How They Got Over: Black Quartets and the Road to Rock’n’Roll

SCREENING: 17th November 2018 at 16:00
LDN – Picturehouse Central
Dir. Robert Clem, 2017, USA, 87 mins

UK Premiere + Q&A with the director and producer hosted by author Viv Brough

In the decades following the Second World War, the broad reach of radio and record sales helped black gospel quartets spread throughout African-American communities across the US. Using archival performance clips and interviews with pioneers of the genre, ‘How They Got Over’ tells the story not only of how these artists reached audiences, but went through their daily lives in a segregated society…and along the way paved the road to rock’n’roll from doo-wop and from R&B to soul and hip-hop.

Doc’n Roll Film Festival is supported by the BFI using funds from the National Lottery to grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films.

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Blues, Film -TV, Gospel, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Soul, Vinyl, Website, You Tube | Leave a comment

Robert Johnson biography due early 2019

The Bruce Conforth & Gayle Dean Wardlow biography of Robert Johnson called ‘Up Jumped The Devil’ is to be published early next year by Chicago Review Press. The book has been a longtime in preparation and should be the definitive biography of Johnson.

Interview with Bruce Cornforth on Robert Johnson is well worth listening to!

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New 4 CD Rare Blues Set: ‘Tough Enough’ Down Home Blues: New York, Cincinnati & The North Eastern States.

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Australia’s biggest record collection is up for sale

After accumulating over 80,000 records over half a century, the passing of Aussie record collector Ken Perkins (originally from the UK) has left Australia’s biggest record collection up for sale.

The extensive collection was passed down to his daughter Natalie Perkins, who has the  task of selling the collection. To help with this, Perkins called on antiquities expert Dr. Daryl Sparkes to help figure out the worth of the collection.

As of yet, a monetary figure for the whole collection has not been figured out but many of the records, including rare 78s could be worth a a lot of money.

Regarding its pricing, Sparkes said: “You would have to go through each individual album and rate them for quality and also for rareness and then you’d be able to work out a price. There is jazz, blues, surf music, 1950s rock – and not all collectors collect all of that. It would be easier to sell it in sections rather than all in one go.”

When working out the amount of time it would take to listen to the entire collection, the estimate comes out to somewhere at six-and-a-half years.

Ms. Perkins believes the collection has cultural and historic significance and is aiming to find a way to keep the collection together. “Someone at a governmental level needs to take control of this collection as it is a national treasure,” Ms. Perkins said. Ideally the Perkins family would love to see collection kept together and not cherry-picked by different collectors.

All the records are reputed to be in perfect condition.

The collection was Ken Perkins’ life’s work and his daughter said she had no idea how much he spent putting it all together. “Dad was from the UK originally and he was very tight-lipped about things like money,” she said.

“Someone at a governmental level needs to take control of this collection as it is a national treasure.”

Ms. Perkins is currently waiting for a buyer and has set up an Instagram account for the collection called The Ken Perkins Collection.

 

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Rare John Coltrane 1963 Recordings Found

On March 6th 1963, John Coltrane and his Classic Quartet — McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones — recorded an entire studio album at the legendary Van Gelder Studios. This music, which features unheard originals, will finally be released 55 years later. This is, in short, the holy grail of jazz.

Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album will be released on June 29th on Impulse! Records, Coltrane’s final and most creative label home.

The first week of March in 1963 was busy for John Coltrane. He was in the midst of a two-week run at Birdland and was gearing up to record the famed John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album, which he did on March 7th. But there was a session the day before that was the stuff of legend, until now.

On Wednesday March 6th, Coltrane and the quartet went to Van Gelder Studios in Englewood, NJ and cut a complete album’s worth of material, including several original compositions that were never recorded elsewhere.  They spent the day committing these to tape, taking time with some, rehearsing them two, three times, playing them in different ways and in different configurations.

At the end of the day, Coltrane left Van Gelder Studios with a reference tape and brought it to the home in Queens that he shared with his wife, Naima. These tapes remained untouched for the next 54 years until Impulse! approached the family about finally releasing this lost album. Though the master tape was never found—Rudy Van Gelder wasn’t one for clutter—the reference tape was discovered to be in excellent condition.

