Dienstag, 29. März 2016

Café Rembetika - The Birth Of The Greek Blues

For the uninitiated, rembetika sounds exotic, from another time and place, which is true enough. Rembetika's origins are a bit murky, but one thing is for sure, it flourished in the cafes and bars of Greece in the late 1920s through the '30s. It is outlaw music; the music of the Greek underworld sung by Rebetes (those who are social outsiders, they lived on the margins of society and crossed the line more often than not to stand apart from it).
It has been regarded as dangerous music even by the country's government, who nearly banned it: they tried to censor its content in recordings but failed. It has been called the Greek blues, and that's not far off. This is a place where the complex patterns of Middle Eastern modalism and the repetition of form that exist in the blues meet in one place. This collection on Nascente brings together the work of a number of rembetika's finest from two different schools, or "scenes" actually, the Piraeus and the Aman tradition:

"Café Rembetika" features four of the greatest stars of the Piraeus scene that later formed the first Rembetika supergroup: Markos Vamvakaris, Stratos Pagioumjis, Giorgos Batis and Anestis Delias. Also featured are leading singers from the Café Aman tradition: Rosa Eskenazi, Rita Abatsi and Marika Papagika.

Here´s a collection of some of the greatest songs from the golden age of Rembetika:

Café Rembetika - The Birth Of The Greek Blues
(192 kbps, small front cover included)

Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Swings Lightly (1958)

Ella Swings Lightly is a 1958 studio album by the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, recorded with the Marty Paich Dek-tette. Ella also worked with Marty Paich on her 1967 album Whisper Not. The album features a typical selection of jazz standards from this era, songs from recent musicals like Frank Loesser's If I Were a Bell, and a famous jazz instrumental vocalised by Ella, Roy Eldridge's Little Jazz.
This album won Ella the 1960 Grammy award for the Best Improvised Jazz Solo.

This was among several hit albums that Fitzgerald enjoyed in the '50s, when she was reaching the mass audience cutting pre-rock standards. The album features Ella Fitzgerald's flowing vocals and Marty Paich's Dek-tette band backing her.  

Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Swings Lightly (1958)
(256 kbps, cover art included)       

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Porgy And Bess (1957)

"Porgy and Bess" is a 1957 studio album by jazz vocalist and trumpeter Louis Armstrong, and singer Ella Fitzgerald collaborating on this recording of selections from George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. In 2001, it was awarded with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special achievement prize established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance." The album was originally issued on the Verve label in 1957.

There have been many recordings of the music from the Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess, but this is one of the more rewarding ones. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald sing all of the parts, performing some of the play's best melodies. Unfortunately, there is not much Armstrong trumpet to be heard, but the vocals are excellent and occasionally wonderful, making up for the unimaginative Russ Garcia arrangements assigned to the backup orchestra.               


A1 Summertime 4:58
A2 I Wants To Stay Here 4:38
A3 My Man's Gone Now 4:02
A4 I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' 3:52
A5 Buzzard Song 2:58
A6 Bess, You Is My Woman Now 5:28
B1 It Ain't Necessarily So 6:34
B2 What You Want Wid Bess 1:59
B3 A Woman Is A Somtime Thing 4:47
B4 Oh, Doctor Jesus 2:00
B5 Medley: Here Come De Honey Man - Crab Man - Oh, Dey's So Fresh & Fine 3:29
B6 There's A Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon For New York 4:51
B7 Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess? 2:36
B8 Oh, Lawd, I'm On My Way! 2:57

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Porgy And Bess (1957)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Montag, 28. März 2016

The New Lost City Ramblers - Songs From The Depression (1959)

During the folk boom of the late '50s and early '60s, the New Lost City Ramblers introduced audiences to the authentic string band sound of the 1920s and '30s, in the process educating a generation that had never heard this uniquely American sound of old-time music. While maintaining music with a social conscience, they added guts and reality to the folk movement, performing with humor and obvious reverence for the music. In 1958, Mike Seeger, John Cohen, and Tom Paley modeled their band after groups like the Skillet Lickers, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, and the Aristocratic Pigs, choosing a name in keeping with the past. When Tracy Schwarz replaced Paley in 1962, the NLCR added solo songs from the Appalachian folk repertoire, religious and secular, educating a large segment of the American population about traditional music. Folkways recorded the NLCR on five albums in the early '60s, making the Ramblers famous and leading to TV appearances, successful tours, and appearances at the Newport Folk Festival. A songbook with 125 of their songs came out in 1964 and sold well.                   

