A West African supergroup based in France where this record was made in the 80's I would guess. On the Melodie (Tangent) label.
"Les Quatre Etoiles is the Soukous musical group consisting of the Congolese musicians, Bopol Mansiamina, Wuta Mayi, Syran Mbenza and Nyboma. Their album, Sangonini, was produced by the renowned African music producer Ibrahim Sylla. The song "Doly", from Sangoni, enjoyed worldwide popularity, reaching no. 3 in the Colombian music charts. The song "Papy Sodolo", has been covered by Tabu Ley Rochereau, another African musician of note. Another song, "Sangonini", produced in Paris and released in 1993, has also been popular. Les Quatre Etoiles has also released the albums Adama Coly and Souffrance, as well as Live in London, a recording of their performance in the UK capital. Their polished renditions begin in the Soukous tradition, with a slow, harmonious introduction; this then breaks out, again as in the Soukous tradition, into a fast-paced chorus known as the 'sebene' with resonating, repeated electric guitar rhythms in the background, interwoven with a choice assortment of African percussion instruments accompanied by orchestras. Each of the four members of Les Quatre Etoiles have long established individual musical careers."
I have a few of these promo flexidiscs I've picked up over the years and most are pretty awful and this is no exception! But I thought I would share it with you so you realise how lucky you are I dont upload this sort of thing all the time! I expect in some circles they are incredibly collectable for their social historical relevance or in a kitsch ironic way. Hazel found this one back in 1985 in Swindon. The sleeve is useful for writing letters on the back of. On it hazel has written "hope you like the record - keep it so I can hear it." I did and here it is.
Another old calypso LP from the archives found many years ago in Cheshire Street market, just off Brick Lane. This rarity is on the National label and released in the 60's one imagines though no date on the record. It comes without a sleeve so had to search the internet to find it. What a great sleeve it was too!
Born in Victoria Village, on the east coast of Guyana, Wilson got his name, King Fighter, because he was a boxer known for his fancy footwork. Fighter started out as a fisherman, then a boxer, before becoming a calypso singer. He started out singing boleros and love songs before switching to calypsos.
One of his main influences was the Guyanese vaudeville singer Bill Rogers. As for calypso, his favorites were Kitch and Melody and he started singing in Guiana. However, he left and moved to Trinidad because he couldn't make a living in his native country as either a boxer or a singer.
He came to Trinidad in the Fifties and was an active performer, primarily in the OYB tent until the 1980s. He first appeared in Trinidad with fellow Guyanese calypsonian Lord Coffee in 1955 and quickly rose to be a very successful calypso singer. He was a finalist for 1957 monarchy out of the Young Brigade with Smart Woman and Dhalpourie (Indian Wedding). He was singing both his Why BG Don't Want to Federate and Animal Beauty Contest that year. He was recorded extensively on a large of record labels in the Fifties and Sixties on records issued both in British Guiana, Trinidad and in England."
A curious LP I found today in the Age Concern charity shop for 75p. It's a mixture of traditional "kwela" South African township jive and big band brass in the style of Bert Kaempfert. Indeed, one of the tunes here is an old Kaempfert hit "Swingin' Safari" . It's on the RCA Victor label - released in 1968. Other big hits of the 50's and 60's have been given the trad/big band treatment including "Zambesi" which Eddie Calvert made popular in the U.K. and "Wimoweh" which has been in and out of the charts in various guises for the last forty years or more.
Very little found on the internet about Sklair so will quote the short blurb on the back of the LP sleeve which says-
"Composer-instrumentalist-arranger-conductor. Born in England, he has lived in South Africa for many years. He has long been interested in the music and rhythms of Africa, and has written musical scores for many film, radio and television documentaries. He is today looked upon as one of the country's foremost authorities on the subject of African music. This, allied to his many other talents, makes him the one person equipped to have undertaken a record such as this. In addition to arranging and conducting this happy blend of Africa and the West, sam himself plays all the African instruments on this record."
Not many boot sales around yet so forced to dig deep into the archive for this one on the Flambeau label (1985)- Printed and designed in Nigeria it says but the music is very much the soukous we know and love from Zaire (formerly the Belgium Congo ).
Not much info. gleaned on the interent about Orch. Carte Blanche so here is a brief description I found of the early soukous scene in the Congo-
"During the 1950s, when they experienced rapid urbanization and a relatively booming economy, the two French-speaking colonies of the Congo area (capitals in Brazzaville and Kinshasa) witnessed the birth of an African version of the Cuban rumba played by small American-style orchestras (called "kasongo", "kirikiri" or "soukous") with a touch of jazz and of local attitudes: Joseph "Grand Kalle" Kabasselleh's African Jazz (that counted on vocalist Tabu Ley, guitarist "Docteur" Nico Kasanda, saxophonist Manu Dibango), Jean-Serge Essous' O.K.Jazz (featuring the young Franco), Orchestre Bella Bella, etc. Each orchestra became famous for one or more "dances" that they invented. So soukous (as Ley dubbed it in 1966) is actually a history of dances, rather than one monolithic genre (Ley's definition originally applied only to a frenzied version of rumba). A guitarist named Jimmy Elenga introduced "animation": instructions yelled to the crowd in order to direct their dances. Animation eventually became part of the dance, delivering both the identity of the dance, the (ethnic) identity of the band and a (more or less subtle) sociopolitical message. As dictators seized power in both Congos, musicians emigrated to other African countries, to Europe and to the USA, thus spreading soukous around the world, while in Zaire (Congo Kinshasa) soukous bands were used for Maoist-style propaganda purposes ("l'animation politique")."
A rather unusaul disc from the dusty vaults of my collection now - a Durium label "flexidisc" that seems to be made of cardboard coated with some kind of plastic. It enjoyed a brief popularity in the inter war years and sometimes sold at news stands and kiosks for a few pence. They were amazingly bendy and not as fragile as the heavier shellac 78's but sadly curled up aftera few plays and never really caught on. Being one sided, two tracks had to be squeezed onto one side which didnt help the sound quality much. This disc is rather worn and the second track has a nasty jump half way through. Also as you can see I had to employ a novel way of weighing down the centre with a roll of sticky tape, the middle was apt to rise up the spindle and distort the sound even further!
Here is a quote from Time Magazine in 1937-
"On news stands in Springfield, Mass., and Hartford, Conn., last week, there appeared for sale an article which set many a passer-by to wondering. It was a phonograph record, not black but brown; no thicker, scarcely any heavier, than a stiff piece of paper; and it bore the name of an unknown corporation called Durium Products. Durium is the recent invention of Dr. Hal Trueman Beans, Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University. It is a synthetic resin, somewhat like bakelite. In its original form it is a liquid composition the color of varnish which when exposed to heat becomes so solid that dropping or mild whacks will do it no harm. Like varnish too it can be spread with a brush but there the resemblance stops. Durium hardens so quickly that phonograph records, which are pressed from metal disks, can be stamped on it with the speed of a printing press. The manufacture of records is the first commercial use to which durium has been put, and so cheaply was it accomplished that first ones were offered at 15¢ apiece."
I spotted this the other day in a charity shop and couldn't resist for a pound . It was released in1974 at the time of the Watergate investigations and although not as funny now as it might have been then it still has some period charm and daft "goonery" especially in the first track. Written by Spike Milligan, Alen Coren, N.F.Simpson, John Bird, Barry Took, Richard Ingrams and Barry Fantoni it encapsulates the Private Eye view of the world quite well and one wonders what it would have sounded like if all these "cooks" had not been stirring the comedy pot in the kitchen and it had been left to just a couple of writers.
Here's a bit about Private Eye from Wikipedia-
"The forerunner of Private Eye was a school magazine edited by Richard Ingrams, Willie Rushton, Christopher Booker and Paul Foot in the mid-1950s. They met at Shrewsbury School and after National Service Ingrams and Foot went to the University of Oxford, where they met their future collaborators Peter Usborne, Andrew Osmond, John Wells and Danae Brook, among others. The magazine proper began when Peter Usborne learned of a new printing process, offset lithography, which meant that anybody with a typewriter and Letraset could design a magazine. Although Private Eye was founded amid the British satire boom and the political and social upheavals of the 1960s, at first it was merely a vehicle for silly jokes – an extension of the school magazine and an alternative to other humorous magazines like Punch. However, according to Christopher Booker, its original editor, it simply got "caught up in the rage for satire". The magazine was initially funded by Usborne and was launched in 1961. It was named when Andrew Osmond looked for ideas in the famous recruiting poster of Lord Kitchener (an image of Kitchener pointing with the caption "Wants You") and, in particular, the pointing finger. After the name "Finger" was rejected, Osmond suggested "Private Eye", in the sense of someone who "fingers" a suspect."
Little is known of George Van Dusen and despite extensive searches on the internet have failed to find anyone who knows anything about him except that he was a renowned yodeller held in high regard and a contemporary of Harry Torrani and Ronnie Ronalde in the 30's and 40's. His "Yodelling Chinaman" track is probably his most well known and popped up on several compilations of novelty songs over the years. These tracks are from 1937 and kindly supplied by Jim Benson who will doubtless phone me up to tell me I've got it all wrong and that infact George was a dutchman who died in 1929! I love this photo of him from the only one I could find.
Since this was last blogged I had some interesting comments to say that George was born Thomas Harrington , probably in the East End of London in the early 1900's and recorded for the Rex record label. He was still perfoming well into his 80's though confined to a wheel chair. He apparently had a minor hit in the 60's but I can find no record to confirm this.
