Montag, 31. August 2015

The Hopkins Brothers - Joel, Lightning & John Henry (1964)

A once-in-a-lifetime meeting of the three Hopkins brothers in Waxahatchie, TX in 1964 produced this marvelous brace of field recordings. The oldest brother was considered the best songster in the family, and certainly his performances here are throwbacks to a more archaic style, although he's an amazingly energetic performer. Middle brother Joel is the crudest of the three, surprising since he's the one of the three who spent the most time around mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson. These are loose, conversational recordings made with a single microphone. They capture three brothers enjoying each other's company immensely.

Sam 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.

Hopkins' brothers John Henry and Joel were also talented bluesmen, but it was Sam who became a star. In 1920, he met the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson at a social function, and even got a chance to play with him. Later, Hopkins served as Jefferson's guide. In his teens, Hopkins began working with another pre-war great, singer Texas Alexander, who was his cousin. A mid-'30s stretch in Houston's County Prison Farm for the young guitarist interrupted their partnership for a time, but when he was freed, Hopkins hooked back up with the older bluesman.

The pair was dishing out their lowdown brand of blues in Houston's Third Ward in 1946 when talent scout Lola Anne Cullum came across them. She had already engineered a pact with Los Angeles-based Aladdin Records for another of her charges, pianist Amos Milburn, and Cullum saw the same sort of opportunity within Hopkins' dusty country blues. Alexander wasn't part of the deal; instead, Cullum paired Hopkins with pianist Wilson "Thunder" Smith, sensibly re-christened the guitarist "Lightnin'," and presto! Hopkins was very soon an Aladdin recording artist.

"Katie May," cut on November 9, 1946, in L.A. with Smith lending a hand on the 88s, was Lightnin' Hopkins' first regional seller of note. He recorded prolifically for Aladdin in both L.A. and Houston into 1948, scoring a national R&B hit for the firm with his "Shotgun Blues." "Short Haired Woman," "Abilene," and "Big Mama Jump," among many Aladdin gems, were evocative Texas blues rooted in an earlier era.

A load of other labels recorded the wily Hopkins after that, both in a solo context and with a small rhythm section: Modern/RPM (his uncompromising "Tim Moore's Farm" was an R&B hit in 1949); Gold Star (where he hit with "T-Model Blues" that same year); Sittin' in With ("Give Me Central 209" and "Coffee Blues" were national chart entries in 1952) and its Jax subsidiary; the major labels Mercury and Decca; and, in 1954, a remarkable batch of sides for Herald where Hopkins played blistering electric guitar on a series of blasting rockers ("Lightnin's Boogie," "Lightnin's Special," and the amazing "Hopkins' Sky Hop") in front of drummer Ben Turner and bassist Donald Cooks (who must have had bleeding fingers, so torrid were some of the tempos).

But Hopkins' style was apparently too rustic and old-fashioned for the new generation of rock & roll enthusiasts (they should have checked out "Hopkins' Sky Hop"). He was back on the Houston scene by 1959, largely forgotten. Fortunately, folklorist Mack McCormick rediscovered the guitarist, who was dusted off and presented as a folk-blues artist; a role that Hopkins was born to play. Pioneering musicologist Sam Charters produced Hopkins in a solo context for Folkways Records that same year, cutting an entire LP in Hopkins' tiny apartment (on a borrowed guitar). The results helped introduced his music to an entirely new audience.

Lightnin' Hopkins went from gigging at back-alley gin joints to starring at collegiate coffeehouses, appearing on TV programs, and touring Europe to boot. His once-flagging recording career went right through the roof, with albums for World Pacific; Vee-Jay; Bluesville; Bobby Robinson's Fire label (where he cut his classic "Mojo Hand" in 1960); Candid; Arhoolie; Prestige; Verve; and, in 1965, the first of several LPs for Stan Lewis' Shreveport-based Jewel logo.
Hopkins generally demanded full payment before he'd deign to sit down and record, and seldom indulged a producer's desire for more than one take of any song. His singular sense of country time befuddled more than a few unseasoned musicians; from the 1960s on, his solo work is usually preferable to band-backed material.