The third album by this group definitely gets an "A" for effort, as simply gathering up so many worthwhile songs about the American depression was worth doing, no matter how listeners might feel about individual tracks. The choice of material doubles up on numbers by Blind Alfred Reed and Bill Dixon, includes fascinating historical material by Fiddling John Carson and Slim Smith, and wisely includes the genre of instrumental music, which sometimes makes the most succinct comment of all, such as the tough fiddle solo "Boys, My Money's All Gone." Many of the medium-tempo numbers are played with the finesse of a fine classical chamber quartet, the fiddle and banjo playing sharp and radiant. The Tom Paley-era Ramblers have a bit more of a college campus-type folky sound, but in some cases this suits these types of songs, making this one of the better early albums by this band. Mike Seeger is busy on an assortment of instruments, livening up one track with harmonica, another with mandolin. As usual, his fiddle and banjo playing is topnotch. There is also nice use made of Hawaiian and steel guitars. While some albums by this group seem like the ensemble is taking on a bit too much territory, here the clear focus of the subject matter creates a more relaxed atmosphere, despite the despair of the lyrics. But OK, it is not a record to put on when one wants to serenade away a bad mood. The original booklet includes lyrics and much interesting information about the original artists and the depression era in general.                

The New Lost City Ramblers - Songs From The Depression (1959)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Sonntag, 27. März 2016

Johnny Clegg & Savuka - Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World

When South Africa was still suffering under the apartheid system in the 1980s, Johnny Clegg & Savuka was the last thing apartheid supporters wanted in a pop group. Their lyrics were often vehemently anti-apartheid, and apartheid supporters hated the fact that a half-black, half-white outfit out of South Africa was integrated and proud of it.

Released in the U.S. at the end of the 1980s, "Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World" is among the many rewarding albums the band has recorded. Sting and the Police are a definite influence on Clegg & Savuka, who have absorbed everything from various African pop styles to Western pop, funk, rock, and reggae. The lyrics are consistently substantial and frequently sociopolitical - "Bombs Away" addresses the violence of the apartheid regime, while "Warsaw 1943" reflects on the horrors Eastern Europe experienced at the hands of both communists and fascists during World War II. Clegg and company enjoyed a passionate following at the time, and this fine CD proves that it was well deserved. 

1One (Hu)'Man One Vote4:45
2Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World4:25
4Dela (I Know Why The Dog Howls At The Moon)4:15
6It's An Illusion4:41
7Bombs Away4:36
8Woman Be My Country4:58
9Rolling Ocean4:09
10Warsaw 1943 (I Never Betrayed The Revolution)4:51

Johnny Clegg & Savuka - Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World
(256 kbps, cover art included)   

VA – 2 Beat ! Apartheid (1990)

Starting in 1988, "Heimatklänge Festival" ("Festival for the sounds of the homeland") was staged in Berlin every summer during the 6 or 7 weeks of school holidays. The bands were invited for 1 week each, and every year they came from a different corner of the world. They played at the "Tempodrom", a big circus tent with a second open air stage next to it, they chose the stage depending on the weather. Their first show was always on a Wednesday and would be transmitted live by a local radio station, so people knew what to expect on the following weekend.

In addition each band visited the studio of that radio station to record a couple of songs that were released on CD after the festival. You'll never get a better recording of these African bands as they simply can't afford a studio of this quality.

In 1990 the fight against Apartheid was still going strong and for that year bands from the southern countries of Africa were invited in order to support their fight. Please remember that the political situation in Berlin was very special in that period. Earlier there were 2 German countries, East and West, with a communist and a capitalist system, divided by the wall – if you tried to cross it without permission you got shot. In 1989 the East German system collapsed and the wall was opened... And into that atmosphere came these bands from Africa, playing music from their homelands and fighting against apartheid that divided their own countries and societies.


01. Sipho Mabuse • Jive Soweto '90 • 4:50
02. Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique • Matilde • 5:15
03. Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits • Tumirayi Shoko • 4:46
04. Orquestra Os Jovens Do Prenda • Mukila Wé • 6:51
05. Soul Brothers • Matombazane • 6:41
06. Stella Rambisai Chiweshe • Chigamba • 7:58
07. Noise Khanyile & Amagugu Akwazulu • Mamma Siyanuka • 3:22
08. Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique Feat. Wazimbo • Nwahulwana • 6:48
09. Sipho Mabuse • Free South Africa • 5:19
10. Orquestra Os Jovens Do Prenda • Harmonização Y Amnistia • 6:35
11. Soul Brothers • Sibongile • 4:06
12. Noise Khanyile • Sikelela • 4:12
13. Orquestra Os Jovens Do Prenda • Makame • 6:17

VA  – 2 Beat ! Apartheid (1990)
(224 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 26. März 2016

Brenda Fassi - Mama (1995)

"Mama" is a fine collection of Soweto township jive from Brenda Nokuzola Fassie (3 November 1964 – 9 May 2004), the South African anti-apartheid Afropop singer; it includes her hit "Ama-Gents." Sadly, Ms. Fassie is no longer with us. She has left us a small body of work that any fan of South African music will enjoy. "Mama" is an especially moving ballad. Highly recommended.         

