Sunday, December 16, 2007

Unfortunate Brakemen, the Memphis Flu & Titanic Blues

Over the last couple of months, I've been reading rave reviews of People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938 [Tompkins Square Records TSQ1875], so as a present to myself ('tis the season after all), I plunked down the cash for a copy.

On a purely visual level, the set is first rate. Packaged as a book, there are detailed notes about each track in addition to period photos, not to mention some of the lyrics in the event that you'd like to sing along with the Trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann or the Ohio Prison Fire, although the latter's melodramatic interlude between the distraught Mother and the Warden is not reproduced.

On to the music, the cds are broken up thematically by producers/compilers Christopher C. King and Henry Sapoznik: the first disc's theme is Man Vs Machine, the second's is Man Vs Nature, and the third's is Man Vs Man (and Women too!). Some disasters loom large in the imagination of the hillbilly and blues performers: the Titanic, plagues of Boll Weevils , mining disasters, train wrecks, jealous rages, and tales of ruin.

Terrific stuff.

If this collection interests you at all, pick up a copy soon as only 5000 were made.

You can find interviews with King here and here.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Turkish Bongo Madness!

I purchased a copy of Mustafa Özkent ve Orkestrasi's Gençlik Ile Elele [Finders Keepers/B-Music BMS003]. Hoo ha! This one's a blast: high energy instrumental funk with a Bosphorus gloss. Yes, there is some similarity in sound to The Incredible Bongo Band as several reviewers have pointed out, but the flavour is more exotic than would be expected.

From the liner notes: " Regarded amongst hardened collectors of Anatolian rock as THE DADDY of all Turkish rarities, this record simply has to be heard to be believed and even then it's still literally UNBELIEVABLE. Is this record for real? Either these guys had time-machines or DJ Kool Herc had secret Eastern connections. If a box of original copies of this seldom-sighted album had made its way to the South Bronx in the late seventies then Mustafa Ozkent would be sharing throne space with other ultimate breaks and beats such as Michael Viner's 'Incredible Bongo Band', Funky Drummer, and Johnny The Fox bringing modern record collectors' new-found Turkish obsession forward by some 20 years. "

If you're at all interested in following the road less traveled, and after all why wouldn't you, buy a copy. It'll fill you with the all-important 'pep' and you know you need that.

While I'm here I'd like to point you towards a rare interview with Kalahari Surfers mastermind Warrick Sony located here. I haven't kept up with his music for quite some time (my loss) but reading the interview prompted me to pull copies of Own Affairs, Living in the Heart of the Beast, and Sleep Armed from the Mondo Bongos library. I can say that they hold up very well, due in my opinion to their basic eclecticism: Art Rock, Reggae, Afro-Funk, and Audio Verité. Music that wide-ranging just doesn't date.

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