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

DONATE NOW via PayPal





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.

MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED. AMEN.





Turn Around with Confidence (when the internet can’t dance)

28 09 2010

Like you, I look for records all the time.  But there are over two million here @ ARC, so it’s difficult to know when what you’ve found is what’s needed.  Not everything in the library is cataloged, and my computer is not always with me.  I’ve found that by just seeing the cover, I can keep about a quarter of a million items straight.  In general, when deciding if I should buy something or not, I guess.  The upshot is that I mostly buy junk.

Junk here, is of course, a well defined, highly selective term – an unusual item, in good condition, that catches my eye.  Under a dollar is a plus; completely bizarre, a must.  Nestled in the 40 or so discs I found this past weekend were a few gems, like…

What I liked about this misguided masterpiece is that some of the bandmembers were “unavailable for photographs due to hectic schedules.”  Now does that show confidence in this recording?

What amazes me is that there is little or no info on these recordings available on that internet thing.  The best known artists here, pioneering Calypsonian Sir Lancelot, is the subject of some online ink, but even WorldCat fails to deliver any sense of his recorded output.  i-tunes sez: “No results were found. Please try a different search.” (but he is on some compilations).  This is a 78rp ‘album’ containing 3 pristine discs, including one of his best-known recordings, “Ugly Woman.”

Sometimes there’s real musicianship buried here, like the trippy and yet unexplained People’s Victory Orchestra.  I’ve been searching for years for more than snippets of their history (70s releases, from Queens, principals William (or Richard or Robert) and Carla (Lund) Alt (or Arlt). Bill engineer @ Atlantic, with Carla ran vintage clothing store) and they have had the good grace to keep a secret, secret.  ‘Victory’ is seriously non rock-ey, unlike the other two LPs (The School and Weltschmerzen), but a nice hippy concept concerto of an LP, complete with a 64 page booklet chronicling a Canadian train ride.

Here’s another no informationer, recalling that fateful day, August 27th, 1965, when American and British royalty partied.  It’s by Lady KKK, sometimes Lady KinKyKarrot, but I bought it for the Chris Jones cover, he a major penciller for DC Comics.  This 10” is a soundtrack for the no doubt intriguing eponymous film, claims to be Various Artists but all the tracks are very much alike – filled with bad MS and BR accents doing mock-doc over very nice, moody lounge, with an occasional side of sitar.

It’s on Rockinbones Records, but their webthing has never heard of the Lady.  She’s from Brescia – Parma, Italy, and just a bit o’info @ http://www.myspace.com/ladykinkykarrot

Rounding out and down, here’s a late blooming singing nun, for our growing, and never listened to, singing nun section @ the ARC.





Las Loss – The Sweet Beat in Bronze

20 09 2010

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas will close on October 18, 2010.

In the 50s Liberace was on our TV, the candelabra was on the Steinway, and my family took delight in the fact that his brother was named, “George.”  (Then again there was an equal affinity for wrestler, Gorgeous George).  Libby died in 1987.

The museum opened in 1979.  Since then fishy economics and a diminishing fan base have led to its demise.  Or maybe his subtle musical approach and plain demeanor were no match for today’s Vegas.  So they’ll pack away the world’s largest rhinestone, and de-neon his humble Tropicana Avenue stripmall tchotchke forever.   Rumor has it that Lady GaGa is eying up the space. (every clothes horse deserves a stable…)

Of course glamorous women have always gravitated to the desert; here’s me Mum, (on your right), who never missed a chance to pose with a slightly tarnished maestro on one of her various jaunts in the desert.  Here it’s the “Champagne Music Maker,” Lawrence Welk” at his last Resort and Museum in Escondido.

Edifice lost and inexplicable wardrobes remind me that on Weds (Sept 22, 2010) Caribbean artist Arrow died.  He had been living in Puerto Rico because in the mid 90s the eruption of the Soufrière Hills volcano wiped out his home and his clothing shop, Arrow’s Manshop Boutique on the island of Montserrat.  We all know and love the hit, “hot, Hot, Hot,” but there was a whole lot more.

