Mittwoch, 24. Juni 2015

The Critics Group - Waterloo, Peterloo (1968)

From the sleeve notes:

"The songs on this record belong to the period roughly between the years 1780 to 1830. They are the songs of a semi-literate population — weavers, farm labourers, travelling ballad-mongers-who lived in a time of unparalleled economic, political and social change when old ways of life, old patterns of thought were being swept away on a tidal wave of revolution. The reactions of the people whose lives were shaped by the stormy events of that era are mirrored vividly in the songs they created.

The times were stormy indeed. The revolution in France, with its message of hope to some and of terror to others, cast its shadow every where. Napoleon's armies marched and countermarched, re-making the map of Europe. Forges glowed and steam hissed as engineers harnessed iron and coal and water to the service of industry. It was an age which great men — Napoleon, Byron, Paine, Shelly, Stephenson — and also millions of men and women who did not aspire to be great, but only to keep themselves and their children from penury and starvation. Ruled as they were by men who held the doctrines of laissez-faire in somewhat higher reverence than the Sermon on the Mount, they could be forgiven if they had despaired and given up the struggle. Despair they did. but they also fought, sometimes physically, sometimes in less spectacular fashion. Driven from the land, herded into the slums of London or the dark industrial ghettoes that mushroomed like fungoid growths over the countryside. they held on to as much of their old culture as they could and set about forging a new one to meet the challenge of their changed situation.

There is no lack of literature dealing with this period of English history. The mass of statistics of birth-rates, death-rates, wage-rates, corn prices, import and export levels, the plethora of Enclosure Acts. Combination Acts, Gagging Acts, Corn Laws and Seditious Meeting Acts, the endless procession of inventors and their ingenious inventions have been scrupulously chronicled and minutely analysed by an army of historians. But it is often difficult for us to gain any immediate impression of the thoughts and reactions of those shadowy figures, the English common people, who fought and starved and loved and laughed and died to build the world that we know to-day. They did not usually commit their feelings to the pages of books. But the songs they created and sang open up a window directly on to their everyday lives. Bitter or humorous, tragic or ephemeral, these songs have tended to be rather undervalued by most historians as source material. More important for us. perhaps, many of them are fine songs and well worth singing.

We wish to thank the Midlands Folk Centre for allowing us access to their archives."

Sung by The Critics Group:
Frankie Armstrong
John Faulkner
Brian Pearson
Denis Turner
Terry Yarnell

John Faulkner – mandolin, English concertina
Sandra Kerr – guitar, dulcimer, tin whistle, spoons
Jim O’Connor – drums, percussion
Peggy Seeger – guitar
1. With Henry Hunt We'll Go
2. The Lancashire Lads
3. The Labouring Man
4. Jone 'O Grinfilt
5. Humphrey Hardfeatures
6. Van Deimans Land
7. The Death of Parker
8. Drink Old England Dry
9. The Battle of Waterloo
10. Boney Was a Warrior
11. The Victory
12. The Dudley Boys
13. Keepers and Poachers
14. I Should Like to Be a Policeman
15. The Way to Live
16. Hand Loom Weavers Lament

The Critics Group - Waterloo, Peterloo (1968)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 23. Juni 2015

Peter, Paul & Mary - In The Wind (1963)

You could have some fun with the title in more suggestive times, but In the Wind refers here to the popular trio's classic recording of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." Interestingly, their recording did as much for Dylan's career as it did for PP&M's, for, while it sealed their image as the troubadours of the '60s civil rights movement, it helped posit the then-little-known Dylan as the voice of a generation. Other highlights here include their gorgeous interpretation of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as well as spirituals, a lullaby, and even a Civil War ballad. It may all seem quaint now, but when this LP reached No. 1 in 1963, only weeks after John F. Kennedy's assassination, the folk movement was in full throttle...and something was definitely in the air. Or in the wind, so to speak. --Bill Holdship

Their third recording was one of the group's stronger outings, even if it confirms their status as folk popularizers rather than musical innovators. In particular, this record was essential to boosting the profile of Bob Dylan, including their huge hit cover of "Blowin' in the Wind," their Top Ten version of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and the bluesy "Quit Your Lowdown Ways," which Dylan himself would not release in the '60s (although his version finally came out on The Bootleg Series). "Stewball," "All My Trials," and "Tell It on the Mountain" were other highlights of their early repertoire, and the dramatic, strident, but inspirational "Very Last Day" is one of the best original tunes the group ever did.       

