Sonntag, 31. Mai 2015

Gil Scott-Heron - Real Eyes (1980)

In 1980, Gil Scott-Heron had a nice opportunity to promote his "Real Eyes" album when he became the opening act on Stevie Wonder's "Hotter Than July" tour. On his own, Scott-Heron usually played small clubs, but opening for Wonder gave him the chance to perform in front of thousands of Wonder fans in major stadiums and sports arenas. Many of Wonder's white fans seemed to be unfamiliar with Scott-Heron (who had never had a major pop hit), while a lot of Wonder's black fans at least knew him for "The Bottle" and "Angel Dust" even if they hadn't bought a lot of his albums. Opening for all those Wonder fans certainly didn't hurt Scott-Heron's career, but it didn't make him a superstar either.

While it's possible that some Wonder fans enjoyed Scott-Heron's opening sets enough to go out and purchase "Real Eyes", most of the people who acquired this LP were already confirmed Scott-Heron fans. Unfortunately, "Real Eyes" lacked a hit single, although the material is excellent nonetheless. As usual, Scott-Heron has a lot of sociopolitical things on his mind - "The Train From Washington" concludes that the working class can't depend on the U.S. government for anything, while "Not Needed" angrily points the finger at companies who consider longtime employees expendable.

And the album's less sociopolitical songs are equally memorable. "Your Daddy Loves You" is a touching ode to Scott-Heron's daughter Gia Louise (who was only a child in 1980), and the jazz-oriented "A Legend in His Own Mind" is a humorous, clever put-down of a wannabe "Casanova" who isn't nearly the ladies' man he brags about being. Scott-Heron's love of jazz serves him well on "A Legend in His Own Mind" and the smoky "Combinations," but make no mistake: "Real Eyes" is an R&B album more than anything.

(320 kbps, front cover included)

Harry Belafonte - Belafonte On Campus (1967)

An actor, humanitarian, and the acknowledged "King of Calypso," Harry Belafonte ranked among the most seminal performers of the postwar era. One of the most successful African-American pop stars in history, Belafonte's staggering talent, good looks, and masterful assimilation of folk, jazz, and worldbeat rhythms allowed him to achieve a level of mainstream eminence and crossover popularity virtually unparalleled in the days before the advent of the civil rights movement -- a cultural uprising which he himself helped spearhead.

It can be hypothesized that Harry Belafonte's career as a singer of folk songs ended with this album. Launching into a four-year drought, he would not have another exceptional album for RCA Victor until 1971's "Calypso Carnival". The theme for the album was spurred by Belafonte's popularity on college campuses in the mid-'60s. College audiences in the '60s were to folk singers what armed forces recruits were to big band singers and comedians during World War II: sure things. The liner notes estimate that during his most recent tour, Belafonte played to a quarter of a million American students at forty colleges.

The selections on the album are ones he sang on the tour, and Belafonte deftly combines songs from folk tradition with new works by rising singer-songwriters. Of the latter, Gordon Lightfoot's "The Hands I Love" (featuring the delicate guitar work of Al Schackman) and Tom Paxton's "Hold On to Me Babe" stand out as memorable. Even Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind" is given an offbeat treatment, more as a gospel rocker than a tender ballad. Bill Eaton, more in his element than with the relatively quaint, alien music of the West Indies, created the kind of sound Belafonte thrived on: new ways to sing familiar songs. Lonnie Donegan's skiffle anthem "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O" becomes more of a bluesy shuffle on "Sail Away Ladies," and Leadbelly's work song "Take This Hammer" is transformed into an entirely new song, now titled "Roll On, Buddy." The results of these upending of traditional arrangements could have been disastrous, but for Harry Belafonte during the Summer of Love, they were still working.

(192 kbps, cover art included)

VA - Steam Ballads (Broadside, 1977)

"Steam Balldads" was an album released on the Broadside label way back in 1977. This album features mostly 19th century railroad ballads and songs, performed by Harry Boardman, Jon Raven, Tony Rose and Kempion

01 - Harry Boardman - Navvy On The Line
02 - Jon Raven - The Bold Navvies
03 - Jon Raven - Paddy Works On The Railway
04 - Tony Rose - Opening Of The Newcastle & Shields Railway
05 - Harry Boardman - Johnny Greens Trip Fra Owdhum
06 - Kempion - Opening Of The Birmingham & Liverpool Railway
07 - Kempion - The Iron Horse
08 - Jon Raven - The Oxford & Hampton Railway
09 - Kempion - The Cockney's Trip To Brummagem
10 - Tony Rose - The Wonderful Effects Of The Leicester Railway
11 - Jon Raven - Cosher Bailey
12 - Tony Rose - Moses Of The Mail
13 - Tony Rose - The Fireman's Growl

VA - Steam Ballads (1977, Broadside)
(192 kbps, front & back cover included)

Gil Scott-Heron - 1970 – Small Talk at 125th & Lenox Ave

One of the most important progenitors of rap music, Gil Scott-Heron's aggressive, no-nonsense street poetry inspired a legion of intelligent rappers while his engaging songwriting skills placed him square in the R&B charts later in his career, backed by increasingly contemporary production courtesy of Malcolm Cecil and Nile Rodgers (of Chic).

Disregard the understated title, "Small Talk at 125th and Lenox" was a volcanic upheaval of intellectualism and social critique, recorded live in a New York nightclub with only bongos and conga to back the street poet. Here Scott-Heron introduced some of his most biting material, including the landmark "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" as well as his single most polemical moment: the angry race warning "Enough."

Still, he balances the tone and mood well, ranging from direct broadsides to clever satire. He introduces "Whitey on the Moon" with a bemused air ("wanting to give credit where credit is due"), then launches into a diatribe concerning living conditions for the neglected on earth while those racing to the moon receive millions of taxpayer dollars. On "Evolution (And Flashback)," Scott-Heron laments the setbacks of the civil rights movement and provides a capsule history of his race, ending sharply with these words: "In 1960, I was a negro, and then Malcolm came along/Yes, but some nigger shot Malcolm down, though the bitter truth lives on/Well, now I am a black man, and though I still go second class/Whereas once I wanted the white man's love, now he can kiss my ass." The only sour note comes on a brush with homophobia, "The Subject Was Faggots."

