Archive for December, 2011


One of the strongest voices in the folk revival and the civil rights movement, Odetta was born on New Year’s Eve 1930 in Birmingham, AL.

Odetta’s debut album was a strong, confident effort featuring just her and her guitar on 16 tracks, most of which were traditional in origin.
In its day, it was quite an influential recording; Bob Dylan, in fact, once cited this record in particular as the one that made him decide to trade in his electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustic guitar. Several of the songs would find their ways into the repertoires of subsequent folkies, and even some folk-rock bands. There’s no way of knowing whether they heard the tunes first on this release, but it’s entirely possible, as it was one of the first strong traditional folk LPs.
This is the initial vinyl release which has tracks 1-8 as side A, then tracks 9-16 as side B (the “Spiritual Trilogy” being counted as one track, a medley).
Tracklist:

Side One:

Santy Anno
If I Had A Ribbon Bow
Muleskinner Blues
Another Man Done Gone
Shame And Scandal
Jack 0′ Diamonds
‘Buked And Scorned
Easy Rider
Side Two:Joshua
Hound Dog
Glory, Glory
Alabama Bound
Been In The Pen
Deep Blue Sea
God’s Gonna Cut You Down
Spiritual Trilogy:
Oh Freedom
Come And Go With Me
I’m On My Way
(256 kbps, no cover art included)

Original sleeve notes:
“A magnificent new voice is here to sing the old songs. It belongs to a woman whom we believe to be the queen of American folksingers. the latest descendent of the line which gave birth to Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, the rightful heiress to Leadbelly’s Legacy. Her name is Odetta. and like everything else about this remarkable personality it is unusual. When one first sees her. her size and height give rise to the uneasy feeling that she belongs to a race a out above our own: but in her strong, haunting face there is a reassuring beauty and charm. In her normal speech her voice is quiet and delicate, but when she sings she can unleash a force that is startling. In her rendition of a number like Joshua she displays a power and intensity that could well have tumbled the walls of Jericho, while a few minutes later her voice in Glory, Glory is more like the shuffling of angels’ feet.
This album is an important milestone in the history of folk-recording. For the first time devotees of traditional music may hear a truly great folk-artist in her prime—though it would be foolhardy to assume that Odetta has yet reached the height of her musical powers. She is now in her twenty-fifth year and comes to the public at a time when the recording industry is approaching the borders of perfect fidelity. Sound reproduction was in its infancy when Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson had already reached old age. From the faint, scratchy sounds left to us from those days we can only guess at the youthful magnificence of Bessie Smith or the unrestrained exuberance of the young Leadbelly; such recordings give us a disquieting sense of loss. But this brilliant album will only whet our appetites, and we will look forward with impatience to the many Odetta performances to follow.
The foregoing is not meant to suggest that Odetta will delight only the devotees of folk-music any more than Marlene Dietrich’s appeal is limited to fans of popular music or Tchaikovsky’s to enthusiasts of the classics. On the contrary, the emotions of folk music, so faithfully presented by Odetta, have a universal attraction—whether it’s in the lonely cry of her blues, the exultance of her work songs, the poignancy of her love ballads, or the quiet faith of her spirituals.
Though Odetta was born in Birmingham, Alabama—deep in the heartland of American traditional music—she has spent most of her life in California. Folk music was hardly her first love; she has had several years of operatic training and made her professional stage debut—as did Sonny Terry—in the hit musical, “Finian’s Rainbow”. She was on the road with this show when she fell in with a group of enthusiastic young balladeers in San Francisco, and for the past five years she has concentrated on folksinging. Her nightclub appearances have included the Blue Angel in New York City, the Hungry i, and The Tin Angel in San Francisco, a monumental run of two years at the Turnabout Theatre in Los Angeles, and a triumphant return to the East which began at The Gate of Horn in Chicago.
This album has entertained more people in the month before its release than most albums do in the month after they are released. This is easily explained: we at TRADITION have been too excited about it to wait patiently through the long weeks of production before introducing Odetta to our friends. At least a half-dozen acetate copies of the original tapes have been worn to a nubbin through incessant replays, and with each hearing our own delight and admiration for her power and artistry has increased. It is our sincere belief that the listening public will echo our enthusiasm. It is therefore with a pride which borders on hybris that TRADITION RECORDS presents in her first album one of the most electrifying performers of our time—ODETTA!
—DEAN GITTER”
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One of the strongest voices in the folk revival and the civil rights movement, Odetta was born on New Year’s Eve 1930 in Birmingham, AL.

