Aspekt Best Of (2017): Aspekt is a German record label & this is sampler of some of their artists. A good mix of mostly techno dance, electronica & hip-hop. I downloaded this from soundcloud to add something modern. Hipster easy listening non-dull background music.
Chuck Cissel: If I Had The Chance (1982) – Cissel is a Broadway singer who recorded a few excellent disco/romantic lps before moving on to jazz. Sweet danceable music.
The Highlife World Series is a series of releases working with young musicians and traditional instruments around the globe. The first three parts were released in 2015, beginning with Cuba, followed by Kenya and Uganda. I downloaded Kenya (2015) from bandcamp. Hipster easy listening non-dull background world music.
Billy Porter: Love Yourself (2019) – his gown made Oscar history a few years ago & his acerbic gay presence has elevated more than few TV shows. His Broadway music background gives him a great presence for the few singles, like this, he has released. Uplifting dance music.
Firefly (mid70’s) is a fun pop group with a sweet disco undercurrent – songs of love, positivity with tight harmonies that you can dance to either on the disco floor or the bed.
B. B. & Q. Band (which stands for the Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens Band), was an Italian-American post-disco studio band, which formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1987. Songs of love, positivity with tight harmonies that you can dance to.
Martin Circus was a French band formed in the late 1960s, whose musical style developed over time from progressive rock through pop to disco and new wave music in the 1970s and 1980s. Here I have their ‘long-cut’ perfect disco hit – DiscoCircus (1978).
Shawn Sage is one of the few musicians I’ve actually known. I first met him when he worked tables at the defunct Renaissance Cafe. I didn’t realize he was a musician until a week or so later when he did a set at one of many shows at the Cafe. So his cd ‘One Of The Good Guys’ is more than great music but also full of fine memories. His ‘She Don’t Want My Eyes on Her’ is one of the best country songs ever.
Next on the shelf is an mp3 collection of around-the-world international hits. Starting with: Kyu Sakamoto (Japanese): Best 9 + 2: Best remembered for “Ue o Muite Arukō” (1961) (“I look up when I walk”) under the Americanized title “Sukiyaki” (1963) which has no actual connection to the song. Sakamoto was killed at 43 in 1985 in a plane crash. This is one of my all-time favourite songs. I can’t describe the emotions it calls up in me. This was the start of my love of most things Japanese. He is a sort of Bobby Darrin type. His other songs are nice but none as resonant at his hit.
Domenico Modugno: The Very Best Of Italian. He is best known for his 1958 international hit song “Volare – Nel blu dipinto di blu“, for which he received 1958 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year! I’ve heard dozens of versions of this song but never the original, so auditioned it on YouTube first then found this hits compilation. An Italian version of Dean Martin.
Lucienne Boyer: French – Parlez-moi d’amour – wiki tells me she “reigned as queen of Paris nightlife during the 1930’s.” I’m not sure how she came to my attention but she fits in with US singers like Ruth Etting who were popular through there 30’s & then were forgotten. Sound quality is good & she’s clearly the forerunner of Edith Piaf – only with a less emotionally overwrought voice & style.
Hermeto Pascoal from Brazil transcends genre. His experimentalist approach covers samba, folk, jazz, music concrete, string quartets & choral. I have some of all scatted through my collection. Here is his Slaves Mass (1977) that includes some of the best musicians of the time i.e. Ron Carter, Flora Purim & makes an excellent introduction to Hermeto if you are unfamiliar.
I ran across a YouTube video by Filho da Mae out of Portugal for his album Mergulho (2016).Visually stunning it lead me to download the lp. The music is a soothing mix of organic (acoustic guitar) and electronic. I’d love to name off a hit by popular Venezuelan musician Hugo Blanco but I suspect he’s too obscure outside of South America. Here is his 40 Anos 40 Excitos. Hits from the 50’s to 90’s. If you are a soccer fan you may hear on his songs which has become a popular chant at games. A Venezuelan Frank Sinatra.
Finally something quite different & almost modern from 2017: Finland’s Herra Varjojen Herra: Loputon Yö 2017 which includes their amazing reworking of Arthur Brown’s Fire. I was looking to see fig anyone had done a cover of the song & this was one of the ones that I found. Good fun. I am the God of hellfire & I bring you to Finland lol.
