Encore Lovey! – Trinidad String Band Music 1912 – 1914

In 1912 Trinidadian metalworker and violinist George Lovelace Baillie – aka Lovey – and his band headed to New York City to play engagements and record for the Victor Talking Machine Company and the Columbia Graphophone Company (sic) — the first recordings by a black band from the English-speaking West Indies.

Adverts described them as playing music “never heard before in America.”

They recorded for Victor on June 20 1912, as Lovey’s Trinidad String Band, and for Columbia over the next two weeks as Lovey’s Band.

They waxed an unknown number of 78s featuring an array of string instruments, including twin fiddles, string bass and guitar family variants including the four-string cuatro and the braga.

Black string bands were common in Trinidad, specialising in waltzes, tangos, and paseos (calypso), performing dances during holidays and at Carnival time – many slaves had learned to play string instruments to entertain white audiences.

Prior to the outbreak of WWI Columbia engineers visited Trinidad and recorded them on over 50 sides in late July and early 1914.

This three-CD set contains all the known surviving recordings from 1912 sessions and reprises 40 of the 50 selections recorded in 1914.

They reflect the rhythms of the Caribbean as well as mainland South America. With the exception of Cuba, Argentina and Brazil, Lovey’s band was the earliest black band to record in the Americas specialising in hot dance music with 19th-century roots.

Lovey and his band were still performing throughout the 1920s. Lovey died in 1937 following an operation.

Produced by noted musicologists Dick Spottswood, Steve Shapiro, and John Cowley complete with remastered sound, historic graphics and detailed booklet by Cowley, this is the roots of West Indian music.

Encore Lovey! The Historic Trinidad String Band Recordings 1912 & 1914 is released by Richard Weize Archives (RWA).

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Excavated Shellac Now A CD Box Set

In 2015, Dust To Digital began working on Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World’s Music with record collector, researcher, and writer Jonathan Ward.

At the beginning of the process, things were moving ahead just as they had with so many previous productions: liner notes were finalized, licensing requests were submitted, audio was digitized and restored, and the text and graphic elements were being laid out and designed. Then, like everyone, we were impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout 2020, there were postal service delays, shipping container shortages, record store closures, and manufacturing plant shutdowns. In response to this new reality, D2D made the tough decision to forego a physical version of the Excavated Shellac box set that we had been planning for years, and in December 2020 it was released digitally.

in late 2021 D2D began moving toward fulfilling the original vision for this release. Our designer Barb Bersche who had originally designed the set to be printed and had modified the format for digital release, set to work once again to finalize and submit the files to our printer. D2D decided to expand some of the elements into features like a gloss-laminated box, artbook-quality paper, and die-cut reproductions of vintage record store stickers from Jon’s collection.

The production process was moving along well when they were informed that to print the book we would need to comply with government imposed censorship of the words Dalai Lama, Tibet, and other terms deemed problematic. They found this unacceptable and moved production to a printer in Hong Kong which had a significant impact on the cost of the set.

Now, seven years later the set is now releases in a physical CD box set.

Read about the digitally released set here in an article by Garth Cartwright in The Guardian.

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Global Routes : Orchestre Massako

Jean-Christian Mboumba Mackaya (aka ‘Mack-Joss’) fronted Gabon’s Orchestre Massako from 1971 – when the armed forces formed their own band. Aged 17, he was well known on Gabon’s nightlife scene having released the pan-African hit record ‘Le Boucher’.

Between 1968 and 1970 Mack-Joss and his Negro-Tropical recorded 45s at an open-air studio. In the late 1970s his Studio Mobile Massako was built and he would fly to France, (carrying the master tapes in his hand luggage), press the records and ship them back to African distributors.

A dozen albums were recorded between 1978 and 1986 some featuring the king of Afro-Cuban music Amara Touré who hailed from Dakar, Senegal.

Searching for tracks for reissue on his Analog Africa reissue label Samy Ben Redjeb recalled: “The last time I heard Mack-Joss’s voice was in August 2016. We had spoken a few  times before – but on that particular day,  I could hear gunshots being fired. Libreville (the capital city of Gabon) was in turmoil following the re-election of president Ali Bongo.” Ali Bongo and his corrupt father Omar Bongo who had ruled Gabon for forty years is believed to have ripped off $130 million (a conservative estimate) of Gabon’s assets.Mack Joss had retired in 1996. “By the time I was ready to go ahead with the reissue project, Mack-Joss’s phone number had been disconnected. Shortly after-wards I found out that he had passed away in 2018. I regretted that we hadn’t been able to be in touch after that tumultuous day” says Samy Ben Redjeb.

