Freitag, 26. April 2013

Richie Havens - Electric Havens (1968)

This was one of two albums (the other being "The Richie Havens Record") comprised of overdubbed solo demos, probably from sometime between 1963-1965, that Havens had done prior to recording for Verve and making his official recording debut.

In the late '60s, as Havens rose to stardom, producer Alan Douglas took the original solo demos and overdubbed them with electric instruments. The albums were pulled from circulation and are hard to find today. One would understand why Havens might have disapproved of their release, but "Electric Havens" really isn't bad.

The eight-song set is oriented toward the kind of traditional material that he was likely doing in clubs around that time, such as "Oxford Town," "C.C. Rider," and "900 Miles From Home," as well as an early Dylan cover, "Boots & Spanish Leather." Havens sings with his usual spontaneous conviction, and although the electric backing sounds a bit awkward - and, unsurprisingly considering the circumstances, wavering in time keeping - it's not overdone, or completed in such a fashion that it's difficult to enjoy the performances. Different years of release have appeared in discographies for both this and "The Richie Havens Record", incidentally; it's almost certain that both came out in the late '60s, with 1968 serving as the best-guess year in both cases.


A1: Oxford Town
A2: 9000 Miles
A3: I´m A Stranger Here
A4: My Own Way

B1: Boots And Spanish Leather
B2: C. C. Rider
B3: 3´10 To Yuma
B4: Shadown Town

Richie Havens - Eectric Havens (1968)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 24. April 2013

Richie Havens - Mixed Bag (R.I.P.)

PhotobucketSad news: Richie Havens  has died of a heart attack at 72 on April, 22. Rest in peace!

Richie Havens' finest recording, "Mixed Bag" captures the essence of his music and presents it in an attractive package that has held up well. A close listen to lyrics like "I Can't Make It Anymore" and "Morning, Morning" reveals sadness and loneliness, yet the music is so appealingly positive that a listener actually comes away feeling uplifted.

In fact, on most of the songs on this album, it's the sound of Havens' distinctive voice coupled with his unusual open-E guitar tuning, rather than the specific lyrical content of the songs, that pulls the listener in. The six-and-a-half minute "Follow" is structured like a Dylan composition in the "Hard Rain" mode, with its memorable verse-ending refrain, "Don't mind me 'cause I ain't nothin' but a dream."

Both "Sandy" and "San Francisco Bay Blues" have a jazzy feel, while the aforementioned "I Can't Make It Anymore" would not have been out of place in a movie soundtrack or pop radio playlist of the time. "Handsome Johnny," one of Havens' best known songs as a result of the Woodstock film, is a classic anti-war ballad, stoked by the singer's unmistakable thumb-chorded guitar strumming.

Mixed Bag winds up with a soulful cover of Dylan's "Just Like a Woman" and an electric piano-propelled take on the Lennon-McCartney classic, "Eleanor Rigby."

Richie Havens - Mixed Bag (1966)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 16. April 2013

Isla Cameron, Ewan MacColl‎ - Still I Love Him - Traditional Love Songs (Topic, 1958)

"Still I love him" was a 10" LP by Isla Cameron and Ewan MacColl, released in 1958 on Topic in the UK. Isla Cameron was accompanied by Ralph Rinzler (banjo and guitar), Ewan MacColl was accompanied by Peggy Seeger (banjo and guitar). The songs later were reissued with additions on the Riverside album "English and Scottish Love Songs".

From the sleeve notes:

"How few love songs, how little love music at all, the great composers of the Anglo-Saxon world have produced! Oh, hundreds of pieces dealing with polite affection between lover and lass, with gentle heart-to-heart responses, with tears, idle tears. But the real bite of passion, the genuine evocation of erotic experience embraced without reserve and remembered with pride and joy, seems to be missing. Is it due to Puritanism, the climate, the food?

