Mittwoch, 29. Januar 2014

Pete Seeger - American Industrial Ballads (1957)


Pete Seeger presents a history of the Industrial Revolution and its impact on working people on "American Industrial Ballads", a collection of 24 songs (over half of them shorter than two minutes each) sequenced in chronological order by date of composition, to the extent that this can be determined, from the early-1800s appearance of "Peg and Awl," in which a worker struggles to keep up with a machine, to songs written by Woody Guthrie and Les Rice in the 1940s.

Only a couple of songs are well known, and those don't fit the concept perfectly. "The Buffalo Skinners," an account of cowboys who kill their overseer after he refuses to pay them, and "Casey Jones," the famous tale of a train wreck, are both somewhat tangential to industrial concerns, though they do fit themes heard throughout the album: first, employers' abuse of workers, who then must fight back (although usually by starting unions and going out on strike); and second, the relationship between an individual worker and the system of machinery he encounters.

As the album goes on, the workers' complaints about ill treatment and low pay become more extreme, and eventually the need for unions to represent them seems overwhelming. Even then, the bosses respond with violence, as Seeger documents in such songs as Jim Garland's "The Death of Harry Simms" and Della Mae Graham's "Ballad of Barney Graham," both true stories of murdered union men. Accompanying himself mostly on banjo and sometimes guitar, Seeger presents the songs straightforwardly with only occasional flourishes, intent on getting the meanings across, although occasionally his desire to lead singalongs comes out, such as in "Raggedy," when he provides cues to sing each verse, even though he's performing alone in a recording studio. Many of these songs are too harrowing to sing along to, though. Taken together, they chronicle a century and a half of the efforts of farmers, textile workers, and miners, primarily, to get what they deserve from increasingly rich and powerful captains of industry.      

Tracklist:

A1 Peg And Awl
A2 The Blind Fiddler
A3 Buffalo Skinners
A4 Eight Hour Day
A5 Hard Times In The Mill
A6 Roll Down The Line
A7 Hayseed Like Me
A8 The Farmer Is The Man
A9 Come All You Hardy Miners
A10 He Lies In The American Land
A11 Casey Jones
A12 Let Them Wear Their Watches Fine
A13 Weave Room Blues
B1 Cotton Mill Colic
B2 7c. Cotton And 40c. Meat
B3 Mill Mother's Lament
B4 Fare Ye Well, Old Ely Branch
B5 Beans, Bacon And Gravy
B6 The Death Of Harry Simms
B7 Winnsboro Cotton Mills Blues
B8 Ballad Of Barney Graham
B9 My Children Are Seven In Number
B10 Raggedy, Raggedy Are We
B11 Pittsburgh Town
B12 60% Parity

Pete Seeger - American Industrial Ballads (1957)
(256 kbps, cover art and booklet included)         

Dienstag, 28. Januar 2014

Pete Seeger - American Ballads (1957)

RIP - and many thanks for all the great music!


 


The 14 "American ballads" Pete Seeger chose to sing on this album while accompanying himself on the banjo are songs sung in the U.S., but often not originating there. Annotator Norman Studer notes that "some of the ballads in this album have been enjoyed for hundreds of years," and the introduction to "Down in Carlisle (In Castyle There Lived a Lady)" acknowledges that "This story goes back to Roman days, if not earlier." Still, they have been collected from rural American singers whose ancestors brought them across the Atlantic, Seeger noting, for example, that he learned "The Golden Vanity" from a Carter Family recording.

And there are songs that clearly did originate, at least in terms of lyrical content, in the U.S. in the 19th century or even the 20th, albeit in what the notes describe as "horse and buggy days." "Jay Gould's Daughter" references the famous American robber baron (1836-1892); "Jesse James" recounts the murder of the famous American outlaw (1847-1882); and "The Titanic Disaster" looks back only to 1912. Whether or not there is a traceable historical person or event, however, the songs tell stories of love, adventure, and criminality, siding with the poor and disadvantaged over the rich and privileged.

Exemplary among them are John Henry, the steel driver who defeats the automated steel drill, but in so doing breaks his heart and dies, and the cabin boy in "The Golden Vanity" who sinks the rival Turkish Revelee by boring a hole in the ship's hull, but then is betrayed by his own captain and drowns. The main characters of the songs often come to bad ends, but they remain folk heroes, and Seeger sings their stories straightforwardly, preserving their memories long after their deaths. 

 Tracklist:
A1 Pretty Polly
A2 The Three Butchers
A3 John Henry
A4 Jay Gould's Daughter
A5 The Titanic Disaster
A6 Fair Margaret & Sweet William
A7 John Hardy
B1 The Golden Vanity
B2 Gypsy Davy
B3 Farmer's Curst Wife
B4 In Castyle There Lived A Lady
B5 St. James Hospital
B6 Jesse James
B7 Barbara Allen
   
Pete Seeger - American Ballads (1957)
(256 kbps, front cover and booklet included)

Montag, 27. Januar 2014

RIP Pete Seeger

Legendary folk singer, activist and icon to those that believe and fight for peace, justice, and good music, Pete Seeger passed away today at the age of 94. It's difficult to sum up a career that encompassed the better part of a century, guided some of the greatest songwriters of the 60s and 70s, and, until his death, continued to join in marches and other non-violent resistance working toward the utopian world that he dreamed of. Seeger's contributions to folk music include the seminal "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?" But beyond on that, it was through Seeger's voice and banjo that he kept alive centuries of folk. Seeger's father was an ethnomusicologist and Seeger was a living embodiment of the commitment to the music and the people of the United States. Because, it's through music that our despair, heartbreak, joy, resistance, languished cries, and cries of freedom are given voice and heard.
 
Seeger's path wasn't easy, though. In the 1960s, he was being persecuted by the House Un-American Activities for his politics. But, Seeger carried on, performing for communities and at schools.
 
The world just got one step further away from utopia today. Rest in peace, Pete.
 
(Thanks to http://welistenforyou.blogspot.de/ for these wonderful words.)


