Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cannot See

"In the coolness of your shadow, in the silence of your deep..." Jesse Colin Young and his underrated Youngbloods provide the original, and it's a fine track alright. But then check out master guitarist Phil Upchurch with his soulful instrumental interpretation of the same song. Wonderful, huh? Thought so.

The Youngbloods - Darkness, Darkness
Phil Upchurch - Darkness, Darkness

Monday, February 27, 2012

No More

Orate is one of the best modern flamenco albums I've heard in quite a while. It's the debut of Diego Del Morao, a youngster who comes from a famous dynasty of Jerez guitar players - the late great Moraíto Chico was his dad for instance. As you can taste below, his exquisite, relaxed style has a certain 'now sound', without ever straying too far from puro roots. For more background, you can read an interesting interview with the maestro here. One excerpt: "I practice just enough to get by, and no more..." Hard to believe, but probably true, too.

Diego Del Morao - Gañanía
Diego Del Morao - El Regalo

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mali Fever

Got the Mali fever bad, thanks to that jaw-dropping Le Mystere Jazz De Tombouctou album I featured in these pages recently. So the good doctor prescribed a copy of an exemplary 2 disc compilation called Mali 70: Electric Mali, and that's just what I ordered. Proved money very well spent, as you can hear for yourselves on the two shiny pearls below. One day, I'll buy me a ticket to Bamako to see if that motel is still going.

National Badema - Ciro
Les Ambassadeurs Du Motel De Bamako - Mbouran Mousso

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Polk Salad

"Everyday 'fore supper time she'd go down by the truck patch, and pick her a mess of polk salad and carry it home in a tote sack..." Here's a little botany lesson for y'all. Polk salad - Phytolacca Americana, also known as poke salad - is a hardy plant that grows in the southern states of the US. Said to be kind of toxic, one should definitely boil and rinse it before cooking. The leaves are said to taste like spinach, while the stalks resemble okra. Polk salad was especially popular during hard times, when people had little else to eat. And since times are tough all over again at the moment, here's a little recipe for you. Also happens that the mighty Tony Joe White wrote a tasty swamprock song about it. And about a girl called Annie of course. "Gators got your granny..."

Tony Joe White - Polk Salad Annie

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Bonnie Covers

As promised a while back, we keep uncovering the pride of Louisville in these pages. So here's a second installment of originals and bonnie interpretations, and diversity's the word once again. And just in case you weren't in the know yet: there's a book coming out soon by and about the divine mr. Oldham, edited by Alan Licht. Can't wait.

Bobby "Blue" Bland - Little Boy Blue
Bonnie Prince Billy - Little Boy Blue 2
The Grateful Dead - Brokedown Palace
Bonnie Prince Billy - Brokedown Palace
The Renderers - Dream Of The Sea
Bonnie Prince Billy - A Dream Of The Sea
Phil Ochs - My Life
Bonnie Prince Billy - My Life

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Candy Store

According to Rodger Collins, Oakland's the place to be when you're looking for a foxy chick. Tiny Powell's probably been there, as he likes 'em foxy, too, as long as they don't boss him around too much of course. Both tracks are funky-as-hell guaranteed, and come from a must-have compilation of late sixties/early seventies highlights from the Galaxy imprint, a soul subsidiary of the infamous Fantasy label that held Creedence Clearwater Revival in such a stranglehold.

Rodger Collins - Foxy Girls In Oakland
Tiny Powell - Bossy Woman

Friday, February 17, 2012

Zion Gate

"If tomorrow I was leaving to Zion, I wouldn't stay a minute more..." The biblical mountain of Zion lay close to the ancient city of Jerusalem, and somehow slowly but surely became a symbol for the 'world to come'. The rasta faith pictures it as the site of a new Jerusalem in the African country of Ethiopia, a future spot of milk and honey for righteous dreads. As an illustration, here's a sizzling roots reggae and dub ten pack about the desire to arrive there as soon as possible. Get ready to ride that lion...

Black Uhuru - Leaving To Zion
Wayne Jarrett - Mount Zion
Culture - Get Ready To Ride The Lion To Zion
Abyssinians - Forward Unto Zion
Winston Scotland - Zion Fever
U Brown with Linval Thompson - Train To Zion
Little Roy - Ticket To Zion
Tappa Zukie - Marching To Zion
The Flames - Zion
Joe Gibbs & The Professionals - Zion Gate

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Something Shines

"So tell my baby I said so long, tell my mother I did no wrong, tell my brother to watch his own, and tell my friends to mourn me none..." An epitaph to die for. From the ideal beginners guide to the late great: Live At The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas.

