Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records

Paramount’s founders were owners of a Wisconsin furniture company who knew absolutely nothing about the record business.  Their big idea was to do everything as cheaply as possible.  And somehow, with great luck and a fair wind, they evaded impending bankruptcy to become the most important label in the race-records marketplace.

Cheapo-cheapo production principles had led them to use the least costly and most crappy crumbling shellac they could lay hands on.  So overcoming the extreme challenges of preservation and restoration is a great triumph. And the compilation, design and production of this two-volume archival history, by Jack White’s Third Man Records in partnership with Dean Blackwood & John Fahey’s Revenant Records, is a real labour of love.

Volume 1 covers the decade 1917-27.

Volume 2 covers the company’s final 5 years between '28 and '32.

There are 1600 tracks in total.

Of which this is the first tranche.

(Maybe the next ones should be smaller.)

Volume 1 - part 1   1.71 GigaBytes!TUYRwJzJ!h-WvdwmKZ9gMvn04OGObLKCwfH-SJvm4WsGFCTvHaLg

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Albert King - King does the King's Thing

"Originally titled King Does the King's Thing, here's Albert King adding his own touch to a batch of Elvis Presley tunes. Because King's style is so irreducible, the concept actually works, as he fills this album with his traditional, high-voltage guitar work and strong vocals. That isn't surprising, since four of the nine tunes on here originally started as R&B hits covered by Presley, including an instrumental version of Smiley Lewis' "One Night." No matter what the original sources may be, though, this is a strong showing in King's catalog." Cub Koda

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lágbájá - Nigeria

Before chancing on a random torrent a few weeks back, I had heard none of this music, and the artist name of Lágbájá was new to me.  But I am now a fan and, out of the selection available to me for listening and study, these are the 26 tracks which hit me the best and the sweetest and the most serious.

Here’s what I have learned:

Our most effective English translation of the Yoruba “lágbájá” would be “anonymous”. Lagos-born Bisade Ologunde adopted it as his name on behalf of the faceless and voiceless, and performs in a mask to underline his identification as: 'The man without a face who speaks for the people without a voice'.

Like his old friend Fela Kuti, he presents political and social comment using a colloquial urban blend of English and Yoruba, adding costumes and production design that make connections to the ancient tradition of Egungun – the ancestral spirits who guide the people towards peace and truth.

The music uses singers and western horns, with guitars and keyboards, over a central percussion ensemble of traditional drums, and mixes traditional Yoruba music with Afro-pop styles of juju, west-coast high-life, and Fela’s afro-beat, all blended together with large dollops of funk and jazz.

Also like Fela, Lágbájá plays saxophone – only much better.

And I greatly respect and appreciate the triumph of Yoruba roots and the rhythm culture of interlocking interdependence over the simplifying tendencies of western pop, and how – even in his most contemporary incarnations of Quincy-Jones-standard modernity – the traditional remains central.   “Konko Below” for example, which I think for some reason might be the most recent track here, is one which flirts easily with a style cliché or two out of rap/R&B convention, yet still it is impossible to deny the Yoruba drums pulsing at its heart.

But it seems as if the current ascendancy of the hip-hop aesthetic, driven by the rise of Naija nu-stars like 9ice or 2 Face Idibia or Terry G, may have re-cast the masked-one now as old-hat.  A musicologically principled distance from the more faddishly en vogue currents, together with his pecuniary frustrations over the encroachments of technology and free-downloading, might help explain why he seems to have released little these days.

With performance success in Ghana, France, Brazil and Britain, a chance for the international market that all African artistes hunger for, and an biography which has him “based in Manhattan”, he has been subject to critique based on an expatriate absence which he denies, claiming to be always home in Lagos where - also vaguely reminiscent of Fela - he has a club.

His club-concept is named Motherlan’ and aims to follow village-square traditions of being a community gathering-place for a range of artistic and devotional events like dance, and story-telling, and ceremonies in the moonlight.

There is YouTubery under the same name.
You should check it out.

