The Mighty Sparrow - Sparrow Dead

A song to make even those most sour smile. The Mighty Sparrow is a calypso singer from Trinidad, where he is something of a national treasure. This track disguises lyrics in which Sparrow investigates his own death with sunburst brass and a ridiculously tight percussion section. This recording of the song was produced by Van Dyke Parks, American composer and connoisseur of the musics of Trinidad and Tobago.

Label: Warner Brothers
Year: 1974
Genre: Calypso

Guest Post: Kiran Leonard presents Once Was Enough Mix

Introducing a guest mix from Kiran Leonard: songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, beat-maker and college student (he's 18). This is a relentlessly raucous collection of tracks spliced with audio samples, beginning in grand fashion and ending on a relatively hushed note, via the wacky world of Nervous Norvus, the noise of Half Japanese and Harry Pussy, and the avant-garde poetry of The Shadow Ring.

Kiran Leonard presents...
Once Was Enough Mix:

Alice Coltrane - Eternal Spiritual
Nmperign/Jason Lescalleet - Metal Gloves
Nervous Norvus - Stoneage Woo
Half Japanese - No More Beatle Mania
The Van Pelt - Yamato (Where People Really Die)
Susana Baca - Negra Presuntuosa
Cassetteboy - CV Mosq And More Except For CV Mosq
The Shadow Ring - I Am A Lighthouse
Primitive Calculators - Glitter Kids
Dreamers Cloth - The Coconut Pearl 4
Harry Pussy - Nazi USA
Mark Mcguire - Staying Home From School
Pedestrian Deposit - You Can't Help Me
Sufjan Stevens - The Mistress Witch From McClure (Or The Mind That Knows Itself)

Mayumi Kojima - Me And My Monkey On The Moon

Again, language barriers prevent me finding out more about an artist! This time it's Mayumi Kojima (or あの娘の彼), a Shibuya-kei musician from Japan. This track, an eccentric jazz scat, is one of just a few on the album (a collection of singles and rarities) with an English title. Despite the clear jazz, psychedelia and bossa nova influences, this is a song that exists completely in a world of its own.

Label: Pony Canyon
Year: 2000
Genre: Jazz, Pop, Shibuya-kei

Vyatcheslav Mescherin's Orchestra - Bear Cub

At the weekend I checked out a really interesting documentary about Russian lounge music called Tim Key's Easy USSR. It featured some fascinating early electronica including this track by Vyatcheslav Mescherin's Orchestra, called 'Bear Cub'. This wacky piece of music, a space-age (Yuri Gagarin was a fan) stew of synthesizers, organ and vibraphone, was unsurprisingly used in elevators and waiting rooms.

Label: Legkie 
Year: ?
Genre: Lounge, Electronica, Easy-Listening, Space Age Pop

Guest Post: Jerkcurb presents Palm Tree Tuxedo: Indoor Fountain Feelings Mix

Jerkcurb is Jacob Read; songwriter, illustrator and obsessive music fan. I'll let him explain the rest...

Jerkcurb presents...
Palm Tree Tuxedo: Indoor Fountain Feelings Mix:

The best I could sum it up was 'palm tree tuxedo'. Loosely, its some kind of niche bridge between easily listening muzak and outsider music, early/contemporary electronic, loungey mall vibe stuff. I did the illustration for it based on an old 60s mall postcard set I found, on the back it said "with controlled temperature, its always springtime here". First of all, its amazing they even made postcards for shopping malls, and secondly the idea of the 'eternity of spring' I found very interesting, its like soo utopic that its almost dystopic. I guess thats kind of the way the mix turns out, amidst all the optimistic chilled out stuff there's some really weird shit in there, lots of desperation. I hope you enjoy!

Jerry Paper - Is This It?
The Reels - This Guy's in love
Eco Virtual - Smog
Jerry Paper - Fuzzy Logic
Arthur Lyman - Aloha Oe
Mark Isham - Something Nice for my Dog
Snoretex - Synthesist
John Maus - Don't Be a Body / That Night
Tonstartssbandht - Hymn Eola
Zonotope - Sorry I was a Jerk
Shuggie Otis - Pling!
Ruth White - Evening Harmony
Neil Innes - Them

Illustration by Jacob Read.