Townes Van Zandt - Rex's Blues (live '73)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tombouctou Spirits

This is one amazing piece of music, period. Hails from Mali, and was recorded back in 1977. Hypnotizing afro guitars meet the free jazz brass in the jungle, or something like that. If you get into the groove, head over to a music blog called Digging For Diamonds In Mountains Of Mediocrity and take it from there with a most excellent rip of the very rare and valuable original. Better still though, you can order a freshly restored reissue (vinyl already out, cd later this month) on the Kindred Spirits label.

Le Mystère Jazz De Tombouctou - Leli

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lee Rides Alone

"It's another night in Los Angeles, my passport is restless in my boot..." Worth it for that menacing intro alone. To call Lee Clayton an underrated artist would be an understatement.

Lee Clayton - She Rides Alone

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bonnie Covers

It's always fun to compare originals and covers, and even more so when we're talking Bonnie Prince Billy. The lion from Louisville has always been keen on interpreting the songs of other musicians - check out a most fascinating list here - and the results are nearly always interesting to say the least. Below's a first batch of cool ones, and there's more on the way.

John Phillips - Someone's Sleeping
Bonnie Prince Billy - Someone's Sleeping
E.C. Ball & Orna Ball - John The Baptist
Bonnie Prince Billy - John The Baptist
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Babylon System
Bonnie Prince Billy - Babylon System
Kate Wolf - Early Morning Melody
Bonnie Prince Billy - Early Morning Melody

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Black & Blue

"I wrassled with the hounds, black man, hounds of hell all day, I squeeze them so tight, until they fade away..." These two tracks - recorded in the sewing room of the infamous Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman in 1939 - may just contain the most bone-chilling a capella blues you've ever heard. " Well, Mattie had a baby and he got blue eyes - that must be the captain's, keep on hanging around..."

Mattie May Thomas - Workhouse Blues
Mattie May Thomas - Dangerous Blues

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ry's Writings

"A woman in a prewar Dodge coupe passed them on the road. She was headed for Brakke's. She turned into the parking lot and drove the car up to the front door. Inside, the boys were just getting started on Divorce Me C.O.D., which had been a big hit for Merle. The woman opened the trunk and began to throw items of men's clothing out onto the parking lot. Suits, shirts, underwear, shoes, the works. When she was done, she backed the Dodge out. The future ex-Mrs. Ray McKinney headed north toward Willow Springs in a cloud of oil smoke."

Yup, that's Ry Cooder writing. Renowned roots musician and producer, movie soundtrack specialist, guitar magician, and now an author, too. And a damn good one at that. I'm currently reading his first collection of noir short stories, and it holds me spellbound.

Merle Travis - Divorce Me C.O.D.
Ry Cooder - Mexican Divorce

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Born On A Monday

Buried on a Sunday. From ancient British nursery rhyme - also known as Solomon Grundy - straight to infectuous early-sixties ska song. As a bonus: two more songs that namecheck Solomon and his rather rapid decline. And as the mighty Big Youth toasts over K.C. White's Anywhere But Nowhere, and the fun duo Lloyd & Carey utilises World Upside Down by Joe Higgs, you get to hear these excellent roots tunes as well. Big up.

Eric Morris - Solomon Gundie
Lloyd & Carey - Down Side Up
Joe Higgs- World Upside Down
Big Youth - Solomon A Gunday
K.C. White - Anywhere But Nowhere

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Witch Flew By

"I was looking out the window and a witch flew by, whipping her broom and she said you're gonna die..." Just got the sad news that influential modern artist Mike Kelley has passed away. He was 57, and was found dead at home yesterday, an apparent suicide caused by depression. Music fans will mainly know Kelley through his artwork for Sonic Youth's fine Dirty album, but he was also a founding member of Detroit cult artpunkband Destroy All Monsters. For further reading: a full obit from the LA Times.

Destroy All Monsters - You're Gonna Die
Sonic Youth - Youth Against Fascism
Black Flag - Depression (live)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lotta Nerve

This ageing hipster - or should that be titan of the mediasphere - was asked to write a feature for Nerve magazine's Five Albums You Should Be Listening to Right Now. Read it here if you got a lotta nerve. Or if you're just my friend.

Bob Dylan - Positively 4th Street (live Sydney '66)
Emile O'Connor - The Nerve Of You
Motorpsycho - The Nerve Tattoo
Silkworm - Nerves