Wednesday 29 September 2010

Up The Revolution #2

The Sexual Objects - Cucumber
Scots get fruity
Some stars seem content to cover the same ground, but pop legend Davy Henderson always revels in a new challenge. The Edinburgh man’s latest project, with the group The Sexual Objects, is a set of songs for a musical about the lost glam rockers Cucumber.
The theatre production follows the surprising success of Lincoln Imperial, a fictional account of the 1970s’ greatest unknowns. For any readers not familiar with the Cucumber legend here are some key facts as reported in pop publications of the time:
DAVE ‘DOBBO’ DOBSON – drummer. Eyes: Blue. Born: 23 March 1952. Grew up in Lincoln where his parents ran a greengrocers, above which the group first rehearsed. He once had a trial for Nottingham Forest. Likes: American cars. Favourite singer: Suzi Quatro.
PHIL BASTION – guitarist. Height: 6’ 1”. Speaks fluent French and Spanish. His friends say he has ‘weird’ taste in music. Very interested in technology. Heroes: Captain Beefheart, Lou Reed, Todd Rundgren. Favourite artist: Andy Warhol.
JIMMY GORMAN – bass guitarist. Born: Shepherd’s Bush, 11 May 1947. The newest recruit to the group. A ‘veteran’ of the British blues scene, he has played with many American blues legends, and worked as a session musician for Medicine Head and Gallagher & Lyle. Once worked as a bricklayer. Collects tickets. Favourite films: Westerns. Favourite football team: Chelsea.
MAGIC’ MICKEY MERRION – lead singer. Studied art and drama in Paris. Designs the group’s stage clothes and hand paints all the equipment. Has published two books of poetry. His girlfriend is actress and model Patsy O’Ryan. Tipped by Marc Bolan to be almost as big a star as he is.
The controversial novel, Lincoln Imperial, published last year, followed the story of Cucumber’s notorious manager Eddie Fennelly and his ill-fated exploits in the music business. These included trying to bribe Radio One disc jockey Emperor Rosko, getting caught trying to break into Mickey Most’s offices, and plotting to kidnap Suzi Quatro. Fennelly now runs a Buddhist-themed ‘sanctuary’ in Hampshire, and is said to be taking legal action over some of the stories in the book.
The stage play, however, focuses on the group itself, and all the tensions, tantrums and misfortunes that tore it apart. With Mickey’s desperate desire to be a star and Phil’s artistic aspirations there was always going to be trouble. Things came to a head one night during an argument over whether the singing group Thunderthighs should do backing vocals on one of their tracks. Both Mickey and Phil ended up spending a night in the cells, and never spoke to one another again.
The almost total destruction of Cucumber’s recorded works has added to the group’s mystique, and meant new material would be needed for the musical, and when Davy Henderson heard about the project he wanted to be involved. A spokesman said: “There was something about the Cucumber story that appealed to Davy and the Sexual Objects. Maybe it was a bit of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. People said Cucumber were too arty and outrageous to be pop stars, but in reality they were just unlucky.”
Rather than reinventing the sound of Cucumber, Davy and the Sexual Objects have said they tried to capture the spirit of the group. “We didn’t want the songs just to tell a story. We wanted to capture something of the lost magic of Cucumber. This was how we imagined this absurdly ambitious band might have approached putting together these songs. It’s good to try on someone else’s platform sole boots once in a while,” said Davy with a glitter tear painted beneath one eye.
The Sexual Objects’ Cucumber soundtrack is now available through Creeping Bent/Aktion und Spass it seems destined to be far more successful than its subject matter.

