Archive for October, 2011


During the reigning years of San Francisco headband Country Joe and the Fish, singer and songwriter Joe McDonald took some time out to head to Nashville and record a pair of solo albums with the city’s top session men.

Released on the iconic Vanguard Records, these two albums saw McDonald take a broad left turn, away from psychedelia and deep into the traditional folk and country music that had helped inform his earlier years as a radical-political folksinger.
Indeed, the first of these two albums, Thinking of Woody Guthrie, was a heartfelt, play-it-straight tribute to the daddy of them all (the radical-political folksingers, that is). It is an album that does justice to the man who wrote all of the songs on it. Joe McDonald conveys all of the ranges of Woody’s line of sight, from the migrant’s resigned take on life (“Pastures Of Plenty”), to the dust-storm-beset people of Gray, Oklahoma (“So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh”)to a guarded endorsement of the (then) major strides in technology for the greater good (“Roll On Columbia”). McDonald sings all of them with conviction and is backed by Nashville pros with talent to burn. Even “This Land Is Your Land” gets a vitality to it that’s totally unexpected but great to hear.
(256 kbps, front cover included)
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“Words make you think, music makes you feel, a song can make you feel a thought” ~ Pete Seeger

This nice compilation with Union related songs was created to mark the Centenary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress. It shows the close relationship between trade unionism and traditional music in general, and between Scottish singers and musicians and the STUC in particular.

In every country in the world, where working people come together, they organise trade unions to defend an improve their working conditions. In every country in the world, the working people sing and make music about their victories and defeats, their joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.

Please check out  Brian McNeil’s “Sell your labour, not your soul” song.

 
Tracks:
1. Battle of the Somme/Freedom Come All Ye – Dubliners, Luke Kelly
2. Four Stone Walls – Capercaillie
3. Both Sides the Tweed – Dick Gaughan
4. Ravenscraig – Runrig
5. If It Wisnae for the Union – Hamish Imlach
6. Bawbee Birlin’ – Gordeanna McCulloch
7. James Connolly – Christy Moore
8. North by North
9. Contract – Eric Bogle
10. Gauteng – Mara Louw
11. I Am the Common Man – The Battlefield Band
12. Blantyre Explosion – Ewan MacColl
13. Farewell Tae the Haven – The McCalmans
14. Sell Your Labour, Not Your Soul – Brian McNeill
15. Three Nights & A Sunday – Matt McGinn
16. Mothers, Daughters, Wives – Judy Small
17. Te Recuerdo Amanda – Victor Jara
18. Stand Together – Ceolbeg

VA – STUC Centenary Album – If It Wisnae For The Union

(320 kbps, cover art and booklet included)
“Words make you think, music makes you feel, a song can make you feel a thought” ~ Pete Seeger

This nice compilation with Union related songs was created to mark the Centenary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress. It shows the close relationship between trade unionism and traditional music in general, and between Scottish singers and musicians and the STUC in particular.

In every country in the world, where working people come together, they organise trade unions to defend an improve their working conditions. In every country in the world, the working people sing and make music about their victories and defeats, their joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.

Please check out  Brian McNeil’s “Sell your labour, not your soul” song.

 
Tracks:
1. Battle of the Somme/Freedom Come All Ye – Dubliners, Luke Kelly
2. Four Stone Walls – Capercaillie
3. Both Sides the Tweed – Dick Gaughan
4. Ravenscraig – Runrig
5. If It Wisnae for the Union – Hamish Imlach
6. Bawbee Birlin’ – Gordeanna McCulloch
7. James Connolly – Christy Moore
8. North by North
9. Contract – Eric Bogle
10. Gauteng – Mara Louw
11. I Am the Common Man – The Battlefield Band
12. Blantyre Explosion – Ewan MacColl
13. Farewell Tae the Haven – The McCalmans
14. Sell Your Labour, Not Your Soul – Brian McNeill
15. Three Nights & A Sunday – Matt McGinn
16. Mothers, Daughters, Wives – Judy Small
17. Te Recuerdo Amanda – Victor Jara
18. Stand Together – Ceolbeg

VA – STUC Centenary Album – If It Wisnae For The Union

(320 kbps, cover art and booklet included)

The elder statesman of literature’s Beat Generation – and, by extension, of the American underground culture – few figures outside of the musical sphere exerted a greater influence over rock & roll than novelist William S. Burroughs. A provocative, controversial figure famed for his unique cut-up prose aesthetic, Burroughs lived the rock lifestyle years before the music itself was even created; the ultimate outsider, he existed on the dark fringes of society in a haze of drugs, guns, and violence, remaining a patron saint of hipsterdom until his dying day. Ultimately, Burroughs’ hold on the popular culture was extraordinary: few artists failed to credit him as an inspiration, and while bands like Steely Dan and the Soft Machine adopted their names from his turns-of-phrase, younger artists like Kurt Cobain and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy lined up to offer musical support for his occasional excursions into spoken word performing.

