the space-time continuum…….”

What a fantastic way to compile an album!! Each band member contributing to the composition process, each tune telling its very own story and each story entwining into another as these audio narrations build into Seattle’s funk purveyors, the Polyrhythmics, enticing sixth album!!

Extracting particles from their previous LP, Caldera, their latest offing is entitled Man From The Future and over its eight tracks paints vivid stories that bridge the gap between the past, present and future as it brings them together on one platform.  The record was created whilst the eight-piece funk band were staying at a mountain retreat and if this soothing location were not enough on its own to free a creative mind, the group found themselves completely snowed in!  Using this to their advantage they got lost in composing and spent 72 hours solid running grooves and fusing ideas together! “Time was not an issue,” explains drummer Grant Schroff!!

Now in their tenth year of performing, the Polyrhythmics have spent a lot of time reflecting on past releases and for their latest album have amalgamated the sounds and genres from the last decade, throwing this into what has become a very eclectic and dynamic new mix! Grant Schroff explained of this process how, “We learn so much about how to get the sounds we want—and we do this ourselves. Every record we make, we build off the experiences of the last record.”  The album was recorded at Studio Aleph and engineered and mixed by the band’s bassist Jason Gray at Blue Mallard Studios. It was then mastered by Doug Krebs of Doug Krebs Mastering. 

Man From The Future is highly evocative and from its exotic and progressive instrumental soundscapes comes an array of genres and styles.  Eight minds exploring together as one, with dramatic soundscapes and cinematic melodies unfolding over rhythmic peaks, melodic ravines and mysterious passages.  First single Chelada is curious and journeying, taking you into alluring realms with its middle eastern tones and stirring groove. Check it out above and listen/order the whole album (released earlier this month on the Color Red label) here. 

Posted in Afro beat, Funk, Instrumental, Seattle, Soul | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment