27 October 2008

Sisters Of The South

This is an interesting album, there's a lot of stuff to mention so bear with me.

Starting with the label: Dixiefrog. "Dixie" stands for 'the old south' of the (now) United States of America, "Frog" is used to indicate a Frenchman. The label's based in France and the linernotes are in English and French. Dixiefrog has more roots music artists on offer.

Then it says "Music Maker" big on the front, this refers to the "Music Maker Relief Fund". The MMRF is a charity which "helps the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day to day needs." It's set up by a couple, Tim and Denise Duffy, who apart from offering aid also act as music-recorders, photograph-takers and performance-organizers.

Its title is "Sisters Of The South" with a sub-title "A Whole Life Of Blues". Considering some stuff on this blog you might think that this release is to educate the world about the fact that women played the blues too but fortunately, we're not considered that uninformed. It's about female artists though and there's some blues too. So the artists are 'old' (some even died between the recording and the release), all but one are pre-1950 but the recordings are 'new', at least less than 20 years old (from around 1995 seems most likely). That's not to say the music is new, it's very traditional. It's how the musicians play their songs at home, were taught them or used to play them when they performed at a younger age. Gospel, blues and folk (the boundaries here aren't well defined) mostly in a simple setting with just a guitar or piano accompaniment. Good southern gals have decent and proper inspiration of course, if they don't downright run a church themselves, but love and other naughtiness plays a part here too. There's not really a single aspect to catch everything, you probably get the larger picture but there are exceptions to every rule. Exception examples: artists are Afro-American women but also a Native-American and men can be heard too.

The CDs are 'enhanced' (AKA "CD+"), I had no problem playing them but my usual ripper program had trouble finding the audio tracks. The enhanced part is needed because both disks contain video of some of the artists. The videos are bonus; nice to watch but nothing particularly exceptional. The sleeve is a cardboard box which can fold out and contains a little information on the songs. The booklet is fairly short although not uninformative on text, it has a general introduction and every artist gets a page, and all the writing comes in English and French. A particular recommendation goes out to the photography: every artist has a beautiful picture, Tim Duffy and others have done a tremendous job there. It's for the few pictures that I browse the booklet, much less for the text.

See the Music Maker Relief Foundation site for many more CDs and information, the artists featured on this set can be found on other compilations or albums of their own. MMRF also has a "Sisters Of The South" release but that one's different from this set.
Dixiefrog 2008

Sisters Of The South (97, 96, 17 MB)
CD 1
CD 2
(The extra archive contains the last 3 tracks of each CD)

19 October 2008

Andre Williams & The New Orleans Hellhounds - Can You Deal With It?

I was a bit slow getting to know Andre Williams. It might have something to do with Mr. Williams dropping off the radar during the 1980's due to excessive substance abuse. He's been back for a decade or so with fairly typical setups: blasting over a young garagerock backing band, including Jon Spencer's, Jack White* and the Green Hornet. And if you've never heard of The New Orleans Hellhounds before, or Morning 40 Federation as most members can also be found in, that's not atypical either.

The result often works IMHO. If you're looking for loud, sleazy, greasy rock 'n soul, with lots of guitar, saxophone and organ that is. My mother would call this "good rock 'n roll" like she also did when I caught her listening to my Motorhead tapes (20 years ago, at an age when it still mattered to have a different taste than my parents, but I digress). Don't expect the best record of the century, because it's not, but it has enough different stuff and it sounds like the folks had fun making it.

What else? The package? Meh, just as to the point as the music.
Bloodshot, 2008

Andre Williams & The New Orleans Hellhounds - Can You Deal With It?

* Who? Yes you probably know Jack White from The White Stripes but he's also been in a band called '2 Star Tabernacle'. See 'Dirty Laundry', the predecessor from previous post but 'More Dirty Laundry' also has an Andre Williams song on it. 'Jet Black Daddy Lilly White Mama' from Dirty Laundry needs re-checking if you like this album.

11 October 2008

More Dirty Laundry

"The soul of a black country" part 2 and very similar. The main raison d'etre of these albums is to underline that there's no need to consider country as a 'not-black' style of music. Or perhaps that great music and great musicians aren't particularly bothered by conventions or color of skin. You can have your own ideas about it, the CD contains 24 tracks as food for thought.

There's country songs sung soul-style, there are black artists singing country-style, all sorts of mixing of black and country music, a few songs that do fit on this CD but are really oddities that defy categorization and of course a few artists who do fit on this compilation and also defy categorization. Because let's be honest, you can have James Brown doing a Chinese Opera in reggae-style, it'll be very much James Brown and very little something else.

And that's a nice thing here, lots of famous names doing material they're not famous for. Many famous songs too, like 'King of the road' and 'Tennessee Waltz'. All in all interesting for soul aficionado's and country lovers, and the selection is wide enough to even contain some fun for other people too.

The label is Trikont and that means German and English linernotes. A large amount; introduction and descriptions of artists, with many artist comments on the black country theme. Pictures throughout the booklet but unfortunately many identical to the previous 'Dirty Laundry' CD (like the lady on the cover: she graced the booklet of the first issue). High quality release.
Trikont, 2008

More Dirty Laundry
part 1
part 2
(115 MB split in 12 songs ~ 57 MB ~ each, separately extractable)