LaserGuidedWhiteHouse wrote in the comment section:

"Off topic, bit it's already later than yesterday (it always is)....I wanted to say here some kind of thank you to Peter Seeger, who passed away yesterday in New York. He was a great man, and I'll remember him always as a most uncommon sort of person, a person who believed in the power of every single person to change the world, to make it a better place, a more humane place where every man, woman, and child would have enough. A single voice singing some meaningful and passionate words can become 20 voices, a thousand voices, 100 million voices, and he was one of the very first people to show that to everybody in this age of mass-communication. Sometimes just knowing that a person will bravely stand up to speak for you, when you don't think you have a voice, can really change your mind. You know you're not alone, that there are others; and you realize as your voices are borne aloft that no matter how much someone may be trying to squash you from above, you have the power to fight back, and win. It's just as much your world as theirs, and kindness and caring and the union of humanity are what it's all about in the end, as long as everyone speaks up, as long as everyone sings out. So let us always remember his message, especially in this new age of what appears to be some sort of quietly creeping global crypto-fascism. Lift your voices. Rest in Peace Pete."

Sarah Gorby - Les Inoubliables Chants Du Ghetto (1976)

Today is the Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. The chosen date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Army in 1945.
This is an opportunity to show our respect for the survivors of Nazi persecution and mass murder, and to listen to what they can tell us about the best and the worst of human behaviour.

So here is Sarah Gorby with the album"Les Inoubliables Chants Du Ghetto". In choosing these twelve songs amongst hundreds of others, Sarah Gorby wished to immortalize the poets and musicians who died in the concentration camps during the Nazi dictatorship. She interprets these unforgettable songs of her people with a quivering exaltation; she follows the jagged rhythms of their bewailing and their lamentations. This record is an extraordinary document, rendered yet more intense by the orchestral arrangements of Jacques Lasry.

Tracks:

01. Geyne Zey in Shvartse Reyen [Black Columns Are Moving]
02. Mach Ye Deine Eiguelekh Tzu [Close Your Eyes Radio Cut]
03. Dos Yingele Ligt Farbrent [The Burned Child Lies There]
04. Zog Nit Keynmol [Never Say]
05. Rivkele, Di Shabesdike [Tragic Event in the Ghetto of Bialistock ...]
06. Tsien Zikh Makhnes Fartribene [DePortation]
07. Undzer Shtetl Brent [Our Town Is on Fire]
08. Moyde Ani
09. Dayn Mame Kumt Nit Tzurik [Your Mother Will Never Be Returning]
10. Yiddish Kind Fun Poyln [A Jewish Child of Poland]
11. Kinderlekh, Kleyninke [Children, Little Ones]
12. Es Hot Zikh Der Krig Shoyn Geendikt (The War Is Over)

Fresh link:
(192 kbps, cover art included)

KZ Musik - Encyclopedia Of Music Composed In Concentration Camps (1933 - 1945) - CD 1

Today is the Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. The chosen date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Army in 1945. We will start today posting the first 12 volumes of the "KZ Musik" series.

"KZ Musik" is the most complete and updated encyclopaedia record, containing the complete musical works (operatic and symphonic works, chamber music, instrumental music, piano music, Lieder and chorale music, cabaret, jazz, religious hymns, popular and traditional music, fragmentary works or works pieced together after the war) written between 1933 (year of the opening of the camps of Dachau and Börgermoor) and 1945 by musicians who were imprisoned, killed, and deported, as well as survivors from every concentration camp, and from any national, social and religious background.

It is the result of the musicological work carried out by Italian pianist and musical director Francesco Lotoro. Each booklet of "KZ Musik" comes in three languages (Italian, English and German), and contains the profile of the camps, in which the works contained in the CD were written, the profile of their composers and their works, short critical notes and, in the case of vocal music, the lyrics in their original.


A review:

"Listening to the first of the KZ Music discs (music written during internment in concentration camps) one isn’t struck by any composition as being particularly remarkable.  There is nothing, in any of the works by any of the seven composers included on this disc, which immediately vaults from the speakers – heralding momentous harmonic or rhythmic originality.  Some of it is neatly crafted, some of it is stylistically clichéd, some of it is somewhat naive in gesture, and some of it is truly interesting.  Most of it is, probably, what we would call utilitarian.
One could, for example, see no reason why Karel Berman’s ‘Poupata’, for baritone and piano, should not join the standard repertoire.  Goodness only knows how much the genre needs fresh additions.  Others works however are more akin to student compositions – quasi anthems to youth – and, like most earnest student works, deserve a polite hearing but, thereafter, best left alone.  Yet such a critical analysis is hardly the point …is it?  Why?  Because, unlike students, many of these composers were not allowed to live long enough to go back and re-work their material.  And this means we need to apply a new strategy to our understanding of the music.
What lies within a core appreciation of all of the 24 CDs in the series, isn’t as much a ranking of artistic value, according to standard criteria, as it is a reaffirmation of the integrity of the human creative spirit.  Internment, no matter the almost surreal horror of such (in some circumstances) – be it within a state gaol, a frail or palsied body, a religious canon, an unyielding social boundary cast around the arts by an insecure political system, or, as we find here, a heinous racial ostracism – cannot imprison the creative mind.  And when the creative mind, despite very real physical imprisonment, looks about and surveys the terror of its landscape, it begins a process of therapy.  This is as natural to our species as is locking the prison door.
The KZ MUSIC series has determined its period and place of reference to prove the point.  But, before launching into an examination of it, one needs to remark, at this point, that all the performers have approached the material with sensitivity and technical assurance.  The phrasing, dynamics, tempi and sense of flow, throughout the recording, feel instinctively ‘correct’.  Pianist, Francesco Lotoro, certainly has the lion’s share of effort – performing on every track as either soloist or accompanist – but more importantly is the evident ‘simpatico’ evinced by all the musicians.
It is unclear from the two booklets included with the disc, whether Lotoro is also the author/compiler of the information they contain.  This information pertains to what details exist about the composers, their works, their surroundings and much more besides.  The author, be it Lotoro or not, is to be congratulated on this sedulous quest.
But why wasn’t the same degree of ministration applied to the English translation?  It certainly isn’t rare to find a few grammatical and word choice inaccuracies in texts translated into English, however, when there are this many ‘oversights’, one begins to wonder what it is the author is trying to say.  With subject matter of this importance, the translator shouldn’t alienate his readers before they become listeners.  Also, an English translation of the actual texts might have given the English speaking audience greater insight into the composer’s thinking.  And a final word on the business of English translations: the fabrication of the term ‘concentrationary music’ is not justified.  To coin an abbreviation such as ‘CCM’ (Concentration Camp Music) is fine, if previously annotated, but to use the non-word ‘concentrationary’ so consistently, doesn’t give it the right to exist.  In fact, if it did exist as a word, it could give the opposite impression of much of the music!  
It is difficult to know where to begin a discussion because the therapeutic process takes on a very different complexion according to the personality, degree of training and genuine inventiveness of the composer.  As mentioned, this critique makes little attempt to set a level or standard of compositional excellence and is more concerned with taking a panoramic view of the process in action.
The composer to whom I was immediately drawn was Viktor Ullmann.  One of the leaflets states he studied with Arnold Schoenberg for a year, although it doesn’t mention what he studied specifically.  My curiosity was piqued: was the 20 – 21 year old Ullmann influenced by the style of music Schoenberg was writing just before the 1920s?  Further research revealed that Ullmann studied composition with Schoenberg and indeed, one can draw a similarity in as much as both composers explore motivic (cells of three or four notes) development rather than traditional melodic expansion.  Ullmann however seems to more attracted to establishing larger lines of restricted range, and to harmonies imprinted with Mahler or Strauss.
The choice of accompanying strings (either as quartet or trio) adds an almost claustrophobic dimension.  Perhaps this is due to the timbral ‘tightness’ of string ensembles or perhaps it’s a deliberate attempt by the composer to project his physical surroundings.  Who can say?  But what can be determined is that these representative lieder deserve further study.  It appears the Czechoslovakian artistic community maintains a similar position.
After the relative sophistication of Ullmann’s music we are presented, in purely musical terms, with their antithesis: three songs for baritone and piano by Josef Kropinski.  (Incidentally, Kropinski, having survived WWII and the camps, as a political prisoner, died of a heart attack in 1970…a mere fifteen years later.)  Unlike Ullmann, Kropinski clearly has a penchant for tonal melodies.  Some of them are quite haunting, like that which opens ‘Piesn Wspomnienia’ – which I’m sure I’ve encountered before – and the folksy melody of ‘Prozno!’.  Yet while his basic building blocks are attractive, he has difficulty mounting them into a satisfying or convincing edifice.  Still, in terms of melodic invention alone, he should be better known.  Much of this writing has the imprint of ‘movie land’ written on it and this is a quality which shouldn’t be ignored.  If ‘Piesn Wspomnienia’ hasn’t been used – if I had only associated it with something else – then it would be a regrettable loss for any reputable Hollywood director.
Berman’s ‘Poupata’, as already mentioned, which opens the disc (with seven songs for baritone and piano, one for soprano and piano, and one for piano solo) show, though not exclusively, a surprising Impressionist influence.  All the pieces are conveyed with a satisfying sense of line, and the word shaping is aurally perceived as being highly sensitive to the natural inflections of the language.  His harmonic writing is an interesting reconnaissance of non or barely tonal areas.  But there is a twist: his harmonic progressions offer the listener greater satisfaction than his harmonic ‘goals’.  The former, be they French Impressionistic or late German Romantic in colour, seem to explore new relationships but the latter (the purpose of the progression) always capitulate to tonality.  It is as if Berman is stating his willingness to probe a non-tonal harmonic world but not the extent of permanently residing there.
His ‘Slavnostni Pochod’, for piano solo, is an oddity.  Clearly pictorial, this anthem or military march is either satirical or naive.  Whatever the case, it isn’t worthy of the music already presented by the composer.
There are three other piano solos on the CD’s program.  The first two of these are by Z. Stryjecki (only the initial of his first name is known and his dates of birth/death are unknown).  Both solos are very basic in structure and general musical material.  Before tagging them as ‘juvenile’ – which is what their style would strongly suggest – one searches for a bit more information to confirm the notion.  But there is so little information about his life; except he was a POW and these pieces were written in 1942.  That’s all there is.  One can only conjecture his artistic development was curtailed in his youth and, consequently, left in that state when he composed the pieces.
The other piano solo – ‘Felicita’ op.282 by Charles Abeles – is similar to Berman’s solo in as much as it is either burlesque or dewy-eyed, although the clichéd tremolo, in both hands, at the conclusion, would seem to imply the former.  Then again, the gesture would be entirely in keeping with a carnival or circus image the work evokes.  The information is so sparse that one must adopt a subjective opinion, so, in my opinion, ‘Felicita’ is a parody.
Fortunately there is more information about the other two composers on the disc: Ludmilla Peskarova and Eva Lippold-Brockdorff.  Undoubtedly this is because both women survived WWII and the Holocaust.  There is also another similarity between them – a stylistic conformance which favours simple tonal structures (i.e. where it is a relatively easy task to aurally delineate small musical sections).  Both women appear to have a fondness for either folk songs or ‘patriotic’ anthems.  Their use of rhythm is best described as detectable patterning – iterations of small motives – and their harmonic progressions comes perilously close to textbook design.
These are observations which would strike many listeners, not artistic evaluations.  In its own terms, each song (all of which have been scored for ‘female voice’ and piano) might be limited in its musical language but, overall, has a fairly balanced dynamic structure.  I was curious to see how Peskarova was going to handle her material in ‘Pisen o Koncentracich’ as its duration of 5mins 11secs is the second longest on the disc.  ‘Songs about the Concentrations’, its translation, would, on the surface, suggest something weighty and in-depth.  And I assumed its length would indicate a more explorative musical argument.  I was disappointed, but not surprised – given the title, to find it only had greater repetition…perhaps too much.  In fact it became a spiralling of repetition within repetition.  One felt it was at this stage that the line between conscious intent (to make a statement) and the world of creativity were losing sight of each other.  For future performances of any of these songs, by either composer, it is suggested to substitute the ‘female singer’ for a boy soprano.  I feel this is more the quality of voice both composers had in mind.  That quality is one of innocence.
This is a word that so effectively, on many levels, best describes the creative thinking heard in most of the music on the disc.  Does the creative mind, when surrounded by such senseless suffering and maleficence, find a point of state of grace?  Having listened to this recording, I think it does, or it has no alternative not to do so.
Stuart Hille, 2009"

