Category Archives: World Music

Unknown Artist, “Kuda Lumping”

Earlier this summer, Ghost Capital put out a killer mixtape via Aquarium Drunkard, which featured this absolutely beautiful gem from an earlier compilation of field recordings from Indonesia, Street Music of Java. Street Music was released in 1990 on Original Recordings, and unfortunately all the artists have been left anonymous, but the tracks are all quite excellent. The greatest track by far though, is the first of two titled “Kuda Lumping,” Javanese for a traditional dance depicting horsemen. The songs rattles away at an effervescent pace which, with a short run time, makes the bubblegum melodies that much sweeter for their fleetingness. The buzzing budget guitar, spattering tabla and clattering tamourine are all killer, but the vocals are the real knock-out. Total gem. Love it.

Unknown Artist (Java), “Kuda Lumping”

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Filed under Music, World Music

Association for Cultural Equity: Lomax Archives

Prepare to have your mind blown. As I mentioned previously, The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) is in the process of digitizing Alan Lomax’s vast archives and making them available for free streaming on their website, and I must say, they are doing a fantastic job. The interface is clear and well-designed, they have a wide variety of formats (sound recordings, video recordings, photographs, lectures, etc), and there is a huge wealth of items already available. The archive bills itself primarily as a scholarly research tool, but anyone with an interest in folk music from America and around the World could spend a fascinating afternoon just digging. Perhaps my favourite feature is the “Geo Archive,” which places a pin on an embedded Google Map for each recording session that has been archived, allowing the user click on each pin and listen to the recordings from that location. Users can also browse through each media type by session, location, genre, artist and so on. I’m not even going to link to any choice cuts from the archive because it’s well worth the time spend exploring. Check it all out, here. Enjoy!

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Filed under Blues, Country, Field Recordings, Folk, Lomax, Music, Photography, Post-War Blues, World Music

Akanbi Wright and Ernest Tubb: 1941

The 2007 Savannahphone compilation Awon Ojise Olorun: Popular Music in Yorubaland 1931-1952 has been an interesting piece of musical history for me since my interest in field recordings of non-Western music piqued this summer. As the title suggests, the compilation doesn’t contain traditional songs recorded for ethnographic purposes, but rather compiles the songs that were produced for popular consumption in the Yorubaland region in the years 1931 to 1952. Yorubaland is a region comprising parts of the modern states of Nigeria, Benin and Togo which experienced a golden age from 1100 to 1700 CE, centering on the imperial city of Ife, where a famed style of naturalistic bronze and terracotta sculpture developed. In the 1700s the centre of power shifted to Oyo, and after a series of devastating civil wars, the region was colonized by the British. As such, the music drawn on for this compilation comes from the British Library.

Though the compilation initially caught my eye due to my interest in African history and music this summer, the years that the compilation covers is what has held my interest. Given my predilection for the pre-war and post-war blues and country-western music of artists ranging (temporally and stylistically) from Charley Patton to Hank Williams, this compilation provides a compelling touchstone for the musical world outside America during the same period. Perhaps one of the greatest commonalities between these two groups of musicians was the struggle to collapse traditional forms into the three-minute slices of commercially viable music necessitated by the 78 rpm record format. One need only listen to the seven-minute long opuses recorded by Son House for the Library of Congress for evidence of these difficulties.

Regardless, for your enjoyment, two slices of music both released in 1941, nearly a world apart that somehow manage to evoke themselves as spiritual cousins with their matching plucked lead guitar lines. 1941 is an important year to connect these two regions, as 1941 saw the United States enter a war that was precipitated by imperial jealousies and ambitions, an imperial legacy that made the Yorubaland recordings possible.

Akanbi Wright, “Everybody Like Saturday Night”

Ernest Tubb, “Walking the Floor Over You”

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Filed under Country, Field Recordings, Music, Pre-War Blues, World Music

Toots & the Maytals, “54-46 Was My Number”

Tomorrow, I depart for the Caribbean for two weeks, and to get in the spirit, I’d like to post one of the greatest songs ever to come out of Jamaica. By the unconquerable Toots Hibbert and his band the Maytals, this is “54-46 Was My Number.” (The number was Hibberts’ convict number after he was arrested for marijuana possession.) Dig it.

Toots & the Maytals, “54-45 Was My Number” (1968)

PS: Happy 100th post everybody.