One of the best Burroughs recordings, “Dead City Radio” features the writer reading five previously unreleased pieces, along with selections from several of his books. The acerbic Burroughs wit is at its finest on many of these selections, and he even takes a shot at singing on one track. Musical contributors to this project include Sonic Youth, Donald Fagen, Lenny Pickett, Cheryl Hardwick, Chris Stein, and John Cale.
(256 kbps, no cover art)

The elder statesman of literature’s Beat Generation – and, by extension, of the American underground culture – few figures outside of the musical sphere exerted a greater influence over rock & roll than novelist William S. Burroughs. A provocative, controversial figure famed for his unique cut-up prose aesthetic, Burroughs lived the rock lifestyle years before the music itself was even created; the ultimate outsider, he existed on the dark fringes of society in a haze of drugs, guns, and violence, remaining a patron saint of hipsterdom until his dying day. Ultimately, Burroughs’ hold on the popular culture was extraordinary: few artists failed to credit him as an inspiration, and while bands like Steely Dan and the Soft Machine adopted their names from his turns-of-phrase, younger artists like Kurt Cobain and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy lined up to offer musical support for his occasional excursions into spoken word performing.

One of the best Burroughs recordings, “Dead City Radio” features the writer reading five previously unreleased pieces, along with selections from several of his books. The acerbic Burroughs wit is at its finest on many of these selections, and he even takes a shot at singing on one track. Musical contributors to this project include Sonic Youth, Donald Fagen, Lenny Pickett, Cheryl Hardwick, Chris Stein, and John Cale.
(256 kbps, no cover art)

The four (lengthy, as usual) songs occupying this album had been originally recorded in Nigeria as 45 rpm releases.

“Aphrodisiac” consists of re-recordings of these, done in London in the early 1970s. (Confusingly, one part of the liner notes gives the years 1972-1973 as the recording dates, while another section says they were cut in 1971.)
While it’s true that Fela Kuti’s albums from this period are pretty similar to each other, in their favor they’re not boring. These four workouts, all sung in Nigerian, are propulsive mixtures of funk and African music, avoiding the homogeneity of much funk and African records of later vintage, done with nonstop high energy.
The interplay between horns, electric keyboards, drums, and Fela’s exuberant vocals gives this a jazz character, without sacrificing the earthiness that makes it danceable as well. “Jeun Ko Ku (Chop’n Quench)” became Fela’s first big hit in Nigeria, selling 200,000 copies in its first six months in its initial version.

Fela Kuti – Afrodisiac (1973)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

The four (lengthy, as usual) songs occupying this album had been originally recorded in Nigeria as 45 rpm releases.

“Aphrodisiac” consists of re-recordings of these, done in London in the early 1970s. (Confusingly, one part of the liner notes gives the years 1972-1973 as the recording dates, while another section says they were cut in 1971.)
While it’s true that Fela Kuti’s albums from this period are pretty similar to each other, in their favor they’re not boring. These four workouts, all sung in Nigerian, are propulsive mixtures of funk and African music, avoiding the homogeneity of much funk and African records of later vintage, done with nonstop high energy.
The interplay between horns, electric keyboards, drums, and Fela’s exuberant vocals gives this a jazz character, without sacrificing the earthiness that makes it danceable as well. “Jeun Ko Ku (Chop’n Quench)” became Fela’s first big hit in Nigeria, selling 200,000 copies in its first six months in its initial version.

Fela Kuti – Afrodisiac (1973)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Kurt Weill’s ballet with songs is one of this century’s greatest theatrical works. It has all the wit and melodic appeal of The Threepenny Opera and social conscience of Mahagonny, but more warmth and musical sophistication than either. It’s also all over with in about 40 minutes. Some critics believe the piece was intended as a sort of love poem to Weill’s wife, Lotte Lenya; given the tenderness of much of the music, it’s hard to disagree. Lenya herself recorded the piece in the 1950s (a recording recently reissued by Sony) and this very much newer performance is welcome particularly for Anne Sofie von Otter’s highly intelligent and musical way with the text. The other songs, from both Weill’s Berlin and Broadway periods, make the perfect filler.

