Samstag, 30. Januar 2016

Peter, Paul & Mary - A Song Will Rise (1965)

By their fifth album, Peter, Paul & Mary had fallen into a consistency of approach that could be viewed as either dependable or predictable. This had the usual assortment of traditional songs ("Motherless Child," "The Cuckoo"), songs that had first gained an audience during prior folk revivals ("Wasn't That a Time"), a bit of original material, mediocre blues ("San Francisco Bay Blues" and Paul Stookey's "Talkin' Candy Bar Blues"), and a Bob Dylan song ("When the Ship Comes In").

The biggest find, material-wise, was the Gordon Lightfoot composition "For Lovin' Me" (a #30 hit single), which gave the Canadian songwriter (who had yet to release his first United Artists LP) some of his first wide exposure in the United States.

Overall, the trio's sound and balance of repertoire had still changed little, if at all, from their debut. They were at their best on folk tunes with sad melodies and harmonies, as on "Jimmy Whalen" and "Ballad of Spring Hill."                

Side One
  1. "When the Ship Comes In" (Bob Dylan)
  2. "Jimmy Whalen"
  3. "Come and Go With Me"
  4. "Gilgarra Mountain" (Trad arr Peter Yarrow)
  5. "Ballad of Spring Hill (Spring Hill Disaster)" (Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl)
  6. "Motherless Child"
Side Two
  1. "Wasn't That a Time" (Seeger/Hays/Gilbert/Brooks/Coigney)
  2. "Monday Morning"
  3. "The Cuckoo"
  4. "The San Francisco Bay Blues" (Jesse Fuller)
  5. "Talkin' Candy Bar Blues" (Noel Paul Stookey)
  6. "For Lovin' Me" (Gordon Lightfoot)

Peter, Paul & Mary - A Song Will Rise (1965)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Donnerstag, 28. Januar 2016

Prince Far I - Cry Freedom Dub

A far more appropriate title for this set would have been "Roy Cousins Meets Roots Radics at Channel One Studio", for there's very little Prince Far I within to justify the title. In fact, the late, great, gravel-voiced sermonizer is heard on only two tracks -- "Free Jah Jah Children" and "Famine in Africa," with virtually the entire rest of the set comprising vocal-less instrumental dubs. There again, it would be wrong to assume that Cousins was merely cashing in on the DJ's name, better to think of "Cry Freedom Dub" as a tribute set.

Prince Far I was, of course, recording a new album, "Umkhonto We Sizwe" (aka "Spear of the Nation"), with Cousins right before his death, so profoundly affected by his murder was the producer that he emigrated from Jamaica soon after. So, in many ways this set could be considered a labor of love, a final farewell to Far I. To this end, the album is an overwhelmingly celebratory affair, almost joyous in mood, and far removed from the militancy that defined Channel One's sound. The bulk of the riddims are sublime versions of Studio One classics, and although the Radics had given most of them a sharp edge, Cousins' production smoothes much of that away. Like many singing producers, Cousins loved melody, and laced virtually all the dubs here with it.

Engineers Scientist and Lancelot "Maxi" McKenzie are given some room to maneuver however, most obviously on the "classic" deconstruction styled dubs of "Idlers Rest," "Famine in Africa," and "Freed Jah Jah Children." In contrast "Tired Fe See the Mothers Cry," "Rudeboy Anthem" and "Tribute to Cry Cry" are almost dub instruction manuals, honing in specifically on the guitars, keyboards, and drums respectively. Most magnificently "Mothers Cry" actually creates one of the most laid-back guitar duels of all times. From the brooding "Love Rasta" and "Ethnic Cleansing," two of the moodiest tracks on the set, to the gorgeous "We Will Be Free from Poverty" and the almost breezy "Sacrifice for the Truth," "Cry Freedom" is filled with sublime music, a diversity of atmospheres, and an uplifting aura, with the track titles a pointed reminder of Prince Far I's deeply cultural concerns. All told it makes for a glorious set, a fitting homage to one of Jamaica's most revered artists.    

1Free Jah Jah Children
2Blood At The Corner Of Orange Street
3Idlers Rest
4Tired Fe See The Mothers Cry
5Rudeboy Anthem
6Tribute To Cry Cry
7Love Rasta
8Famine In Africa
9Ethnic Cleansing
10Will We Be Free From Poverty
11Posse For Hire
12Sacrefice For The Truth
13Feed Jah Jah Children
14Peace Brokers
Prince Far I - Cry Freedom Dub
(192 kbps, cover art included)    

Dienstag, 26. Januar 2016

Sun Ra Arkestra - Music From Tomorrow´s World (1960)

"Music From Tomorrow's World" is a fascinating document and a boon to Sun Ra collectors. It gathers previously unheard tapes from two sources: one from the Wonder Inn club and one from Majestic Hall, probably a rehearsal. Both were recorded in 1960, toward the end of the Arkestra's Chicago period. The Wonder Inn tape is especially revealing, as it presents the Arkestra in front of a crowd.

