“There is no bank on Wall Street that belonged to me..” croons Blind Blake, aka Matthew Town, the legendary singer from the Bahamas who was born in 1915 and carved out an illustrious if a little under-recognised career from the 30s through to the 60s. As the leader of the house band at the Royal Victoria Hotel in Nassau in the Bahamas his music combines the glory of ragtime blues, island classics and American pop with some quite forward-thinking jazz elements. Listening to Bahamian Songs is one of those truly positive experiences that can change an mood and get even the clumsiest of toes twinkling. Credit must also been given to the technical elements of this record which, on CD, sounds crystal clear and surprisingly for a record from the early 50s has very little hiss and crackle (not always a good thing I hasten to add but a pleasure here). Highlights include the effortless fun Yes, Yes, Yes, his particularly familiar John B Sail (sloop would be proud) and My Pigeon Got Wild show the skill the man had on his banjo, ukulele or six-string to create a rhythm and style that would entertain contemporary audiences and generations to come. A must have if you like both music and smiling.
It would be unfair to describe Frenchman Julien ‘Lecube’ Barbagallo, architect of his debut From Here to Now, as fey but there’s a certain otherworldliness to the breathy, sidling pace of the record. Recorded in Toulouse, this eight-track offering shows some definite promise with Barbagallo presenting at times incredibly very intricate songs in a simple fashion – breaking down from tumultuous drumming into the kind of carefully plucked guitar-work which led Nick Drake to the forefront of those talented yet mellow musicians who preferred to shun any egocentric qualities in favour of an educated sound. That said, he does whack himself on the cover and grate a little vocally but on the whole, definitely worth a hop over the channel.