31st January 2015: CBC Band – Tinh Yêu Tuyệt Vời

Language – Vietnamese

Translation – The Greatest Love

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SO, WHY THE INTEREST IN FOREIGN MUSIC?

Music makes my life better.  There is no doubting that.  Having a song that I can listen to whatever mood I am in is an unbeatable feeling. Listening to music, either to cheer myself up, or to wallow in a grumpy mood, or to get ready for a party, or just to have on as background noise, is just wonderful.

So, what is it about foreign language music?  I have always had an interest in languages since studying them at school.  I like travelling.  And something interesting happened when I saw my first cardboard box of records in a market abroad.  If I am honest, I always found trawling through record shops in Britain slightly…well, boring.  I either never had enough money to afford the records I wanted, or I didn’t know what I wanted and was too intimidated by record shop assistants to ask.  When I was with someone who could spend literally hours looking through record store racks, I found I could investigate the neatly laid out categorised genres for a certain amount of time but, honestly, I was bored and would usually have to skip off somewhere else until they were finished.  Actually, this may be where my slight obsession with shoes came from, but I digress… But, being abroad, the sun on my face and a warm breeze blowing in off the sea, somehow being faced with a box of 7″ singles changed my outlook.  When I started doing this, I had no idea what I was looking for, or what the titles meant, or who the artists were.  European singles from the 60s and 70s tend to have picture covers, so maybe that was what interested me. I became transformed!  I could look through a whole box of singles, no problem!  I would choose something to buy based on nothing more than the look of the person or people on the front cover!  The fact that you could often get these singles very cheaply helped, so taking a risk on an artist you had never heard of was not such a huge deal.  I had found my record-buying mojo!  Record shopping became part of my holiday plan.  I would research shops and flea markets before I left home, printing out addresses and train timetables, checking opening hours so as to avoid a wasted trip to a back street Aladdin’s cave of vinyl.

Then, getting home, unpacking, and having a record-listening session became the new end of my holidays fun task.  Sometimes, a super golden nugget of a record was found.  Often, slightly derivative songs were the norm.  Occasionally, a total oddity just blew me away.  It was always enjoyable though, exploring the slightly scratchy vinyl, trying to work out what they were singing about.

The internet has transformed this experience, and the wonderful people and record labels who share this hobby and make compilations or create informative websites have helped no end.  I have to admit, I have found there can be a selfishness with certain people who collect records. That ‘Oh, you haven’t got that record?’ attitude. I think it’s better to share music I care about. After all, what is the point of owning a load of vinyl that no one else ever hears?  Back in the day I enjoyed making compilation tapes.  Now, I have a blog.  The modern way of sharing.

Once, in a women’s magazine, I read one of those ‘useful’ tips in a feature on holidays. You know the kind of thing – how to organise a capsule wardrobe and pack it in your handbag and look like a supermodel when you get off the plane.  Anyway, the advice was to buy a particular perfume to take on holiday with you.  Different holiday, new perfume.  That way, when you were back at home, and it got cold and wintry, you could spray that perfume and it would immediately take you back to your holiday in sunnier climes.  Well, I just listen to the records I have accumulated.  Does the trick every time…

The Leading Horse is White – RIP Demis Roussos

We heard the news today that the far-left party Syriza gained the most votes in the Greek election, and their leader Alexis Tsipras is now the new president of the country. An amazing result that admittedly leaves challenging times ahead, but a sign that left-thinking people are sceptical about the standard Capitalist model and are making a stand.  This is happening across Europe, and I, for one, am glad about that.

Greece was in the news today for another reason.  Demis Roussos has passed away, aged 68. The happiness I felt earlier in the day at the election result was tempered, and I started thinking about what it was about Demis Roussos that I liked so much.

I am not going to write a potted history of his musical career.  That’s why we have pages like Wikipedia. I wanted to write something more personal. This sad news made me think about when I was a teenager and we moved house.  Me, my brother and my parents were up in the loft, checking through boxes of records, and (rather unfairly) laughing at my mum for having a Demis Roussos album. The one with Forever and Ever on it.  It didn’t seem like a cool object to us kids. My mum turned to me and my brother and said, “You two bought that for me!”.  I remember, years later, being surprised that the man I used to watch on Top Of The Pops, wearing brightly coloured kaftans, the man who was cruelly ridiculed by so-called comedians of the day, had been in the brilliant Aphrodite’s Child along with Vangelis.  I was blown away the first time I heard them.  The chunky keyboard sounds, the fabulous vocal harmonies, the adventurous changes in tempo, the use of traditional Greek instruments, these things were all combined into the most fantastic musical package.  I remember buying an Aphrodite’s Child compilation album on vinyl somewhere in Spain, and being really happy. Later on I heard some more actual albums, like ‘666’, and my love for this band just grew.  Demis Roussos seemed larger than life, full of joy and enthusiasm, happy to share his beautiful voice with the world.

When I decided to be DJ Esperanto, I made a rule for myself that (apart from instrumentals) I was only going to use songs that had foreign language vocals if I DJed or created any kind of list of songs to share with others.  Today I am breaking my own personal, self-imposed edict as, although they sang in English, Aphrodite’s Child were quintessentially Greek and I that is one of the many reasons why I love them so much.  I have put a few links to tracks I like.  RIP Demis x

#DemisRoussos  @demisofficial