Dienstag, 22. April 2014

Cedric Myton & Congo - Image Of Africa (1979)

The Congos are a reggae vocal group from Jamaica which formed as the duo "Ashanti" Roy Johnson (tenor) (b. Roydel Johnson, 1947, Hanover, Jamaica) and Cedric Myton (falsetto) (b. 1947, Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica), later becoming a trio with the addition of Watty Burnett (baritone) (b.early 1950s, Port Antonio, Jamaica) and have been active on and off from the mid-1970s until the present day. They are best known for their "Heart of the Congos" album, recorded with Lee "Scratch" Perry.

"Image Of Africa" by the Congos is seldom heard, but it has great songs, great singing and great playing. The sound is more polished-up and accessible than what you hear on the album "Heart of the Congos", which gets such good press. Still, you'll enjoy a solid roots sound with Cedric Myton's high vocal leading the way. The songs are complex, the musicianship is awesome and it's heavy with grooves


Only Jah Know
Mister Biggs
Food For The Rainy Day
Sweetest Name
He Is The King
Music Maker
Musical Iration
Stay Alive
Stay Alive Dub

Cedric Myton & Congo - Image Of Africa (1979)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 7. April 2014

Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1

The first in a series of five immensely popular Pete Seeger releases, "American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1" was intended to gather together and set down songs that "everyone" knew (or seemed to know), in simple, unadorned musical settings, accompanied by his guitar or banjo, that adults and children could learn and sing together.

At the time, the albums were primarily aimed at schools and libraries, though one can bet that more than a few progressive-minded and left-leaning families bought them a well, even if these weren't the union and topical songs Seeger was loved for in those circles, if only as a statement against the blacklist that had hurt the artist's career; one also wonders, as a minor point, if the decision to include "Big Rock Candy Mountain" wasn't a little zing at Burl Ives, for whom the song had been something of a signature tune, and who had ended up on the opposite side of Seeger in the ideological wars of the 1950s (a hatchet that wasn't fully buried between them until the '80s).

Seeger's range on this album is stunning, from the gentle simplicity of "Skip to My Lou" to the rousing exuberance of "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep" - his voice is melodious and powerful across a range that may surprise listeners who only know the artist for the recordings done in his seventies and eighties - and while his guitar playing is fine, it's his banjo work that is the real treat across these songs. For a man who (supposedly) so resented the electrification of folk music, Seeger isn't shy about spinning some (admittedly acoustic) pyrotechnics out of his banjo when the song seems to call for it. Moe Asch's recording technology was more than good enough for Seeger and his instrument, and the tapes have held up across five decades. And as to the songs, they encompass folk, country, and gospel standards, and their sheer power is perhaps the most amazing aspect of this record (and its four follow-ups): the world and its so-called culture, popular or otherwise, have moved on so far (even in the late '60s, these seemed kind of hokey to kids who thought they knew better) that 50-plus years later, this record is still an education, as well as a rare treat.                

A1 Down In The Valley
A2 Mary Don't You Weep
A3 The Blue Tail Fly
A4 Yankee Doodle
A5 Cielito Lindo
A6 Buffalo Gals
A7 The Wabash Cannon Ball
A8 So Long, It's Been Good To Know You
Written-By – Woody Guthrie
B1 The Wagoner's Lad
B2 The Big Rock Candy Mountain
B3 The Wreck Of The Old '97
B4 On Top Of Old Smokey
B5 I Ride An Old Paint
B6 Frankie And Johnny
B7 Old Dan Tucker
B8 Skip To My Lou
B9 Home On The Range

Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 1
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 5. April 2014

Sun Ra - Space Is The Place (1973)

"Space Is the Place" provides an excellent introduction to Sun Ra's vast and free-form jazz catalog. It is a wonderful 1972 recording with the 'definitive' version of the title track, and some very nice shorter pieces too.

Typical of many Sun Ra recordings, the program is varied; earthbound songs, like the swing number "Images" and Egyptian exotica piece "Discipline," fit right in with more space-age cuts, like the tumultuous "Sea of Sounds" and the humorous "Rocket Number Nine." Sun Ra fuses many of these styles on the sprawling title cut, as interlocking harmonies, African percussion, manic synthesizer lines, and joyous ensemble blowing all jell into some sort of church revival of the cosmos.

Throughout the recording, Sun Ra displays his typically wide-ranging talents on space organ and piano, reed players John Gilmore and Marshall Allen contribute incisive and intense solos, and June Tyson masterfully leads the Space Ethnic Voices on dreamy vocal flights. This is a fine recording and a must for Sun Ra fans.  

It is impossible, given the breadth and depth of Ra's work, as well as the fact that most of the albums which he recorded are out-of-print and owned only by a select few collectors, to attempt to trace Ra's career with any thoroughness in less than a hundred pages or so. You find some overview to Sun Ra's life and music on http://www.furious.com/perfect/sunra.html and an interview with John F. Szwed about his superb Sun Ra biography "Space Is The Place" on http://www.furious.com/Perfect/sunra2.html.


