Archive for July, 2010

á Paris

July 10, 2010 1 comment

Franco et l’OK Jazz – á Paris (1960s, EMI)

This is a favorite of mine, really love this record. But before I go into the record and the man behind the music I gotta say I stole this one from one of the best blogs on the internet, Global Groove. Go support him, and if by any chance anyone out there has the vinyl and wants to get of it let me know!

Franco is the name in Congolese music, and really one of the more important figures in African music in general. He was a guitar player who joined the OK Jazz as leader in 1958 and played until he died of AIDS in 1989. In the 60’s he spoke out against the dictatorship, but the 80’s saw him getting fat from hand of the government. Priorities can change, I guess.

Okay, so this is mid-to-late 60’s Franco playing different Cuban rhythms, there’s some cha-cha, rumba and charanga. Although the styles are something I’m familiar with and don’t often get very excited over, Franco shines bright and reaffirms the rich beauty of the gift of sound. The sweet palm-wine guitar, the creamy soothe-saying vocals, and the light touches of horns and flute are just unbelievable.

Franco released over 80 records in his time, and I have only heard a handful, but it’s hard to imagine that there is music more beautiful than this. The name Franco will forever now invoke a sense of calm, of happiness and golden harmonies. Make sure not skip this one, jump ahead to “Matinda” and you’ll be playing it nonstop.

Get it here

Categories: 1960s, Ghana

Cumbias Para Bailar

July 8, 2010 1 comment

Orquesta Del Chamaco Avila con Carlos Oropeza – Cumbias Para Bailar (Discos Corona, 196?)

It’s not really right to call this a cumbia record, but rather an American re-interpretation of cumbia. There is no information online about Chamaco Avila nor the Carlos Oropeza featured on this record. Discos Corona was an LA based record label that released quite a few Latin-themed records, many of them Mariachi or Boleros. I found THIS website that lists a pretty complete discography (minus the record here, but I’m sending this link asap) and as you can tell a lot of it is exotica compilation type stuff that seems to have been very popular with record labels in the 50s and 60s.

As it’s an American production there is a heavy cha-cha influence throughout the record, with loads of brass and lots of bright organ. The orchestra can’t be very big, it’s definitely only a few horns, the organ, a conguero, a drummer and some light work on the timbales. The fact that it’s a small group is a huge plus because the groove is right in front and not buried underneath a ton of other instruments – the drumming is tight and loud, the organ is pretty funky and the horns only pop when they need to.

Overall, this is a great record, with some really fiery grooves that will put a smile on your face and get you dancing. Tracks like “Simon,” “Cumbiamberita,” and “Los Soldados” are heavy hitters with a lot of swing. If you’ve heard my EN VIVO DESDE EL OTRO LADO mix you’re already aware of the dancefloor bomb that is “Canta Pescador,” a heavy hitting cumbia-track that is led by the summer-sweet organ work of Carlos Oropeza. I’m listening to it right now and am having trouble sitting still! “Borrachera” is another great track as it storms in with these salsa-influenced heavy horns, and organ that wont quit – really, a late-night track that will seal the deal every time. However, there are a couple of sleepers on here where the cha-cha just gets a little redundant or the organ comes off a little cheesy, but that’s just my taste and you may be more interested the tracks that I dismissed.

I’m proud to say that I present to you, dear reader, a record that is neither found online nor is there any mention of the record or the players. And as I always say, if it’s not available through Google it doesn’t exist. Well, I guess I just gave birth to a 40+ year old cumbia record!

Link is in the commmmmmments.

Categories: 1960s, cumbia

Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack

July 2, 2010 4 comments
Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack – S/T 12″ EP (Empire Records, 2003)

This is one of my all-time favorite records for so many different reasons. I was at Super Sabado Gigante Fest in LA in 2003 and my friend Andy shoved this record in my face and demanded I buy it. Based solely on his insistence I knew it was going to be great and when he informed me of the DIY punk royaltly Mike Kirsch (of Pinhead Gunpowder, John Henry West, Bread and Circuits, Torches to Rome) as well as members of Former Members of Alfonsin, I couldn’t wait to get home and listen. Upon first listen, I don’t think any other record has ever confused and delighted me like this record did.

The needle slipped into the groove and a voice whispers through my speakers: “blast off” then ushering in an explosion of sounds that breaks down normal conventions of what a “punk” record ought to sound like. The track is put together like a hip hop instrumental as it loops a funky locked groove squeezed between esoteric samples reminiscent of a blaxploitation soundtrack, but all the while with the artistic conviction of a carefully articulated sound collage. The track ends quickly and a hypnotic riff spirals into your ears, it’s hypnotic, but foreboding, a perfect calm-before-the-storm as it leads into a furious Nation of Ulysses inspired attack. The track ends and and another funky groove is looped while a sampled narration describes the role of the cosmopolitan epicenter. The formula repeats over and over throughout the record, 6 punk songs with a sound collage between each track. Some of these collages are tightly crafted units drawing samples from jazz and funk such as Ramsey Lewis, but other samples are as simple as a joke from Malcolm X.

While this record greatly challenged the normal confines of what defined a “punk” sound, these sample-based creations were not new as Mike Kirsch had previously used a Fela Kuti sample on the Bread and Circuits LP and numerous bands had popularized the use of sampling lines from speeches or movies. However, in the way that so much attention and time is devoted to these sample-based tracks defies cliche and somehow makes the record less of a “punk” record and more of a “political” record. Whether it comes from the polyphonic vocal attack, the driving hypnotic guitars, or the samples that simulate a kind of Black Panther Soul Train, this records exudes agitation in a way that is intelligent, but also in a way that is more accessible than the traditional punk song.

The slick production on the record is mirrored by the amazing design work that makes up lyric booklet. The LP cover itself is not very interesting, but the booklet is done in a crisp style that mirrors the funk and flavor of the samples with the apocalyptic imagery of the fiery riffs. The lyrics are neo-romantic, dripping with post-modern metaphors as the group finds unique ways to criticize capitalism, war and the American government.

This is a record that I will always buy whenever I run into it because I know there is someone who still hasn’t heard it. Give it a listen, expand your musical concepts. In the zip file I have included full scans of the booklet for your viewing pleasure. If you just want to look at the rest of the images, check out my flickr.

In the coming weeks I will post a rip of their second record as well as with an essay discussing sonic protest through the aggressive nature of politically charged hip hop group Public Enemy and Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack.

Link in the comments. Scans with the help of Eydie McConnell.

Categories: 2003, Punk