Out of Print

The Hammons Family: A Study Of A West Virginia Family’s Traditions (Archive Of Folk Song, 1973)


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Download The Hammons Family: A Study Of A West Virginia Family’s Traditions

This is the best fucking thing right here. Banjos & fiddles, ballads & stories, all from one West Virginian family. Alan Jabbour & Carl Fleischhauer just went to the Hammons family’s home, asked all the right questions, and pointed the mic in all the right directions. Truly excellent display of old American traditions. The highlight is Maggie’s songs, and luckily she’s featured pretty prominently, because her voice is otherworldy. She’s also nearly incomprehensible with the thickest West Virginian accent you could imagine. I’m definitely a sucker for this kind of thing but this collection is on another level.

The 2xLP box came with a huge booklet that has tons of photos & liner notes, and the Library Of Congress has published it as an updated PDF, which saved me the trouble of scanning the whole booklet. Also, while this is out of print via Rounder (who reissued it on CD in 1998 along with another Hammons collection of their own), I think it’s possible you can obtain a physical copy on demand from LoC on either CD-R or tape (like the Folkways stuff). The site seems dated, they say some of their titles might not be available on demand, and you have to mail a letter or call them to find out. So, jumping through all those hoops is definitely worthwhile for this album but I thought I’d give you a headstart. Enjoy.

Out of Print

The Columbia World Library Of Folk & Primitive Music


 
Download The Columbia World Library Of Folk & Primitive Music series

This is what I’ve been working on the past few weeks. Digitizing these ancient dusty records, scanning the jackets, and photographing the liner notes, for this hulking mass of worldly beauty collected Alan Lomax.

The Columbia World Library Of Folk & Primitive Music series goes well into the double digits (some details here), but these are the 7 best. My favorite place ever The Record Exchange gave me first dibs on this sweet bunch, so naturally I grabbed the ones from French Africa, Indonesia (New Guinea, Bali, Borneo, etc), Venezuela, British East Africa, India, Bulgaria, and Japan (also includes The Ryukyus, Formosa, And Korea).

There’s so much to dive in to, each record has insane diversity just in itself, and these are literally all over the map. 100% awesome, no filler. Lots of surprises & treasures. The music will speak for itself, but I have a lot of technical stuff I’d like to share as well.

The vinyl isn’t always in the best shape. Considering their age, they’re immaculate, but there’s still over half a century’s worth of grit caked in the grooves. I did my damnedest to clean ‘em and ended up only having one spot that wouldn’t play through. The second piece on the third band on side B of the Bulgaria record couldn’t play without skipping in the same spot every time, so I axed it. Everything else is intact. I didn’t do any digital cleanup for pops n clicks so these V0 mp3s sound as close to my vinyl as you’re gonna get.

The ID3 tags are a little weird but that’s because the records are a little weird. Each side has a few tracks/bands, and each track has between 1-10 pieces. I opted to keep the original format, so each mp3 represents one band (except that Bulgaria piece mentioned above, had to split that in two), and is tagged as “1: Song 1 / 2: Song 2″ and “1: Artist 1 / 2: Artist 2.” Also, the artists are spottily mentioned in the liner notes, so frequently just the name of the recording location is used in the “Artist” field.

But lucky you, I included legible photographs of allll the liner notes. Each record is a gatefold with attached booklets containing lots of photos and details on every song recorded, so my ID3 tags are just a pitiful attempt at capturing that data. The photographs aren’t prefect because I wasn’t sure how many people actually cared about them. So I slacked a bit on the quality, but like I said, they’re all legible.

I hope you enjoy these records as much as I do. They’re a bit of a shining gem in my collection and I’m really excited to share them with you. Globetrotting via records is the best way to go.