Tracklist:
Die Sieben Todsünden1) Introduktion: Andante sostenuto “Meine Schwester . . . [3:24]
2) Faulheit: Allegro vivace “Müssiggang ist aller Laster” [3:47]
3) Stolz: Allegretto, quasi andantino “Als wir aber” [4:19]
4) Zorn: Molto agitato “Das geht nicht vorwärts” [4:00]
5) Völlerei: Largo “Das ist ein Brief aus Philadelphia” [2:58]
6) No.5 Unzucht “Und wir fanden einen Mann in Boston” [5:36]
7) Habsucht: Allegro giusto “Wie hier in der Zeitung” [2:56]
8) Neid: Allegro non troppo “Und die letzte Stadt” [5:06]
9) Epilogue “Darauf kehrten wir zurück nach Lousiana” [1:50]
Lady in the Dark
10) 3. My Ship [2:42]
11) 1. One Life to Live [3:01]
Two songs with piano12) Buddy on the Nightshift [2:09]
13) Nannas Lied [4:02]
Happy End (1929)tran. Chris Hazell/Tony Burke
14) 1. Bilbao Song [4:27]
15) 2. Surabaya Johnny [6:01]
16) 6. Das Lied von der harten Nuss (Song of the Big Shot) [1:06]
Three songs with piano17) Je ne t’aime pas [4:29]
18) Schickelgruber [2:51]
19) Der Abschiedsbrief [3:25]
One Touch of Venus
20) Foolish Heart [2:28]
21) Speak Low [3:59]
22) I’m A Stranger Here Myself [3:13]

Anne Sofie von Otter
Bengt Forsberg
NDR-Sinfonieorchester
John Eliot Gardiner
Recording: Hamburg-Harburg, Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, 9/1993

Kurt Weill – Anne Sofie von Otter – Speak Low & the Seven Deadly Sins
(192 kbps, cover art included)

They were only together for about a year in the early ’40s, but the Almanac Singers’ repertoire, and individual members, would go on to much later greatness in the decades that followed. Comprised of folk legends Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Pete Hawes, and Millard Lampell, the group performed mostly at left-wing political conventions and labor rallies with a set list that mixed the traditional with the political.

The songs contained on “Complete General Recordings” are some of their finest moments, and many of the tunes would see later life covered by the Weavers (Seeger and Hays’s future band) and even – in the case of “House of the Rising Sun” – the Animals.
Produced by another music legend, Alan Lomax, “Their Complete General Recordings” is an essential document of folk music’s history and a great chance to these classic numbers in a raw, unadulterated form. The Almanac Singers may not have sold as many records as their contemporaries (blame that on the unpopular pacifism they preached as the United States entered World War II), but their versions of these tunes are simply timeless.

Tracklist:
1. Blow Ye Winds Heigh Ho – Pete Seeger
2. Away, Rio – Pete Hawes
3. Blow The Man Down – Woody Guthrie
4. House of the Rising Sun – Woody Guthrie
5. Ground Hog – Pete Seeger
6. State of Arkansas – Lee Hays
7. The Weaver’s Song – Ensemble
8. I Ride An Old Paint – Woody Guthrie
9. Hard, Ain’t It Hard – Woody Guthrie
10. The Dodger Song – Lee Hays
11. Greenland Fishing – Pete Seeger
12. The Golden Vanity – Pete Seeger
13. The Coast of High Barbary – Pete Seeger
14. Haul Away, Joe – Pete Hawes

(The name of the artist at the end of each track indicates the lead singer)

The Almanac Singers – Their Complete General Recordings (1941)
(320 kbps, booklet fully scanned)

They were only together for about a year in the early ’40s, but the Almanac Singers’ repertoire, and individual members, would go on to much later greatness in the decades that followed. Comprised of folk legends Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Pete Hawes, and Millard Lampell, the group performed mostly at left-wing political conventions and labor rallies with a set list that mixed the traditional with the political.

The songs contained on “Complete General Recordings” are some of their finest moments, and many of the tunes would see later life covered by the Weavers (Seeger and Hays’s future band) and even – in the case of “House of the Rising Sun” – the Animals.
Produced by another music legend, Alan Lomax, “Their Complete General Recordings” is an essential document of folk music’s history and a great chance to these classic numbers in a raw, unadulterated form. The Almanac Singers may not have sold as many records as their contemporaries (blame that on the unpopular pacifism they preached as the United States entered World War II), but their versions of these tunes are simply timeless.

Tracklist:
1. Blow Ye Winds Heigh Ho – Pete Seeger
2. Away, Rio – Pete Hawes
3. Blow The Man Down – Woody Guthrie
4. House of the Rising Sun – Woody Guthrie
5. Ground Hog – Pete Seeger
6. State of Arkansas – Lee Hays
7. The Weaver’s Song – Ensemble
8. I Ride An Old Paint – Woody Guthrie
9. Hard, Ain’t It Hard – Woody Guthrie
10. The Dodger Song – Lee Hays
11. Greenland Fishing – Pete Seeger
12. The Golden Vanity – Pete Seeger
13. The Coast of High Barbary – Pete Seeger
14. Haul Away, Joe – Pete Hawes

(The name of the artist at the end of each track indicates the lead singer)

The Almanac Singers – Their Complete General Recordings (1941)
(320 kbps, booklet fully scanned)