01. Intro
02. The Revolution will not be televised
03. Omen
04. Brother
05. Comment #1
06. Small Talk At 125th And Lenox
07. The Subject Was Faggots
08. Evolution (And Flashback)
09. Plastic Pattern People
10. Whitey On The Moon
11. The Vulture
12. Enough
13. Paint It Black
14. Everyday

Gil Scott-Heron - Small Talk At 125th & Lenox Ave
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Miriam Makeba - Miriam Makeba (1960)

Miriam Makeba had just made a splash in New York nightclubs and earned a fistful of press only a few months earlier when RCA Victor Records snapped her up and recorded her first album in May 1960. Clearly, the label was hoping to repeat the success of her mentor, Harry Belafonte, whose Belafonte Folk Singers accompanied her on some tracks and who wrote a blurb for the album's back cover.

Like Belafonte, she was a black singer with an exotic, folk-based repertoire who could translate her music into a sophisticated club act. In addition to the Belafonte troupe, which appeared on the calypso tune "The Naughty Little Flea," a song that sounded like a Belafonte number, the Chad Mitchell Trio joined her on "Mbube," aka the Weavers' "Wimoweh," and Charles Coleman was her duet partner on the comic Austrian tune "One More Dance."

She also turned in an early version of "House of the Rising Sun." Such familiar material offset the songs sung in her native South African tongue of Xhosa. Makeba had an expressive voice and was extremely versatile, as the range of material indicates. But despite the critical raves, she may have been a bit too exotic to be commercial on her first album, which was not a big seller. RCA let her go to Kapp Records for her second album, but came calling again three years later.


The Retreat Song
The Click Song
Lakutshn, Ilanga
The Naughty Little Flea
Where Does It Lead?
House of the Rising Sun
One More Dance
Iya Guduza

Miriam Makeba - Miriam Makeba (1960)
(256 kbps, cover art incuded)

Miriam Makeba - Live (1977)

This album is the German version of the South African release "'Live' For My Brothers And Sisters".

The songs are from a live concert at Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris in 1977. On the album are both political songs of various sorts as well as songs meant more for dance and fun ("Pata Pata" being the most recognizable).

Realistically, Makeba may have other albums of a higher recording quality out there, but the inclusion of crowd noises, monologues with the audience, and some acoustic irregularities (inherent in any live recording) make the album seem more worthy as a document of a live performance, giving the listener a feel for what a live concert by the great singer would be like.
Any fan of Makeba's music should be overjoyed upon hearing this album,


               I Shall Sing                         4:00      
               Kulala                                  3:32      
               Malaika                              5:09      
               Jolinkomo                          3:23      
               Ring Bell                             3:34      
               Pata Pata                           2:43      
               Ngoma Kurila                    5:08      
               Forbidden Games             3:29      
               Mas Que Nada                  3:50      
               West Wind                         3:38      
               Amampondo                     2:42

Miriam Makeba - Live (1977)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 30. Mai 2015

Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, Lotte Lenya - Historische Aufnahmen

The actress and singer Lotte Lenya (1900–81) was born in Vienna and was a popular cabaret and musical star in Berlin before the advent of the Nazis forced her to flee Germany.

Lenya appeared in several of her husband's Kurt Weill works in Germany, including creating the role of Jenny ("Threpenny Opera") in 1928. Her first American appearance was in "The Eternal Road" (1937), followed by "Candle in the Wind" (1941), Weill's "The Firebrand of Florence" (1945), and "Barefoot in Athens" (1951). She later appeared as Fräulein Schneider in "Cabaret" (1966). Her “steel‐file voice” made her the definitive interpreter of her husband's songs.

Here´s another collection of historic recordings of the music of the great Kurt Weill. Included are recordings and excerpts from the 1930s and 1940s of "Die Dreigroschenoper", "Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny", "Happy End", "Kleine Dreiroschenmusik", "Lady In The Dark" and "One Touch of Venus".

(192 kbps, cover art included)

River Of Song - A Musical Journey Down The Mississippi

This two-hour, 36 track, musical journey down the Mississippi from the headwaters to the delta captures the power and diversity of American music in the late 20th century. The music, recorded between 1995 and 1997 in small towns and large cities along the river, reflects centuries of interaction and experimentation along America’s great waterway.

This album offers a landmark presentation of contemporary musicians who have forged their styles out of the rich musical heritage found along the banks of the Mississippi. The combination of musical diversity and striking continuity found in this remarkable region, which slices through the center of the United States, is reflected by a range of artists including Soul Asylum, John Hartford, Chippewa Nation, Babes in Toyland, and the Mississippi Mass Choir.

"River of Song" is the first of a stunning multimedia project (including a four-part PBS documentary, public-radio interviews, and book) on which an array of artists under the tutelage of director-curator Anthony Seeger give voice and share the lore of America's great Mississippi River. The musical journey is parceled into quadrants: from the Northern headwaters, slicing through Twain's heartland; snaking down into the Deep South; wending through Louisiana, where music is king; and culminating at its life-giving, life-taking mouth, the Gulf of Mexico. Prolonged visitation occurs in musical meccas Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans, showcasing the abundant talent and distinct sound of each locale. River of Song celebrates not only the landscapes through which the water traverses but also the colorful cultures that have sprung from and thrive at her banks: Native American, Dutch, African-American, Cajun, and subcultures and hybrids of youth and religion, including indie-rock hipsters, heartland country rockers, Delta blues men, Mexican Dixieland jazz, and both black and white gospel musics from deep believers of faith. Much like driving the Natchez Trace, the journey is profoundly American - deeply affecting in providing not only a sense of the present but of our very roots.

River Of Song, pt. 1
River Of Song, pt. 2
(192 kbps)

Betrolt Brecht - Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder

"Mother Courage and Her Children" ("Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder") was a play written in 1939 by the German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1956) with significant contributions from his mistress at the time, Margarete Steffin. It has subsequently been filmed.


It is one of nine plays that he wrote in an attempt to counter the rise of Fascism and Nazism. Following Brecht's own principles for political drama, the play is not set in modern times but during the Thirty Years' War of 1618-1648. It follows the fortunes of Anna Fierling, nicknamed "Mother Courage," —a wily canteen woman with the Swedish Army who is determined to make her living from the war. Over the course of the play, she loses all three of her children, Swiss Cheese, Eilif, and Katrin, to the same war from which she sought to profit.
The play is an example of Brecht's concepts of Epic Theatre and Verfremdungseffekt or "alienation". ("Alienation", however, is something of a misleading translation, for it suggests that the audience are actively cut off from the performance. A more accurate translation of Verfremdungseffekt is "distancing effect" or "to make strange", since Brecht's intention was to set the audience apart from familiar situations so that they may think about them objectively). Verfremdungseffekt is achieved through the use of placards which reveal the events of each scene, juxtaposition, actors changing characters and costume on stage, the use of narration, simple props and scenery. For instance, a single tree would be used to convey a whole forest, and the stage is usually flooded with bright white light whether it's a winter's night or a summer's day. Several songs are used to underscore the themes of the play.

