Boo-La La!

29 10 2010

Ah, the past.  It’s all coming back to me now.  Spirits in the air, then airmail brought this very nice memory from the UK.

This large poster was one of six placed around London in 1983 when I launched Volume, (736 page discography on punk and new wave music).  I was working out of the Rough Trade office, and doing my semi-official show with John Peel on the BBC.  Hand drawn this, calling on one-time artschool skills.

Brits like to dress up funny, but Halloween was not a big deal then.  So the idea was a costume party with music and books to hawk and a stellar group of judges (John Peel, Siouxsie Sue and Genesis P Orridge!) for best lookers.  Well I don’t remember much more than that, oh, except the bands were great and leaving Heaven at about 4 am, dressed in a latex red devil outfit, pouch stuffed with £4oo in small bills, with a bit of a buzz on, I was stopped by the police.

But that’s another story.

What I meant to say was my mother grew up in an inner city, industrial city, and her best friend’s family ran a funeral parlor.  Her best story was the time they were playing hide-and-go-seek.  Well who could resist crawling in an empty display coffin to hide?  Not my Mom.   Of course the lid came down and quilted screams did their best, but it was hours before they found her.  To this day plush interiors leave her cold.

So on this All Saints Day, in Mom’s honor, with a nod to the recently deceased singing undertaker, Solomon Burke, I’m building a musical coffin corner.

The king of emerging (from a coffin) artists will always be Screaming Jay Hawkins.  With his hand-held skull-on-a-stick and occasional upturned bonemustache. SJH put a spell on youth in the 50s. Freddie (ARC archivist) actually saw him perform, and here Fred laughs at one of Jay’s jokes in a scary 80’s LA TV appearance on Art Fein’s Poker Party.

Freddie also remembered some buried footage in one of the worst rock movies ever made (…and the good one is?), “Bop Girl Goes Calypso.” Here the Goofers leave no grave-stone unturned for a laugh, and perform one number rising from the pine.  Truly horrifying!

Now I mention Lady Gaga because to do so brings an additional 300 readers to our blog.  Like all novelty acts, she too has struck the occasional resurrectionist pose.

I could go on and on.

You see there’s CD cases, and guitar cases, a Japanese band and DJ turntable cases all shaped like coffins.  But blogs have to honor people who view the news on their mobiles, and never get to the bottom of anything, let alone a grave.

I say the ARC is not about entertainment – two bit knowledge, and too much of it – that’s what makes us spooky.  And this Halloween Mom bids you, Vichnaya pamyat! (Memorial eternal!) – that’s RIP in Ukrainian.

“the Frank Sinatra of Jamaica”

26 10 2010

You know for over 25 years now I have been reading and jotting down all the wrong things I’ve discovered in the review and indexes and odd-numbered pages of music writings.  When I read that another favorite singer Gregory Isaacs had died, the Times obit carried one of those ‘it’s a stretch’ references, necessary throughout the world to make a foreign performer resonate in dominant culture.  Forced me to revisit my list, embedded in the lyrics, “Well they call me the great pre-tend-er.”

‘Cat Coore, the guitarist and cellist for the seminal reggae band Third
World, has called Mr. Isaacs “the Frank Sinatra of Jamaica” for his
elegant vocal phrasing. But as the singer’s friend and former manager
Don Hewitt observed, “It goes further than that, because Sinatra was
not a songwriter.” ’

So, it’s a faint whiff of Sinatra-essence that envelops the likes of Gregory, Eddie Santiago, Marc Anthony, Googoosh and Losif Kobzon.  Read it and reap – the benefits and pitfalls of needing a touchstone, or perhaps repositioning the stone that the builder refused…

• “Riley is to Cajun music what neo-traditionalist Dwight Yoakum is to country, what rebopper Wynton Marsalis is to jazz”.  –  ref Steve Riley.  Greg Cahill, The Pacific Sun, Mill Valley, CA, 9/29/1993.

• “In a field populated by characters full of braggadocio, Lion is the master of hyperbole, a veritable Jelly Roll Morton of calypso”.  –  Calypso Calaloo. University Press of Florida, by Donald R.  Hill, 1993. p. 106

• “In the old days, Celia Cruz – Cuba’s Madonna – had a residency here [the Tropicana nightclub].”  –  The Face, “Do You Like Latin Music?” by Sue Steward, #76,  p. 58, 8/86.

• “Some called Selena, the 24 year old Tejano artist, the Latin Madonna – without the controversy…” – that was until her murder.”  –  …commenting on Selena being the first Latin artists to enter the Billboard charts at #1 and replacing Janet Jackson by having the fastest selling recording by a female ever,  CBS Sunday News, 7/30/95

• “Alisha : The Hindu Madonna.”  –  Cassette cover

• “Gloria Trevi: The Mexican Madonna.”  –  hundreds of articles and u-tube:

• “Patricia Kaas, a Gallic Madonna”.  –  “Pop and Jazz in Review”, New York Times, 9/30/93.  p. C-17.  Stephen Holden.

