Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
At Mining the Audio Motherlode, we're all about basking in the warm glow of the wonderful sound of sound. Anything can be music if you hear it just right. In that spirit, there are times when there is no greater music than the simple sounds of baseball on the radio. The ambient noises of the game—the crack of bat on ball, the purr of the crowd, the fog-cutting "striiiiiike" call of umpire Dutch Rennert, and, of course, the homespun rhythms and cadences of the announcers as they incant their ancient ritual, each new broadcast rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the previous day's game.
As a new resident of Pittsburgh, I've been doing my civic duty by cocking an ear most nights toward the radio coverage of the lowly hometown Pirates. Their lethargic play rarely elicits more than a whisper of drama from the local radio crew, but last Saturday night, the team pulled off a freakish and unexpected victory that sent the men behind the microphones into absurd paroxysms of pleasure that, aside from its amateurish hometown boosterism, was simply a wonder to behold. Have a listen.
If you dig the freeform mix of music presented here each week, be sure to check out WFMU's web stream Give the Drummer Radio. Every Friday morning, 9 to noon, my radio show Give the Drummer Some is broadcast live on the stream. Send your email address to get on the mailing list.
OK, now on to this week's haul...
Langston Hughes/Charles Mingus ~ "The Weary Blues"
(Blog: Lucky Psychic Hut)
From the album: Boogie: 1 a.m. (mp3)
Words Are Deeds
The sound alone of poet Langston Hughes's voice—let alone the poems themselves—has always been music to the ears. Three decades after writing "Weary Blues," and many of his other beloved works, Hughes stepped into the recording studio with Charles Mingus and his combo, and narrated his poems to a propulsive, compelling musical backing. Stunning stuff. (All praises to blogger Lucky who cut the one long recording into individual tracks.)
Various ~ "Steeling Around the World: Hawaiian Style"
(Blog: Holy Warbles)
From the album: Ta Aspra Poulia Sta Vouna (mp3) by Kostas Bezos
Aloha Oy Vey
Some credit the Panama-Pacific Pavilion at the 1915 World's Fair in San Francisco for spreading the Hawaiian guitar craze. This comp presents stellar stabs at steel-string stardom by bands recorded in Romania, Japan, India, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, South Africa, Greece, Holland, Australia, Austria, Germany, France, Denmark, and Sweden. Of course the tracks by native Islanders Kanui and Lula steal, er, steel, the show.
Soft Head (Soft Heap) ~ "Rogue Element"
(Blog: Jazz Archives)
British fusion supergroup Soft Heap, comprising members of Soft Machine and National Health, took its name from the first letters of the quartet's names: Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean (Soft Machine); Alan Gowen and Pip Pyle (National Health. When the live recording Rogue Element was made, during the band's 1978 tour, drummer Dave Sheen was filling in for Pyle, changing the band's moniker, on this release at least, to Soft Head. (Some say the album's title was jab at Pyle, who chose to stick with National Health rather than tour with his Soft Heap mates.)
Various ~ "Somalia Sings Songs of the New Era"
From the album: Aynaanka Hay (mp3) by Abdi Muhumud Amin & Waaberi Artists
Ministry of Information and National Guidance
Celebrating in understated style, the absolutely essential African music blog Likembe just marked its third anniversary by posting a remarkable and impossibly rare music artifact from 1970s Somalia. Even without the tracks, the post itself—with its political history of Somalia, translations of songs and front/back cover art—will be one of the best you will read this year. Then there's the music.
Various ~ "Hixville: We'll Have a Time Yes-Siree!"
From the album: They Don't Have to Operate (They Just Pull the Zipper) (mp3)
by Otis Parker
Vanity, Thy Name Is Starday
For 14 years, beginning in late 1953, the country music label Starday operated a custom pressings division, issuing around 700 vanity recordings all told. While only a handful of the tracks got re-relased with wider distribution by Starday proper, most of the records were simply pressed in small quantities for the individual artists—and then largely forgotten. This comp presents more than two dozen of these custom pressings from '54 and '55. (Thanks to Malcolm Chapman for the tremendous info.)
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