The WP map shows where my top 10 hits have come from. Bangladesh finally tops India but that Bahrain does too is a surprise. I was glad to see ‘Behind Closed Doors’, one of poetry posts, was the top post of the month. Check it out if you haven’t already 🙂
Picture Perfect: is up to 110 sections; about 158,000 words posted so far with at least another 30,000 yet to be edited & posted. I thought making deep cuts would shorten things but instead it gave me opportunity expand what remains to make it more plot forward. Such is the editing life.
Watched a couple of interesting movies. Deep Crimson: Mexican, La Ceremonie: French. Both more intriguing that great though both of them do have excellent performances & both of them involve blood baths, & both inspired by real events. Deep Crimson is a version of the Honeymoon Killers, La Ceremonie springs from the same murder that inspired The Maids. In both innocent people meet with dire ends. Deep is filmed with rich colours, La Ceremonie the colours are almost bleached out by the French sun.
If you think Zora Neale Hurston is the only black female author of note before Toni Morrison then it’s time to read ‘Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson’ – her first two published collections of short stories & poetry from l890’s. The stories transported me to New Orleans with their rich descriptions of black life there at the time. The various class distinctions are the subtext for stories of romance, Mardi Gras, daily life & hope. The poetry is more maudlin than political. I read the eBook – one of good things about eBook is often out-of-print books are given new life.
Re-read Boze Hadleigh’s ‘Conversations With My Elders.’ Published in 1986. It includes interviews with actors Sal Mineo and Rock Hudson; directors George Cukor, Luchino Visconti, and Fassbinder; and designer, photographer, and author Cecil Beaton. Their conversations with the author reveal much about the lives and careers of these celebrities and how their homosexuality affected both. I bought the hardcover back in the day for the interview with Sal Mineo, which is amazing.
Reading it in 2022 I am amazed at the frankness of some of these ‘stars’; at their recognition things had to change & the various degrees of willingness they showed. Wiki tells me that Rock Hudson claimed never to have been interviewed by or even met Boze! I’m not sure if the book is still in print.
In the real world (LOL) recovery meeting shave been slowly reopening & I’ve gotten back to one f2f meeting, so far. Made reservation for some shows at the Stratford Festival: Richard III in May, Hamlet in June. More to booked soon.
Some voices sound real, not studio manipulated for emotional resonance. One of the realest voices is that of Édith Piaf (1915-1963). You don’t need to understand French to feel the emotion in her Ne Me Quitte Pas. In my collection I have as mp3: Absolutely (a hits collection), Live in Carnegie Hall 1957, Recital 1960 (at Olympia a comeback following a two-year illness) lp to cd transfer, Mon Legionnaire (another hits collection) a stand-alone & the La Vie en Rose Soundtrack.
She’s an acquired taste, like Yma Sumack, well worth developing. Her version of Le Marseilles gave me goose bumps. I’d love my memorial service to to start with her Je Ne Regrette Rien & as people leave, Ne Me Quitte Pas should be played. If you are unfamiliar any hits collection is a good starter.
Rounding out the mp3 collection is, naturally, Jacques Brel: Ces Gens-La, 1967, Ne Me Quitte Pas. More fine French melodrama with some unexpected production flourishes like an ondes martenot on some tracks. Tino Rossi: Vintage 2010 – a hits collection of similar vintage French, non-rock, pop. Liane Foly: Reve Orange, Lumieres – two sweet slightly jazzy adult pop albums; finally Barbra Streisand: Je M’Appelle Barbra (1966) – well-sung but not as melodramatic as Piaf or Rossi.
Piaf recorded under rather limited conditions whereas current vocals have an arsenal of studio gimmicks to amp up the emotion. But not all of them rely on that, though they may use them. Pink is one of those who doesn’t need them. I have as stand-alones: Can’t Take me Home 2000, Mizzunderstood 2001, Try This 2003, I’m Not Dead 2006 & Fun House 2008. I like the emotional rawness of her voice & the fact that, unlike Adele, she doesn’t feel the need to sing the shit out of very song. If you are unfamiliar with Pink, start with a hits collection & then hit the trapeze.