I’ve attached a profile I wrote on Arrow in 2007, so pardon the lack of updates in this hast to post.  Uh, somehow, we lost our database of Liberace recordings, and, umm, the dog ate our Welk material, but we’ll end with a discography of the 31 Arrow recordings we have here at the ARChive.

Arrow Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, Caribbean
Alphonsus Celestine Edmund Cassell.      ‘Phonsie’ b: 11/16/54 

Creator of the most recognizable song ever to emigrate to the “West”, Arrow’s party anthem “Hot, Hot, Hot” is the Carib equivalent of “Louis Louis”, but with even fewer words.  Since Bob Marley, and prior to the recent success of rap/dancehall acts, Arrow is the only artist from the English speaking Caribbean ever to rack up the multi-million sales figures to rival American pop stars.

Raised on the tiny Leeward Island of Montserrat, Arrow was the youngest of nine children.  Like most kids he was exposed to pop, rock and soul over the radio, while the local music scene was dominated by Trinidadian calypso.  He performed his first calypso’s when as a 10 year old he began competing in his school’s talent contests, delighting in improvised ‘picong’, or ‘stinging insult’, a form of derision leveled at a rival to disillusion him and delight the audience.  When a teacher remarked that his barbs went ‘stinging like an arrow”, the name stuck.  After finishing school Arrow displayed great business acumen and financed his career through a series of ventures like breeding pigeons (the 300-400 birds earning him a new nickname, “The Pigeon King”) and rabbits, working as a barber, making rubber stamps, selling insurance and eventually opening his own clothing store, Arrow’s Manshop Boutique.  All this enterprise proved necessary, because although he had won his island’s Calypso King contest in 1971 and for the next 3 years running, a recording contract failed to materialize.

His world view was forever changed on a visit to Trinidad in 1971 when he went to see top Calypsonian the Mighty Sparrow for advice.  Pointing to a room full of unsold records, it boiled down to a few words, “Be different”.  Originality aside, there were other problems with nearly every aspect of the music business surrounding Calypso.  First, the short marketing season from Christmas to Carnival limited air play and sales.  Lyrics while often brilliant, were much too topical or sexual to reach beyond the island, filled with local reference and slang.  On the performance end the artists seldom had the money to rehearse or keep a band together, leading to house bands, lowered standards, and endlessly recycled melodies.  Lastly, few artists owned their own compositions or collected royalties.

Arrow’s first singles appeared in ‘72 and the first LP, On Target in ‘75.  He published his own music and financed his recordings, making the producer a wage earner rather than the owner of the master tape.  Since Montserrat was closer to the French Antilles than it was to Trinidad, Arrow began incorporating cadence into his music and toying with ways to distinguish himself in the crowded yet insular world of calypso.  This was more a conscious attempt at a mini-internationalism and universality than merely adding flavor by incorporating exotica.  In ‘75 his theories paid off when “Monique” became a modest hit in Martinique and Guadeloupe.  From now on each LP would have a few songs infused with the rhythm and spirit of another territory – something for everyone that would increase the chance for sales in a variety of markets.  “Monique” was also his first non political/non topical song, reinforcing the notion that local themes were seldom exportable.  Another jolt of reality hit in 1977.  Prior to this time the Calypso King and Road March competitions in Trinidad were open to all – that is until it looked as if someone from another island was about to win!  When Arrow’s :”Roll Back” and “Tourist Leggo” by Antigua’s Short Shirt went head to head for top Road March honors, the Carnival Committee changed the rules to exclude ‘foreigners’.