Odetta’s debut album was a strong, confident effort featuring just her and her guitar on 16 tracks, most of which were traditional in origin.
In its day, it was quite an influential recording; Bob Dylan, in fact, once cited this record in particular as the one that made him decide to trade in his electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustic guitar. Several of the songs would find their ways into the repertoires of subsequent folkies, and even some folk-rock bands. There’s no way of knowing whether they heard the tunes first on this release, but it’s entirely possible, as it was one of the first strong traditional folk LPs.
This is the initial vinyl release which has tracks 1-8 as side A, then tracks 9-16 as side B (the “Spiritual Trilogy” being counted as one track, a medley).
Tracklist:

Side One:

Santy Anno
If I Had A Ribbon Bow
Muleskinner Blues
Another Man Done Gone
Shame And Scandal
Jack 0′ Diamonds
‘Buked And Scorned
Easy Rider
Side Two:Joshua
Hound Dog
Glory, Glory
Alabama Bound
Been In The Pen
Deep Blue Sea
God’s Gonna Cut You Down
Spiritual Trilogy:
Oh Freedom
Come And Go With Me
I’m On My Way
(256 kbps, no cover art included)

Original sleeve notes:
“A magnificent new voice is here to sing the old songs. It belongs to a woman whom we believe to be the queen of American folksingers. the latest descendent of the line which gave birth to Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, the rightful heiress to Leadbelly’s Legacy. Her name is Odetta. and like everything else about this remarkable personality it is unusual. When one first sees her. her size and height give rise to the uneasy feeling that she belongs to a race a out above our own: but in her strong, haunting face there is a reassuring beauty and charm. In her normal speech her voice is quiet and delicate, but when she sings she can unleash a force that is startling. In her rendition of a number like Joshua she displays a power and intensity that could well have tumbled the walls of Jericho, while a few minutes later her voice in Glory, Glory is more like the shuffling of angels’ feet.
This album is an important milestone in the history of folk-recording. For the first time devotees of traditional music may hear a truly great folk-artist in her prime—though it would be foolhardy to assume that Odetta has yet reached the height of her musical powers. She is now in her twenty-fifth year and comes to the public at a time when the recording industry is approaching the borders of perfect fidelity. Sound reproduction was in its infancy when Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson had already reached old age. From the faint, scratchy sounds left to us from those days we can only guess at the youthful magnificence of Bessie Smith or the unrestrained exuberance of the young Leadbelly; such recordings give us a disquieting sense of loss. But this brilliant album will only whet our appetites, and we will look forward with impatience to the many Odetta performances to follow.
The foregoing is not meant to suggest that Odetta will delight only the devotees of folk-music any more than Marlene Dietrich’s appeal is limited to fans of popular music or Tchaikovsky’s to enthusiasts of the classics. On the contrary, the emotions of folk music, so faithfully presented by Odetta, have a universal attraction—whether it’s in the lonely cry of her blues, the exultance of her work songs, the poignancy of her love ballads, or the quiet faith of her spirituals.
Though Odetta was born in Birmingham, Alabama—deep in the heartland of American traditional music—she has spent most of her life in California. Folk music was hardly her first love; she has had several years of operatic training and made her professional stage debut—as did Sonny Terry—in the hit musical, “Finian’s Rainbow”. She was on the road with this show when she fell in with a group of enthusiastic young balladeers in San Francisco, and for the past five years she has concentrated on folksinging. Her nightclub appearances have included the Blue Angel in New York City, the Hungry i, and The Tin Angel in San Francisco, a monumental run of two years at the Turnabout Theatre in Los Angeles, and a triumphant return to the East which began at The Gate of Horn in Chicago.
This album has entertained more people in the month before its release than most albums do in the month after they are released. This is easily explained: we at TRADITION have been too excited about it to wait patiently through the long weeks of production before introducing Odetta to our friends. At least a half-dozen acetate copies of the original tapes have been worn to a nubbin through incessant replays, and with each hearing our own delight and admiration for her power and artistry has increased. It is our sincere belief that the listening public will echo our enthusiasm. It is therefore with a pride which borders on hybris that TRADITION RECORDS presents in her first album one of the most electrifying performers of our time—ODETTA!
—DEAN GITTER”

Gisela May (born May, 31 1924) is a distinguished German character actress of theatre and a singer, critically acclaimed for performing the songs written by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil. She also appeared as a film and TV actress in a number of movies between 1951 and 1991.

