Evertime I get the chance to do a show in which I can highlight a specific region, artist or genre of music, I sort of get giddy. The reason is twofold. On the one hand, I get to dig deep into a reservoir of resources and cull through a multitude of choices and lay them out in a way that hopefully pleases your ears. On the other hand--depending on the style--I can cram as much of said style into the hour as possible. It's sort of like a challenge to me, to see how many songs I can fit into one hour. On this week's World Music Show (8/10), the first hour will be such a show.
If you haven't guessed by this week's title, the first hour will be all about the music of France. And as luck would have it, they'll be 17 songs to entertain and delight you. We'll kick-start the show with the master of ceremonies himself, Serge Gainsbourg. Gainsbourg could be considered the epitome of French music, at least from a certain era. His talent went across all genres of French culture, from music, to books and film to producing other artists, too. We'll hear a couple of tracks from his "Comic Strip," LP (well, CD, really), which came out in 1966 through 1969. And in a nod to him, I'll follow that with a couple of covers that are dedicated to Gainsbourg. From the CD "Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited," we'll hear tracks from Portishead and the band Faultline.
To keep the 60s Pop vibe going, we'll then hear a couple of songs off a great compilation CD called "Pop a Paris: Rock n' Roll and Mini Skirts." Speaking of covers, we'll hear the song "Mal," which is actually the song "Hush," (you'll recognize the tune once you hear it), sung by the "Elvis of France," Johnny Hallyday. Also off that CD, we'll hear another cover--this time, it's of Nancy Sinatra's famous song "These Boots are Made for Walking." This version is done by the singer Eileen, who also adds her own twist to it.
We'll fast forward from the swinging 60s and move into the late 90s to hear a band who actually likes to travel back in time, musically speaking that is. The band Paris Combo could fit perfectly in a Paris caberet. At the time of their first release, back in 1997, many French bands were steeped into the modern chanson tradition, that of a lone man and his guitar ala Django Reinhardt. Instead, Paris Combo embraced the smoldering influences of Gypsy music, sweet Spanish and Italian melodies, cool American Jazz, while at the same time, sounding fresh and new.
From there, it's going to be a back-and-forth between the 60s and today in terms of French music. Why? Well, I seem to have an affinity with the 60s era--especially with the French Girl singers. Some highlights from this decade will include tracks from Anna Karina, and France Gall, and the lovely screen siren who also sang, Brigitte Bardot. And from later decades, we'll hear from former First Lady, Carla Bruni, the band Lo * Jo, Pascal Parisot, and from the Portland, Ore band Pink Martini (actually doing one of my favorite "non-French" songs, "Hey Eugene").
All in all, this first hour, though crammed with some great songs, won't seem stuffed with too much music. As they do in France, it'll be like dining all day but with never being full.
For hour two, the selections will be all over the map-which is just way I also like it. It'll be like a world music buffett (to keep that food metaphor going).
From the desert sands of Mali, we'll start off with some blues music by the band Entran Finatawa, followed by some soulful harmonies by legendary, long-running band Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and we'll end that set with some Juju music from another legend, King Sunny Ade (who is actually desended from kings in homeland of Nigeria). Ade is known for being a master guitar player (it's been reported that his swimming pool is actually in the shape of a guitar) and his signature style is made up of poly-rhythms, crisp guitars and Afro-beats.
We'll jump continents next and head to Jamaica to hear some early work from Ziggy Marley, when he was with his brothers and sisters who made up The Melody Makers. And, we'll also hear a couple of really interesting cover tunes originally done by Bob Dylan. Yep, Bob Dylan done World Music style will feature cuts from Ziggy Marley and Mariachi El Bronx. To close out the show, we'll hear some Latin beats from the master of bending genres, Beck.
So, from France to all parts around the globe, this week's World Music Show should appeal to all. If it doesn't, well, then only I can be held responsible. I will carry this burden throughout the week, until I replace it with yet another World Music Show. The World Music Show can be heard on Saturday nights at 10pm on 88.9FM WCVE or online via this website. You can follow show updates and commentaries on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic.