Thursday, March 29, 2007

He'll be with me 'til the end

BISHOP PERRY TILLIS "I Found a Solid Rock in Jesus"

Woah, how did I ever miss this song by Bishop Perry Tillis on the compilation Traditional Music from Alabama's Wiregrass, a gift from esteemed scholar/ gentleman Kevin Nutt? Here I thought I'd never heard Tillis until I got sent the swell Perry Tillis disc that Birdman released last November. My brain's a sieve, apparently. Anyway, that disc is rad, the Alabama wiregrass one, and I guarantee you'll be the first on your block to own a copy. Plus it's only ten bucks, and the $$ goes right to the folklore society people themselves.

I wrote about Tillis a bit here a few months ago, if you care to know more. Nice to hear him in this 1995 service excerpt backed by drums and a congregation! This here song is about as raucous as I've heard him Tillis get, FYI. Part of his appeal is actually how subtle and "soft" his style is. Tillis actually played with Blind Willie Johnson. According to Bengt Olsson (awesome Swedish music fan who discovered / recorded Tillis some thirty-five years ago) Johnson himself hunted the dude down to play with him in the '40s! Wow. I wonder if BWJ was performing "Dark was the Night" live at the time (or really, ever)?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I once was lost in sin


You know, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: Super Rarities & Unissued Gems (subtitle: The Dead Sea Scrolls of Record Collecting!) really should have topped my little list of favorite albums from last year. I didn't dig into it until January of this year, however. I guess I'd heard that the presumed-lost Son House find of a few years back, "Clarksdale Moan,"* was on a compilation somewhere, but... you know, you get busy, you move around a few times and aren't on anyone's promo lists anymore. And that's mostly fine by you since publicist emails and phone calls are maybe not worth the "free" discs after twenty-plus years of such stuff. Plus hardly anyone sends finished product anymore, it's all CD-Rs in the mail or lo-bit advances streamed on choppy proprietary players -- it's not like the old days of fancy lunches based on the boxes of discs loaded into your shiny Amazon cubicle weekly, daily. Just saying I'm a little out of the loop, and do not always hear everything months before it comes out. I wrote about this collection a touch here, months after it came out.

If Phipps' name sounds familiar, well he's on The Anthology, in Social Music of course, ruling on a ragged send-up of "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Aone" which they called "Shine on Me." And here, "A Little Walk" has become "A Little Talk." Not sure if this was because of royalties or just the natural desire to put one's own stamp on something? Phipps and his crew were part of Ralph Peer's mindfuckingly important Bristol sessions. If you like this, check out their few other numbers, especially "I Want to Go Where Jesus Is."

* That song is awesome, by the way -- worth the wait, even!

Friday, March 23, 2007

PON DAO, JUEN "Sad Love/ Gungteng & Voice"

Everyone and their househeld pet is going gaga over Sublime Frequencies’ Omar Souleyman release, and with good reason. This past week, while prepping the full text of an interview with the Sun City Girls I did a few years ago for a Seattle weekly cover story, I spent a lot of time revisiting the SF records, and #27, which has the Nonesuch Explorer-ish title of Ethnic Minority Music of Northeast Cambodia, has been kicking my ass: it's meditative and lovely.

On their own website, the SF folks have this to say: For the first time, here is a recording that documents the ceremonial animist music from the mysterious tribal villages of Northeast Cambodia. The Tampoans, Krungs, kavets, Braos, and Jaraîs of Ratanakiri Province and the Phnongs in Mondolkiri Province have been living amidst each other in this region for centuries preserving and expanding their unique cultural heritage, sometimes at peace and other times in conflict with one another or with foreign invaders. The music includes hypnotic gong ensembles, guitar ballads, bamboo flute, and unique local instrumentation such as the “Gungteng” and the “Mum”. The superb singing styles and vocals present throughout are absolutely mesmerizing. These tracks sound like nothing you’ve heard before, all magnificently documented transporting the listener into the heart of each performance. Recorded on location by Laurent Jeanneau over a 2-year period from 2003-2005 with his revealing liner notes and a detailed tracklist included within.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Of ouds and fuzzes


How about an Armenian-American psychedelic jamlet to help you get through hump day? It's no Mogollar, but it's definitely worth hearing. F.E. has a bootleg reissue for pretty cheap, via the label with the best name ever, Acid Symposium (World's Leading Terr0r1st State). They have this to say about it:

An inspired fusion of Middle Eastern rhythms and the fuzz guitar blasts so dear to fans of psychedelia resulted in this the most accessible album by accomplished oud player John Berberian and his troop of skilled musicians. First released on Verve/Forecast in 1969 this exotic album features music based on traditional themes from Turkey, Armenia, Greece, Arabia and North Africa blended with the terrific improvised energy of psychedelia. So what you end up with here is bustling bazaars and scorched sands passed through the prism of the lysergic sensibilities of the late 60's.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

They know where they are

ALEX CHILTON "The Walking Dead"

I am a little, tiny bit disappointed upon hearing this for the first time in about sixteen years. It's just not how I remember it, somehow. Either the song sounded rawer, crazier and a tad more "jointed" to my younger ears (which of course had yet to listen to the Rev. Overstreet for days on end) or it's the magnification process in the space in-between owning the song on vinyl then finally finding it on disc? Most likely it's a bit of both -- or perhaps the version I used to have was different?

Anyway, these are MY ISSUES, and I hope you enjoy this song. It's surely one of the five best paeans to zombies ever written (the other four being, I don't know, most likely Misfits songs). Dude clearly sounds out of his skull here, and once I relax and just accept the thing for what it is rather than what I thought it maybe was going to be, it's not half bad at all, especially delivery of the line "it gets stuffy in the lab." Hope you like, and many thanks to Douglas and Jason for saying 'welcome back' to me in the comments section! PDX represent, and stuff.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My soul got happy so I stayed there all day.

Straight Street Group (featuring Rev. Milton Phelps) "Angels Keep Watching Over Me"

Gospel Keynotes "Jesus Will See You Through"

The first song is a latter day sanctified blues tune done just the way I like. It was sent my way by the esteemed Kevin Nutt, the man behind the Case Quarter label and the Sinner's Crossroads radio show. He had this to say about the number: "Thought about you when I heard this. Vanity label South Georgia Pentecostal throw down. c.1975 maybe."

Thanks Kevin! And holy frijole this thing is awesome: rollicking distorted guitar-heavy stuff in the manner of Rev. A. Johnson and Rev. Charlie Jackson. Can't find anything out about this Phelps guy but I know I need to hear the flip-side of this one. I'm going to presume he's of no relation to the famouser Rev. Phelps, the not very nice one, OK.

I feel a great desire to hear every single song that sounds like this. I don't need to own the stuff, and I know I'll never hear it all of course -- I just want to try, you know? All the cool cats are down in Austin this time of year immersing themselves in the crowded venues all day and night. And even a few years ago I'd have been there or wanted to be there bathing in the excitement of next big things and enjoying the awesome BBQ (eat the brisket, kids -- you'll never have it as good anywhere else!) and all else that SXSW has to offer (I love the running into old friends aspect, and the Yard Dog shows, the best). Instead, I'm up here in Portland combing through the Dixon and Godrich book, trying to find sanctified blues numbers I've never heard before, salivating over the idea of unheard Paramounts and unissued test pressings. I'd love to be in Austin (even though it is in TX) but I'm not at all sad to not be there, is what I'm saying.

Song number two is from about the same time as the first single, though most likely a few years earlier: a delightfully smooooooove number in the style of the Delfonics/ Floaters, by the Gospel Keynotes, who I do not think I've ever listened to before. This one was sent in by Ted Sonnenschein, whose ears are burning since I talked about Ted quite a bit at last weekend's moving, sweet memorial service for Charles Gocher of the Sun City Girls up in Seattle, at the SCG/ Sublime Frequencies compound.

The gospel soul era (very roughly, '69-'82 or so--whenever it is everyone and their mother had to start sounding all super mass choir) isn't my area of expertise, nor too often is it even an area of that much interest. But damn, I'm digging this song, today. It's what I imagine riding around in the back of a huge old American car that smells good heading to church with your man or woman dressed up looking so good you can't wait to get back home later but also you want people to see you with them just might be like. This song. I hope it is not too terribly lame for me to have shared this minor fantasy of mine with you. Ted writes: "Every time I listen to gospel I think of my pooka bear. If you ever need a hand, I have this song for you. God Bless, Teodorus Sonnenrighteous."

It's good to have friends. Anyone else care to send me some mp3s of gospel music, or maybe some drone I've never heard, that would be swell. But pretty pretty please, no more mp3s from indie bands trying to break into the don't-call-it-the-blog-o-sphere -- that email address is all clogged up already! (PS: there are of course five thousand, three hundred and twenty-three other blogs which people actually look at, unlike this one, which are all ready and aching to hear your stellar and exciting sounds and to help you get signed to, say, "Megakid"'s label before she gets shit-canned. Ummm, best of luck to you!)