VA - KZ Musik CD 1
(256 kbps, cover art included)


 

Jüdische Chronik (Blacher, Wagner-Régeny, Hartmann, Henze, Dessau) – Aus jüdischer Volkspoesie (Schostakowitsch) (Eterna, 1968)

Today is the Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. The chosen date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Army in 1945.
“Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and of other genocides. On it, we commemorate victims, honour survivors and commit to tackling prejudice, discrimination and racism in the present day. We encourage nations to conquer genocide and atrocity and individuals to stand up against hatred.” (from: http://www.hmd.org.uk/about/)
This is an opportunity to show our respect for the survivors of Nazi persecution and mass murder, and to listen to what they can tell us about the best and the worst of human behaviour.

So here´s an album with “Jüdische Chronik” (“A Jewish Chronicle”) and “Aus jüdischer Volkspoesie” (“From Jewish Folk Poetry”).

In 1960, at the invitation of Paul Dessau, composers from both parts of Germany got together to write a joint work, “A Jewish Chronicle”. This was in response to the wave of activity by anti-semitic and neo-nazi groups which had begun in West Germany on Christmas Eve 1959.
The song cycle “From Jewish Folk Poetry” for soloists and piano, Op. 79, by Soviet composer Dmitry Schostakowitsch is one of the central works of his compositional career. While the cycle has not attained the international celebrity of his superbly crafted and tragically ironic Symphony No. 1, or his artist-as-political-martyr heroism of the Symphony No. 5, or his “is-he-or-isn’t-he a dissident” ambiguity of the String Quartet No. 8, From Jewish Folk Poetry is a deep and heartrending work. He wrote From Jewish Folk Poetry in 1948, 20 years after his first condemnation by the Communist government and only a few months after having been condemned a second time. In 1948, Shostakovich not only knew the horrors of Stalin, but the horrors of Nazism: He knew of the Holocaust’s Final Solution for European Jewry and he knew that Stalin had conceived a similar Final Solution for Russia’s Jews. Thus, Shostakovich’s identification with the suffering of the Jews was total, and this song cycle is the product of his identification.
Set in the Jewish folk idiom that Schostakowitsch had first made use of in his “Piano Trio No. 2″ (1944), the songs’ tunes are immediately memorable, their rhythms infectious, and the harmonies both sweet and sour. Needless to say, “From Jewish Folk Poetry” was not performed in public during Stalin’s lifetime, but only in private for close friends of the composer. The first public performance took place on January 15, 1955.

Jüdische Chronik – Aus jüdischer Volkspoesie (Eterna, 1968)
(192 kbps)

Terezin – Theresienstadt (Anne Sofie von Otter and others)

Today is the Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. The chosen date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Army in 1945.

“Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust and of other genocides. On it, we commemorate victims, honour survivors and commit to tackling prejudice, discrimination and racism in the present day. We encourage nations to conquer genocide and atrocity and individuals to stand up against hatred.” (from: http://www.hmd.org.uk/about/)

On this album, joined by several distinguished colleagues, Anne Sofie Von Otter pays homage to the remarkable composers and musicians imprisoned in the nazi Concentration camp Theresienstadt, where, under conditions of unimaginable suffering, they wrote and perfomed these songs and others works of delightful fantasy and lasting beauty.

“Even in the earth’s darkest corner, the music took away our fear and reminded us of the beauty in this world.” (Alice Herz-Sommer, pianist and Theresienstadt survivor)”
Composers:
Ilse Weber (1903 – 1944), Karel Svenk (1907 – 1945), Adolf Strauss…
Performers:
Bebe Risenfors [baritone] (Baritone)
Anne Sofie Von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Bengt Forsberg (Accordion)
Ib Hausmann (Clarinet)
Philip Dukes (Viola)
Christian Gerhaher (Baritone)
Josephine Knight (Cello)
Tracklist:
01. Ich wandre durch Theresienstadt 2:38
02. Pod destnikem 3:10
03. Vsechno jde! 2:16
04. Ade, Kamerad! 2:22
05. Und der Regen rinnt 1:48
06. Ich weiß bestimmt, ich werd Dich wiedersehn 3:19
07. Gräfin Mariza – Operetta in 3 Acts – Arrangement – Terezín-Lied – Adaption of Komm mit nach Varasdin 2:55
08. Karussell 4:12
09. Wiegala 2:35
10. Ctyrversi (Vierzeilengedicht) 1:40
11. Vzruseni (Empfindung) 2:00
12. Pratele (Die Freunde) 1:18 13. Ein jüdisches Kind 2:43
14. Drei jiddische Lieder (Brezulinka), Op.53 – 1. Berjoskele 5:21
15. Six Sonnets de Louize Labané, Op.34 – 1. Claire Vénus… (Sonnet V) 3:36
16. Six Sonnets de Louize Labané, Op.34 – 2. On voit mourir… (Sonnet VII) 2:38
17. Six Sonnets De Louize Labané, Op.34 – 3. Je Vis, Je Meurs… (Sonnet VIII) 1:22
18. Zaslech jsem divoke husy (Ich vernahm Wildgänse) 2:39
19. V bambusovem haji (Im Bambushain) 2:06
20. Daleko mesic je domova (Fern der Heimat ist der Mond) 5:05
21. Probdena noc (Durchwachte Nacht) 3:27
22. Sonata for violin solo (1927) – 1. Allegro con fuoco Daniel Hope 1:42
23. Sonata for violin solo (1927) – 2. Andante cantabile Daniel Hope 5:31
24. Sonata for violin solo (1927) – 3. Scherzo Daniel Hope 2:10
25. Sonata for violin solo (1927) – 4. Finale Daniel Hope 2:36
 
Terezin – Theresienstadt (Anne Sofie von Otter and others)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Sonntag, 26. Januar 2014

Larry Saunders & Others - Free Angela (1973)

Today is the 70th birthday of the radical Black activist, author, communist and academic.
She emerged as a nationally prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s, as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement despite never being an official member of the party.

