Samstag, 26. September 2015

Mikis Theodorakis & Maria Farantouri - Poetica

In the '90s, Mikis Theodorakis had a major asset in singer Maria Farantouri, who handles all of the vocals on "Poetica".

Blessed with a gorgeous voice and a fantastic range, Farantouri brings a great deal of charisma and humanity to such Theodorakis melodies as "With Half a Moon," "Color of Love" and "Sobbing Angels."

Theodorakis is a superb composer - one of the true poets of Greek pop, to be sure - and Farantouri has the sensitivity and depth needed for his songs.

Interestingly, "Poetica" wasn't recorded in Greece, but was recorded for the German Peregrina label at a studio in Ludwigsburg, Germany. In fact, the band that Theodorakis leads on this album, is comprised of German musicians. Highly recommended.  

   
Mikis Theodorakis & Maria Farantouri - Poetica   
(256 kbps, small front cover included)

Silvio Rodriguez - Antologia (1978)

Silvio Rodríguez Domínguez is a Cuban musician, and leader of the nueva trova movement.
He is considered Cuba's best folk singer and known for his highly eloquent and symbolic lyrics. Many of his songs have become classics in Latin American music, such as "Ojalá", "Playa Girón", "Unicornio" and "La maza". Among his other well-known songs are "Fusil contra fusil" and "Canción del Elegido". He has released nearly 20 albums.
Rodríguez, musically and politically, is a symbol of the Latin American Left. His lyrics are notably introspective, while his songs combine romanticism, eroticism, revolutionary politics and idealism. He has been referred to as "Cuba's John Lennon."

Rodríguez was born on November 29, 1946 in San Antonio de los Baños, a fertile valley in Havana Province known for its tobacco crop. He was raised in a family of poor farmers. His father, Víctor Dagoberto Rodríguez Ortega, was a farmer and amateur poet who supported socialist causes. His mother, Argelia Domínguez León, was a housewife. On many occasions Rodríguez has spoken how his love of music was developed by his mother, who would pass time singing boleros and songs from Santiago. Although Rodríguez had an uncle who played the bass, his mother had a far greater influence. Later, she also collaborated with him on a few musical works.

When the Revolution led by Fidel Castro triumphed in January 1959, Rodríguez was only 13 years old, and, like most Cubans of his generation, became involved in the new Revolutionary enthusiasm. He participated in the Literacy Campaign held in 1961, and then started working as a comics designer in a magazine. During this period a friend of his, Lázaro Fundora, taught him how to play the guitar.
Guitar playing took a major role in his life while he was doing his military service in the army, during 1964, but it wasn't until 1967, with his first television experience, that he started to become well known and influential among Cuban revolutionary youth. With pro-revolution yet very independent lyrics (together with his very informal dress code), Rodríguez soon attracted the animosity of some members of the new Culture Ministry, which was devoted to the eradication of the United States' influence in Cuban culture. In this context, a very important role was played by the cultural institution Casa de las Américas and its then director Haydée Santamaría, the former a respected revolutionary who participated in the Moncada barracks assault of 1953 and sister of Abel Santamaría, who was tortured and killed after the failure of the assault. Haydée Santamaría became a protective mother-figure of the young composers and of several of his colleagues at the time. Casa de las Américas became the home not only for the new Cuban trovadores but also for many other Latin Americans on the left. It was in this institution that Rodríguez met Pablo Milanés, and Noel Nicola, who along with Rodríguez would become the most famous nueva trova singers and composers.

In 1969, for almost five months, he worked as part of the crew on the fishing boat Playa Girón, and during this fertile episode he wrote 62 songs, among which are the famous "Ojalá" and "Playa Girón." The lyrics and music of these songs became a book named Canciones del Mar. In 1976, he decided to join Cuban troops in Angola, playing for the soldiers.

