Archive for August, 2011



Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of enslaved Africans, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song. This forged a sense of community among the Africans, who saw their colonial masters change rapidly, bringing French, Spanish and British music styles to the island of Trinidad. The French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834. While most authorities stress the African roots of calypso, in his 1986 book “Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History” veteran calypsonian The Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) asserted that calypso descends from the music of the medieval French troubadours.
Kelvin Pope, known in the Calypso world as ‘The Mighty Duke’, is a legendary Calypsonian whose work spans a period of over fifty years.

Born in 1930 in Point Fortin, south Trinidad, ‘Duke’ grew up in a period that was marked by striking workers who challenged the colonial authorities by protesting against working conditions, wages, racism and exploitation in the oilfields.

Growing up in this turbulent period would have a lasting impact on Kelvin Pope and the music that he would create in years to come.
He started his calypso career at a calypso tent in Point Fortin but moved to the Southern Brigade Tent in San Fernando in the early 1960s. He then joined the Original Young Brigade Tent in Port-of-Spain where he performed from 1964 to 1967. He won the National Calypso Crown four times: 1968 (“What Is Calypso” and “Social Bacchanal”); 1969 (“Black Is Beautiful” and “One Foot Visina”); 1970 (“Brotherhood of Man” and See Through”); and 1971 (“Mathematical Formula” and “Melvine & Yvonne”). He also won the Road March title in 1987 with “Thunder.” He died in 2009.

Tracklist.
1 The Mighty Duke – What is Calypso ?
2 The Mighty Duke – Woman baccanal
3 Canary – Beatnik generation
4 Canary – Tribute to Luther King
5 Fighter – What you sow you reap
6 Fighter – Pom pom
7 Fighter – Send me instead
8 Blakie – Monica

9 Blakie – We ain’t going back again
10 The Mighty Duke – Send them girls by me
(320 kbps, cover art included)
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Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of enslaved Africans, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song. This forged a sense of community among the Africans, who saw their colonial masters change rapidly, bringing French, Spanish and British music styles to the island of Trinidad. The French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834. While most authorities stress the African roots of calypso, in his 1986 book “Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History” veteran calypsonian The Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) asserted that calypso descends from the music of the medieval French troubadours.
Kelvin Pope, known in the Calypso world as ‘The Mighty Duke’, is a legendary Calypsonian whose work spans a period of over fifty years.

Born in 1930 in Point Fortin, south Trinidad, ‘Duke’ grew up in a period that was marked by striking workers who challenged the colonial authorities by protesting against working conditions, wages, racism and exploitation in the oilfields.

Growing up in this turbulent period would have a lasting impact on Kelvin Pope and the music that he would create in years to come.
He started his calypso career at a calypso tent in Point Fortin but moved to the Southern Brigade Tent in San Fernando in the early 1960s. He then joined the Original Young Brigade Tent in Port-of-Spain where he performed from 1964 to 1967. He won the National Calypso Crown four times: 1968 (“What Is Calypso” and “Social Bacchanal”); 1969 (“Black Is Beautiful” and “One Foot Visina”); 1970 (“Brotherhood of Man” and See Through”); and 1971 (“Mathematical Formula” and “Melvine & Yvonne”). He also won the Road March title in 1987 with “Thunder.” He died in 2009.

Tracklist.
1 The Mighty Duke – What is Calypso ?
2 The Mighty Duke – Woman baccanal
3 Canary – Beatnik generation
4 Canary – Tribute to Luther King
5 Fighter – What you sow you reap
6 Fighter – Pom pom
7 Fighter – Send me instead
8 Blakie – Monica

9 Blakie – We ain’t going back again
10 The Mighty Duke – Send them girls by me
(320 kbps, cover art included)

A native of Beech Mountain in the northwest corner of North Carolina, singer and banjo player Frank Proffitt’s tremendous repertoire inspired musicians interested in old time music.

