Monday, June 30, 2008

Ethel Waters

Found this in Brick Lane I think some years ago - once the property of Camden Library. It's on the Biograph label from the 60's - a compilation of songs from 1921 to 1927.

Waters was the first black innovator who opened all the theatrical doors hitherto closed to black performers of her day, to attain the towering position she reached as a headliner. She fought hard and long to achieve solo star status in the white world of vaudeville, night clubs, Broadway theater, radio, films and television. More than any other black performer of the century, Ethel Waters was a woman of the theater, and the celebrity she attained in maturity as an actress tended at times to overshadow-at least in memory-the importance of her accomplishments and influence as a singer.
Her talents defied categorical limits. She was the fountainhead of all that is finest and most distinctive in jazz and popular singing. Widely imitated during the 30's and 40's, one still hears echoes of Ethel Waters in many singers who came after her. Joe Turner, Bing Crosby, Ivie Anderson, Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey, Connie Boswell, and Ella Fitzgerald have acknowledged their debt to her. Her range soared easily from a low, chest tone to a high, clear head voice: on records she sang from a low E to high F, just over two octaves, and on "Memories of You" she hits a spectacular high F sharp. Her diction was clear and impeccable, coloring the lyrics with the proper emotion necessary to express the feelings she wanted to convey.

Born October 31, 1896, in Chester, Pennsylvania, her eighty year life was a turbulent one filled with low valleys and high peaks. In her autobiography, His Eye is on the Sparrow, she frankly detailed the squalor of her sordid childhood and early struggles. Her singing career began with amateur night performances in Philadelphia, then slowly moved in the black theater circuit, where she was billed as "Sweet Mama Stringbean."

She began recording in 1921 for the Black Swan label, continuing with that company through 1924. When she introduced "Dinah" at the famous Plantation Club (Broadway and 50th Street) in New York City in 1925, she met with such success that she was signed by Columbia Records, for whom she was to make many of her most famous recordings during the next decade. Her career continued to escalate in such black shows as Africana, The Blackbirds of 1928 (and 1930) and Rhapsody in Black. In 1929, she made her film debut in the new talking films, singing "Am I Blue?" and "Birmingham Bertha" in On with the Show, remade a few years later as Forty-Second Street

In 1933, her sensational rendition of "Stormy Weather" at the Cotton Club made her the talk of the town; when Irving Berlin heard her sing it, she was signed for his As Thousands Cheer, a revue starring Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb. She stopped the show with "Heat Wave" and "Suppertime" and was elevated to co-starring status. At the same time, she became the first Negro to star in a sponsored coast-to-coast radio show, accompanied by the Jimmy Dorsey orchestra. Her Broadway career continued its spectacular ascent with the hit shows At Home Abroad, Mamba 's Daughters, Cabin in the Sky, and Member of the Wedding. Later, she filmed the latter two, appearing also in Gift of Gab, Cairo, Tales of Manhattan, Pinky, and The Sound and the Fury. These films and her numerous recordings remain a legacy for audiences too young to have been or heard this legendary performer at her peak.

Her last years were spent touring with the evangelist Billy Graham, still performing occasionally, until her death on September 2, 1977, in Chatsworth, California."

Ethel Waters - The New York Glide

Ethel Waters - At The New Jump Steady Ball

Ethel Waters - Dyin' With The Blues

Ethel Waters - Kiss Your Pretty Baby Nice

Ethel Waters - Jazzin' Babies Blues

Ethel Waters - Kind Lovin' Blues

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Les Bantous De La Capitale

The Bantous from a Fiesta label LP released in 1978.

"Les Bantous de la Capitale is one of the longest-lasting and most influential groups in the musical history of the Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Formed in 1959, the band played a major role in the introduction and growing popularity of boucher, which vitalized the Cuban-influenced rumba, and soukous. Initially co-led by saxophonists Dieudonne "Nino" Malapet and Jean Serge Essous, Les Bantous de la Capitale made their mark with a series of dance-inspiring singles that are reprised on the three-CD collection Les Merveilles Du Passe. Les Bantous de la Capitale has withstood several personnel changes. When Essous elected to remain in Paris after recording with the group, Malapet assumed leadership. Despite geographical obstacles, Essous has continued to perform with the band. Although the Congolese government's issuing of an official cultural policy, Authenticit '67, resulted in the loss of several musicians, substitutes were found and Les Bantous de la Capitale has continued to tour and record. Singers have included Kosmos Kapitza, Pamelo Mounk'a, and Tchico Tchicaya. Guitarists have included former Franco & Ok Jazz member Nedule Papa Noel and Samba Mascott. Les Bantous de la Capitale can be found on solo albums by Mascott, Mounk'a, and Essous."

