Kermit the Frog, Once in a Lifetime

This cover of "Once in a Lifetime" actually strays the least from the original of any I've found. Also, it's abbreviated, not the full song. But combining the original's punk/African fusion with whatever it is that the Muppets do is at the very least amusing.

Link to Kermit the Frog, Once in a Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Zoe Devlin Love, Once in a Lifetime

Following up from yesterday's post of Angélique Kidjo's cover of Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime", another cover that reimagines the rather bloodless punk/African hybrid original, this time as deep roots reggae/dub. Gordon Wedderburn's translation of parts of the lyrics into Jamaican patois is a stroke of genius that really puts this one over the top, making it a paranoid masterpiece.

Link to Zoe Devlin Love, Once in a Lifetime

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Angélique Kidjo, Once in a Lifetime

Angélique Kidjo is simulatenously from Benin, from nowhere, and from everywhere. She had the beginnings of a career in her home country, but left for Paris because of the politics of the day. Her music is rooted in Benin, but incorporates influences from all over the place. Which may have something to do with her decision to cover the album Remain in Light by Talking Heads, bringing their "African" album back to Africa. There is an amusing video for "Once in a Lifetime", but I'm instead going with this amateur video of a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York where David Byrne joined her and her band onstage for an unplanned, unrehearsed, and kind of vocally sloppy version of the song, because it really highlights the combination of David Byrne's punk-inspired diversion into cod-African music with Angélique Kidjo's cosmopolitan take on pan-African music, meeting at a place somewhere in the Atlantic, equidistant from New York, Paris, and Cotonou.

Link to Angélique Kidjo, Once in a Lifetime

Posted on Monday, May 13, 2024

Yulduz Usmonova, Tak Boom

25 years ago or so, during the great World Music scare. there was an attempt to make Uzbek pop songbird Yulduz Usmonova the Next Big Thing. She got a western release, she got western producers, she got western music. Well, kind of. She still sings Uzbek pop, but this single mixes in surf guitar, Jamaican toasting, South African choral music, a bit of jazz, the kitchen sink. Sounds like it might be a mess, but it actually works pretty well. I mean, I can still sing it 25 years on. It wasn't quite the hit they hoped for, and Yulduz went back to being the big fish in the Uzbek small pond. And it's hard to find this version of this song among all the similarly-titled other stuff she did ("Tak Bum", "Bum Tak", etc.)

Link to Yulduz Usmonova, Tak Boom

Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Devil's Anvil, Shisheler

My wife Laura is a belly dancer (not professionally, just for fun). Last year, she was preparing for a hafla, where belly dancers get together to perform for each other, and the theme of it was "rock music", so she was looking for rock music she could belly dance to. She found this band from the 1960s, The Devil's Anvil, that played traditional Arabic, Turkish, and Greek music with rock rhythms and instruments. There were four members. The lead singer was Palestinian, and his main foil was an Israeli Jew. The band released one album in 1967, "Hard Rock from the Middle East". Unfortunately the album came out right as the Six Day War was happening in Israel, and the album sank like a rock. They never released another record. "Shisheler" is a traditional Turkish song given a rock treatment.

Link to The Devil's Anvil, Shisheler

Posted on Saturday, May 4, 2024