The action of the play takes place over the course of 12 years —1624 - 1636 —represented in 12 short scenes. One is given a sense of Courage's career without being given enough time to develop sentimental feelings and empathize with any of the characters. Meanwhile, Mother Courage is not depicted as a noble character—here the Brechtian epic theatre sets itself apart from the ancient Greek tragedies in which the heroes are far above the average. With the same alienating effect, the ending of Brecht's play does not arouse our desire to imitate the main character, Mother Courage.

Brecht and Steffin wrote this play in only two months, and it is among his most famous plays. His work attempts to show the dreadfulness of war and the idea that virtues are not rewarded in corrupt times. He used an epic structure so that the audience focuses on the issues being displayed rather than getting involved with the characters and emotions. Epic plays are of a very distinct genre and are typical of Brecht; a strong case could be made that he invented the form.

The play was originally produced in Zurich at the Schauspielhaus, produced by Leopold Lindtberg in 1941. Music was written by Paul Dessau. The musicians were placed in view of the audience so that they could be seen—this is one of Brecht's many techniques in Epic Theatre. Therese Giehse, (a well-known actress at the time) took the title role. The first production in (East-)Berlin was in 1949, with Brecht's (second) wife Helene Weigel, his main actress and later also director, as Mother Courage.

This production would highly influence the formation of the Berliner Ensemble, which would provide Brecht a venue to direct many of his plays. Brecht died directing Galileo for the Ensemble.

(128 kbps)

Donnerstag, 28. Mai 2015

Opal - Early Recordings

The neo-psychedelic group Opal formed in the mid-'80s, featuring former Rain Parade guitarist David Roback and former Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Initially, the group was called Clay Allison, but the group dropped the name after one single; Roback, Smith, and drummer Keith Mitchell released the remaining Clay Allison tracks under their own name in 1984 on the "Fell From the Sun" EP. After its release, the group adopted the name Opal and released an EP, "Northern Line", in 1985.

"Early Recordings'"is a collection of songs by David Roback and Kendra Smith that date from 1983-1987; they were released under both the Opal and Clay Allison band monikers.

While Opal's "Happy Nightmare Baby" is more representative of the group's richly textured brand of neo-psychedelia, the stripped-down "Early Recordings" compilation is an even better example of David Roback and Kendra Smith's remarkable songcraft.

Released in the wake of the group's breakup, the album collects the majority of tracks from the "Fell From the Sun" and "Northern Line" EPs, along with a handful of outtakes and unreleased cuts, all spotlighting Opal's more subdued, acoustic-folk side. Peeling away the mystical haze which enshrouded "Happy Nightmare Baby", the songs are plaintive and stark, exposing the emotional complexity at the band's core - the wistful "Empty Box Blues" and the haunting "Harriet Brown," both previously unissued, are unmatched in their beauty and grace.

Opal - Early Recordings
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Hanns Eisler - Hollywood Songbook (Matthias Goerne, Eric Schneider)

Hanns Eisler was a composer with a social conscience, but, like the poet in one of these songs, he reaped only anguish. Driven from his native Germany where his music was banned by the Nazis, he went to California and wrote excellent film scores, but was unable to reconcile himself to Hollywood's mass culture, leaving him a stranger in a foreign land. These songs - like so much in the extraordinary "Entartete Musik" series - express the experience of actual and spiritual exile, with its aching yearning for a home that no longer exists. Most of the texts are by Eisler's friend and fellow exile, Bertolt Brecht; together they create a grim picture of bleak desolation in the midst of material plenty. The songs are connected by a feeling of isolation and despair at the state of the world, as well as a pervasive strain of desperate humor and irony. The sense of rootlessness is most clearly reflected in the songs' abrupt, incomplete-sounding endings. The musical language is eclectic but highly original, ranging from echoes of Schubert, intimations of the serialism Eisler learned from Schönberg, to cabaret songs. Eisler was finally deported back to Germany during the McCarthy era, having never attained the stature he deserved. Matthias Goerne's incomparably velvety, variable, expressive voice and riveting inward concentration give the tragedy of the uprooted exile's loneliness a shattering emotional impact, and pianist Eric Schneider is terrific. It is interesting to compare Goerne's approach to that of baritone Wolfgang Holzmair, who uses a much drier sound and very pointed diction, underlining the songs' cabaret style to give them a stinging, sardonic sarcasm with stiletto-like sharpness.
"An issue of major importance, hugely impressive. Goerne has obviously been smitten by these wonderful, neglected songs: he calls them 'the 20th century Winterreise´ and in performances as gripping as these it is hard to contradict him. They are Eisler's songs of exile, written in Hollywood while the Germany for which he felt both passionate revulsion and deep nostalgia sank into the abyss. Most of the 46 short songs are settings of poems by Brecht, some written specifically for Eisler, but they also incorporate 'mini-cycles' to texts by MOrike and Eichendorff, two poems by Blaise Pascal (set in English) and one or two others including a single poem by Eisler himself.
The songs are not here sung in the order in which Eisler eventually published them, but the sequence chosen makes poignant dramatic sense, chronicling Brecht's and Eisler's horror at what was happening in Germany, their flight and exile, their reaction to the alien world of Hollywood and meditations on Germany's vanished past, hideous present and uncertain future. As performed here, the cycle ends with a loving homage to Schubert, 'On Watering the Garden', followed by the haunting and moving 'Homecoming', a vision of Berlin obliterated by bombardment, and by the intense and characteristically Eislerian lyricism of 'Landscape of Exile' ('The ravines of California at evening...did not leave the messenger of misfortune unmoved'). These were Eisler's first Lieder since his student days, and to convey his epic theme in a sequence of miniatures he ranged across all the styles available to him, from a terse, Schoenberg-derived angularity via Berlin cabaret towards, more and more as the sequence proceeds, deliberate evocation of Schubert, Schumann and Mahler.

