Playlists

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Somebody, somewhere, has downloaded Neil Sedaka’s 1960 single “Stairway to Heaven” and been super, super disappointed. This playlist is for that guy.

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“Lean on Me” by Harry Belafonte with Machito & his Orchestra

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“Mother’s Little Helper” by the Sinfoneta di Milana, under the direction of William Gunther – from the popular album already featured here on the Hymie’s blog, Music to Make Housework Easier

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“Candle in the Wind” by George McCannon III

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“Communication Breakdown” by Junior Giscombe

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“Time after Time” by Jim Nabors

pink cadillac

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“Pink Cadillac” by Rusty Draper

 

It’s tough to be a bee. People are always shooing you away and screaming when you come around to say hello, and you’re just trying to do your job. And its an important job, too. According to a UN study quoted by Bee Guardian (here) our little black and yellow friends pollinate seventy percent of  the 100 crops that supply food to ninety percent of the world. Thats a complicated fact with a lot of numbers but also really stunning when you think about it. So the next time you see a bee, pat him on his little head and say ‘thanks!’ or better yet sing him a song…

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“Honey Bee” by Tom Petty

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“Honey Bee” by Muddy Waters

 

bone 1bone 2

(Images from Bone #7, February 1994 – Fone Bone discovers the bees in the mysterious valley are larger than expected)

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“Honey from the Bee” and “Love Buzz” by Willie and the Bees

 

Sting in this old Bee by Hank Thompson

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“A Sleepin’ Bee” by the Bill Evans Trio

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“Never Swat a Fly” by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band

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“Don’t Bug Me Baby” by Milton Allen

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“Love Bug Crawl” by Jimmy Edwards

If you and your new bee friend settle in for a visit you could invite him for tea (with honey, of course). While visiting on your patio, show him the greatest website ever made, he’s sure to enjoy seeing it.

honey bee

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“Honey Bee” by Billy Myles

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“Honey Bee” by Lee Pepper and his Orchestra

back in your life

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“Buzz Buzz Buzz” and “Hey There Little Insect” by Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

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B Side by Loudon Wainwright III

I had a conversation about country music with one of our regular customers the other day that stuck with me. He and I share a lot of the same favorites, but when it came to Jimmie Rodgers he said, “I like the way he yodels, but does he have to yodel so goddamn much?!”

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“Blue Yodel #3 (Evening Sun)” by Jimmie Rodgers

My friend also told me that he had watched a television documentary about yodeling (you can find anything on cable these days) and it made absolutely no mention of country yodeling. Rodgers’ singing style, of course, was one of the most influential to come out of the depression era, and you can hear it in generations of performers since, from later legends like Lefty Frizell (who did a tribute album in 1951) and Merle Haggard (whose tribute album came out a couple decades later) to the Cactus Blossoms’ Page Burkum, who can yodel awfully fine himself, although he doesn’t do it very often.

There are, unfortunately, no yodels on the Cactus Blossoms’ first album (hear it here). Maybe there will be on their next album. The song I’d like to hear them play would be “My Lovin’ Gal Lucille” (ie “Blue Yodel #2). Here’s a recording from the 30s by the Rhythm Wreckers.

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“Blue Yodel #2 (My Lovin Gal Lucille)” by the Rhythm Wreckers

Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodels” are a national treasure, as much a part of our cultural heritage as the bullshit they made you memorize in junior high school about minutemen or the Boston tea party. Jimmie Rodgers is high culture now, in one of the most ironic of ironic transformations.

What could possibly be more ridiculous than hipsters looking for Jimmie Rodgers records…
Maybe this…

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Electric Guitar

George Barnes is credited with the first recorded performance on the electric guitar, playing the new instrument on two tracks by Big Bill Broonzy. His performance predated Eddie Durham’s recording with Count Basie’s Kansas City Five by fifteen days – a stupid distinction because Durham’s recording is so much more interesting. In fact, the very best of the early innovators in the history of the electric guitar were jazz musicians, most of all Charlie Christian who was first recorded six years later.

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(“Wholly Cats” by the Benny Goodman Sextet)

Amplification shifted the guitarist from the rhythm section to the forefront of the jazz ensemble, but Charlie Christian’s few recordings are remarkable because he was already ahead of the new fold, preforming a primordial bebop on the guitar before the horns had even imagined it.