Monday 27 September 2010

Up The Revolution! - #1

We Come As Aliens: Vic Godard & Subway Sect
If you’ve heard the news in the Post Office queues, the remarks in Primark, the moaning in Morrisons, the grumbling in Greggs, the strops in the charity shops, the anger in Asda’s aisles, the sound and the fury in Poundland, then you’ll know there’s trouble brewing. Who knows what ‘difficult decision’ will push people over the edge, but a revolution against everyday life is on the cards as disbelief turns to mischief. And when the more mature malcontents do go on the march then they might just have found an anthem in Vic Godard’s Take Over, from his new LP We Come As Aliens.
I never really had Vic down as a Pete Seeger figure, but if you were that way inclined We Come As Aliens could at times be interpreted as a state-of-the-nation address. Take The Same Plan and use Vic’s theme of the ‘modernisation’ of the Royal Mail as a metaphor for the world today, and you’ll see what I mean. The idiots in charge of everything, the careerists’ calamitous decisions, the cheap compromises, the relentless rebranding, and the ‘progress’ that is anything but and just makes daily life that much more difficult. “Time for you diamonds in the rough to come out front and strut your stuff. No point in skulkin’ in doorways sulkin’. Let’s take over together people now,” sings Vic, the old contemptible, with a rallying cry and a twinkle in his eye.
There are some cracking lines on We Come As Aliens, but you’d expect that. Vic’s curmudgeonly Cockney cynic persona is at times pure Music Hall, and the spirit of Gus Elen, Harry Champion, et al, is alive and kicking, thank god. There’s no going hither and playing the mystic on this record, but the art of writing caustic couplets capturing the spirit of the age is not to be underestimated. And when there are some nice popular culture references (Lloyd Johnson, Peter Mandelson and Blakey, for example) and some rousing choruses all us aliens up in the Gallery should stand up and wave our caps in support.
Some of the best lines on We Come As Aliens are about the baffling old world of showbiz, with Vic addressing the old conundrum of why we keep on doing what we do, with some neat self-deprecating touches. “More of us on chorus than in front of us”, perhaps, but we’ll have a wail and a moan nevertheless, and then go ‘ome and shake our heads in despair at what’s on the TV and the radio. The ‘autobiographical ‘ stuff on We Come As Aliens continues on from some of the great tracks on Sansend eight years ago, like Go Against The Grain and The Writers Slumped, but in a way WCAA is the culmination of Vic’s progress since then. It’s just taken such an age to reach us.
Musically, WCAA is often perversely primitive and a right old racket, but it’s exactly what’s needed to stick two fingers up at the dreary old music scene. Beyond the punky clatter the essential template is Vic’s characteristic take on Northern Soul in all its guises, which means a collection of glorious choruses as catchy as an old Racey or Foundations track you find yourself inadvertently howling along to when it’s played on the Gold oldies station all the aliens have deserted to in protest against what those ‘in charge’ have done to ‘modernise’ Radio Two, the station Vic once dreamed of being played on. The LP closes with Music of a Werewolf which musically is closer to the Sansend sound. Its passing reference to Theodore Gericault for some reason reminds me of two old boys I heard chatting in a Poundland queue recently about whether it was Eric Delaney who was the first guy to play two drum kits. The connection is I had to look both up, but I like to learn something.
A word should be said for Overground, who have issued WCAA on CD (though vinyl editions are available through Vic’s Gnu Inc.). I know little about Overground, other than that they’ve been going for years and I have a stack of their releases, ancient and modern. They may not have the kudos and clout of a Domino, but I have more time for them. Among my pile of Overground CDs is Strange Kicks by Alternative TV on which Mark Perry sings: “The ancient rebels, so they say, will live to fight another day”. Up the revolution!

Saturday 25 September 2010

Tony Wilson dancing ...

“I took Tony Wilson dancing to rai music in a Paris nightclub.” Now that is a tale that has appealed enormously down the years. For a long, long time I had this mental image of the Factory patron unwinding after a day of business meetings, and ending up in a club where the DJ was playing a selection of rai releases from Algeria and from Paris itself. I imagine Tony a little the worse for wear, getting carried away on the dancefloor, suit jacket swirling, then pestering the DJ about a particular track he’d played, quoting Baudelaire in his ear, explaining he was a subversive media mogul and had to release that track as a 12” on his label, while taking details down in his Filofax. I like the story that the DJ took Tony at his word, and made him keep his word in the cold sober light of day, and so Factory came to release a 12” of Fadela’s N'Sel Fik in 1987.
Now, however, we know it wasn’t really like that at all. James Nice’s notes accompanying LTM’s 1987 instalment of Auteur: the Factory years series explain how Mike Pickering, who was doing a lot of Factory’s A&R work at the time, heard the track played by Mark Kamins in a New York club, thus starting the chain of events that ended up with Factory releasing the track on a 12”, remixed by Pickering. James’ account perhaps raises more questions along the way (like why Pickering needed to remix it?) than my imaginary scenario, but that’s the trouble with truth.
If, as James explains, Mike Pickering was doing some A&R for Factory at the time (1987), it seems even more bizarre that the label did not tap into what was happening, then and shortly afterwards, on its doorstep in terms of house music: T-Coy, A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State, etc. Surely he could have persuaded Tony Wilson to put out T-Coy’s Carino? Or was Pickering busy with plans of his own, with the advent of Deconstruction? What about Voodoo Ray? How did Gerald end up on the Liverpool label Rham! given the rivalry between Manchester and Merseyside? 808 State’s Graham Massey was already involved with Factory through Biting Tongues, so that should have been a natural progression. And what about the licensing of some of the early house stuff from Chicago? Why didn’t that happen? It would have been easier than doing the Fadela 12” surely? You see what I mean?
N'Sel Fik was the only rai related record Factory released, which is a bit of a shame really. I won’t pretend to be an authority on rai, then or now, but I do remember a moment when it seemed quite the done thing to like the music, and there was a sense that it could become as big as reggae around the world. Rai got plenty of coverage in the more fashionable publications, and with the likes of David Toop writing in The Face, Neville Brody designing sleeves for Charlie Gillett’s Oval Records, Earthworks releasing the high profile Rai Rebels compilation, things looked very positive. Well, rai music thrived of course, but it didn’t take over the world. Maybe the UK becoming a house nation wasn’t such a good thing if more diverse musics were marginalised or compartmentalised, and the dreaded and damaging curse of the specialist took hold. As Charlie Gillett himself said about the African sounds he was releasing: “In those optimisitic, pioneering days, I still believed that such music was bound for the mainstream, if it were pushed with the right combination of enthusiasm and initiative, and this seemed to be the record that might make a breakthrough.”