From the linernotes:
"Brenda Fassie is often called the Madonna of South Africa. Even though she is only 5'1", on stage she is an electrifying presence. This album also includes the hit-version of 'Ama-Gents' a traditional South African chant arranged by Brenda in honor of Nelson Mandela."          

Known as the "Queen of the Vocals" and dubbed the "Madonna of the Townships" by Time Magazine, Brenda Fassie was one of South Africa's most popular vocalists, mixing African vocals with a slick international pop sound. She had her greatest success in the 1980s and continued to record into the ensuing decades, but became a celebrity known more for her off-stage antics than her on-stage work.

Born in 1964 in the small village of Langa, Cape Town, Fassie came from a musical family and began singing early, forming her first singing group at the age of four. Her precocious talent brought her to the attention of talent scouts from Johannesburg, one of whom eventually took the young teenager to the city to kick-start her career. After singing background vocals for other artists, Fassie broke out with the group Brenda & the Big Dudes with whom she recorded her biggest hit in 1986's "Weekend Special." She went on to a solo career soon after and working with producer Sello "Chicco" Twala Fassie had continued success at the end of the '80s with the hits "Too Late for Mama" and the controversial "Black President," which was banned in apartheid-era South Africa.
  Then things started to unravel for Fassie. She was involved in several highly publicized affairs with both men and women and had also begun a costly and destructive cocaine addiction. It also didn't help matters that she became notorious for missing concert dates. The nadir of her excess came in 1995 when Fassie was found in a drugged haze next to the dead body of her girlfriend. The horror of the event was enough to shock her out of her spiraling decline. Her next album, "Memeza", was released in 1998 and was the most focused and accomplished album she had released in nearly a decade. "Memeza" went on to become the best-selling album of the year in South Africa. If there had been any doubt previously, the album's success cemented Fassie's role as a superstar of Afro-pop. Her success continued with subsequent albums and, for a time, nothing seemed impossible for the township hero. In May of 2004, Fassie suffered a sever asthma attack that triggered cardiac arrest forcing her to be hospitalized. The physical breakdown was severe and Fassie's condition deteriorated quickly. On May 9, 2004, Brenda Fassie passed away.

Brenda Fassi - Mama (1995)
(256 kbps, cover art included)

Mittwoch, 23. März 2016

Pete Seeger - With Voices Together We Sing (1956)

Pete Seeger is renowned as a children's entertainer, but at the concert held in the fall of 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City documented on this album, he addressed a slightly older crowd of college students. They may not have giggled quite as much as audiences he has addressed at grade schools and summer camps, but they were equally responsive.

Indeed, they sound like they came to sing, which is a good frame of mind to be in when attending a Pete Seeger concert. He gave them a fairly typical program, ranging from old folk songs to more contemporary fare (including, to the delight of his listeners, a brief parody of "Davy Crockett"). He sang seasonal material and spirituals; he imported songs from Norway ("Oleanna"), Puerto Rico ("Que Bonita Bandera"), and South Africa ("Senzenina/Wimoweh"); and he did not neglect his political viewpoint. The South African medley featured songs using only one word each, yet he explained their political import as expressing protest against the racist regime. And he closed the show referring to his adversarial testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities earlier in 1955, at which he tried to sing the old Weavers song "Wasn't That a Time?," but was refused permission to do so.

Here, he did sing it, stirringly linking the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II to the present redbaiting era when "madmen" rule and "free men go to jail." With contempt citations hanging over his head after that HUAC testimony, such words were not merely poetry to him, a fact no doubt appreciated by the college audience who sang along so sweetly. 

A1Deep Blue Sea
A2Rissetlty Rosselty
A5-aChanukah, On Chanukah
A5-bWhat Month Was Jesus Born In?
A6Que Bonita Bandera
B1-aStreets Of Laredo
B1-bBrandy Leave Me Alone
B2-aDidn't Old John?
B2-bMichael, Row The Boat
B4Wasn't That A Time?
Pete Seeger - With Voices Together We Sing (1956) 
(256 kbps, cover art included)     

Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht - Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Lotte Lenya, Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg, 1956)

The opera, "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" ("Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny"), is a razor-edged critique of capitalism, and considered by many to be the greatest collaboration between music composer Kurt Weill and playwright Bertolt Brecht. This political-satirical opera was first performed in Leipzig on 9 March 1930.

