For various reasons this is by far my lowest time of the year and so I went to the Mighty Shelves of Joy (MSOJ, henceforth) in need of a good pick me up.  I picked up a goodie and in turn, it picked me up.

  • Ever wanted to hear the Clash ‘Should I Stay, Or Should I go?’ turned into a meditation on the African diaspora to Europe? of course you have.
  • Ever wanted to hear Led Zeppelin ‘Kashmir’ sung in Tamasheq and sounding authentically aged and travelled? of course you have.
  • Ever wanted to hear Manu Dibango ‘Soul Makossa’* with added Brian Eno on keyboards? of course you have.

Well, my friend, in that case you need to net yourself a copy of Songhoy Blues Re-Covered 12″, like what I done and gone did last year.  As everyone’s favourite young guitar slingin’ Malian bucks tear into three undeniably great originals with no little gusto and enthusiasm.

songhoy-blues-recovered-03songhoy-blues-recovered-02

First up, the Clash.  I have jumped up and down, bumping into all manner of other sweaty happy folk to the original more times than I care to admit since my generation discovered it through a jeans commercial.  The Songhoy Blues take on it is a great one, the guitars really rock and the beat swings h-e-a-v-y and they insert a great African interlude right into the middle of the track, just because they can, right before the riff comes back heavier still.  It does everything I want a cover version to do, they stamp their own identity on it and add some of their own ideas, whilst reminding the happy listener of what a great track it was in the first place.  Job done**.

songhoy-blues-recovered-04

Next up on Re-Covered is ‘Soul Makossa’; Makossa being a word in the Cameroonian dialect of Douala meaning dance, which since the 50’s has been co-opted for a certain type of funky dance and popularised by the Manu Dibango track covered here.  The original is a Super-fly brass heavy Sub-Saharan disco funk behemoth.  Songhoy Blues transpose it into a twitching guitar jive, with Brian Eno providing some choppy funk keyboards for reasons best known to himself^.

songhoy-blues-recovered-01songhoy-blues-recovered-05-2

Flip the sucka over and our Songhoy Blues brothers tackle a tricky one head on, ‘Kashmir’.  First up, even with Nick Zinner lending some additional guitar chops this is a lighter, nimbler confection than the original.  It gets bonus points for being sung in, I assume, Tamasheq which suits the distinctly Arabic sounds of the original track^^.

Talk in song from tongues of lilting grace
Sounds caress my ear
And not a word I heard could I relate
The story was quite clear

This version swings and there are some lovely bits of guitar picking over the top of the track.  It’s good but I would reach for the version Page/Plant did on No Quarter before this one.

Album sampler hat came with the 12"
Album sampler hat came with the 12″
So all in all I’m a happier chap, than when I started listening to this, which is pretty much one of the whole points of this music thing isn’t it? How could any encounter with these guys not leave you in a better mood? I ended up, very happily, cranking up Music In Exile yet again, which is pretty much the whole point of EPs.

728 Down.

*as stolen by Jackson, Michael for ‘Wanna Be Startin Somethin”.

**post Stranger Things it also doesn’t remind me of sinister fairy lights, which is very important as I’m alone in the house tonight.

^I suspect it is all part of his master plan, something that us mere mortals, with our teeny tiny normal size brains, couldn’t hope to understand.

^^I always wondered why a song so redolent of North Africa was called after the disputed region between India and Pakistan. What me worry?

14 thoughts on “The Answer Is, Stay

  1. Very intrigued by this Songhoy Blues lot. I know you recommended the album, but I’ve still to do anything about that. This one sounds intriguing, too – Kashmir sounds pretty ace and that version of Should I Stay Or Should I Go might just be one of the greatest things ever(!?)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad Songhoy Blues have come to your rescue. Soon you’ll be dancing around a la “Risky Business” sinister fairies be damned. Keep the album handy for the 24th though, which scientists tell us is the saddest day of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s