Thursday 30 April 2009

April, Poetry Month - Kidnap Poem by Nikki Giovanni

kidnap poem

ever been kidnapped by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my sea
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kidnap you

Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant in 'Push'

Next Post: Song for a Spring Sunday Morning, to be published on Sunday 3rd May, 10:00am (GMT)

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Killer Opening Songs (The Congos - Fisherman)

Bob Marley did not invent reggae. Killer Opening Songs thought it necessary to kick off his regular column by making that specific point. He understands that this revelation could come as a surprise to those for whom the 'Legend' album by the late Jamaican musician has become one of the obligatory soundtracks at dinner parties (the other ones being 'Dummy' by Portishead and 'Buena Vista Social Club'). K.O.S. feels he ought to give credit where credit is due and other reggae stars deserve as much as or even more recognition than the creator of 'No Woman, No Cry'.

Which is why K.O.S. is bringing The Congos to the lounge this week.
This trio formed in the 70s under the tutelage of the legendary reggae and dub star Lee 'Scratch' Perry. In fact it was Perry himself who oversaw the production of 'Heart of the Congos', the Congos' classic 1977 album wherefrom the Killer Opening Song is taken tonight.

One of the distinctive elements The Congos had from the very beginning was Cedric Myton's falsetto, a mellow pitch that complemented the band's strong musical offering. And as you will be able to see for yourselves tonight, despite being in his sixties the performer has kept his mettle.

Nobody knows for sure where the word reggae came from. It is thought (according to wikipedia) that it first appeared on a record by The Maytals in their 1968 hit, 'Do the Reggay', but it is not certain. What is certain, though, is that by the end of the 1960s reggae had been incorporated into Jamaica's musical canon alongside ska and rocksteady. In fact many people are divided as to whether the precursor of reggae was Theophilius Beckford's 'Easy Snapping' back in 1959. Others, on the other hand, believe that this slow, harmonic number gave birth to ska.

What should not be doutbted, though, is the influence that reggae has had over popular music since its creation. This is a genre that has touched upon issues like politics, religion, love, poverty and social injustice. And 'Fisherman' fits into this latter category. The first two stanzas are self-explanatory: 'Row fisherman row/keep on rowing your bouat/lots of hungry belly pickney they a shore, millions of them living in a bumbo hut/in a little hole sea-port town/three kids on the floor/and another one to come make four'.

One of the main characteristics of reggae singers is that they sing in 'patois', a variant of English commonly found in the Caribbean (I believe that the same linguistic phenomenon exists in Francophone countries in the same area). This makes it hard not only for other English speakers to understand but also for those of us for whom English is a second language. However, far from undermining the music, 'patois' enhances it with its singsong sound and its grammatical alterations.

Shortly after 'Heart of the Congos ' came out a dispute between The Congos and Perry put paid to any future collaboration. The trio released a few more records but they never achieved the success of their 1977 outing. In the mid 90s The Congos came back together and put out several albums. I hope you enjoy tonight's clip. Rastafari!

Note: This post has been several months in the making. The reason why it had not seen the light until tonight is that the clip you are about to see or have seen, has been removed from youtube many times. At present the PRS (Performing Rights Society) has a funny brawl going on with google (remember that google bought youtube a couple of years ago) and therefore many clips are not available for UK users. Apologies if you can't see the video and I would really appreciate it if you let me know. Many thanks.
Next post: April, Poetry Month, to be published on Thursday 30th April, 11:59pm
Copyright 2009

Thursday 23 April 2009

April, Poetry Month - Sonnet 105: Let not my love be called idolatry by William Shakepeare

'The Embrace' by Egon Schiele

Sonnet 105: Let not my love be called idolatry

Let not my love be called idolatry,

Nor my belovèd as an idol show,

Since all alike my songs and praises be

To one, of one, still such, and ever so.

Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind,

Still constant in a wondrous excellence;

Therefore my verse to constancy confined,

One thing expressing, leaves out difference.

"Fair, kind, and true" is all my argument,

"Fair, kind, and true" varying to other words;

And in this change is my invention spent,

Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.

Fair, kind, and true, have often lived alone.