Mack Joss’ music and songs occupy a special place with the Gabonese people and a new generation of musicians. This infectious four track vinyl and download set by Orchestre Massako has two tracks with vocals by Amara Touré.

This article appeared in my feature Global Routes Morning Star on-line May 20th

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Global Routes – Vieux Farka Touré

Vieux Farka Touré, son of Grammy Award winner and Malian national hero Ali Farka Touré has a new album out called Les Racines (“the roots”) on World Circuit which sees Vieux reconnect with the Songhai music of Northern Mali — known as “Desert Blues.”

His father, who died in 2006, was the finest guitarist Africa has ever produced. Following in his father’s footsteps Vieux is now known as the “Hendrix of the Sahara.”

Because of the pandemic he spent two years making the album. “I’ve had a desire to do a more traditional album for a long time. It’s important to me and to Malian people that we stay connected to our roots and our history. Early in my career people asked why I wasn’t just following my father. But it was important for me to establish my own identity,” he says. “Now people know what I can do, I can return to those roots.”

Recorded in Bamako in his home studio, the album is steeped in the mesmeric music of West Africa. With 10 original songs, Vieux addresses the problems Mali faces after a brutal civil war which saw Islamist militants destroy recording studios, close down radio stations and ban music in parts of the country.

“In Mali many people are illiterate — music is the main way of transmitting information and knowledge. My father fought for peace and we have an obligation to educate people about the problems facing our country and to rally people.”

Les Racines is also a tribute to his father whose name is invoked in the album’s closing track Ndjehene Direne. “The album is an homage to my father but, just as importantly, to everything he represented and stood for.”

Les Racines is available on World Circuit Records.

This article appeared in my Global Routes feature in the Morning Star April 15th 2022

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Are You Ready For The Country?

The Birth Of Country Rock:

Great  13 minute film on the birth of country rock…..including Buck Owens, The Everly Brothers, The Byrds, The Dillards, Gene Clark/Doug Dillard, Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Mike Nesmith, Gosdin Brothers……..

Find it on Facebook at:



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Cameroon Garage Funk – “a legacy of raw grooves and magnificent tunes”

Yaoundé, in the 1970s, was a buzzing place. Every neighbourhood of Cameroon’s capital was filled with music spots – but surprisingly there was no infrastructure to immortalise those musical riches.

The country suffered from a serious lack of proper recording facilities, and the process of committing your song to tape could become a whole adventure unto itself.

Of course, you could always book the national broadcasting company together with a sound engineer, but this was hardly an option for underground artists with no cash. But luckily an alternative option emerged in the form of an adventist church with some good recording equipment.

Many of the artists on this compilation recorded their first few songs, secretly, in these premises thanks to Monsieur Awono, the church engineer. He knew the schedule of the priests and, in exchange for some cash, he would arrange recording sessions. The artists still had to bring in their own equipment, and since there was only one microphone, the amps and instruments had to be positioned perfectly. It was a risky business for everyone involved but since they knew they were making history, it was all worth it.

At the end of the recording, the master reel would be handed to whoever had paid for the session, usually the artist themselves. And what happened next? With no distribution nor recording companies around this was a legitimate question. More often then not it was the French label Sonafric that would offer their manufacturing and distribution structure and many Cameroonian artist used that platform to kickstart their career.

Mballa Bony & the Ndenga Boys, 1977 (Copyright: Analog Africa)

What is particularly surprising in the case of Sonafric was their willingness to take chances and judge music solely on their merit rather than their commercial viability. The sheer amount of seriously crazy music released also spoke volumes about the openness of the people behind the label.

But who exactly are these artists that recorded one or two songs before disappearing, never to be heard from again? Some of the names – like Jean-Pierre Djeukam whose song “Africa Iyo” from 1978 opens the compilation – were so obscure that even the most seasoned veterans of the Cameroonian music scene had never heard of them.

A few trips to the land of Makossa by Analog Africa’s founder Samy Ben Redjeb, and many more hours of interviews were necessary to get enough insight into Yaoundé’s buzzing 1970s music scene. On one crate digging trip he found sixteen 45’s (most from Sonafric) at the national radio station in Niger.