Exasperated, Arrow made an even stronger commitment to forging a hybrid that would work throughout the Caribbean.  Using soca as a starting point, Arrow emphasized the bass and tassa bell driven rhythm section even more, and in a shameless bit of dated modernism added a disco feel and longhaired rock guitar solos.  On tour he would travel with Clarence ‘Oungku’ Edwards, (leader of the once and future Burning Flames) who played bass and guitar player, Christopher “Columbus” Newland (one of the few White musician in calypso/soca), adding local brass for shows.  In the studio he enlisted the best arrangers, originally Ed Watson (of Brass Circle) and in ‘83 Leston Paul, and rehearsed a tight band that often included Frankie Macintosh.  The result was a party act that was always ready to tour, reliable and professional.  This rock soca functioned like any dance music with diminished lyrical content, repetitive phrases, call and response choruses, and as many gimmicks as needs be to get an audience moving.  Arrow himself worked the crowd by constantly crisscrossing the stage with rock star involvement, setting himself apart from most calypso singers who still stood stage-center, singing to the microphone.  While Arrow was criticized for downgrading calypso by abandoning language for rhythm, disco soca beats and simplistic anthem songs are now an established part of Mas in Trinidad.

Fewer songs have been as long-lived and internationally recognizable as “Hot Hot Hot”.  When it first hit in ‘83 it became an instant classic – a chant that any sweaty crowd regardless of geography could claim as their own.  It moved beyond the world of Caribbean DJs and into college dorms when former NY Doll Buster Poindexter released the note-for-note cover version on RCA, and later sang it on an episode of “Miami Vice”.  The song has been recorded in 12 languages, made the charts in the UK and Holland, featured in the films “My Stepmother Is An Alien” and “Man From Africa”(1983), was the World Cup theme song in Mexico (1986), staged as the opening production number to the 1989 Miss Universe Pageant, provided the theme for CBS TV’s “new season”, and used to market Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Miller Beer, Tropicana orange juice and ‘94 Toyota’s on TV.  While “Hot Hot Hot” was originally released in Europe on Chrysalis in ‘83, and as a single by them in the US in ‘84, Arrow’s debut LP on a major American label did not happen until sales of 4 million and Buster’s version inspired Mango to take a chance in 1988.  A cover still resonated enough to hit #3 on the UK dance charts in 1993.  It would be safe to low ball sales at 8 million.

The success of “Hot Hot Hot” allowed Arrow to put together a touring show and band called the Multi-National Force in ‘89, expanded to include a full brass section and still featuring guitarist Newland.  That same year he was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire), a high civilian honor just short of Knighthood by the Queen of England.  Other accomplishments include being the first soca, let alone calypso artist on “Soul Train”, the UK’s Top of the Pops and Terry Wogan Show (UK personality host similar to Johnny Carson), and at Reggae Sunsplash.  Arrow is one of the few soca or calypso artists to maintain an active, worldwide touring schedule.  Recently he has performed in Ghana, Morocco and Japan.  Dividing his time between Montserrat and Brooklyn, he’s been given the “Key to New York City” for his contribution to the city’s cultural wealth.  He’s not the only member of his family to compose and perform, his brother Justin (“Hero”) wrote one of the Caribbean’s biggest hits “Tiney Winey”, and another brother Lorenzo, once performed as ‘Young Challenger”.  Gearing up for the next generation is Arrow’s six year old son who’s already appeared on Broadway and in TV commercials.  With the volcanic action on tiny Montserrat in the late 90s, Arrow, like most of his Islandmates, lost everything he has built there and may never be able to return.

• Classics plus  (Arrow, 042, 5″, compact disc, 1994)

• Deadly  (Arrow, 025*, 12” , vinyl disc-Lp, 1985)

• “Groove Master”  (Mango, USA, MLPS 7822, 12″, vinyl disc-Single or Ep, 1988)

• Heavy Energy  (Blue Moon, France, BM 113, 12”, vinyl disc-Lp, 1987)

• Heavy Energy  (Arrow, 028, 12” , vinyl disc-Lp, 1986)

• Hot Hot Hot  (CNR, Netherlands, 656 044, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1983)

• Hot Hot Hot  (Chrysalis, USA, CHR 1434, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1983)

• Hot Hot Hot  (Arrow, 019, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1982)

• “Hot Hot Hot”  (Hotter Mix ‘84) // “Hot Hot Hot”  (Soca Dub Mix) / ╥Hot Hot Hot”    (Chrysalis, USA, 4V9 42701, 12″, vinyl disc-Single or Ep, 1984)