This great North Carolina old-time music artist and clawhammer banjo specialist was the source of the folk chestnut “Tom Dooley” as well as some 50 other traditional songs and banjo numbers. Listeners who cringe at the mention of “Tom Dooley” might want to toss their Kingston Trio discs on the fire and check out the Frank Proffitt version, known as “Tom Dula” in an attempt to spellcheck the evocative accent of the Northwest Carolinian. This artist is clearly in another universe than the ultra-clean folky scene of the ’60s revival groups; anyone who has heard Proffitt sing about maggots “like a bowlful of rice moving,” crawling through the skull of the “Missing Bride” will nod their heads in shocked, and perhaps slightly disgusted, agreement. Few fans of traditional music would be disgusted by the fact that the Kingston Trio and the big labels behind the group lost an expensive lawsuit because Proffitt’s family had established a claim to the Dooley/Dula song copyright. Assuming it was “just” a traditional number, various music business birds – some vultures, some perhaps well-meaning little sparrows – claimed authorship for this ditty prior to the final legal reckoning, or “reck’nung” as Proffitt would have put it. This includes several giant record labels, several obscure European arrangers who included the song in Muzak collections, and the not-so-obscure musicologist Alan Lomax, who didn’t confine his collections to the limited traditional folk music market. Even though Lomax never came within a mile of having anything to do with writing this song, it appears credited to him on piles of greatest-hits compilations. Speaking of which, good old Frank Proffitt would have felt like he had conquered the music world just to judge by the territory this song has nabbed. It shows up on collections of Irish folk, songs of the American West, hit parade rock, country & western, and love songs. It has been covered by the Nashville Brass, the Nashville Guitars, the Nashville Dobros, and the Nashville Harmonicas, just to demonstrate that with this song, it is possible to create a list without even leaving one locality. Sure, the song could have also made lists of the most scorned pieces of music of all time by the time the public got completely sick of it, yet several new cover versions were recorded in the late ’90s. It all adds up to Dula doolah that wound up as a well-deserved Proffitt profit. One can just imagine all the money changing hands, an image that was perhaps in this great traditional performer’s mind when he chose the hymn “Palms of Victory” to be played to him on his deathbed.

For better or worse, however, it was “Tom Dooley” that had the biggest impact on the life of an Appalachian who had had his share of hard knocks. When the song was hitting the pop music charts, he had left the area to find work and had ditched his guitar and music entirely. Due to the hit record, he resumed singing at the urging of his father, Wiley Proffitt, and his aunt, Nancy Prather. He traveled to festivals across the country, singing at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Like some of his mountain music peers, Proffitt was also a skilled banjo maker and traditional players are particularly fond of his fretless model. Spurning the innovations of modern banjo-making, Proffitt carried on the early American traditions of utilizing materials such as walnut and groundhog hide, the latter surely adding authenticity to performances of ditties such as “Groundhog.” He remained committed to the ideals of old-time banjo music until the end, at one point voicing this wonderful opinion about the flashy technical playing of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs: “I’d like to learn to play like that, and then not do it.” His banjo business, the family farm purchased with the Kingston Trio’s money, and the art of performing old-time music itself was passed down the line to one of his sons, Frank Proffitt Jr., who released the album Kickin’ Up Dust on the Cloudlands label.

This collection features local ballads, and its liner notes contain copious quotations and anecdotes from Proffitt.

Tracklist:
Beaver Dam Road
Cindy
Bo Lamkin
Julie Jenkins
George Collins
Ninety and Nine
Down in the Valley
Baby-O
Old Abe
Poor Ellen Smith
Dan Doo
John Hardy
Groundhog
Johnson Boys

Frank Proffitt – Sings Folk Songs (1962)

(256 kbps, cover art included)

A native of Beech Mountain in the northwest corner of North Carolina, singer and banjo player Frank Proffitt’s tremendous repertoire inspired musicians interested in old time music.