And although Saturn album releases from the period feature Ra compositions almost exclusively, this set shows they played standards as well during their live shows. The sound is surprisingly good, although one wishes the woman near the tape recorder would shut up once in a while. (Her comments range from "You gonna take me to eat?" to "Play it, Sun Ray! Play it like you want!") The first two tunes feature flutes heavily, then John Gilmore takes over the show starting with "Space Aura." Ricky Murray croons up a storm on the Gershwin standard "S Wonderful," with great Arkestra backing vocals on both Gershwin tunes. Ra's arrangement of "It Ain't Necessarily So" is quite interesting, and his arrangement of "China Gate" was clearly the inspiration for his own "Overtones of China" on the album "Visits Planet Earth".

The sound on the Majestic Hall session is not nearly as good, but the music surely is. This set has the Arkestra concentrating on original compositions, except for Harry Revel's "Possession" (another composer fascinated by space in the '50s). Gilmore is, again, in fine form, and there is the added bonus of four tracks that have not been otherwise recorded or identified. "Music From Tomorrow's World" is a fantastic document that casts some new light on an important period of the Arkestra's career. This was when it all came together for this one-of-a-kind band: the music, the costumes, the cosmology, and overall presentation. Shortly after, the Arkestra would leave Chicago for good. The Delmark albums and Evidence reissues of Saturn albums from the period would be the first stopping place for the Sun Ra novice, but "Music From Tomorrow's World" is highly recommended for fans of this important early portion of the Arkestra's history.

Live At The Wonder Inn:
1Angels & Demons At Play3:21
2Spontaneous Simplicity3:10
3Space Aura3:26
5It Ain't Necessarily So4:40
6How High The Moon6:26
7China Gate3:58

The Majestic Hall Session:
8Majestic 14:27
11Tapestry From An Asteroid2:03
12Majestic 26:02
13Majestic 33:03
14Majestic 46:21
16A Call For All Demons2:02
17Interstellar Lo-Ways (Introduction)0:28

Sun Ra Arkestra - Music From Tomorrow´s World (1960)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 20. Januar 2016

John Coltrane - Blue Train (1957)

Although never formally signed, an oral agreement between John Coltrane and Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion was indeed honored on "Blue Train" -- Coltrane's only collection of sides as a principal artist for the venerable label.

The disc is packed solid with sonic evidence of Coltrane's innate leadership abilities. He not only addresses the tunes at hand, but also simultaneously reinvents himself as a multifaceted interpreter of both hard bop as well as sensitive balladry -- touching upon all forms in between.

The personnel on "Blue Train" is arguably as impressive as what they're playing. Joining Coltrane (tenor sax) are Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Kenny Drew (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). The triple horn arrangements incorporate an additional sonic density that remains a trademark unique to both this band and album. Of particular note is Fuller's even-toned trombone, which bops throughout the title track as well as the frenetic "Moments Notice." Other solos include Paul Chambers' subtly understated riffs on "Blue Train" as well as the high energy and impact from contributions by Lee Morgan and Kenny Drew during "Locomotion." The track likewise features some brief but vital contributions from Philly Joe Jones -- whose efforts throughout the record stand among his personal best.

Of the five sides that comprise the original "Blue Train", the Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer ballad "I'm Old Fashioned" is the only standard; in terms of unadulterated sentiment, this version is arguably untouchable. Fuller's rich tones and Drew's tastefully executed solos cleanly wrap around Jones' steadily languid rhythms.

Without reservation, "Blue Train" can easily be considered in and among the most important and influential entries not only of John Coltrane's career, but of the entire genre of jazz music as well.                

John Coltrane - Blue Train (1957)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 6. Januar 2016

Slapp Happy - BBC Live 1974 & Reunion Concert 1983

Avant-pop cult favorites "Slapp Happy" formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1972; there vocalist Dagmar Krause, a veteran of the folk group the "City Preachers", first met British experimental composer Anthony Moore, who had previously issued a pair of solo LPs, "Pieces from the Cloudland Ballroom" and "Secrets of the Blue Bag", on Polydor.

When the label rejected a third Moore record, he instead proposed a pop project, recruiting Krause and New York-born guitarist Peter Blegvad to form "Slapp Happy"; recorded with input from members of the famed Krautrock band "Faust", the trio issued their debut album "Sort of..." in 1972, its commercial prospects severely limited as a result of the band's refusal to perform live.

Still, Polydor assented to a follow-up, with "Slapp Happy" soon convening to record "Casablanca Moon"; the label rejected the album, however, and upon landing at Virgin, the trio re-recorded the disc in its entirety, releasing it as a self-titled effort in 1974. "Slapp Happy" next banded together with the like-minded art-rock outfit Henry Cow to record a pair of collaborative LPs, "Desperate Straights" and "In Praise of Learning"; creative tensions then forced Moore and Blegvad to exit the project, although Krause continued singing with Henry Cow though their 1980 dissolution.

