Mittwoch, 29. Juli 2015

Mikis Theodorakis - The Faces Of The Sun - Happy Birthday, Mikis Theodorakis!

"Born on July 29, 1925 on the island of Chios, Mikis Theodorakis has seen nine decades of political developments in Greece - and continually responded to them in music. Often referred to as Greece's most famous living composer, he studied music in Paris under Olivier Messiaen and is known for writing the scores to films like "Zorba the Greek" (1964) and "Serpico" (1973). With his roots in classical music, he also pursued traditional Greek music, for many years in collaboration with talented singer Maria Farantouri.

Politically, Theodorakis was associated with the left-wing and became a vocal member of the resistance when the right-wing junta took power in the late 1960s, which led to a time in jail and exile for the musician. Theodorakis was elected to parliament three times - in 1964, 1981 and 1990 - and served as a minister in the 1990s.

Currently, Mikis Theorakis is suffering from the physical injuries resulting from a tear gas attack while he was participating in an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens in 2012. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, singer Maria Farantouri, who was his musical muse and long-time artistic colleague, tells DW what it was like to work with the composer and activist.

DW: Ms. Farantouri, Mikis Theodorakis discovered you as a singer during a performance in 1963. You were 16 at the time and quickly became the main interpreter of his music. Looking back, how would you describe this period?

Maria Farantouri: During the military dictatorship in Greece [Eds: 1967-1974] and just before it, I starting singing with Mikis Theodorakis and all my songs had to do with social justice, peace, solidarity, and humanity. Of course they also had an artistic message and nice melodies - Theodorakis was a very good musician, composer and conductor.

In the 1960s, music was very closely linked to politics and social struggles - it played a different role back then. We demonstrated against the political situation because we had neither freedom nor democracy.

Today, the finance crisis has made things difficult. We have somewhere around 1.5 million unemployed people. We still cannot believe that. The people are lacking basic needs and don't even have enough food.
I'm not a politician, but we - Europe and Greece - have to find a balance. Greece cannot continue like this.

There was a sense of upheaval in Greece in the 1960s, after World War II, occupation, civil war, and the wave of emigration in the 1950s. The young generation wanted to start anew. Theodorakis embodied this sentiment - politically, because he was part of the resistance and had been arrested, tortured and banned. But also musically through his songs, which were received with enthusiasm. Nevertheless, society had been divided even before the dictatorship and the left-wing was persecuted. At the same time, people held together…

Yes, not only the left, but all democrats held together, no matter which party they belonged to. There was a lot of discussion about democracy and everyone was supposed to fight for it. Those who were suspected of being too left-wing were forbidden from working. Only those on the right got jobs. Democrats and those who leaned to the left had big problems. Sometimes it was enough if you were just seen with a left-wing newspaper.

When Theodorakis discovered me, I was 16. That is what was happening in Greece, and we were young. The police knew what I did with Theodorakis. My family wasn't left, but center - democrats. But my colleagues, my friends, the circle of people around Theodorakis, the poets - they were all on the left, of course. However, they were not communists like in the Soviet Union; we were left-wing Europeans.

For us, humanity and peace were very important - especially peace. There were many wars at that time.

Your amazing voice played an important role, of course…

I was lucky. Mikis had an influence on me. He gave me a feeling for his convictions; he gave me everything. I was a young girl then and was to become a classically trained soprano at the music school. But Theodorakis said, "No, the best school is with me. You have to stay with me."

And so I followed him everywhere. I had some health problems in my younger years and was often in the hospital. But singing gave me access to the world.

In 1967, Mikis Theodorakis was arrested by the military junta and his music was banned because he'd joined the resistance. It was you, who - from exile in France - continued to fight against the dictatorship by carrying Theodorakis' songs into the world. It was through international protest that Theodorakis was able to immigrate to France in 1970 and you performed charity concerts there to support the families of victims of political persecution in Greece. When the regime was toppled in 1974, you had become a symbol of resistance and Theodorakis a national hero.

It's important to keep in mind that Greece is the source of Theodorakis' inspiration. Sometimes that is misunderstood and he is accused of being a nationalist. But he is not a nationalist. He simply believes that history and knowledge give him strength and energy to do great things.

