The daily trip to the bakery has become an exciting adventure. The first day I asked for those lovely bread rolls (pão da avó) in Portuguese and the lady didn’t understand a word. They taught me how to say it properly and the next day I returned armed with another word – “Queria”, “I would like” in Portuguese. So I said, “Queria pão da avó” and of course it’s all perfect until they start talking back to you. Just my luck, this second day they had sold out and the man was explaining in Portuguese that they were all gone, and of course I didn’t understand a word. Today I went back and it was all good, I knew the words and they were in stock but I needed to know if they were open on Saturday before I knew how many I wanted to buy, I had to ask if they were open tomorrow – in English. This is the problem of being English, you can get away with it. In most situations, people speak some English or a lot of English and you usually find that people who speak English better than you speak their language insist that they can’t speak English very well when you dream of speaking their language at that level. The humility of people with skills. But then there’s the fact that English is everywhere from music to films to products, foreign-speaking people are hearing it all the time. The first time I heard Swedish from the point of view of analysis I was 26. The first time I heard Portuguese from the point of view of analysis I was 62. Olivia could speak reasonable English at 12, the age at which they attempted to start teaching us French – halfheartedly.
The wind was rattling those exotic shutters tonight as I sat inside safe and warm. I was thinking about my friends in Texas and their dilemma. It reminded me of when I had to turn the water off in the archive, couldn’t get a plumber, and had no water or toilet for three days or more. We are so used to our luxuries and when they are taken away from us we are reminded how lucky we are holding onto our lifestyles. As if it’s not enough with the pandemic, I stumbled across the Wikipedia page with musician deaths this year and I wondered how many musicians had died of covid since last year. Here’s a sad and tragic list:
Cameroonian Manu Dibango blended African music into jazz and funk and is best known for his song Soul Makossa, Alan Merrill from Arrows wrote I Love Rock ’n’ Roll, allegedly giving Arrows’ guitarist Jake Hooker a co-writer credit “by way of settling a debt”. Adam Schlesinger from Fountains Of Wayne, No Wave star Cristina, Patrick Gibson of the funky Gibson Brothers, French singer Christophe, much-loved singer-songwriter John Prine, Dave Greenfield, keyboard player with The Stranglers, sixties singer Trini Lopez, Bruce Williamson from The Temptations, Toots Hibbert from Toots And The Maytals, Tommy DeVito from The Four Seasons, country singer Charley Pride and last but not least Phil Spector.
Beyond covid, I just heard about the loss of reggae artist U-Roy and then discovered that also this year we lost Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine, Jon Mark of Mark-Almond, Tim Bogert of Beck, Bogert and Appice and fifties singer Jimmie Rodgers. I already knew about Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Chick Corea and Gerry Marsden, New York Doll Sylvain Sylvain, and SOPHIE who produced Let’s Eat Grandma and tragically died after a fall aged 34. I have records by all of these people. It’s just February and the list is already long with many artists I wasn’t aware of.
Music today has come due to a notification that I got from Music On Vinyl. I’ve always had a thing for Dutch bands. Perhaps it was seeing Golden Earring and Alquin when I was a teenager at Liverpool Stadium or discovering Focus’ Moving Waves (1971, aka Focus II) in the seventies second-hand racks. But later I became a big fan of The Nits after buying a random CD Mini LP in Stockholm in the eighties, Hat (1988). I since went on to buy almost everything they released from 1978 till now. I recently bought a CD of Q65’s Afghanistan album (1970) that was extremely hard to find, impossible on vinyl, or at least way too expensive. Whilst on tour in Amsterdam a year ago (the gig was cancelled due to a massive storm) I went to one of the great Dutch record stores, Concerto in Utrechtsestraat. It was there that I found a reasonably priced copy of the second Group 1850 album Paradise Now (1969), another Dutch classic along with a reissue I bought later of their first album Agemo’s Trip To Mother Earth (1968). Whilst I was there I also bought Golden Earring’s guitarist George Kooymans’ early solo album Jojo (1969). I just found out today that Kooymans has just announced he has Lou Gehrig’s disease and is retiring from music. Golden Earring had been together since 1961 (60 years), with Kooymans and bassist Rinus Gerritsen there from the beginning to the end. In the current lineup, singer Barry Hay joined in 1967 and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk joined in 1970. A sad end to a Dutch institution.
So I’ve always been on the lookout for anything Dutch and today Music On Vinyl announced Behind The Dykes, four hard-to-find limited edition albums, three I didn’t know. Drama (1971), a blues and progressive rock band that featured Frank Vandenkloot on guitar – they only made this one album, Pugh’s Place’s West One, a progressive band from 1971 (I knew and already have a CD), Rainman (1970, ex Q65 members going folky) and Californian traveller Mike Tingley who ended up in Amsterdam in the sixties and released The Abstract Prince (1968, on local label Philips) – it’s one of those psychedelic orchestral sixties albums. All these records are 1000 limited editions except for Mike Tingley which is just 500 (and by the way, I’m still looking for Frank Vandenkloot’s Fontessa). All I can say is snap them up, already hard to find, even the reissues will be scarce in years to come – brilliant if you like this kind of thing.
Music Of The Daze
So many songs to post today, so let’s just have one in honour of George Kooymans. Thinking of you George, thank you for the music.