Filmmaker Les Blank captured the Texas troubadour's informal lifestyle most vividly in his acclaimed 1967 documentary, "The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins". As one of the last great country bluesmen, Hopkins was a fascinating figure who bridged the gap between rural and urban styles. - AMG


1. See About My Brother John Henry
2. Hot Blooded Woman
3. Black Hannah
4. I Want To Go Fishing
5. Doin' Little Heiffer
6. Hey, Baby Hey
7. Saddle Up My Grey Mare
8. Tell Me, Tell Me
9. Little Girl
10. I Got A Brother in Waxahachie
11. Matchbox Blues
12. Home With Mama
13. Come Down To My House
14. Grosebeck Blues
15. The Dice Game
16. I Walked From Dallas
17. Two Brothers Playing (Going Back To Baden-Baden)

The Hopkins Brothers - Joel, Lightning & John Henry (1964)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 23. August 2015

Unser Leben im Lied - 30 Jahre DDR (ETERNA, Tape-Box, 1979)

This year will be the 66th anniversary of the founding of the GDR, which was announced by Wilhelm Pieck on 7 October 1949. This event marked the end of a development that had begun shortly after the end of the War. Since 1945, there had been mounting tension between the four allied powers. Although they had jointly declared the formation of a democratic Germany to be their most important goal, their definitions of democratisation were worlds apart. To remember this event, we post "Unser Leben im Lied", a box with three tapes, released in 1969 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the GDR. It is a very interesting compilation with songs from the antifascist resistance and "Aufbaulieder"  (tape 1), children and youth songs (tape 2) and songs from the "Singebewegung" (tape 3).
The GDR viewed the whole democratic and revolutionary song tradition as its own cultural inheritance. The "Kampflieder" of Brecht and Eisler and songs from the Spanish Civil War were learned in schools and in the army.

In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s these songs appeared in song books of the Free German Youth (FDJ) and the Young Pioneers alongside German folk songs and new, so called "Aufbaulieder" written specially for the GDR youth. Songs such as "Fleißig, nur fleißig" and Johannes R. Becher´s "Nationalhymne der DDR" encouraged diligence and a joyful common purpose in the building of the new socialist state. In general, however, the political song genre did not prosper in the 1950s. It was a serious, sacred tradition, not to be tampered with, and the writing of new songs critical of the GDR was unthinkable. On the other hand, as Lutz Kirchenwitz notes, for the young poets of the 1950s, who were inspired by the creation of a socialist state on German soil, the political crises caused by the uprising of 17th June 1953 and the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 created an atmosphere of disillusionment that was detrimental for the writing of new political poetry and song.

By the early 1960s, a completely new kind of protest song culture was being encountered. The American civil rights song was filtering over the air waves via West Germany through to East Berlin. The building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 had given the GDR government a sufficient sense of security to relax the severity of censorship in the arts. During this political thaw, which lasted roughly up until the infamous 11th Plenum of the SED in December 1965, an independent folk music scene emerged in East Berlin, based on the informal Hootenanny model made famous by American folk singers such as Pete Seeger. 
The Berlin Hootenannies were guided by the resident banjo-playing Canadian Perry Friedman. With his uninhibited performance style, Friedman made German folk songs attractive for the youth and freed the workers´ songs of their sacred aura.

In general during the cultural thaw there was an easier access to western pop music and jazz. In this respect the formation of the Hootenanny-Klub in 1966 was the culmination of four years of musical eclecticism in a vibrant scene in East Berlin that also included Wolf Biermann, Eva-Maria Hagen, Manfred Krug and Bettina Wegner.