Which three till now never kept seat in one.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Terrorist by John Updike (Review)

In her landmark treatise on modern capitalism and branding, 'No Logo', first published in 2000, the Canadian writer writer Naomi uses Starbucks as an example of the phenomenon known as 'clustering'. This is what she says: 'The bottom line is that clustering, like big-boxing, is a competitive retail strategy that is only an option for a large chain that can afford to take a beating on individual stores in order to reap a larger, long-term branding goal. It also explains why critics usually claim that companies like Starbucks are preying on small businesses, while the chains themselves deny it, admitting only that they are expanding and creating new markets for their products. Both are true. but the chains' aggressive strategy of market expansion has the added bonus of simultaneously taking out competitors'.

Save business model and outlook, a similar phenomenon has befallen the literary world in the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers, the Madrid and London bombings and the invasion of Iraq. There has been a 'clustering', led mainly by Western intellectuals, journalists, columnists and academics where hundreds of thousands if not millions of column inches have been produced with the rather unfortunate side effect that other equally important voices have been muted. The smoke was still billowing on Ground Zero and already print presses were working overtime to turn out books on the tragedy in New York. 9/11 and 7/7 became overnight the most played numbers in literature's lottery and it pains me to say it but there were many occasions on which I felt let down by the cliché-ridden and platitudinous essays, articles and short stories that were rushed out. This is not to say that all the works that resulted from these sad events were below par. There were brilliant analyses, but when you have Martin Amis' 'adumbrations' about the 'Muslim problem', you know that it's time to say enough is enough.

That's why I approached 'Terrorist', John Updike's novel published in 2006, with trepidation. I was already familiar with the American writer's oeuvre having read his 'Rabbit' books before. I had also read 'The Witches of Eastwick', turned into a film with Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Jack Nicholson in the leading roles. I was acquainted with Updike's close observation of his native land. That was one of the reasons why I decided to try my luck with this novel. The result, alas, was not what I expected.

You know you are reading John Updike when the description of a night of insomnia takes up fourteen pages. But that's how we meet one of the leading characters in the novel. Jack Levy is a career counsellor at a local college (high school in the States) in New Jersey. He is sixty-three, a Jew who does not worship or believes in God anymore and a terrible sleeper. He is married to Beth, who is a an ex-Lutheran, overweight (Updike actually uses the word 'whale' to describe her, well, Jack does at any rate) and works at a library. These two characters are joined in the book by Ahmad, an eighteen-year-old student at the same college where Jack works. Ahmad is the result of the union between an Egyptian father - gone AWOL since his birth- and an Irish-American mother. Teresa Mulloy, Ahmad's mum, is forty years old, an artist who goes by the moniker of Terry and is puzzled at her teenage son's alleged lack of zest for life. On top of this, young Ahmad decided to become Muslim when he was younger and since then has attended weekly classes at the local mosque where a strict teacher guides him through the paths dictated by the Holy Qur'an.

Updike is deft at building up the atmosphere in the novel, although his obsession for describing situations to the minutest details had me yawning like a hungry hippo involuntarily sometimes. It is obvious, however, that he did a lot of research into Islam because of the passages he quotes and the references he uses. He is also quite dextrous at creating situations in which his characters can interact as in the relationship between counsellor and student. Jack is concerned about Ahmad, he sees a different quality in him to the one he sees in other young boys of his same age at college. In a sense, he believes that it is his job to save this poor soul from the abyss into which he will fall on account of his surroundings. The novel takes place in a rundown area full of council estates (projects), unemployement and people with low expectations in life. In the event Jack ends up sleeping with Terry, Ahmad's mother without the latter finding out until the very end. Ahmad has his own agenda, though. Indoctrinated by his own imam, he dreams of becoming a martyr to what both he and his master think it is the Islamic cause, the dismantling of the 'evil empire', i.e., the USA. Updike does produce wonders in guiding us through the character and personality of Ahmad. Through his eyes we see how religion (and by that I mean mainly the three Abrahamic faiths) can be utilised to brainwash and ultimately turn a human being into a lethal weapon.

