I have a confession to make….I am secretly a Geographer !
Yes, shocking, I know, but from ‘A’ Level onwards this was my subject ( with a little Geology thrown in, hence my love of rock music).
One aspect of Geographical study that I found particularly intriguing was what one might call “perceptual” geography, how people “see” the world instead of what’s really there.
“So what ?” I hear you cry.
Well, last week I posted a “trip around the world” set of tunes and, thinking about it, realised that I had gone, automatically East – West as if that was the natural way to go.
Odd, when you think about it as North- South is an equally valid way to go round ( colder at both “ends” of course) and yet I and, I suspect, most of us, because we are used to seeing world maps orientated in a particular way “see” things E-W.
Anyway , to even things out, I thought I’d do a little North- South trip through music.
Of necessity it’s a bit more of a scrag bag of tunes than last week’s but, I’m a fair minded sort of a chap and I’d hate to hurt the feelings of North and South, so here goes.
We start in the furthest North I could find in my collection , Finland with rather scary “folk” ladies Varttina ( I’m sure they are lovely really but they look a little “witchy” to me) and a song called Mustat Kengat ( Black Shoes). A little taste of the Taiga.
Heading south we come to Germany, a land well known for it’s Sausage Dogs and cabbage based cuisine. Here’s Teutonic hero Heino and a song about a woodchopper “Die lustigen Holzhackerbub’n”, rousing !
Then a short hop takes us to La Belle France and perhaps the best known of the songs here. Jacques Dutronc and Et Moi, et moi, et moi. For a brief period , in the mid 60s, French pop had it’s own unique Gallic style and charm. What went wrong ?
Across the water to Africa next and some Rai from Algeria. Cheb Zahouani and Ma-Nsal. Real “rebel” music here. It was, frankly , dangerous to make this kind of stuff in the 80s-90s, at least one artist and the producer of this piece , Rachid, were killed by militants. Tragic and the reason why so many Rai artists relocated to Paris.
Of course it wouldn’t be an Ubu post without a trip to Hawaii. For a change we get away from leis and hula dancers and enter the world of the Paniolo or Hawaiian cowboy. Here are the Ho’opi’i Brothers with Hawaiian Rough Riders. The skill of the Hawaiians amazed the rodeo riders on the mainland when they first appeared over there.If you’ve seen some of the terrain they had to deal with you’d understand why they were such excellent horsemen.
Vietnam. Not somewhere you tend to hear a lot about these days, still it has had it’s own music scene for centuries and here’s a sample of the modern style Phoung Dung with “Khuc hat an tinh”
You may want to pass on the next one. It’s Wing ( cheating slightly here) from New Zealand and her unique take on Elvis’ In the Ghetto. I’ll say no more…
Nearly there ( there are, amazingly, no songs I could find from Antarctica, those penguins need to get their act together). So we are at the tip of Africa, South Africa to be precise and the almighty sound of Township Jive courtesy of Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens ( best band I ever saw). They bring us Sibuyile and a smile.
Rounding off, where else but the Land Down Under, Australia. Tricky one this. Could have gone for Nick Cave or Kylie , I suppose but it’s not like me to end on a low note so let’s have a blast of a song that will, surely, resonate with all of us “of a certain age”. Eric Jupp and Skippy.
There. Phew ! Job done and honour satisfied.