She studied as a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego, under the Marxist professor and 'One Dimensional Man' (1964) author Herbert Marcuse.
Davis joined the Communist Party in 1968, and like many Blacks during the late 1960s, suffered discrimination for her personal political beliefs and commitment to revolutionary ideals. Despite her qualifications and excellent teaching record, the California Board of Regents refused to renew her appointment as a philosophy lecturer in 1970.

Davis worked to free the Soledad (Prison) Brothers, African-American prisoners held in California during the late 1960s. She befriended George Jackson, one of the prisoners. On August 7, 1970, during an abortive escape attempt from Marin County's Hall of Justice, the trial judge and three people were killed, including George Jackson's brother Jonathan. Davis was implicated when police claimed that the guns used had been registered in her name.
Davis fled and was consequently listed on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list, sparking one of the most intensive manhunts in recent American history. California Governor Ronald Reagan publicly vowed that Davis would never teach in that state again. In August 1970 she was captured & imprisoned in New York City but was freed eighteen months later, cleared of all charges in 1972 by an all white jury. Her co-defendant and sole-survivor of the Marin Courthouse Rebellion, Ruchell Magee, still remains in prison.

Prisoner rights have been among her continuing interests; she is the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. She is a retired professor with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is the former director of the university's Feminist Studies department.

Her research interests are in feminism, African-American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music, social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons.

"Free Angela" is an incredibly righteous bit of soul – one of the few albums ever cut by 70s mellow soul genius Larry Saunders, and an amazing tribute to Angela Davis! Larry's got a fantastic voice – one that we'd rank right up there with Donny Hathaway or Marvin Gaye, and which is recorded here with sublimely spare arrangements that have a slight southern soul touch, but which are more in the east coast indie mode in which he often worked. There's other artists in the mix, too – a few others brought together by August Moon/Mr Wiggles for the project – singing and playing some amazing work that makes the whole thing a lost righteous soul treasure. The whole album's amazing – almost like finding a part 2 to What's Going On, or listening into what Otis Redding might have sounded like, had he made it to the 70s. Titles include Saunders singing "Free Angela", "This World", and "Where Did Peace Go" – and other cuts include "Nobody Knows" by Dickie Wonder, "I Can Be" by Brother Love, "Old Uncle Tom Is Dead" by Nitroglycerine, "Baby Can't You See" by Tyrone Thomas, and "Geraldine Jones" by Soul Encyclopedia.

Tracklist:

A1Larry Saunders, The Prophet Of Soul* Free Angela
A2Larry Saunders, The Prophet Of Soul* This World
A3NitroglycerineOld Uncle Tom Is Dead
A4Larry Saunders, The Prophet Of Soul* Where Did Peace Go?
B1Dickie WonderNobody Knows
B2Brother LoveI Can Be
B3Tyrone ThomasBaby Can't You See
B4Judd WatkinsParadise
B5Soul EncyclopediaGeraldine Jones

Larry Saunders & Others - Free Angela
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 22. Januar 2014

Ernst Busch - Live in Berlin 1960


Today is the 114th birthday of Ernst Busch, the wonderful interpreter of political songs. Celebrating his birthday, the Ernst Busch Gesellschaft yesterday screened two interesting documentary films featuring Ernst Busch - happily I had the chance to visit this event.

The birthday concert of January 22, 1960 documented here marked the
singer’s return from sulking in a corner. His return to the recording studio
shortly afterwards made the comeback complete. In the last fifteen years of his
life (up to his committal to the Bernburg psychiatric clinic), he fulfilled his long
cherished desire to record a »sounding cultural history«. The Aurora record
series, a collaboration between Busch, the Academy of the Arts and the VEB
Deutsche Schallplatten (the »People’s Own« successor to his old firm Lied der
Zeit), became his musical legacy.

East Berlin, January 22, 1960: the assembly hall of the Academy of the Arts
of the GDR is hopelessly overcrowded with up to 300 people. A hundred
invited guests from cultural and political institutions have been joined by
Academy staff, colleagues and their friends, as well as fans from the West who
have good connections »over there« in the East. The illustrious audience has
just taken its seats and then stood up again to welcome the star of the evening
with a standing ovation. In the street there are still young people who
absolutely must get in. They want to see for themselves how national prizewinner
Ernst Busch is celebrating his sixtieth birthday, wish to hear what
justifies the legendary reputation of a singer who has been silent for almost a
decade.

They have even written a threatening letter to lend emphasis to their
concern, as Herbert Ihering afterwards amusedly relates at dinner: »I have here
a document bearing the title ›Last Warning!‹, in which the young people write:
‚If we are not allowed into the Busch hall today, there will be burnings at the
stake, gunpowder, poison, E605, gallows, pistols, drownings and instruments
of torture!‹ As you see, that’s all illustrated here ... (general laughter) It is all
written here, not so? New master pupils are in the making ...« The »master
pupils« have finally gained admission and found standing room, Academy
president Otto Nagel has read out the congratulations sent to Busch, Ihering
has declared in a brief introduction that the birthday boy will now treat us to
songs from the last forty years, accompanied at the piano by his friends Grigori
Schneerson and Hanns Eisler – and Busch begins to sing.