The libretto was mainly written in early 1927 and the music was finished in the spring of 1929, although both text and music were to be partly revised by the authors later. An early by-product, however, was the "Mahagonny-Songspiel", sometimes known as "Das kleine Mahagonny", a concert work for voices and small orchestra commissioned by the Deutsche Kammermusik Festival in Baden-Baden and premiered there on 18 July 1927. The ten numbers, which include the "Alabama Song" and "Benares Song", were duly incorporated into the full opera. The opera had its premiere in Leipzig in March 1930 and played in Berlin in December of the following year. The opera was banned by the Nazis in 1933 and did not have a significant production until the 1960s.

Weill's score uses a number of styles, including rag-time, jazz and formal counterpoint, notably in the "Alabama Song" (covered by multiple artists, notably The Doors and David Bowie). The lyrics for the "Alabama Song" and another song, the "Benares Song" are in English (albeit specifically idiosyncratic English) and are performed in that language even when the opera is performed in its original (German) language.

Here´s the recording with Lotte Lenya, Heinz Sauerbaum, Gisela Litz and the orchestra of the Norddeutsche Rundfunk, conducted by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg and recorded in 1956 in Hamburg.
Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht - Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny CD 1
Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht - Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny CD 2
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Dienstag, 22. März 2016

Ramblin´ Jack Elliott - Sings The Songs Of Woody Guthrie (1960, vinyl rip)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott is one of folk music's most enduring characters. Since he first came on the scene in the late '50s, Elliott influenced everyone from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger to the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead. The son of a New York doctor and a onetime traveling companion of Woody Guthrie, Elliott used his self-made cowboy image to bring his love of folk music to one generation after another. Despite the countless miles that Elliott traveled, his nickname is derived from his unique verbiage: an innocent question often led to a mosaic of stories before he got to the answer. According to folk songstress Odetta, it was her mother who gave Elliott the name when she remarked, "Oh, that Jack Elliott, he sure can ramble."

"Jack Elliott Sings the Songs of Woody Guthrie" was released in 1960. Elliott interprets many of the most popular items in the Guthrie repertoire, including "So Long," "This Land Is Your Land," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Talking Dust Bowl," and "Philadelphia Lawyer," on the recording that is most representative of his role in popularizing the work of his hero.



Side one:
  1. "Hard Traveling"
  2. "Grand Coulee Dam"
  3. "New York Town"
  4. "Tom Joad"
  5. "Howdido"
  6. "Talking Dust Bowl"
  7. "This Land is Your Land"
Side two:
  1. "Pretty Boy Floyd"
  2. "Philadelphia Lawyer"
  3. "Talking Columbia"
  4. "Dust Storm Disaster"
  5. "Riding in My Car"
  6. "1913 Massacre"
  7. "So Long"
Ramblin´ Jack Elliott - Sings The Songs Of Woody Guthrie (1960, vinyl rip)
(192 kbps, complete cover art included)

Thanks a lot to Uncle Gil for sharing this rip!

Ramblin Jack Elliott - Sings Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers (vinyl rip)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott is one of folk music's most enduring characters. Since he first came on the scene in the late '50s, Elliott influenced everyone from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger to the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead. The son of a New York doctor and a onetime traveling companion of Woody Guthrie, Elliott used his self-made cowboy image to bring his love of folk music to one generation after another. Despite the countless miles that Elliott traveled, his nickname is derived from his unique verbiage: an innocent question often led to a mosaic of stories before he got to the answer. According to folk songstress Odetta, it was her mother who gave Elliott the name when she remarked, "Oh, that Jack Elliott, he sure can ramble."

The album "Sings Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers" was recorded November 14, 1959 in London and released in the USA in 1962.
Elliotts covers of a half-dozen Woody Guthrie songs emphasize his vocals and their expressiveness, with the accompaniment subordinate to the singing. The Jimmie Rodgers stuff, by contrast, shows off some very attractive playing by all concerned, with wonderfully smooth guitar and fiddle work, and a very fine produced sound. The two sets of six songs sound very dissimilar to each other - Elliott has more of a drawl on the Guthrie material and a fine yodel on the Rodgers songs.


01 - T For Texas.

02 - Waiting For A Train

03 - Jimmie The Kid

04 - Mother, The Queen Of My Heart

05 - In The Jailhouse Now

06 - Whippin' The Old T.B

07 - Do-Re-Mi

08 - Dead Or Alive

09 - Grand Coulee Dam

10 - Dust Storm Disaster

11 - I Ain't Got No Home

12 - So Long, It's Been Good To Know You

Ramblin Jack Elliott - Sings Woody Guthrei and Jimmie Rodgers (vinyl rip)
(192 kbps, complete art work included)

Thanks a lot to Uncle Gil for sharing this rip!