This contradiction can be found in many charismatic personalities. I can only say that I was very lucky to meet this man. Otherwise I would have just become a good classical singer. With Mikis, it's a continuous journey - even now that he's 90 years old. He's alive, he's at home, and we communicate. And I feel at 66 like I was just starting - like a young girl. I would like to learn new things, understand and express myself. That's how I grew up with Miki, and that's why I say he's my father.

In honor of Mikis Theodorakis' 90th birthday, Maria Farantouri is going on tour in Europe, giving concerts in Berlin (25.09.), Amsterdam (27.09.), Luxemburg (28.09), and Brussels (29.09.)."

 - From:

"The "Faces of the sun" are based on the collection of poems: "Colours and vowels". They express my concept of greek song today, as much as it concers melody - vere - rythme - voice." - Mikis Theodorakis

1The Way Of The Moon
2It's Been A Long Time Since I've Seen You
3The 3 Days
4Stop Here
5The Hide And Seek
6You Speak In A New Way
7At This Moment Of The Day
8Speak To Me In Another Way
9The Way You Talk To Me
10The Way You Look At Me
11It's Getting Dark
12The Faces Of The Sun
13To Come Here
14With A Half Moon
15The Time Of The Fire
16The Sea At Noon
17This Tree

Mikis Theodorakis - The Faces Of The Sun
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 28. Juli 2015

Doc Watson & Son - Same (1965)

Merle Watson's debut with father Doc Watson was recorded shortly after they performed their first concerts together in California, and it shows the duo's musical partnership already in full flower, an incredible fact considering that Merle had only been picking guitar for eight months!
The best songs here turned up on later Vanguard best-ofs, but there's a fair amount of greatness in the astonishing instrumental medley "Fiddler's Dram/Whistling Rufus/Ragtime Annie" and "Little Stream of Whiskey," an old Irish drinking song transformed into a hobo ballad with a bouncy fingerpicked melody.
Perhaps most astonishing is the solo harmonica workout "Mama Blues," in which the elder Watson imitates the sound of a child crying, showing off yet another facet of his incredible musical skill.                


A2Weary Blues2:10
A4Dream Of The Miner's Child2:45
A5Rising Sun Blues4:17
A6Mama Blues2:18
A7We Shall All Be Reunited2:10
B1Little Stream Of Whiskey2:25
B2Little Sadie2:57
B3Beaumont Rag1:37
B4Otto Wood The Bandit3:14
B5Faithful Soldier3:09
B6Memphis Blues1:32
B7Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar2:06

Doc Watson & Son – Doc Watson & Son (1965)      
(320 kbps, cover art included)                             

Samstag, 25. Juli 2015

Harry Mudie Meet King Tubby - In Dub Conference Vol. 3 (1978)

Producer Harry Mudie can be counted as one of the most original of reggae auteurs. He not only featured the bottom-heavy sound reggae was famous for, but he expanded on the soul sweetness of many rocksteady sides with strings and touches of Philly soul ambience, as well. His prime work from the '70s is some of the most sophisticated and lush to emerge amidst reggae's seemingly endless run of dancehall-ready sides.

Harry Mudie was born in Jamaica's original capital, Spanish Town, in 1940. He first came to prominence producing drummer Count Ossie. Ossie was one of the earliest island musicians to espouse Rastafarian beliefs, and he helped form an Afro-centric percussion style called nyahbingi drumming in the camp he set up with other Rastas during the mid-'50s. Mudie caught some of Ossie's earliest work on tape in the early '60s, at a time when the percussionist regularly performed at the producer's Spanish Town Scaramouche Gardens Club.

In the mid-'60s, Mudie put his burgeoning career on hold to travel and study abroad for five years. Upon his return to the studio in the early '70s, Mudie cut a deal with the U.K. labels Trojan and R&B to distribute his productions on exclusive imprints. On the creative end, Mudie marked this time by experimenting with strings on some of his sessions, a first for any reggae producer. And while his soulful, groove-heavy rhythms were often laid down at Studio One's "open" Sunday sessions, the strings were recorded in London. His roster during the first half of the decade included such singers and groups as John Holt, Dennis Walks, the Ebony Sisters, the Heptones, Lloyd Jones, the Eternals (featuring Cornell Campbell), and Winston Shand -- he also cut a few sides with Gregory Isaacs and Peter Tosh. Mudie's most popular sides come from this period and include Holt's cover of Ivory Joe Hunter's "It May Sound Silly," which is featured on the singer's smash album Time Is the Master, and Dennis Walks' much-versioned "Drifter." Other successes included the Ebony Sisters' "Let Me Tell You Boy," Slim Smith's "Give Me Some More Loving," the Heptones' "Love Without Feeling," and cornet player Jo Jo Bennett's "Leaving Rome."