N'Sel Fik is I guess the ‘crossover’ rai track. Credited to Faleda it is actually by Chaba Fadela & Cheb Sahraoui, a very successful duo, who were for a while husband and wife as well. The track was originally produced by Rachid & Fethi Baba Ahmed, who are credited with modernising Algerian music, which I’m sure is as oversimplistic a statement as it seems, but ... They have been (and will be again) featured as part of the Algerian sequence over at Anywhere Else But Here Today performing some heartbreakingly beautiful ballads in TV footage from the ‘70s. In the ‘80s they are said to have introduced synths and drum machines to Algerian pop music and rai, transforming the sound by mixing more traditional rhythms and instrumentation with their use of electronics and samples, making them rai’s equivalent to Jam & Lewis, though perhaps not everyone would thank them for making the music more sleek and sophisticated.
In 1990 Fidel Castro-lookalike Rachid’s '80s productions were the subject of a second essential volume in Earthworks’ Rai Rebels series, the splendidly titled Pop-Rai & Rachid Style. Both volumes of Rai Rebels are well worth seeking out, and shouldn't be too hard to come by. The sleevenotes capture something of the optimism and excitement of the time. And there're some fascinating facts that show how the times have changed, like the way much of the rai music was issued on cassette only. And given the life expectancy of a cassette perhaps that goes some way to explaining how vintage pop-rai can be hard to come by. There are also some intriguing insights into how Rachid worked, recording the vocals first and then adding on his own mix of sounds. He was sadly shot dead in 1995.
Talking of cassettes and the dear departed, Malcolm McLaren spoke of taking Eric Satie to an Algerian rai club on the track Club Le Narcisse on his wonderful Paris 1993 collection. That line is preceded by these ones: “A secret history of a time to come. The free explosion. Everyone must search for what he loves and for what attracts him”. I wonder if Malcolm danced to this one by Chaba Fadela and Cheb Sahraoui ...

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Songs For Che

Anyone familiar with YHO will know of the fascination with how things fit together and unexpected patterns emerge. Let's illustrate that again, by starting with this clip of the great Greek singer/composer Manos Loizos singing a song for Che in the early '70s:

The lyrics to this beautiful song, I believe, translate as: "A poster with your photograph also came to my hands, a photograph with your face mailed from far lands. One of them that on walls at night they hang. One of them that the cops are there to tear. One of them that the students can just hang on their hearts. Che Guevara, Che Guevara, Che. Shut the windows and the blinds, can you seal all doorways. The man in boots just made me tremble like always. What he wants? In the shadow now he walks. What he wants and about you now he talks? What he wants and is looking at our home every evening? Che Guevara, Che Guevara, Che. Just how many roses’ buds snow this year has bitten. Ah, this Spring has made my heart go bleeding." You see the way Loizos uses the familiar imagery of the Che poster as a device to attack the repressive military junta in power at the time?
We are so used to the Che brand, the ubiquitous and absurd use of the familiar photo, that we forget that he meant a lot to a lot of people, and not just to kids in love with the romantic icon. For example, while putting together an Algerian sequence as part of our trans-global pop project, Anywhere Else But Here Today, I came across this clip of Mohamed Lamari singing a song for Che, from I guess sometime in the '70s:

