SONG OF THE DAY Guess What ‎– Al-Khawarizmi

Described as a “transcontinental & interplanetary keys+drums duo”, Guess What were founded in France in 2005 by Luke Warmcop and Graham Mushnik (whose organ wizard powers can be heard in Grup Şimşek).  Working between London and France, their first release was an EP entitled, Guess What Plato Told Me, which was followed one year later by a soundtrack they composed to a self-directed sci-fi movie called Danger Island!

Their music is tailored around their love for 60’s and 70’s grooves, exploring the realms of Middle-Eastern harmonies and rhythms, but what makes this duet even more interesting is how they entwine the old with the new. Introducing a modern touch to their sound, this duet like to experiment with drum sequences, samples and various synthesizers – thus brining their intriguing concoctions to a whole new dimension!

Their sound fills the space between worlds, gliding through astral streams as they orbit the cosmos in a blur of psych-galactic fuzz…this is where the weird meets the wonderful! Guess What released their their 3rd album in 2015. After Yuri Gagarin and the imaginary Giallo films, it’s now about Al-Khawarizmi, an astronomer from the 8th Century who invented Algebra and studied the Solar system.  Guess What are drawing the musical portrait of a man who lived a distant and fascinating era. Not only did they take inspiration from strict Arabic Folk and Pop, but also from Persian, Indo-Pakistani, North-African heritages, which somehow all link to the history and culture that result from Al-Khawarizmi’s time.  Today’s song is the title track from this record. In 2019 Les Disques Bongo Joe reissued Al-Khawarizmi; working hand in hand with Catapulte Records, the label founded by Alex and Antonin who play in the band.

Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Grup Doğuş – Çillim

 Anatolian Psych is something of a relatively new discovery for me, but one I am so, so very thankful to have stumbled upon! Today’s song is a glorious example of this fine genre and one I’m more than happy to be sharing tonight!!

Born of a jazz musician father, Brothers Muhittin Aydoğan (bass) and Tufan (organ – also dubbed “Conqueror of Organs” by Barış Manço), formed Grup Doğuş in Germany in 1974.

Accompanied by Koray Dikmen (drums) and Sedat Ürküt (guitar), the band recorded their one and only self-titled album on cassette in 1975!  This collection of fine Anatolian psych contains eight hypnotic delights, all of which are arranged and composed in their a psychtastic and ultimately traditional format.  These songs were performed in a style where long-lasting guitar, mermerising Hammond solos and progressive movements and grooves were the driving force…and it’s a blissful journey of crisp, rolling rhythms and undulating melodies! 

Çillim is the song that introduced me to this band and, with its crazy energy, fierce rhythms, madly inviting melody and catchy vocals, this got right into my head in a matter of seconds!!!

In 2019, Ercan and Cem from Ironhand Records were able to track down a band member in order to reissue some music of theirs. This is the first time their music has been released since 1975! You can listen to this album below and check out todays song above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Ali Hassan Kuban – Mabruk

Known as the “Captain” or (later) “Godfather” of Nubian music, Ali Hassan Kuban was a Nubian singer, band leader and self-taught musician. His compositions never strayed far from his Nubian people’s musical roots, but as his popularity grew in the early 80’s and he went global, his songs began to integrate the modern sounds of pop into their colourful formations!

Ali Hassan Kuban served as one of the founding fathers of the musical breed which closed the gap between Global underground and Western pop. He was able to draw from his roots and bring them into a modern world, thus merging the old and the new!  Ancient Nubian melodies began swirling with pulsating Western beats and into this mix also came influences from American jazz and international pop! During the 1950’s, Ali began experimenting with Western instruments such as the saxophone, electric guitar, bass, organ, trumpet and accordion and by the 1990’s he was performing for international audiences at events such as Midem (1993), WOMAD (1994), the Montreal Jazz Festival (1994), and Central Park SummerStage (1995).

When Ali Hassan Kuban actually laid-down his legendary recordings, released internationally by Piranha in 1988, nobody knows any more. What is known, however, is that his recordings took place at Delta Sound S.A. in Cairo – with the orchestra’s entire line-up circled around the only working microphone at hand. The tracks had been travelling in the Arab world on two audio-cassettes afterwards and accompanied his rise from a local superstar to a musical innovator of new, vibrant, international Pop.