They demand a prodigious expressive range from any singer who undertakes them. Goerne can sing 'On Suicide' with a mere thread of sound without ever losing the quality of his voice but can then swell in an instant to a formidable fff for the last syllable of the terrifying final line ('People just throw their unbearable lives away'). The sheer beauty of his voice is just what those many homages to the Lied tradition need. His English is pretty good, his diction immaculate, and he makes a memorably sinister thing of the seventh Hollywood Elegy (set in English; Brecht's German original is lost), that horrifying image of a man sinking in a swamp with a a 'ghastly, blissful smile'. Goerne has done nothing better; this is a masterly and profoundly moving achievement. His pianist is first-class, the recording admirable." -  from: Gramophone (1/1999)

Hanns Eisler - Hollywood Songbook (Matthias Goerne)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Hanns Eisler - Choral Songs - Children´s Songs - Popular Songs (Chorlieder - Kinderlieder - Volkslieder)

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the death of the composer Hanns Eisler (September, 6), there was a wonderful "Long Hanns Eisler night" three years ago at the Akademie der Künste (Berlin) with artist like Sonja Kehler, Wenzel, Hanns Eisler Chor and Bremer Eisler Ensemble. One of the highlights of the evening was the appearance of Gisela May. The wonderful actress and singer had an interesting on-stage conversation with the Eisler expert Jürgen Scherbera about her collaboration with Hanns Eisler. And she gave us an interpretation of "Die haltbare Graugans".

One of the most original and prolific composers of the twentieth century, Hanns Eisler proved that expressing humanistic and political concerns does not necessarily lead to musical banalities, but can achieve his stated aesthetic ideal of "freshness, intelligence, strength and elegance" (as opposed to "bombast, sentimentality and mysticism"). Eisler´s variety of genres and writing styles surpasses anything to be found among other leading 20th-century composers. Songs of widely differing kinds and levels were the principal fruit of Eisler´s talent and ability: marching songs, ballads, lullabies, art songs, canons, anthems, chansons, choral songs and cycles.

This album is a collection of choral songs, children´s songs and popular songs, including the "Little Woodbury song book". It contains key works illustrating Eisler´s characteristic, largely song-oriented musical thinking.

Tracklist01 - 20: Woodburry-Liederbüchlein
21 - 23:  Kanons
24: Gegen den Krieg, Op. 51
25 - 29: Fünf Lieder für Kindergärten
30 - 32: Drei Kinderlieder für Gesang und Bratsche
33 - 41: Suite für Septett No. 1, Op. 92a
42 - 47: Neue deutsche Volkslieder
48: Nationalhymne der DDR

Hanns Eisler - Chorlieder - Kinderlieder - Volkslieder
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Sonntag, 24. Mai 2015

Eric Von Schmidt - The Folk Blues Of Eric Von Schmidt (1963)

Painter, illustrator, singer/songwriter, and folksinger Eric Von Schmidt was a spearhead of the folk revival that swept through Cambridge, Massachusett's Harvard Square in the early '60s. When he wasn't hosting late-night jam sessions at his apartment/studio, Von Schmidt was performing Leadbelly-influenced songs in coffeehouses and inspiring several generations of folk-rooted singer/songwriters.    

As the third generation of painters in his family, Von Schmidt was the son of famed illustrator Harold Von Schmidt, best known for his serial Tugboat Annie. Von Schmidt was the first in his family to become involved with music. Although his mother read music and played piano at Christmas, his father and brother were unable to carry a tune. Determined that their children be given a grounding in music, Von Schmidt's parents purchased a collection of records including tunes by Johnny Noble & His Royal Hawaiians, Burl Ives, Segovia, Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians, Hoagy Carmichael, and Duke Ellington.

Von Schmidt stumbled onto folk music by chance when he heard a live broadcast by Leadbelly on radio station WNYC. The theme song was "Goodnight Irene." "I was going out with a girl called Irene, " Von Schmidt explained in 1992. "I thought, 'Boy, there's a song that I've got to learn.'"
Leadbelly's performance inspired Von Schmidt to teach himself to play guitar. In addition to learning songs from the records that he bought at a local store, he learned songs from the few music books that he could find. Much to his surprise, Von Schmidt found other high-school students in awe of folk music. Together they would travel to New York, where they would sit around playing their guitars and banjos in taverns. Among the first New York-based folksingers who Von Schmidt befriended were Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Tom Paley. At Elliott's invitation, Von Schmidt made his radio debut on a program hosted by Oscar Brand, playing "Pretty Polly" on a banjo.

Von Schmidt continued his musical education while serving in the Army. During the two years that he was stationed in Washington D.C., he searched for songs in the archives of the Folklore Department of the Library of Congress. After being discharged and spending two years studying art in Italy via a Fulbright Scholarship, Von Schmidt went to Harvard Square. Around the corner from his apartment and studio was Tulla's Coffee Grinder, a coffeehouse that served as the center of the early folk music movement.

Although the folk scene was initially relaxed and strictly amateur, things began to change around 1958 when Joan Baez made her debut appearances. The folk music craze spread quickly and new clubs opened, including Club 47 in Harvard Square and the Unicorn in Boston. One of the first folk artists to be recorded, Von Schmidt released his debut album in 1962.
An early friend and supporter of Bob Dylan, Von Schmidt was mentioned on Dylan's debut album as the source of the song "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, " which Von Schmidt had recorded as "Baby, Let Me Lay It on You." In 1963, Von Schmidt traveled to England with Dylan and Rolf Cohn, recording an album with Dylan appearing as "Blind Boy Grunt." Von Schmidt's debut album, "Folk Blues", rests on the floor in the cover photograph of Dylan's 1965 "Bringing It All Back Home" album. Von Schmidt's original song "Joshua Gone Barbados" was recorded by Dylan and the Band during their Basement Tapes sessions and was included on the bootleg album "The Genuine Basement Tapes, Vol. 5".

The folk scene was still going strong when Von Schmidt, who had been divorced from his first wife, left for Florida in 1970. After meeting the woman who would become his second wife, he relocated to Henniker, New Hampshire. He continued to record albums until the late '70s. Although he released an album with the Cruel Family on Philo in 1977, the label was experiencing severe problems and failed to promote the recording. The album was never included in the label's catalog. Baby, Let Me Lay It on You, a book about the Boston/Cambridge folk years that Von Schmidt co-wrote with folksinger and record producer Jim Rooney, was originally published in 1979; the book was later reissued by the University of Massachusetts. For much of the 1980s and early '90s, Von Schmidt concentrated on his artwork. His illustrations were featured on numerous record albums and exhibited in several galleries and museums.
After meeting guitarist and vocalist Linda Clifford, Von Schmidt began performing again. In 1995, he recorded Baby, "Let Me Lay It on You" -- his first album in 18 years. In addition to 15 new songs, the album featured reworkings of "Joshua Gone Barbados" and the title track. Eric Von Schmidt died at age 75 on February 2, 2007 in Fairfield, Connecticut, after having suffered a stroke in August of the preceding year.    