What I believe fails terribly in the novel is John Updike's overall intention or lack of it thereof. I am still trying to figure out what that intention is/was. There's a lot of repetition and the relationship between Terry and Jack does not come across as a credible liaison, at least to me. Jack is twenty-three years Terry's senior, he has a beer-belly, he is not very attractive physically (according to the author's obsession for describing everything) and to cap it all he has not even got a great sense of humour. So, what led Teresa Mulloy into the hands of this non-practicing Jew? There's no rational explanation for it, which made think that here again we see the old adage of older man+younger woman (Woody Allen, anyone?), a fantasy that has played on many an older folk's mind since the world's been turning. The other reason why I think Updike tried to pair up Jack and Terry was in order to have a type of symbolism, the essence of which was lost on me, too. Secular Jew sleeps with non-practicing Catholic Irish-American woman behind his ex-Lutheran wife, whilst the Muslim son of the Irish woman is left out of the loop. Hello, Updike, are you there? No, you aren't anymore, sadly, you died earlier this year.

The novel's middle section finds Ahmad preparing himself for jihad. He begins to work as a lorry driver in a nearby furniture company and strikes up a good friendship with the owner's son. One day after he delivers a heavy sofa to a house where some Arab men live, in the outskirts of New Jersey, he notices something strange. Mindful that someone might be spying on him, he drives his truck around the corner and retraces his own steps to the house he has just left. He sees how the sofa he has just dropped off at this house is full of dollar notes inside. The next day he puts his doubts forward to his colleague Charlie whilst they are driving and the latter asks him in return whether he would be willing to die for Islam. Ahmad realises that there's a plan being concocted and he wants to be part of it. As soon as the plotters' top hierarchy confirms Ahmad's involvement in their diabolical machinations, he knows that there will be only one outcome for him: martyrdom.

The last part made me wonder whether Updike had tired of writing this novel and wanted to end it as soon as possible. In what I can only consider as a mad rush, we have Ahmad being visited by his mentor, Shaikh, Rashid, scarcely twelve hours before being sent on a suicide mission in the tunnel that joins New Jersey and New York. The next morning, on what is supposed to be his last day, several things go wrong and Ahmad has to improvise as he goes along. Then, as if by magic, Jack Levy intercepts the truck he is driving near the interchange of Route 80 and Tilden Avenue. The non-believing Jew manages to climb into the seat next to the would-be Muslim assassin. What follows thereafter would have been slapstick comedy had it not had the undertone of actual events ringing in my ears. I kept asking myself, where are Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson when you really need them as a pair? To say that the last fifteen to twenty pages of this book are corny, over-sentimental and kitsch would be the understatement of the century. Let us just say (spoiler ahead) that Ahmad suddenly has an epiphany from the same holy book that he had used to convince himself that it was OK to maim and murder innocent people and that in this act of conversion or re-conversion to humankind, decides not to detonate the bomb. I could almost imagine the cinematic version of this book with Jack Levy and Ahmad driving back to New Jersey after the latter's change of heart, with a truck full of explosives, cracking jokes as the camera zooms out and up, their voces fade out and the credits roll up. OK, Updike, I hold my hands up, you convinced me, now, where's that tree to hug? And hey, brother/sister, won't you join me in a rendition of John Lennon's 'Imagine' or 'Give Peace a Chance'?

By all means, read this book if you are interested in finding out more about modern US society. Updike excells at that and taking into account that this novel came out in 2006, its ideas are quite prescient. His description of boarded up shops and broken down communities is, to me, one of the gems of this novel. The scene where Joryleen, Ahmad's love interest at Central High (although he strongly denies it), performs oral sex on him in the same furniture shop where Ahmad works, is sad beyond description. The only reason Joryleen acquiesces to carry out this act, which is by the way facilitated by Ahmad's pal and work colleague, Charlie (as in he pays Joryleen), is because her boyfriend has asked her to do some 'favours' for him. Of a sexual nature, of course. The passage where Ahmad, twenty four hours before he sets off to kill, saves a beetle from dying is wonderfully written. But Updike's characters, bar Ahmad and Jack, are one-sided and on occasions, caricaturesque. Beth's sister, Hermione, and her boss at the Pentagon are two grotesque figures that seem to have come out straight from The Wall, Pink Floyd's cinematic version of their best-selling album.

As I mentioned at the begining of this review, 'clustering' more often than not prevents truly innovative and original works from seeing the light. And 'Terrorist' sadly proves my theory.

Copyright 2009

Thursday 16 April 2009

April, Poetry Month - Excusándose de un Silencio... by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Please, scroll down for the English translation.

Excusándose de un Silencio...