His debut album, From Nubia to Cairo, was released in the late 80’s and celebrates his native Nubia and Egypt, praising their people, women and life in general! I plan to listen to the whole record, but have only heard Mabruk so far as this was the song that introduced me to him earlier this week! Translating as “Congratulations”, Mabruk is a stunning piece of music, adorned with swirling instrumentation and Ali Hassan Kuban’s captivating voice. I love the call and response vocals and how the melody just makes you want to dance and sway! It’s a celebration of sound and makes me feel very content! Check it out above. 

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SONG OF THE DAY Celestine Ukwu and his Philosophers National – Okwukwe Na Nchekwube

Nigerian artist Celestine Ukwu grew up in a musical family and from a very young age he was surrounded by and inspired greatly by music! In his all-too-short life (he died at just 37 in a car accident) he brought colour and influence to Igbo highlife, channeling this through his bright vocals and the array of instruments he played (including horns, brass and drums!).

As a child he learnt how to read music and play the harmonium with the help of his uncle, and after completing his school education he went to teacher training school for two years – but dropped out to pursue music as a full-time career.  By the early 1960’s he was singing and playing maraca’s in a group called the Paradise Rhythm Orchestra, but left this band to join Mr. Picolo’s band who, at the time, were touring the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He returned to Nigeria in 1966 and formed his own band, Celestine Ukwu & His Music Royals of Nigeria, but a year later they disbanded following the Nigerian Civil War. After the war in the early 1970’s, Ukwu formed another group called Celestine Ukwu & His Philosophers National; and with this band he released several albums, including his 1976 Igede Fantasia record, which was one of his big successes!

Okwukwe Na Nchekwube (translating as “Faith and Hope”) was released as a single by Celestine Ukwu and his Philosophers National in 1972 and was backed with the easy sounds of Mma Anyi Egbuna Anyi (translating as “We Are The Best”).  I love the gloriously vibrant sounds of sunshine erupting from those bright horns as they immediately welcome you into their lands of golden paradise. The guitar is sooo dreamy too and has this (almost) Hawaiian tinge to its melody as bends and twists like the breeze. I was floating on this sound alone and didn’t even anticipate the added bonus of vocals, but halfway through this is exactly what you get! As these celestial tones drift in and work their magic, it shifts the dynamic to a whole new (and very divine) level and all I can say is that this is so gracefully beautiful and lives up to its name and then some! Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Bob Lind – Cool Summer

I’ve just been reading about the life and musical career of singer-songwriter, Bob Lind and it seems to me that he’s one of these artists that should be a lot better known!

His music has been covered by a large array of artists, and these includes the likes of Cher, Glen Campbell, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Eric Clapton, Nancy Sinatra, The Four Tops, Richie Havens, Hoyt Axton, The Kingston Trio, Johnny Mathis, The Rokes (with the Italian cover “Ma che colpa abbiamo noi”) and Petula Clark…to name but a few!

One of his most well-known songs is the sunshiny Elusive Butterfly, which was released in 1966 on Liberty Records. The single might have done even better on the UK Singles Chart had there not been competition from established Irish recording artist Val Doonican, who released a cover version of the song at the same time. In the end, both versions of Elusive Butterfly made number 5 in the UK in 1966…but Lind’s version should’ve been the prominent and only one released as far as I’m concerned. 

Bob Lind (born Robert Neale Lind in 1942) became interested in folk music whilst he was still a student; he even abandoned his studies to become a musician! This decision proved to be fruitful as he still writes and composes today! He started out in the early 60’s but, plagued by drug and alcohol problems, his reputation for being too “hard to work with” put stop to his career for a number of years and in the early 70’s he dropped off the musical radar! He didn’t disappear completely, however, and appeared as a character in Charles Bukowski’s 1978 book, Women!…and weirdly enough, as coincidence would have it, I was introduced to Bukowski a few years back!