This great North Carolina old-time music artist and clawhammer banjo specialist was the source of the folk chestnut “Tom Dooley” as well as some 50 other traditional songs and banjo numbers. Listeners who cringe at the mention of “Tom Dooley” might want to toss their Kingston Trio discs on the fire and check out the Frank Proffitt version, known as “Tom Dula” in an attempt to spellcheck the evocative accent of the Northwest Carolinian. This artist is clearly in another universe than the ultra-clean folky scene of the ’60s revival groups; anyone who has heard Proffitt sing about maggots “like a bowlful of rice moving,” crawling through the skull of the “Missing Bride” will nod their heads in shocked, and perhaps slightly disgusted, agreement. Few fans of traditional music would be disgusted by the fact that the Kingston Trio and the big labels behind the group lost an expensive lawsuit because Proffitt’s family had established a claim to the Dooley/Dula song copyright. Assuming it was “just” a traditional number, various music business birds – some vultures, some perhaps well-meaning little sparrows – claimed authorship for this ditty prior to the final legal reckoning, or “reck’nung” as Proffitt would have put it. This includes several giant record labels, several obscure European arrangers who included the song in Muzak collections, and the not-so-obscure musicologist Alan Lomax, who didn’t confine his collections to the limited traditional folk music market. Even though Lomax never came within a mile of having anything to do with writing this song, it appears credited to him on piles of greatest-hits compilations. Speaking of which, good old Frank Proffitt would have felt like he had conquered the music world just to judge by the territory this song has nabbed. It shows up on collections of Irish folk, songs of the American West, hit parade rock, country & western, and love songs. It has been covered by the Nashville Brass, the Nashville Guitars, the Nashville Dobros, and the Nashville Harmonicas, just to demonstrate that with this song, it is possible to create a list without even leaving one locality. Sure, the song could have also made lists of the most scorned pieces of music of all time by the time the public got completely sick of it, yet several new cover versions were recorded in the late ’90s. It all adds up to Dula doolah that wound up as a well-deserved Proffitt profit. One can just imagine all the money changing hands, an image that was perhaps in this great traditional performer’s mind when he chose the hymn “Palms of Victory” to be played to him on his deathbed.

For better or worse, however, it was “Tom Dooley” that had the biggest impact on the life of an Appalachian who had had his share of hard knocks. When the song was hitting the pop music charts, he had left the area to find work and had ditched his guitar and music entirely. Due to the hit record, he resumed singing at the urging of his father, Wiley Proffitt, and his aunt, Nancy Prather. He traveled to festivals across the country, singing at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Like some of his mountain music peers, Proffitt was also a skilled banjo maker and traditional players are particularly fond of his fretless model. Spurning the innovations of modern banjo-making, Proffitt carried on the early American traditions of utilizing materials such as walnut and groundhog hide, the latter surely adding authenticity to performances of ditties such as “Groundhog.” He remained committed to the ideals of old-time banjo music until the end, at one point voicing this wonderful opinion about the flashy technical playing of bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs: “I’d like to learn to play like that, and then not do it.” His banjo business, the family farm purchased with the Kingston Trio’s money, and the art of performing old-time music itself was passed down the line to one of his sons, Frank Proffitt Jr., who released the album Kickin’ Up Dust on the Cloudlands label.

This collection features local ballads, and its liner notes contain copious quotations and anecdotes from Proffitt.

Tracklist:
Beaver Dam Road
Cindy
Bo Lamkin
Julie Jenkins
George Collins
Ninety and Nine
Down in the Valley
Baby-O
Old Abe
Poor Ellen Smith
Dan Doo
John Hardy
Groundhog
Johnson Boys

Frank Proffitt – Sings Folk Songs (1962)

(256 kbps, cover art included)

Making sense of the Lee “Scratch” Perry oeuvre has long been a troubling affair. Though the advent of reissued material and printed retrospectives in The Wire and Grand Royal answered many questions, the occasional release still slips through the cracks. Enter “Scratch & Company: The Upsetters, Chapter One”, a 1982 collection from Jam Clockwork. Both the origins of the music and its place in Perry’s catalog are something of a mystery.

It matches a handful of the producer’s known collaborators and a series of more obscure figures, creating an assemblage of pulsating organs, distorted guitar scratches, and deep bass. Vocals come in the form of the standard dub production fragments (“Curly Dub”) and occasional Rasta philosophizing (“Who You Gonna Run To,” “When Jah Come”).

The most striking moment is “Tighten Up.” Here, an infectious tune with banal lyrics and fine groove is transformed through Perry’s absurd production methods. Warped beyond belief (and anything resembling conventional logic), it’s as if Perry placed the entire track underwater just to see what it sounded like, then sat back, satisfied with his creation. Only the saxophone escapes. The vocalists sound like alien versions of Alvin & the Chipmunks have landed on the island of Jamaica. Nothing else on “Scratch & Company” quite matches it. The rest of the collection, while inconsistent, has its merits. “A Serious Joke,” with its deceptive aural balance, takes second place. “Scratch the Dub Organizer” offers little surprise, but it’s a fine dub moment nonetheless with great horn harmony, smooth soloing, and chest-rattling bass. The cool and calm instrumental “Scratch Walking” would indeed be the perfect soundtrack for Perry himself, strolling through town. Though it’s not of the caliber of the Upsetters’ finest releases, “Scratch & Company” contains some fine music for those looking deeper into the producer’s catalog.

Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Scratch And Company – The Upsetters, Chapter 1 (1982)
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Making sense of the Lee “Scratch” Perry oeuvre has long been a troubling affair. Though the advent of reissued material and printed retrospectives in The Wire and Grand Royal answered many questions, the occasional release still slips through the cracks. Enter “Scratch & Company: The Upsetters, Chapter One”, a 1982 collection from Jam Clockwork. Both the origins of the music and its place in Perry’s catalog are something of a mystery.

It matches a handful of the producer’s known collaborators and a series of more obscure figures, creating an assemblage of pulsating organs, distorted guitar scratches, and deep bass. Vocals come in the form of the standard dub production fragments (“Curly Dub”) and occasional Rasta philosophizing (“Who You Gonna Run To,” “When Jah Come”).

The most striking moment is “Tighten Up.” Here, an infectious tune with banal lyrics and fine groove is transformed through Perry’s absurd production methods. Warped beyond belief (and anything resembling conventional logic), it’s as if Perry placed the entire track underwater just to see what it sounded like, then sat back, satisfied with his creation. Only the saxophone escapes. The vocalists sound like alien versions of Alvin & the Chipmunks have landed on the island of Jamaica. Nothing else on “Scratch & Company” quite matches it. The rest of the collection, while inconsistent, has its merits. “A Serious Joke,” with its deceptive aural balance, takes second place. “Scratch the Dub Organizer” offers little surprise, but it’s a fine dub moment nonetheless with great horn harmony, smooth soloing, and chest-rattling bass. The cool and calm instrumental “Scratch Walking” would indeed be the perfect soundtrack for Perry himself, strolling through town. Though it’s not of the caliber of the Upsetters’ finest releases, “Scratch & Company” contains some fine music for those looking deeper into the producer’s catalog.

Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Scratch And Company – The Upsetters, Chapter 1 (1982)
(256 kbps, front cover included)

Some call him a genius, others claim he’s certifiably insane, a madman. Truth is, he’s both, but more importantly, Lee Perry is a towering figure in reggae — a producer, mixer, and songwriter who, along with King Tubby, helped shape the sound of dub and made reggae music such a powerful part of the pop music world. Along with producing some of the most influential acts (Bob Marley & the Wailers and the Congos to name but two) in reggae history, Perry’s approach to production and dub mixing was breathtakingly innovative and audacious – no one else sounds like him – and while many claim that King Tubby invented dub, there are just as many who would argue that no one experimented with it or took it further than did Lee Perry.

Black Ark In Dub” is a fine collection of early Perry dub packaged in what seems to be a semi-legit, bootleg way.

This label seems to be tied in with the French label Lagoon, which has released the Perry-produced Bob Marley session (two CDs, both of them essential). This is a good selection; Perry remixes are typically audacious and crazy, but there’s little enclosed information telling you when the tracks were cut. Lack of information is an ongoing problem with Perry releases, since his entire output defies any kind of authoritative historical treatment.
Still, this is worthy of your time, even if it doesn’t provide the big buzz of some of Perry’s other, more far-out experiments.
Lee Perry – Black Ark in Dub
(256 kbps, front cover included)

This collection of Hein & Oss interpretations of some Bertolt Brecht material was released in 1969 on the Da Camera label.

Tracklist:
1. Mahagonnygesang Nr. 1
2. Legende vom toten Soldaten
3. Am Grunde der Moldau
4. Mutter Courages Lied
5. Ballade von den Selbsthelfern
6. Der Kanonensong
7. Die Ballade von Hanna Cash
8. Mahagonnygesang Nr. 3
9. Lied des Pfeifenpieter
10. Ballade vom Förster und der Gräfin
11. Gegen Verführung
12. Die Ballade vom dem Soldaten
13. Die Schlußstrophen des Dreigroschenfilms

Hein & Oss – Bertolt Brecht – Lieder, Balladen & Songs (1969)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

This album was released in 1974 on the Songbird label by famous folk singer, songwriter and pair of twin brothers Heinrich and Oskar Kröher.