Pedirte, señora, quiero

De mi silencio perdón,

Si lo que ha sido atención,

Le hace parecer grosero.

Y no me podrás culpar

Si hasta aquí mi proceder,

Por ocuparse en querer

Se ha olvidado de explicar.

Que en mi amorosa pasión

No fue descuido ni mengua

Quitar el uso a la lengua

Por dárselo al corazón.

Ni de explicarme dejaba,

Que como la pasión mía

Acá en el alma te hablaba

Y en esta idea notable

Dichosamente vivía;

Porque en mi mano tenía

El fingirte favorable.

Con traza tan peregrina

Vivió mi esperanza vana

Pues te puedo hacer humana

Concibiéndote divina.

¡Oh, cuan loco llegué a verme

en tus dichosos amores,

que aun fingidos tus favores

pudieron enloquecerme!

¡Oh, cómo en tu Sol hermoso

mi ardiente afecto encendido,

por cebarse en lo lúcido,

olvidó lo peligroso!

Perdona, si atrevimiento

Fue atreverme a tu ardor puro;

Que no hay Sagrado seguro

De culpas de pensamiento.

De esta manera engañaba

La loca esperanza mía,

Y dentro de mí tenía

Todo el bien que deseaba.

Mas ya tu precepto grave

Rompe mi silencio mudo;

Que él solamente ser pudo

De mi respeto la llave.

Y aunque el amar tu belleza

Es delito sin disculpa,

Castíguense la culpa

Primero que la tibieza.

No quieras, pues, rigurosa,

Que estando ya declarada,

Sea de veras desdichada

Quien fue de burlas dichosa.

Si culpas mi desacato,

Culpa también tu licencia;

Que si es mala mi obediencia,

No fue justo tu mandato.

Y si es culpable mi intento,

Será mi afecto preciso;

Porque es amarte un delito

De que nunca me arrepiento.

Esto en mis afectos halló,

Y más, que explicar no sé;

Mas tú, de lo que callé,

Inferirás lo que callo.

Taken from Los Poetas

My lady I must implore...

My lady, I must implore

forgiveness for keeping still,

if what I meant as tribute

ran contrary to your will.

Please do not reproach me

if the course I have maintained

in the eagerness of my love

left my silence unexplained.

I love you with so much passion,

neither rudeness nor neglect

can explain why I tied my tongue,

yet left my heart unchecked.

The matter to me was simple:

love for you was so strong,

I could see you in my soul

and talk to you all day long.

With this idea in mind,

I lived in utter delight,

pretending my subterfuge

found favor in your sight.

In this strange, ingenious fashion,

I allowed the hope to be mine

that I still might see as human

what I really conceived as divine.

Oh, how mad I became

in my blissful love of you,

for even though feigned, your favor

made all my madness seem true!

How unwisely my ardent love,

which your glorious sun inflamed,

sought to feed upon your brightness,

though the risk of your fire was plain!

Forgive me if, thus emboldened,

I made bold with that sacred fire:

there's no sanctuary secure

when thought's transgressions conspire.

Thus it was I kept indulging

these foolhardy hopes of mine,

enjoying within myself

a happiness sublime.

But now, at your solemn bidding,

this silence I herewith suspend,

for your summons unlocks in me

a respect no time can end.

And, although loving your beauty

is a crime beyond repair,

rather the crime be chastised

than my fervor cease to dare.

With this confession in hand,

I pray, be less stern with me.

Do not condemn to distress

one who fancied bliss so free.

If you blame me for disrespect,

remember, you gave me leave;

thus, if obedience was wrong,

your commanding must be my reprieve.

Let my love be ever doomed

if guilty in its intent,

for loving you is a crime

of which I will never repent.

This much I descry in my feelings—

and more that I cannot explain;

but you, from what I've not said,

may infer what words won't contain.