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Filed under Music, Reggae

Bokete7’s Botswana Music

The internet is a wonderful thing. The sheer wealth of music the internet makes available and accessible, often for free, is astounding; all one needs to do is reach out and grab some. Today, for example, while browsing Black Ace videos on YouTube for tomorrow’s post, I found myself flicking through a series of uploads that have been posted by a user under the name Bokete7. Bokete7 seems to be on a personal mission to collect and catologue the musical output of the African nation of Botswana, and I couldn’t be happier for her/him. The videos, which range from Afropop guitar to traditional instruments, speak for themselves. I’ve posted a few selections below, but this really only scratches the surface. Check these out, and then start digging deeper.

Western, “Muhurutsi”

Ronnie, “Itshoke Tsvangirai”

“Mbira”

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Filed under Field Recordings, Music, World Music

“Junker’s Blues” & “Stagger Lee”

Joe Strummer and Dr. John

After simultaneously going through a Joe Strummer rarities kick and a Dr. John binge, I couldn’t help but notice some areas of overlap. Perhaps most prominently, both Dr. John and Joe Strummer’s pre-Clash pub-rock band the 101’ers play covers of the tune “Junco Partner,” or on Dr. John’s Gumbo (1972), “Junko Partner.” A further two versions of the song are included on the Clash’s 1980 album Sandinista!, as “Junco Partner” and “Version Pardner,” performed in reggae and dub styles respectively.

Dr. John, “Junko Partner” (from Gumbo, 1972)

The 101’ers, “Junco Partner” (Live, 1975)

The Clash, “Junco Partner” (from Sandinista!, 1980)

The Clash, “Version Pardner” (from Sandinista!, 1980)

All four of the above versions use the lyrics first recorded in 1951 by James Wayne, written by Bob Shad and Robert Ellen; however, the song’s roots run even further back. The song was originally written by New Orleans pianist Willie “Drive ‘Em Down” Hall, and first recorded by Champion Jack Dupree in 1940. The Shad/Ellen penned “Junco Partner” is a re-write of Willie Hall’s original tune.

James Wayne, “Junco Partner” (1951)

Champion Jack Dupree, “Junker’s Blues” (1940)

The other, less apparent, area of overlap between Joe Strummer and Dr. John is the song “Stack-O-Lee,” also from Dr. John’s Gumbo. “Stack-O-Lee” (also commonly, “Stagger Lee”) was originally recorded and 1924 by Herb Wiedoeft, covered by countless blues musicians and popularized by Lloyd Price’s 1959 cover. The song tells the story of the 1895 murder of William Lyons by Stagger Lee Shelton, a pimp and carriage driver. On their 1979 classic London Calling, the Clash cover the Ruler’s reggae version of the tale. Both begin with a fairly standard jazz interpretaion of the song before the beat drops and the tale begins anew in reggae beat. Check out all the aforementioned versions below.

Dr. John, “Stack-O-Lee” (from Gumbo, 1972)

Herb Wiedoeft, “Stagger Lee Blues” (1924)

Lloyd Price, “Stagger Lee” (1959)

The Rulers, “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” (1966)

The Clash, “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” (from London Calling, 1979)

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Filed under Blues, Jazz, Music, New Orleans, Post-War Blues, Pre-War Blues, Punk Rock, Reggae, Rock

Joe Strummer’s London Calling (BBC World Service)

Joe Strummer: Punk Rock Warlord

For anyone needing a little more Joe Strummer in their lives, and everyone does, you need to check out the amazing radio program he DJ’d on the BBC World Service from 1998 ’til 2001. The songs range from German techno to Marvin Gaye, the Ramones to Turkish folk music and beyond. The track selection on Joe Strummer’s London Calling very rarely disappoints, and everything is enthusiastically introduced in Strummer’s soothing voice with his characteristic turns of phrase. As Strummer himself put it best: if that was no toe tapper or no body shaker, boy, you need to see undertaker!

The albums are available for free download in slightly altered format from the iTunes store as Podcasts, here. For those of you without iTunes, or who want to listen to the shows in their original broadcast format, they have been archived here. Preview the Jan. 16, 2000 show below.

Joe Strummer’s London Calling (Jan. 16, 2000, Part I)

Joe Strummer’s London Calling (Jan. 16, 2000, Part II)

Joe Strummer’s London Calling (Jan. 16, 2000, Part III)

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Filed under Blues, Music, New Orleans, Punk Rock, Reggae, Rock, Soul, World Music