As the legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins so rightly put it, “This is like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.” The musical implications of this album, the original compositions, the arrangements, the band, the year it was recorded, all amount to a rediscovery and re-contextualization of one of the most important musicians of our time.

Danny Bennett, President and CEO of the Verve Label Group and home of Impulse! records, says, “Jazz is more relevant today than ever. It’s becoming the alternative music of the 21st century, and no one embodies the boundary-breaking essence of jazz more than John Coltrane. He was a visionary who changed the course of music, and this lost album is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. It gives us insight into his creative process and connects us to his artistry. This album is a cultural moment and the release coincides perfectly with our relaunch of the iconic Impulse! label.”

On this album, there are two completely unknown and never-before-heard originals. “Untitled Original 11383” and “Untitled Original 11386,” both played on soprano sax. “11383” features an arco bass solo by Jimmy Garrison, a relative rarity, and “11386” marks a significant structural change for the quartet, in that they keep returning to the theme between solos, not typical in the quartet’s repertoire.

In addition to the two unheard originals, “One Up, One Down” – released previously only on a bootleg recording from Birdland – is heard here as a studio recording for the first and only time. It contains a fascinating exchange between Elvin Jones and Coltrane.

“Impressions,” one of Coltrane’s most famous and oft-recorded compositions, is played here in a piano-less trio. In fact, McCoy Tyner lays out a number of times during this recording session. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of this session and reflects the harmonic possibilities that Coltrane was known to be discussing regularly with Ornette Coleman around this time.

This studio session also yielded Coltrane’s first recording of “Nature Boy,” which he would record again in 1965, and the two versions differ greatly. The one we know is exploratory, meandering. This version is tight, solo-less and clocking in at just over three minutes. The other non-original composition on the album is “Vilia,” from Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Merry Widow”. The soprano version on the Deluxe Edition is the only track from this session to have been previously released.

This incredible, once-in-a-lifetime discovery reveals a number of creative balances at work, like developing original melodies while rethinking familiar standards. Trying out some tunes first on tenor saxophone, then on soprano. Using older techniques like the arpeggio runs of his “sheets of sound” while experimenting with false fingerings and other newer sounds. This session was pivotal, though to call it such overlooks the fact Coltrane was ever on pivot, always pushing the pedal down while still calling on older, tested ideas and devices.

Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album is a major addition to the Coltrane catalogue and the most important jazz discovery in recent memory.

This historic session resulted in 14 tracks in total. On the standard edition, there are 7 takes, chosen by Ravi Coltrane. The rest of the takes exist on the second disc of the deluxe set. There will be a standard CD and LP and a deluxe CD and LP available on June 29th on Impulse! The deluxe edition will exist on all digital streaming platforms as well.

Standard Edition Track List:

1. Untitled Original 11383 (5:41)
2. Nature Boy (3:24)
3. Untitled Original 11386 (8:43)
4. Vilia (5:32)
5. Impressions (4:36)
6. Slow Blues (11:28)
7. One Up, One Down (8:01)

Deluxe Edition Track List:

CD1
1. Untitled Original 11383 (Take 1) (5:41)
2. Nature Boy (3:24)
3. Untitled Original 11386 (Take 1) (8:43)
4. Vilia (Take 3) (5:32)
5. Impressions (Take 3) (4:36)
6. Slow Blues (11:28)
7. One Up, One Down (Take 1) (8:01)

CD2
1. Vilia (Take 5) (4:37)
2. Impressions (Take 1) (4:06)
3. Impressions (Take 2) (4:37)
4. Impressions (Take 4) (3:40)
5. Untitled Original 11386 (Take 2) (8:41)
6. Untitled Original 11386 (Take 5) (8:23)
7. One Up, One Down (Take 6) (7:17)

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Trailer: ‘Should’ve Been There’ The Story of The Melody Maker

Directed by: Leslie Ann Coles and starring: Barrie L Wentzell, Ian Anderson, Eric Burdon, Alan Jones, Sonja Kristina, Peter Whitehead  – behind the scenes peek at all the rock ‘n roll legends of the 1970s, as director Leslie Ann Coles guides us through the ribald history of the influential British rock magazine Melody Maker, featuring unseen photographs of all the greats by Barrie Wentzell.