The political thaw came to an abrupt end with the 11th Plenum of the Zentralkomitee of the SED in December 1965. Pop groups were banned for their alleged corrupting Western influence. But as Jürgen Tinkus writes, this created a space for folk and singing groups to emerge. In late 1966 it was decided at the highest of levels that the Hootenanny-Klub was to be taken over by the FDJ. With the agreement of several leading members, the groups name was changed to the "Oktoberklub". The writer Gisela Steineckert was installed as a supervisor. This appropriation of the singing youth movement by the FDJ was ideologically motivated. With effective control over all popular performance events, the FDJ had the means to bring it to the masses, and by 1968 thousends of singing clubs had formed all over the GDR. Leaders of the singing clubs were frequently remindet that they had to remain "politische Instrumente des Jugendverbandes." In this way the movement became increasingly instrumentalized as an agent of state propaganda. From 1968 onwards, under the slogan "DDR-Konkret" the FDJ encouraged young students and wokers to write new songs dealing with their everyday lives and with issues of importance to them. This gave a new twist to the concept of revolutionary "Gebrauchslyrik" pioneered by Erich Mühsam in his ealry-twentieth-century "Kampflieder".

The official role of the political song in the GDR was defined by Inge Lammel as follows:
"Die neuen Lieder werden für die Politik von Partei und Regierung geschaffen. Sie sind nicht mehr Kampfmittel einer unterdrückten Klasse gegen eine Klasse von Ausbeutern, sondern Ausdruck der gemeinsamen Interessen aller Werktätigen."

Teil 1 Lieder aus dem Antifastischem Wiederstand:

01 - Einheitsfrontlied -  Großer Chor des Berliner Rundfunks
03 - die Moorsoldaten - Erich Weinert Ensemble der DDR
04 - mein Vater wird gesucht - Christian vom Rundfunk Orchester Berlin
05 - Dank an die Sowjetarmee - Solistenvereinigung des Berliner Rundfunks
06 - Kalinka - Rotbanner Ensemble der Sowjetunion
07 - der Zukunft entgegen - Rundfunk-Jugendorchester Wernigerode
08 - Du hast ja ein Ziel vor den Augen - großes Rundfunk Orchester Berlin
09 - Ein neues Leben will errungen sein - Solistenvereinigung des Berliner Rundfunks
10 - Marsch der fröhlichen Jugend - Zentraler Pionierchor 'Edgar Andre'
11 - Aufbaulied der FDJ - Rundfunk Jugendorchester Leipzig
12 - wann wir schreiten Seit an Seit - Kammerchor des Rundfunk
13 - Heut ist ein wunderschöner Tag - Rundfunk Jugendchor Leipzig
14 - Sportmarsch - Großer Radio DDR Kinderchor
15 - Weil wir jung sind - Orcester des Wachregiments Berlin
16 - Hymnus der Jugend - Chor der Pädagogischen Hochschule Potsdam
17 - Ich trage eine Fahne - Chor der Gerhard Hauptmann Oberschule Wernigerode
19 - Lied vom Bau des Sozialismus - Rundfunk Orchester Berlin
20 - Signale der Jugend - Rundfunk Jugendchor Wernigerode
21 - Immer lebe die Sonne - Rundfunk Kinderchor Berlin
22 - Für den Frieden der Welt - Orcester des Tanzensembles Berlin

Teil 2 Jugend-, Heimat- und Kinderlieder:

01 - Bitte der Kinder - Rundfunk Kinderchor Leipzig
02 - Lied von der blauen Fahne - Großer Chor des Berliner Rundfunks
03 - Im August blühen die Rosen - Großes Rundfunk Orchester Berlin
04 - Auf zum Sozialismus (Fröhlich sein und singen) - Zentraler Pionierchor 'Edgar Andre' Berlin
05 - Getreu der Partei - Orchester des Tanzensembles der DDR
06 - Es geht um die Erde ein rotes Band (Bruder unbekannter Bruder) - Chor der Gerhart Hauptmann Oberschule Wernigerode
07 - Mein Lied ist laut - Hermann Hähnel
08 - Dschungellied (der Jim starb gestern) - Orchester Gerd Natschinski
09 - es lebe das Brot - Chor der NVA
10 - Heute lacht Brandenburg - Chor und Orchester des Staatlichen Volksensembles der DDR
11 - Fritz der Traktorist - Rundfunk Jugendchor Leipzig
12 - Eisenbahnerlied - Rundfunk Jugendchor Wernigerode
13 - Zimmermannstanz - Orchester Gerhard Kneifel
14 - die Heimat hat sich schön gemacht - Zentraler Pionierchor 'Edgar Andre'
15 - es wird einmal in den Schulbüchern stehen - Eva Lorenz
16 - Fuchs und Igel - Hermann Hähnel
17 - tapfer lacht die junge Garde - Erich Weinert Orchester der NVA
18 - Über die Diktatur - Hermann Hähnel
19 - wie Thälmann kampfentschlossen - Erich Weinert Ensemble der NVA
20 - wer möchte nicht im Leben bleiben - Rundfunk Kinderchor Berlin
21 - Republik mein Vaterland - Rundfunkchor Berlin
22 - zwei liebevolle Schwestern - Gisela May