A memorable evening. And a remarkable recording – especially since there
are no other live recordings of Busch’s concerts. It’s as if an old cabaret hack is
standing on the stage, wanting to see if he can still do it. Busch is in good voice and a good mood. And he trots through what is for him a decidedly
cheerful programme with an ease that is often lacking in his sterile late studio
recordings. He dispenses with many of his early hits (like »Baumwollpflücker«,
»Säckeschmeisser« and »Nigger Jim«), concentrating instead on
his two favourite poets: of the 24 songs, five are by Brecht and ten
are by Tucholsky (whose »Revolutionsrückblick« has been omitted
from the CD for technical reasons). Eisler, his favourite composer, is
constantly present – he wrote the music for almost all the songs
Busch performs this evening. Only three of the settings are not by his
»old accompanist Hanns«, as Eisler dubs himself on a sheet of
music dedicated to his friend. Busch has recently presented his
composer with a great challenge, swamping him with more than
two dozen »Tucho« texts selected in consultation with the poet’s widow Mary Tucholsky.
Eisler was composing like a pieceworker in 1959: »For Ernst from the municipal
kitchen of music (delivered to your doorstep on request) is one of the quips he sent to his
purchaser. The new cycle of Tucholsky songs, sections of which are presented
here, is not the only present Eisler has sent his revered friend. Many of the
people in the assembly hall have read his hymn-like article in the Berliner
Zeitung that morning: »The singing heart of the working class – to Ernst Busch
for his 60th birthday«. 

Of course, nothing is the way it was in undivided Berlin before 1933, when
he sang before 10,000 people in the Sportpalast. Today he sings in the solid
and tasteful atmosphere of the »Akdekü«, as Busch mockingly calls the
Akademie der Künste (Academy of the Arts). Today he presents himself as the
ripened political chansonnier and no longer as the »Young Siegfried in the
German Communist Party (Alfred Polgar). The evening is a nostalgic event, a
kind of family gathering of the East Berlin cultural scene. The average age in
the hall is high, particularly in the front rows, where the prominent figures are
seated. The camera of the DEFA-Wochenschau (East German news programme)
catches the authoress Anna Seghers looking radiant, Alexander Abusch, the
minister of education and cultural affairs, applauds enthusiastically, and
Brecht’s widow actress Helene Weigel is heard making lively interjections
during the concert.

The intimate atmosphere seems to inspire him. Ernst Busch is on top form.
He invites the audience to sing along with several songs – hits of his like the
Agitprop cracker »Arbeiter, Bauern, nehmt die Gewehre« (with the call to arms
of workers and peasants updated by the singer himself), the »Einheitsfrontlied«
and the anthem of the German members of the International Brigades,
»Spaniens Himmel«. He interposes two anecdotes, but otherwise refrains from
making remarks and concentrates on singing. »As you have noticed, no
speeches are being made ...«, he says archly. His audience meanwhile practises
the art of listening between the lines, a skill that is much used and indeed
sometimes overworked in the GDR. Much is read into many a verse, given that
Busch seems to stand for rebellion in all circumstances.

Those who witness the performance will still recall its subversive moments
decades later. The »Seifenlied« (soap song), a satirical song from the Weimar
Republic about the Social Democratic Party of Germany, is understood by some
in the auditorium – among them the young actors Ulrich Thein and Annekathrin
Bürger – as a political statement relating to the present: »Little Hanns Eisler is
at the piano, Ernst Busch sings, the party and state leaders sit in the first row
and clap, and then Busch gives an encore – they have asked for it after all: ›We
work up a lather, we soap ourselves, we wash our hands clean again ...‹
Annekathrin and Thein freeze in sympathy. They still know the text, and the
tune, yet neither of them has ever heard it again. What kind of a text is that?
They hardly venture to look towards the first row. Yes, frozen solid! They look
like a row of icicles. Eisler and Busch thaw more and more. Busch stretches out
his arms: ›Sing along!› – ›We work up a lather, we soap ourselves, we wash
our hands clean again ...‹ What can they do? The icicles sing. They sing and try
to look harmless. Busch, the fighter for Spain, their old comrade, he has them
all in the palm of his hand, a whole song long. Is this his comment on the
relationship between politics and art, on the Formalism controversy in the GDR
– his comment on the very direction taken by the still young state?
Shortly before the end of the concert, Busch sings Brecht’s »Kinderhymne«,
a (hopeless) contender in the public discussion thirty years later about whether
a new national anthem was needed for the reunited Germany. Busch comments
on this song: »This is what a teacher tells his children.« The announcement
amuses some members of the audience; partly, perhaps, because it unintentionally
describes the role Busch himself will progressively assume in the 1960s.
Busch, the North German, who likes to address his audiences as »Kinners«
(dialect for Kinder), does indeed have something of a teacher about him with
advancing years – a rather odd history teacher with a marked sense of political
mission. It has not escaped him that the teaching at his school follows a
syllabus consisting mainly of hot air. So what does he do about it? In the late
1970s the songwriter Reinhold Andert will put it like this in his song »Ernst
Busch«: »His silence was clean, honest and rough, without false feeling,
without violins. He struck the tone of our hearts precisely; learn from him how
to sing and be silent!  - Jochen Voit

Ernst Busch - Live in Berlin 1960
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 18. Januar 2014

The Beginning Of The End - Funky Nassau

The Beginning of the End was a funk group from Nassau, Bahamas. The group formed in 1969 and consisted of three brothers (Frank, Ray and Roy Munnings), a fourth member on bass (Fred Henfield), and a fifth on guitar (Livingston Colebrook). They released an album entitled Funky Nassau in 1971 on Alston Records (a subsidiary of Atlantic Records), and the track "Funky Nassau - Part I" became a hit single in the U.S.

This album is a true classic, an absolutely perfect blending of soul, calypso, funk, salsa and afro beat that is impossible not to stay still while listening to! It will always put a smile on your face and is constantly entertaining throughout. This album is heavily sampled in hip hop, for good reason!

A monster bit of funk that's unlike anything else we can think of! Beginning Of The End hailed from The Bahamas, but don't hold that against them – because instead of being a Caribbean cliche, they took the best part of the island rhythms, and used them to forge an incredible approach to funk! They've got a choppy sound that's the result of some incredibly dexterous guitar, bass, and drums – and which you'll recognize instantly from their one-time hit "Funky Nassau", a killer funk track that never gets old, no matter how many bands cover it over the years! That gem kicks off the album, which then rolls into the monster funky "part 2", which is even better! Other titles are equally wonderful – and include "Come Down", "Surrey Ride", "Monkey Tamarind", and "In The Deep".