Translated by Alan S. Trueblood

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Killer Opening Songs (Coldplay - Politik)

Me: C'mon, go ahead, explain yourself. The public's waiting.
Killer Opening Songs: Explain what?
Me: You know, what we just discussed backstage.
K.O.S.: Oh, that! You're bloody awful, you know that, don't you? You really are. No wonder Juan Antonio Pesetas is getting fed up with your behaviour.
Me: Never mind that wannabe dandy, it's your section now, it's your time and space. Me, I'm legging it me, mate. See you at the end of your presentation.
K.O.S.: All right, all right. (to the audience). Erm... well, OK, let me just blurt it all out at once so that there is no misunderstanding and you know where I stand.
Coldplay was never a favourite of mine when they first came out, if I am to be terribly honest. And I know that that is not a very fashionable statement to make when 'Parachutes', their debut album, captured so many people's imagination. But at least to me it was a case of the end of Cool Britannia and the beginning of Bland Britannia. And to make matters worse, they spawned countless copycats: Keane, Snow Patrol and Starsailor, to name but a few. That's why I hardly paid any attention to Coldplay's sophomore effort 'A Rush of Blood to the Head' when it was released in 2002. The first single from the album was yet another lighters-in-the-air-arms-outstretched-eyes-looking-up-to-the-sky stadium ballad, 'In My Place', aimed at manipulating emotions left, right and centre. My strong opinion on Coldplay's music caused a rift between my colleagues and me at the travel agency where I used to work and my attempts to boycott the band's new track every time it came on the radio we had in our office were met with fierce opposition from the start.
One day, though, a free CD came with my Saturday paper, The Guardian. Done in collaboration with Oxfam, it contained tunes by bands that had donated their music for free whilst trying to raise money to help the aforementioned charity. The Killer Opening Song of the compilation, whose name was 'The Big Noise' (although in my view it failed to live up to its moniker), happened to be also the Introductory Track of Coldplay's new album and within this context, I found myself appreciating the band's music better. 'Politik' had all the ingredients that I have always considered fundamental for a K.O.S. It was attractive and musically rich. The message conveyed by the words was not clear, but then again, that is an aspect of Coldplay's work that I have come to accept over the years, sometimes their lyrics just don't make any sense, verses lumped together in the hope that some of their lines will find a consensually rhyming pattern as in: Look at the earth from outer space/Everyone must find a place/Give me time and give me space/Give me real don't give me fake/Give me strength, reserve control/Give me heart and give me soul/Give me time, give us a kiss/Tell me your own politik.
Anyway, if we ignore that minor shortcoming and also overlook the fact that Chris Martin always tries desperately to hit the high notes he definitely knows he will never ever reach, the listener is in for a good time in the company of 'A Rush of Blood to the Head'. Amazingly, this K.O.S. never became a single in its own right, which to me was wrong as 'Politik' is a very strong song, musically speaking and as the clip below shows it was quickly accepted by Coldplay enthusiasts from the word go. OK, that's it. (turning around and looking behind the curtain) Are you still there? May I go now?
Me: Yup. Many thanks, K.O.S. And thanks to you, too, my dear readers and fellow bloggers. Cheerio. Enjoy the clip.

Copyright 2009

Thursday 9 April 2009

April, Poetry Month - 'In Flanders Fields' by John McCrae

This blog is joining other sites and cyber-spaces in celebrating April as Poetry Month. Many thanks and enjoy.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Image taken from the BBC archive

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Living in a Bilingual World (The One About Chess)

Son: Papi, te toca a ti (Papi, it's your turn)
Me: ¿Qué moviste? (What did you move?)
Son: El alfil. (The bishop)
Me: Ah, el alfil. (Ahh, the bishop!)

El alfil. The bishop. El alfil. El alfil. The bishop. El alfil. El. Alfil. EL. ALFIL. 'The teacher pronounces, "The imperfections must lie within ourselves - in our ignorance, and in the records that the first disciples and scribes made of the Prophet's utterances. The very title of our sura, for example, may be a mistranscription of Abraha's royal monarch, Alfilas, which a dropped ending left as al-Fil - the elephant.'

One of the joys of studying languages, more specifically modern European languages, is that one is exposed, not just to the linguistic differences and similarities between them, but also to the historical and cultural factors that brought about that heterogeneity and affinity in the first place. And this is the case with the Spanish word 'alfil'. Whilst reading John Updike's novel 'Terrorist' from which the above citation was taken I was struck by how little I knew about chess, a game/sport from which I have derived much pleasure.

Son: Papi, jaque. (Papi, check)
Me: Ah, sí, jaque. (Oh, yes, check)

In addition, I had never been aware of the marked differences - and similarities, too - that existed in semantics amongst the various languages spoken in Europe (chiefly) when it came to naming the pieces that make up a chess set. And one of these is the bishop. In English, the word takes its meaning after the mitre carried by the Church representative. But French and German are different. In the former the translation is 'fou', same as 'crazy', whereas in the Teutonic lexicon the term is 'Läufer', same as 'runner' and 'carpet'.