Teil 3 Lieder aus der Singebewegung:

01 - Oktobersong - Oktoberklub Berlin
02 - Song von den gefallenen Genossen - Oktoberklub Berlin
03 - Sag mir wo Du stehst - Hartmut und der Oktoberklub Berlin
04 - der Weg - Singeklub der EOS Büntzow
05 - Lied aus dem fahrenden Zug zu singen - Kurt Demmler und der Singeklub "Venceremos" Berlin
06 - Lied vom Vaterland - Oktoberklub Berlin
07 - Zugvögel - Songgruppe der TU Dresden
08 - Wer bin ich, und wer bist Du - Petra Rechlin und kurt Demmler
09 - Als ich aufsah von den Büchern - Monika Zöllner und der Oktoberklub Berlin
10 - Die Kraniche fliegen im Kiel - Jahrgang 49
11 - Mein kleiner Bruder - Singeklub der NVA
12 - Fahnenlied - Jahrgang 49
13 - Komsomolzenlied - Oktoberklub Berlin
14 - Hiring Aal un Kabeljau - Singeklub "Geschwister Scholl" Wismar
15 - Lied von der unruhvollen Jugend - Folkloretruppe der TU Dresden
16 - Kinder, kommt nun herein - Singeklub "Spartakus" Potsdam
17 - Saigon ist frei - Oktoberklub Berlin
18 - Was wollen wir trinken - Oktoberklub Berlin
19 - Für unser Chile - Jahrgang 49
20 - Havanna '78 - Jahrgang 49

Included is a scan of the very informative booklet with an essay by Inge Lammel about the development of the music in the GDR.

Thanks a lot to the unknown original uploader!

Unser Leben im Lied - 30 Jahre DDR  (ETERNA, Tape-Box, 1979), part 1 (Booklet & Tape 1)
Unser Leben im Lied - 30 Jahre DDR  (ETERNA, Tape-Box, 1979), part 2 (Tape 2 & 3)
(256 kbps, booklet included)

Freitag, 7. August 2015

Sun Ra And The Arkestra - Sound Of Joy

Sound of Joy is an album by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. It features the Arkestral lineup during the last few months of 1956, after trombonist Julian Priester left to join Lionel Hampton, Charles Davis became a regular member of the band, and Victor Sproles took over on bass. It was intended as the follow-up to "Jazz By Sun Ra" but Transition Records ceased to operate before it could be released.
Four of the tracks were included on "Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra Visits Planet Earth", released in 1966. The entire LP was eventually released in 1968 by Delmark Records, who also re-issued "Jazz by Sun Ra". Two ballads, written by Sun Ra and sung by Clyde Williams, were left off the original album, however, because the president of Delmark Records, Bob Koester, "felt they didn't fit with the other pieces on the session." The songs were reinstated when the album was re-issued on CD in 1994.