Lazz’s Lágbájá Collection (at a dissatisfying mixture of low and lower kbps, but the brilliance of the music still shines through) 
187.2 MB!WVAB3a4A!B9o3vg9Kh9Xai6MIPD-Q1IMQEyooh6y5zwQJUGnHkio

Original R&B - Smokin', Drinkin' and Messi' Around

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Loleatta Holloway - The Hotatlanta Soul of Loleatta Holloway

Loleatta Holloway is probably still best known to the public as one of the disco queens of the 1970s.  But that part of her career might soon be forgotten.   Fortunately, Ms. Holloway had the opportunity to document her real vocal artistry under close to ideal circumstances during the early 70s before the dark cloud of disco descended on the world of Soul.   This work, mostly recorded in Atlanta and often under the production of Sam Dees, stands as a timeless testimony to one of the truly great soul divas, a soul diva who almost came along too late. 

Loleatta Holloway was born in Chicago in 1946 and began to sing gospel at an early age.  Her vocal prowess pushed her up in the ranks of gospel music very quickly; she became a member of none other than the Caravans in the 1960s, and then worked the programs successfully as a solo artist.   Her crossover into secular music came with the acceptance of an offer to play the starring role in a Chicago musical - "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope."   Her first secular recordings (included here) were produced by her husband and manager, Floyd Smith: Rainbow '71, For Sentimental Reasons, Bring it On Up.

Her first 45 and live performances got noticed right away, and Michael Thevis soon took her to the Hotatlanta Studio where she recorded the remaining tracks on this compilation for Aware records.    Here we have a fortunate combination of mostly high quality songs and production (often Sam Dees) and a great soul diva at the height of her powers.

Sadly, we lost Loleatta Holloway prematurely in 2011.  This is her recorded legacy that will live forever.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Orchestra Baobab - Senegal

Orchestra Baobab was the multi-ethnic house-band of the Baobab Club in Dakar right from when the elite room opened in 1970 until the joint went dark in 1979 – by which time they were established as Senegal’s most popular band.

Sounds and styles from the Caribbean had already been embraced throughout west Africa since the ‘50s, and the special accent of Orchestra Baobab came from their adoption of Cuban instrumentation and rhythmic styles parsed through the individual roots and origins of a polyglot membership.

Balla Sidibe and Rudy Gomis, for example, are from the southern forest region of Casamance and harmonise in Portuguese creole, while the northern Wolof griot vocal style of Ndiouga Dieng replicates that of his predecessor Laye M’Boup, killed in a 1975 car crash,  and Medoune Diallo’s is the voice we hear singing in Spanish.  Sax-player Issa Cissoka and drummer Mountage Koite are both from Mande griot families - Cissoko from Mali, and Koite from eastern Senegal – and bassist Charlie N’Diaye is from Casamance in the south.  On lead guitar, Barthelemy Attisso is from Togo, and rhythm guitarist Latfi Ben Geloume is from a Moroccan family exiled to Senegal’s Saint Louis.   Baro N'Diaye, the original saxophonist-leader of the group, seems to have been plain ordinary French-Senegalese – as was singer/percussionist Mapenda Seck.

“Baobab à Paris” is indication of the reach of their appeal into France, where there is a large expatriate community - and yet, shortly after the Baobab Club’s closure and then on through the ‘80s, audience tastes back home in Dakar began turning to the grittier sounds of bands like the Etoile de Dakar (featuring a young Youssou N'Dour) and the popularity of Orchestra Baobab began to wane.

In 1987, the band split up.

“Pirates Choice” was recorded in 1982 and released on cassette.  A vinyl version was later released in France and quickly became a sought-after cult rarity which came to the attention of the World Circuit label, who re-released it in 1989 as a double CD packaged with extra tracks.

The solid success of the re-release right across the label’s niche network meant there was an audience for live performance strong enough to sustain international touring if only the band were still in existence.  African performing artists all desire to achieve success on a world stage, though – so perhaps it was not really very hard at all, especially with the intercession and support of Youssou N’Dour, for World Circuit in 2001 to persuade the band to reform for tours of Europe and the United States and a new CD.

