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There’s a controversial movie about the private life of Jacqueline Du Pré, a cellist whose short career revived England’s role in classical music, in particular Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Du Pré’s life and career didn’t need to be sensationalized to be interesting, as she was one of those classical musicians whose music spoke for itself.

Du Pré first performed the Elgar concerto at her concert debut in 1962 when she was seventeen years old. She went on to perform it again at the BBC’s prominent Proms summer festival, and a subsequent recording of the piece became an international hit. After this she studied with Mstislav Rostropovich and earned his praise.

She made many famous friends in the classical community — A 1969 recording of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet featured Du Pré along with her husband Daniel Barenbiom, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman and Zubin Mehta. It was a classical “super group” along the lines of rock’s Traveling Wilburys, and they performed and recorded several chamber pieces together.

Du Pré was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and her career came to a tragic end. She was so, so young when she passed away, and the loss for listeners like ourselves is enormous. In a short time she truly brought new life into the world of classical music.

Her recordings of Elgar and Schubert are highly regarded. We also love this album of Du Pré and Barenbohm performing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no.3 in A Major. Regular readers of the Hymies blog know how highly we regard Beethoven’s music — this work, completed at the same time as the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, is unique in the way the cello and piano interact and share the lead role.

Pianist Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich had toured with Du Pré, and had also performed and recorded other Beethoven works at the time of this recording. His 1968 recording of the Diabelli Variations is one of the best. Although he was born in the United States, he has long lived in England. At seventy-seven, he is still performing.


“Aimless Love” by John Prine (back cover)

Seasick Steve live at Third Man

Carole King “Music” (inside the gatefold)

“It’s A Lifetime” by Craig Nuttycombe

“Poor Man’s Paradise” by Tracy Nelson

“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”

“Dirty Dog”

We’ve been expanding our selection of new machine for a while, but until this week its involved adding turntables. Now we also have new tape decks from Marantz. You’ll find them with the turntables on the black shelves in the back room here. They’re the same sort of double-deck machines which many of us fondly recall using to make mixtapes. We’re thrilled to have found reliable new decks from a familiar brand.

Tapes are never going to be our specialty here at Hymies, as they’re outnumbered by the albums about 10,000 to one, but we’re often adding to the shelves. More and more this includes new tapes from local artists. Here are a few which caught our ears.

We bought the last few copies of the Blaha tape just before the band left for a short European tour. They’ve since returned, and Mike Blaha has performed in his familiar role as baritone guitarist for the Blind Shake at our annual block party (worth checking out), and that band is now back across the pond. The Blaha tape, 499-456, is available digitally on bandcamp (here). The sound is more lo-fi than the Neil Weir-engineered Blaha LP, The Art of Not, but it suits the songs. Recently a customer heard us listening to Blaha in the shop and said one song sounded like Yo La Tengo, while the next sounded like Guided by Voices. Pretty good company to be placed into and well-deserved.

Monica LaPlante’s new tape, Noir, is also available digitally as well (her bandcamp page is here). We were fans of her 2013 ten-inch record, Jour, for its fusing of power pop with the darker side of new wave and this tape pick that right up and goes further. LaPlante has a busy month in May and we recommend you check out one of her shows, including Art-a-Whirl gigs on the 19th and 20th, the Fathom Lane album release at the Turf Club on the 26th, and the Memory Lanes Block Party on the 28th!

The next tape we picked from the new ones this morning is Pact, a new EP of jangly pop punk by Pretty Still. As with the others its available digitally on bandcamp (here). The band is pretty new and the cassette could fairly be called a demo tape rather than an album, but we’re looking forward to hearing more from this band who have performed here at Hymies in other settings.

This last tape, a set of two, is also available digitally (through, you guessed it, bandcamp here) and we didn’t record a track so you’ll have to take a listen through that link. Its a substantial anthology of songs from Russell Hoke, who is prolific but hardly interested in profits. To quote from the Fusetron Sound website, Hoke didn’t have a plan when he recorded his first album. He just wanted to be able to play one on his own turntable. So “he pressed up 100 of the now long gone Cosmic Outlaw and then, with no real plan in place for distributing it, he simply started donating them to charity shops and second hand shops in the area Johnny Appleseed style.” Mankato’s Round Bale Recordings, associated with the Free Form Freakout podcast, created this double-tape anthology of recordings from Hoke’s obscure records from the 80s and 90s from albums including that impossible-to-hunt-down Cosmic Outlaw. The music ranges from John Wesley Harding to Daniel Johnston, with stops along the way which suggest Moondog or in wittier moments John Prine. It’s one of the most interesting things on cassette we have seen come through the shop in a long while.

We can’t thank you enough for coming to the block party and making it such an incredible event.  Irene is so tired!

Several years ago we put together a whole post of alternate takes of famous tune from the likes of John Coltrane, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. At the time we must not have added this double LP to our collection, or we would have included one of its numerous Chuck Berry alternates.

Here’s an early take of “Johnny B. Goode” recorded December 30th, 1957.


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