Charlie Christian, taken by tuberculosis at the age of twenty-five, finally got his due in the early 70s when Columbia compiled his best solos into a double disc set called Solo Flight: The Genius of Charlie Christian. The set exemplified all the best of 70s archival LP releases – great sound, great selections, great notes. It also highlighted a previously overlooked innovator in the short-lived Christian, who was taken by tuberculosis at the age of 25 in 1941.

Representing Christian’s contribution to the development of the electric guitar are “Wholly Cats” from a 1940 Benny Goodman session that also featured Count Basie on piano (up above) and a roarin’ take on “I Got Rhythm”, which Charlie Christian recorded with a quintet here in Minneapolis in 1940:

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(“I Got Rhythm” by the Charlie Christian Quintet)

Electric Sitar

Dozens of bands – from Yes and Genesis to the Clash and Van Halen – have used an electric sitar for color and effect. The instrument is actually closer to a guitar than a sitar, being built and fretted in a way familiar to guitarists. Most still have a “buzz bridge” to help recreate the sitar’s distinctive sound, and many also retain the sitar’s “sympathetic strings” although the electric sitar does not generate enough resonance to create the rich sound “sympathetic strings” add to a traditional sitar’s tableau.

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(“Don’t You Try to be my Baby” by Moonquake)

Joe South played an electric sitar on “Games People Play”. He is one of the most underrated innovators of his era, and we’ve already written about his awesome-ness before (click here to read it) – so I chose a track by the short-lived prog group Moonquake instead. The electric sitar is played by Havaness Hagopian,

Electric Saxophone

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(“Listen Here” by Eddie Harris)

Eddie Harris is heard here performing on the Veritone, an electronically amplified saxophone introduced by Selmer in 1965. Controls put a variety of effects at the performers fingertips, including an echo, tone control and – significant in this recording – an octave divider.

Harris reworked “Listen Here” several times in the several years that followed the success of The Electrifying Eddie Harris – My favorite record by Eddie Harris, The Reason I’m Talking Shit, features some great work on the instrument (sampled by De La Soul in “I Be Blowin’” years later – although most of the album is actually Eddie Harris talking shit).

Electric Cello

The Twin Cities own Aaron Kerr (the Sleeper Pins, the Swallows, JazZen) performs as often on the electric cello as on acoustic instruments, and often in unique settings.

His instrumental collaboration with the Swallows, Dissonant Creatures, captures the surprisingly big sound that comes from the small instrument.

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(“Doctor Phibes” by Aaron Kerr and Swallows)

Electric Violin

It’s not really fair to everyone else to end with a track from this album – Violinski’s first album was distinguished on the cover for it’s inclusion of ELO’s Mik Kaminski, but it’s not really as awesome as an ELO album. Here is the title track, “No Cause for Alarm” – Kaminski is featured on the Barcus-Berry electric violin, which I think was actually blue.

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i love tortillas

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“I Love Onions” by Susan Christie

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“I Love Tortillas” by La Banda de Ray Camacho

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“Banana, What a Crazy Fruit” by Rusty Canyon

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“Baking Soda” by John Hartford

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“A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich and You” by Vera Gilaroff

Corpse Reviver is a trio of great local musicians – Adam Kiesling, Mikkel Beckmen and Jillian Rae – and they didn’t get their name from your grandad’s super gross cognac-heavy hangover cure. And they’re not a metal band either, although Corpse Reviver would be a freakin’ sweet name for a metal band. They’ve taken on that name because their sets are derived from the 112 songs on the four volumes of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.

Of course, the name suggests the music on Smith’s legendary collection of 78s from the 1920s (primarily) through the early 1940s is dead and forgotten. This was surely the case when the first three volumes were issued by Folkways Records in 1952, but less so today – American roots music is enjoying a healthy renaissance in recent years, and the Twin Cities has been more than welcoming to the trend. Many songs from the period, on and off the Anthology, have been adopted by local artists, and as Corpse Reviver proves, they have a robust relevance still today.

So this awesome trio with ties to so many other other local favorites of ours – including Steve Kaul’s Brass Kings, Pert Near Sandstone, Charlie Parr, the Brian Just Band and the Blackberry Brandy Boys, to name a few – has been folk, blues and country tunes off the Anthology for a while now, and just finished recording an album at Underwood Studio this spring.