Ramblin´ Jack Elliott - Jack Takes The Floor (Topic, 1958, vinyl rip)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott is one of folk music's most enduring characters. Since he first came on the scene in the late '50s, Elliott influenced everyone from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger to the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead. The son of a New York doctor and a onetime traveling companion of Woody Guthrie, Elliott used his self-made cowboy image to bring his love of folk music to one generation after another. Despite the countless miles that Elliott traveled, his nickname is derived from his unique verbiage: an innocent question often led to a mosaic of stories before he got to the answer. According to folk songstress Odetta, it was her mother who gave Elliott the name when she remarked, "Oh, that Jack Elliott, he sure can ramble."

Elliott's recording debut came in the mid-'50s when he recorded three songs for a multi-artist compilation, "Bad Men, Heroes and Pirates", released by Elektra. Elliott was so influenced by Guthrie (whom he had met during a Greenwich Village picking session in 1950) that he began his musical career by mimicking the legendary folksinger. When Guthrie traveled to Florida in 1952, he sent for Elliott to join him. By the time Elliott arrived, however, Guthrie had already left for Mexico, where he was turned back at the border and forced to return to New York. Elliott reunited with Guthrie a few months later. In the winter of 1954, they traveled together back to Florida; in the spring of 1954, they continued on to California's Topanga Canyon. The trip marked the last time that Elliott saw a healthy Guthrie. When he went to Europe in 1955, Elliott sang Guthrie's songs and told stories about him. England provided the setting for Elliott's early success; his first album on his own, Woody Guthrie's Blues, was recorded in England for the Topic label. In addition to recording four more albums for Topic, he attracted attention with his performances with Derroll Adams, a banjo player he had met in California. The duo barnstormed throughout Europe and had a profound influence on the British music scene.

Here´s his Topic album from 1958 released in Great Britain on a 10-inch LP.

Ramblin´ Jack Elliott - Jack Takes The Floor (Topic, 1958, vinyl rip)
(192 kbps, cover art included)

VA - Your Jamaican Girl (1971)

"Your Jamaican Girl" is a compilation of rock steady and early reggae tracks produced by C.S. Dodd and released in 1971 on the Bamboo label.


Robert Lynn - Zip Code
Larry Marshall - Jamaican Girl
Delroy Wilson - Just Because Of You
Winston Williams - Still Love
Dennis Brown - Going To The Ball
Ernest Ranglin - Oh My
I'm And David - Chuky
Carl Bryan - Cover Charge
Splenders - Sometimes Coffee
Winston Francis - Halfway To Paradise
I'm And David - Searching Mind
Sound Dimension - Little Green Apples

Your Jamaican Girl (1971)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

David Peel & The Lower East Side - The Pope Smokes Dope

David Peel is a New York-based musician who first recorded in the late 1960s, with Harold Black, Billy Jo White and Larry Adams performing as "The Lower East Side Band". Though his raw, acoustic "street rock" with lyrics about marijuana and "bad cops" appealed mostly to hippies at first, the sound and DIY ethic make him an important, if little-credited, early performer of punk rock.

He has performed with artists ranging from B. B. King to the Plastic Ono Band. The band was one of the first to regularly perform on cable TV in Manhattan on the public access channel of Manhattan Cable Television, as well as at the first Smoke-In Concerts sponsored by the Yippies in New York City in Central Park.

John Lennon mentioned Peel in the song "New York City". Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono subsequently produced Peel's third album, "The Pope Smokes Dope".

Concerned about major label censorship, Peel founded Orange Records to release his own recordings and also those of other independent artists such as: GG Allin & The Jabbers and Mozarts People.

Peel is still actively recording and performing his music, planning the release of a CD-ROM-based book of photographs. He has appeared in various films as himself, including Please Stand By (1974) and Rude Awakening (1989) and High Times Potluck (2004).

VA - Jack Ruby Hi-Fi (1981)

What we have here is a full showcase-style dyed in the wool stormer. Ruby is the infamous producer linked to the Ocho Rios - Sound of Saint Anns, best known perhaps for his production associations with Burning Spear around the start of their Island career, Justin Hinds of the Dominoes, as well as numerous high calibre artists, think The Gaylads, Big Youth, King Tubby, Errol Thompson and some of the artists featured here, Ken Booth, Black Disciples and his long term studio associates. “Hi-Fi” is an album originally appearing on Brooklyn’s little known but genre-breaking Clappers label, “a weapon without compromise” as their chairman once put it, a label which ushered the transition of reggae into early new york dancehall and beyond, spawning early crossover hip-hop classics from the likes of Brother D and Silver Fox.