I confess I don't actually know what Lamari is singing here, and I trust it's not along the lines of Suicide's song for Che. To many in Algeria Che really was something of a saint, and he has close links with the country, as shown in this tribute by Ahmed Ben Bella, the former Algerian president.
Anyone who has read the Uruguayan themed edition of YHO, What A Life!, may remember a reference to the singer Jorge Lazaroff and his early group Patria Libre recording an adaptation of Letter From Che To His Children during what were turbulent times in the country. The cover of What A Life! featured the footballer Diego Forlan, the star of 2010 World Cup. His manager was Oscar Tabarez, who is a scholar of the works of Che Guevara, and indeed Eduardo Galeano, in sharp contrast to England's manager who reportedly admires Franco.
Che, it has to be remembered, was born in Argentina, and it is understandable he is still revered there by some. The great Argentinean folk singer Atahualpa Yupanqui, for example, recorded this beautiful tribute. I don't know what his politics are but the Argentinean composer Lalo Schifrin created a fantastic score for what was probably the first film about Che after his death. Again soon after his death the United States of America recorded the incredible Love Song For The Dead Che, which also seems to have been covered by The Locomotive on the West Midlands group's LP, We Are Everything You See, which was a brilliantly perverse move for an outfit better known for singing about Rudie.
On the more traditional left Peggy Seeger wrote the beautiful tribute Wild And Free Was Che Guevara: "The stars are lost in the fields of darkness. Hunters' moon stalks the empty night. Like a farmer, walks Che Guevara. Bearing songs to sow the world with light ..." And it should be no surprise that in Chile Victor Jara felt a close affinity with Che, singing this among others for his dead hero, little knowing the same fate would shortly befall him:

Victor Jara's comrades Quilapayun also recorded a very beautiful elegy for Che which perhaps said more than words ever could. Probably the most famous instrumental tribute to Che was composed by Charlie Haden for the Liberation Music Orchestra, and later covered by Robert Wyatt and by Ornette Coleman. Rather neatly, Wyatt performed with the Liberation Music Orchestra in London in June 2009 as part of a season curated by Ornette Coleman. And as for the charm of Che - Hasta Siempre Comandante. Wonder if Primark are still selling those Che belts?

Sunday 19 September 2010

Song of Songs ...

Our trans-global pop project Anywhere Else But Here Today closes its Greek sequence with a couple of numbers from Mikis Theodorakis’ The Ballad of Mauthausen song cycle. There is live footage of Mikis’ muse Maria Farantouri singing Asma Asmaton (Song of Songs), which portrays the anguish of a Jewish prisoner on learning that the women he loves has just been sent to the gas chamber. The same song closes our Greek Sounds mixtape, which you can download here. It really is one of the most moving compositions/performances ever.
There is another clip of Maria singing O Antonio/O Andonis from the same song cycle. This is the Theodorakis composition that the LA group Savage Republic did a cover of fairly early on in its career. It is also something I have to confess I came across only recently, but I am a very late convert to the Savage People’s Democratic Republic. For some bizarre reason I had Savage Republic all wrong, and assumed they were deadly dull Front 242/Swans pummeling industrial outfit. It’s been fun catching up, though. I have become particularly fond of the all-instrumental affair Ceremonial and the 1988 set Jamahiriya Democratique et Populaire. The latter features their covers of Theodorakis’ Pios Den Mila Yia Ti Lambri and ATV’s ironic/non-ironic anthem Viva La Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Now the idea of a group covering that ATV track in 1988 would have been enough to make me fall totally in love, but I don’t remember anyone making that front page news. Actually THAT Alternative TV is probably the closest comparison needed for Savage Republic if you think of Still Life or Splitting In Two or Lost In Room as blueprints. Indeed Savage Republic seems to have had its ‘Good Missionaries’ moments with wonderful use of strong Arabic influences, and more generally a mix of lyrical themes and imagery that reaches out far beyond the limited ‘alternative’ rock reference points, which just might have been a reason why the media didn’t get behind the group in the way it did, say, the Pixies or Dinosaur Jr.
If, by chance, I am not the only one to have been intimate with the works of Savage Republic then it is worth mentioning the excellent LTM label has an archival collection in its catalogue. I know opinions are divided about it, but I also strongly recommend the ambitious 2007 comeback, 1938. Again, its titles and themes are way beyond the reach of your average outfit, with the references to Marshal Tito and Breslau, and plenty of eastern musical flavours that contribute to a soundtrack that has the gravitas to match the portentous title. It’s a record that repays repeated listening. And it's still very much Savage Republic ...