Throughout the late 80’s, after he moved to Florida, he wrote five novels and an award winning screenplay, Refuge! Music never left Lind though, and in the early 2000’s he returned to music after his friend and folk singer-songwriter, Arlo Guthrie urged him to start performing once again!! His last release was in 2016 when Ace Records released a new album of his new songs, entitled Magellan Was Wrong!

Cool Summer takes us back to the very beginning of his career and features on his 1966 album, The Elusive Bob Lind! It’s a gentle, folksy affair that really grew on me with its dreamy musings. Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY “Big” Buddy Lucas* ‎– I Can’t Go

Born in 1914 in Pritchard, Alabama, Alonza Westbrook “Buddy” Lucas (a.k.a “Big” Buddy Lucas) was an American jazz saxophonist and bandleader, who is possibly more famous for his top notch session work on harmonica!

As a bandleader, he led bands such as Buddy Lucas & His Band of Tomorrow, the Gone All Stars and Buddy Lucas & His Shouters and he also went under the stage name of “Big” Buddy Lucas.  He was a highly demanded session saxophonist on the East Coast and recorded with Little Willie John, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Count Basie, Jimi Hendix, Roy Buchanan, Horace Silver, Bernard Purdie, Titus Turner, The Rascals, Yusef Lateef and Aretha Franklin among others.

Over his two decade-long career, Lucas was responsible for dozens of singles and albums, enjoying a creative run on an array of different labels! Midway through his blazing trail of cool songs came today’s little gem!! Released as a 45 in 1963, I Can’t Go b/w So Happy was released on the short-lived Caprice label (which only existed for three years) and was an instant WOHOOI for me!….and if you are looking to buy a copy now, prepare to pay in the realms of £100 smackeroones for this!  Check it out above. 

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SONG OF THE DAY James Royal – Call My Name

Known (or not too known as the case was) as a “best-kept secret among fans of ’60s mod and blue-eyed soul”, James Royal was an singer that never quite broke into the mainstream.

His name remains relatively unknown, but his music, albeit his solo or band work, has always maintained a highly sought after status, and many a mod collector still searches for his hidden recorded gems.

Emerging in the mid-60’s, James Royal enjoyed a decade-long career with releases on Decca, Parlophone, CBS, Carnaby and Philips. His voice, confident style and high-energy delivery should have marked him out for pop stardom, but perhaps a combination of poor choice of single A sides and just the sheer amount of competition in the field at the time overwhelmed his efforts at the time.

Until this week, I’d never heard of him, but his most famous song caught my attention the other day and it’s grown on me ever since!  Call My Name could have skipped past my radar as it is quite a straight-up soul song and I’m not always partial to straight soul, but this has something that sets it aside. One of the things that really clung to me was the vocal delivery – the sheer intensity of it is pretty special and I can’t believe this didn’t take him further when it was released in 1967! I also like little touches like the choice of percussion in the verse…and the way it builds and gathers power as it goes on….It’s got a little home inside my head now!

James Royal has never been treated to an official retrospective CD compilation, but in 2017 there was actually a collection of his songs released on a collection called Called My Name! Compiled and coordinated with the involvement of James himself, Call My Name offers a cross-section of his recording career, starting with his debut in 1964 and scrolling through his four highly collectable sides for Parlophone and the cream of his prolific output for CBS between 1967 and 1970! That may be worth a check if you want to discover more.

Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Los Boppers – Ali Baba

The Los Boppers were a Mexican band known for their pioneering rock’n’roll sounds that emerged at the beginning of the 1960’s. Their musical career lasted a respectable five years, before they broke up in 1965.  In that time they recorded three LP’s and a handful of 45’s, but due to a combination of bad promotion and the departure of main vocalists Ricardo de la Garza and Paco Cañedo, their releases and band lifespan was sadly limited!

By the end of 1960 they had recorded their first album, ‘Rock’, with the small but visionary then Mexican label “Discos Coro”.  This 12-track record boasted a good sound for its time, despite the limited technology available, and it is said that this album was prepared, rehearsed and recorded in just nine hours – which is possible because at that time it was the custom of the record companies when recording to integrated youth groups.

In 1961 they joined the larger/major Mexican record label, Peerless and with them they recorded two LP’s, also covering Bobby Darin’s Dream Lover, Ricky Nelson’s Poor Little Fool and Fats Domino’s Blueberry HIll..…. and you know what? These sound great in Spanish!!!