Son: Papi, jaque de nuevo. (Papi, check, again)
Me: Sí, ya me di cuenta. "Este niño ya es no es tan niño como cuando le enseñé a jugar ajedrez. Déjame ver como salgo de este lío". (Yes, I already noticed. 'This boy is no longer the same boy I taught chess to. Let's see how I get out of this jam')

The real beauty, though, is provided by the actual word 'chess', ajedrez in Spanish. It is thought that the game was created in the Far East and brought to India where it was baptised 'Chaturanga', meaning 'four forces'. Hence the reason why my chess set has an elephant instead of a bishop; I brought it from Malaysia last year, a present from one of my brothers-in-law who lives in that Asian country. Curiously enough, he had purchased the set in Viet Nam. Back to the word 'chess' and we find that by the time the Moors invaded Spain in the 8th century A.D., a nation in which they stayed for nearly eight hundred years and to whose language they contributed a great deal, the word 'chess' had suffered many changes including the one that apparently gave us the modern spelling of 'chess' in Spanish, 'acedrex' with the 'x' swapping places with the 'c' at some point and the sound becoming like the English 'h'. Hence city names like México and Texas are pronounced in Spanish 'Méjico' and 'Tejas'.

Son: ¡Papi, jaque... mate! (Papi, check... mate!)
Me: ¡Oh, no! (Oh, no!)

And did I ever tell you that the word 'checkmate' can be traced back to the Persian 'sha mat' (dead king)? Well, I guess that's for me and my monarch this time. I blame the bishop, or rather, the elephant.

Copyright 2009

Thursday 2 April 2009

Killer Opening Songs (Omar - There's Nothing Like This)

One of the most interesting and yet enigmatic aspects of the British music industry Killer Opening Songs has encountered since it came over to live in the UK more than ten years ago is why homegrown talent is not given the same space and airtime as its US counterparts. Take British soul music. With artists like Mica Paris and Sade this country should not be in awe of musical imports from across the pond. However as series after series of that Machiavellian, diabolical invention called X Factor shows, contestants are more willing to let rip on a karaoke version of Aretha Franklin's fantastic and timeless tune 'Think' than a song closer to their own territory, for example, Beverley Knight's excellent composition, 'Shoulda Woulda Coulda'.

Fortunately we still have Omar. And K.O.S. is ever so pleased to have the British soul singer on the lounge this week.

Omar was born and raised in Canterbury, Kent where he developed his musical style at an early age on account of having a father who was in a band. He learnt how to play trumpet, piano and drums, making it into the county’s youth orchestra as principle percussionist, followed by two years at music college in Manchester.

Tonight's clip, ‘There’s Nothing Like This’, came out when the musician was only 22 and has since become a summer soul classic (I know, it's still early spring days, but K.O.S. doesn't respect seasons when it comes to music, sometimes he will be playing A Tribe Callled Quest's landmark album 'People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm' in the middle of a winter day. That's the nature of Our Weekly Introductory-Tracks Rendezvous and we must abide by his rules).

Omar also is one of the few artists whose debut album entered the UK charts unaided by promotion or advertising. This serves as further proof of the quality his music has.

'There's Nothing Like This' is one those tunes that will have you tapping your feet or snapping your fingers as you, unconsciously, bob your head up and down or move it side to side. Just be careful when you are slicing those onions, will you? Because this is, indeed, music to do your household chores to. Whereas K.O.S. usually uses Stevie Wonder's 'Songs in the Key of Life' or Ornette Coleman's 'Free Jazz' (yes, the one with the Jackson Pollock cover) as background music when doing the washing up or cleaning the kitchen, Omar's records are just as good. And the lyrics are powerful, too.

Omar has also recorded with other renowned artists like Stevie Wonder and Erykah Badu. In fact the only time K.O.S. has seen the British musician on stage was at a concert in Brixton academy a few years ago with Erykah and K.O.S. was mightily impressed. His voice was strong and versatile and his rapport with the audience was spontaneous and friendly.

So, without any further ado, here's Omar.

Copyright 2009


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