This reissue, prior to the release of many of Sun Ra's Saturn albums on Evidence CDs, was often thought of as Ra's second recording although now several earlier dates have appeared.
The music from Sun Ra's Chicago-based band of the 1950s (some of the same tunes, but different performances, also appear on Evidence's Planet Earth/Low Ways) is quite interesting for its ties to the bop and swing traditions are much more obvious than it would be in the near future.
Ra's eccentric piano and occasional electric keyboard look forward as do some of the harmonies and Jim Herndon's colorful tympani. Two previously unissued cuts (other versions of which have also surfaced on an Evidence set) augment the original LP program.        

Recorded in November 1957. CD reissue of the 1968 Delmark LP. Tracks 10 & 11 are previously unissued bonus tracks.

1El Is A Sound Of Joy3:59
2Overtones Of China3:21
3Two Tones3:38
5Planet Earth4:21
8Reflections In Blue6:18
9El Viktor2:30
10As You Once Were4:17
11Dreams Come True3:51

Sun Ra And The Arkestra - Sound Of Joy
(192 kbps, cover art included)  

Donnerstag, 6. August 2015

VA - Celebrating The Eggman - A Tribute To John Lennon

After the split of the Beatles, John Lennon gained worldwide fame for his subsequent solo career, and for his political activism and pacifism. He was shot in the archway of the building where he lived, the Dakota, in New York City on Monday, 8 December 1980. Lennon had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono.

This compilation was released on the 10th anniversary of this event. The album features bands from the former GDR, most of the involved musicians were still children or youths in the year 1980.

Tausend Tonnen Obst - Drive my car
  1. Die Vision - Julia
  2. Herbst in Peking - Working class hero
  3. Ichfunktion - Cold turkey
  4. Der Expander des Fortschritts - Lucy in the sky with diamonds
  5. Dekadance - Whatever gets you through the night
  6. Die Art - I'm losing you
  7. Big Savod & the Deep Manko - Nowhere man
  8. Feeling B - Revolution No.89
  9. Kashmir - I'm so tired
  10. The Fate - Help
  11. AG Geige - Come together
  12. Kampanella is Abstract feat. Svea - Isolation

VA - Celebrating The Eggman - A Tribute To John Lennon
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 4. August 2015

Howlin' Wolf‎ – Cadillac Daddy - Memphis Recordings, 1952

You can't possibly fault the material aboard this 12-song collection of Howlin' Wolf's Memphis recordings cut for Sam Phillips. The title track features some truly frightening guitar work from Willie Johnson,and all the material here is loaded with feral energy and a sense that it could fall apart at any second. It's totally intuitive music, with Wolf seemingly making it all up as he went along, which Sam Phillips had the patience to capture as it all went down. These are some of the great moments in blues history...

These are the recordings that prompted Sun Records chief Sam Phillips's oft-repeated assertion: "This is where the soul of a man dies." Phillips oversaw sessions by the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and B.B. King, but the guttural electric blues of Howlin' Wolf captured his fancy like nothing else - and it's not hard to see why. The Wolf of these '52 sessions was just a few years off the farm, having begun to play West Memphis, Arkansas, juke joints, and cat houses following World War II. Working with a small but feral band highlighted by lead guitarist Willie Johnson (called by some the Jimi Hendrix of his day), the already middle-aged singer and harmonica player created a sound in the early '50s that bridged the Mississippi blues that were his roots with the amped Chicago blues that were his destiny. Phillips captured the man born Chester Burnett on the title track, "Drivin' C.V. Wine," and also on the other 10 selections included here, three of which were previously released while all but one of the remaining numbers have never appeared before in North America. Wolf's Chess sides are, of course, landmarks, but this is Wolf untamed and running wild. --Steven Stolder

A1Cadillac Daddy (Mr. Highway Man)
A2Bluebird Blues
A3My Last Affair (Take 1)
A4Oh Red! (Take 2)
A5Come Back Home
A6Dorothy Mae
B1Decoration Day Blues
B2Color And Kind
B3Drinkin' C.V. Wine
B4I Got A Woman (Sweet Woman)
B5Everybody's In The Mood
B6My Baby Walked Off

Howlin' Wolf‎ – Cadillac Daddy - Memphis Recordings, 1952
(320 kbps, cover art included)