After more than 40 years of artistic work, Rodríguez has now written a vast number of songs and poems (said to be between 500 and more than one thousand), many of which have never been set to music and probably never will be. Although his musical knowledge has been continuously increasing (counting among his teachers the famous Cuban composer Leo Brouwer), he is more widely praised for the poetry in his songs than for the accompanying music. His lyrics are a staple of leftist culture throughout the whole Spanish-speaking world, and he has been banned from the media during several of the dictatorial regimes that ruled Latin America in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

His debut album was Días y flores, launched in 1975. Al final de este viaje and Cuando digo futuro feature songs he composed before Días y flores. He reached international popularity in the early 1980s with Rabo de nube and, in particular, Unicornio. In the early part of his career his work displayed a fair amount of revolutionary optimism. Mujeres, released in 1979, is in contrast a romantic and highly intimist album. In the middle of his career, Silvio Rodríguez experimented with sounds and rhythms departing from his trademark acoustic guitar, accompanied by the group Afrocuba (e.g. in Causas y azares). At maturity, Silvio Rodríguez thoroughly purified his sound through a return to acoustic guitar, great care and sophistication in the voice, and exclusive control of the production process from beginning to end. His lyrics became more introspective, at times even self-absorbed or self-justifying, expressing melancholic longings about the shortcomings of real-life socialism in Cuba while vindicating idealism and revolutionary hope amongst the youth. The trilogy, called Silvio, Rodríguez, and Domínguez (his first name, his father's last name, his mother's last name) displays sound artistic talent. The doubts, absent in the early part of his career, also correspond to the fall of communism worldwide and the so-called Special Period in Cuba. An unnoticed recurrent theme in the lyrics of the early part of his career is that of death, particularly although not only as associated with guerrilla warfare. In contrast to the explicitness of his early songs and political positions, there was a displacement of emphasis in his later years toward fantasy and dreams. Both, however, are about an alternative that is not present but is called for, or what Laclau would call a longing for a "missing fullness". This is true politically, romantically, and existentially. In a similar way, the unusual confessional tone of many of his songs allows for an unorthodox combination of transgression, eroticism, longing, and at times (probably accurate) self-deprecation in many of his lyrics.

The entire work of Silvio Rodríguez offers an intimate and introspective window into the life cycle of the artist. If the lyrics of the early part of his career are about revolutionary enthusiasm, love encounters and disappointments, as well as sensual desire, and if the middle-aged Silvio is more self-questioning, often looking backward; his most recent albums, such as Cita con ángeles, talk in part about his life as a grandfather and has a certain focus on children, while Érase que se era is the release (with all the means that come with being an established artist) of songs written early in his youth but never previously recorded. Mariposas also featured two classics composed in his youth.
Silvio Rodríguez stands out in the Spanish-speaking world for the intimacy and subtlety of his lyrics, as well as for his acoustic melodies and "chord picking." He is particularly popular amongst intellectual circles of the left in Latin America and Spain. He has also often served as Cuban cultural emissary in events of solidarity, whether in Chile (Silvio Rodríguez in Chile, 1991) or Argentina (En vivo en Argentina, recorded in 1984), both massive concerts given shortly after the fall of the right-wing dictatorships. Cuban flags are always conspicuous in the crowd during his concerts.
In 2007, he received a doctorate honoris causa from Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Peru.

Tracks:

01. Canción del Elegido (3:01)
02. Te doy una canción (3:09)
03. Madre (2:16)
04. Pequeña serenata diurna (2:53)
05. Mariposas (6:08)
06. El papalote (5:27)
07. Fusil contra fusil (3:15)
08. La era esta pariendo un corazón (2:57)
09. El rey de las flores (2:17)
10. Esto no es una elegía (3:25)

Silvio Rodriguez - Antologia (1978)
(256 kbsp, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 24. September 2015

VA - Rock Steady Beat - Treasure Isle's Greatest Hits (1967)

Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid (b.1915, Jamaica) had spent ten years as a Kingston policeman when he and his wife Lucille decided to buy The Treasure Isle Liquor Store in Kingston, Jamaica, after winning a substantial Jamaican National lottery. Wanting music to attract customers, the Duke arranged through a sponsorship deal to host his own radio show ‘Treasure Isle Time’. The people would listen to the latest American R&B tunes on 78rpm, interspersed with liquor deals going down at his store. This in time would lead to the starting of his own Sound System, where he could take his liquor to the dances via his Trojan truck. He used a large van to transport this equipment around Jamaica to dance halls and open air events. Due to the nature of the van it became known as the Trojan. With shouts of ‘Here comes the Trojan’, Duke Reid’s now named Trojan Sound System was born. It proved such a success that he was crowned King of Sound and Blues three years in a row 1956, 1957 and 1958. 1958 also saw the store which was out growing itself, move to its legendary premises, 33 Bond Street, as Treasure Isle Recording Studio

Duke Reid was a formidable character in the music business. His guns from his policing days were ever present and always on show, striking a menacing cord. The former champion marksman was notorious for his permanent armament and his 'bad men' who not only attended on his dances but also sabotaged competing sounds. It was also not unheard of for a few rounds to be let off, if the need arose. But it was his extensive knowledge of the R&B tunes,and knowing what the people liked to here that was his real strength. Like Clement "Coxsone" Dodd at Studio One he would travel to America to acquire the latest cuts. But this was proving more difficult due to America’s tastes moving on to Rock & Roll, which was not so popular in Jamaica.