A1Crow Jane
A2Gulf Coast Blues
A3Brave Wolfe
A4Junco Partner
A5De Kalb Blues
B1Champagne Don't Hurt Me. Baby
B2Buffalo Skinners
B3Jack O' Diamonds
B4He Was A Friend Of Mine
B5Cocoa Beach Blues
B6Down On Me

Eric Von Schmidt - The Folk Blues Of Eric Von Schmidt (1963)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 23. Mai 2015

Lightnin Hopkins - How Many More Years I Got

Though he had been performing since the 1920s, Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins was a fresh face to the majority of the young folk audiences of the 1960s.

On the verge of drifting into obscurity, the singer had been rediscovered by enthusiast Mack McCormick and promoted to college crowds as a singer/guitarist in the folk-blues mold. What followed was a series of albums cut both solo and with session musicians for a variety of labels. "How Many More Years I Got" was one of the earliest. The players here are extremely loose, betraying a casual interest in the task at hand. They sound like a group of borrowed session men, but were in fact a small combo familiar both with each other and Hopkins himself. Bassist Donald Cooks, pianist Buster Pickens, drummer "Spider" Kilpatrick, and Hopkins' harp-playing cousin, Billy Bizor, all played on a number of the guitarist's dates during the early '60s. Hopkins was apparently reluctant to do second takes, however, and these recordings show it. The singer leads the group with his relaxed lines and Kilpatrick follows, further defining the tempo with the light, stiff patter of his drums. Bizor occasionally plays the role of catalyst, though his moans, hollers, and vocal/harmonica dialogues do little to increase the interest of his partners. Things pick up slightly during the album's second half, though even then the performances hardly approach the level of Hopkins' solo sides from the period, let alone his best work.         

A1How Many More Years I Got2:58
A2Walkin' This Road By Myself4:48
A3The Devil Jumped The Black Man4:09
A4My Baby Don't Stand No Cheatin'2:05
A5Black Cadillac3:37
B1You Is One Black Rat2:29
B2The Fox Chase3:18
B3Mojo Hand3:30
B4Mama Blues5:16
B5My Black Name3:59
C1Prison Farm Blues4:35
C2Ida Mae5:25
C3I Got A Leak In This Old Building5:19
C4Happy Blues For John Glenn5:20
D1Worried Life Blues2:53
D2Sinner's Prayer3:45
D3Angel Child3:30
D4Pneumonia Blues3:30
D5Have You Ever Been Mistreated4:04

Lightnin Hopkins - How Many More Years I Got
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Dave Van Ronk - Ragtime Jug Stompers (1960, vinyl rip)

Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and native New Yorker Dave Van Ronk has inspired, aided, and promoted the careers of numerous singer/songwriters who came up in the blues tradition. Most notable of the many musicians he's helped over the years is Bob Dylan, whom Van Ronk got to know shortly after Dylan moved to New York in 1961 to pursue a life as a folk/blues singer.Van Ronk's recorded output over the years is healthy, but he's never been as prolific a songwriter as some of his friends from that era, like Dylan or Tom Paxton. Instead, the genius of what Van Ronk does lies in his flawless execution and rearranging of classic acoustic blues tunes.

This wild and unrestrained collection of blues, jazz and blues standards makes Van Ronk's "Red Onion" album sound positively subdued. The rave-up of "Everybody Loves My Baby" is an acoustic equivalent of garage bands-to-come for sheer energy. You can tell that he loves these tunes; and in the notes, Van Ronk says he had been planning to start a jug band for a while, since 1958. In any case, it's a record brimming with an energetic spirit.
"As for the jug band, that came about more or less by accident. One weekend Max Gordon, the owner of the Village Vanguard, was in Cambridge for some reason, and he walked by the Club 47 and saw this huge line of people waiting to get in to see the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. In his mind's eye he transposed this queue to 7th Avenue South, where he had his room, and visions of sugarplums started dancing in his head. So when he got back to New York, he called Robert Shelton and said, "Are there any jug bands around town?" Bob said, "Well, yeah, but what you really ought to do is get hold of Dave Van Ronk and have him put one together."
So he did, and I did. I called up a bunch of friends, and we formed the Ragtime Jug Stompers. Sam Charters was back in town, so he was our Pooh-Bah and Lord High Everything Else—he sang, arranged, and played washtub bass, washboard, jug, and occasionally would lend a hand on guitar. Barry Kornfeld played banjo and guitar. Artie Rose was on mandolin, and also played some fine Dobro. Finally, Danny Kalb, who had been a student of mine, played lead guitar and some very nice harmonica. (We also made him sing bass on "K.C. Moan," because he was the youngest and none of us wanted to do it.) It was a very flexible band because the musicians were all good enough to double or triple on various instruments, plus it had all the possibilities offered by kazoos and that sort of thing, so it was capable of more than one kind of sound." - from: "The Mayor of Macdougal Street"


Side A
01 - Everybody Loves My Baby
02 - Stealin
03 - Saint Louis Tickle
04 - Sister Kate
05 - Take I Slow And Easy
06 - Mack The Knife

Side B
07 - Diggin' My Potatoes
08 - Temptation Rag
09 - Shake That Thing
10 - K. C. Moan
11 - Georgia Camp Meeting
12 - You'se A Viper

(320 kbps, cover art included)

Ewan MacColl - Broadside Ballads, Vol. 2 (London: 1600 - 1700) (1962)

Tracks & Artist/Performer:
101 Female Frolic, The (Female Frollick, The) Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards
102 Give Me My Yellow Hose Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards
103 King and No King, A Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards
201 Constance of Cleveland Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Alf Edwards

Ewan MacColl - Broadside Ballads, Vol. 2 (London: 1600 - 1700) (1962)
(128 kbps, cover art included)

Dave Van Ronk - Just Dave Van Ronk (1964)

Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and native New Yorker Dave Van Ronk has inspired, aided, and promoted the careers of numerous singer/songwriters who came up in the blues tradition. Most notable of the many musicians he's helped over the years is Bob Dylan, whom Van Ronk got to know shortly after Dylan moved to New York in 1961 to pursue a life as a folk/blues singer.