This is the true story of the rise and fall of the world’s most influential music publication in history and uncovers an era of tremendous creative freedom.

At the heart of the story is Barrie Wentzell, Chief Contributing Photographer of Melody Maker Magazine (1965-1975) and his iconic photographic archive featuring prominent legendary musicians that emerged during the birth of rock n’ roll.

Selected musicians, and Melody Maker journalists, Chris Welch, Chris Charlesworth, Richard Guardian, Alan Lewis, Mick Watts and Allen Jones infuse the film with stories about a unique period when Melody Maker, founded in 1926 as a jazz musician’s trade paper boldly became the first publication to cover popular music seriously in the early 1960’s, setting the stage for publications like Rolling Stone.

Melody Maker captured the attention of the musicians, fans, and the journalists who shared a common passion, the music. Bands were formed from the classified section, a pop culture phenomenon!

This landmark documentary takes a fresh look at the changing landscape of music journalism that lead to the end of Melody Maker Magazine, and a style of music journalism that no longer exists today.

Thanks to Ann Hock for alerting me to this documentary.

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Tales From The Woods May 13th Gig

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Battle Ground Korea – Songs And Sounds Of America’s Forgotten War

Box set specialist Bear Family are to releasea four CD set ‘Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War’, on March 23rd.

Bear Family Records have assembled an impressive four-CD anthology that is part 1950s American soundtrack and part historical document, representing the most comprehensive examination ever assembled of songs inspired by the Korean War.

While the music of the World War II and Vietnam War eras garnered a lot of attention, far less is known about the sounds of the Korea War period, even though it stands as a significant time in American society, from the post-WWII boom years to dawning of the 1960s.

The 121 tracks on the four discs incorporate a full range of U.S. music styles  — blues, R&B, country, folk, bluegrass, gospel and pop — and features country stars like Ernest Tubb, Gene Autry, Jean Shepherd, Tex Ritter, Red Foley, and Merle Travis as well as blues artists including John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, and Jimmy Witherspoon. There are songs by rhythm and blues giants such as Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Dave Bartholomew, and gospel star Sister Rosetta Tharpe, along with the Delmore Brothers, Louvin Brothers, Jim & Jesse, and the Osborne Brothers who are among the bluegrass luminaries in this collection.

Each of the ‘Battleground Korea’s’ discs is organised around a different theme, essentially taking a chronological look at the war. CD 1’s songs are about “Going to War,” while CD 2 deals with being “In Korea.” “On the Homefront” is CD 3’s focus and CD 4 explores “Peace And Its Legacies.”

One of the well-thought-out aspects of this compilation is that Bear Family created several short narrative-style song-cycles throughout. The “On the Homefront” CD, for example, has “A Dear John Letter,” followed by “John’s Reply,” “Dear Joan” and “Forgive Me John.” Another set of songs goes from “Please Daddy, Don’t Go to War” to “Why Does the Army Need My Daddy,” “God Bless My Daddy” and “Don’t Steal Daddy’s Medal.” The “Peace and its Legacies” disc, meanwhile, strings together a run of tunes that starts with “Leavin’ Korea” and ends with “Back Home.”

This anthology also does a clever job of pairing songs. Arthur Crudup’s “The War Is Over” followed by Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “The War Is Over.” B.B. King’s “Questionnaire Blues” precedes John Lee Hooker’s version.

CD 1, in fact, contains renditions of “Korea Blues” done by Fats Domino, Clifford Blivens with the Johnny Otis Band, and Willie Brown. Bear Family have dug deep to discover tunes for this set, and certainly came up with some interesting obscurities including Hank Harral and His Palomino Cowhands on “When They Raised the UN Flag In South Korea,” Cactus Pryor and his Pricklypears’ tune “(In Again, Out Again) Packing Up My Barracks Bags Blues,” and “When They Drop the Atomic Bomb” from Jackie Doll and his Pickled Peppers?