Here Ruby focusses on four vocals segued into four full length dubs: Ken Booth’s voice has to be one of the most divine instruments in all music if not reggae, ‘Peace Time’ rides a delicious guitar line – Booth is in fine fettle on a lyric for universal peace , and the whomping ‘Khomeini skank’ version establishes this somewhere at the turn of the seventies. Lennox Miller’s take on Delroy Wilson’s alltime big one ‘Better Must Come’ is a belter – lively drummatical version and a wicked Jah Coller deejay version, 12 minutes plus of sublime reggae. .

Recorded at Jack Ruby's Studios, Ocho Rios, JA. January 1, 1980, mixed at King Tubby's Studios, Kingston, JA.
1. Peace Time/Khomeni Skank
2. Hypocrites/Brezinsky Dub
3. Better Must Come/Jah Coller Speaks His Mind
4. Jail House Free/Rikers Island Dub

VA - Jack Ruby Hi-Fi (1981)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Montag, 21. März 2016

Kurt Weill - Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 - Lady In The Dark

A student of Busoni, Kurt Weill wasn't just the tunesmith of "The Threepenny Opera." In a tangy, neo-classical style, the German composer wrote two symphonies, a violin concerto and a string quartet. This disc features the symphonies, plus a "Symphonic Nocturne" arranged from his 1940 Broadway show "Lady in the Dark."
The piquant reeds and whistle-worthy tunes of Weill's Brechtian theater masterpieces are apparent in his symphonies, especially the Second, of 1934. For his EMI recording, Mariss Jansons had the Berlin Philharmonic bite into the Second with pre-war edginess. While not ignoring the spirit of Stravinsky in both symphonies, Marin Alsop has her English orchestra caress the music more, bringing out its almost erotic allure.

While he left as extensive and as significant an output of stage-works as any composer active during the first half of the twentieth century, the contribution of Kurt Weill to orchestral and instrumental genres was largely restricted to his formative years as a composer from 1918 to 1924. Although he had attempted opera in several unfinished and now lost projects during and after the first World War, Weill’s earliest major works are a String Quartet (1918), a Suite for Orchestra (1919) and a Cello Sonata (1920). Yet an urge towards more concrete expression was inevitable in the social climate of post-war Germany, with political left and right fighting for supremacy as the country moved shakily towards a republic. Something of this turmoil can be gauged from the Symphony Weill completed in 1921, but which remained unperformed – and was for many years thought lost or destroyed before being located, surprisingly, in an Italian convent – until 1956.

"An intriguing musical side-glance at Kurt Weill's output. The First Symphony, from 1921, was written at the time when Weill was studying with Busoni. The Second, from 1934, is a much stronger work: it was premiered by Bruno Walter in Amsterdam and is well worth hearing. Marin Alsop and her doughty Bournemouth ensemble play with tremendous spirit, thrillingly recorded."

The disc concludes with "Lady in the Dark: Symphonic Nocturne", a concert suite of familiar tunes from Weill´s American period, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett, that provide a diverting departure from the dark and unrelenting march of history that has come before.

Henry Cow - Unrest (1974)

We would like to celebrate the life and work of Lindsay Cooper, who died in September 2013.

Lindsay Cooper was an English bassoon and oboe player, composer and political activist. Best known for her work with the band Henry Cow, she was also a member of Comus, National Health, News from Babel and David Thomas and the Pedestrians. She has collaborated with a number of musicians, including Chris Cutler and Sally Potter, and co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group. She has written scores for film and TV and a song cycle Oh Moscow which was performed live around the world in 1987. She has also recorded a number of solo albums, including Rags (1980), The Gold Diggers (1983) and Music For Other Occasions (1986).
Cooper was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991, but did not disclose it to the musical community until 1998 when her illness prevented her from performing live.                   

"Unrest" was the 1974 release of Henry Cow. During their brief and tumultuous lifespan, fiercely political British art rockers Henry Cow spawned a musical subgenre that became known as Rock In Opposition.

By this point Henry Cow consisted of guitarist Fred Frith, drummer Chris Cutler, bassist John Greaves, keyboardist Tim Hodgkinson, and, of particular importance to the band's sound at this point, bassoonist Lindsay Cooper. As is so often the case with avant-garde rock & roll, it's the composed pieces that work best, and the fact that Frith is responsible for the majority of them is significant. "Bittern Storm Over Ulm" is an absolutely brilliant demolition of the Yardbirds' "Got to Hurry," while the brief but lovely "Solemn Music" unfolds in a stately manner with atonal but pretty counterpoint between Frith and Cooper. The improvised material succeeds in a more spotty way. "Upon Entering the Hotel Adlon" demonstrates how fine the line can be between bracing free atonality and mindless cacophony. The unsettling but eventually gorgeous "Deluge," on the other hand, shows how well Henry Cow could walk that line when they tried; in this piece, random guitar skitterings, scattershot drum clatter, and pointillistic reed grunts are eventually snuck up on and overtaken by softly massed chords and Cooper's gently hooting bassoon. The effect is startlingly moving. Overall, this is one of Henry Cow's better efforts.    
The album was dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Uli Trepte. The cover art work was by artist Ray Smith and was the second of three "paint socks" to feature on Henry Cow's albums.

