Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marion Sumner "Road to Home" (June Appal, 1979)

My favorite folk and old time record label center design (of those that are standardized). June Appal is still going strong out of Whitesburg, Kentucky just across the state line from Dock Boggs' hometown of Norton, Virginia and a short drive to Viper, KY where Jean Ritchie grew up. I can't say enough good things about Appalshop and the work they have done and continue to do documenting Appalachian culture and history.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rare Bands 1926-1931 (Vol. 6) (Historical Records)

Historical is a label founded by Arnold S. Kaplan in 1965. He was also the owner of Biograph Records, founded in the early 1960s which was one of the first to issue records made from piano rolls by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin and George Gershwin from the 1910s and 1920s. Excellent tunes and one of my favorite center labels.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Hodge Podge of Off-Beat Jazz (Music for Collectors)

I tried looking up information about this record label, but my Google search was futile. Looks like this was the first release for this San Francisco-based label. I chose this record because I love the font choice and the song titles "I'm Wild About Horns On Automobiles" and "Gut Bucket Shuffle."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Very Early Patsy Montana & The Prairie Ramblers (Cattle Records, 1981)

Salty Holmes joins Patsy Montana and The Prairie Ramblers on this album released by the German record label Cattle Records. I love the ghost-y, sullen looking outline of a cow face looking straight out, contrasted with the gold (though you can't see very well the sparkle upon scanning it).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nawair-Ud-Deen Youth Association "Iberu Oluwa" (Nawair-Ud-Deen Records, 1984)

In trying to find out anything at all about this record (I found out nothing at all) I learned that iberu Oluwa means "fear of God." It's Yoruba. Anyway, thanks for having me! See you later!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Copper Glove "Surviving the Garden of Hate" (Arbor, 2010)

Part two of my two-part Baltimore 7" bonanza: it's Door! "Fuck cops."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Little Howling Wolf "D'Mau Mau" b/w "James Sweet Jimmy" (Solidarity)

It must be said that the label design here has little intrinsic interest. The strength of Solidarity as a label name and the heroically plain font with which it's presented is appealing to me. As you may have guessed, the word solidarność at the bottom is Polski for solidarity and was the name of Poland's first non-Communist trade union. I know Wolf spent some time "behind the Curtain" in Poland and East Germany and is a life-long union member, so I suspect a relationship. Incidentally, I've been proud of my childhood neighbor, Wisconsin, in the last few days for joining the Egyptian working class in refusing a life of humiliation. And for winning the Super Bowl. This is going to be your year, guys.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rockin' Sidney "My Zydeco Shoes Got the Zydeco Blues" (Maison de Soul, 1984)

This is a much-needed antidote to yesterday's post, I think. The modesty of la Maison itself is really sweet, but we know the party is happening because it's radiating an 8th note (a flow of duration) so powerful that it interrupts the Jazz Age font (the same one seen on Clifton Chenier's "Bugalusa Boogie," interestingly) before its recuperation into the inky ether.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mississippi Fred McDowell "Shake 'Em on Down" (Tomato, 1989)

At some point in Ken Burns' Jazz, Wynton Marsalis says, "Jazz is like gumbo." It was a stupid thing to say and this is a stupid design for a label.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Joseph Falcon "Louisiana Cajun Music" (Arhoolie, 1968)

I've noted not a single Arhoolie label on the blog and I correct that so. The logo is better than that of any other folk label I know. County, Tradition and Shanachie all share a sort of "good old days" motif, which I've always found a little offensive, denying the dreams of rural people for the sake of a weirdly antagonistic romance. Though I suspect their project has regressed in recent years, Arhoolie seemed to understand the injurious possibility of this rhetoric of purity. The jittery guitar doodle and hepcat typeface suggest an embrace of urbanity, of the anxious proletary and the wild abandon of their New American Ethnic Music.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marika Papagika "The Further the Flame, the Worse It Burns Me" (Mississippi Records, 2010)

It's a beautiful day in Baltimore so I'm going to try to keep this brief. I'm not so much trying to rep Mississippi here as I am this record's compiler, Ian Nagoski, who used to live in Baltimore and now lives in Western Maryland, where I assume it's every bit as nice. It's not hard to see that this label was based on an old label and so I've included that label (courtesy of Leo Sarkisian via Ian) below. If you haven't heard this record yet you ought to. Music of sublime beauty by someone whom love failed utterly. Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

La Düsseldorf "Viva" (Strand, 1978)

If you know that Strand is German for beach, the label pretty much speaks for itself. That said, it's strange that the tiled boardwalk should take up most of the room between the dunes and the water, leaving hardly any beach at all. And what about all this blackness from whence I came? Is this really a beach? Why the garish advertisement? Wherever my journey may lead, the brash, corny Europeanness of the label design is so lovable and evocative, we're lucky to have it grace such an excellent record.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Walter Aziz "Assyrian Nation" (Nineveh Records, 1980)