• “Is Tshala Muana Zaire’s Madonna or just plain queen of Moutouashi?”  –  World Beat Magazine, UK, 11/90, p. 38.

• “She has affectionately been called the Argentine Piaf”.  –  …about Tango singer Marikena Monti, Ballroom niteclub, NYC,  press kit, 9/94

• “She became known as Cheikha Remitti, the Piaf of rai.”  –  …about early rai vocalist Cheikha Remitti el Ghilzania. Rough Guide   p. 127

• “I can’t believe this is the Brazilian Edith Piaf, the same husky-voiced supercharged torch singer I witnessed holding an audience in thrall for three nonstop hours at the Olympia in Paris.”  –  …about Maria Bethania.  Why Is This Country Dancing, p. 180

• ‘Celia Cruz.  “She is the Latin Ella Fitzgerald.” ‘  –  Ralph Mercado.  in Marre & Charlton, Beats of the Heart book. p. 81

• “Johnny Canales, the Ed Sullivan of Tejano music”  –  Tejano conjunto festival  booklet, 1992, pg 28, Ismael Dovalina

• “Amina: The Cleopatra of Paris-Tunisian disco”  –  Straight No Chaser, Winter 1989, p. 41

• “Conjunto legend Esteban Jordan has been called the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion.”  –  Claudia Perry, The Huston Post, 6/17/90

• “…have led some to call him ‘Jimi Hendrix of the Accordion”’.  –  …about Steve Jordan, Legends of the Accordion CD notes, 1995, John Morthland

• “If Jordan is the the Hendrix of the accordion, Flaco Jimenez is its Charlie Parker for the rhythmic finesse and fluidity he brings to his own executions off traditional lines.”  –  Legends of the Accordion CD notes, 1995, John Morthland

• “Aweke’s wild and joyous keening has the kick of a desert-bred Aretha Franklin” – …about  Ethiopian singer Aster  Aweke, Entertainment Weekly via Columbia Records press kit, 10/91.

• “…Abidjan now correctly has a reputation as an Eldorado of African music, …”  –  Sweet Mother, p. 65

• “She has been called the Bessie Smith of Egypt, and for stark passion she was all of that.”  –  …about Umm Kulthum. All Music Guide, John Storm Roberts, p. 855

• “Tsitsanis preferred female vocalists, especially Sotiria Bellou – called the ‘Bessie Smith of rebetika’ – …”  –  Popular Music of the Non-Western World, Oxford University Press, Peter Manuel, 1988.  p. 134

• “The Haitian composer, Ludovic Lamothe, who has been called ‘The Black Chopin’…”  –  Music of Latin America, Slonimsky.  p. 210

• “Sparrow is often called the Shakespeare of Calypso, but I prefer to think of him as a West Indian Cole Porter …”  –  “Making History” by Daisann McLane, Village Voice, 9/11/84, p. 65

• “David Rudder is to Calypso, what Bob Marley was to Reggae”.  –  “David Rudder is a Smash Hit” by Bianca T. Jacob, Share Magazine, Toronto, Canada, 12/20/90, p. 22.

• “…but not for simple hyperbole was he recently promoted in this country [England] as being ‘very different from other calypso stars’, the music’s Bob Marley.”  –  “The Soca Star” by Tony Herrington, the Wire, Issue 46/47, December 1987, p. 36

• “His familiarity with literary classics, his wide vocabulary, and his ability to improvise in song at a moment’s notice, led one writer to dub him ‘ the Shakespear of Calypso’.”  –  about Atilla the Hun.   Atilla’s Kaiso: A Short History of Calypso, from the foreword by Errol Hill, University of West Indies, 1983.

• “You could say that [Rudolph] Charles was to pan and to music in Trinidad what Churchill was to Britain during World War II”.  –  …about Soca star David Rudder in a Sire Records press release 4/88

• “…he displays some fancy footwork that could put MC Hammer in the shade.  He is none other than Superblue (Austin Lyons) the Hammer of Calypso”.  –  Carib Beat, August 1993, Glenda Cadogan. p. 17

• “His blunt anti-establishment lyrics have made him the bob Dylan and Mick Jagger of Africa.”  –  about Fela Kuti.  John Collins, African Pop Roots, p. 13

• “Odessa has been called the New Orleans of the Russian Empire”.  –  ‘Klesmer entry’, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Clarke, 1989. p. 664

• “…the town of Odessa, the so called New Orleans of Russia.”  –  Israel entry’, The Virgin Directory of World Music, Sweeney, 1989, p. 133.