Gisela May studied at the drama school in Leipzig. She was employed for nine years at various theatres, including the State Theatre of Schwerin and the State Theatre in Halle. From 1951 she was engaged at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, Max Reinhardt’s former workplace. She played a variety of roles from the classics to modern.

In 1962 Gisela May moved to Bertolt Brecht’s theatre group, the Berliner Ensemble, to which she belonged for 30 years. Here she played many roles including Madame Cabet in “The Days of the Commune,” Mrs Peachum in “The Threepenny Opera,and ” Mrs Kopecka in “Schweik in the Second World War.” The theatrical highlight in Brecht’s stage work was her personification of Mother Courage. This performance was for about 13 years until the end of 1992 central to the repertoire of the Berliner Ensemble. Since 1992, the artist has been freelance, often working at Berlin’s Renaissance Theatre.

Gisela May’s second career as a chanteuse ran parallel to her acting. The composer Hanns Eisler valued her particularly for her command of Brecht’s style, and worked with her.
In addition to song interpretation Gisela May has experience in the Musicals: in Hello Dolly, she performed as the title character at the Metropol Theatre in Berlin, as well as Fraulein Schneider in “Cabaret” at the “Theater des Westens”.

Here´s the albmum “Gisela May singt Brecht -Eisler – Dessau”, collecting songs with words by Bertolt Brecht, including selections from his theatrical works. It was released on the ETERNA label in the GDR in 1967 and licensed on the Wergo label (West Germany) in 1968. It was recorded March to May, 1966, with Gisela May (vocals) accompanied by orchestra (conducted by Henry Krtschil) or piano.

Tracks:
01. Aus ‘Der gute Mensch von Sezuan’ – Das Lied vom achten Elefanten
02. Aus ‘Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti’ – Ballade vom Forster und der Grafin
03. Aus ‘Die Rundkopfe und die Spitzkopfe – Kuppellied
04. Kleines Lied
05. Aus ‘Der kaukasische Kreidekreis’ – Grusches Lied~Vier Generale
06. Moderne Legende
07. Lied einer deutschen Mutter
08. An meine Landsleute
09. Aus ‘Die Rundkopfe und die Spitzkopfe’ – Lied eines Freudenmadchens
10. Aus ‘Die Rundkopfe und die Spitzkopfe’ – Lied von der belebenden Wirkung des Geldes
11. Vier Wiegenlieder einer proletarischen Mutter
12. Ballade von der Judenhure Marie Sanders
13. Aus ‘Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg’ – Das Lied von der Moldau
14. Aus ‘Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg’ – Das Lied vom kleinen Wind
15. Aus ‘Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg’ – Das Lied vom Kelch
16. Aus ‘Schweyk im zweiten Weltkrieg’ – Und was bekam des Soldaten Weib

Gisela May – Singt Brecht – Eisler – Dessau (Wergo)
(224 kbps, cover art included)

This hour-long CD combines the entirety of two children’s-oriented Seeger LPs, 1953’s “American Folk Songs for Children” and 1962’s “American Game and Activity Songs for Children”, onto one disc.

The eleven songs on “American Folk Songs for Children” were specifically selected from an identically titled book anthology of folk songs for children collected by Seeger’s stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger. Pete Seeger renders them plainly and simply, singing and playing and banjo, on a program designed especially (but not solely) for children between three and seven years of age. “Jim Crack Corn,” “Frog Went A-Courting,” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” are some of the better-known tunes on the record, but not all of them are as overly familiar.

“American Game and Activity Songs for Children” focuses especially on songs associated with activities and dancing, sometimes sung a cappella, sometimes sung with accompaniment from Seeger’s banjo. “Skip to My Lou,” “Ring Around the Rosy,” “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” and “Yankee Doodle” are some of the more well-known songs here – at this point, they’re probably more over-familiar than they were when the album was first released – but there are less overdone ones here too, including the spiritual “Liza Jane.”

Pete Seeger – American Folk, Game and Activity Songs for Children
(320 kbps, no cover included)

Here you can download the liner notes.

This hour-long CD combines the entirety of two children’s-oriented Seeger LPs, 1953’s “American Folk Songs for Children” and 1962’s “American Game and Activity Songs for Children”, onto one disc.