His record production career began in 1959 on the "Trojan " record label, these were on 78's, such as Duke's Cookies and Chuck and Dobby "Cool School". On the Duke Reid label due to demand he issued home made recordings of the USA R & B style music. He formed his own backing band, which backed young singers like Derrick Morgan and Jiving Juniors.

1962 - 1966 was a prolific time at Treasure Isle, the Ska hits kept coming. He worked with artists like Stranger Cole, Techniques and the great Alton Ellis & The Flames. Such was the output that the releases were spread over three labels: Duke Reid's (later Duke Reid Greatest Hits), Dutchess (a name he often used to refer to his wife), and Treasure Isle. His work with Skatalites as a group came to an end after August/September 1965. Don Drummond was arrested on New Years Eve 1965, accused of murdering his girl friend Marguerita. He died in Bellevue, a mental institution in 1969. The Skatalites last gig was a Police Dance at the Runaway Bay Hotel.

1968-1969 saw the beat slowing down and reggae was evolving into Rocksteady and again Duke had his finger on the pulse. Working with the great sax player Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, the hits flowed from the studio. Paragons ‘Wear you to the Ball’, Alton Ellis’ ‘Rock Steady’, Melodians ‘Last train to Expo’ and The Techniques’s rendition of the Curtis Mayfield classic ‘Queen Majesty’ were all big hits of the day. Getting released on Reid’s own labels and in the U.K. Trojan Records (named after his Sound System) which he created with Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal from Island Records.

The musical style would change again around 1970, but the ever resourceful Reid would apply his tunes and start a new genre, the DJ Sound. By using his classic backing tracks and interspersing the dubbed vocal along side his Sound System DJ’s rants and raves, his tunes became hits once more.

Duke Reid became seriously ill in 1974 and sadly passed away in early 1975. He left behind a treasure chest full of his music, even today, gems are still to be found.                   

"Most of these sides were originally released as singles in 1966 and 1967, on Treasure Isle in Jamaica and on Doctor Bird, Trojan and Treasure Isle in England. Duke Reid selected them in 1967 to make up his first rocksteady compilation LP which he issued on Treasure Isle LP 101/2."

Tracklist:                           
A1A. EllisRock Steady
A2The TechniquesYou Don't Care
A3–The Three TopsIt's Raining
A4The JamaicansThing You Say You Love
A5The TechniquesOh Babe
A6Tommy McCookInez
B1The TechniquesOut Of Many One
B2Justin HindsCarry Go Bring Come
B3Phyllis DillonPerfidia
B4The TechniquesDay O
B5A. EllisGirl Have I Got A Date
B6T. McCookTrain To Ska-thederal


According to liner notes:
Track 2 ("You don't care") started life as "You'll want me back" written by Curtis Mayfield and a hit for Major Lance.
Track 5 ("Oh Babe") started life in New Orleans as "Sick and Tired", composed by Chris Kenner in 1957 (and covered by Fats Domino in 1958).
Track 9 ("Perfidia") is best known as a hit instrumental and dates back to 1941, an Alfredo Dominguez composition.
Track 10 ("Day O") is a traditional West Indian melody.
Track 12 ("Train To Ska-Thedral") started life as "Winchester Cathedral", written by Geoff Stephens and a big hit in 1967.           
 