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Here is a protest ...

One of the highlights of our Greek Sounds mixtape (download it here) is Nikos Xylouris’ contribution which starts with a demented and bizzarely Velvets/Venus In Furs swirling, sawing sound that has more to do with Cretan folk tradition than downtown NYC and is all the more powerful for it. Nikos’ voice is rough and rasping, very intense, and quite intimidating in a beautiful way.
The accompanying edition of Your Heart Out, Tragoudia, which can be downloaded for free here, refers to Nikos being one of the outspoken opponents of the military junta in Greece (1967-1974), and mentions the story of how during the student protests of 1973 Xylouris is said to have climbed the gates of the Athens Poly with his lyra to sing a rallying traditional Cretan revolutionary song, Pote Tha Kanei Xasteria (When Will the Sky Be Clear Again). This was a song featured on the Rizitika LP Xylouris had made with Giannis Markopoulos in 1971, drawing on their Cretan roots by singing ancient rebel songs and laments, which were easily recognised as allegorical protests against current struggles by opponents of the military dictatorship, and as such became a vital part of the opposition’s soundtrack.
Markopoulos is also featured in fantastic fashion as part of our Greek sequence at Anywhere Else But Here Today in a clip taken from the Jules Dassin & Melina Mercouri film The Rehearsal which was made to draw attention around the world to what was happening in Greece under the military regime, with specific reference to the November 1973 Athens Poly uprising. It was filmed in New York, which is ironic as Dassin was once unofficially exiled from the US during the McCarthy era. By the time the film was finished the junta had been ousted, so it never really had a chance to become known like some of Dassin’s other classics, like Night And The City, Never On Sunday, Topkapi, Thieves Highway, etc. It may still be available on YouTube though ...
If Markopoulos’ name seems familiar then it’s a good chance it may be for his soundtrack for the BBC series Who Pays The Ferryman? This was screened in the late ‘70s and the theme tune caught the public’s imagination. As far as I know it’s not been released on DVD in the UK. Returning to Rizitika, and his recording with Xylouris, this was the song Nikos sang while astride the gates of the Athens Poly ...

Saturday 11 September 2010

Foundland - Celebrating Saint Jack

Foundland (which can be downloaded here) is a special edition of Your Heart Out celebrating Saint Jack by The Nectarine No. 9 originally released in 1995 by Postcard of Scotland. After many years out of circulation, in 2010, it is now available on We Can Still Picnic, the digital imprint of the Creeping Bent Organisation. Foundland hopefully captures something of the magic of this record and provides a little 'visual stimulation'. It is also a timely tribute to the godlike genius of Davy Henderson, who can also be heard on the Win records which are available again, and on Cucumber, an LP by The Sexual Objects.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Greek Sounds ...

Tragoudia is the latest edition of Your Heart Out, and it can be downloaded here. It’s subtitled Adventures in Greek Music, though things are never quite that straight forward. Tragoudia is accompanied by an exclusive mixtape, entitled Greek Sounds: The New Wave And Beyond, which can be downloaded for free here. It takes as its starting point what in Greek music is known as new wave or ‘neo kyma’. This was a form of pop that in the mid-to-late ‘60s mixed traditional Greek folk song with other elements such as French chanson/pop. The recordings were often acoustic, stark and wonderfully romantic. From the new wave the mixtape wanders into wilder psychedelic territory and also takes in some astonishing performances of songs (tragoudia) by the great composers like Theodorakis and Hadjidakis. Several of the artists are featured in the Greek sequences at Anywhere Else But Here Today, the pop music project where we seek out buried treasure from around the world. With thanks to Per-Christian Hille for another great piece of cover art.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Stumbling in the Rain ...