Out of Print

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan & Pandit Chatur Lal – Music Of India: Morning & Evening Ragas (Angel, 1965)


 
Download Ustad Ali Akbar Khan & Pandit Chatur Lal’s Music Of India: Morning & Evening Ragas

More amazing stuff involving Chatur Lal (posted his stunning The Drums Of India not that long ago), although instead of flexing his tabla muscles, this time he’s joining Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s hypnotic sarod. Two side long ragas, each with a brief intro by Yehudi Menuhin who goes over the scale & rhythm of the following songs. Both start out slow, Khan’s solo sarod meandering, finding its way to solid ground, and when Lal comes in with his tabla, it’s the most natural and smooth transition, and Shirish Gor’s tamboura follows suit, everything growing like the morning sun nourishing the land with its warmth & energy, so calming, fantastic in every way. Perfect to throw on when you get home from work and need to clear the headspace.

Out of Print

Sonar Senghor & His Troupe – African Tribal Music & Dances (Counterpoint / Esoteric, 1957)


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Download Sonar Senghor & His Troupe’s African Tribal Music & Dances

Utterly amazing African music by a Troupe formed in France. Senghor was a law student in Paris when he told his father he was going to stop studying to be an actor, which led to him being disowned. He ended up meeting another African student in Paris and they decided to bring the native dances & songs of Africa to Paris. Strange way to go about it but clearly it was at least semi-successful as I now hold their creations in my hands. Very traditional stuff here but African rhythms and vocals are some of my faves, so this is worth its weight in gold.

Not totally sure if this is from 1957. There are at least 3 or 4 versions of this, it was originally recoded in 1952, Esoteric changed its name to Counterpoint in ’57 (I think), and this release has both Counterpoint & Esoteric names/logos, so it seems like a decent justification to me.

Out of Print

Southern Journey 1: Georgia Sea Islands, Volume 1 (Prestige International, 1961)


 
Download Southern Journey 1: Georgia Sea Islands, Volume 1

UPDATE: A lot of the songs from this record are available elsewhere either digitally or on vinyl. I would highly recommend checking out Georgia Sea Island Singers’ Join The Band on Mississippi Records (MRP-003) for a new pressing with some of these songs. This Southern Journey record is still unavailable as is, so I’ll leave it here for now. See Nathan’s (from Cultural Equality) comment for more details.

This is one of my favorite Lomax collections. Stripped down blues, only two tracks that have any instruments (Hobart Smith on banjo, and a couple dudes playing drums & fife), the rest are pure vocals, hand clapping, and foot stomping. It’s raw and powerful, especially Bessie Jones’ take on “O Death.” There’s some wonderful chatter in between a couple of the songs, like when Peter Davis talks about how he learned “Row The Boat, Child” from his old blind grandfather who would sing it while making rowing motions in his armchair.

One of the really interesting things, and maybe if there’s a Moby expert out there you can help me out on this, is a lot of the songs on this record sound like the vocals used in Moby’s Play. I don’t think he actually sampled from this but it sounds like he heard this record and was like, “I need to recreate this.” Granted, I haven’t listened to Play in 5 or 10 years, but I have some of those tracks ingrained in my memory, and Georgia Sea Islands lines up almost perfectly. Weird.

Either way, this album is incredible, and isn’t already up in the Lomax Archive, so have at it. And be on the lookout for more Lomax collections here in the future, I got about 6 or 7 more that are from other countries and also aren’t in the Archive, so get excited.

Out of Print

Chatur Lal – The Drums Of India (World Pacific, 1961)


 
Download Chatur Lal’s The Drums Of India

This has been on heavy rotation these past few weeks. I picked it up just before my surgery and have been listening to it ever since. It’s absolutely amazing. Not just drums though, it also has Ram Narayan playing the sarangi and some singing by Lal. But drumming is definitely the focus and Lal is a fucking master tabla player. Every finger is a drum stick, making rapid fire taps flow with ease. I never even knew drumming like this was possible. It sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before and with Lal’s near unintelligibly fast vocals, this is just the best fucking thing ever. Only three tracks, one side long piece on the A side, then two 10+ minute tracks on the other. This has already earned a special pedestal in my collection.