sun 09/08/2020

New Music Features

Birthdays on the Tube: 21-26 March

Peter Culshaw Son House: Influential Delta Blues pioneer

A bumper week for blues and soul artists including some staggeringly good vintage videos from Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin and Son House. Birthday composers are Stephen Sondheim, Michael Nyman and Bela Bartok. Then there’s Vivian Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band doing the “Intro and the Outro”. “Princess Anne on sousaphone. Adolf Hitler, looking very relaxed on vibes...

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Magnetic Fields, Variety music?

Peter Culshaw

If music writers love to place artists in genres, it is a more-than-usually fruitless task with Magnetic Fields, the brainchild of “composer, multi-instrumentalist and bubblegum purist” Stephin Merritt. Many people discovered Magnetic Fields (named after the surrealist André Breton’s novel Les Champs Magnetiques) with their 3-CD box set 69 Songs, which was released in 1999. The titles themselves suggested some of his musical playgrounds, such as “Punk Love”, “Love is Like...

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Charlie Gillett 1942-2010

Peter Culshaw Charlie Gilett: Influential and much loved

The music world is reeling from the death of Charlie Gillett. He was not just an influential DJ who was instrumental in widening the listening habits of millions of listeners on his World Service and other radio shows, a journalist, writer and a key figure in promoting global music. He was also a beacon of decency and rare integrity in the music world who affected so many people. Heartfelt tributes have been pouring into his site...

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Interview: Toumani Diabaté

graeme Thomson

I am talking to Toumani Diabaté on a phone line into Bamako that, as he explains with an audible shrug, sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. He was due in London a couple of weeks ago to promote Ali & Toumani, his album of duets with the late, great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré, but was struck down with malaria at the eleventh hour.

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The South African sound of Mbaqanga

howard Male

On a new CD compilation from Strut Records out this week, Next Stop... Soweto, we’re back in Soweto in the 1960s and 1970s and it's the dark, dark days of apartheid; an era in which it was actually against the law for a black South African to even be a musician, and live music was banned from most public places in black areas.

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Latin Music USA, BBC Four

sue Steward Los Tigres del Norte, Grammy-winning Tex-Mex Superstars

Latin Music USA is a long-overdue exploration of the Latino influence on American popular music. The four-part BBC Four Friday-night series zooms in on the bicultural American populations rooted in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico, but living in their original entry points, Miami, New York, LA and the Tex-Mex border. The series examines the lifestyles and politics behind the music and their impact in the US beyond Spanish-speaking neighbourhoods. “Each programme looks and feels...

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Interview: Oumou Sangare, Soul Rebel

Peter Culshaw

Oumou Sangare, Malian diva and one of the world’s great singers, is not, as I eventually found out myself, a woman to be trifled with. When she bought some land outside Bamako, the capital of Mali, a local official by accident or oversight also sold the land to someone else who planted the fields. Sangare turned up with a bulldozer and destroyed the man’s crops. She also had a quiet word with the President of Mali and got the offending official sacked. I could easily imagine Sangare in her...

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Interview: Steve Reich on Three Tales

Peter Culshaw

“The human body is extremely limited. I would love to upgrade myself” says Kevin Warwick, one of the boffins interviewed on screen in Three Tales, the “video opera” from composer Steve Reich and his partner - they live as well as work together- video artist Beryl Korot, their “meditation on 20th Century technology.” When I met them the morning after the launch party in Amsterdam I could have done with an upgrade myself.

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Interview: Corinne Bailey Rae

Peter Culshaw Corinne Bailey Rae: deconstructed pop star

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So farewell to the Foundry

joe Muggs Raging, but not always pretty, creativity is everywhere in The Foundry

My abiding memory of The Foundry is being held aloft by my throat by the landlord, Falklands veteran and notorious band manager Alan "Gimpo" Goodrick, as he accused me of stealing a Shirley Bassey album. I had been DJing for a book reading by Mark "Zodiac Mindwarp" Manning, and there was a lot of absinthe being drunk thanks to some fellow from The Idler. I knew at that point I shouldn't have begun the evening by playing the line "there may be trouble ahead" from Bassey's version of "...

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