• “The group was spotted while taking part in the famous Jamaican Peace Festival, Reggae music’s version of Woodstock”.  –  ref to Kingston’s One Love Peace Concert in 1978 in the Inner Circle press release from Big Beat Records, 3/93

•“Los Hermanas Padilla had continued to sing and record and also toured extensively throughout the 1940s, performing in Venezuela, Mexico, and New York, where they were known as the “Mexican Andrews Sisters.”  –  Barrio Rhythm, Steven Loza, 1993. p. 58.

•“ Africa’s Bob Marley of Reggae – Lucky Dube”.   “Reggae’s brightest new star, Lucky Dube (pronounced ‘doo-bay’), has been hailed as ‘Africa’s Perter Tosh,’…”  –  headline and first sentence, article, Caribbean Life, August 31, 1993.

• “The list of Miranda impersonators began with Ettel Bennett, built up as ‘the Yiddish Carmen Miranda’ for her show at the Old Romanian nightclub in New York’s Borsch Belt.”  –  Brazilian Bombshell, p. 59

• “The “Piazolla of the chamamé”  –  … ref, Raúl Barboza, King of Chamamé.  notes by Petra Loose

• “And Cheb (or ‘young’) Khaled, the charismatic architect of modern rai, is their Elvis, their Beatles, and their Sex Pistols rolled into one.”  –   “Cheb Khaled & the Politics of Pleasure”, Antaeus, “On Music”, No. 71 / 72, Autumn, 1993.   p. 262.    Brian Cullman.

• “Marcias : The Strativarius of the Bajo Sexto”  –  about Tejano conjunto artist, Martin Macias.  6th Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival, booklet, by Ron Young, p. 4, 1987.

• ‘The “Paganini of the Mexican Hot Lands.” ‘  –  …about Juan Reynoso, from the notes of his 1993  self titled Corason LP .

• “That 70-year-old Kostadin Varmezov is the Ornette Coleman of the bagpipe”.  –  Richard Gehr, Village Voice, 1988

• “The Congolese writer Syvain Bemba called him the Balzac of African music, after the writer of the Comédie Humaine.”   –  …about guitar giant, Franco.  The Rough Guide, 1994, p. 317.

• “Nearly every southeast Asian country has its own version of Madonna or Michael Jackson : in Thailand it’s the vampy Honey and Jackson soundalike, Tik Shiro.”  –  …John Clewley,The Rough Guide, 1994, p. 441.

• “…she is called the Tina Turner of Africa.”  –  … about Tshala Muana,  Africa Mama Festival,  Amsterdam,  Holland, 1987

• “Hameed Sharay,…His band, El Misdawier, was the Beatles of Egypt.”  –  Fresh Beats From Cairo, David Lodge, Take Cover, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 26 – 28, 1990.

• “Black Stalin is the calypso equivalent to Bob Marley; the Mandela or Martin Luther King of Trinidad Calypso.”  –  SOB Press Kit, 4/18/95.

• “Chico Buarque, sometimes dubbed the Bob Dylan of Brazil,…”  –  Rob Baker, Hot Sauces, p. 132

• “Some call Zachary Richard the Cajun Mick Jagger.”  –  Lee Jeske, NY Post (?), June, 19__.

• “A gifted singer, composer and arranger, P.K. established himself in the mid-1980s and, despite being handicapped by blindness, soon won a devoted following in the country, becoming known as the Stevie Wonder of Zambia.”  –  …about P. K. Chisala, Ronnie Graham, Stern’s guide, Vol 2, p. 212-3.

• “During the seventies Nathan [Abshire] enjoyed great popularity with festival and college audiences; he was the Professor Longhair of Cajun music and they adored him.”  –  …South to Louisiana  : The Music of the Cajun Bayous, John Brovin, Pelican Publishing, 1983   p. 241

• “A 1930 ad in New York’s major Spanish Newspaper, La Prensa, for example, billed the popular Cuban singer Antonio Machín as “El Rudy Vallee Cubano,” that is, the Cuban Rudy Vallee.”  –  My Music Is My Flag by Ruth Glasser, U. of California Press, 1995, p. 7.

• “In France, Prince Diabate is known as the Jimi Hendrix of the Kora, because he plays behind his back and through his legs”.  –  Afropop Guinea program, NPR, approx. 5/9/92

• “Iry Lejeune (the Hank Williams Sr. of Cajun Music, he died in a car crash in 1955 at age 27) never played anything cute.”  –  David Greely of the Mamou Playboys quoted in “Cajun Crusader”, by Michael Tisserand , Offbeat Mag, April, 1992  p. 20 – 22

• “Gravel voiced Jivacourt Kathumba is billed as Malawi’s Mahlathini.”  –  Rough Guide  p. 412.