They played a set at Trampled by Turtles’ anniversary extravaganza at First Avenue a couple weeks ago, and brought with them a limited, numbered edition (of only twenty-five!) of their not-yet released album, Volume 1: I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called. You can hear the entire record on their bandcamp page here or by using the handy player below. They are planning a full release of the album for this summer, or perhaps the fall if they decide to press LPs (yes, contact ‘em through that Bandcamp page and tell ‘em you’d buy an album!).

Mikkel Beckmen was kind enough to bring a couple copies of the disc to the shop, where it has taken up a residency in our CD player. We thought a fun way to introduce the album would be to present it above, and then collect the ten original recordings from the Folkways compilations below.

corpse reviver cd

 

What is the Anthology of American Folk Music?

The Anthology of American Folk Music is a 1952 compilation album (actually a series of three double LP sets) culled from an incredible stash of shellac collected by Harry Smith. The eighty-four songs split over its six records had been commercially released on 78 rpm discs between 1927 and 1932, but were for all intents lost to the listeners even just two decades later. The range was chosen because it captures music created between the dawn of electronic recording and the substantial dip in country, folk and blues recordings that is caused by the Depression.

Smith is variously described as a Bohemian, an experimental filmmaker, an ethno-musicologist, and an eccentric (and he was all of these things), but his great contribution to the ages was as the coolest record nerd of his generation. Smith amassed blues, folk and country 78s at a time when they were considered worthless relics. Fortunately Folkways founder Moses Asche shared his feeling, and the label issued what is essentially the first and most awesome mixtape anybody ever made. The three sets were originally issued with identical covers – a sixteenth century engraving by Theodore de Bry – but have also appeared with other covers and packaging. Our own collection is on CD and has long since lost it’s original packaging, so all that is left is a series of plain-looking double disc sets.

american anthology

Original lps are fairly rare these days but the liner notes alone are worth the price of admission – Smith cut and pasted together his elaborate, idiosyncratic notes in a manner equal parts post-modern art and high school fanzine. His synopses for each track are thorough, insightful and witty. In all our years of collecting records we’ve found few examples of better, more compelling liner notes than Smith’s.

Front

The Anthology is credited as the single strongest catalyst of the folk revival that began in the early 60s, making its release a watershed moment in the history of traditional American music. Many musicians who had long ago laid aside their guitars and banjos were re-discovered by enthusiasts after their recordings were heard on the Anthology, most famously Mississippi John Hurt, who’s 1928 recording of “Frankie” was included. Collectors found a 78 of his recording of “Avalon” shortly thereafter, and using its lyric “Avalon, my home town” tracked Hurt down, then give or take seventy years old, near Avalon, Mississippi. He recorded and toured for the remaining three years of his life.

Many musicians were inspired to launch their folk and blues careers by the music on the Anthology, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dave van Ronk and others from the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 60s. The music enjoyed an additional revival in the 90s when alt-country bands began to cover the songs – and others from the same time period. One of our favorite bands from that time is Uncle Tupelo, whose recording of “No Depression” by the Carter Family, led that song title to become a sort-lived buzzword for their genre and a healthy antidote to the woeful doom n’ gloom of grunge rock.

volume 4A fourth volume of the Anthology was created in collaboration with the Harry Smith Archive in 2000, nine years after his death. It included music from a later period (records from as late as 1940) but followed the original collections’ unique system of organization. Each volume had a distinct theme – the first three were Ballads, Social Music and Songs (usually about everyday subjects). Volume 4 took the theme Labor Songs. It also followed Smith’s correlation of each volume with a classic alchemical element – water, air, fire and earth (volume 4 correlating to earth). Many songs on the fourth volume had already become revived favorites, and others have since. Volume 4 is currently out of print, which is sort of ironic when you think about it.

Corpse Reviver Volume 1: I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called

For your listening pleasure we have sequenced the ten songs selected by Corpse Reviver in their original form below. The intention isn’t to compare them, but to provide a context and for those unfamiliar with the Anthology of American Folk Music an introduction.