  1. "Very Last Day" (Peter Yarrow, Noel Stookey)
  2. "Hush-A-Bye" (traditional; arranged by Peter Yarrow, Noel Stookey)
  3. "Long Chain On" (Jimmie Driftwood)
  4. "Rocky Road" (Peter Yarrow, Noel Stookey)
  5. "Tell It on the Mountain" (arranged by Mary Travers, Peter Yarrow, Milton Okun, Noel Stookey)
  6. "Polly Von" aka Polly Vaughn and Molly Bawn (Mary Travers, Peter Yarrow, Noel Stookey)
  7. "Stewball" (Mary Travers, Milton Okun, Noel Stookey, Elena Mezzetti)
  8. "All My Trials" (traditional; arranged by Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, Mary Travers)
  9. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (Bob Dylan)
  10. "Freight Train" (Elizabeth Cotten)
  11. "Quit Your Low Down Ways" (Bob Dylan)
  12. "Blowin' in the Wind" (Bob Dylan)

Peter, Paul & Mary - In The Wind (1963)    
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 22. Juni 2015

Karen Dalton‎ - It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best (1969)

Karen Dalton was one of the ultimate free spirits. Arriving in New York from her native Oklahoma in 1960, she immediately became a part of the rising folk scene there, a hippie before they had a name, someone who lived life completely on her own terms. She was also, as this records shows, a superbly talented singer, eerily reminiscent of Billie Holliday. The only problem was that she disliked performing, and, in fact, had to be coaxed to make this album in the late '60s. Fortunately, the recording went very smoothly, with most of the vocals being first takes. Dalton (who died in the early '90s) had a natural feel for the blues. She could take songs by her contemporaries, even old folk songs, and find the blues inherent in them. It remains a mystery, really, why a record this good was lost among the releases of the time; its power might have been simple, but it was undeniable. Dalton did record again, making one other album. Now that we have the joy of It's So Hard to Tell, perhaps someone will see fit to issue that, too, and make our legacy complete. It's just a shame we've come to them so late. This is the real folk blues. - Chris Nickson

Some find Karen Dalton's voice difficult to listen to, and despite the Billie Holiday comparisons, it is rougher going than Lady Day. But Dalton's vocals aren't that hard to take, and they are expressive; like Buffy Sainte-Marie, it just does take some getting used to because of their unconventional timbre.

Her debut album has a muted folk-rock feel reminiscent of Fred Neil's arrangements in the mid-'60s, unsurprising since Neil's Capitol-era producer, Nick Venet, produced this disc too, and since Dalton, a friend of Neil, covered a couple of Neil songs here ("Little Bit of Rain," "Blues on the Ceiling").

Although clocking in at a mere ten songs, it covers a lot of ground, from Tim Hardin, Jelly Roll Morton, and Leadbelly to the traditional folk song "Ribbon Bow" and the Eddie Floyd/Booker T. Jones-penned soul tune "I Love You More Than Words Can Say." The record is interesting and well done, but would have been far more significant if it had come out five years or so earlier. By 1969 such singers were expected to write much of their own material (Dalton wrote none), and to embrace rock instrumentation less tentatively.  

A1Little Bit Of Rain
A2Sweet Substitute
A3Ribbon Bow
A4I Love You More Than Words Can Say
A5In The Evening
B1Blues On The Ceiling
B2It Hurts Me Too
B3How Did The Feeling Feel To You
B4Right, Wrong Or Ready
B5Down On The Street

Karen Dalton‎ - It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best (1969) 
(320 kbps, cover art included)        

Freitag, 19. Juni 2015

Nico - Drama Of Exile

It was a shock at the time and today, the thrill still lingers. Almost 15 years after she quit the Velvet Underground, and with four stunningly stubborn solo albums under her belt, Nico was finally ready to return to rock & roll, with a conventional band and a clutch of great songs which proved that, whatever else she'd lost during a career spent on the bleakest fringe of the idiom, the arts of composition and interpretation were not part of it.

As a member of the Velvets, she'd performed two songs, the stately "All Tomorrow's Parties" and the fragile "Femme Fatale." Now she added a third to her bow, a relentless "Waiting for the Man" which took its lead from composer Lou Reed's own recent revisions of the song but never lost sight of the trademark primitivism which gave it its original power -- that's not Maureen Tucker on drums, but close your eyes and it could be. Elsewhere, David Bowie's "Heroes" was given an almost militaristic going over, the chopping guitars, rolling drums, and a triumphant Davey Payne sax solo conspiring to prove that while Bowie had written about what he saw in Berlin, Nico sang of what she knew. It was stirring stuff and, again, all the more surprising for who was behind it. Nico reveled in the confusion. "It was really boring, all that quiet stuff," she said of her past albums and, as if to hammer home the point, ensured that even her most reflective moments now swam within a brittle swirl of new wave-inflected rock, and the traditional Eurasian influences which band members Philippe Quilichini and Mahammad Hadi added to Nico's own unique references.