• “Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens with the Makgona Tshole Band.  Or, if you prefer, The Lion of Soweto, The Supremes of South Africa, and (literal translation) The Band That Knows Everything.”  –  NME 6/25/88, Gavin Martin

• “We were the Beatles of South Africa”  –  Marks Mankwane to Rob Prince, Folk Roots 11, March ‘88.

• “The Frank Sinatra & the new King of Salsa who puts on a macho sexy show”.  –  …about Eddie Santiago, world beat mag, uk, 11/90, p. 4.

• “The Jimi Hendrix of the Cuatro”  –  …about Yomo Toro, headline for Yomo Toro article, Frets Magazine, Sept 1988, by Mark Dery, p. 14.

• “The Bruce Springstein of Uganda”  –  …about Philly Lutaaya (sp?) who had the hit “Born In Africa”, Frontline TV show, broadcast 5/28/91, Channel 13, NYC

• “…Mbaraka Mwinshehe, leader of the Super Volcanos.  Known as the ‘Franco of East Africa’…”  –  Africa O-Ye!  A Celebration of African Music, (Da Capo , ), Graeme Ewens, 1992  p. 167

• “…it could be said that Nelson Zapata, the founder of Proyecto Uno, is the Chano Pozo of our time. Only where Pozo collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie, Zapata, a product of the Dominican migration, collaborated only with the two sides of himself.”  –  Alisa Valdes ,The Boston Globe, Feb. 28, 1996,

• “ Morales, who records for Majestic, has had better luck with his material.  Noro is an avid jazz fan, and would like to be known as the Latin Duke Ellington.  Actually he is closer to Fats Waller,…”  –  Salsiology – What Is Rhumba? by William Gottlieb, p. 26

• “D. L. (Doris Leon) Menard – known as the “Cajun Hank Williams” – …”  –  South to Louisiana, p. 237

• “Ali Hassan Kuban – The Egyptian James Brown”  –  World Music Institute ad copy, VV 2/3/98  p. 85

• “Black Umfolosi – Zimbabwe’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo”  –  World Music Institute ad copy, VV 2/3/98  p. 85

• “Ismael Lo: Dakar’s Dylan”  –  photo caption, Straight No Chaser, Spring/Summer 1992. p. 41.  Moving from small to large, the Africa Fete booklet called Lo,  “The Bob Dylan of Senegal,” while NPR Weekend Report, 2/8/98, expanded his role to, “The Bob Dylan of Africa.”

• “Coxsone was the Berry Gordy of Jamaican music.”  –  …about Coxsone Dodd.   Reggae, The Rough Guide,  p. 63

• “In 1975 he played briefly with Franco’s TPOK Jazz – the Duke Ellington Orchestra of Zairian music.”  –   …about Diblo Dibala’s apprenticeship. Banning Eyre, Guitar Player, 9/ 91  p. 25

• “The two-stringed rabbabah assaults the senses with ear-fluttering twills as the djallabiyah-dressed, handlebar-moustachioed trio – “Hendrix of the East” : Metqal Qenawi Metqal, Shamandi Tewfiq Metqal and Yussef ‘ali Bakash – sing of nomadic exploits and tales seemingly straight from the pages of ‘A Thousand and One Nights'”.  –  …about the pricipal performers in Les Musiciens Du Nil (Musician of the Nile) in the Realworld press kit for Charcoal Gypsies.

• “The album won him the dubious title “the African Leonard Cohen.”  –  …about Geoffrey Oryema and Exile album, Realword NET presskit.

• “His songs were on everyone’s tongues.  He was Bob Dylan and John Lennon rolled into one…”  –  about Malagasy guitarist Dama Mahaleo.  CD notes from Dama & D’Gary’s, The Long Way Home , (Shanachie, 64052, 1994) by Paul Hostetter.

• “Founded by Dama Zafimahaleo, they were at one stage known as the Beatles of Madagascar.”  –  …about the group Mahaleo, by Ronnie Graham, The World of African Music / Stern’s Guide, Vol 2, p. 176

• “Jean Emilien souffle simultanément dans un harmonica, qu’il fait sonner comme un accordéon, souvent a l’unisson de sa kabosse, ce qui lui a valu l’appellation incontrôlable de “Dylan malgache”.  La même mésaventure est déjà arrivée à Ismael Lô, dit le “Dylan sénégalais”.  Quand cessera-t-on de voir des Dylan partout?”  –  le Nouvel Observateur, 19-25 Dec 1991, by Frank Tenaille

• “One of the best players was the late, legendary Rakotozafy (the Robert Johnson of Madagascar)…  –  about the well known marovany player, Rough Guide  p. 364

• “He’s the Paul Simon of Jewish music.”  –  Alicia Svigals of the Klezmatics about Pearlman, interview by Mark Rubin,