Corpse Reviver have created exciting and new interpretations of each. Adam Kiesling and Jillian Rae perform the topical songs from the fourth volume with humor and warmth, and the ballads are approached with characteristic drive and fervor. Kiesling’s playing throughout is subtle and evocative, just as it had been on his solo album, Unclouded Day, one of our picks for the top 10 albums of 2012. Jillian Rae steals the show in several numbers, including compelling solos in  “John Johanna” and “East Virginia.” Our favorite track on the album is “Wagoner’s Lad” in which Kiesling’s clean and sparse banjo picking is matched by Rae’s rich and soulful voice, a perfect combination made all the better by Mikkel Beckmen’s hypnotic rhythm.

Beckmen originally conceived the project, and in tracks like “Wagoner’s Lad” his contribution is quiet but essential. At times his percussion sounds almost like a drum machine, having been expertly recorded and mixed by engineer Mark Stockert. At other times Beckmen strums and picks his washboard with the energy we’ve come to expect from his work with Steve Kaul’s Brass Kings and Charlie Parr. Throughout, I’ll be Rested When the Roll is Called, is one of the most enjoyable percussive albums we’ve heard in a long time.

These original recordings are from our CDs and LPs of the Anthology of American Folk Music. Most are from 1928 to 1932, but a few were recorded a little later. Several may be familiar to you, or contain lines or melodies you recognize from other sources. We hope you enjoy them, as well as the new recordings by Corpse Reviver.

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“How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” by Blind Alfred Reed

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“Old Shoes and Leggins” by Uncle Eck Dunford

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“The Wagoner’s Lad” by Buell Kazee

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“My Name is John Johanna” by Kelly Harrell

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“Drunkard’s Special” by Coley Jones

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“No Depression in Heaven” by the Carter Family

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“Country Blues” by Dock Boggs

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“East Virginia” by Buell Kazee

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“Down on Penny’s Farm” by The Bently Boys

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“I’ll be Rested when the Roll is Called” by Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother

charlie gore

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“You’re Just a Female Hound Dog” by Charlie Gore and Louis Innis

Answer songs (or reply songs) are the most common form of sequel songs, and usually take the form of a silly rephrasing to a popular hit. ) Sequel songs parts 1 and 2 feature several such examples (here and here) but most are rhythm and blues tracks. Today we have a couple classic country answer songs.

Charlie Gore’s rockabilly reply to “Hound Dog” is a gem, especially for Louis Innis’ fine guitar pickin’. Innis was a member of Hank Penny’s Radio Cowboys, but mostly played bass in that group (backing accomplished guitarists Noel Boggs and Merle Travis on “Steel Guitar Rag,” and also playing on the band’s classic “Bloodshot Eyes”).

don't think i'll fall to pieces

 

Rudy Hansen was a rockabilly singer from Cincinnati best remembered for his rare, self-released single “Saturday Jump” (you can hear it here). As Rockin’ Rudy Hansen he also recorded a hillbilly novelty for X Record called “The Mambo Queen.” In the 1950s he was a regular performer on WLW’s Midwestern Hayride, a radio program (and by Hansen’s era a nationally-broadcasted television program) that was a “hayseed humor” precursor to Hee Haw.

He recorded “Don’t Think I’ll Fall to Pieces” for Decca Records, the same label that issued Patsy Cline’s #1 country hit and crossover breakthrough. We couldn’t find any information about the recording of Hansen’s answer song, but it seems possible it was recorded in the same studio and with some of the same musicians as Patsy Cline’s original song. It is certainly the most polished recording of Rudy Hansen, sort of a regional rockabilly superstar,  we’ve heard.

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“Don’t Think I’ll Fall to Pieces” by Rudy Hansen

And last today we have the original and the re-make of a jazz classic, “Killer Joe.” Saxophonist Benny Golson is one of a couple jazz artists captured in Art Kane’s legendary 1958 photograph taken on the steps of a brownstone in Harlem who is still alive (click here if you’re not sure what we’re talking about). Although he spent several key years working outside of jazz as a film and television composer, Golson was in the late 50s and early 60s very successful and influential with a group he co-led with trumpeter Art Farmer, the Jazztet.

Golson introduced listeners to Killer Joe on the Jazztet’s first album in 1962.

jazztet

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“Killer Joe”

Golson re-visited his famous scamp in the title track to his second album after coming back to jazz. The ensuing fifteen years had brought many fashion changes, but at heart Killer Joe was still the same.

killer joe 2

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“The New Killer Joe”

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