The eleven songs on “American Folk Songs for Children” were specifically selected from an identically titled book anthology of folk songs for children collected by Seeger’s stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger. Pete Seeger renders them plainly and simply, singing and playing and banjo, on a program designed especially (but not solely) for children between three and seven years of age. “Jim Crack Corn,” “Frog Went A-Courting,” and “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” are some of the better-known tunes on the record, but not all of them are as overly familiar.

“American Game and Activity Songs for Children” focuses especially on songs associated with activities and dancing, sometimes sung a cappella, sometimes sung with accompaniment from Seeger’s banjo. “Skip to My Lou,” “Ring Around the Rosy,” “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” and “Yankee Doodle” are some of the more well-known songs here – at this point, they’re probably more over-familiar than they were when the album was first released – but there are less overdone ones here too, including the spiritual “Liza Jane.”

Pete Seeger – American Folk, Game and Activity Songs for Children
(320 kbps, no cover included)

Here you can download the liner notes.

“Sorrow, Tears and Blood” (1977) accurately depicts the trail left in the wake of the February 18, 1977, raid by 1,000 armed Nigerian army men on Fela Kuti and his Kalakuta republic. In keeping with the format upheld on a majority of Kuti’s long-players, this disc contains a pair of extended works, featuring one title per LP side.

In contrast to the hard-edged and aggressive Afro-funk that Kuti and his Africa 70 became synonymous with, both the A-side title track and B-side, “Colonial Mentality,” are seemingly staid, in light – or perhaps because – of the cruel state-sponsored attacks that he and his extended family suffered.
“Sorrow Tears and Blood” is neither a full-blown, up-tempo funk drone nor a somber dirge. The even-handed, mid-tempo groove trots along at a steady pace and features some comparatively sedate sax work from Kuti. Even the instrumental introduction – which has been known to clock in at over five minutes – is reduced to well under three. His lyrics are starkly direct – “Everybody run, run, run/Everybody scatter, scatter/Some people lost some bread/Some people just die” – yet the emotive center is gone. Perhaps this is the result of fear, shellshock, or a combination of the two. Kuti’s words, however, remain as indicting as ever: “Them leave sorrow, tears, and blood/Them regular trademark.”
 “Colonial Mentality” returns to a more seething and slinky musicality. The dark and brooding bassline undulates beneath a brass-intensive Africa 70. Rarely has Kuti’s musical arrangements so perfectly imaged James Brown’s J.B.’s or Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra. The message is delivered as a fable, demonstrating that it is the individuals who live in a stifling “Colonial Mentality” who are the slaves. His preface, stating that the colonial man had released them yet they refuse to release themselves, sets out to prove that slavery is a continual and concurrent state of mind for Africans.
(320 kbps, front cover included)

“Sorrow, Tears and Blood” (1977) accurately depicts the trail left in the wake of the February 18, 1977, raid by 1,000 armed Nigerian army men on Fela Kuti and his Kalakuta republic. In keeping with the format upheld on a majority of Kuti’s long-players, this disc contains a pair of extended works, featuring one title per LP side.

In contrast to the hard-edged and aggressive Afro-funk that Kuti and his Africa 70 became synonymous with, both the A-side title track and B-side, “Colonial Mentality,” are seemingly staid, in light – or perhaps because – of the cruel state-sponsored attacks that he and his extended family suffered.
“Sorrow Tears and Blood” is neither a full-blown, up-tempo funk drone nor a somber dirge. The even-handed, mid-tempo groove trots along at a steady pace and features some comparatively sedate sax work from Kuti. Even the instrumental introduction – which has been known to clock in at over five minutes – is reduced to well under three. His lyrics are starkly direct – “Everybody run, run, run/Everybody scatter, scatter/Some people lost some bread/Some people just die” – yet the emotive center is gone. Perhaps this is the result of fear, shellshock, or a combination of the two. Kuti’s words, however, remain as indicting as ever: “Them leave sorrow, tears, and blood/Them regular trademark.”
 “Colonial Mentality” returns to a more seething and slinky musicality. The dark and brooding bassline undulates beneath a brass-intensive Africa 70. Rarely has Kuti’s musical arrangements so perfectly imaged James Brown’s J.B.’s or Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra. The message is delivered as a fable, demonstrating that it is the individuals who live in a stifling “Colonial Mentality” who are the slaves. His preface, stating that the colonial man had released them yet they refuse to release themselves, sets out to prove that slavery is a continual and concurrent state of mind for Africans.
(320 kbps, front cover included)

Ernst Busch was a famous German actor and singer and prominent figure of the international communist movement. He is known for his interpretations of Kurt Weill’s and Hanns Eisler’s compositions and Kurt Tucholsky’s and Bertolt Brecht’s pieces. He was also the founder of “Lied der Zeit GmbH” (1946), the predecessor of Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin.