• “If all rock music were klezmer, then Phish would probably be the Klezmatics. Or vice versa. (In either case, Phish would no longer suck.)”  –  Boston Phoenix on May 16, 1997, by Seth Rogovoy

• “Rachid el Baba…- he likens himself to an Algerian Jean Michel Jarre – built a studio in Tlemcen and began recording many of Rai’s top stars.”  –  about top rai producer Rachid by Martin Johnson, Pulse! “Do the Rai Thing” Nov, 1989, p. 50

• “DJ/Producer Mark Kamins has called rai “the new reggae.”  –  Martin Johnson, Pulse! “Do the Rai Thing” Nov, 1989, p. 50

• “…Cheb Khaled (Algeria’s Jerry Lee Lewis analogue).”  –  CD review of Rai Rebels by Richard Gher.  Village Voice, n.d., 19??

• “… the famous Tunisian singer, Saliha (and if you are not yet familiar with this “Umm Kulthum of Tunisia,” find a recording of her soon) …”  –  Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, July 1995  by Dwight Reynolds

• “If Khaled is the Ali Rotten of Rai, his rival for number one spot, Cheb Mami, shows signs of a potential to be Cliff Richard.”  –  “Rai Smile,” Africa Beat, Winter 86/87, p. 24.   by Phil Sweeney.

• “A kind of Arab Jim Morrison, he irritates and unsettles the authorities, at the same time seducing the masses and the intellectuals.”  –  …about Cheb Khaled, Intuition Records press kit, 8/89

• “If Fela Kuti is Africa’s James Brown, Thomas Mapfumo’s warm, soulful tone could be a more political version of Otis Redding or Sam Cook”  –  CMJ New Music Report, 1991-ish review of Thomas Mapfumo’s, Chamunorwa,  via TM press kit prepared by SOBs club, 7/23/93

• “Thomas Mapfumo, inventor of Zimbabwe’s chimurenga (struggle) music, is his country’s James Brown and Bob Marley rolled into one”  –  The Beat, 1991-ish review of Thomas Mapfumo’s, Chamunorwa, via TM press kit prepared by SOBs club, 7/23/93

• “Mapfumo, with his luxuriant dreadlocks, his moral authority, and his chimurenga sound, was touted internationally as the Bob Marley of Zimbabwe.”  –  …about Thomas Mapfumo.   The Boston Phoenix, 3/18/88, by Banning Eyre

• “Musically, at any rate, it seemed a fitting start for a band that would go on to become South Africa’s answer to the Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots.”  –  …about the Manhattan Brothers.  S&M, African Rock  p. 193

• “Hevia, dubbed “the Jimi Hendrix of the bagpipes,” topped the album charts in Spain.”  –  In April of 1999  Billboard, Music Pulse, 12/25/99, Nigel Williamson.

• “From Bandundu, Zaire, Rochereau literally became the voice of African rumba or, as a newspaper in Kinshasa called him, ‘The Muhammad Ali of Song.'”  –  …about Tabu Ley Rochereau, Jack Kolkmeyer, Reggae & African Beat,          12/84

• “Our National Marley”  –  …about Alpha Blondy, Radio Cote d’Ivoire, Abidjan, June, 1983

• “Marc Anthony – The New Sinatra?”  –  Cover headline, Entertainment Weekly, #506, 10/8/99

• “The Gipsy Kings [sic] are the John Grisham of world music. Like the megaselling author, the popular flamenco rock group frequently lays claim to more than one spot on bestseller lists.”  –  Humble Start Hasn’t Hurt Reign of Gipsy Kings, The Christian Science Monitor, Kim Campbell, 8/18/96.

• “Csárdás … ‘The Tango of the East’ ”  –  Flyer for the Zoltán Zsuráfszki Budapest Ensemble, New York appearance, 1/19/99

• “What Bessie Smith was to North American blues, Clementina de Jesus was to Afro-Brazilian music.”  –  Musoca Brasileira, p. 21

• “Googoosh is Barbara Streisand, Elvis, Madonna and Frank Sinatra rolled into one.”  –  Like Holding My Pillow, By Termeh Rassi, July 31, 2000, The Iranian

• “Djalma Ferreira has become known in musical circles as the Brazilian Gershwin.”  –  Djalma Ferreira LP, Help Yourself to the Brazilliance of Djalma  (Dot, DLP 25905, no date).

• “He became a popular songwriter; a United Nations official who has followed his career calls him ‘Rwanda’s Michael Jackson.’ ”  –  NYTimes, March 17, 2002, “Killer Songs” By Donald G. McNeil Jr. concerning Simon Bikindi, awaiting trial in Holland for genocide, supposedly incited by his inflammatory songs.

