Bizarre Tunes – Five of the Best

February 18, 2013

Just to cheer things up a little I’ve decided to share with you five of my favourite light-hearted numbers. They’re odd, strange but they always put a smile on my face. We’ll begin with the sultan of dank and dirty blues, the master of juju-, voodoo-tinted zydeco and the king of boogie woogie, Dr John. This little tune (number five on today’s Raffy top five), Jump Sturdy comes from Dr John’s phenomenal Gris-gris of 1968, and comes in #148 on Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 best albums of all time. It combines psychedelic sounds with bucketfuls of New Orleans soul. If there’s ever an album that makes me want to visit a city then this is it. Both Dr. John and New Orleans should be made saints for giving us this album. Check it the Jump Sturdy:

In at number four is my favourite Paul McCartney tune. Yes, it may seem odd to combine the words ‘favourite’ and ‘McCartney’ in one sentence but there you have it. Even though I believe him to be the lamest of Beatles he was a gargantuan songwriter. This man could fart songs out. Ask him to write a song about the price of cheese in the Vatican in the 17th century, give him 15 minutes and McCartney would write you an epic, pop-tastic opus complete with orchestrations and embellished with frog sounds. Love him or hate him, the man knows how to write a tune. This next little number does it for me. It began life as an experiment. McCartney was checking out a new machine he had just bought, hence, Check My Machine from his 1980 McCartney II album:

Now we turn to the female side of town. In at number three is the glorious, gorgeous and ground-breaking Peruvian delight Yma Surmac who rocks my world so much that I still find it hard to believe she can do what she can do. Born in 1922, she broke ground with her take on exotica music and together with Les Baxter and Martin Denny is regarded as one of exotica’s finest. This woman could belt out songs like no other and had a range of over four octaves ranging from baritone to soprano. This song Malambo No. 1 comes from her much-acclaimed 1954 album, Mambo!:

We move back to the blokes and to a legend. In at number two is one of my heroes. This man cannot be beat. One of the first shock rockers, a man who combined opera with humour, from the macabre to the ridiculous, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins had a voice that could shake buildings. His 1956 song I Put a Spell on You is regarded as one of the most influential and important songs in rock history and comes in #313 on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Screamin’ Jay was and has been a huge influence on (the afore-mentioned) Dr. John, the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, even Black Sabbath and Marilyn Manson. This is why:

Number one (for no particular reason) goes to a band close to my heart. The J-pop, shibuya-kei maestros Pizzicato Five turned my musical world upside down when I unearthed them by accident in Japan. I would spend my Monday afternoons perusing round the (only) little music store in the charming town on Kobayashi. One day I happened upon an album with a gorgeous lady on the cover. I bought the album. I was hooked. This is what Japan does best – clone and copy, upgrade and improve. There is so much about Pizzicato Five which originates from the West but it is so, so, so very Japanese. From the 1997 album Happy End of the World, here is the high-tempo It’s a Beautiful Day:


Merry Cheesy Christmas

December 23, 2008

Christmas is upon us and it’s time to take some time out. I’m going to let you all into a secret. I’m an avid fan of bad music. Here’s an offering of some of my recent favourites.

A bluegrass cover of Pink Floyd’s Money:

Another bluegrass number, this time Iron Horse has a go at Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters:

It doesn’t stop there! the fun just keeps going on! This time with a bluegrass (oh yes, I love it) version of Van Halen’s Jump:

If you think that was cheesy then have a look at this baby. Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls like you’ve never ever heard it before:

If that hasn’t got you on the floor with laughter then try Europe’s The Final Countdown performed on a Kazookeylele:

And to sum everything up, here’s one of the worst covers I’ve ever heard of REM’s Losing My Religion:

Don’t you just love cheesy music?! Enjoy!

Music for the Week

July 25, 2008

It’s summer, enough politicking. The weather’s picked up and it’s my birthday tomorrow so it’s now time to relax, take a step back and listen to some nice little tracks from a few of my favourite artists and a few more.