As I posted about Oasis, some groups were impossible to ignore at the time. One of those was Outkast. I have the double cd Speakerboxx/ The Love Below (2003) (separate cds for each member of the group). The catch phrase ‘shake like a polaroid’ was showing up as a punch line in conversations on & off TV & on line. The double set is fun, if a bit over-produced, too many comic asides, almost as if they didn’t trust the material to carry itself. Songs about heterosex love, sex, pot, politics & race. A mix of r’n’b, crooning & hiphop. I gave a listen to a couple their other cds & this pair was enough for me.
Florent Pagny: Bienvenue chez moi (1995) a hits collection that includes “N’importe quoi” & “Caruso.” I heard ‘Caruso’ in the background of some movie & I loved the emotional momentum of the song so picked up this hits collection. I almost understand it 🙂 The songs range from rock to adult pop & verge, at times, on easy listening. Florent has a nice full voice that sounds invested in the emotion.
Now for something completely different. Queercore power pop with a punk edge by Pansy Division. I have as stand-alone: Deflowered (1994), Wish I’d Taken Pictures (1996); as mp3 – More Lovin’ From Our Oven (1996), Total Entertainment! (2003). Their sound is rock pop energetic – fully of hooky guitar work & anthemic choruses. I love this band. Reminds me of early Elvis Costello, when he still had a sense of humour. Their openly queer lyrics have probably kept them from a mainstream break through. James Bondage anyone?
I knew I would love Osibisa from the Roger Dean cover of their first album with its butterfly elephants & the stylized lettering of their name. I was some what prepared for their African rhythms by Santana & their horn section was/is amazing plus some proto-Hendrix guitar work. I also have to admit the amount of male flesh revealed in their cover photos also held my attention. Top that off with a song called ‘Phallus C’ dealing with the myths around cock size & I was a fan.
I have as stand alone First (1971), Woyaya (1971), Osibirock (1974); as mp3 Heads (1972), Live: 1971, The Warrior (1983), Osee Yee (2009). I still have my vinyl of the first two mainly for the covers. I eventually ordered them on CD as Australian imports November 2003. Their Ghanaian-English Afro Rock sound progressed over the years as the influence of the Caribbean members was felt leading to a more reggae sound.
The live set from 1971, probably a bootleg, is good but not great – it seems to have been done from the soundboard of the concert & it has picked up some crowd conversations that are rather fun but also a little intrusive. Their first two lps are an excellent introduction African music &, to me, haven’t dated much. I have more recent work by African bands & there is little difference. They recently released a new lp! Can’t wait to hear it.
Also in this mp3 collection is Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Shaka Zulu (1987), Zibuynhlazane (1988) – a South African male choral group that recorded with Paul Simon (Graceland). Tradition songs mixed with more contemporary work – the harmonies are sweet, their love work is energetic but a couple of lps was enough for me.
I had a cassette with Liane Foly’s 1990 ‘Rêve orange’ given to me by a friend (it is now in another mpo3 collection). On this one I have Le goût du désir (2008). A sultry jazz blues singer who infuses some of her work with Moroccan flavourings. This is romantic, sweet & sophisticated music.
Finally from the group that started it all 🙂 is Santana’s Amigos (1976) – touches of disco that work with Dance Sister Dance – critics weren’t happy with the group moving in a more pop direction with latino flavoured songs as opposed full on latino.
I used to visited Montreal frequently during the late 80’s to attend a bi-lingual lgbtq recovery round-up. I started to collect French pop to improve my French. I saw a video in a noisy cafe, couldn’t hear it but the images were enough for me to track down the band – Niagara. I found a cassette of Encore un denier baiser (1986), & over the years added Quel enfer! (1988), Religion (1990). All of which I have now have in an mp3 collection.
The duo Muriel Moreno & Daniel Chenevez started synth-pop but progressed a more hard-edge guitar sound. Similar to The Eurythmics, but a less serious approach & with a more retro sound as well. I found Religion cd at a yard sale one year, in a jewel case but without liner note or cover. Energetic, fun & no help in improving my French 🙂
It was in Montreal I discovered that Brigitte Bardot had a pop career. A light, sweet voice. On. the mo3 collection I have Brigitte Bardot Sings (1963) (which includes La Madrague), Brigitte Bardot Show 67 (1968) (which includes Harley Davidson, Gang Gang). She worked often with Serge Gainsbourg. Nicely produced with elements of rock, disco & bossa nova.