The Boppers were the first Mexican rock group that got to tour abroad and in 1961 they travelled and played in Central America.  That same year they also failed school for being absent from their classes for so long. Although they were not heavily promoted by their record labels, they are said to have been one of the best shows of the time and their concerts were often referred to as “spectacular!”. It’s just a shame they were only about for five years!

Ali Baba was released in 1961 as the b-side to Bikini Amarillo (which if you haven’t already guessed is a cover of the dreaded, Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini) but, unlike its flip-side counterpart, is a song that wasn’t a cover and was ALL the better for it!! This has character and zest! This has tinges of exotica ringing through those winding melodies and maximises the warm tones of their vocals, this is mysterious, curious and colourful!  I wish all their songs sounded like this!! Check it out above.

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SONG OF THE DAY Penahi – Dance Music

I don’t think I ever appreciated just how much psychedelic music travelled and extended across the globe, but it seems to have spread all over the world and today’s golden nugget of pyschtastic goodness comes all the way from 1960’s Iran!! 

There are few collectors out there lucky enough in this world to have stumbled upon original copies of all the tracks featured on a compilation I have stumbled upon tonight, but thanks to a label called Raks Discos, we can all now have access to them! 

Raks Raks Raks (17 Golden Garage Psych Nuggets From The Iranian 60s Scene) is a 27-track compilation which was released a couple of years ago. It was apparently one of the most anticipated compilations to arise from the global depths of 60s and 70s rock’n’roll and focused on The Persian scene.  All songs featured from Iran’s pre-Revolution East-West cross cultural artefacts are extremely rare and if it wasn’t for comps like this, would we even know that such a kaleidoscopic wealth of sounds such as this exists??

As with almost all Asiatic countries, bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling stones, the Shadows and the Ventures seem have been a major influence in the Iranian music scene.  In 1964, the legendary Top4 company opened up and started releasing choice chart hits on 4-track EP’s from the worldwide lists, followed soon by MonoGram and other companies. These mixed up records featured a lot of popular songs of the day, spanning the whole European continent  i.e. including what’s referred to now as ‘Euro pop’ hits and the ‘big brothers’, UK and US charts. The day’s youth back then was lucky as they could follow the West moment by moment. 

Penahi’s Dance Music track originated sometime in the mid-60’s, but I can’t tell you much more about this mysterious and exotic instrumental garage funk/soul dream – such is the nature of its rarity! It’s hypnotic melody is marked by exciting breaks, sparkling beats and primal gasps which gives this track a very enticing and mysterious lure! I love it!!

Check it out above and listen/purchase the rest of the Raks Raks Raks (17 Golden Garage Psych Nuggets From The Iranian 60s Scene) album, here!! 

Posted in Funk, Garage Rock, Instrumental, Psych-world, Psychedelic, Psychedelic rock, Soul, World | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Jody And Bobbie – Requiem For Love

Released as the b-side to Stranger in the Mirror (which I’ve pasted at the bottom of this post), Requiem For Love was released as a 45 in 1966. Both sides played gorgeous duets written and performed by Jody Reynolds, who was accompanied by the then starting out Bobbie Gentry! This was her debut record and the first she made for the Hollywood label, Titan.

Akin to the chemistry brewed up between Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra in their cool duets, Reynolds and Gentry weave their own web of love and dreaminess, but these songs are also tinged with a haunting twist and this adds a thread of darkness…..Listen above.

You know I’m gonna love you, have no fear
Just hold me dear
I place no one above you ‘neath the sun
My only one

When the chilly hand of loneliness reaches for your soul
Just come into my warm caress and darling you will know

That I’ll always need you to be mine
Till the end of time
There’s no one can please you like I do
My love is true

Then one day fate took my love away
Yes now you’re gone
Tragedy stepped in and had its say
That life is done

But when the lonely night surrounds me and I feel so bad
I recall your arms around me and the love we had

I know I’m gonna miss you that’s for sure
But I’ll endure
Perhaps in time I’ll even love again
But I can’t say when

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