Pirate Song (sounding a lot like My Sweet Lord) on Rutland Weekend Television by George Harrison:

I’ll See You in My Dreams by Joe Brown:

River Song by Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boys’ fame):

Carmensita by the eccentric Mr Devendra Banhart:


Networking Art

April 21, 2008

Czesław MozilThere once was a little boy called Czesław Mozil who had to leave his home town in Poland at the age of five and make life anew in the distant Kingdom of Denmark. Now, many years on Czesław Mozil has become Czesław Śpiewa (Czesław ‘sings’). He lives in Copenhagen, owns his own bar/pub and has become something of a star in Denmark.

Phoenix from the Flames

His story is one of linguistic and cultural rebirth. Czesław is Danish (by all accounts) and was brought up in the land of the Danes, however, there is and always was something peculiar about him. He was (kind of) Polish.

Polish Influence

His (re-)aquantaince with the language and culture of his fore-fathers has imbued his music with an odd form of nostalgia packaged in a shiny wrapping. Apparently, Czesław was talked into singing in Polish by his good friend who saw in Polish a great source of inspiration for him. His music is heavily inspired by all manner of Polish folk music, Polish rock and one can even hear similarities to alternative Rock (such as Kazik Staszewski). But what makes his music so fascinating is the real ‘oddness’ about it. The album Debiut is both very Polish in its feel and very un-Polish, Danish perhaps.

Polish Language

What some (Polish) people may find ‘cute’, ‘quaint’ or just simply interesting is Czesław’s accent. He sings with a Danish accent. His Polish is soft, typcal of much of the post-war second generation Polonia (like my peers) who soften many Polish consonantal sounds. However, the fact that Czesław does use Polish is testament to his love of his motherland and should also be respected. It takes great courage for someone not only to speak but to sing in a language that is not quite as strong as your first. Hats off to Czesław.

Social Networking

The biggest surprise of Czesław’s album entitled Debiut is the fact that all the lyrics were written by the online community and overseen by Michał Zabłocki. This is social networking at its greatest. The poetry was written line-by-line by a variety of online poets on Multipoezja. This means that one online poet would get the ball rolling with the title and it would be followed up, Chinese Whispers-style, by another poet. This meant that any one song lyric or poem has at least fifteen to twenty authors. The result is tongue-in-cheek poetry that makes for wonderful song lyrics.

Polonia Fights Back

Perhaps the future of the Polish ex-pat community may be similar to that of Czesław Mozil aka Śpiewa. Influenced by their time in the west, they may return to Poland with new ideas, a new culture and re-inspire the ‘scene’ in Poland. However, they may do the opposite, like Czesław. They may take the best of Polish culture and re-invigorate their local English, Irish, German or French cultures and arts with their own brand of creativity. Vive la différence!

Czesław’s MySpace site: Czesław Śpiewa.

Music for the Masses

October 26, 2007

My thanks to Wirtualna Polska for inspiring me to do this post. As some of you may know I have a pechant for terrible tunes. Herein I present a list of some of the world’s worst album covers:

Mr M Mr Methane – rectal mahem!

The Gleason Family The Gleason Family -what a family!

Tarzan Tarzan & Banarne – loving bananas…

Dayton Dayton Allen – going for it…

Jesus The Sergo Brothers – Naomi loves Jesus

Royals The Royals – kingly costumes…

Ape The Mighty Accordian Band – it can be done!

Raven Glass Prism – haunting Raven…

Crusaders The Christian Crusaders – here to save the world!

Honkey Richard & Willie – politically correct…

Jim Jim Post – a moustache to be proud of…

Xmas Eilerts Jul – Xmas frollicks…

Jose Jose Angel – check out the shoes…

Schul Shuhplatter – dancing divas…

Truck Nev Nicholls – trucking genius!

God Bless the Funkski

October 7, 2007

Polish FunkThe world is changing. Poland has got funk!

I’ve been watching the slow growth of funk in Poland ‘from the inside’ for a few years now. It’s safe to say that the emergence of funk is a relatively new phenomenon in Poland. Some may argue that funk had, to some extent, filtered into Polish society in the ’70s and ’80s but never with the same vigour as in recent years.

I’d say that funk really made it’s mark in Poland around five or six years ago, a few years after I arrived in Łódź. I was lucky enough to meet, get to know and party with those whom I believe helped make funk a tantalisingly grooving success for Poland’s young grooving masses. I even had the pleasure of playing a few gigs with them but my ‘set’ was always more of an eclectic mix which although based on funk also incorporated a variety of anti-funk cheesy tunes and odd J-pop ditties.