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 22. September 2015

Atahualpa Yupanqui - Cantata 'Tupac Amaru' (1978)

Atahualpa Yupanqui (Spanish pronunciation: [ataˈwalpa ʝuˈpaŋki]; 31 January 1908 – 23 May 1992) (in Quechua, He who comes from faraway lands to say something) was an Argentine singer, songwriter, guitarist, and writer. He is considered the most important Argentine folk musician of the 20th century.
Yupanqui was born Héctor Roberto Chavero Aramburu in Pergamino (Buenos Aires Province), in the Argentine pampas, about 200 kilometers away from Buenos Aires. His father was a Criollo descended from indigenous people, while his mother was born in the Basque country. His family moved to Tucumán when he was ten. In a bow to two legendary Incan kings, he adopted the stage name Atahualpa Yupanqui, which became famous the world over.
In his early years, Yupanqui travelled extensively through the northwest of Argentina and the Altiplano studying the indigenous culture. He also became radicalized and joined the Communist Party of Argentina. In 1931, he took part in the failed Kennedy brothers uprising against the de facto government of José Félix Uriburu and in support of deposed president Hipólito Yrigoyen. After the uprising was defeated, he was forced to seek refuge in Uruguay. He returned to Argentina in 1934.
In 1935, Yupanqui paid his first visit to Buenos Aires; his compositions were growing in popularity, and he was invited to perform on the radio. Shortly thereafter, he made the acquaintance of pianist Antonieta Paula Pepin Fitzpatrick, nicknamed "Nenette", who became his lifelong companion and musical collaborator under the pseudonym "Pablo Del Cerro".
Because of his Communist Party affiliation (which lasted until 1952), his work suffered from censorship during Juan Perón's presidency; he was detained and incarcerated several times. He left for Europe in 1949. Édith Piaf invited him to perform in Paris on 7 July 1950. He immediately signed a contract with "Chant Du Monde", the recording company that published his first LP in Europe, "Minero Soy" (I am a Miner). This record won first prize for Best Foreign Disc at the Charles Cros Academy, which included three hundred fifty participants from all continents in its International Folklore Contest He subsequently toured extensively throughout Europe.
In 1952, Yupanqui returned to Buenos Aires. He broke with the Communist Party, which made it easier for him to book radio performances. While with Nenette they constructed their house on Cerro Colorado (Córdoba).
Recognition of Yupanqui's ethnographic work became widespread during the 1960s, and nueva canción artists such as Facundo Cabral, Mercedes Sosa and Jorge Cafrune recorded his compositions and made him popular among the younger musicians, who referred to him as Don Ata.
Yupanqui alternated between houses in Buenos Aires and Cerro Colorado, Córdoba province. During 1963–1964, he toured Colombia, Japan, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, and Italy. In 1967, he toured Spain, and settled in Paris. He returned regularly to Argentina and appeared in Argentinísima II in 1973, but these visits became less frequent when the military dictatorship of Jorge Videla came to power in 1976. In February 1968, Yupanqui was named Knight of Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France by the Ministry of Culture of that country, in honor of 18 years work enriching the literature of the French nation. Some of his songs are included in the programs of Institutes and Schools where Castilian Literature is taught.
In 1985, the Konex Foundation from Argentina granted him the Diamond Konex Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Argentina, as the most important Popular Musician in the last decade in his country.
In 1989, an important cultural center of France, the University of Nanterre, asked Yupanqui to write the lyrics of a cantata to commemorate the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. The piece, entitled "The Sacred Word" (Parole sacrée), was released before high French authorities. It was not a recollection of historical facts but rather a tribute to all the oppressed peoples that freed themselves. Yupanqui died in Nîmes, France in 1992 at the age of 84; his remains were cremated and dispersed on his beloved Colorado Hill on 8 June 1992.

This album "Cantata `Tupac Amaru´" was released in 1978 on "Le Chant Du Monde".

Tracklist:

01. El sacrificio de Tupac-Amaru
02. En la noche silenciosa
03. Romance entre pastores
04. Muñequito de cobre
05. La fiesta del sol


Atahualpa Yupanqui - Cantata 'Tupac Amaru' (1978)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 20. September 2015

Joe Gibbs & The Professionals‎ – African Dub - Chapter 2

The second volume in this vintage four-disc series of instrumental dub from Joe Gibbs' studio finds him still working with members of the Soul Syndicate and We the People bands, and utilizing the formidable mixing talents of Errol Thompson.

What sets this volume somewhat apart from the other three is the number of rhythms it carries over from the rocksteady era: "Chapter Two" is a remix of the Techniques' late-'60s classic "Queen Majesty"; "Peeping Tom" reworks the Melodians' "You Have Caught Me"; and "My Best Dub" is an instrumental and nicely dubbed-up recut of the early Wailers track "Hypocrites." But it also includes some heavyweight rockers and one-drop material, including "Angola Crisis" (based on a familiar rhythm later used for such roots reggae hits as "Uptown Top Ranking" and "Three Piece Suit") and an absolutely brilliant dub mix of Bob Andy's "Chained," here rendered in dark, minimalist tones with drastic dubwise effects and retitled "Third World."