• “Ulahi, the Billie Holiday of Melanesia”  –  Village Voice, May 15, 2001, “Chasing Waterfalls” by Robert Christgau

• “He is Losif Kobzon, Russia’s Frank Sinatra, for decades the favored crooner of Russian TV and variety shows, and for decades both the friend of the powerful and a power player in his own right.”  – April 25, 2002 Moscow Journal, The Smoothest Soviet Crooner, Still in Good Voice By Alison Smale via Yuri Kozyrev for The New York Times.

• “Maloya, a ritual music that has Indian elements alongside the creole, is (to use a cliché) Réunion’s blues…”  –  booklet, RoughGuide CD, Indian Ocean

• “Cui Jian, China’s John Lennon, sings prophetically about the confusion and dissatisfaction of the nation’s youth.”  –  PR for film, No More Disguises, 1989, on the First Run/Icarus Films website.

• “The delightful, stately maloya and segá of Françoise Guimbert could easily make her the Cesaria Evora of La Réunion.”  –  booklet, RoughGuite CD, Indian Ocean

• “Ernesto Lecuona, the Gershwin of Cuba.”  –  WKCR, 2/27/2003 (?), 11:41 am

• “The Brazilian Bob Dylan covers Nirvana, David Byrne, and other cool cats on this beautiful album of English-language standards.”  –  … about Caetano Veloso’s CD, A Foreign Sound, in “The Must List”, 5/7/04, Entertainment Weekly, p.55

• “Depending on the tune, Ms. Pipoyan can sound like an Eastern answer to Edith Piaf or Joni Mitchell.”  –  …about Armenian singer, Lilit Pipoyan.  “Timely Hymns to a Timeless City” by MELINE TOUMANI, NYTimes, March 7, 2004

• “The particular instrument Brady uses – built for him by Elliot “Ellie” Mannette, the Stradivari of West Indian steel instruments – is the only one of its kind in the world…”  –  Nat Hentoff liner notes for Victor Brady LP,   Classical Soul  (Inner City, USA, 1006, 1976).

• “An American Salute to ‘Egypt’s Verdi’” –  Headline referencing Egyptian composer, Sayyed Darweesh, NYTimes, 2/16/2006, by Ben Sisario.

• “A native of Rio de Janeiro, composer/singer/guitarist Arthur Kampela has been described as a ‘Brazilian Frank Zappa’”.  –  Satalla Press Kit, October 14,  2004

“Kazem al Sahir is The Iraqi Elvis . Here he is singing ‘We Want Peace’ with Lenny Kravitz” –,  7/24/2004

• “For devotees of North African music, Hakim needs no introductions, but he received several anyway, with fanfare befitting a star nicknamed the Lion of Egypt, at Central Park SummerStage on Saturday. He was called the “king of shaabi music,” referring to his rhythmic street pop.” –  “Enter Egyptian Pop Star, Blowing Kisses and Swiveling Hips: Hakim in Central Park” by Sia Michel, NYTimes – July 10, 2006

• “Carmen Pateña, dubbed the “Shirley Bassey of the Philippines” is expected to bring back memories with such songs as…”  –  Via –

• “Famed for their live appearances and Sophie’s on-stage pyrotechnics (one critic dubbed her ‘the Keith Richards of the violin’)…”  –  re Sophie Solomon, Decca Music website, UK

• “Syd Kitchen has been called ‘the Bob Dylan of South Africa’ ” –  Pr sheet from, ISL Public Relations,  7/09/09


If you’ve read this far you may also be interested in other biblical references (stone…refused) in Reggae lyrics I discovered quite by accident when working on this @

Another digression: According to ASCAP Sinatra wrote more than a dozen songs, and if nothing else he added the line, “A-number-one.” to the Kander and Ebb classic, “New York New York.”

“silence is a riddim’ too…”

23 10 2010

With a mixed cultural heritage (German/British), mixed-up cultural focus (noise/reggae) and a mixmastered public persona (art school/wild child), Ari Up brought a disjointed beauty to her vocals that remain haunting.  I had seen her perform with the Slits @ Tier3 in 1980 (?), the foot-off-the-ground stage adding to the intimacy surrounding a band that never seemed all that distant.  I had met her a few times at the Rough Trade office in London also, back in the Rasta distribution area, a permanent cloud of weedsmoke hovering over the shipping desk, a time when it seemed the label, the people, the scene would go on forever.

Ari (Ariane Forster) died a few days ago.  She is survived by three children, a more than interesting extend family (publishing scions, Johnny Rotten),  jungle homes (Indonesia, Belize) and a very satisfying body of work.