Bennett was also an integral part of the producer's studio band, Mudie's All-Stars, which variously included vibist Lennie Hibbert, pianist Gladstone Anderson, tenor saxophonist Tommy McCook, trumpeter Bobby Ellis, guitarist Mikey Chung, and percussionist Bongo Herman.

Like the majority of reggae producers active in the '70s, Mudie augmented his vocal sides with a healthy share of DJ cuts by such young mic stars as I-Roy, Big Joe, and Count Sticky. Mudie fashioned I-Roy's name after that of first DJ star, U-Roy, and oversaw the young toasters first sides around 1970. Although the two men would have a falling out over business matters in 1971, their collaboration produced such memorable hits as "Musical Choice" and versions of "Drifting" and "Let Me Tell You Boy."

Also in line with the day's trends, Mudie worked with King Tubby to produce some of the strongest dub albums of the mid-'70s. Featuring a large dose of Mudie's strongest rhythms, the three Dub Conference albums offer a perfect blend of the producer's tasteful grooves (strings, too) and Tubby's equally astute panoply of echo and reverb-riddled mixing board effects.

After much success throughout the '70s, Mudie traveled extensively and eventually settled in Florida. He's lived in the Sunshine State for close to 20 years and makes Miami the base for his Moodisc label, which he runs with his son. The label has reissued a wealth of Mudie's material, including some of Count Ossie's earliest tracks, John Holt's Time Is the Master, several Dennis Walks releases, the Dub Conference titles, and various compilations of his vocal, DJ, and instrumental tracks. And while Mudie doesn't keep up the same pace of his '70s heyday, he still stays active re-cutting many of his hits in the current dancehall-ragga style and cutting the occasional single for Horace Andy and Tinga Stewart.

A1Where Eagles Dare6:50
A2With You In Mind3:35
A3Do This In Bed4:03
A4Peace Offering3:50
B1Nineteen Love In Dub4:15
B2Conference Theme2:55
B3Tribal Recipe3:20
B4Mudie's Serenade (In Dub)4:27
B5Dub Is Paradise4:25

Harry Mudie Meet King Tubby - In Dub Conference Vol. 3 (1978)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 22. Juli 2015

Harry Mudie Meet King Tubby's - Dub Conference Volume 2 (1977)

Here´s the second volume of sweet, soulful dubs, with Harry Mudie turning over the choicest pieces from his catalog of rhythms to the great King Tubby to dub up, and he does so in fine, fine form.

Tubby's respectful but still radical reworking of these numbers is one of our favorite, though lesser known dub sets. 

1World Dub Conference3:18
2Marijuana Dub2:50
3Heart Leap Dub3:43
4Dub Inside Out2:46
5Melody In Dub2:37
6Jungle Walk Dub2:57
7Maga Back Dub2:43
8Don't Play With Dub3:21
9Planet Dub3:29
10Drifting Dub3:07

Harry Mudie Meet King Tubby's - Dub Conference Volume 2 (1977)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 21. Juli 2015

Lightnin Hopkins - Got To Move Your Baby (1965)

Outside of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lightnin' Hopkins may be Texas's most distinctive and influential blues export. His easy, fluid fingerpicking and witty, extemporaneous storytelling are always a delight, and his performances on "Got To Move Your Baby" (aka LAST NIGHT BLUES) are no exception. The album is spare and acoustic, with Hopkins's voice and guitar accompanied by minimal percussion and Sonny Terry's harmonica.

Terry's contributions really add a lot to these tunes, threading a high, lonesome whine on the downtempo tunes and a chugging, propulsive shuffle on the faster ones. Hopkins is, of course, one of the kings of the blues boogie, but he's equally compelling on the slow blues, and he never missteps throughout this fine set. All told, this dynamite disc represents what the blues should be: stripped-down, soulful, and full of truth.