“Hein & Oss” call themselves “The People´s Singer” and were activ on stage for more than the last fifty years. Long before there was a new folk song movement, the vocal and guitar duo was popularizing democratic folk songs: work songs , songs of freedom of 1848-49, songs from the Hambach Festival , partisan songs, soldier songs against the drill, sailor songs and cowboy songs, songs from hiking , from drinking and of the unrest.

The 1848 Revolutions were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the German Confederation which sought to challenge the status quo. The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, emphasised popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the thirty-nine independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the Holy Roman Empire. Furthermore, they demonstrated the popular desire for increased political and social freedom, democracy, and national unity within liberal principals of socioeconomic structure.

The revolution of 1848–49 marks a turning point in history. Throughout Germany the middle classes, workers, peasants, artisans, students, and the lower middle classes rose up against the ruling feudal nobility in order to create a unified, democratic state. The songs of freedom from the revolutionary years 1848 – 1949 are the expression of the struggle against feudalism, and they reflect the events of the time, the hopes and disappointments of the struggling democrats.

Tracklist:

Trotz alledem
Vetter Michels Vaterland
Das Blutgericht
Die freie Republik
Das Reden nimmt kein End’
Bürgerlied
Ça ira
Reveille
Mein Deutschland, strecke die Glieder
Fürstenjagd/ Heckerlied
Deutscher Nationnalreichtum
Das Lied von Robert Blum
Der gute Bürger
Badisches Wiegenlied
Achtzehnter März

Hein & Oss – Deutsche Lieder 1948/49 (1974)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Although she had to wait until early 1970 before she enjoyed her first hit, German singer Katja Ebstein’s involvement in the hippy and student scenes of the late 1960s meant she was often perceived as a voice of the 1968 generation.  

She was born Karin Witkiewicz on 9 March 1945 near what was then the German town of Breslau and is now Wroclaw in Poland. She and her mother fled the approaching Red Army and ended up in Berlin.
After swapping Karin for Katja, the young singer became a familiar face on the local music scene. She performed backing vocals for local group Insterburg and Co and for orchestra conductor James Last.
In 1966 she landed a recording contract with the Ariola label, where she released her first single, Irgendwann. That year she also took part in the Knokke Cup in Belgium, appearing alongside singers such as Britain’s Truly Smith and Belgium’s Ariane.
She met Liberty label bosses at a German Woodstock-type festival in Burg Waldeck and they showed an interest in signing the singer.
With the addition of a surname, which she adapted from the name of the street where she lived, Ebsteinstraße, she joined the Liberty label in 1969.
In 1975 she took to the stage with the Heinrich-Heine-theatre company. Together they performed a Heine-cycle with music composed by Christian Bruhn. This song-cycle was released on the album “Katja Ebstein – Sing Heinrich Heine”.
Apart from her musical career Katja is politically very active and outspoken. She was an active member of the 1968 student movement, she supported Willy Brandt in 1972 and was arrested in the eighties for participating in a blockade of an American atomic weapon depot in Germany. In 2003 she demonstrated against the war in Iraque. In 1992 she founded the ‘Katja Ebstein Foundation’ which has the goal to support children in socially weak families. She also supports the social development program in Mali called ‘Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe’, which helps local people to build houses for poor people.
Heinrich Heine (13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder (art songs) by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine’s later verse and prose is distinguished by its satirical wit and irony. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities. Heine spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris.
 
Tracklist:
1. Es erklingen alle Bäume
2. Die schlesischen Weber
3. Wir saßen am Fischerhause
4. Es ist eine alte Geschichte
5. Kleines Volk
6. Es fällt ein Stern herunter
7. Lied der Marketenderin
8. Du hast Diamanten und Perlen
9. Auf die Berge will ich steigen
10. Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten
11. Panaschierter Leichenwagen
12. Eine grosse Landstraß’ ist unser Erd
13. Meeresstille
14. Es war ein alter König
15. Mein Kind, wir waren Kinder
16. Die Liebe begann im Monat März
17. Die heil’gen drei Könige
18. Das Fräulein stand am Meere

Katja Ebstein – Singt Heinrich Heine (1975)
(192 kbps, front & back cover included)