I have the complete Jacques Brel. In this compilation I’ve included his Mijn vlakke land (1962) that has him signing in Dutch, French & Flemish. Where is the biopic of this amazing, influential musician? Maybe his life wasn’t as dramatic as Piaf?
Rounding out this French collection is Zachary Richard (American) but living in Canada (I think) Bayou Des Mysteres(1976), Travailler c’est trop dur (2002 anthologie). I bought the lp of Bayou in Montreal & eventually replaced it with this mo3 download. I added Travailler more recently. He has a warm bass, similar to Tony Joe White. His music is seductive mix of Cajun and Zydeco. Although he has recorded in English his career has been notably Francophone & his list of Canadian awards is endless. Improving my French is not one of his achievements though 🙂
As I mentioned last week during September I watched a couple of amazing films by Senegalese writer/director Ousmane Sembène: Emitaï, Ceddo. I’ve also seen his Black Girl, a look black displacement & diasporia in France which I found predictable & so didn’t resonate with me. Emitaï, Ceddo were constantly surprising.
Both are set in Senegal & presented an Africa I was barely familiar with. I grew up with the Africa of Tarzan & countless white safari movies. The blacks were toters of luggage – often superstitious, cowardly and/or stupidly obedient. Also the men were usually stripped to the waist & given to wearing ceremonial tribal bones, feathers & the like when running through the jungle. Their lives were peripheral to story even when the story was about them.
Emitaï deals directly & mercilessly with French colonial attitudes & actions. When the villagers resist sending their sons to fight in WWII they are treated like children who don’t understand the right of the French to do what ever they want. When the village is also ordered to give all its rice to the war effort & refuses as it means they will starve they are treated like selfish children whose cultural values aren’t valid.
The film shows their ordinary daily lives, their tribal religion & burial rituals as well as rice planting. All ordinary & all in direct relation to the land. They are more interested in maintaining their own dignity & families than they are in defending France against the Germans. I loved the scene where the native militia doesn’t understand how de Gaulle, a two-star general can over-rule Pétain, a four-star general.
Ceddo deals with religious colonization with Islamic persecution of villagers who won’t convert. The class system, enforced as much by guns as history, is one that runs through many cultures. The disregard of other belief systems as illogical superstition is still one of the middle east’s bones of contention. The Christians aren’t much better mind you.
I was quickly drawn into each film & appreciated this ‘insider’s’ look at colonialism – cultural & religious – that wasn’t balanced by the need to appease either the French or the Islami. Both films are in native languages & maintained the rhythms of their everyday speech. The performances were excellent & I loved the music in Ceddo by Manu Dibango (Soul Makossa). I found the Ceddo soundtrack on iTunes 🙂
If you want to step out the confines of the usual film story-telling these are two films worth tracking down.
what I want
what it’ll cost
is that the price I’m willing to pay
is the sacrifice
going to be worth the result
it is so unfair
why can’t I set the price
is that too much to ask
I’m willing to compromise
but when is enough enough
when can I say no
to what want to say yes to
when I think I’m losing
more of myself
to gain something I think I want
if my price was unreasonable
but they’re not reasonable
with their barriers of cost control
you can have this steak
but you have to eat it with a spoon
I suppose that’s possible
how can I say yes
at the same time
I want what you offer
but not the conditions you offer it with
the cost of keeping it
will be greater
than the cost of giving it to me
who doesn’t want it
even for free
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Nana was my introduction to Émile Zola. I bought a copy of it way back in the 70’s when I was living in Cape Breton. It floored me. I knew he was writing, publishing in France at the same time Dickens was publishing in England. Both wrote about class, labour, family but that’s where the resemblance ends. Zola wrote adult fiction full of drugs, druggies, adulterers, prostitution, social disease and nice people too.
Nana floored me with its frank sexuality. No classic novel I’d read by Scott, Stevenson, even Dostoyevsky approached this level of sexuality. At points he delves into the lesbian subculture of Paris that still amazes me today. It certainly wasn’t what I expected in a novel of that time & also showed me that there is a hidden gay history too. Nana uses her sexuality to move up and down the class ladder. In fact all the women in Zola novels are clearly sexual beings, not always in control of it, not always giving into it.