Les Bantous - Riamana

Les Bantous - Sisi

Les Bantous - Zala Reconnaissant

Les Bantous - Mome Yombo

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The City Quads

I can't believe I haven't uploaded some tracks from this LP before. Its one I found at Brick Lane flea market many years ago for a few pence. Its on the Polydor label and made in what was Rhodesia and is now a troubled Zimbabwe. Sleeve printed in Germany. No date but imagine it would be late 50's or early 60's.

No info. on the internet so just a little information on the sleeve notes.

" Polydor presents a unique collection of popular African tunes sung ina variety of native languages by one of the best known vocal groups in Rhodesia, The City Quads. The performance you hear on this LP could be called a mixture of African folklore and pop songs of a kind one is always likely to hear wherever people gather together in an African township."

The music in particular-

LINDEA - (sung in Shona ) Love songs are always popular, and this one is a most tender example.

LIZOFIKANINI LANGA - (sung in Sindebele ) This is a sort of non-political spiritual and tells of an oppressed people's longing for the day when they will be free.

IDALALAKECE - (sung in Sindebele ) Now we have a gay wedding song. There is much shouting and cheering because the young girl is to be married.

BALELE EYAYA - (sung in Sindebele ) This is a son g about a policeman who is alays pounding the beat and writin g in his little book, but who never has time to write home to his family.

LA MULELA - ( sung in Xhosa ) Here we have a song about animals fighting; "unless they are broken apart one of them will have his tail cut off!"

RUDO - (sung in Shona ) The lyrics of this song say: "There couldn't be anyone better than you. Your love haunts me even when you are not there."

NYATELU UGIHILE - (sung in Xhosa ) Another wedding song. Here we are told it is customary for a girl to sing the first song.

The City Quads - Lindea

The City Quads - Lizifikanini Langa

The City Quads - Idalalakece

The City Quads - Balele Ekaya

The City Quads - La Mulela

The City Quads - Rudo

The City Quads - Nyatelu Ugihile

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Allan Sherman

Found this 1964 LP by Allan Sherman at the roadside bookstall in All Saints in Manchester at the weekend. A few good novelty songs based on old standards given a Jewish twist. The only thing that spoils it for me is the canned laughter and applause on each track.

Wikipedia says-

"Employed as a producer by Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions, Sherman was the creator and original producer of the popular I've Got a Secret from 1952 to 1958. During this time, he recorded a 78RPM single, containing A Satchel And A Seck (to "A Bushel And A Peck" from Guys And Dolls, and Jake's Song. This single sold poorly and, when time came to write his autobiography, Sherman didn't even acknowledge it. He also produced a short-lived 1954 game show, What's Going On? Sherman was fired after a particularly unsuccessful episode of I've Got a Secret featuring Tony Curtis that aired June 11, 1958. But later, after becoming a celebrity himself, Sherman would make some return appearances on the program.

Later, he found that the little song parodies he performed to amuse his friends and family were taking a life of their own. Sherman had the good fortune to live in the Brentwood section of West Los Angeles next door to Harpo Marx, who invited Sherman to perform his song parodies at parties attended by Marx's show-biz friends. After one such party, George Burns phoned a record executive and persuaded him to sign Sherman to a contract. The result was an LP of these parodies, My Son, the Folk Singer, in 1962. The album was so successful that it was quickly followed by My Son, the Celebrity.

In 1962, capitalizing on his success, Jubilee Records re-released the 1951 single on the album More Folk Songs by Allan Sherman and His Friends, which was a compilation of material by various Borscht Belt comedians, such as Sylvia Froos, Fyvush Finkle and Lee Tully, along with the Sherman material.