Along with the third volume, this is one of the most impressive of the four discs in the African Dub series.                

Tracklist:
1Chapter Two
2The Marriguna Affair
3Angola Crisis
4Peeping Tom
5Outrage
6Idlers Rest
7My Best Dub
8Third World
9Heavy Duty Dub
10Musical Arena
11Mackarus Serenade
12Jamaican Grass


Joe Gibbs & The Professionals‎ – African Dub - Chapter 2                                   
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 17. September 2015

Helen Schneider - A Walk On The Weill Side (1989)


The American singer-actress Helen Schneider has performed even more frequently in Weill's country of birth, Germany, than in the USA, and she is closely identified with Weill's work. In fact, she headlined at the Dessau Festival in Weill's home town during the centennial celebration in August 2000.

Most writers divide Weill's career into two distinct halves - the German and the American. Lotte Lenya disagreed with that and said of her husband: "there's only one Weill." Andrea Marcovicci takes the other side, and points out how much his music changed after he came to America. Schneider emphatically aligns herself with the One Weill school.

"Of course his music evolved," Schneider says, speaking from her home in Connecticut in mid-September. "He grew, his interests changed, he tried new ideas. But one thing that remained constant was his affinity for great collaborators. He found connections with some of the world's greatest writers, from Brecht in Germany, through Paul Green when he first came to America, and then Maxwell Anderson, Ogden Nash, Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner and Langston Hughes. They sought him out and Weill was attracted to their ideas. Weill changed the expectations for musical theater. He paved the way for Sondheim." Because there's such variety in his music, Schneider says she can do a full evening of Weill and not be redundant. She has done so in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere. She is in conversation about an appearance at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel in February, 2001.

Schneider, like Weill, bears a German family name. Her grandfather on her father's side came to the United States from Germany in 1919. But all of her other antecedents were Russian Jews, and Helen knew very little about German culture -- and didn't speak the language -- when she first was invited to perform there in 1977. "I go where the work is," she says, "so I accepted the invitation and received wonderful acceptance. Later, I learned the German language." When she played Sally Bowles in a Berlin production of Cabaret in 1987 she studied the history of German cabaret and music halls "and that's when I became enamored with Weill."

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Schneider moved to Pomona, NY, where she graduated high school. She studied classical piano and was a soloist in a youth choir which performed Berlioz' Lelio at Carnegie Hall. She then began to sing rock music and ran away with a blues band at 17. Later she was an opening act for Flip Wilson, David Brenner, Bill Cosby, Robert Klein and David Steinberg on tour and in Las Vegas. When she played Sally Bowles, the German press praised her "grace, sex, sandpaper in her voice and cat-like movements." Other highlights of Schneider's career include an 18-month run as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in Germany and a musical about the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Schneider was featured in Ghetto on Broadway and starred in the world premiere of Frida at the American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia in 1991, later in Boston and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and will be appearing in productions of it in 2001 in Vienna, Berlin and Mexico City.

Her CD, A Walk on the Weill Side, shows her to be a distinctive interpreter. Schneider uses a variety of accents, including Cockney and French, to delineate the characters of the songs. Most of her interpretations are quiet and intimate, but she sometimes rises to exciting, dramatic climaxes. Then, too, she can give a straight-out romantic reading, as she does with "What Good Would the Moon Be" from Street Scene. One of the highlights of the CD is "I Wait For a Ship," a yearning ballad from Weill's almost-forgotten 1934 Parisian musical, Marie Galante. It shows a lushness that presages the work he was soon to do in the USA, but it was written before Weill ever visited America. The German-language album of Sunset Boulevard, starring Schneider, reveals the most gorgeously-sung of all the fine Norma Desmonds that I've heard.

(from: http://www.totaltheater.com/)

Helen Schneider - A Walk On The Weill Side (1989)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Montag, 14. September 2015

Colin Wilkie, Shirley Hart, Albert Mangelsdorff, Joki Freund - Wild Goose (1969)

The legendary German trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff began his career in the early '50s in the groups of Hans Koller and Joki Freund, making an appearance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival as part of the "International Youth Band" (at 30!).