The answer would seem to lie in none of these things. For if we transfer our attention from the world of written music to the world of unwritten music, from the world of gentility to that of commoner folk, the picture changes. Certainly in the amatory folk songs of England and Scotland there is no lack of sensuous freedom and delight. So much so, that the scholar collectors have felt bound to modify the lexis of many of the amatory songs before committing them to print, presumably in order to protect polite people from being contaminated by the songs of rougher men and women. (In this album, such songs arc restored to their original form, as the collectors first found them.) Not that any of these are dirty songs. Experienced collectors have found that the truly bawdy ballad, the ballad with an excess of graphic sexual detail, is found among students and uprooted men-without-women such as soldiers, sailors and prisoners. But among the "classical" folk singers, such songs are rare. The British amatory folk songs generally show a more permissive attitude to sex than their White American counterparts. They look the facts of life in the eye and tell of what they see. proudly, delicately, perhaps with a grin, but never a snigger. They are songs with a clean joy or sadness over the large realities of virginity and desire, passion and pregnancy.

They are rich in delicate metaphors. The morning dew, the chiefest grain, the bird in the bush, the cuckoo's nest, the flower garden and the herb called thyme, have a constant erotic meaning to country singers. They are the love utterances of a people living a life in tune with the cycle of the seasons and the round of mating and increase."


Side One

Whistle, Daughter, Whistle
Once I Had A True Love
The American Stranger
My Bonny Miner Lad
Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
Buy Broom Besoms

Side Two

The Maid On Thee Shore
Are Ye Seeping Maggie
Still I Love Him
The Waters Of Tyne
The Bleacher Lassie O' Kelvinhaugh
Bobby Shaftoe

Isla Cameron & Ewan MacColl - Still I Love Him
(320 kbps, front & back cover included)

There´s track-by-track info in the comment section.

Montag, 15. April 2013

The Almanac Singers - Songs Of Protest

Protest Music is a long-standing part of American culture, but it wasn't always considered to be part of the folk music tradition. There was a certain consensus among some of the earliest folklorists and song collectors that songs of protest weren't universal enough to fit under the folk music umbrella. Then came the Almanac Singers, who sought out the songs of the labor movement and other traditional tunes of the working class - along with their own original compositions - hoping to use folk music as a tool to organize communities. It's was kind of an experiment with folk songs and, as the mid-century protest song movement can attest, it sort of caught on.

The Almanac Singers were one of the first, most influential groups of protest singers in the history of contemporary American folk music. Singing labor songs in union halls and daring to use music to speak out against oppression, the Almanacs have moved generations of topical singers to action. The Almanacs used songs to organize people, to inspire action, and to nurture communities around the notion of standing up to injustice. Their "Songs of Protest" is easily one of the best recordings in the history of folk music.
The Almanac Singers' Songs of Protest also included what was, arguably, one of Woody Guthrie's greatest topical story-songs, "The Sinking of the Reuben James." The song tells the story of a U.S. Naval ship which was attacked by the Nazi military in 1941, killing 86 people. In Guthrie's quintessential empathetic songwriting style, he created a song that humanized the large number of deaths in the tragedy. It was Guthrie's gift of humanizing history that inspired so many of the political folksingers that followed, and this song was one of the Almanac Singers' greatest efforts (its chorus was actually written by Seeger and Lampell).
Other great highlights from this recording include the traditional "Blow the Man Down" and "The Dodger Song", both of which sung to a suspicion against the government and those who seek to abuse the system. Overall, Songs of Protest is not only an excellent introduction to the work of the Almanac Singers - and, in turn, that of Seeger, Guthrie, and the others - but is also an excellent primer on the history of the American protest song.


1. I Ride an Old Paint (WG)
2. The Dodger Song (LH)
3. The Golden Vanity (PS)
4. House of the Rising Sun (WG)
5. Blow Ye Winds, Heigh Ho (PS)
6. Haul Away Joe (PH)
7. Blow the Man Down (WG)
8. Ground Hog (PS)
9. State of Arkansas (LH)
10. The Coast of High Barbary (PS)
11. Hard, Ain't It Hard (WG)
12. Away, Rio (LH)
13. Billy Boy (JW/ML)
14. Ballad of October 16 (PS)
15. Plow Under (PS)
16. Get Thee Behind Me Satan (PH)
17. The Strange Death of John Doe (PS)
18. Round and Round Hitler's Grave (PS)
19. The Sinking of the Reuben James (PS)
20. Liza Jane (PS/WG/JW)
21. All I Want (PS)
22. Union Maid (PS)
23. Talking Union (PS)
24. Which Side Are You On? (PS)
25. Deliver the Goods (PS)
26. C for Conscription (PS)
27. Washington Breakdown (PS)
28. Dear Mr President (PS)
29. Round and Round Hitler's Grave - Radio Broadcast (PS)

