I am a big fan of the kind of gypsy punk which shows its face in ‘world music’ circles from time to time. Not sure what I mean? I’m talking a kind of spectrum of music which includes Manu Chao, Les Negresses Vertes, Gogol Bordello, and others.
I find that there is a certain amount of passion, creativity, wildness in this music which goes beyond what we tend to hear in much of our music – especially in the God botherin’ circles in which I sometimes move.
My love for this kind of music takes in my love for punk, especially the Clash, who remain my all time favourite group, and who dabbled in different styles long before it was cool. It is notable that artists like Manu Chao and Rashid Taha cite the Clash as a big influence, formative even.
Strummer of course guested with the Pogues for quite a while, and his latter work, which included Tymon Dogg on fiddle, certainly stepped over genre boundaries with a large stride.
I also love some of the old country artists, Johnny Cash (who everyone loves now apparently), Willie Nelson, and others – who sing/sang songs of pain and love with the gusto of the outlaw, and the loneliness of the travelling cowboy.
And in terms of spiritual music, almost the only music which ever seemed to hold a huge amount of integrity to me was music which was rooted in either reggae or negro spirituals. I never really dug the whole thing of spiritual music dressed up as commercial pop – what’s that all about? I thought you couldnt serve God and mammon?
That’s not to say that there isnt any good stuff around, I like the chill out stuff that’s knocking around, which ties in to the meditative thang – it’s more the sing-a-longa stuff I have trouble with. But I always have, so I’m a bit biased.
Anyway – to get on to the subject in hand… I came across the band called The Psalters yesterday, and man I love them.
Imagine a combination of gypsy punk, negro spirituals, crazy world music, religious chants… oh I tell you what dont bother, listen to this as an example…
and then listen to this…
now you’re getting the picture!
So the story gets better – these guys are nomadic, they live a truly radical life, that seems worthy of their music, and if you want a CD, you write to them, they send you one, and then you give them a donation if you like it, or want to support them! Excellent!
They say about themselves:
“we are the cry of the exodus.
there is no home for us here.
we are a nomadic tribe of psalters,
walking in the footsteps of ancients past
to the far corners of the present,
united as one voice against the
oppression within and without.
one more echo in the eternal song of our
First Love, our Hope, our Pillar of Fire.”
This is the cry of the exile, the leper, the howl of hurt and the shout of war… and it rings true.