Found the album a few month ago on the strongly missed Renshoua blog. Jillem, hope you will come back!

Tracklist:
1 Funky Nassau (Part 1) (3:10)
2 Funky Nassau (Part 2) (3:20)
3 Come Down (2:20)
4 Sleep On Dream On (3:00)
5 Surrey Ride (4:29)
6 Monkey Tamarind (3:10)
7 In The Deep (4:50)
8 Pretty Girl (4:52)
9 When She Made Me Promise (4:11)

The Beginning Of The End - Funky Nassau (1971)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Freitag, 10. Januar 2014

VA - The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs

The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs is a truly outstanding release: 3 CDs (and - not in this post -  a
DVD) full of some of the finest protest folk music from the USA of the early 20th century.

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first American protest song book, "The Little Red Song Book", and Pete Seegers's 90th birthday this collection traces the roots of protest song in the US from the first half of the last century up to the Fifties illustrating how the stage was set for the Folk protest giants of the Sixties such as Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. Featuring classic performances by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Leadbelly, The Almanac Singers, The Weavers and many more.

Releases such as this set almost make the modern day listener feel uneasy, such is the convenience of purchasing a collection that encompasses such a breadth of human experience. Each of these songs stands tall and strong, could be (and no doubt have been) lived in and lived by. There are songs as familiar as nursery rhymes, others that surprise the first-time listener and demand repeated plays.
Though this is nominally referred to as folk music, it really covers jazz, blues and soul, with soul in particular permeating. It’s in the ghostly harmonies of The Union Boys, the humour of Carl Sandburg’s The Boll Weevil and the stand-up dignity of Woody Guthrie songs that pepper the set.
Such is the nature of the protest song, this is an intense listen and perhaps best absorbed in short bursts, given the amount of material collected.


Tracklist:

Disc One - THE HOUSE I LIVE IN

Banks are Made of Marble - Pete Seeger
Chain Gang Bound - Josh White & His Carolinians
Joe Hill - Earl Robinson
This Land is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
Jim Crow - The Union Boys
Farmer's Letter to the President - Bob Miller
The Strange Death of John Doe - Almanac Singers
Southern Exposure - Josh White
Talking Atom - Pete Seeger
We've Got a Plan - Tom Glazer & Josh White
Bank Failures - Bob Miller
The House I Live In - Earl Robinson
Round & Round Hitler's Grave - Almanac Singers
Eisenhower Blues - J.B Lenoir
Unity Rhumba - Goodson & Vale
Dear Mr. President - Almanac Singers
Pastures of Plenty - The Weavers
The Bosses' Gang - Mara Alexander & Others
Freedom Road - Josh White
The Scottsboro Boys - Leadbelly

Disc Two - PATRIOTIC DIGGERS

Voting Union - Pete Seeger
Talking Sailor - Woody Guthrie
The Roosevelt Song - Leadbelly
The Boll Weevil - Carl Sandburg
The Preacher & the Slave - Seeger, Glazer, Wood & Gilbert
Nine Foot Shovel - Josh White & His Carolinians
High Price Blues - Brownie McGhee
Hold On - The Union Boys
Miner's Song - Woody Guthrie
Pity the Downtrodden Landlord - Bob Hill (Fred Hellerman)
Jim Crow Train - Josh White
Patriotic Diggers - John Allison
Farm Relief Blues - Bob Miller
Worried Man Blues - Woody Guthrie
Trouble - Josh White & His Carolinians
UAW-CIO - The Union Boys
Mr. Hitler - Leadbelly
No More Blues - Tom Glazer & Josh White
Plow Under - Almanac Singers
Told My Cap'n - Josh White & His Carolinians

Disc Thee - WE SHALL BE FREE

Strange Fruit - Josh White
The Bourgeois Blues - Leadbelly
C For Conscription - Almanac Singers
Citizen C.I.O. - Tom Glazer & Josh White
Ship in the Sky - Woody Guthrie
Jerry - Josh White & His Carolinians
The Rich Man & The Poor Man - Bob Miller
In Washington - Priority Ramblers
A Dollar Ain't a Dollar Anymore - Seeger, Glazer, Hays & Wood
Atomic Energy - Sir Lancelot
Black, Brown & White - Brownie McGhee
Uncle Sam Says - Josh White
Ragged Hungry Blues (Pt. 1) - Aunt Molly Jackson
Ragged Hungry Blues (Pt. 2) - Aunt Molly Jackson
We're Keeping Score In '44 - Earl Robinson
Goin' Home Boys - Josh White & His Carolinians
I've Got a Right - Laura Duncan
The Hammer Song - The Weavers
I'm On My Way - Ernie Lieberman
We Shall Be Free - Woody Guthrie

The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs CD 1

The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs CD 2

The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs CD 3

(192 kbps, front cover included

Montag, 6. Januar 2014

Billie Holiday - Lady Sings The Blues (1956)


To accompany her autobiography, Bilie Holiday released an LP in June 1956 entitled "Lady Sings the Blues". The album featured four new tracks, "Lady Sings the Blues" (title track), "Too Marvelous for Words", "Willow Weep for Me", and "I Thought About You", as well as eight new recordings of Holiday's biggest hits to date.

The re-recordings included "Trav'lin' Light" "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child".´On December 22, 1956, Billboard magazine reviewed "Lady Sings the Blues", calling it a worthy musical complement to her autobiography. "Holiday is in good voice now," said the reviewer, "and these new readings will be much appreciated by her following." "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child" were called classics, and "Good Morning Heartache", another reissued track in the LP, was also noted positively.

Taken from sessions taped during 1954-1956, "Lady Sings the Blues" features Holiday backed by tenor saxophonists Budd Johnson and Paul Quinichette, trumpeter Charlie Shavers, pianist Wynton Kelly, and guitarist Billy Bauer. Though Holiday's voice had arguably deteriorated by the 1950s, the album is well-regarded - in a 1956 review, "Down Beat" awarded the album 5 out of 5 stars, and had this to say about the co-current book:
"Lady Sings The Blues is Billie Holiday's autobiography (...) she tries to get the reader on her side of the mirror, so don't expect a three-dimensional view of the subject. The book was written with William Dufty, assistant to the editor of the New York Post (...) Seldom in the book does she talk about her singing (...)"
On Saturday, November 10, 1956, Holiday appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall in front of a sold out crowd. The show was planned to commemorate the edition of her autobiography, some paragraphs being read during the performance.