On the north end of Devon Ave. in Chicago there are two Assyrian video stores across the street from each other (and a block north of them the only Georgian bakery in the US). Each of them also sells CDs and cassettes of popular and classical music (there's a third category, for which we don't really have a name. You might call it "popular art music") from the Middle East, mostly Iraq and the Levant states. Only one of them, the one on the East side of the street, sells LPs, which are mostly European pressings of the same schlock you find clogging thrift store record bins. The single exception was this Walter Aziz record, which I bought based on the Nineveh Records logo. Ancient Nineveh sits in modern-day Mosul, Iraq. It was the capital of Assyria in Biblical times, founded by Ashur, whose Art Deco-style apotheosis you see on this label. I did not know those things at the time but I did know that Nineveh was where Jonah was ordered to go on mission, that his reluctance landed him in a whale's belly and that he ultimately got out and was able to convince the Ninevites to repent, thus sparing them God's wrath. I also remember that Mosul was the site of intense fighting a few years ago, the ruins of ancient Nineveh were imperiled (destroyed?) and thousands either died or fled. That's a lot more than most labels conjure up for me. You also get to see Assyrian script for the first time and the song titles read like a short, weird poem.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Randolph Singers "English & Italian Madrigals" (Concert Hall)

The delicate, disembodied conductor's hands signal a hush and prepare us for the first beat of the next measure. We are eternally suspended in our repose as they are in poised, knowing anticipation. Oh la la - how delightful! Finally a little elegance in here. Now we turn to the examples in chapter 36, page 2, noting especially Di Lasso's treatment of the 4-3 and plagal cadences. No, No, NO! I was lost in reverie! Why do I always fall for these traps?
Incidentally, this record at one point belonged to Tony Conrad (I bought it from his brother, Dan), who apparently stole it from the Harvard Library.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hortus Musicus "Italy, Secular Music of the XIVth Century" (Melodiya, 1976)

This is a sort of sequel to yesterday's post. Hortus Musicus is an Estonian group specializing in pre-Renaissance music and occasionally dabbling (I'm told) in non-Western and contemporary music. The music on this record is perfectly competent, beautiful and up-to-date scholarship-wise but it's the potential band and the potential record that really get me going. As we see in the picture below, these guys were total freaks.

"This is no way to present early music to the public! Get serious!" It bolsters some suspicions I've long held about cultural life in the Soviet Union and the extent to which the platitudes we've inherited about it are wrong. Why try to be someone else's cool? What's so cool about Rock & Roll? I happen to find the music of the Italian trecento very groovy, thank you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Willis M. Gault "Viola d'Amore with String Orchestra" (The Ancient Instrument Society of Washington, DC)

My opening gambit is what I consider the jewel of my collection. Inasmuch as records are not just records, this is my favorite record. The cover is just beautiful: we see Monsieur Gault in his woodshop, lit only by his shoplight (unflattering), smiling triumphantly with his prized viola d'amore resting on his knee. Amidst the dross and disappointment of the $2 bin, this record shone like a beacon and I could barely keep from crying. The single side of music is both unexceptional and deeply satisfying; the poor recording obscures the distinctiveness of the viola d'amore (a baroque viol with sympathetic strings) entirely but the amateurish enthusiasm of the performances (instrument-building is the primary passion here) more than saves it. With all that in mind, the label's plainness carries its own emotional charge and I would have it no other way.
I could keep going but Richard Brautigan sums it up more nicely than I could:
"It looked like a fairytale functioning happily in the post-World War II gothic of America before television crippled the imagination of America and turned people indoors and away from living out their own fantasies with dignity."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pärson Sound - Pärson Sound (Subliminal Sounds, 1966-68/2010)

3 LP box from Subliminal Sounds released in 2010 - one of my absolute favorites. Some stoned 1960s Swedish grooves. I scanned side A from LP 1 and 2. Unfortunately, LP 3 wouldn't scan without a strange pattern that ruined it - it was a forest scene. The swirl pattern is the B side of each record. Purchased Winter 2010 from Forced Exposure.

Anyway, guest blogging here for the last two weeks has been a whole lot of fun. Thanks to Alexander for inviting me to post.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jack O' Fire - "Six Super Shock Soul Songs" (Estrus Records, 1993)

Campy 1950s Halloween themed garage rock revival 10 inch. Purchased Summer 2010 at Joe's Record Paradise in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mika Miko - "We Be Xuxa" (Post Present Medium, 2009)

Designed by Brian Roettinger. Purchased Summer 2009 at Vacation Vinyl in Los Angeles.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Peter Stubb - "Selected Cuts, Vol. 1" (Family Night Records, 2007)

Prolific Dalton, Georgia musician Peter Stubb's first compilation. This dude has been self-releasing his own homemade cassettes for years, kind of like a Georgia Daniel Johnston. Purchased Winter 2009 at Reactionary Records in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Frantic - "Attack of the Grizzlie" (Die Slaughterhaus/Douchemaster Records, 2008)

One of my favorites out of the Atlanta underground. Also notable for being co-released by two excellent Atlanta based labels (Die Slaughterhaus and Douchemaster). Purchased Spring 2009 from Die Slaughterhaus.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Royal Trux - "Accelerator" (Drag City, 1998)

Accelerator was Royal Trux return to the indies after a post-grunge million dollar Virgin Records deal. Virgin hated their previous album, Sweet Sixteen (see album cover), so much that they dropped the band early and paid all expenses on Accelerator even though it would be released on indie label Drag City. The label fits in nicely with the 1980s hotrod theme of the album. Purchased Fall 2009 at Criminal Records in Atlanta, Georgia.