Across her own compositions, "Drama of Exile" explored the faces and places Nico witnessed during her own dramatic exile - she had spent the first half of the 1970s in hiding, convinced that the Black Panthers had a contract out on her; she resurfaced and was then forced to retreat once again, after an interview quote was interpreted as espousing brutal racism. The haunting, almost Indian-sounding "Orly Flight," the rattled funk of "The Sphinx," and the droning/hypnotic "Purple Lips" all suggested adventures which never made the newspapers, while "One More Chance" made it obvious that she didn't regret one of them. Nor, once this album was assimilated by the world at large, would she ever need to.

Genghis Khan
Purple Lips
One More Chance
Henry Hudson
Waiting For The Man
Sixty Forty
The Sphinx
Orly Flight

Nico - Drama Of Exile
(ca. 192 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 8. Juni 2015

Nina Simone - I Put A Spell On You (1965)

"I Put A Spell On You" is one of Nina Simones most pop-oriented albums, but also one of her best and most consistent. Most of the songs feature dramatic, swinging large-band orchestration, with the accent on the brass and strings.

Simone didn't write any of the material, turning to popular European songsmiths Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, and Anthony Newley, as well as her husband, Andy Stroud, and her guitarist, Rudy Stevenson, for bluesier fare.

Really fine tunes and interpretations, on which Simone gives an edge to the potentially fey pop songs, taking a sudden (but not uncharacteristic) break for a straight jazz instrumental with "Blues on Purpose." The title track, a jazzy string ballad version of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic, gave the Beatles the inspiration for the phrasing on the bridge of "Michelle." This LP has been combined with the 1964 In Concert album on a CD reissue.        

  1. "I Put a Spell on You" (Jalacy Hawkins) – 2:34
  2. "Tomorrow Is My Turn" (Charles Aznavour, Marcel Stellman, Yves Stéphane) – 2:48
  3. "Ne me quitte pas" (Jacques Brel) – 3:34
  4. "Marriage is for Old Folks" (Leon Carr, Earl Shuman) – 3:29
  5. "July Tree" (Irma Jurist, Eve Merriam) – 2:41
  6. "Gimme Some" (Andy Stroud) – 2:57
  7. "Feeling Good" (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley) – 2:53
  8. "One September Day" (Rudy Stevenson) – 2:48
  9. "Blues on Purpose" (instrumental) (Rudy Stevenson) – 3:16
  10. "Beautiful Land" (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley) – 1:54
  11. "You've Got to Learn" (Charles Aznavour, Marcel Stellman) – 2:41
  12. "Take Care of Business" (Andy Stroud) – 2:03

Nina Simone - I Put A Spell On You (1965) 
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 1. Juni 2015

Ras Michael - Dadawah - Peace & Love / Nyahbinghi

Nyahbingi music in its purest form ist the music played at Rastafarian meetings or "grounations", and is based around a style of relentless drumming and chanting. Sometimes a guitar or horns are used, but no amplification at all is employed.

Though serious musicologists had made occasional field recordings of nyahbingi sessions, the first album to give the music the studio time it deserved, while remaining as true to its original forms are possible, was the triple LP set "Grounation" from Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari. This historic set has never been superseded, but the establishment of Rastafari as the dominant reggae ideology in the mid-1970s, plus the emergence of an audience for reggae albums that were more than collections of hit singles, created a climate in which more sets of nyabingi-based music could be produced.

The most noteworthy of these were by Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus. In 1975, Ras Michael´s group were joined by some of Kingston´s top studio musicians for the retrieving album "Dadawah - Peace & Love". Unique in its synthesis of musical forms and the length of its tracks, it uses traditional Rasta chants as its basic material, but subjects it to elements from the reggae mainstream, US funk and even rock.

Here are Ras Michael´s first two albums "Dadawah - Peace & Love" and "Nyahbinghi" together on one CD. It is one of our favourite albums for the more quiet and thoughtful hours of the day:

Ras Michael - Dadawah - Peace & Love / Nyahbinghi
(256 kbps, cover art included)

You can listen to an interview with Ras Michael on (real player audio).
More infos about nyahbinghi can be found on .