Van Ronk's recorded output over the years is healthy, but he's never been as prolific a songwriter as some of his friends from that era, like Dylan or Tom Paxton. Instead, the genius of what Van Ronk does lies in his flawless execution and rearranging of classic acoustic blues tunes.

This collection is comprised of solo guitar and vocal interpretations of blues and traditional standards. Van Ronk's understated guitar style is perfect for these intimate performances. His naturally rough voice allows him to sing these songs believably without any ethnic affectation or false energy.

(192 kbps, front cover included)

Ewan MacColl - Broadside Ballads, Vol.1 (London: 1600 - 1700) (1962)

A broadside (also known as a broadsheet) is a single sheet of inexpensive paper printed on one side, often with a ballad, rhyme, news and sometimes with woodcut illustrations. They were one of the most common forms of printed material between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in Britain, Ireland and North America and are often associated with one of the most important forms of traditional music from these countries, the ballad.

This album was one of the earliest efforts to collect and in some way attempt to bring to life the folk tradition of England that would then within a few years jump start the English folk (and folk rock) tradition. What makes this specific collection of most interest is instead of reinterpreting known folk songs, folk ballads that would have been common in the historical time frame are unearthed, many of which portray an unnervingly real depiction of life at the time. Topics such as the chilling depiction of the great fire of London, the death of a midwife and the humurous jibe at the emergence of tobacco and its condemnation as part of a drinking song open the listener, in some ways to life at the time (in a way that a revisionist documentary could not). Clearly for many the English folk scene such as Fairport Convention and classics that go in and out of print such as "Anthems in Eden" may be receive more listens. However the authenticity of this compilation clearly cannot be found in later releases none of which would have existed without the dedicated efforts of early folk musicians to revive a musical tradition that had in many ways,other than preserved song lyrics gone extinct and bring it back to life.

This collection features songs about myriad topics, including economic changes during the reign of James I and England’s colonies in the New World.

Notes by Ewan MacColl:


The term 'Broadside Ballad' is here used to designate any song — narrative or otherwise — which made its first appearance on the penny or halfpenny sheets.
The songs which make up these two albums do not, for the most part, have much in common with the Traditional Ballads.
Professor Child has characterized the broadsides as "veritable dunghills", and for three hundred years contemptuous literary men have castigated the authors of these 'vile ballads'; and yet even the most awkward of their verses has its occasional flash of humour, its sudden, brief flicker of light, making the dead past live again for a moment. If our view of the past, occasioned by these momentary illuminations, is sometimes an oblique one, then it is none the less interesting on that account.
The broadsides flourished from 1500-1700, that is until the first cheap books began to make their appearance. By the beginning of the 18th century, the black-letter ballads had virtually disappeared.
The White-letter productions, however, persisted until the mid-nineteenth century, and indeed, even today it is not unusual for one to be accosted in the London streets by a 'soft touch man' who in return for a shilling will slip you an envelope containing a miniature photostat copy of a ballad dealing with the 'Loss of the Royal Sovereign' in World War II, or with the 'Sinking of the Scharnhorst'.
In the days before TV, radio and newspapers, the broadsides helped both to mould and reflect public opinion; their authors acted as political commentators, journalists, comic-strip writers, P. R. men for both parties, and for all those ambitious placeseekers who could afford to hire a pen.
That they were popular with the masses, no one can doubt; that they were unpopular with the establishment is born out by successive acts of legislation against 'pipers, fiddlers and minstrels' and by the many repressive laws directed against them both in England and Scotland.
In 1574 (in Scotland) they were again branded with the oprobrious title of vagabonds and threatened with severe penalties; and the regent Morton induced the Privy Council to issue an edict that "nane tak upon hand to emprint or sell whatsoever book, ballet, or other werk" without its being examined and licenced under pain of death and confiscation of goods.
In August 1579, two poets of Edinburgh, (William Turnbull, Schoolmaster and William Scot, notar, "baith weel belovit of the common people for their common offices") were hanged for writing a satirical ballad against the Earl of Morton, and in October of the same year, the Estates passed an act against beggars and "sic as make themselves fules and are bards ... minstrels, sangsters, and tale-tellers, not avowed in special service by some of the lords of parliament or great burghs."

Seventy-five years later, Captain Bentham was appointed provost-marshall to the revolutionary army in England, with power to seize upon all balladsingers, and five years after that date there were no more entries of ballads at Stationers' Hall. The heat was still on a century later and in July 1763, we are told that "yesterday evening two women were sent to Bridewell by Lord Bute's order, for singing political ballads before his lordship's door in South Audley Street".
Even in the mid-nineteenth century the attacks on the ballad-mongers continued, though by this time the fraternity was somewhat reduced in size; yet it was still sufficiently large for the owners of factories and workshops like the Vulcan foundry of Newton-Le-Willows, Cheshire to deem it necessary to issue the following warning on a cast-iron notice board: TAKE NOTICE. PRIVATE PROPERTY.
We do hereby caution all HAWKERS, RAG AND BONE DEALERS, BALLAD SINGERS & From trespassing on these premises. Any person or persons of the above description found hereon after this notice will be prosecuted with the utmost rigor of the LAW. VULCAN FOUNDRY MAY 1st. 1835.
They have departed now; it is no longer necessary for the authorities to brand "bardis and balletsingers" on the cheek and scourge them through the streets. The descendents of Elderton, Deloney, Johnson, Munday and Martin Parker now work for the establishment, as the hired men of television, radio, the press and Tin Pan Alley; they have learned how to write without offending anybody or anything, except, occasionally, one's sense of the ridiculous.

The Accompaniments

The broadsides were, for the most part, sung on the streets and in the taverns of Britain's cities. If they had accompaniments at all, these would probably have been of a most rudimentary nature. To have presented them in these albums with the sophisticated virginals and lute would have been as incongruous as arranging the St. Louis Blues for the serpent and three Alpine horns. It is much more likely that instruments such as the pipe and tabor and fiddle were used. For this present recording we have made no attempt to provide "authentic" accompaniment. We have used instead the concertina, the guitar, the ocarina, flute, piccolo, tin whistle, autoharp, tabor and, for two songs, the banjo; all of them instruments which have been widely used by street singers of our own time."