My favorite (above) is the eponymous twelve-inch single containing “In the Beginning There Was Rhythm.”  Using a range of Jamaican musics as a jumping off point, the songs dispense with the heavy-on-the-upstroke Reggae guitar, replaced with a more than satisfying sharp No New York minimalist sound and solid base work.  It’s difficult for me to describe a music that was both discordant and charming.  But I’m not a critic.  But I never stopped listening to this stuff.

You can still get versions of the Slits’ “Cut” on CD, on Island.  When it was released it caused a bit of a stir because of the skin.  More importantly the name was similar to overusing ‘nigger’ by rappers, taking a pejorative and making it their own.  So while the stance and the cover produced some sales,  the band never charted in the US, only reaching #30 on the UK charts in Sept 1979.  No other single or LP charted here or there.  But the influences flowed into and from a variety of kindred spirits; The Raincoats, UT, Blurt, Flowers of Romance, The Pop Group, The New Age Steppers.

Ari’s Slits recordings were mostly produced by Dennis Bovell, but my favorite things were with the New Age Steppers and producer Adrian Sherwood.  Here Ari’s joined by second-gen Slitmate, Viv Albertine.  These two LPs are treasures, meandering deeply atmospheric dub, still clearly British.

You can get pieces of Action Battlefield on iTunes, but even the CD of the self titled LP is going for more than $30 used these days.  It contains one of the bands gems, “Fade Away.”  Nice records to be remembered by.

Here’s an alpha list of the Slits vinyl recordings @ the ARChive:

• “Animal Space”//”Man Next Door”/”In the Beginning There Was Rhythm” (Human Records, USA, YUS-1, 12″ 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1980).

• “Animal Space”/“Animal Spacier” (Human Records, USA, HUM-4, 7” 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1980).

• Cut (Island Records, UK, ILPS-9573, 12″ 33 1/3 rpm, vinyl disc LP, 1979).  One version here has a special custom label with a silhouette of the girls.

• Cut (Antilles Records, US, AN-7077, 12″, 33 1/3 rpm, vinyl disc LP, 1979).

• “Earthbeat”/“Begin Again Rhythm” (CBS, UK, CBS-A1498, 7” 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1981).

• “Earthbeat And Earthdub”/“Begin Again Rhythm” (CBS, UK, CBS-A 13 1498, 12” 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1981).

• “Earthbeat And Earthdub”/”Or What Is It” (Epic, USA, 49-02576, 12” 33-1/3rpm, vinyl disc single, 1981).

• ”In the Beginning There Was Rhythm” (Slits)/”Where There’s A Will There’s a way” (Pop Group) (Rough Trade/Y Records, UK, RT 039/Y-1, 12″ vinyl disc single, 1980).

“Man Next Door”/ “Man Next Door Dub” (Rough Trade/Y Records, UK, RT 004/Y-4, 7″ 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1980).

• Return of the Giant Slits  (Urgent Records/CBS, UK, 85269, 12” vinyl disc LP with single containing an extra cut and interview, 1981)

• “Typical Girls”/”I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Antilles, ANS-102, with a folded poster sleeve, 7″ 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 198?).

• “Typical Girls”/ “Typical Girls – Brink Style”//”I Heard It Through the Grapevine”/”Liebe And Romance” (Island Records, UK, 12WIP-6505, 12″ 45rpm, vinyl disc EP, 1979).

• Typical Girls Won’t Pay More Than $8.00 So Why Should You? (Basic Records, USA, BASE-1, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, Bootleg, 19??)

Foreign Affairs

18 10 2010

A fresh post (the overseas kind) has brought the latest issue of the Japanese edition of WaxPoetics and a reprint of a story they saw on one of our posts (the blog kind).  I added some images to Dan Neely’s original story that you can see here if your Japanese is a bit rusty.  Regardless, study the image of each 45 insert carefully, and send along any you have that are impressively different.  We’re an archive you know, saving minutia so you don’t have to…

You can click to enlarge said minutia, and enlarge you must if you’re ever going to read the details on how you can sew up a complete new stereo system!  This bit of fluff was culled from an old British teen magazine, Jackie Annual ’86, adding a whole new dimension to choosing the right needle to get the best sound.  I expect quite a few of the LPillows as gifts this Christmas (hint, hint).  What no toile tune tote?

Size (speed, amplitude) matters

15 10 2010

How to permanently preserve audio materials is a major concern of archives around the world.  Us included.  After all, isn’t that why we’re here?

But ARC does not migrate, i.e; make a copy of an audio object in another medium, ideally more stable, in order to preserve it.  Increasingly archives are abandoning this route, as large collections would be barely started before a new, better, improved preservation system would supplant it.  The daunting problems of saving our audio heritage are the subject of an important recent report via the Library of Congress, The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age. If that’s daunting there’s a pop summary via the AP wire.

We’ve often joked that we should be taking our CDs and cutting vinyl albums in order to preserve them – a sort of audio reverse osmosis – on the order of a dub plate, that Jamaican genius system of direct cut vinyl one offs.

