Sonntag, 30. Oktober 2011

VA - STUC Centenary Album - If It Wisnae For The Union (1997)

"Words make you think, music makes you feel, a song can make you feel a thought" ~ Pete Seeger

This nice compilation with Union related songs was created to mark the Centenary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress. It shows the close relationship between trade unionism and traditional music in general, and between Scottish singers and musicians and the STUC in particular.

In every country in the world, where working people come together, they organise trade unions to defend an improve their working conditions. In every country in the world, the working people sing and make music about their victories and defeats, their joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.

Please check out  Brian McNeil's "Sell your labour, not your soul" song.

 
Tracks:
1. Battle of the Somme/Freedom Come All Ye - Dubliners, Luke Kelly
2. Four Stone Walls - Capercaillie
3. Both Sides the Tweed - Dick Gaughan
4. Ravenscraig - Runrig
5. If It Wisnae for the Union - Hamish Imlach
6. Bawbee Birlin' - Gordeanna McCulloch
7. James Connolly - Christy Moore
8. North by North
9. Contract - Eric Bogle
10. Gauteng - Mara Louw
11. I Am the Common Man - The Battlefield Band
12. Blantyre Explosion - Ewan MacColl
13. Farewell Tae the Haven - The McCalmans
14. Sell Your Labour, Not Your Soul - Brian McNeill
15. Three Nights & A Sunday - Matt McGinn
16. Mothers, Daughters, Wives - Judy Small
17. Te Recuerdo Amanda - Victor Jara
18. Stand Together - Ceolbeg

VA - STUC Centenary Album - If It Wisnae For The Union
(320 kbps, cover art and booklet included)

Dienstag, 25. Oktober 2011

Fela Kuti & The Africa ´70 - Afrodisiac (1973)


The four (lengthy, as usual) songs occupying this album had been originally recorded in Nigeria as 45 rpm releases.

"Aphrodisiac" consists of re-recordings of these, done in London in the early 1970s. (Confusingly, one part of the liner notes gives the years 1972-1973 as the recording dates, while another section says they were cut in 1971.)
While it's true that Fela Kuti's albums from this period are pretty similar to each other, in their favor they're not boring. These four workouts, all sung in Nigerian, are propulsive mixtures of funk and African music, avoiding the homogeneity of much funk and African records of later vintage, done with nonstop high energy.

The interplay between horns, electric keyboards, drums, and Fela's exuberant vocals gives this a jazz character, without sacrificing the earthiness that makes it danceable as well. "Jeun Ko Ku (Chop'n Quench)" became Fela's first big hit in Nigeria, selling 200,000 copies in its first six months in its initial version.

Fela Kuti - Afrodisiac (1973)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Donnerstag, 20. Oktober 2011

The Almanac Singers - Their Complete General Recordings (1941, reissued 1996)


They were only together for about a year in the early '40s, but the Almanac Singers' repertoire, and individual members, would go on to much later greatness in the decades that followed. Comprised of folk legends Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Pete Hawes, and Millard Lampell, the group performed mostly at left-wing political conventions and labor rallies with a set list that mixed the traditional with the political.

The songs contained on "Complete General Recordings" are some of their finest moments, and many of the tunes would see later life covered by the Weavers (Seeger and Hays's future band) and even - in the case of "House of the Rising Sun" - the Animals.
Produced by another music legend, Alan Lomax, "Their Complete General Recordings" is an essential document of folk music's history and a great chance to these classic numbers in a raw, unadulterated form. The Almanac Singers may not have sold as many records as their contemporaries (blame that on the unpopular pacifism they preached as the United States entered World War II), but their versions of these tunes are simply timeless.