“Specialist In All Styles” was released in 2002 – twenty years after “Pirates Choice”.

The band are still the same guys.  Pretty much.  Thierno Koite, perhaps a relative of the drummer Mountaga Koite, replaced Baro N'Diaye, the original sax-player.  And Assane M’Boup, who may similarly be kin to original singer Laye M’Boup, replaced Mapemda Seck.   Only two personnel changes between them.  Plus, on the new one, we have guest performances from producer Youssou N’Dour, from Ibrahim Ferrer, and from Thio M'Baye on sabar drums.

The singing is beautiful and all of the music is absolutely made for dancing.

Baobab à Paris Vol 1 On Verra Ca (1978) - 320kbps 52.4 MB!7RIGzb5B!1SLPrClFptq_dDd-mC9-qInaDUgE2DzI89QVyrb7Ioo

Baobab à Paris Vol 2 Africa '78 (1978) - 320kbps 52.4 MB!PFZG2BYJ!cgvL31u96DqQddDQB-QP-B3iHKWn-smoadQXiJ3cZdQ

Pirate's Choice- The Legendary 1982 Session Disc 1 (1982) - 320kbps 94.7 MB!XMoU3A7Y!oK4QbcDB_LdgjQuYzrHArogOOYZsVuOeeT0BLs1huM0

Pirate's Choice- The Legendary 1982 Session Disc 2 (1982) - 320kbps  94.0 MB!fEBzxJRA!urO-vZH3lbge5xNcCCdRXTN1EVNQzrGGzujA7grB-1g

Specialist In All Styles (2002) - 192kbps  68.5 MB!acJxXQjS!wi1byg77U_CaMLpqUCUuauZtJ9qV2wtw8j8WQnSTeGg

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tony Allen - Film Of Life

"For his tenth album, Tony Allen, the co-creator of Afrobeat, has pulled out all the stops. At his side are French producers The Jazzbastards and fellow world-class musicians including Damon Albarn (Gorillaz, The Good the Bad & the Queen, Blur). With Film of Life, Allen has produced an album that has the ring of a true self-portrait, offering an overview of his rich and exemplary career that brings together bebop, Afrobeat jazz and psychedelic pop."

" A sleek, sensuous, wildly diverse album from an old master. Building from the old Afro-Beat sound he helped create, Nigerian-born drummer Tony Allen shifts and arcs into heavy dub and clubby funk, off-kilter pop and artsy, Eno-esque electronica... It's smooth, multi-textured music that feels in turns joyful and dark, playful and forboding, and consistently wickedly creative. Currently pushing 75, Afrobeat elder Tony Allen is still very much in the groove, and this is a fine album, very listenable and enticing. Recommended! (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To World Music)"

The RPM Blues Story

RPM was a subsidiary of Modern Records, one of the major blues and R&B labels of the '50s. One Day's 2014 compilation The RPM Blues Story focuses on the imprint's best blues sides, with everything recorded in the late '40s and '50s. Lots of big names -- B.B. King, Lowell Fulson, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Slim, Johnny "Guitar" Watson -- are present on this collection, all doing raw, vital work that is matched nicely by the lesser-known names here. It all results in an excellent (and affordable) primer on one of the best R&B/blues labels of its time. AMG