As suggested by the albums' titles, Sherman's first two LPs were mainly Jewish-folk-culture rewritings of old folk tunes. His first minor hit was "Sarah Jackman" (pronounced "Jockman"), a takeoff of "Frère Jacques" in which he and a woman (Christine Nelson) exchange family gossip ("Sarah Jackman, Sarah Jackman, How's by you? How's by you? How's by you the family? How's your sister Emily?" etc.) By his peak with My Son, the Nut in 1963, however, Sherman had broadened both his subject matter and his choice of parody material and begun to appeal to a larger audience.

Sherman wrote his parody lyrics in collaboration with Lou Busch. A few of the Sherman/Busch songs are completely original creations, featuring original music as well as lyrics, rather than new lyrics applied to an existing melody. The Sherman/Busch originals — notably "Go to Sleep, Paul Revere" and "Peyton Place" — are delightful novelty songs, showing genuine melodic originality as well as deft lyrics."

Discover more about Allan Sherman HERE.

Allan Sherman - Grow, Mrs. Goldfarb

Allan Sherman - Your Mother's Here To Stay

Allan Sherman - Pills

Allan Sherman - Shine On, Harvey Bloom

Allan Sherman - J.C. Cohen

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Laff Blasts From The Past

A great Lp I found a few years back in Brick Lane in East London. It's a compilation of amusing r&b songs from the archives of Herb Abramson. Released in 1985 on the Red Lightnin' label.

"He was born in 1916 in Brooklyn, New York City and initially studied to be a dentist. But he landed a job with National Records producing such performers as The Ravens, Billy Eckstine and Joe Turner. Herb founded his first record company, Jubilee Records, in 1946 with Jerry Blaine. Herb aspired to record jazz, R&B and Gospel recordings. Though Blaine was having some success recording Jewish novelty records, this genre did not interest Abramson, so he sold his interest in Jubilee to Blaine. Herb and his wife Miriam were close friends with fellow jazz buff Ahmet Ertegun and together they founded Atlantic Records in 1947. Herb was president of Atlantic and Ahmet was vice-president. Both Herb and Ahmet handled the creative end of the business and Miriam handled the business end."

Discover more about Herb Abramson HERE.

The Essentials - Sha-He-Be

Otis Blackwell - Back Trail

The Cashmeres - Daddy, Can I Go To The Hop?

The Jarmolettes - Yes, We Have No Bananas

The Magnetics - Sardines

Tony Middleton & Jack Hammer - Earth Cousins

The Dovers - The Invasion

These SendSpace files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley 1928 - 2008

Sad news about Bo Diddley who died yesterday from heart failure. A few tracks here from an old Pye International LP just called "Bo Diddley" from 1963.

"Born in McComb, Mississippi as Ellas Otha Bates, he was adopted and raised by his mother's cousin, Gussie McDaniel, whose surname he assumed, becoming Ellas McDaniel. The family moved to Chicago when he was seven. He took violin lessons as a youth, but was inspired to become a guitarist after seeing John Lee Hooker.

He worked as a carpenter and mechanic, but also began a musical career playing on street corners with friends, including Jerome Green (c. 1934–1973), as a band called the Hipsters (later the Langley Avenue Jive Cats). In 1951, he landed a regular spot at the 708 Club on Chicago's South Side, with a repertoire influenced by Louis Jordan, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters. He adopted the stage name, Bo Diddley, which is probably a southern black slang phrase meaning "nothing at all," as in "he ain't bo diddley." Another source says it was his nickname as a teenage Golden Gloves boxer. The nickname is also linked to the diddley bow, a two-stringed instrument that was used in the south by black musicians working in the fields.

In late 1954, he teamed up with harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold, drummer Clifton James and bass player Roosevelt Jackson, and recorded demos of "I'm A Man" and "Bo Diddley". They re-recorded the songs at Chess Studios with a backing ensemble comprising Otis Spann (piano), Lester Davenport (harmonica), Frank Kirkland (drums) and Jerome Green (maracas). The record was released in March 1955, and the A-side, "Bo Diddley", became a #1 R&B hit."

Discover more about Bo Diddley HERE.

Bo Diddley - You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover

Bo Diddley - Babes In The Wood

Bo Diddley - Sad Sack

Bo Diddley - Mama Don't Allow No Twistin'.

Bo Diddley - You All Green