At one level it’s the record of a traditional jazz trio, with drummer Tony Buck and bassist Mike Majkowski backing Mergia’s keyboards, and at times Mergia’s swirling Hammond organ shows his debt to the jazz-funk of Jimmy Smith. Yet Mergia’s approach is often unorthodox. His melodies, snaking up and down the pentatonic scales of Ethio-jazz, are hypnotic and mysterious. His keyboards pit organ against electric piano, and switch to an accordion that shifts between the woozy opener Tizita, to the shrillness of Addis Nat, which arrives in a blitz of hard drumming. Exuberant or contemplative – the closing Yefikir Engurguro is solo piano – it’s a thrilling ride. … [Read more...] about Hailu Mergia: Lala Belu review – a thrilling ride
The singer was Bobbie Gentry who, when the record was released in the summer of 1967, was so undocumented that DJs didn’t know if she was black or white, whether the single was stripped-back soul, funked-up country or some kind of new folk. When she was put on the spot, Gentry would say “I just sing southern.” It was the kind of record you could build a whole career around, and she knew it. It didn’t hurt that she was stylish (all her clothes were her own designs) and very attractive, with piled-up raven hair and saucy brown eyes. She knew how to capitalise on her talent and looks, and ended up with her own BBC TV series, an album of duets with Glen Campbell, and more than a decade wowing Las Vegas, where Elvis Presley and Tom Jones were among the fans in the audience. … [Read more...] about Bobbie Gentry: whatever happened to the trailblazing queen of country?
My hasty recommendations in the paper started with sheltering in the cool lee of the Pru building in High Holborn, comparing it with Eliot's instruction in The Waste Land to "come in under the shadow of this red rock". The reference was so erudite that it led to the only asterisked footnote ever carried by a story on the Standard's front page. But it was great that the metaphor survived, because the beating heat between June and September gradually turned London's limited green patches into a thorny scrubpatch just like Eliot's. Even the rosebay willowherb died. And I can't nail the date, but there was a morning in July when all the birds on my street in Maida Vale finally threw in the towel and migrated to Berkhamsted or somewhere where there were still seeds and buds around. … [Read more...] about The great drought of 1976
Chris Power’s insightful and intellectually nimble column A Brief Survey of the Short Story has appeared on the Guardian website since 2007. To produce one’s own short story collection, after a decade spent in critical engagement with writers such as Vladimir Nabokov, Angela Carter, John Cheever and Elizabeth Taylor is a brave and potentially exposing move. Having examined in forensic detail the strengths and weaknesses, the foibles and failures and moments of genius of so many practitioners of the short form, what happens when you turn your hand to it yourself? … [Read more...] about Mothers by Chris Power review – a daring debut short story collection
But residents say there is "real concern" for local tourism businesses that will not be able to rely on the thousands of cars and motorhomes which usually travel the North Coast 500 route, which was launched in 2015. … [Read more...] about North Coast 500 signs tell tourists to stay away