In the meantime, both Moore and Blegvad pursued solo careers, although in 1982 they reunited with Krause to record a new "Slapp Happy" single, "Everybody's Slimmin'," followed by their first-ever live appearance at London's ICA. All three again collaborated in 1991 on "Camera", a television opera commissioned by the BBC and broadcast two years later; a new "Slapp Happy" studio album, "Ça Va", followed in 1998. "Camera" was issued two years later.                

The sound of this bootleg is not good, not bad - it is a great document!


1 Europa
2 A Little Something
3 War
4 Me & Paravati
5 Everybody's Slimmin'
6 Michelangelo
7 Some Questions About Hats
8 Excerpt from the Messiah
9 Riding Tigers
10 Casablanca Moon
11 A Little Something
12 Small Hands Of Stone
13 World Service
14 Me & Parvati
15 Karen
16 The Naked Shakespeare (Instrumental)
17 O For The Ocean
18 Moritat
19 Haiku
20 Tattoo Lady

[1-4] BBC Top Gear 1974.6.25
Anthony Moore (piano, vocals, organ, harpsichord)
Peter Blegvad (acoustic guitar, guitar, vocals)
Dagmar Krause (lead vocals)
Fred Frith (guitar)
Lindsay Cooper (bassoon, oboe)
Geoff Leigh (soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet)
Jeff Clyne (double bass)
Robert Wyatt (vocals, percussion)

[5-20] I.C.A. London 1983
Anthony Moore (piano, vocals, organ, harpsichord)
Peter Blegvad (acoustic guitar, guitar, vocals)
Dagmar Krause (lead vocals)

Slapp Happy - BBC Live 1974 & Reunion Concert 1983
(192 kbps, cover art included)

Dienstag, 5. Januar 2016

Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit

It's surely a sign of blues mastery: you sit down with your guitar, open your mouth, and the blues comes out. That's the impression one gains from this recording, made in 1960 and, incredibly, never issued, except piecemeal on albums by some of the artists involved. Now at last, here's the whole thing, featuring improvisatory riffs - the whole recording is ostensibly off the cuff and unrehearsed, which, given the talent involved, isn't hard to believe - from Lightnin' Hopkins, Big Joe Williams, and dynamic duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Just getting these four in the same room is something of an achievement, given the temperaments and busy careers involved, but any blues fan would admit that the results are worth it. Though they're admittedly pretty rough cuts, they're also heartfelt, enthusiastic, and overwhelmingly genuine, with the kind of musical intimacy that comes from sitting around and playing whatever's on your mind--and you're a good enough musician that what comes out is worth hearing. --Genevieve Williams

An official issue of a much bootlegged studio and live session, "Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit" was recorded in Los Angeles on July 6, 1960. Along with Hopkins, in town at the behest of John Lomax Jr., the participants were Big Joe Williams, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee, who were all completing a residency at the Ash Grove nightclub.

The first half of the album is a well-lubricated studio jam session, while the even wilder second half takes place at the Ash Grove later that night. Like most straight jam sessions, this is loose to the point of messiness most of the time, with every song but one running well past the five-minute mark, with the foursome trading choruses and solos seemingly at random.

Frankly, the whole thing sounds like it's on the verge of collapse three-quarters of the time, which makes moments like the sharp interplay of Terry's harp and Hopkins' finger-picked acoustic in the middle of a rave-up version of "Blues for Gamblers" that much more impressive. However, newcomers to these artists should probably start elsewhere; this is strictly for fans.   -

In 1960 World Pacific Records, once an important jazz label, put four of the great blues masters - Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Big Joe Williams - together with many bottles of whisky in a sound studio, turned on the Ampex tape decks, got out of the way and let the men jam. Afterwards, about half of the tracks available on this new CD were released on the classic but often elusive World Pacific 1298. The recording needs no new rave notices. Such bellwether critics of the time as Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff already gave it the ultimate canonization it deserves those 41 years ago. There's nothing to add to the praise. No collection of basically acoustic black blues is anywhere near complete without this masterpiece. Several of the cuts that weren't on WP 1298 have been reissued on various albums by the individual artists, but this is the biggest single assembly out of the sessions ever. The Ampexes supposedly wound World Pacific's tapes for several hours on end, so this release too is only a selection, but the biggest yet. The sound quality is superlative, which one came to expect from World Pacific even in 1960. The music - fully improvised, totally jammed bragging dirty blues. Titles like "Wimmen From Coast to Coast" and "You Can Steal My Chickens But You Can't Make My Hens Lay" say it all.  - Mark Oliva


       1. Ain't Nothin' Like Whiskey
2. Penitentiary Blues
3. If You Steal My Chickens, You Can't Make 'Em Lay
4. First Meeting
5. How Long Have It Been Since You Been Home?
6. Wimmin From Coast to Coast
7. Right on That Shore
8. Early Morning Blues (aka Chain Gang Blues)
9. Blues for Gamblers
10. I've Been Buked and I've Been Scorned
11. Brand New Car (aka New Car Blues)

Lightnin' Hopkins & the Blues Summit    
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Freitag, 1. Januar 2016

Happy New Year!