A1Rocky Mountain
A2Got To Move Your Baby
A3So Sorry To Leave You
A4Take A Trip With Me
B1Last Night Blues
B2Lightnin's Stroke
B3Hard To Love A Woman
B4Conversation Blues

Lightnin Hopkins - Got To Move Your Baby (1965)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 18. Juli 2015

Tom Rush - Blues, Songs & Ballads (1963)

With his warm and slightly world-weary baritone voice, solid acoustic guitar playing, and gifted if hardly prolific songwriting skills, Tom Rush was one of the finest and most unsung performers to come out of the '60s urban folk revival

Consisting mostly of traditional blues covers, this early acoustic effort was cut at the same May 1963 session that led to the "Got a Mind to Ramble" LP. An excellent example of the blues/folk revival of the early 1960s. The singing, guitar, and washtub bass are great. 

A1Alabama Bound3:10
A2More Pretty Girls1:40
A3Sister Kate3:05
A4Original Talking Blues4:10
A5Pallet On The Floor3:55
A6Drop Down Mama4:05
B1Rag Mama2:30
B2Barb'ry Allen6:40
B4Come Back Baby2:20
B6Baby Please Don't Go2:50

Tom Rush - Blues, Songs & Ballads (1963)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 16. Juli 2015

Harry Mudie Meet King Tubby's - Dub Conference Volume 1 (1976)

Harry Mudie combined the sweetness and the heaviness that have always been integral to Jamaican music, even on occasion successfully integrating lush string arrangements. Tubby mostly made obvious the sheer weight of Mudie´s rhythms, but wisely maintained snatches of strings on some tracks.

"Produced by living legendary reggae producer Harry Mudie and mixed in conference at King Tubbys Studio, Kingston, Jamaica, W.I., with the late, great dub inventor, sound system and recording engineer Osbourne Ruddock a.k.a King Tubbys. King Tubbys, the creator of dub music in the late '60s, mixed reggae musical tracks that the drum and bass predominated in the mix and at irregular intervals introduced echo reverbs and delay with other sound effects he conjured up at his will. Dub Conference Volume 1, mixed in 1976, is making history for the second time with producer Harry Mudie's introduction of strings to dub music as he did in reggae music with strings and flute in a classical form."

A1Full Dose Of Dub3:17
A2Madhouse Dub3:02
A3Dub For The Dread3:11
A4Dub With A Difference2:54
A5Caught You Dubbing3:43
B1Roman Dub3:02
B2Dub Conference3:09
B3Heavy Duty Dub3:09
B4Strip Tease Dub3:19
B5String Dub In Rema2:59

Harry Mudie Meet King Tubby's - Dub Conference Volume 1 (1976)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 12. Juli 2015

Country Joe & The Fish - The First Three EPs

Before making their leap into the "big time" and signing with the nationally distributed Vanguard Records in 1967, Country Joe McDonald and his group the Fish had already created a pair of self-produced and otherwise low-budget EPs as so-called "talking" issues of McDonald's own Rag Baby publication. The periodical itself was a Bay Area adaptation of the folkie's music intensive magazine Broadside.
"Collectors Items: The First Three EPs" compiles those highly sought-after 7"s of vinyl onto CD - the contents of which earned Country Joe & the Fish (CJ&F) their initial flashes of national exposure - albeit limited to the underground "head shops" that stocked Rag Baby.
The disc opens with a primordial incarnation of the Fish - consisting of McDonald (vocals/guitar) and his close musical associate Barry Melton (vocals/guitars) - augmented by Carl Shrager (washboard), Bill Steel (bass), and Mike Bearslee (vocals/guitar). Their decidedly D.I.Y. instrumentation and delivery is a clear indicator of the folkie roots that were strikingly similar to that of other burgeoning combos in the Bay Area. The original A-side boasted two CJ&F tunes: "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" and "Superbird." Here, modern listeners are treated to a version of "I Feel Like..." listed as "Take 1" -- replete with the apropos effects of machine guns and round-upon-round of rapid fire mortars - while the alternate "Take 2" contains the infamous "F-U-C-K" Woodstock chant. On the B-side was a folk singer/songwriter named Peter Krug whose contributions were equally as apocalyptic as CJ&F's. Krug's "Fire in the City" was also covered by jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks and a then virtually unknown backup unit who had just changed their name from the Warlocks to the Grateful Dead. The number is coupled with the blatantly anti-combat "Johnny's Gone to War."
The second EP debuts the electric incarnation of CJ&F, solidifying the existence of Rag Baby as well as the combo's amplified psychedelic rock leanings. Side A is composed of "(Thing Called) Love" and "Bass Strings" - two relatively short numbers at under four minutes apiece. Allowing themselves the freedom to stretch out in a style and delivery more akin to their public performances, "Section 43" clocks in at nearly seven minutes. All three of these tunes would be reworked on CJ&F's second long-player "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" (1967).
The final EP was cut by McDonald backed by Groonta and is a mix of the acoustic "Kiss My Ass"/"Tricky Dicky" and electric "Free Some Day." The disc was recorded for the express purpose of being sold for $1.50 at the infamous "Free the Army" political and musical review that included appearances by such notables as Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. The show toured underground coffeehouses in 1971 and McDonald cut this disc in support of - and for sale at - these performances.       