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Washboard Sam 1935 - 1947

Whether Washboard Sam really was a half-brother of Big Bill Broonzy (and his 17 or 18 brothers and sisters) as is often claimed, is relatively unimportant in the face of the role he himself played as blues pioneer.
Born as Robert Brown in Arkansas in 1910, Washboard Sam is one of the great black musicians, singers and lyric composers of the pre-1945 period, without whom the developments in rhythm & blues in Chicago, the blues capital of the post-war years, would scarcely have been imaginable. Sam came to Chicago in 1932, played a little washboard and sang, and soon found himself with an exclusive contract with Bluebird, the label under which the Victor company (now known as the Bluebird Record Company) managed to make a business out of country blues in the 1930s. Washboard Sam and
Big Bill Broonzy made a considerable contribution to this success. They gathered together a whole group of instrumentalists for their recording sessions including pianists such as Roosevelt Sykes, Bob Call (Black Bob), Joshua Altheimer and even at this stage, electric guitarists such as George Barnes. Washboard Sam wrote the music and lyrics of both humorous and melancholic melodies; however those that are most loved have always been the ones with the most swing to them. The wide choice of titles available cover the entire range of his musical ideas and achievements. After the War, sales of records produced by the 'older' blues generation, i e that of Washboard Sam, Big Bill or Tampa Red began to drop and were increasingly replaced by the new, more aggressive recordings by artists such as Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins or B B King. In 1946, Washboard Sam withdrew from the overheated, unpredictable music scene of Chicago. He became a policeman with a ...'quiet family life' (S B Charters) which he only interrupted for a few recordings in 1953 and 1954, and a European tour in 1964. Washboard Sam died in 1966 following heart failure. (From sleeve notes)

Note : 18 tracks 17 of which appear on CD for the first time - CD cover has error missing out the number 12 and showing a jump from 11 to 13 !!! Sloppy !!!...Full personnel etc shown in scans  

New Orleans Soul - The Original Sound of New Orleans Soul 1960-76

Another interesting comp from the Soul Jazz folks. Much of it is stuff many will have, but even for me there are a number of things I hadn't encountered yet. Worth the effort.

" For more than ten years Soul Jazz Records have been exploring and documenting the sound of New Orleans Funk. Now they turn their attention to the flipside of this musical coin - New Orleans Soul.

These two musical forms share a lineage that begins with the city's enormous rhythm and blues explosion in the post-war 1940s and 1950s. New Orleans Soul incorporated the soulful vocals of the gospel church, the driving beat of rhythm and blues, as well as traces of the second-line parade bands and the latinized rhythms of the city.

Here you will find New Orleans soul in all its glorious variations from the deep, deep soul of singers Aaron Neville, Willie Tee and Robert Parker to the storming northern soul of Maurice Williams and Eldridge Holmes, the funky soul of Eddie Bo, Lionel Robinson and Ernie K-Doe all alongside the Crescent City's finest soul sisters Irma Thomas, Betty Harris, Jean Knight, Inell Young and more!

The main force behind New Orleans Soul is Allen Toussaint, a virtual one-man hit-making machine in the 1960s, writing, arranging and producing hit after hit for an unending list of unbelievably talented local singers such as Eldridge Holmes, Maurice Williams, Betty Harris, Ernie K Doe and Diamond Joe all of whom are featured.

New Orleans is also a city of great musical families. Vocalist Aaron Neville was the brother of Art Neville (who formed The Meters) and later in the 1970s joined with brother Cyril to form The Neville Brothers. Soul vocalist supreme Willie Tee is also known as Wilson Turbinton, who alongside brother Earl, formed the super-heavy funk band The Gaturs and backed the Mardi Gras Indian group The Wild Magnolias.

Also included here are rare, lost and killer soulful tracks from New Orleans artists Eddie Bo (and protégée vocalist Inell Young), Jean Knight, Jimmy Hicks, Francine King and more!"

Friday, February 6, 2015

Muddy Waters - With Little Walter: 1950-1952

When most people think about the legacy of Muddy Waters, the first songs that come to mind are probably those macho Willie Dixon-produced shouts from the mid-1950s: Hoochie Coochie Man, Mannish Boy, I'm Ready, I Just Want to Make Love to You, Got My Mojo Working, etc.   But as far as I am concerned, the pinnacle of Muddy Waters' recorded output unquestionably lies here, in the records that he made with Little Walter in the early 50s before Willie Dixon entered the picture.  This is Muddy Waters playing his own music his own way in a manner that helped mold the evolution of Chicago and Mississippi blues in the 1950s and beyond.   It just doesn't get any better than this.  If I could only own one blues collection, I would choose this one.   I can't begin to describe here how much satisfaction and inspiration these recordings have given me over so many years.