I noticed a marked increase in the popularity of funk thanks to the mighty musical warriors of Soul Power in the guise of The Bridge, Pom, Captain Sparky and Maceo Wyro who first hit the Polish scene playing their mix of afro-funk, nu-funk with a great big slice of comedy. Those were outrageous gigs full of heaving crowds, laughter and a lots of phat, churning grooves. Unfortunately, Soul Power only lasted a short time and spawned other related projects which got other Polish DJs involved in funk and ‘feel-good’ music.

However, the importance of the release of Polish Funk stems from the fact that it isn’t just a bunch of DJs playing Amercian, English or European funk in Poland. Polish Funk is – as the title suggests – a collection of funk from Poland, rare and interesting grooves from ’60s’ and ’70s’ communist Poland. Poland is well-known for its long list of great jazz men and women but few know that the Poles also produced some interesting little grooves way back then. This album is a testament to that.

Part 2The songs were selected and re-mastered by Soul Service, Captain Sparky, Papa Zura, Burn Reynolds and DJ Misty, without doubt some of the funniest and intelligent people I have known. The album has proved such a success that the Soul Service chaps have now released Polish Funk 2 – an album that continues in the same vein and also a Polish Funk Mix album where the two albums get the Soul Service mix treatment.

It’s always interesting when a new generation gets re-introduced to elements of its own culture that were thought lost and gone. Polish Funk has done just that.

What they’d listen to…

September 9, 2007

Music of the OrbsAfter reading an interesting article in the Times about Hitler’s music collection (link is here), it got me a-thinking what the world’s politicians might actually be listening to in their spare time, what secret records do they have stashed away in the attic or secret room and what musical place do they go to when all around them seems without hope or joy.

Power Rockers & Mighty Rollers
For all his pomp and pride I think Nicolas Sarkozy is quite lightweight when it comes to his musical tastes preferring bands like REO Speedwagon and The Eagles rather than the harder tunes of the proper rockers.

Angela Merkel methinks is like a banshee on fire when she gets those records a-playing and much prefers a good head bang with German rockers Muff Potter and Rammstein. Oh yes, Angie’s a good ole patriotic rocker.

Post-Punk Nonsense vs. Glam Rock Loving
Gordon Brown is quite an enigma. And Enigma is probably what he listens to along with lashings of Joy Division and a pinch of Wagner on those depressing rainy days.

Vladimir Putin, on the other, detests anything that so much as mildly smells of depression and loves to dress up, slap on a bit of make-up and dance to Queen, T-Rex and Gary Glitter.

Polish Funkers & Polka Lovers
Polish politicians are a bizarre old bunch. Lech Kaczyński is probably extremely boring in his music tastes but now again is known to pop on a Britney Spears or Avril Lavigne CD. He’s known to sometimes listen to Ultravox.

His brother Jarosław is another kettle of fish and has a passion for Rick Astley, George Michael, Abba, The Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell. He also has a strong liking methinks for Talk Talk.

My belief is that Donald Tusk is a big lover of Kim Wilde, Sam Brown and Texas. He also has a penchant for Berlin, but tends not to mention this at dinner parties.

My guess is that Stefan Niesiołowski is an ardent fan of Frank Zappa, Mr Bungle and Czesław Niemen (during his ‘weird stage’). However, he has recently fallen in love with the first few Simply Red albums. Hu hum…

Wojciech Olejniczak is most definitely a big follower of Deep Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake whilst enjoying a spot of Ozzy Osbourne every now and then.

Andrzej Lepper loves his soundtracks and has all the Rocky albums at home, but also enjoys his Foreigner and Bonny Tyler.

Roman Giertych is an odd one and in public tells everyone of his fondness for traditional Polish folk music but his real love is metal. His cellar holds a veritable metal-lovers treasure chest containing Sepulchre, Helloween and a few Judas Priest albums.

And finally, Jan Maria Rokita does not listen to music but enjoys wallowing in the pre-recorded sound of his own dulcet tones.