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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Let There Be Love

I deliberately stayed as far away as possible from events marking the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. I find the commercial aspect of this rememberance quite distasteful. The man produced a body of work that will live on for centuries. That in itself is good enough for me, and I imagine it's good enough for many others too.

The temptation to do a special Lennon podcast did creep into my head last week. However, I resisted and overcame the idea early on in favour of another podcast featuring songs that I don't believe anyone would think of playing in the sequence I do this week.

Mind's Eye Dub opens this week's episode with Fire Dub, an unusual blend of reggae rhythms and mediterranean sensibility. David Magro's melodica makes for pleasant listening even for people who may not be die-hard reggae fans. Mind's Eye Dub has appeared as a live band several times over the last two decades, however, David's unflinching love for reggae and everything that goes with it come through very clearly in the studio recordings such as the one you can hear in this week's podcast.

I'm frequently amazed at some of the recordings from Malta I find on the web. Some of these pieces come from a remarkable website from Reciprocal Records. This how I discovered Xtruppaw earlier this year and it is also how I found out about a number called Biljett ta' Suicida (Suicide Note) by something or someone called Anti--. There's very little to be learnt about Anti-- from the Reciprocal Records website or from the wider Internet. I'm quite eager to find out more and possibly hear other recordings. A second track available through the Reciprocal website is attached to a broken link. I hope someone contacts me with more about Anti-- soon.

At the opposite end of this spectrum is Fr Karm Debattista mssp, who has just announced the release of his sixth album Issa Li Sibtek. Following up on themes he first explored in his debut CD album Fittixtek, Fr Karm explores a new musical style to deliver Christian worship through music. I first met Karm in the late 1970s when he was about 16 years old and ready to embark on the life that led him to priesthood within the Missionary Society of St Paul. I was just a schoolboy at St Paul's Missionary College, where we spent many hours playing music together, both religious and secular. I owe a lot of my enthusiasm for music in my teenage years to Karm, so it's fitting that I play the title track from his new album right before I play the first song I ever recorded in a relatively professional studio over twenty one years ago.

In the spring of 1984 I was the singer in a band called Structure. The group had risen out of the ashes of Shaktonyx, another band that played at the Tigne fortress in the early 1980s. I joined Structure in the summer of 1983 and began writing lyrics for a number of song structures they had already put together in the weeks and months before they recruited me. Some of these chord progressions came from Polish guitarist Mike Bukowski, whose father had come to Malta with the rest of the family a few years earlier. Mike was a very striking looking fellow with fair skin and blond hair, who earned a living teaching guitar at Lucia's Music Shop in Valletta's Republic Street. He was a very intense person but he and I clicked quite well and we became such good friends that he even invited me to read the first lesson during his wedding at the underground chapel in Mensija.

Structure of My Mind was one of two or three songs we wrote together. It was supposed to be Structure's first 45 rpm single, produced by Paul Abela, with Georgina and Doreen Galea on backing vocals. We made the recording at Smash Studios in Fgura through the co-ordination of band manager Vince Pisani, who managed to keep the band together for a few weeks after the recording was finished...but not long enough to have the record pressed. Mike and his new wife left for England and I fell-out with all the other members of the band, except for bassist Mike Harrison who joined me and Vince in creating Artwork, the band with which we achieved much more than I'd ever hoped for with Structure, even though they continued without us for a couple more years after 1984.

There's much more I remember about Structure, as well as the bands I played/sang in before and after. I may write some more about all that in my blog in the coming months, when I play another track on which I sing and/or play. Then again perhaps I'll just save it for my autobiography because I honestly don't want the podcast to turn into a vehicle for my music projects from all those year ago.

I'm off to New York next week. Podcast number 5 in this series will be published from there, and I'm planning to have a New York theme run through it. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I enjoyed putting it together...if not, just let me know and I'll gently shower you with more cliches.

The RSS feed for the podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes.

Blogger Guze' Stagno said...

Ton - tiftakar xi kuncert li kontu ghamiltu mal-Vandals b'rizq il-PDM tas-Sliema?

Heh heh heh heh... 

10:29 AM, December 11, 2005
Blogger Toni Sant said...

Dak il-kuncert kien organizzat minn Alfie Fabri, li kien anke hareg bhala kandidat mal-PDM fl-elezzjoni generali. Alfie kellu ritratt tassew impressjonanti minn dak il-kuncert: close-up tan-nuccali tax-xemx tieghi bi hgieg mera u fih hemm rifless il-Preluna, ghax il-palk kien armat propju quddiem il-Fortizza. Incidentalment, il-grupp tieghi kien l-Artwork f'dak il-kuncert.

Dan kif taf bih int dal-kuncert? Jaqaw qallek xi haga l-Bahri? 

11:10 AM, December 11, 2005
Blogger Guze' Stagno said...

Ija - rrakkontali l-aneddotu l-Bahri, l-bierah, jien u nintervistah.

Sahansitra accetta li jhallini nirrekordjah idoqq Xiz-Zobb Trid unplugged ghall-arkivju personali tiehgi...

Red Ronnie Malti se nsir. 

12:39 PM, December 11, 2005
Blogger Coemgen said...

Ton, int iehor minn ta MSSP? Sorpriza eh! B'kollox naf li hawn int u jien, Immanuel u iehor fil-blogosfera.

Bloggata ohra bis-sens. Ghogbitni l-idea li dahhalt diska ta Dun Karm. Bniedem bis-sens dak.

Ara daqsxejn din il-bloggata! 

7:49 AM, December 13, 2005
Blogger Hsejjes said...

Do I dedect an element of nostalgia here Ton?!! 

10:26 AM, December 14, 2005
Blogger Hsejjes said...

detect actually.... 

10:27 AM, December 14, 2005
Blogger Mark Vella said...


kemm biex ninfurmaw lil min ma jafx, għax tagħrif siewi, huwa li s-silta ta' Anti hija bbazata fuq sampil mir-rikordings tal-poeziji ta' Oliver Friggieri moqrija minn Philip Farrugia Randon. 

12:06 PM, December 14, 2005
Blogger Toni Sant said...

Coemgen, the MSSP/SPMC has produced more bloggers than you think. Did you know that Robert Micallef, who created Wired Temples, is also an old boy?

Hsejjes, nostalgia and I are not great friends. I've written about this in my blog a number of times. Whenever I bring up the past, it's more for the purpose of creating chronicles rather than nostalgia. My belief is that there's no point in displacing too much energy towards the good old days when we need to pay so much attention to the bad new days. Incidentally, this way of thinking was championed by the likes of Brecht and John Peel. Search my blog if you want to read more. I know you're the nostalgic sort, so please don't take this too personally. ;-)

Mark, grazzi tat-tagħrif tassew siewi. 

2:26 PM, December 14, 2005
Blogger Coemgen said...

Oh, anotherone added to the list then! The large MSSP family! 

9:41 PM, December 14, 2005
Anonymous said...

Ton, ... 1984!!!! mssp X'int issemmi. James Portelli writing from Dubai where I now reside with my family. Kemm daqqejna l-gitarra flimkien. Kultant ndoqq xi House of the Rising Sun, jew Let it Be, jew Imagine u niftakar f'dak iz-zmien. 

6:05 PM, February 11, 2006

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