On the atypical Wild Goose, his quintet augmented by brother Emil (alto sax and flute) and Freund (tenor and soprano), all backing the British folk duo of Colin Wilkie and Shirley Hart on four of the former's originals and three traditional folk songs. This folk jazz LP was released on the cult german jazz label MPS. It includes the nice modalish 'Willow And Rue'!

The album was produced by Joachim E. Berendt & Ulrich Olshausen and recorded Febraury 19th at the Tonstudio in Walldorf. Colin Wilkie (vocals, guitar), Shirley Hart (vocals), Günter Lenz (bass) and Ralf Hübner (drums, darbouka, tambourine) were accompanied by the "Jazzensemble des hessischen Rundfunks" with Albert Mangelsdorff, Joki Freund Emils Mangelsdorff and Heinz Sauer.


Tracklist:
A1Icy Acres4:07
A2Fourth Flight7:00
A3Snowy Sunday6:57
B1Willow And Rue4:25
B2Lament3:28
B3Ich Armes Maidlein Klag Mich Sehr6:43
B4Sweet Primroses5:05

Colin Wilkie, Shirley Hart, Albert Mangelsdorff, Joki Freund - Wild Goose (1969)
(ca. 224 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 8. September 2015

The Kingston Trio - Here We Go Again! (1959)

Released in 1959, "Here We Go Again!" would be the last time the original Kingston Trio lineup (Bob Shane, Dave Guard, and Nick Reynolds) would have a hit single. The traditional chain gang tune "A Worried Man" made the Top 20, driving sales of the album to over 900,000 copies and perching the group on the number one chart position for eight weeks.

By December of that year, the Kingston Trio would have four albums in the Billboard Top Ten. Spirited versions of "Haul Away" and "Molly Dee," as well as the gospel-ish "Round About the Mountain" are standout tracks among the songs included. "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey" (which brings to mind the Clancey Brothers) and the stark "San Miguel" help make "Here We Go Again!" a very well-rounded album.          

Tracklist:

Side 1:
  1. "Molly Dee" (John Stewart)
  2. "Across the Wide Missouri" (Ervin Drake, Jimmy Shirl)
  3. "Haul Away" (Traditional)
  4. "The Wanderer" (Irving Burgess)
  5. "'Round About the Mountain" (Lou Gottlieb)
  6. "Oleanna" (Harvey Geller, Martin Seligson)
Side 2:
  1. "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey" (Traditional, Gottlieb)
  2. "San Miguel" (Jane Bowers)
  3. "E Inu Tatou E" (George Archer)
  4. "A Rollin' Stone" (Stan Wilson)
  5. "Goober Peas" (Dave Guard, Traditional)
  6. "A Worried Man" (Traditional, Tom Glazer, Dave Guard)


The Kingston Trio - Here We Go Again! (1959)     
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 3. September 2015

Jean Ritchie, Paul Clayton, Richard Chase - American Folk Tales and Songs (1956)

A key figure in the 1950s folk revival, Jean Ritchie was a one-woman treasure trove of near-forgotten American folk songs, most of which she learned as a child growing up in a rural corner of the Appalachian Mountains. Ritchie moved from Kentucky to New York City in the mid-'40s after attending college; there, she became a coffeehouse folksinger at night and a social worker by day. Along with her sporadic but deeply rewarding recording career, Jean Ritchie was best known as a tireless archivist of the Appalachian folk tradition.

Jean Ritchie was born into a large and musical family in Viper, Kentucky in 1922. The Ritchie family was very much a part of the Appalachian folk tradition, and had committed over 300 songs (including hymns, traditional love songs, ballads, children's game songs, etc.) to its collective memory, a tradition that Ritchie drew on (as well as preserved and maintained) during her performing career. She grew up in a home where singing was intertwined with nearly every task, and the beautiful, ephemeral nature of these mountain songs and fragments was not lost on her. After graduating from high school, Ritchie attended Cumberland Junior College in Williamsburg, Kentucky, moving on to the University of Kentucky, where she graduated in 1946. She accepted a position at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City and soon found her family's songs useful in reaching out to the children in her care. Her singing, although she never had a strong pop sort of voice, was perfect for the old ballads, especially when she accompanied herself on lap dulcimer, and the ancient modal melodies of her family felt fresh and airy in her hands.