Side One
Room For Company - (Piccolo and Tabor)
Pity's Lamentation - (Guitar and Flute)
There's Nothing To Be Had Without Money - (Concertina, Flute and Guitar)
The Midwife's Ghost - (Autoharp)

Side Two
A Merry Progress To Lonoon - (Unaccompanied)
Lqndon's Lottery - (Guitar and Flute)
London Mourning. In Ashes - (Concertina)
King Lear and His Three Daughters' - (Flute, Concertina and Guitar)

Ewan MacColl: Vocals
Peggy Seeger: Guitar, Banjo and Autoharp
Alf Edwards: English Concertina, Ocarina and Tabor
Alfle Kahn: Piccolo, Flute and Tin Whistle

Ewan MacColl - Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 (1962)
(128 kbps, front & back cover included)

Dave Van Ronk - Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger (Prestige, 1962)

Many die-hard folkys consider Dave Van Ronk in a class apart from his contemporaries — such as Bob Dylan, Eric Von Schmidt, or Jean Ritchie.

Likewise, when asked to pick their favorite of his recordings, "Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger" is likely among the first mentioned. The original LP features a baker's dozen of Van Ronk's most memorable performances, presented in the intimate context of his own solo guitar accompaniment.
This unadorned musical approach seemingly raised the bar for many Washington Square folk devotees. His deceptively simplistic delivery acts as both a gateway to, as well as an archetypal interpreter of, a roots-based folk music that is steeped in the American experience. "Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger" is the first in a series of sides that Van Ronk would cut for Prestige and features a selection of traditional material, most of which hadn't been included on his earlier Folkways albums.

What is most immediately striking about Van Ronk's approach is the overwhelming solitude inherent within his delivery. The unadorned humanity is expressed practically by default. Examples can be found throughout the disc, be it in the soul-rendering visage of a junkie in "Cocaine Blues" or the lamentations of "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me." As well as forging a unique style, Van Ronk also reflects the enormous inspiration of his varied influences. The rambunctious "Samson and Delilah" certainly takes a page from the talkin' blues delivery of Rev. Gary Davis. The mournful and despondent "He Was a Friend of Mine" comes from the same mold that forged Bob Dylan's original. Van Ronk was a vocal supporter of Dylan in that he was one of, if not the first artist to have covered one of his tunes. The version heard here can be likened to Dylan's paternal twin, as the song's essence remains true to form. However, not all of Van Ronk's material is so somber. John Henry's bawdy blues "You've Been a Good Old Wagon" and the traditional "Chicken Is Nice" are charming in their unaffected, almost accidental whimsy. As there is nothing new about the material, once again the impassive delivery and subtle intonations are at the core of making these readings so amusing. In the case of the former, Van Ronk's assertion to keep the narrative voice either feminine - or possibly gay - allows tremendous insight into the type of humor Van Ronk successfully asserts. This is a vital touchstone of Americana and likewise is highly recommended as a key component of any serious collection of 20th century folk music.

Dave Van Ronk - Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger (Prestige, 1962)
(ca. 192 kbps, front cover included)

Hans-A-Plast - Hans-A-Plast (1979)

Let´s go one more step back in the Hans-A-Plast history:
Here´s their self-released debut "Hans-a-plast", which appeared 1979 and was very successful. Great lyrics, great female voice!

Hans-A-Plast - same (1979)

(128 kbps, cover art included)

Lightnin Hopkins - Blues Train

Sam "Lightnin" Hopkins was a Texas country bluesman of the highest caliber whose career began in the 1920s and stretched all the way into the 1980s. Along the way, Hopkins watched the genre change remarkably, but he never appreciably altered his mournful Lone Star sound, which translated onto both acoustic and electric guitar. Hopkins' nimble dexterity made intricate boogie riffs seem easy, and his fascinating penchant for improvising lyrics to fit whatever situation might arise made him a beloved blues troubadour.

This album collects classic sides from Hopkins’ 1950-1951 stint with Bobby Shad’s "Sittin’-in-With" logo. The disc’s 15 selections include two of his biggest hits, “Hello Central” and “Coffee Blues.”

Lightnin Hopkins - Blues Train
(192 kbps, front cover included)

2. Festival des politischen Liedes - Wer, wenn nicht wir (1971, Eterna, vinyl rip)

This album features artists from 16 different countries taking part at the second "Festival des politischen Liedes" in 1971.


01. Oktober-Klub - Auf, auf zum Kampf
02. Oktober-Klub - Seid euch bewusst der Macht
03. Isabel Parra - En septiembre canta el gallo
04. Oktober-Klub - Streiklied
05. Il contemporaneo - Que il nostro Vietnam
06. Thanh nien Ho Chi Minh - Der Hügel der zehn Helden
07. Oktober-Klub - Vietnams Geschütze
08. Oktober-Klub - Prometheus
09. Lutschina - Lied über Schtschors
10. Venceremos Club - Lied der Gleichen
11. Agitprop - Kenen joukoissa seisot
12. Francesca Solleville - Mexiko 68
13. Quilapayún - Comienza la vida nueva
14. Venceremos Club - Die Partei
15. Oktober-Klub - Die Thälmann-Kolonne

2. Festival des politischen Liedes - Wer, wenn nicht wir (1971)
(192 kbps, complete cover art included)

Freitag, 22. Mai 2015

Tom Paxton - Ain´t That News (1965)

Tom Paxton proved to be one of the most durable of the singer/songwriters to emerge from the Greenwich Village folk revival scene of the early '60s. In some ways, he had more in common with the late-'50s generation of folksingers such as Dave Van Ronk (who was 16 months his senior) and even older performers than with the new crop of singer/songwriters with whom he tended to be associated, such as Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs (both of whom were several years his junior). But like Dylan and Ochs, and unlike Van Ronk, Paxton was a songwriter caught up in the left-wing political movements of the time and inspired to compose topical and protest songs. In general, his tended to be more lighthearted than theirs (the musical satirist Tom Lehrer was at least as much of an influence on him as Woody Guthrie), though he could be just as witty and just as harshly critical of his opponents. Like such mentors as Pete Seeger, and unlike Dylan, he never cared to make much of a transition to the mainstream, never picked up an electric guitar and tried to play rock & roll.