He has a great grasp of human psychology from a time when human psychology wasn’t even a field of study. I have, on my Kindle, the complete works – which I hope to finish before I die 🙂 He was prolific & as a result as popular as Dickens. I bought the complete works to get the novels that are out-of-print in translation. As a result I can’t commune ton his ability as a stylist – the translations are good enough for me. His plotting is solid. Went, or more of them, are a family saga that rivals any daytime soap. The family tree of his fictional family is impressive, as was his ability to keep it organized. He was a social commentator who spared no one.
If you are unfamiliar I would recommend Thérèse Raquin, (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Cx) or Nana. Germinal is also amazing & inspired my novel Coal Dusters – good too are L’Assommoir and La Bête humaine.
Next on the shelf is the first of 3 mp3 cd collections of French, German, Dutch etc music starting of with one of my favourite soundtracks from one of my favourite Roger Vadim movies – Barbarella. Jane Fonda is wonderful, though a Bardot clone, in this crazy mess of a movie. The music is lounge sweet & has absolutely no scifi tinges. I loved this music when I first saw the movie decades ago & when I got high speed was happy to hunt it down.
Here too is Plastic Bertrand: An 1. I have some of his other albums scattered though my French music collection. Fun, sardonic & odd. Some of his songs were repurposed by punk bands back in the day. Boudewijn de Groot: Nact en Ontij – glorious progrock electronica – a more rock version of Kraftwerk. Jane Birkin: Di Doo Dah – sweet French pop with an assist from Serge Gainsbourg.
Klaus Bloch: Extrem Musik a la Ping Pong – glorious progrock electronica – a fine version of Kraftwerk. Brigitte Fontaine est folle – psychedelic folk with charm & lyrics you don’t have to think about. Der Moderne Man: 80 Tage Auf See – punky punchy yet easy on the ears. Finally: Jean LeFennec: Phantastic – more psychedelic folk with charm & lyrics you don’t have to think about. All of these come 60’s/70’s and all (except Barbarella) reflect the influence of American pop music on European rock.
‘Rumba?’ Ped gave Jam a playful shove. ‘Where did you get that name from?’
‘Just came to me.’ Jam snapped his fingers. ‘A stroke of genius.’
‘Yeah along with ‘dat acc’nt mon’?’
‘Well, those guys had it coming. Snooping around here every night. Had to give them something they could enjoy.’ Jam began to wipe the green make up off his chin. ‘Did you see his face. Boy, looked like he was about to crap his pants.’
‘Yeah, but ‘Mambo.’ Good thing you didn’t give any of the others names.’
‘Good idea. You can be ChaCha. Pola can be Tango.’
‘I don’t feel right about it though. What if they …’
‘What? Tell on us? I can see them now at the Militia Office. These boys with red and green faces told us they would protect us from evil. That’d go over big around here.’
‘You did pick the red and green. Afraid of the blue and white.’
‘Ped this is for fun. I know enough not to cross the line. That would have been begging for trouble.’
‘Since when did that bother you?’
‘It doesn’t. Fear is an emotion I choose not to fear. But that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot either. Bad enough we used the right markings.’ He continued to rub at the make up around his eyes. ‘Is it all off?’
‘Sort of but I think you rubbed too hard.’
‘You too.’ He gave another playful hip shove that sent Jam sprawling. ‘You think the other guys got home okay.’ Jam stood.
‘Don’t they always.’
‘I don’t think …’
‘Then stop thinking. Let me worry about that. We’d have more fun if you’d stop all that thinking. It’s not as if we are robbing the tourists, just putting a little of local fear into them. Get their imaginations going.’
‘It’s not all imagination and you know it.’
‘Yeah! So. It’s no fun to play in safe places. So this had a little more edge than the rag doll and pins routine. Gives them more for their dollar.’
‘I know. I spooks me. That’s all. Mama Gre’loo says we have to be careful with the forest spirits. This is the Season of Change and all things that start a change now must follow where it leads.’
‘You gotta stop listening to that foolishness. You sound like one of those tourists. You know?’
‘I know. Come on, let’s get that stuff all washed off so we can get home.’
Your home for exploring philosophy with an emphasis on Buddhism and Stoicism. Part of this exploration will be taking on some of the more important issues that we are facing and providing alternatives to this Orwellian society.