A Space Is The Place
Baritone Saxophone – Danny Thompson* Bass – Pat Patrick Bass Clarinet – Eloe Omoe Organ [Space] – Sun Ra Vocals [Space Ethnic] – Akh Tal Ebah, Cheryl Banks, John Gilmore, Judith Holton, June Tyson, Ruth Wright
B1 Images
Bass – Pat Patrick Piano – Sun Ra Tenor Saxophone – John Gilmore Trumpet – Akh Tal Ebah, Lamont McClamb
B2 Discipline 33
Flute – Danny Davis, Danny Thompson*, Eloe Omoe, Marshall Allen Organ [Space] – Sun Ra Tenor Saxophone – John Gilmore Trumpet – Lamont McClamb
B3 Sea Of Sound
Alto Saxophone – Danny Davis, Marshall Allen Baritone Saxophone – Pat Patrick Drums – Lex Humphries Flugelhorn [Fugelhorn] – Akh Tal Ebah Organ [Space] – Sun Ra Percussion – Russell Branch, Stanley Morgan Tenor Saxophone – John Gilmore Trumpet – Lamont McClamb
B4 Rocket Number Nine
Bass Clarinet – Eloe Omoe Organ [Space] – Sun Ra Vocals [Space Ethnic] – Cheryl Banks, Danny Thompson*, John Gilmore, Judith Holton, June Tyson, Pat Patrick, Ruth Wright

Sun Ra - Space Is The Place (1973)
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Freitag, 4. April 2014

Hazel O´Connor - Sons & Lovers (1980)

"Sons & Lovers" was Hazel O'Connor's second album, released also in 1980. The album didn't have the same impact of its predecessor as it was felt like a rushed release hot on the heels of her first album.

However, that didn't stop the album from spawning memorable hits such as D-Days (#10 in the U.K.). This song was inspired by one trip Hazel did to a London night club where she met a lot of bizarre looking people.

The album follows pretty much the same line of her previous album, New Wave with intelligent lyrics and saxophones thrown in the songs, but it's worth a listen.

D-Days 3:10
Waiting 2:33
Who Will Care? 3:18
Zoo 4:32
Gigolo 2:41
Do What You Do 4:36
Sons And Lovers 4:38
Glass Houses 3:19
Ain't It Funny 3:57
Danny Boy 2:30
Bye Bye 3:18
Time (Ain't On Our Side) 3:17

Hazel O´Connor  - Sons & Lovers (1980)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 2. April 2014

Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd‎– Blow, Boys, Blow (1960)

A phenomenal collection of sea shanties and sailing songs performed by two of Great Britain's most outstanding musicologists. MacColl recorded a great deal during his career, which is fortunate, though he might well be best remembered by some for writing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Lloyd performed a great deal and was highly regarded for his research and his attention to old, almost-lost songs, but his recordings are sadly few in number, and mostly unavailable.

Some of the songs included in this recording are familiar; "The Handsome Cabin Boy" has been recorded many a time, with notable performances including one by Kate Bush. Many songs are less familiar, however, and are quite deserving of attention. MacColl and Lloyd's performances have enthusiasm and vigor, and are given able support from a small ensemble. If you can find it, "Blow Boys Blow" is a worthy album to have in hand. 

Sleeve Notes:

"These are songs from the days when ships were moved by white canvas, hemp rope and brute force. Songs from the days when a skipper would forecast his arrival-date partly by tile weather and partly by the heart his deck-hands put into their singing.

The sailing-ship sailors had shanties to ease their working hours, and "forebitter" songs to embellish their leisure time. For the backbreaking jobs of heaving at the halyards and manning the capstan or the pumps, they had the hard-driving salty work-songs set in primitive leader-chorus patterns. For the spells off-watch, when time might hang heavy even for the mat-makers, coconut carvers and fashioners of model ships in gin-bottles, there were the ballads, sentimental or ironical, bawdy or nostalgic, to fit the mood of the moment.

Behind many of these profane and rowdy "forebitters", as behind the shanties, there is a deep feeling for beauty. Some of the foc'sle ballads are as stylised as the popular woodcut prints of Jolly Jack Tar. Others are full of technical talk, and their quality was judged by standards of nautical correctness. All reflect in unequivocal terms the common run of a sailor's experience ashore or afloat. In the songs, the enemies are hard weather, bullying mates and thieving girls. The friends are few — a skipper such as Stormalong, perhaps as much feared as respected, or a sweetheart like Nancy of London, on whose fidelity some desperate hope is set. The stereotype of the roaring brutal sea-dog is present in nearly all the songs in this album, but the careful listener will perceive, beyond the toughness and the irony, a deep unease, an ache, a longing for something better."


Side One:
Row Bullies Row
Paddy Doyle
Wild Goose Shanty
While Cruising Round Yarmouth
Old Billy Riley
The Handsome Cabin Boy
South Australia
Blow, Boys, Blow

Side Two:
Whup Jamboree
The Banks of Newfoundland
Whiskey Johnny
Do Me Ama
Jack Tar
Paddy West
Haul On The Bowline
A Hundred Years Ago

Ewan MacColl & A. L. Lloyd - Blow, Boys, Blow (1960)
(256 kbps, front cover included)