As husband and wife, Ike & Tina Turner headed up one of the most potent live acts on the R&B circuit during the '60s and early '70s. Guitarist and bandleader Ike kept his ensemble tight and well-drilled while throwing in his own distinctively twangy plucking; lead vocalist Tina was a ferocious whirlwind of power and energy, a raw sexual dynamo who was impossible to contain when she hit the stage, leading some critics to call her the first female singer to embody the true spirit of rock & roll. In their prime, the Ike & Tina Turner Revue specialized in a hard-driving, funked-up hybrid of soul and rock that, in its best moments, rose to a visceral frenzy that few R&B acts of any era could hope to match. Effusively praised by white rock luminaries like the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin, Tina was unquestionably the star of the show, with a hugely powerful, raspy voice that ranks among the all-time soul greats. For all their concert presence, the Turners sometimes had problems translating their strong points to record; they cut singles for an endless succession of large and small independent labels throughout their career, and suffered from a shortage of the strong original material that artists with more stable homes (Motown, Atlantic, Stax, etc.) often enjoyed. The couple's well-documented marital difficulties (a mild way of describing Ike's violent, drug-fueled cruelty) eventually dissolved their partnership in the mid-'70s. Tina, of course, went on to become an icon and a symbol of survival after the resurgence of her solo career in the '80s, but it was the years she spent with Ike that made the purely musical part of her legend. -Allmusic.com
Once again, I've spent too much money at the record store. This time, I walked into a small ephemera boutique in my neighborhood to see what they have. Low and behold, there were about ten crates of records. And, mostly great records at that. I couldn't resist buying this album, among others.
Rock & roll spread through the world like a glorious epidemic in the 1950s and '60s, and there was hardly a nation on Earth where the impact of the music wasn't felt, but it hardly sounded the same wherever it landed; like many invasive species, rock & roll made its way into the local ecosystem, crossbred with the culture, and took new shapes in each land. Anyone curious about the results of this process need look no further than Shadow Music of Thailand, a fascinating compilation of material recorded in Bangkok during the mid-'60s under the aegis of bandleader Payong Mukda. The local genre of "shadow music" consisted of familiar tunes from Thai folk songs performed by rock & roll combos, with the angular melody lines interpreted on electric guitars and Farfisa organs while bass and drums often percolated with an R&B-influenced rhythm underneath. To Western ears, the results seem at once foreign and familiar; this is unmistakably music from Thailand, following a melodic path that's very different from pop music in English-speaking nations, but the firm, steady pulse of the rhythm section and the guitar work suggesting the influence of the Ventures and the Shadows make it clear that rock & roll is part of this formula, even if you usually can't always dance to it. (There are also brief moments where the musicians add "Oriental" melodic flourishes, so an American corruption of Asian music stands side by side with a stylized but ultimately authentic interpretation of Thai music, demonstrating once again how popular culture makes strange bedfellows.) There's a languid power to this music that sometimes runs counter to the firm push of the rhythms, but the yin and yang of these two sides only adds to the beauty of the whole, and Shadow Music of Thailand is a curious but richly satisfying document of how rock & roll helped shape music outside the First World -- and vice versa. -Allmusic.com
You may remember The Freedom Sounds' first release, that I posted back in January. Well, here's the followup album. If you're a fan of The Jazz Crusaders/ Wayne Henderson, then you'll love this. It was cut for Atlantic Records by the nine-piece group put together by trombonist Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders. It was cut around the same time that Henderson appeared as part of Hugh Masekela's band at the Monterey International Pop Festival, and it comes from a similar multi-cultural, musical, multi-lingual sensibility. Enjoy!
This is a record that I found in the trash, and I can't figure out why! The disc and jacket are in great condition. And the content ...well, if you're into lounge/ exotica, this is the tops. Enjoy!