Another from a recent charity shop trawl. Ottilie only sings two tracks on this 1959 LP but they are my favourite tracks despite the crackling and popping due to surface noise. Chris Barber's Band consisted at that time of himself on trombone, Monty Sunshine on clarinet, Pat Halcox playing trumpet, Eddie Smith on banjo , Dick Smith on bass, Graham Burbridge on the drums and Ottilie on vocals. On the old Fats Waller song "Squeeze Me" Ottilie also accompanies herself on piano.
"Ottilie Patterson joined Chris Barber's Jazz Band on 1 January 1955. She made her first major appearance at what is now a legendary Royal Festival Hall concert on 9 January 1955, where she stunned critics and the public alike with the power of her voice, and in particular her unique ability to sing the blues. Ottilie was forced to retire due to ill health in the early 1970s, although she did appear and record with the band from time to time after that. The Barber Band catalogue includes literally hundreds of songs by Ottilie, ranging from novelty items and pop songs to Irish ballads and jazz standards -- but above all, the blues."
Discover more about Chris Barber and Ottilie Patterson HERE
Slim pickings at the boot sale this morning but I did spot this old battered copy of Drop Dead! by Arch Oboler on the Capital label from the 60's I would guess. By todays standards it's pretty tame stuff and not a patch on the Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock etc.
On the sleeve notes it says - " Arch Oboler's special talent for terror has frightened the wits out of three generations of Americans. To those who were not old enough ( and brave enough ) to be regular listeners to the famous radio series Lights Out during the late 30's and early 40's, the very mention of Oboler's name brings a reminiscnet thrill. He was the first playwright to have his own series on a national network, and he is acknowledged as the innovator of many ingenius techniques and devices in the field of radio drama, for which he has recieved, incidentally, nearly every coveted award."
I was quite excited when I found this LP at a boot sale recently as it was one that Beatle mad chum Pamela had been after for many years. It must be quite rare as her collection of Beatle covers is quite staggering. Its on the World Record Club label and released in 1967. The "session men" involved include Ronnie Ross, Ernie Shear, Bill Le Sage , Don Lawson and few other respected London session players. The whole thing was produced at the Olympic Studios in Barnes by Fiona Bentley.
This recent review by the Vinyl Vulture pretty much sums up what the record is all about -
"A collection of well-respected jazzers lead by Bill Le Sage and Ronnie Ross tempt the stuffy subscribers to The World Record Club into digesting something a bit more contemporary than their usual fair. Reputedly the same players responsible for the 'Curried Jazz' album, but they left the tablas at home on this one. If big band jazz is your bag, then this might be up your street, but the backing is very weak and the lead trumpets and sax take most of the limelight throughout. The song selection throws up a couple of nice surprises, as alongside the usual early hits we are treated to a rather nice 'Baby You're A Rich Man' and a good few from the then contemporary 'Magical Mystery Tour' EP. Mostly typical old jazz stuff though-all technique, no spark."
Found this EP in the Oxfam in Chester yesterday. Lots to choose from in their rather expensive record section but this seemed like the bargain I had been looking for. I'd not heard of Edna before but the songs sounded firmiliar. I was hoping the "Mr. Lee" song would be a cover of the one by The Bobettes and it turns out that it is! Edna does a fine rendering of this classic R&B hit from the 50's.
Searching for more info I came across this small extract from the Ace Label site written by Mike Atherton-
"Amongst the "small ones" was a batch of singles and EPs on Gala, a cut-price label of the late 50s, notable for its plastic, rather than vinyl, pressings, and for the ground-breaking gimmick of putting artist photos on its labels. I recognised one artist's name, Edna McGriff, and returned home with a copy of her Edna McGriff's "The Name" EP and with a various artists EP on which she had one track, for a total expenditure of one pound.
I had sometimes wondered what had happened to Edna McGriff, who had one US R&B hit with Heavenly Father on Jubilee in 1952, but who had seemingly vanished without trace shortly afterwards. "
Another Bob Willamson found at a recent boot sale. This LP on the EMI "One Up" label is from1976. The blurb on the back says -" I first heard Bob Willamson when he was invited to perfom at the opening of a new folk club in Birmingham. He was referred to as " a typical folkie - a kind of alchoholic sex-maniac". The Mayoress of Solihull attended in her offical capaicity and seemed to enjoy Bob, but she wasn't letting on!" James Stannage( who was a producer for Piccadilly radio in Manchester) goes on to say that he finally met up with Bob and interviewed him for Piccadilly radio when he had his "Superturn" Lp out. I guess that was the one before this one? Huge in the North West during the folk boom of the 70's he failed to reach a wider audience and gave up performing altogether after an accident in the 80's. Bob has appeared briefly as a "turn" on the Phoenix Nights series on C4.