Tracklist:
1. Blow Ye Winds Heigh Ho - Pete Seeger
2. Away, Rio - Pete Hawes
3. Blow The Man Down - Woody Guthrie
4. House of the Rising Sun - Woody Guthrie
5. Ground Hog - Pete Seeger
6. State of Arkansas - Lee Hays
7. The Weaver's Song - Ensemble
8. I Ride An Old Paint - Woody Guthrie
9. Hard, Ain't It Hard - Woody Guthrie
10. The Dodger Song - Lee Hays
11. Greenland Fishing - Pete Seeger
12. The Golden Vanity - Pete Seeger
13. The Coast of High Barbary - Pete Seeger
14. Haul Away, Joe - Pete Hawes

(The name of the artist at the end of each track indicates the lead singer)

The Almanac Singers - Their Complete General Recordings (1941)
(320 kbps, booklet fully scanned)

Dienstag, 18. Oktober 2011

The Special A.K.A. - Nelson Mandela (extended version)

In this song Jerry Dammers of the Special A.K.A demands the release of the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Nelson Mandela. He had been imprisoned by the South African government since 1964 on charges of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government. Unsurprisingly this song couldn't be played freely in South Africa, however it helped install optimism within the black community there. Its success in Britain sparked an increasingly vocal campaign by the rock world to free Mandela, which culminated in the 1988 Mandela 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium in London. Prisoner no 46664 was finally released in February 1990 and became State President of South Africa in 1994.
Special A.K.A were fronted by former Specials songwriter and keyboardist Jerry Dammers. They were an offshoot of The Specials, after Terry Hall, Neville Staples and Lynval Golding had left the Ska band to form the Fun Boy Three. This was to be their only UK Top 40 hit.
 
Jerry Dammers told the Radio Times June 21-27 2008 about this song: "I knew very little about Mandela until I went to an anti-apartheid concert in London in 1983, which gave me the idea for 'Nelson Mandela,' I never knew how much impact the song would have; it was a hit around the world, and it got back into South Africa and was played at sporting events and ANC rallies-it became an anthem."
In the same Radio Times interview Dammers recalled finally meeting Mandela after a 1990 concert, which celebrated his release: "When I was introduced as the writer of 'Nelson Mandela,' he just said, 'Ah yes, very good.'"
 
Dammers told Uncut magazine January 2010 the story of the song: "It was a bit like the end of The Specials. When 'Nelson Mandela' came along, the band was falling to pieces. But I had this idea that I knew was really important, like 'Ghost Town.' so there was that desperation to get it down on tape, before the thing disintegrated completely. I wrote the tune to 'Nelson Mandela' before the lyrics. By that time, especially in London, rock music was dead. It was all electro-pop, hip hop, jazz or Latin. And also, Joe Hagen had this African club at Gossip's. I was inspired by the spirit and positivity of that African music. I was trying to get in a few Latin rhythms, but also township jazz. It was a very simple melody, three notes: C,A and E. That meant the public could sing it. And then I went to Nelson Mandela's 65th birthday party at Alexandra Palace. I'd never really heard of him, to be honest. Various bands sang about him, particularly Julian Bahula. And that's where I had the idea to put this message into this tune I had hanging around."
 
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 17. Oktober 2011

Angelic Upstarts - Solidarity (12 Inch, 1983)

Formed in South Shields, England in 1977, the Angelic Upstarts was one of the period's most politically charged and thought-provoking groups; though technically a skinhead band, their records attacked the racism and fascism so prevalent throughout the skinhead community, and while also technically a punk unit, their music quickly evolved beyond the movement's limited scope.

The Angelic Upstarts were led by the rather nasal vocalist Mensi (born Thomas Mensforth), whose impoverished childhood became a frequent lyrical touchstone. Along with a highly fluid lineup which initially comprised guitarist Mond, bassist Ronnie Wooden, and drummer Sticks, the group debuted with the 1979 single "Murder of Liddle Towers," a scabrous attack on police brutality. The record caught the attention of Sham 69's Jimmy Pursey, who produced their debut album "Teenage Warning", which, like its 1980 follow-up, "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", roundly ridiculed the oppressive policies of Margaret Thatcher while offering an outpouring of sympathy for the working class.

As the Upstarts' popularity surged, so did the levels of violence at their live shows; they became mortal enemies of National Front fascist supporters, who railed against the band after first misinterpreting their leftist songs as supportive of their cause. At the same time, the band's music was becoming more complex and accomplished; by 1983's "Reason Why?", the strongest Angelic Upstarts record, Mensi's songwriting skills had become tighter and more melodic, even branching out into reggae and folk, while the group's base broadened with the addition of keyboards and saxophones.
The 12 inch single "Solidarity" was releasend on Anagram Records in 1983.
The title track, "Solidarity",  is in reference to the Polish shipyard workers trades union led by Lech Walesa which at the time were being repressed by the Communist regime in Poland.