There is much more to ‘Battleground Korea’, however, than just the songs; archival non-musical material is woven in throughout including General Douglas MacArthur as well as excerpts of speeches by presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. There are field reports from war correspondents and public service announcements from Vic Damone and even cartoon character Howdy Doody.

Click here to hear a previously unheard song from the collection.

The box comes with a 160-page, full-color hardcover book, with liner notes from music scholar Hugo A. Keesing detailing background information on every song and recording artist.

Fully illustrated, the book also is packed with vintage photographs, flyers, advertisements, record covers, magazines, and other period memorabilia. Special chapters include an interview with country singer Frankie Miller about his time in Korea, a nine-page section with some rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe’s visit with the U.S. troops, and a history of the Korean War.

“Battleground Korea” arrives at a timely moment, with Korea a frequent subject in the news and the U.S. government having a particularly fraught relationship with North Korea. This highly relevant box set provides a compelling collection of period music and historical perspective into the sights and sounds of America’s forgotten war.

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The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of UK Record Shops

A new book by Garth Cartwright called ‘Going For A Song’ will explore the history of UK record shops – from the age of the wax cylinder to the days of dubstep and the recent resurgence of vinyl. It will describe how these fondly remembered stores across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland became musical oracles for the nation’s youth, transforming fashion and culture in the process.

Cartwright is the author of several books and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, the BBC World Service, and he also writes for the Financial Times, The Sunday Times, Songlines, Record Collector and other international publications.

The book covers the story of UK record-buying – from market traders selling music-hall 78s alongside Whitechapel’s shellac synagogues, through to HMV’s Oxford Street classical emporium and London’s post-World War Two, jazz, blues and folk specialist shops in London including famous names such as Dobell’s, Rays, Mole Jazz, Honest Jon’s, Rock On, Stearn’s and Colletts; Barry’s Record Rendezvous, Paul Marsh, Spinn Inn in Manchester (all regular haunts!) and many others throughout the UK such as Beano’s, Chris Wellard– even Woolies!

It will reveal how Brian Epstein, the man behind Liverpool’s NEMS shops, used his trade contacts to launch The Beatles and documents how the Mods discovered rhythm and blues, ska and Bluebeat importers as well as the golden dawn of psychedelia at Mayfair’s One Stop – where Jimi Hendrix was a regular customer

The early 1970s finds Richard Branson’s Virgin shops leading a revolution in record retail, and Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet, Small Wonder and Good Vibrations launching their own punk record labels.

Disco, reggae, techno and dubstep are all shaped by other shops. The CD boom fuels the megastores, and then downloading takes hold and the big chains crash.

But then independent record shops rise again from the ruins, riding the vinyl revival and Record Store Day.

In these UK record shops, friendships were forged, knowledge shared, bands formed, labels launched and music history made. ‘Going For A Song’ tells this incredible story for the first time.

Never-before-published research finds a youthful Bob Dylan recording in the basement of Dobell’s, and East End villains unloading lorry loads of stolen albums via Carnaby Street.

Meanwhile, race relations are tense in dub shacks, while African and Indian, Turkish and Albanian record vendors serve exotic sounds to their various immigrant communities.

Along the way, David Bowie, Dusty Springfield, Danny Baker and Elton John all enter the music industry through jobs in record shops. Also appearing are John Peel (of course), B.B. King (a regular visitor to Dobell’s when in London), Bluebeat king Prince Buster, Ralph McTell, Joe Strummer, Bert Jansch, Malcolm McLaren, Lemmy, Phil Lynott, The Small Faces, Louis Armstrong and Sir Edward Elgar (alongside many other notable musicians, DJs, writers, hustlers and chancers).

Garth has travelled the the UK to conduct more than 100  interviews with record-shop pioneers, trendsetting musicians and, of course, the customers.

He conducted extensive research to trace the history of record retail across a century of unprecedented social, cultural and political change. The book is illustrated with dozens of great photographs, advertisements, record bags and other treasures from the golden age of record retail.

Book available at the end of March, will be available in independent record shops and book shops around the UK  and is being distributed by Proper.

 

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Bloodshot Records – Special Xmas Album!

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