Ritchie soon found herself in demand in the New York coffeehouses, and her official career in music began. After hearing some casually recorded songs by Ritchie, Jac Holzman, who was just starting up Elektra Records, signed her to the label, eventually releasing three albums, "Jean Ritchie Sings" (1952), "Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family" (1957) and "A Time for Singing" (1962) at the height of the folk revival. Although she never reached the household name status of Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, Judy Collins or the Kingston Trio, Ritchie maintained her Appalachian authenticity, and her subsequent albums worked to preserve the rich folk tradition of the Southern Appalachians. Among her many releases are two from Smithsonian Folkways, "Ballads From Her Appalachian Family Tradition" and "Child Ballads in America", "None but One" (which won a Rolling Stone Critics Award in 1977), "High Hills and Mountains", "Kentucky Christmas", and "The Most Dulcimer". Married to the photographer George Pickow, the couple later re-released many of her albums on their own Greenhays Recordings imprint. Hobbled by a 2009 stroke, she returned to Kentucky and died there on June 1, 2015        

Sleeve Notes:

"The dictionary says that folklore is "Traditional tales, songs, dances, customs, beliefs, sayings, preserved unreflectively among a people … " and that the folk are "A group of kindred people … bound together by ties of race, language, religion, etc., and that great proportion of its number which determines the group character and tends to preserve its civilization."
American civilization stems from Old World sources. Our American uses of the English language literature, music, and folklore come from the North of Europe. Each "group of kindred people" coming across the Atlantic brought its own lore — things of the mind and spirit — and often "unreflectively," sometimes deliberately, have kept the identity of each individual set of folk traditions. The use of the word "American" (especially "native American") can lead to confusion in the field of folklore. The only truly native American folk are the Indians, and individual tribes have to this day kept their own separate group character and civilization.
English-American lore is not confined to any one geographical location — little pockets of Elizabethan culture isolated in remote mountain hollows. Such traditions are loved and remembered wherever tale-telling grandfathers and singing grandmothers are close to their children and grandchildren. For the genuine thing, carried on through generations and acquiring lively local and individual variations, always has strength, beauty, and a sort of quietness that make it convincing. Its power often resides in understatement. It does not flare into sudden "popularity" and then die out. Our folkways are as solid, as lasting, and as adaptable as the language we use. This lore is organic, not static, and changes with each generation of singers and tale-tellers.
This record presents samples of the lore of a kindred people — those of us here in America who, whatever our origins across the Atlantic, are bound together by a common use of the English language."
 
RICHARD CHASE, sometimes called the American Hans Christian Andersen, was born in Alabama and now lives in Beech Creek, North Carolina. He is a writer, lecturer, entertainer, recreation leader and consultant on folk festivals, and travels through the United States, giving programs of tales, songs and dances to all kinds of groups. He is the author of many adult and juvenile books in the field of folklore, including Old Songs and Singing Games (1938), The Jack Tales (1943), Grandfather Tales (1948), and Hullabaloo and Other Singing Folk Games (1949). He is also the compiler of the Signet Key Book, AMERICAN FOLK TALES AND SONGS (1956), to which this album has been issued as a recorded companion.
 
PAUL CLAYTON was born in the great whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he early became interested in folksongs through those that were traditional in his family. By the time he was 15, he was presenting a series of radio programs on folkmusic. and has since appeared on radio and television programs in England, Canada and Cuba, as well as in the United States. He has made numerous recording trips through the southern mountains, as well as in other areas of the United States, and in Europe. He has made several commercial recordings of folksongs in addition to having recorded for the archives of the Flanders Ballad Collection, Middlebury College, Vermont, the BBC collection, and the Archive of American Folksong at the Library of Congress. At present, he is editing a volume of folksongs of Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina, for publication by The Folklore Press, N. Y.. in 1957. Previously he recorded an album of "Whaling and Sailing Songs from the Days of Moby Dick" (TLP 1005) for TRADITION RECORDS. Paul Clayton committed suicide on March 30, 1967, at the age of 36.
 
Tracklist:
 
A1The Gambling Suitor
A2That's Once
A3The Bashful Courtship
A4The Split Dog
A5Locks And Bolts
A6The Snakebit Hoehandle
A7The Old Grey Goose Is Dead
A8The Big Toe
A9The Deaf Women's Courtship
B1Wondrous Love
B2The Devil's Questions
B3The Man In The Kraut Tub
B4The Swapping Song
B5The Hickory Toothpick
B6The Riddle Song
 

Jean Ritchie, Paul Clayton, Richard Chase - American Folk Tales and Songs (1956)  
(320 kbps, cover art included)