Angelic Upstarts - Solidarity (12 Inch, 1983)
(192 kbps, front & back cover included)

Sonntag, 16. Oktober 2011

Fela Kuti & The Africa `70 & Ginger Baker - Live! (1971)

Released in 1971, this LP had Fela Kuti solidifying the format that would take him into international visibility in the years to come: extended tracks with grooves that mixed African and funk rhythms, punctuated by rudimentary lyrics. There are just four songs on the album, none shorter than seven minutes, and all but one going over the ten-minute mark.

More than a dozen strong, his band, the Africa '70, cooks pretty well on tracks that fuse jazz, soul, and African music in a trancelike fashion that avoids becoming stale, despite the length of the arrangements. Ex-Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker's name was given prominence in the billing, probably to attract rock- and pop-oriented listeners who might not ordinarily take a chance on music from the African continent.

However, it's Fela and Africa '70, not Baker, who are the dominant presence on a record that sounded much like a mixture of James Brown, fusion, and Nigerian forms. The reissue adds a comparatively disappointing 16-minute drum solo by Ginger Baker and Africa '70 drummer Tony Allen, recorded live at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival. If Fela had any involvement with that track, it's not noted on the sleeve.

Fela Kuti - Live! (1971)
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Samstag, 15. Oktober 2011

Sammy Walker - Songs From Woody's Pen (1979)


Sammy Walker (born July 7, 1952 near Atlanta, Georgia) is an American singer-songwriter. Influenced by the folk and country sounds of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, Walker emerged in the mid 1970s with two albums for the Folkways label and two albums for Warner Brothers. While appearing on Bob Fass's radio show in 1975, he caught the ear of Phil Ochs, who was impressed by the young songwriter and agreed to produce his first album with Folkways. Walker recorded two albums for Warner Brothers under the tutelage of producer Nick Venet, and toured Europe in 1978 and again in 1986. After recording an album of Woody Guthrie songs in 1979, he did not record again until 1989. "Misfit Scarecrow" - the first album released by Sammy Walker in over twelve years - was released on July 22, 2008.

Sammy Walker recorded Songs from Woody’s Pen in 1979, twelve years after Woody Guthrie died due to complications from Huntington’s disease. Though the original recordings of these songs date back more than 30 years, Walker sings them in a traditional folk-revivalist manner reminiscent of Guthrie’s social conscience and sense of humor. Speaking of Guthrie, Sammy Walker said, "I can’t think of hardly anyone who has had as much influence on my own singing and songwriting as Woody." This is Walker’s enduring record of that influence.



Tracks:
01. The Grand Coulee Dam
02. Pastures Of Plenty
03. Talking Dust Bowl Blues
04. Deportee
05. Vigilante Man
06. Ramblin' Round
07. Jackhammer John
08. 1913 Massacre
09. Tom Joad
10. Philadelphia Lawer
11. Pretty Boy Floyd

Sammy Walker - Songs From Woody´s Pen (1979)
(ca. 200 kbps, cover art inlcuded)

Montag, 10. Oktober 2011

Aretha Franklin - Soul '69

Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music.

"Soul `69" is one of her most overlooked '60s albums, on which she presented some of her jazziest material, despite the title. None of these cuts were significant hits, and none were Aretha originals; she displayed her characteristically eclectic taste in the choice of cover material, handling compositions by Percy Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, and, at the most pop-oriented end of her spectrum, John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind" and Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly."

Her vocals are consistently passionate and first-rate, though, as is the musicianship; besides contributions from the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, session players include respected jazzmen Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, David Newman, and Joe Zawinul.

Aretha Franklin - Soul`69
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Woody Guthrie - BBC "Children's Hour", London, GB, July 7, 1944

From Guy Logsdon's Woody Guthrie Discography, "Hard Travelin' -- The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie", Hanover and London, 1999, p. 196:

"7 JULY 1944. Woody was a Merchant Marine, 'washing dishes on a Liberty Ship,' the troop ship Sea Porpoise which carried troops to the Normandy beach in early July 1944. After the troops were sent ashore, the ship hit a mine but made its way back to England; Woody was routed through London toward Glasgow, Scotland, toward the United States.
On a song manuscript dated 'July 13th, 1944', Woody wrote, 'this train is carrying me outside from London now; on up towards Belfast, and Glasgow.'

