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Known as the Bard of Hackney, Frank Bangay has been performing poetry and song for over 40 years on the London poetry scene. He writes about his two passions: music and gardening for various publications including The Big Untidy.
A tribute to Junior Byles, a roots reggae pioneer
11 February 2016
Earlier this century I bought a copy of MOJO magazine. It had a free reggae compilation with it. One of the tracks on the CD was ‘A Place Called Africa’ by Junior Byles. The song is a heartfelt cry on the Rastafarian theme of repatriation. Listening to it reminded me how good Junior Byles is. This made me check out some of the man’s other work. We will return to his music shortly. First, I will tell you a bit about Junior Byles. His full name is Kerrie Byles Jr. He was born in...
The Astronauts: Urban Planning rails against gentrification
15 August 2014
The Astronauts’ latest album traces the history of the band from 1979 to 2013. Urban Planning is a beautiful yet gritty retrospective that showcases the skilled songwriting of Mark Wilkins. The Astronauts are based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Thanks to the dedication of singer-songwriter Mark Wilkins, (better known as Mark Astronaut), the band are still active, and will no doubt continue to be so. I first saw The Astronauts play at a Mad Pride gig in the mid-1990s....
Kevin Coyne's Case History album includes several songs about the mental health system
18 October 2013
Kevin Coyne’s first solo album, Case History, was recorded in 1972, shortly after Nobody Dies In Dreamland. Last year, it was re-released by Turpentine Records. Shortly after its release its label, John Peel’s Dandelion, folded and Case History became very hard to find. I only heard the record in the early 1980s, when it was issued as a box set with the two Siren albums. The label that issued the records in the early 1980s was called Butt records whose logo was an ashtray...
Frank Bangay writes a tribute to Blind Willie Johnson: The Soul Of A Man
22 July 2013
My first introduction to the music of Blind Willie Johnson came in 2002. The guitar teacher at CORE Arts in Hackney, had encouraged me to have a go at learning to play the slide guitar. As a result I got a slide guitar compilation out of the library. There was some great stuff on the record. About half way through following straight after a track by the mighty Son House, was You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond, by Blind Willie Johnson. His gruff voice, accompanied by a...