Tracklist:

A1 Lady Sings The Blues
A2 Trav'lin' Light
A3 I Must Have That Man
A4 Some Other Spring
A5 Strange Fruit
A6 No Good Man
B1 God Bless The Child
B2 Good Morning Heartache
B3 Love Me Or Leave Me
B4 Too Marvelous For Words
B5 Willow Weep For Me
B6 I Thought About You

Billie Holiday - Lady Sings The Blues (1956)
(256 kbps, cover art included)       

Donnerstag, 2. Januar 2014

Eric Burdon - Live in Denver, Ebbet s Fields (1974)


As the lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon was one of the British Invasion's most distinctive vocalists, with a searingly powerful blues-rock voice. When the first lineup of the group fell apart in 1966, Burdon kept the Animals' name going with various players for a few years. Usually billed as Eric Burdon & the Animals, the group was essentially Burdon's vehicle, which he used to purvey a far more psychedelic and less R&B-oriented vision. Occasionally he came up with a good second-division psychedelic hit, like "Sky Pilot"; more often, the music was indulgent, dating it almost immediately.

Burdon's real triumphs as a solo artist came at the beginning of the '70s, when he hooked up with a bunch of L.A. journeyman soul/funksters who became his backing band, War. Recording three albums' worth of material in the year or two that they were together, the Burdon/War records could ramble on interminably, and would have benefited from a lot of editing. But they contained some spacy funkadelia of real quality, especially their number three hit single "Spill the Wine," which was almost recorded as an afterthought in the midst of sessions dominated by exploratory jams. Eric Burdon & War were already big stars on record and stage when Burdon, for reasons unclear to almost everyone, quit the band in 1971. War defied expectations and became even bigger when left to their own devices; Burdon, after recording an album with veteran bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon, cut a series of generally desultory solo albums. He recorded off and on after that, at times with the Animals, but has never come close to reaching the heights of his work with the early Animals and War. Burdon was always a riveting live performer, though, and he continued to tour with various incarnations of the Animals and as a solo act, branching out as a painter and author as well, and working in the studio when it suited him.               

This Eric Burdon bootleg features an excellent and rare concert of a man at the top of his game. It was recorded at the famed club Ebbets Field in Denver, Colorado. This is an excellent concert in performance and sound quality. The Eric Burdon Band was touring in support of the superb 1974 "Sun Secrets" album. Eric previewed 2 songs from the forthcoming "Mirage" project which was not officially released until 2009. This was the tour just before Snuffy and Rabbit joined Eric's band and they recorded the excellent "Roxy Live" the following year featuring many songs targeted for Mirage.

Tracklist:

1. Stop
2. When I Was Young
3. Ghetto Child
4. Sun Secrets
5. Jim Crow
6. House of the Rising Sun
7. It's My Life
8. Metropole

Eric Burdon - Live In Denver, Ebbet´s Fields (1974)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 1. Januar 2014

Billie Holiday - Same (1954)


"Billie Holiday" is an album by jazz singer Billie Holiday, released on Clef Records in 1954, despite the fact that her last album also had the same name prior to it being changed to "Last Recordings" instead. The recordings took place in 1952 and 1954. Holiday never entered the recording studio in 1953.

In a 1954 review, Down Beat magazine praises the album, saying:
"The set is an experience in mounting pleasure that can do anything but increase still further no matter how often the LP is replayed. As for comparing it with earlier Teddy Wilson-Billie sessions, what's the point? Count your blessings in having both. Speaking of time, Billie's beat and variations thereon never cease to be among the seven wonders of jazz."
Two recordings, "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and "I Cried for You" were also recorded by Holiday in the 1930s with Teddy Wilson's Orchestra, at the beginning of her career.

This unconspicuously titled album from 1954 is mainly notable for containing tracks from two recording sessions that were quite distant chronologically. The first five songs were recorded in April 1952 (the same one that yielded much of the material for "An Evening With Billie Holiday"); the last three — ex­actly two years later. The backing band is very much the same: Oscar Peterson mans the piano in both cases, Ray Brown is on bass and Charlie Shavers on trumpet. (Herb Ellis replaces Barney Kessel on guitar, but neither is particularly noticeable).
What is, however, unmistakably different is Billie herself. The 1952 sessions have already been talked about before; here, of particular note is the exquisite lonesome-melancholic rendition of 'Autumn In New York' (comparing this to the syrupy lounge version of Sarah Vaughan, among others, reveals the utter triumph of simple intelligence and humane vulnerability over gloss and operatic technique), al­though, as usual, all the other performances are first-rate as well.
The last three songs, however, feature Billie's voice in the initial phases of decline – losing some of her frequencies (never all that abundant to begin with) and beginning to acquire that unmista­kable «old lady rasp» that she managed to be saddled with without actually turning into an old la­dy, due to substance abuse. It is only the beginning, though; here, the main effect is simply that the singing gets lower and «deeper». It is unclear if they put Shavers' trumpet on top of every­thing in order to «mask» that weakness — probably just a coincidence. But that's how it is.
In any case, the fast, playful versions of 'What A Little Moonlight Can Do' and 'I Cried For You' are still excellent, and the album as a whole has no lowlights, despite the incoherence of its two parts. Recommendable, if only for the beautiful 'Autumn In New York'.
 
(Thanks to http://only-solitaire.blogspot.de/ for the review.)
 
Tracklist:

1) Love For Sale
2) Moonglow
3) Everything I Have Is Yours
4) If The Moon Turns Green
5) Autumn In New York
6) How Deep Is The Ocean
7) What A Little Moonlight Can Do
8) I Cried For You
 
(256 kbps, front cover included)
 
 
...and all the best for the new year!