Lo, the sky’s have parted.  The path has been shown to us.  Vinylrecorder.

This platter cuisinart is available from German vinyl cutting specialists and manufacturers, Fritz & Souri Sourisseau.  Their site is only somewhat illuminating, but hints at wondrous potential.  I learned about it from the WOMEX folks, who will have their annual get together next month in Copenhagen. Now the home enthusiast or indie archivist can work out of the basement, cranking out the latest Lady Gaga MP3s on a disc of their own.  Hey, we could even do it as a 10” 78rpm!

The only logical conclusion is that an ARCangel comes forward with the $10K to donate the machine to the library!  That way when batteries for i-everythings are no longer made, and silicone chips have turned back to sand, we’ll be churning out archival copies of the latest hits in all their vinylized splendor.

No Columbus, no Cha Cha Cha!

9 10 2010

We think you should take the long weekend off and find some time to dance!

In honor of this new commitment, may we show you a few of our favorite Cha Cha Cha LP covers (from our collection of over 300 here @ the ARChive)?  Click to enlarge.

After all, had Mr. C. actually made it to India, mighta been, Chi Chi Chi…

And a reminder : THIS is one of our worst funded years ever, and all contributions ($50 min) are greatly appreciated to help keep the library going.  Plus you’ll get first dibs at our next sale in Dec.    Maybe pick up a cha cha record or two…     Thanks, B. George


Ties that Bind

6 10 2010

Staying in NYC for the weekend for this and that, for both of them, saw and heard some very nice performances by Khaira (or Haira) Arby and Laurie Anderson.

On Saturday Khaira , ‘The Nightingale of the North,” aka, “The Aretha Franklin of Mali“ was playing a houseparty on the now nightlife-friendly Bowery.  Her North is the desert region of Mali, north of Timbuktu; the temp would make it the south in most countries, just about on a straight line with Jamaica.  The style is being marketed as ‘desert blues’ (she’s a cousin of Ali Farka Touré) and ‘duskcore,’ (think desert, not jungle or techno), but let’s say it fits in with the more established Songhai tradition (named for the Renaissance era African empire, village based, griot, largely secular, Islamic influenced, high tessitura praise singing) tweaked by monumental psych electric guitar runs from 17 year old Abdramane Touré.   One thing I noticed, and something I have seldom seen, is that for two plus hours no one in the band tapped their feet to the beat, any beat.  It just flowed.  So the voice is keening, soaring, evocative, the structure circular, haunting, hypnotic…but the guitar, but the guitar.

Here’s your dashing (means showing appreciation with cash in much of West Africa, not an attribute) author, reduced to singles in these hard times.

Like a lot of musicians in this world Khaira hopes her reception on her first US tour, and readily available music, will allow let her leave her day-job, as a salt trader along the old caravan routes.

It was a privilege to hear such a high quality performance in such an intimate space, the entire band smokin’ (but the guitar…).  I guess that’s why we live here, or in Timbuktu.

Here’s the discography I’ve been able to track down.  Cassette-player-less?  Get a copy of here first CD avail stateside.  I’ve never heard any of these, but did I mention I loved the guitar work I heard live?

• Moulaye     (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 1990) We have also seen this listed as Diabira.

• Hala    (Mali, CS, 1994)

• Ya Rassoul   (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 2002 or 2005?)

• Timbuktu Tarab    (Clermont Music, USA, CD, 2010)

This just in : a note from Clermont says they are looking to release all of the cassettes on CD in the future.


Now Laurie Anderson is also from the North (Illinois, Ireland, Sweden) and has brought her urban griot vision full circle, from the playful wondering of the early days to looking back and wondering why.  Her latest (Delusions) at BAM was majestic, the visuals not as striking as I wanted them (sheets of rain best), and the music better than ever (able accompaniment by Eyvind Kang on violin and Colin Stetson, sax.).   It was stories, non sequiturs, space-lore, snippets piled high, that by the end of the show are both zero sum and fully loaded, and you have no idea how she did it.

Her latest release is Homeland on Nonesuch Records.  For those of you who don’t know, I released LA’s first single, ‘O Superman,’ back when NYC was full of making, not the curatorial place holder it is now.   Nice to see her wearing my skinny ska tie I gave her in the 70s.

As both performers referenced their ancestors and offered unfamiliar nods to the Divine,  an e-mail that only came in today, addressed to “the Whole World,” seems to tie the skinny all together.

I, Margaret Veronica Nabakooza Kiyaga,

Katonda Afirika, WIFE OF GOD,

have the great honour and pleasure to announce to the whole world that The Lord God, has today,

the 27th September 2010,

beatified the beloved musician of Afirika, Franco.


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