The Almanac Singers - Songs Of Protest
(256 kbps, front cover included)

This European compilation contains 28 of the 35 studio recordings made by the Almanac Singers in 1941-1942, plus an aircheck of "Round and Round Hitler's Grave." The recordings were released originally on five albums of 78s. The CD gathers all seven tracks from the group's debut album, "Songs for John Doe", five of the six from "Talking Union" (not including "The Union Train"), all six from "Deep Sea Chanteys and Whaling Ballads", all six from "Sod Buster Ballads", and four of six from "Dear Mr. President" (not including "Beltline Girl" and "Side by Side"). But the first-time listener is bound to be surprised by the album's title, "Songs of Protest", at least while listening to the first 12 tracks, all of which are drawn from the non-political third and fourth albums. The compilers have decided against chronological sequencing, which is a big mistake when it comes to the Almanac Singers. The group changed their view radically during the course of their career. "Songs for John Doe", recorded prior to American involvement in World War II, was scathingly anti-war, while "Dear Mr. President", recorded after Pearl Harbor, was just as scathingly pro-war (as a title like "Round and Round Hitler's Grave" suggests). Even 60 years later, sequencing songs from these two albums beside each other creates considerable confusion. Aside from this gaffe, folk fans should welcome having these historical recordings on a single disc.

Samstag, 6. April 2013

Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy & Josh White - A Treasury Of Folk Music (1966)

Huddie William Ledbetter (January 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the 12-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced. He could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad "John Hardy", he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.
The topics of Lead Belly's music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding and dancing. He also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.

Big Bill Broonzy (26 June 1898 – 15 August 1958) was a prolific American blues singer, songwriter and guitarist. His career began in the 1920s when he played country blues to mostly black audiences. Through the ‘30s and ‘40s he successfully navigated a transition in style to a more urban blues sound popular with white audiences. In the 1950s a return to his traditional folk-blues roots made him one of the leading figures of the emerging American folk music revival and an international star. His long and varied career marks him as one of the key figures in the development of blues music in the 20th century.
Broonzy copyrighted more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including both adaptations of traditional folk songs and original blues songs. As a blues composer, he was unique in that his compositions reflected the many vantage points of his rural-to-urban experiences.

Joshua Daniel White (February 11, 1914 – September 5, 1969), best known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. In the early 1930s, he also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton."
He became a 1920s and 1930s star of "race records", with a prolific output of recordings in genres including Piedmont blues, country blues, gospel, and social protest songs. He was billed in concert as "The Sensation of the South". In 1931, White moved to New York and within a decade his fame had spread widely, and his repertoire expanded to include urban blues, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, folk songs from around the world, and hard-hitting political protest songs. He soon was in demand as an actor on radio, Broadway, and film. However, his pioneering guitar playing never altered or diminished, while some would even argue it broadened with the expansion of his musical repertoire.


A1. Leadbelly - How Long                  
A2. Leadbelly & Sonny Terry - John Henry
A3. Leadbelly & Josh White - Don't Lie Buddy
A4. Leadbelly - Ain't You Glad
A5. Big Bill Broonzy - Letter To My Baby
B1. Josh White - Saint James Infirmary
B2. Josh White - Lass With The Delicate Hair
B3. Josh White - When I Lay Down & Die Do Die 
B4. Josh White - Early Morning Blues
B5. Big Bill Broonzy - Baby Please Don't Go

Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy & Josh White - A Treasury Of Folk Music (1966)
(cover art included, vinyl rip)

Donnerstag, 4. April 2013

Peggy & Mike Seeger - Peggy 'N' Mike Seeger Sing (1967)

Peggy Seeger was born in New York City in 1935 and was the daughter of musicologist and scholar Charles Seeger and his wife, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger. Both elder Seegers were known for their passion for American folk music and the exploration of dissonance in composition. Peggy's older brother Mike and her half-brother Pete Seeger both became widely respected pioneers in the field of American folk music.

