Legendary old-timey star and banjo pioneer Wade Mainer ascended to a higher lonesome earlier this week at the age of 104, leaving behind Julia, his wife of 73 years. Invited by Franklin Roosevelt to perform at the White House in '42, Wade was by then a hugely popular performer and recording artist, which he remained up through the early '50s when, after finding God, he put down his banjo and started working for General Motors in Flint, Michigan. Wade who spent his last six decades in Flint, eventually retired from the auto plant, but was coaxed back into the musical arena, playing assorted festivals and recording mountain gospel albums to thrill new generations of fans. Now, for the first the first time since Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House, the world must carry on without Wade Mainer.
Our lead-off item below is a treasured 1971 recording of Wade's with his beloved Julia singing and playing rhythm guitar. Enjoy.
More than the grass is blue...
Wade Mainer & the Mainer Mountaineers ~ "First Time in Stereo"
(Blog: Jeremy's Saggy Record Cabinet)
Old Man in the Mountain Music
"Throughout the years, the United States has produced many great country artists. In the beginning there was Fiddlin' John Carson, Ernest Stoneman and Uncle Dave Macon only to name a few. Then of course later there came Whittier and Grayson, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family and Hank Williams. Generally speaking, one of the characteristics that made them great was their ability to behold something and see or hear far more than the normal person would. Calling upon their knowledge of history, past experiences and traditions, with their keen insights they could translate the past into the present and the future. Almost always, the greatness of these men was not recognized until many years after the great deeds had been done. I believe such to be the case with Wade Mainer. His unique ability to take folk traditions and past happenings and apply them to the words of a song is only of late beginning to be recognized." (John W. Morris, from the liner notes)
Del Jones' Positive Vibes ~ "Court Is Closed"
(Blog: Record Fiend)
"Side two, however, really delivers the goods. Although "Prelude ta Hell," "Needle 'n Spoon," and "Cold Turkey" make up a three-part anti-drug suite, it still doesn't prevent them from collectively being one of the most mind-blowing pieces of black psychedelia committed to wax. Seriously, this is some heavy shit, man. Although Jones' range is somewhat limited, he sings his heart out on these tracks, with the uncredited band providing extremely suitable accompaniment throughout the proceedings. It's a shame that the personnel are unlisted even though there are numerous photos of the musicians on the back of the album jacket. The two guitarists alternately lay down wicked wah-wah rhythms or searing leads on all of the performances, while the rhythm section, flautist, and occasional horn players supply just the right amount of musical support." (Words of wisdom from the consistently spellbinding host of Record Fiend)
Ashanti Brothers ~ "Kill Me and Fly"
(Blog: Global Groove)
Ghana Fly Now
"I was trying to find me some useful information on this topic, but Ashanti Brothers Band's album 'Kill me and Fly' seemed (how about this word) ungoogleable. The leader of the band's called Osei Vasco, and that's really all I know. Being from 1978, I must say, the vinyl is in very good condition and spins beautiful. And then, the music, I have seldom heard such great highlife, I'm very fund of this sound with warm vocal harmony and Hammond organ!" (By the mighty Moos, at Global Groove)
Beaver Harris 360 Degrees Experience ~ "Safe"
(Blog: Arkadin's Ark)
"Here we have a scarcely known and rare (if not his rarest) album by Beaver Harris and his 360 Degree Experience. Most discographies don't even list it. A pretty accessible effort compared to some of his other albums and worthwhile alone for the first track Boogie on Dawn!" (By Arkadin, at Arkadin's Ark)
[To get a sense of how rarified this drop is, peruse plotzing of the hard-core jazz hounds (including me) in the comments to this posting!]
Sam Taylor Jr ~ "Tunnels of My Mind"
(Blog: Things, Stuff & Music)
Changing Lanes Is Strictly Prohibited
"Here's one that has been ridiculously overlooked among soul aficionados. Maybe it is because Sam Taylor Jr. is usually associated with blues music more than soul, but this is more a soul record at the core...and besides, the two genres are often interwoven; soul was a blues descendant, you know. Took me a while to discover this one, and I can't remember where I pulled it out. However, I couldn't help but misunderstand how Sam Taylor didn't get noticed, even if ... wasn't exactly producing chart-toppers. Mr. Taylor plays a fresh guitar on many tracks, and his rich, gruff tenor screams of serious emotion. On top of that, the blues touch really shines through on tracks like "Now You Got the Nerve" with it's galloping beat and his cover of "Dark End of the Street" (still with the gospel choir, but now in 3/4 time). Many tracks have Hammond organs to go with the guitar licks, and even congas on the uptempo "Cigarette Grubber" (which condemns moochers who just want, well, something like a cigarette) and "Next in Line." The biggest highlight here is when Taylor slows it down for the very bluesy title track; a chopping rhythm guitar and percussion reminiscent of a dirge pace as he makes his plea for his brothers to take a look in the mirror ("tell me, when you gonna make a stand?"). However, not far behind is his version of "Hey Girl" to close out. It actually feels like a slow and desperate goodbye, and might be the best version of the song ever recorded." (By CVoss, at Rate Your Music )
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