In the year 1957, Ernst Busch took over the leading role in the stage play “Sturm” by Wladimir Bill-Belozerkowski at Deutsches Theater (Berlin), celebrating the 40th anniversary of the october revolution. Hanns Eisler wrote three songs for Busch´s leading role, using lyrics by the poet Wladimir Majakowski (“Linker Marsch”, “Subotnik”) and by Peter Hacks (“Läuselied”). In 1958, Eisler wrote “Zeit-Marsch” for the Majakowski production “Schwitzbad” at the Volksbühne (Berlin).

These tracks were released some years later, in 1964, on the Ernst Busch “Aurora” EP series. The EP was released with an informative magazine including photos, articles about the artists and the poems/lyrics.

Tracks:
01. Linker Marsch
02. Zeit-Marsch
03. Subotnik
04. Vorwärts, Bolschewik!

Ernst Busch – Eisler / Majakowski Lieder (Aurora, 1964)
(192 kbps, art work included)

Pete Seeger fills the first half of his 1960 studio album “The Rainbow Desig” with three medleys, playing and singing a chorus or so of 17 different songs in 15 minutes, as if just getting down the basics of the tunes to remember them and perhaps perform them more fully later. Toward the end of this set, he gets a bit more serious and organized, beginning with an original composition “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” a philosophical ballad with the chorus (gently sung), “When will you ever learn?” What he wants his listeners to learn, it becomes apparent, is to avoid war, particularly nuclear war, as he follows with a Japanese poem to that effect before ending the medley section of the album with a poem by early 20th century labor organizer and songwriter Joe Hill.

Seeger begins the album’s second half with another lovely original, “Oh, Had I a Golden Thread,” which expresses his desire to bind the world together. A trio of songs about the need for peace follows, all of them written by his half-sister Peggy Seeger and/or her husband, Ewan MacColl. The most affecting of these is “The Dove,” which finds Seeger putting down his banjo temporarily and playing a melody on the flute. Another call to brotherhood (“To Everyone in All the World”) is followed by a marching song from the Montgomery bus boycott (“We Are Moving on to Victory”), and the album concludes with the elegiac “When I’m Dead and Buried” (aka “Don’t You Weep After Me”). Although the collection is something of a miscellany, it contains some excellent Seeger songs, typically mixing his love for old folk tunes with his commitment to progressive political causes such as nuclear disarmament and Civil Rights.

Pete Seeger – The Rainbow Quest (1960)
(192 kbps, front cover included)

Pete Seeger and Michael Seeger composed and performed the music for the soundtrack to “Indian Summer”, singing and playing fiddle, five-string banjo, guitar, twelve-string guitar, chalil (bamboo flute), harmonica, pump organ and drum between them. In a context of film industry experimentations with alternative musics for soundtracks, Pete Seeger notes that this is an attempt to demonstrate what can be done with relatively simple American folk instruments to provide a programmatic score closely following the action on the screen.

One of Pete Seeger’s most non-traditional and interesting albums, “Indian Summer” contains the soundtracks to four different short films. The entirety of side one is taken up by the soundtrack to Jules V. Schwerin’s non-narrative film “Indian Summer”, composed and recorded by Seeger with his son, Michael Seeger, who between them play fiddle, banjo, guitar, bamboo flute, harmonica, pump organ, 12-string guitar, and drums, with incidental voices and sound effects (from birdsong to heavy machinery) from the film’s soundtrack mixed in. It’s a fascinating, wide-ranging piece that wanders through a variety of moods and musical settings, one of those soundtracks that makes the listener want to see the movie itself. Side two consists of three shorter soundtracks, to Norman McLaren’s “Horizontal Lines” (featuring Seeger overdubbing himself on half a dozen instruments, with sound effects) and two films by himself and wife Toshi Seeger, “The Many-Colored Paper” (an overdubbed two-guitar improvisation on “Deck the Halls” that sounds like it was hugely influential to the folks who began Windham Hill Records) and “The Country Fiddle” (three examples of traditional country fiddle playing with banjo and clogging accompaniment). Richly musical and historically important, this is an often-overlooked but utterly essential Pete Seeger release.

Pete & Michael Seeger – Indian Summer
(192 kbps, front cover included)