Tom Paxton's second album was one of his most earnest efforts, and that serious narrative tone, combined with the fading of the issues it addresses (the Vietnam War, the draft, the Civil Rights movement) off the national radar, makes much of it dated and some of it stilted. Nonetheless, it does have one of his most effective anti-war pieces; "Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation," in fact, is one of the better anti-Vietnam folk songs of the 1960s. There's also "Bottle of Wine," one of Paxton's best and most tuneful compositions, and one of his most-covered ones (by Judy Collins at the tail end of her folk era and then by the Fireballs a few years later for a pop/rock hit). Felix Pappalardi (on bass) and Barry Kornfeld (on second guitar and banjo) do add a bit of depth to the arrangements, yet many of the songs are a dry listen, though Paxton's observations are consistently well-thought out and well-intended. He could have used more lighthearted moments like "Bottle of Wine," or more romantic ones like "Hold On to Me Babe" (which Sandy Denny covered on an unreleased 1967 recording). And, in fact, he would use more such moments on his subsequent albums.

A1Ain't That News1:32
A2The Willing Conscript2:32
A3Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation3:00
A4Hold On To Me Babe3:10
A5The Name Of The Game Is Stud1:55
A6Bottle Of Wine2:21
A7The Natural Girl For Me2:37
B1Goodman, Schwerner And Chaney2:41
B2We Didn't Know2:22
B3Buy A Gun For Your Son2:30
B4Every Time3:09
B5Georgie On The Freeways3:09
B6Sully's Pail3:11
B7I'm The Man That Built The Bridges2:47

Tom Paxton - Ain´t That News (1965)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Dave Van Ronk - Van Ronk (1971)

"Dave and I both had a love/hate relationship with this album, because it had some of his greatest material but the arrangements keep undercutting or overwhelming his vocals. His take was, "they gave me impressive recording budgets, and we worked out some pretty interesting arrangements, with strings and horns and what-all. I enjoyed that, at times, and it gave me a chance to do some material that I would not have otherwise done, though I also was coaxed into doing some arrangements that even at the time seemed overblown and buried the material."
In this period he had fully committed himself to the new styles being created by friends like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, which he thought of as a new kind of art or cabaret song and mixed with Brecht and Jacques Brel. His version of Mitchell's "Urge for Going" stays pretty close to his guitar chart, with nice strings, and is altogether a good example of what he could do with full orchestration (though he hated the drums), and "Legend of the Dead Soldier" is one of his most frighteningly powerful versions of a Brecht lyric. Peter Stampfel's "Random Canyon" is Dave at his most intentionally and ridiculously bombastic, and works just fine. "Fox's Minstrel Show" is a strange piece of material, but well suited to the big arrangement, and although Dave eventually decided that Brel's "Port of Amsterdam" was too drenched in nostalgie de la boue, he sings it well. Dave kept toying with the idea of rerecording the material he liked best from this album, but was held back by the fact that he never worked out his own ways of performing things like the Brel or Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going To Rain Today. All in all, this is a mixed bag, but well worth hearing after one knows his basic repertoire--I find it exciting to revisit it once and a while and wonder what he might have done if he'd had the chance to go on experimenting with these kinds of production values."  - Elijah Wald

Bird On The Wire3:55
Fox's Minstrel Show3:05
Port Of Amsterdam3:25
Fat Old John1:06
Urge For Going4:37
Random Canyon2:05
I Think It's Going To Rain Today3:50
Gaslight Rag2:55
Honey Hair3:15
Legend Of The Dead Soldier4:05
Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive2:30

Dave Van Ronk - Van Ronk (1971)
(ca. 256 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 19. Mai 2015

Lotte Lenya Sings Kurt Weill - American Theatre Songs

The voice of Lotte Lenya - filled with a bittersweet tone, slight imperfections, and that unmistakable accent - is something you either love or hate. But decades later, the former wife of Kurt Weill still has a voice we can't forget. Simply put, nothing compares to Lenya. This reissue gathers her English-language "September Song and Other American Theater Songs" album from 1958 (for the first time here, heard in its stereo version) as well as her tunes from 1957's "Cabaret"; "Song of a German Mother" from the Broadway show Brecht on Brecht; and even a collaboration with Louis Armstrong on "Mack the Knife."

These recordings were the cornerstone of Lenya's American career, and even with pop orchestration - "Saga of Jenny," "Green Up Time," "Speak Low" - these are infectious numbers. Like the previously released Sony Masterworks reissue of "Lotte Lenya Sings Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins", this is simply a great package. The sound quality is excellent and the eight-minute-long session outtake from "Mack the Knife" with Armstrong is truly fascinating.

According to the usual view, Kurt Weill had a double career - first composing provocative theatrical collaborations with Brecht in Weimar Germany, later writing for commercial Broadway stages. The continuities before and after 1935 are equally striking, however. Chief among them was his wife, Lotte Lenya, the foremost interpreter of his music, who single-handedly passed her style down to singers who have championed Weill more recently, notably Ute Lemper. Of course, another continuity is Weill's always-remarkable way with a tune, and this disc features Lenya in some of the best-loved songs from their American years - even if you've never heard of Weill, 'September Song' will be familiar - along with some lesser-known gems.Recorded in the late 1950s, Lenya's voice is actually less gruff and declamatory, more of an actual 'singing voice' in these American songs than in Weill's German songs. One thing Lenya could never do was swing - a rehearsal excerpt here features Louis Armstrong trying to teach her how - but the originality and authenticity of her style more than make up for that. Among the bonuses on this re-issue are some of the post-Weill songs best suited to Lenya: excerpts from Kander and Ebb's 'Cabaret,' indebted equally to Weill's German and American styles.

"Last, although hardly least, the CD includes three versions of Lenya singing Mack the Knife, although the word "version" doesn't do justice to the third, which is an eight-minute transcription of the studio takes of Lenya's duet with Louis Armstrong. The first of the three versions is sung by Lenya in German, accompanied by the Turk Murphy jazz band. Notwithstanding its abrupt coda, this great recording has, to my knowledge, never been released. The second Mack the Knife version is the final take of the Lenya-Armstrong duet. And the third, as noted, are the session takes, including Armstrong’s attempts to instruct Lenya how to get the rhythms right, especially on the final three eighth notes, which she never quite manages. It's a delightful and fascinating look at the great Lenya being instructed in how to sing American jazz by the equally great Louis Armstrong, who is in complete and total control of the session."

Thanks to, which provides more infos about this release)

Lotte Lenya Sings Kurt Weill - American Theatre Songs
(192 kbps, front cover inlcuded).