Perceptive Travel World Music Reviews
January/February 2006 - By Peter Moore

In this issue: Lagos Chop Up, Suburban Kids with Biblical Names, plus the latest from Cheikh Lo and Pete Murray

Lagos Chop Up
Various Artists

We say: The sound of an African hangover

This CD reminds me of the bars I spent far too much time in when I last travelled through Africa. They were the kind of places where barmaids opened bottles with their teeth, hookers bought you drinks and the music was played loudly through speakers that someone had accidentally put their foot through. I guess that's why I like it so much.

Basically it's a collection of Nigerian music from the sixties and seventies, a time when no musical form was out of bounds and musicians sampled a bit of everything to lay down the foundations of what would later become highlife, afro-funk, juju and fuji. All the usual suspects are onboard - Sir Shina Peters and Segun Adewale trading together as Sir Shina Adewale, Kollington Ayinla and Dr Victor Olaiya - but captured on crappy four track cassette decks in a back room in Lagos not on a mixing desk in Paris, London or New York. Crack open a Primus and enjoy!

Lamp Fall
Cheikh Lô
We Say: One man's musical slideshow

Old Cheikh certainly clocked up the frequent flier miles recording this CD. After laying the foundations of the album in Dakar, the Senegalese legend flew to London to add more percussion with James Brown's former musical director, Pee Wee Ellis. Cameroonian bass player Etienne M'bappe popped in and added his groove too, before Lô headed off to Bahia in Brazil to have producer Ale Siqueira cast his eye over it.

It's Siqueira's finger prints that are the most evident. Lyrically the album treads the same path as Lô's previous albums – the sanctity of childhood, the madness of war, and praise for Cheikh Ibra Fall, the founder of the Baye Fall Islamic sect that he is a devoted follower of. But musically, the normal patchwork of rhythm and sounds of a Cheikh Lô album are distinctly Latin. Listening to tracks like 'Senegal Bresil'- the recorded combination of tama drum and Brazilian percussion apparently – and you'd swear you were in the middle of the Rio Carnival.

Suburban Kids with Biblical Names
Suburban Kids with Biblical Names
We Say: Swedish Nerds say 'cha-cha-cha'

Like Cheikh Lô, Sweden is going through a bit of a Latin phase at the moment too. Brazil is the number one holiday destination in the country, everyone in Stockholm is taking Samba lessons and every new band wishes they were a marimba band from Sao Paolo. Not that you'd come across a marimba band in Sao Paolo called like Suburban Kids with Biblical Names. And strictly speaking SKWBN aren't a marimba band. They're just a pair of dorky Swedes who record their songs in the hallway of their longsuffering parents, marinating their songs about life and love in Scandinavia with Latin and African rhythms.

Lyrically, though, they betray a distinctly Nordic sense of humour that is more Morrissey than marimba, littering their songs with bon mots like 'Noodles are the smell of denial, that you'll never grow old.' And to think I always thought they were the universal smell of hostel kitchens.

See the Sun
Pete Murray
We Say: Jack Johnson with issues

If you happened to be travelling Australia in 2002 chances are Pete Murray's first album Feeler provided the soundtrack of your trip. The album sold over 450,000 copies in Australia alone, a good deal of them returning to other parts of the world in the bags of visiting backpackers.

2005 and he's back with a new album. The press release says it's his 'sunny' album, and it is definitely more upbeat than Feeler. But it's a credit to Murray's songwriting ability that the tunes still pack an emotional punch. He's one of the few performers who can bring a tear to an outback roughrider's eye. Basically, if you like Jack Johnson you'll like Pete Murray. Just be warned that it's not quite as sunny in Pete's world and every action has consequences. Even making a banana pancake, one suspects.

All reviews written by Peter Moore. See Moore's story, "Secret Men's Monkey Business," in this month's issue.