The set comes with the extensive liner notes are the result of meticulous research by Ben Redjeb and Volkan Kaya, full of personal stories and beautifully designed with plenty archive images.

Despite the myriad difficulties involved in the simple process of making and releasing a record, the musicians of Yaoundé’s underground music scene left behind an extraordinary legacy of raw grooves and magnificent tunes.

The songs may have been recorded in a church, with a single microphone in the span of only an hour or two, but the fact that we still pay attention to these great creations some 50 years later, only illustrates the timelessness of their music.

Cameroon Garage Funk is available on Analog Africa o a double LP pressed on 140g virgin vinyl with gatefold cover + full colour 12-pages booklet and on CD with a full colour 28-pages booklet (AACD092)

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The Trojan Records Story – Rob Bell and Rusty Zinn Interview

Rob Bell and Rusty Zinn to talk about their contributions to Trojan’s latest release – ‘The Trojan Story’. Rob Bell was the brains behind the original release of ‘The Trojan Story’ back in 1971, exactly 50 years later he talks about his motivations behind the release and reveals life at Trojan in the 1970’s.

Watch the Full interview here.

Find out more about The Trojan Story: https://Trojan.lnk.to/thetrojanstoryFA

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Qobuz, UMe & Zappa Records Offer Zappa Albums in Hi-Res

Qobuz, the Hi-Res streaming and download provider, has partnered with UMe and Zappa Records to provide dozens of Frank Zappa albums for the first time in Hi-Res Audio.

UMe, the global catalogue company of Universal Music Group, and Zappa Records are launching today a Hi-Res reissue campaign on Qobuz totaling 29 albums spanning all phases of Zappa’s groundbreaking career.

The five-week campaign will span a series of drops between now and May 7th, with classic and influential albums released for download and streaming in Hi-Res audio quality for the first time.

Beginning April 2nd, fans will be able to stream and download nine albums exclusively on Qobuz. The albums will be available in native 24-bit Hi-Res FLAC format. Each will include an extensive PDF digital booklet, a feature only available on Qobuz’s streaming apps. The assortment includes the second album from the original Mothers of Invention, ‘Absolutely Free’, first released in 1967, and ‘Halloween 81’, documenting Zappa’s famed holiday residency at New York City’s Palladium, in both full box set and edited ‘highlights’ versions.

Hi-Res Frank Zappa albums to be released so far include Absolutely Free; Burnt Weeny Sandwich; Bongo Fury; Chicago ’78; Zappa In New York (40th Anniversary Deluxe); Orchestral Favorites (40th Anniversary); Halloween 81; Halloween 81 Highlights; The Mothers 1970 Box Set

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A Revolution In Sound: Pop Culture & The Classical Avant-Garde, 4CD Set

‘A Revolution In Sound’ looks at the influence of modern classical music, the avant-garde and free jazz on pop and pop culture, during the second half of the twentieth century.

In the mid-1960s, as pop music acquired a greater sophistication and maturity, artists began to make more ambitious musical and conceptual statements. In the search for new ideas, pop began to find inspiration along the spectrum of classical music – from Stockhausen to Sibelius – and from artists who inhabited the outer reaches of jazz, drawing even on the classical music of Northern India with its roots in the antique past.

The albums produced by The Beatles at their creative peak; ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’; almost everything by The Mothers of Invention; The Byrds’ ‘Fifth Dimension’; The Pink Floyd’s debut, ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’; The Grateful Dead’s ”Anthem of the Sun; the early works of Can, Jefferson Airplane and Soft Machine; all were enriched by the assimilation of techniques and procedures appropriated from the pioneers of art music.

Frank Zappa did more than anyone to open the door to the modernist world; his expansive music informed by Stravinsky, Webern, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and most notably Edgard Varèse, whose work Zappa encountered in his youth, and spent his life championing.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon increased their creative palettes by borrowing from the strange new musical universes of Stockhausen, Berio and Cage while George Harrison’s life was changed by Ravi Shankar, to whose music he and the other Beatles were feverishly introduced by David Crosby and Roger McGuinn at a Benedict Canyon LSD party in 1965.

For the “Fifth Beatle”, producer George Martin, the passions were the French Impressionist composers Debussy and Ravel, from whom he claimed to have learned to “Paint in Sound”; for Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead it would be the music of Charles Ives (“It sounds like the inside of your head when you’re daydreaming”). Brian Eno directly answered Erik Satie’s call for “music that would be a part of the surrounding noises” with his ambient Music for Airports, while Captain Beefheart, Robert Wyatt and Lou Reed would all surrender to the liberating spirit of Ornette Coleman.