Peggy, for her part, adhered quickly to the family business of American folk music, picking up banjo and guitar and developing a penchant for singing folk music for children. She released her first album Folksongs for Courting and Complaint in 1955, the same year which saw one of her most successful and timeless releases - American Folk Songs for Children.  Around this time, which also became known as the McCarthy Era (when many Americans, including artists and entertainers like her half-brother Pete, were being brought under investigation for suspected communist ties), Seeger visited communist China. Her passport was revoked. Recognizing this would keep her from any other international travel and visitation, she decided to just not return to the U.S. Instead, she headed to Europe and started traveling around as a folk musician. There, she met English folksinger Ewan MacColl, whom she started dating. After two years, when her visa was up and she was facing deportation, Seeger married a friend to remain in the country (MacColl was still legally married to his second wife, though they had been estranged for years; he and Seeger stayed together and eventually married in 1977).  Together, Seeger and MacColl had three children and released a number of collaborative albums for Smithsonian Folkways.  While in Europe, Peggy founded the Critics Group, aimed at basically boosting a folk song movement among young people. She also moved from singing children's folk songs to developing songs for the budding feminist movement, tackling women's issues and feminine oppression. MacColl died in 1989 and Seeger began an open relationship with a woman (Irene Pyper-Scott, with whom she toured as a duo called No Spring Chickens). Five years later (following the fall of Russian communism and, hence, the end of the Cold War), Seeger returned to the States and moved to Asheville, NC. She remained there for more than a decade before moving to Boston and eventually back to the UK to be near her children.  Considering her whole career, Seeger has released or been a part of around 100 recordings, give or take. That includes solo efforts as well as collaborations with her late husband Ewan MacColl and her brother Mike Seeger. She's recorded English ballads, feminist anthems, children's folk songs, work songs, songs of rebellion, love songs, and much more. For a comprehensive look at her discography, check out her website.

Peggy and her brother Mike probably hadn’t seen a lot of each other in the ten years since they last recorded an album together (American Folk Songs – 1957). Mike had gone straight on to found the New Lost City Ramblers (in 1958) with John Cohen and Tom Paley. Peggy had gone straight over to the other side of the Atlantic, met Ewan MacColl and eventually stayed.
Mind you, putting together this album probably didn’t take that long. Not because it doesn’t sound really good. Quite the opposite. It sounds effortless. Mike Seeger, as Dylan said, had this stuff in his genes. Ditto Peggy, being his sister. Not sure it was their genes, though. More that they were raised in a house where, as their father Charles put it, this music resounded morning, noon and night.


Side 1:
Worried man blues – MS lead vocals, PS harmony
Arizona – MS vocals
Come all ye fair and tender Ladies – PS unaccompanied
Little Birdie (Peggy Seeeger) – MS & PS vocals
Old shoes and leggings – MS & PS vocals
John Riley – PS vocal
A miner’s prayer – PS lead vocals, MS chorus harmony
Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender – MS lead vocals, PS harmony vocals
Shady Grove – MS vocals

Side 2
Fod – MS & PS vocals
The Streets of Laredo – MS lead vocals
The Soldier’s Farewell – PS vocals
When first to this country a stranger I came – MS lead vocals, PS harmony
A drunkard’s child (Rodgers) – MS & PS vocals
Clinch Mountain Backstep (Stanley) – MS banjo
The Romish Lady – MS lead vocal, PS harmony
Single Girl – PS vocals
The Ram of Derby – PS lead vocal, MS chorus

Peggy & Mike Seeger - Peggy `N`Mike Seeger Sing (1967)
(192 kbps, cover art included, vinyl rip)