1I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag [Take 1]
2I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag [Take 2]
4(Thing Called) Love
5Bass Strings
6Section 43
7Fire In The City
8Johnny's Gone In The War
9Kiss My Ass
10Tricky Dicky
11Free Some Day

Country Joe & The Fish - The First Three EPs
(192 kbps, cover art included)   

Mittwoch, 8. Juli 2015

The Brothers Four - Roamin´ (1961)

The Brothers Four bear a distinction as one of the longest surviving groups of the late-'50s/early-'60s folk revival and perhaps the longest running "accidental" music act in history - 43 years and counting as of 2001, without any break and with two original members still in the fold. If few recognize that distinction, then it's because the Brothers Four were also part of a largely forgotten chapter in the history of folk music in America.                

Most accounts of the post-WWII folk music boom focus on the political and issue-oriented branch of the music, embodied by Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, at the expense of the softer, more entertainment-oriented branch, embodied by the likes of the Kingston Trio, the Chad Mitchell Trio, and The Brothers Four. Those acts and the music they made - though it sold well and, indeed, for many years defined what most Americans visualized when the phrase "folk music" was mentioned - are scarcely mentioned in most histories; The Brothers Four aren't even listed in the Guinness Who's Who of Folk Music.

One major misconception about The Brothers Four is that they were an attempt to emulate the Kingston Trio. Actually, Bob Flick (upright bass, baritone, bass), John Paine (guitar, baritone), Mike Kirkland (guitar, banjo, tenor), and Dick Foley (guitar, baritone) had met as undergraduates at the University of Washington in 1956 and began singing together in 1957, more than a year before the Kingston Trio made their first record. Folk music was booming at most liberal arts colleges in those days, and every campus seemed to have its share of trios and quartets, mostly drawn from the ranks of their fraternities. Flick, Paine, Kirkland, and Foley were all members of Phi Gamma Delta and aspired to careers in medicine, engineering, and diplomacy - as amateur performers, however, they were good on their instruments and delighted campus audiences with their ability to harmonize on traditional tunes, novelty songs, and romantic ballads.

They turned professional completely by accident, as a result of a practical joke. A member of a rival fraternity arranged for a woman to telephone the group members, identifying herself as the secretary to the manager of a local Seattle venue, the Colony Club, and invite the quartet down to audition. When they got there, they discovered that there was no invitation or any audition scheduled, but since they were there anyway, the club manager asked them to do a couple of songs and ended up hiring them. The engagement lasted through most of 1958, and while they were often paid off only in beer, the experience was invaluable in that it allowed the group - christened after their impromptu audition as The Brothers Four - to pull its sound together as they never would have if they'd remained confined to occasional performances on campus.

Low Bridge2:26
Hey, Hey, My Honey2:29
The Lilies Grow High2:57
The Ballad Of Sam Hall2:41
Variation On An Old English Theme1:45
Pastures Of Plenty2:26
Betty And Dupree2:44
Island Woman2:46
This Land Is Your Land2:34

The Brothers Four - Roamin´ (1961)
(256 kbps, cover art included)