In the realm of electronics and musique concrète, the tireless experiments in tape-manipulation by Daphne Oram and Pierre Henry found expression in radio, television and on stage. In cinema, Stanley Kubrick’s masterful use of Bartok and Liszt vindicated his stated preference for the use of pre-existing music over original score; while in ‘Altered States’, Ken Russell blew our minds by taking the relationship between music and image to a new sensory level; aided by a wild electronic score that included Pierre Henry’s Veil of Orpheus.

The box set includes full 27 minute version of Henry’s Orpheus, the first major work of symphonic concrète music is but one of the historic features to be found in this presentation. A Revolution In Sound also includes the premiere recording of Stockhausen’s monumental Gruppen for Three Orchestras, with Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna and Stockhausen himself conducting; Beecham’s beautiful 1955 account of Sibelius’ ‘Incidental music from The Tempest’; an exhilarating recording of Stravinsky’s ballet ‘Agon’ by Hans Rosbaud with the SWGR, a hugely influential piece, a triumph for the composer; and from before the creation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the “Radiophonic poem”, Private Dreams and Public Nightmares, a quite unprecedented collage of manipulated voices and sound effects assembled by Daphne Oram and Desmond Briscoe: a challenge for radio listeners in 1957. As the producer, Donald McWhinnie stated in his introduction, ‘You may detest this programme, but I hope you won’t dismiss it. Certainly nothing like this has ever come out of your loudspeaker before’

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Zappa’s Final U.S. Concert in 1988 Gets First-Ever Legit Release

Frank Zappa’s final U.S. concert from a March 25th, 1988 gig at New York’s Nassau Coliseum is the next archival release from the Zappa Trust and UMe.

Due out June 18th, marks the first-ever posthumous release of a live album from the 1988 touring band and boasts 29 unreleased recordings from the concert, plus a pair of tracks culled from the same tour: Covers of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” from the March 16th show in Providence, Rhode Island, and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” from the March 23rd Towson, Maryland, show.

The live album (long available on bootlegs) also sees the first-ever release of Zappa’s “The Beatles Medley,” including “Norwegian Wood,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and is embedded with lyrics inspired by a sex scandal involving televangelist Jimmy Swaggart.

The concert took place months before the 1988 presidential election, with Zappa setting up voter registration drives at his concerts. The Synclavier piece “One Man, One Vote” that Zappa performed at the show also nodded toward the voter registration efforts, as did the performance’s final song, a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

The Last U.S. Show will be released digitally, on two CDs, or as a four-LP 180-gram vinyl box — available on both black vinyl or as a limited-edition 180-gram purple vinyl variant, exclusively through the official Frank Zappa online store or uDiscover — and is up for preorder now.

The album — newly mixed from long-vaulted 48-track digital master tapes — features liner notes penned by Travers and 1988 touring drummer Chad Wackerman, who celebrated his 28th birthday onstage with the band during what ultimately became Zappa’s final U.S. concert.

The live album follows the most recent Zappa Trust archival release, a five-LP deep-dive into Zappa’s vaults for the soundtrack of the Alex Winter-directed 2020 documentary Zappa.

Zappa ’88: The Last U.S. Show Track List

1. “We Are Doing Voter Registration Here”
2. The Black Page (New Age Version)
3. I Ain’t Got No Heart
4. Love of My Life
5. Inca Roads
6. Sharleena
7. Who Needs the Peace Corps?
8. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
9. Dickie’s Such an Asshole
10. When the Lie’s So Big
11. Jesus Thinks You’re a Jerk
12. Sofa #1
13. One Man, One Vote
14. Happy Birthday, Chad!
15. Packard Goose Pt. 1
16. Royal March From “L’Histoire Du Soldat”
17. Theme From the Bartok Piano Concerto #3
18. Packard Goose Pt. II
19. The Torture Never Stops Pt. I
20. Theme From “Bonanza”
1. Lonesome Cowboy Burt
2. The Torture Never Stops Pt. II
3. City of Tiny Lites
4. Pound for a Brown
5. The Beatles Medley
6. Peaches En Regalia
7. Stairway to Heaven
8. I Am the Walrus
9. Whipping Post
10. Bolero
11. America the Beautifu

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