I took these recordings from two sources:  The first 22 tracks come from the 2-CD set, The Anniversary Collection, released on Chess (MCA) in 2000.  The final 3 tracks come from the Hip-O-Select collection "Hoochie Coochie Man."  Together they present all of Muddy Water's recordings from June, 1950 to the end of1952.   The first session here marks the time when Leonard Chess finally honored Muddy's wish to allow him to record with Little Walter, and the result marked a milestone in recorded blues history.  (Parkway records had already recorded the two together in 1951, but Muddy Waters was essentially confined to guitar accompaniments for contractual reasons.)  Little Walter is co-featured on almost all of these tracks, although many believe that it is actually a teenage Junior Wells who takes care of the mean harp work on the last four tracks.  Jimmy Rogers is also present on many songs in this collection.

There are no weak tracks here (IMO), and the number of masterpieces is mind boggling:  Long Distance Call, Honey Bee, Louisiana Blues, She Moves Me, Still a Fool, Too Young to Know, Standing Around Crying, Iodine in My Coffee to name a handful.   I will stop here at the risk of sounding too fanatical.  When it comes to Muddy Waters, I am indeed a fanatic, and these recordings are IT for me.     

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Irma Thomas - A Pair of Recovered Jewels

 In the past couple of years we have been treated to not just one but a pair of lost Irma Thomas albums from the early 70's finally seeing the light of day in the CD era. Irma had left New Orleans and, for a couple years, music following 1969's hurricane Camille. By late 1971 she began a comeback, signing to Atlantic Records, seemingly her shot at the big time. For some reason Jerry Wexler never chose to release Thomas' Atlantic/Cotillion recordings - there is some speculation that Aretha's management may have had some hand in that, but I'd also offer the thought that Wexler may well have been using Irma as leverage with Aretha. Wexler would have done anything to prevent losing Aretha the way he lost Ray Charles. These recordings would be have been made in 1971 & 1972.
As soon as she finished her Atlantic contract Irma signed with Jerry 'Swamp Dogg' Williams to his Fungus label in 1973 and made this strong album of Southern Soul with Duane Allman and others from the Muscle Shoals musician circle. I had heard of this record, but had never seen it until it's reissue a couple years ago.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Original Soundtrack Recording Of Catch My Soul

If you have never heard this...well...YOU SHOULD!! I don't exactly recall where I got this marvel, but since I sort of recall extracting it from either comments or a chat box, my best guess would be Twilight Zone blog - whom-so-ever that original uploader may have been -- THANK YOU!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Freddie King - Burglar (1974)

Freddie King has always been one of my favourite Blues artists. I love all of his recordings, starting with his Federal/King classics ('Have You Ever Loved A Woman', 'Hideaway' etc) 2 albums for Atlantic/Cotillion, 3 for Leon Russell's Shelter Records and his final album 'Burglar' for RSO in 1974. He died way too early, of acute pancreatitus, on 28th December 1976 at the tender age of 42.
'Burglar' remains my favourite Freddie album as , to me,  it catches his raw and gritty guitar and vocals like no previous recordings. At the time of release, critics had mixed responses...Why ?...It may be that most of the sessions were recordrd in the UK with some fine players including the great Steve Ferrone on drums and/or it was full of Funky grooves  that some purists found unpalatable...Humbug !!!...

I cherish the feel of these recordings and have no reservations recommending 'Burglar' to my fellow Chitlins pals here...
Give it a spin and enjoy Freddie doing his Thing ! The track 'Sugar Sweet' was recorded in Florida and features Eric Clapton's band of the time - Full personnel is included in the scans

Tracks : 01 Pack It Up 02 My Credit Didn't Go Through 03 I Got The Same Old Blues 04 Only Getting Second Best 05 Texas Flyer 06 Pulp Wood 07 She's A Burglar 08 Sugar Sweet 09 I Had A Dream 10 Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)