Three-Weeks-Old Lovesick Puppy - Empty Park

Despite having an easy-to-find webpage, a combination of language barriers and lack of media attention means that Japanese quintet Three-Weeks-Old Lovesick Puppy are one hard nut to crack. This track, one of a few songs actually available online, comes across as a gleeful J-Pop tribute to 90s Britain, where bands like Stereolab, The Pastels and The High Llamas combined influences as diverse as jazz, sunshine pop, soul and art rock. The song is driven by a mesmerising bass line, on top of which organ, woodwind and typically chirpy Japanese vocal parts lay.

Label: ?
Year: 2007
Genre: J-Pop, Indie Pop, Jazz

Niwat Charoenmit - Prom Likit

Performed by Niwat Charoenmit (or นิวัติ เจริญมิตร) this stunning piece of music is used in the wedding scene of Thai western film Tears Of The Black Tiger. The vocals are reserved and yet emotive and are accompanied by the most serene of string parts, making this piece equally hopeful and sorrowful. My knowledge of Thai music fails me here and I long to know more about the instruments used, but for the time being I can simply appreciate the piece for what it is - a gorgeous wedding song.

Label: Bec-Tero Entertainment
Year: 2000
Genre: Jazz, T-Pop, Soundtrack

Pastor T.L. Barrett & the Youth For Christ Choir - Nobody Knows

Pastor T.L. Barrett was a Chicago pastor who made powerful celebratory music in the late 60s and early 70s. Assisted by his 'Youth For Christ Choir', he released a record of striking religious music and this cut, 'Nobody Knows', is a looping and suspenseful piece that treads upon the darkest side of glory.

Label: Mt. Zion/Light In The Attic (reissue)
Year: 1971/2010 (reissue)
Genre: Soul, Gospel, Religious

Kennedy Mengesha & Yeshimebet Dubale - Liyish

On my first ever Dig That Treasure radio show, I played a track by Ethiopian oldies singer Yeshimebet Dubale. Something about her distinctive vocals and choice of instrumentation really drew me to her and luckily for me, I stumbled upon her again when browsing fellow Ethiopian Kennedy Mengesha's catalogue. In this song, Mengesha's vocals perfectly compliment Dubale's, over an instrumental that is not unlike that of the latter's 'I Remember A Man'. This is a fantastic slice of Ethiopian pop, a mesmerising duet between two of the most idiosyncratic voices I've ever come across.

Label: n/a
Year: ?
Genre: Ethiopian Pop, Jazz

Guest Post: Adrian Knight presents Intimate Friends Mix

Responsible for some of my favourite music this year, Adrian Knight is a shapeshifting composer whose oeuvre includes music for stage, minimal jazz and this year's Steely-Dan-meets-Ariel-Pink Cocktail Culture. For this guest post, Adrian has compiled a selection of his favourite Soul and R&B tracks from 1957-1990, including early Prince and 80s-era John Cale alongside Motown classics like Tina Turner and Eddie Kendricks.

Adrian Knight presents...
Intimate Friends Mix:

Johnny Dupont - Ebb And Tide
Eddie Kendricks - Intimate friends
Barbara Lewis - Hello Stranger
Don Cherry - I Look For A Love
Johnnie And Joe - My Baby's Gone On, On
Don Cherry - Big Bad Wolf
Diana Ross - Let's Go Up
Tina Turner - Typical Male
John Cale - Villa Albani
Gloria Jones - Bring On the Love (Why Can't We Be Friends Again?)
Prince - In Love
Four Tops - Still Water

Mor Thiam - Ayo Ayo Nene

This horn-led piece is from Senegal, an area of Africa I'm now intrigued to find more about. Mor Thiam (father of popstar Akon) is a multi-instrumentalist of Dogon ethnicity, whose use of instruments such as the tamar and djembe is clear in the track's heavily-percussive elements.

Label: Rite Record Productions
Year: 1973
Genre: Traditional Senegalese, Afrobeat, Jazz