Arthur Lyman's unique blend of tiki and jungle-inspired instrumental exotica takes a rural detour on Cotton Fields (1963). One might not visually connect the incongruous cover art imagery -- of a fiery geyser -- with the early-'60s resurgence of folk music. But with it came yet another hue for the artist's already opulent sonic pallet. Lyman (vibraphone) is joined by Alan Soares (piano), John Kramer (bass/guitar/flute), and Harold Chang (percussion). Collectively they infuse the dozen familiar melodies on Cotton Fields with a palpable Polynesian influence. As was customary, the contents of Lyman's long-player were derived from a wide variety of sources. The jazzy "Jungle Drums" opens the effort in familiar territory for the participants as Lyman's wistful and somnolent marimba gives way to an ornate duet between Chang's tribal percussion and Kramer's invocative woodwinds. The update of "Greensleeves" remains rooted in a suitably majestic madrigal context with the intimacy of Kramer's acoustic guitar and Soares' light piano phrasings providing the folksy ambience. Turning to the silver screen, Lyman and company update the bluesy "Walk on the Wild Side," giving it a lighter, temperate feel -- especially when compared to Jimmy Smith's hit version. While not as prevalent as on other Lyman platters, the Great White Way figures into the proceedings as the upscale "Little Girl Blue" hails from the Richard Rogers/Lorenz Hart musical Jumbo (1935). To the same end, the LP's concluding number, "I Ain't Down Yet," is a spunky reworking thanks to Chang's top-shelf time-keeping. Lyman's refined vibes lead the ensemble through an airy and unmistakably bop-informed rendition. The burgeoning bossa nova craze likewise informs a fair share of Cotton Fields with the catchy Caribbean "Limbo Rock," as well as the equally uptempo groove percolating through the freewheeling "Hawaiian War Chant" and the rapid-fire update of "Brazil." Proving their considerable talents as romantic balladeers, Lyman and company decelerate the pace for the moody, sublime, and intimate "This Is My Beloved." Similarly, "Singing Bamboo" places the listener in a relaxed tropical setting. Although touted as stemming from the folk tradition, the title track "Cotton Fields" is given a rousing R&B makeover that seems to have been steeped in gospel instead of its typical Appalachian lineage. Rather than ramping things up for a big finale, Lyman settles into the haunting "Scarlet Ribbons." Kramer's evocative flute underscores the tender melody, placing it arguably as the album's most folksy entry. In 2008, Collectors Choice Music paired Cotton Fields with Blowin' in the Wind (1963) for a two-fer containing both -- making them available for the first time in decades.-Allmusic.com
This is today's find at Vinal Edge. I found the premise of the movie, and the fact that it was directed by Roman Polanski intriguing. With this post, I feel that I've assuaged my need to share soundtracks. So, the next post will be a Mystery Album #6. Until then ....
[aka The Fearless Vampire Killers] The score for The Dance of the Vampires probably sounded just as strange in 1967 as it does today. The film was marketed as a horror farce, but it sounds like Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda had slightly different thoughts in mind. The score is not completely macabre nor is it completely tongue-in-cheek. Instead it inhabits this weird space in between that draws on both traits at the same time. It’s eerie but not frightening, legitimate but not serious. And some of its main themes ride upon instrumentation that could strike listeners today as almost alien. Harpsichord and upright bass with wordless incantations from a wavering choir sitting just a few tracks away from strings and woodwinds and drum-backed kitsch reminiscent of Rocky Horror—it begs the questions “Is this a joke?” and “Are you trying to freak me out?” simultaneously. It sounds slightly dated, but not in the ways one would think.
With 19 tracks clocking in at just a hair over thirty minutes, The Dance of the Vampires is not a large score. Shortening it even more is the fact that many of the themes are repeated with sometimes very little variation. For instance, the “Main Title” at the start is almost identical to the closing number “Herbert’s Song” (the latter is longer by about two minutes). The slowed minor key vibratos of the choir are the driving force on these two tracks, using the harpsichord as a piece of archaic window-dressing. “Sarah in Bath” is an acappella “Snowman” sped up to a moderate tempo. And “Snowman” is a guitar and oboe waltz that mutates into a minor-key chant for “Koukol Laughs”. Then it goes back to being “Snowman” for the start of “Sarah’s Song”. “Sarah Asks for a Bath - Love Tune”, which appropriates the opening theme, is probably the least romantic twenty-two seconds of the program. Between these numbers are incidental cues that visually set scenes (as they should).