“OH GOD, I must be getting old. I approached this with such scepticism! ...” I love being wrong. I was always going to have a soft spot for a new release by The Distractions on the excellent Occultation label, out of affection and brand loyalty. I just didn’t expect that when I got around to playing Black Velvet it would stop me in my tracks. There have, after all, been so many phoenixes rising from the ashes that it’s hard to keep up.
In the late 1970s The Distractions released a single called Time Goes By So Slow, which was 200 seconds of pop in excelsis, featuring glorious melodic hooks and one of the finest grrritty blue-eyed soul performances since the days of the Love Affair. It still sounds superb, and rates as one of the finest 45s released by Factory Records. It is also one of the least typical singles issued by the label. I have always argued it had the advantage of gaining attention because of its Factory links, while at the same time and for the same reason not really being appreciated for its mod perfection.
The Distractions regrouped in the mid-‘90s and recorded some demos. It is from these sessions that the Black Velvet set is drawn. There have been some pretty miserable returns to the pop fray, but The Distractions’ is strikingly impressive. The lead track, Black Velvet, is 360 seconds of dramatic pop perfection that you might dream of Willie Nelson or Robbie Williams singing (depending on your musical proclivities). Mike Finney is in remarkably good voice, and Steve Perrin’s songwriting is as perfectly formed as ever. Nick Garside is responsible for the production, which will please those of us who consider Hymn From A Village to be another contender for Factory’s finest moment.
I suppose playing thought association it’s not a great leap from Black Velvet to Blue Velvet, and the Bobby Vinton song. There is something of that feel about The Distractions at their melodramatic best - that sort of post-Johnny Ray ‘wringing the emotion out of every note’ school of pop. I always thought The Distractions should only have been allowed to perform ballads. I actually rather liked the idea of them covering Eden Kane’s Boys Cry. There was something appealing about that song having been originally a little out of time. Or was it? After all, Gene Pitney, PJ Proby and Chris Farlowe were looming on the horizon when it appeared, and their vocals were never knowingly understated.
The Distractions were fortunate to be associated with Manchester at a time when it was unexpectedly in the spotlight. But ostensibly The Distractions never seemed to have too much in common with, say, Joy Division, Magazine, The Fall. It could be argued they were much more in the true mcr pop tradition of The Hollies, Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits, Mindbenders, and 10CC. There are many among us who would place Graham Gouldman up there as the true icon of mcr music. Ironically there is many a link between Gouldman and the post-punk mcr, from Strawberry Studios to Dave Formula, who had been in the mcr mod outfit St Louis Union which recorded Graham’s Behind The Door.
30 years ago The Distractions released a delayed debut LP, Nobody’s Perfect, on Island Records, produced by Virginia Astley’s brother. Although it has bewilderingly remained out of circulation, it was enthusiastically received at the time. Local writer Paul Morley was particularly keen, as was Sounds’ Dave McCullough who said: “Still. I want to hear this on my radio. I want to play this all summer long.” It’s from Dave’s review that the opening line here was borrowed. He finished his piece by threatening: “Don't DARE miss it! Don't you dare pass it over.” It applies to Black Velvet too.

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Secret Histories Abound ...

You may have noticed that YHO has adopted the tagline: "Secret histories abound ..." It seems to sum things up. The internet, for example, is rife with secret histories that directly challenge 'official' or accepted truths. The irony is these non-authorised versions are at risk of being buried again as digital media runs rampant.
But still the stories emerge. The hidden history of the music made in Uruguay in the late '60s and 1970s was for me a revelation, and it directly inspired the What A Life! edition of YHO (find it here) which gave an overview of some of the incredible music made during that time.
An obsession with Uruguayan sounds made it necessary to put together a mixtape (find it here) in the same innocently excitable way I might have compiled a C90 for friends on the basis of: "You need to hear this!" An image of Diego Forlan was used on the cover. The symbolism seemed apt. He lit up the 2010 World Cup with his elegance and flair. His compatriots did the same thing in the musical world.
If there is one romantic, emblematic figure in the history of Uruguayan popular music it is Eduardo Mateo. In the late '60s, as part of El Kinto, he took elements of The Beatles and psychedelia, Brazilian bossa and tropicalia, and mixed them with uniquely Uruguayan rhythms to create the Candombe beat that would inspire a new generation.
His subsequent solo career was enigmatically erratic by anyone's standards, but along the way he made some incredible records which are now being heard and loved outside of Uruguay thanks to the efforts of Lion Productions, one of the labels worth supporting. Lion has recently reissued the 1976 collaboration of Mateo with the young percussionist Jorge Trasante, Mateo y Trasante. At this stage the duo brought Indian and Arabic influences into the mix, and it's a gloriously complex record that really should be sought out. In the Uruguayan edition of YHO there's a mention of Caetano Veloso getting together with Count Ossie's people to try and create a bit of context. I think it's called clutching at straws. There's a taster on the What A Life! mixtape and another here ...