While in London, he went to the offices of the BBC where he introduced himself as a member of The Martins and the Coys [produced by Alan Lomax for the BBC in late March 1944, broadcast by the BBC on 26 June 1944] and was given the opportunity to sing on the Children's Hour. After an autobiographical statement, he was recorded singing with his guitar accompaniment two railroad songs."

Tracklist (2 tracks in one part):

01: Wabash Cannonball
02: 900 Miles (this is the minor-key melody that Cisco made popular)
.
Woody Guthrie - BBC "Children´s Hour", London, July 7, 1944
(Low bitrate, but I think a good quality for 1944.)

Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2011

VA - Ballads and Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains - Persistence and Change (1968)

Stemming from a want to preserve the dwindling unique oral traditions of the Blue Ridge Mountain back-country region, Eric Davidson, Paul Newman and Caleb Finch performed field recordings of songs that exemplified the evolution of ballads in the region, creating an anthology of music that characterized the musical mountain traditions. Originating from folk music of the British Isles, many of the songs are performed with little or no instrumental accompaniment. These beautiful archaic folk melodies have retained their roots in the ballad and lament tradition, sung here by both men and women (traditionally ballads were sung only by women) with occasional lively banjo accompaniments.


Tracklist:

1. Paul Jones - Hanging Of Georgie [01:32]
2. Sarah Hawkes - Returning Sweetheart [01:55]
3. Granny Porter and Wade Ward - Barbry Allen [02:41]
4. Paul Jones - Young Men And Maids [02:18]
5. Paul Jones - Green Willow Tree [04:18]
6. Sarah Hawkes - Ho Lilly Ho [02:13]
7. Kilby Reeves - Walkin' In The Parlor [01:21]
8. Sarah Hawkes - Little Sparrow [01:49]
9. Kilby Reeves - County Jail [01:47]
10. Aunt Polly Jones - The War Is A Raging [01:21]
11. Glen Smith - Pig In A Pen [02:27]
12. Paul Jones - Roving Gambler [02:47]
13. Ivor Melton and Glen Neaves - Pretty Polly [02:07]
14. Spud Gravely - George Allen [01:15]
15. Hobart Delp - Roving Gambler [02:26]
16. Russ Vass - Ten Thousand Miles [03:19]
17. Glen Neaves - 1809 [03:09]
18. Ivor Melton and Glen Neaves - Little Maggie [03:34]
19. Glen Neaves - Death Of The Lawson Family [01:52]
20. Ruby Vass - Lonesome Day [02:11]
21. Paul Jones and Cliff Evans - Budded Roses [02:29]
.
VA - Ballads and Songs of the Blue Ridge Mountains
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 8. Oktober 2011

Heidi Berry - Firefly (1987)

Heidi Berry cut a stark contrast to the prevailing musical mentality of the early '90s - despite releasing records on both Creation and 4AD, together the leading lights of the shoegazing and dream pop movements, her haunting, luminous folk-inspired sound instead harked back to the work of Sandy Denny and Nick Drake, complete with an earnestness and raw honesty far removed from her irony drenched times.

Heidi Berry's debut release, originally on Creation, sounds rather jauntier than her later efforts.
Firefly's folk/rock/pop confection, in its own way, anticipates the huge popularity of that combination in the 1990s among female vocalists - and grows out of similar roots of the past, as well. Berry's calm but not remotely cool singing is the most relaxed thing about the midpaced songs, which all have good energetic performances from her studio band. The songs all tend to resemble each other a touch - the waltz-time swing of "Houses Made of Wood" and the piano-led "Hasten the Buds to Bloom" are fine exceptions to this - but the overall pleasantness can't be faulted, and Berry's voice is simply quite enjoyable.

Standouts include the title track (with notable piano accompaniment) and "Nobody Tells on You," with an understated romantic wryness. Credit for the solid sound on the EP goes to both Berry as producer and her engineer

A1 Out Of My Hands 3:05
A2 Firefly 2:59
A3 Nobody Tells On You 3:35
B1 Will It All Change 3:25
B2 Houses Made Of Wood 3:01
B3 Hasten The Buds To Bloom 1:56
.
Heidi Berry - Firefly (1987)
(320 kbps, front cover included)