• “Hot Hot Hot”  / “Hot Hot Hot”  (Instrumental)  (Air / Chrysalis, UK, ARROX-1, 12″, vinyl disc-Single or Ep, 1984)

• Instant Knockout  (Charlie’s, 017, 12” , vinyl disc-Lp, 1981)

• “Jam Fierce Remix” / “Jam Fierce Dub” // “ Afro Soca Acid Dub” / “Techno Dub”  (Mango, USA, MLPS 7829 DJ, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp , 1989)

• “Jam Fierce” / “Afro Soca Acid Dub” / “Techno Dub”  (Mango, USA, MLPS 7829 DJ, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1989)

• Knock Dem Dead  (Mango, USA, MLPS 9809, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1988)

• Knock Dem Dead  (Arrow, 029, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp     , 1987)

• Massive  (Arrow, 031, 12”, vinyl disc-Lp, 1988)

• Model de Bam Bam  (Arrow, 039 , 5”, compact disc, 1992)

• O’ La Soca  (Mango, USA, MLPS 9835, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp     , 1989)

• “O’ La Soca”  (Mango, USA, MLPS 7829, 12″, vinyl disc-single, 1989)

• Outrageous  (Arrow, 040, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1993)

• Ride de Riddim  (Arrow, 0045 CD, 5”, compact disc, 1996)

• Rush Hour  (B’s, USA, BSR-AR-021, 12”, vinyl disc-Lp, 1984)

• Soca Dance Party  (Mango, USA, 539 878-1, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1990)

• Soca Dance Party  (Mango, USA, 539878-2, 5″, compact disc, 1990)

• Soca Savage  (Arrow, 023 , 12” , vinyl disc-Lp, 1984)

• Soca Savage  (London, UK, LON 113, 12” , vinyl disc-Lp, 1984)

• Soca-Rocka  (Charlie’s, USA, 016, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, 1979)

• Sweet Beat  (Charlie’s, CR 015, 12” , vinyl disc-Lp, 1978)   Illustrated above.

• The Best of Arrow – King of Soca Vol. 2  (Arrow, 038-CD, 5″, compact disc, 1992)

• Turbulence  (Arrow, 0047, 5″, compact disc, 1998)

• Zombie Soca (Re-mixes)  (Arrow, 037-CA,  cassette, 1991)





vacance, puces et…we’re back!

13 09 2010

To celebrate the new year, the end of summer, strikes in France or as the kids say, “whatever,” I took the day off and made a trek way uptown to the Whitney Museum.  Prime reason was to see the Christian Marclay exhibition and then walk back downtown to see some friends.  Well Christian’s show was nice, The Lee Friedlander exhibit shot from inside his car was terrific, and the Charles Burchfield paintings were a revelation.  Not someone I would have gone out of my way to see.  Glad I did.

Marclay’s galleries are a lot like the ARChive’s basement –rows and rows of audio–related bibelots and bilia, suggesting meaning through juxtaposition.  One nice assemblage was a rack of clothing with musical imagery + themes.  That’s a good lead-in for last weekend’s finds at an upstate flea.

Who knew Canada was the home of the Twist?  Beyond the French Twist, there’s a big CAN C&W line dance fascination with the Honky Tonk Twist, and you can practice the chorégraphe via the 600 plus videos on that u-tubby thing.

The real deal weekendwise was the Wal-feld 5000!  This children’s 78 rpm player has a Bakelite resonator/pick-up/needle holder (UK Made) on a tin tonearm, and a brightly lithographed tin body, covered with fairy tale and children’s story imagery.  I see a lot of early playback devices, and seldom are they in such perfect shape.

Wal-feld Co. Inc. was in Lynbrook, NY, and manufactured a wide range of audio related gotta-haves, including musical dolls and wooden juke boxes.  No date on my machine, but it only cost a buck to return for repairs.  Online legal notices indicate Wal-feld went bankrupt in 1965.

Another “O Canada’ flea-find was this Nov 2, 1974 George Harrison / Ravi Shankar concert program for a benefit at the Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, to aid the Appalachian Regional Hospitals.  Nice artists pics, good graphics and a fine glossary of all things India, musically.








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