Saturday, April 14, 2012
The man could play the piano.
Deep Night--Carmen Cavallaro and His Orch. (1951)
Enlloro (Voodoo Moon)--Same (1945)
Friday, April 13, 2012
As you can see, the above 78 is not in the best of shape (I tweaked the lighting to highlight the network of scratches, and I cloned over a missing area by the center hole). Barely a "Fair," really. But this is one of those scarce gems you're happy to have in any condition. Western Magic is a label whose existence I never even suspected, so I wasn't expecting to find much (or anything) on Google, but Wired for Sound came to the rescue with a 2010 post: Homer Clemens on Swing. Seems Western Magic was a Paris, Texas label run by Jimmy Mercer. His other labels included Swing, Hill-Billy Hit Parade, and Royalty, and they were in operation from 1946-1950. (Thank you, WFS.) This one, from 1949, is a rockabilly-style "cover" of Stick McGhee's R&B/rock and roll hit, Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-o-Dee.
Save for the really bad background vocals, this selection is first-rate in every regard. And it rocks. Best of all, it sounds completely natural, as if 1949 country musicians hewing closely to an R&B recording were the most natural thing in the world. That is, there's nothing "hybrid"-sounding about it, and no sense that the musicians were playing faster, hotter, or jazzier than they were used to playing. This "cover" is bereft of gimmicks. In their similar efforts, Haley and Presley were eagerly searching for just the right, commercial sound, but these guys were simply making a record. Damn. I knew this would be an interesting side, in any event, but I wasn't expecting something this masterful (background vocals aside).
Best of all, I got a perfectly decent file out of this worn gem. Took a couple of hours, but that's blog biz. (Blog biz??)
To the Western Playboys: Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-o-Dee--The Western Playboys (Western Magic 1203; 1949).
Sunday, April 08, 2012
From 1964, we have Songs of Faith and Doubt, six religious songs by the late, brilliant Sydney (Lord of the Dance) Carter, sung and played by Donald Swann, who is possibly best known as one half of the comedy duo Flanders and Swann. Nothing at all comedic about these selections (or wonderful performances).
The set starts with Lord of the Dance, that ancient Irish folk number that is neither 1) Irish, 2) folk, nor 3) ancient. In fact, the Sydney Carter hymn was written in 1963, with a melody adapted from the Shaker tune Simple Gifts (Joseph Brackett, Jr. , 1848). Powerful stuff, all, especially Friday Morning, though the gentle, almost mournful Every Star Shall Sing a Carol may be the most profound experience of the bunch. We'll return to our usual, much lighter fare after Easter, of course....
To the faith and doubt: Songs of Faith and Doubt (Syney Carter)--Donald Swann, 1964.
LORD OF THE DANCE
THE DEVIL WORE A CRUCIFIX
THE RAT RACE
EVERY STAR SHALL SING A CAROL
THE MASK I WORE
Songs of Faith and Doubt (by Sydney Carter)--Donald Swann (Argo ZFA-48; 1964)