Side one

  1. "Bittern Storm over Ulm" (Frith) – 2:44
  2. "Half Asleep/Half Awake" (Greaves) – 7:39
  3. "Ruins" (Frith) – 12:00
Side two
  1. "Solemn Music" (Frith) – 1:09
  2. "Linguaphonie" (Henry Cow) – 5:58
  3. "Upon Entering the Hotel Adlon" (Henry Cow) – 2:56
  4. "Arcades" (Henry Cow) – 1:50
  5. "Deluge" (Henry Cow) – 5:52
Bonus tracks on 1991 CD re-issue
  1. "The Glove" (Henry Cow) – 6:35
  2. "Torch Fire" (Henry Cow) – 4:48
Henry Cow - Unrest (1974)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Samstag, 19. März 2016

The Kingston Trio - Close Up (1961)

The Kingston Trio entered the '60s proper under seemingly less than ideal circumstances; founding member Dave Guard had announced his intention to leave the group early in the year, formally exiting in August, and not one single by the trio charted during all of 1961. They were hardly to be counted out, however, as demonstrated by the "Close Up" album, released just a month after Guard's exit.

With new member John Stewart in place, the album showed the trio to be in solid musical shape, harmonizing beautifully, and with a new songwriting talent in their midst in the guise of Stewart, whose haunting, slightly bluesy ballad "When My Love Was Here" was the highlight of the record. "Close Up", although not as groundbreaking as the trio's self-titled debut three years earlier, showed a surprisingly undiminished group and is a good representation of where popular folk music was in late 1961; the mix of traditional songs, well-known standards (most notably a rousing version of Woody Guthrie's "Reuben James"), gospel, humor, and pleasing folk-like originals was popular enough, rising to number three on the LP charts.

The audience for folk music, especially among college students, was to shift dramatically, and into a more radical stance, in a couple of years, but this melodic and aesthetically pleasing album was perfect for its time and still evokes that relatively innocent and calm period in our past. The group was also learning how to use stereo to great effect, even as an acoustic outfit; Nick Reynolds' percussion workout on "O Ken Karanga" was some of the best binaural stereo of this period in Capitol's history.    

A1Coming From The Mountains
A2Oh, Sail Away
A3Take Her Out Of Pity
A4Don't You Weep, Mary
A5The Whistling Gypsy
A6O Ken Karanga
B1Jesse James
B2Glorious Kingdom
B3When My Love Was Here
B5Weeping Willow
B6Reuben James

The Kingston Trio - Close Up (1961)    
(256 kbps, cover art included)

The Brothers Four - In Person (1962)

One of the better live folk albums of its period, "The Brothers Four In Person", cut live at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, is a good representation of their sound. The songs include a somewhat upbeat version of "The Midnight Special," and a banjo-driven, deliberately paced "Rock Island Line" (which segues into "This Train"), the humorous "Thinking Man, John Henry" (including digs at the John Birch Society, the CIA, Ford, M.I.T., and automation), and a group of beautifully harmonized folk numbers, "Darlin' Sportin' Jenny," the hit "Greenfields," George Gershwin's "Summertime" (credited as "San Miguel" on the jacket), and the rousing "I Am a Roving Gambler."
The group also has fun with the "Theme from Peter Gunn," and, especially, parodying the 45-rpm market with "Variations On an Old English Theme" - the very fact that they went over big at the Naval Academy as well as Vanderbilt University (where Flatt & Scruggs weren't necessarily considered sufficiently highbrow) also shows the chasm that was soon to open up between this generation of folkies and the more confrontational outfits that were to follow.

A1The Midnight Special2:36
A2Darlin' Sportin' Jenny2:25
A3Whoa! Back, Buck2:30
A4The Thinking Man4:50
A5Across The Sea2:45
A6Variation On An Old English Theme3:05
B1I Am A Rovin' Gambler2:35
B2Run, Come, See Jerusalem3:30
B3First Battalion1:42
B4San Miguel3:18
B6Rock Island Line2:43

The Brothers Four - In Person (1962)       
(256 kbps, cover art included)   

Pete Seeger - American Folk Songs For Children (1954)

A1 Jim Along Josie
A2 There Was A Man And He Was Mad
A3 Clap Your Hands
A4 She'll Be Coming 'Round The Mountain
A5 All Around The Kitchen
A6 Billy Barlow
B1 Bought Me A Cat
B2 Jim Crack Corn
B3 Train Is A-Coming
B4 This Old Man
B5 Frog Went A-Courting

The Kingston Trio - The Last Month Of The Year (1960)

Released in 1960, when the Kingston Trio were one of the most popular recording acts in the U.S.A., "The Last Month of the Year" did not tear up the charts as expected. It peaked at number 11, a relatively low placement given their popularity, and it didn't become a catalog item, which is the ultimate goal of any holiday record.

The reason why "The Last Month of the Year" failed to become an accepted standard is due entirely to its ambition. Most musicians stick to the tried-and-true carols but the Kingston Trio dug deep into unheralded English, European, and American spiritual and carol songbooks. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," an old English carol, as is often performed, as is the Wassailing song, and the Weavers had popularized "Go Where I Send Thee," but most of "The Last Month of the Year" would've been unfamiliar to 1960 audiences, as it would be to modern listeners. This may have doomed the album to obscurity but it's a remarkable record, one that's canny in its construction and heartfelt in execution.

"The Last Month of the Year" celebrates the deep history of the holiday while showcasing the trio's warm harmonies and sensitive, savvy interpretative skills. It may not have made many waves at the time but it remains one of the most distinctive - and best - holiday records.     

A1Bye, Bye, Thou Little Tiny Child2:55
A2The Snows Of Winter2:34
A3We Wish You A Merry Christmas1:34
A4All Through The Night2:14
A5Goodnight My Baby1:53
A6Go Where I Send Thee2:28
B1Follow Now, Oh Shepards2:42
B2Somerset Gloucestershire Wassail1:47
B3Mary Mild2:50
B4A Round About Christmas1:30
B5Sing We Noel2:00
B6The Last Month Of The Year2:35

The Kingston Trio - The Last Month Of The Year (1960) 
(256 kbps, cover art included)   

The Brothers Four - Song Book (1961)

A pleasant if not necessarily adventurous collection of 12 songs, beginning with versions of "Rock Island Line" and "Goodnight Irene." Those are followed by a handful of traditional songs with new words added (helpful in securing copyright), including "The Tavern Song" (aka "Tavern in the Town"), "Lady Greensleeves," "Ole Smokey," etc.

It's all sweetly sung and easy enough to listen to - so much so that this album could qualify as an "easy listening" selection - but not terribly ambitious. Indeed, next to these guys on this album, the Kingston Trio of the same era sounds like Bob Dylan and the Band.   

A1Rock Island Line2:31
A2Goodnight Irene2:30
A3The Tavern Song2:15
A4Lady Greensleeves3:03
A5The Drillers's Song2:45
A6Nobody Knows3:00
B1Viva La Compagnie1:40
B2Ole Smokey3:00
B4Come For To Carry Me Home3:14
B5Summer Days Alone2:13
B6Frogg No 24:10

The Brothers Four - Song Book (1961)   
(256 kbps, cover art included)   

The Kingston Trio - String Along (1960)

"String Along" has the most unusual sound of any Kingston Trio album, mostly by virtue of the crisp mixing and voicing of the instruments - guitars and banjo all appear in very high relief, matching the attention usually reserved for the voices on the Kingston Trio's records.

The result is a somewhat quieter record, without much presence of the familiar unified group sound, as the individual members are relied upon more than the ensemble singing on many of the songs. One of the few exceptions is "Buddy Better Got On Down the Line," which has the sound that one associates with past trio recordings. But it's a true exception on an album that has other highlights such as oddities like the trio's surprisingly strong rendition of Ray Charles' "Leave My Woman Alone."

Though no one could have realized it at the time, "String Along" was very close to the tail end of the original Kingston Trio's history - Dave Guard was losing interest in arguing over the direction of the group; and although their albums were still selling well and steadily, "String Along" (which hit number one) would yield the original group's last two charting singles. "Bad Man's Blunder," which also opens this album, became the original Kingston Trio's final Top 40 single; it was cut by the trio and issued as a single as a favor to composer Cisco Houston who was in the hospital and terminally ill. Other songs were done for more mundane reasons - according to Benjamin Blake, Jack Rubek, and Allan Shaw in their book "The Kingston Trio on Record", the English folk-style "The Escape of Old John Webb" was featured on the album in the hope of helping to persuade EMI Records in England to promote the trio's albums more vigorously.     

A1Bad Man Blunder2:37
A2The Escape Of Old John Webb2:28
A3When I Was Young2:24
A4Leave My Woman Alone2:18
A5This Mornin', This Evenin, So Soon3:06
B1Buddy Better Get On Down The Line2:19
B2South Wind3:00
B3Who's Gonna Hold Her Hand2:37
B4To Morrow2:37
B5Colorado Trail2:49
B6The Tattooed Lady1:43

The Kingston Trio - String Along (1960)         
(256 kbps, cover art included)