Rejoice!

Some positive music for this beautiful Sunday morning. Hope you are having as good of a weekend as we are!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Rejoice” by Pharaoh Sanders

rejoice pharaoh

Also just a reminder that today is “Free Records Day” — we’ll be pulling all the surplus crates out of our storage space and putting them on the sidewalk around noon. Come on by and dig — you might find a gem in there, and you’ll help keep them out of the landfill for just a little longer.

Our pal Craig is always bringing in odd finds from his thrift store trips, and he recently found this awesome tape of a 1988 radio documentary about Radio First Termer, a pirate station briefly broadcast in Vietnam.

vietnam radio first termerRadio First Termer broadcast just over sixty hours, for three weeks in January 1971. Its host, Dave Rabbit, is now known to have been US Air Force Sargent Clyde David DeLay. You can hear one of the only surviving recordings of the original broadcasts here.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This 1931 single by Victor Young and his Orchestra is sort of like the “super groups” popular in the 70s and 80s, since it features vocals by many of the biggest names in music: The Mills Brothers, The Boswell Sisters (with a solo by Connie Boswell) and Bing Crosby. It was released on the Brunswick label just before Christmas that year.

The same month New York’s Bank of America collapsed, holding at the time total deposits of more than $200 million. It was the largest bank failure in the history of the United States. The following month Congress created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which lends millions of Federal dollars to banks, insurance companies and railroads — at a time when unemployment is nearing 24%, the program is dismissed by working people as “the millionaire’s dole.”

The popular music of the Depression era expresses an unexpected optimism, although there are also many songs which tell the heartbreaking stories of the depositors left holding the bag, so to speak, as the banks collapsed. Just a couple years later Connie Boswell was one of several people who recorded “Underneath the Arches,” a song about the homeless men who slept under a bridge (her single was not as successful as the Andrews Sisters’ recording). And Bing Crosby recorded one of the defining songs of the time in 1932, “Brother Can You Spare A Dime?”:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

An enormous hit when Brunswick released it just before the election of 1932, the song was decried by Republicans as anti-capitalist. It is often described as a defining song of the era, and should be seen to represent in particular the broken dreams of a generation which felt it had not received due compensation for its contributions. The song’s most poignant lines make topical reference to the “Bonus Army” protest march of mid-summer 1932, in which tens of thousands of veterans of the Great War crowded around the Capitol as Congress voted down the Wright Patman bill, which would have provided immediate funds to begin paying veterans their long-promised bonuses.

Two unarmed veterans were shot by police on July 28, and the US Army was ordered to disperse the encampments with rifles, bayonets and tear gas. This all may sound alarmingly familiar.

We don’t have to tell you that these are some troubled times — picking up a newspaper any more is an exercise in how much bad news one’s heavy heart can stand. The headlines report different problems than those from the Great Depression, but times are nonetheless tough in what economists have been calling the Great Recession.

Generation X, to which belong the proprietors of your friendly neighborhood record shop, is likely to be the first generation in American history to find itself poorer than its parents, according to studies from the Pew Research Group. We’re accumulating far more debt, much of it related to college loans, and the things we tentatively invest in like our homes and, if any, our doomed retirement accounts, are at best barely staying above water, while for the Boomers the mere act of buying a home and maintaining a mortgage could set one up for comfort.

Ironically, those so quickly dismissed by Boomers as the “slacker” generation are proving to be more involved in our children’s lives and our communities than our parents were at the same age. Check out this awesome long-term study from the University of Michigan, if you want to feel better about what you’re doing Xers. We’re making more money, accomplish more, but accumulating less for ourselves. We’re actually living more aligned with that 1931 single “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” than the way we were raised.

While most mainstream reports of this phenomenon are accented with images from The Breakfast Club or Reality Bites, and peppered with references to REM (even though we’re, like, so over them) some get it right, and some are just fun to read.

You might have noticed during your last visit to Hymie’s that nearly all the once-vacant real estate along East Lake Street is bustling with activity — we’d say booming but most of these new businesses are being established by Gen Xers. We mentioned earlier that the music of the Great Depression often expressed an unexpected optimism. Bandleader Ted Lewis recorded a pair of sides in January 1931 with an all-star group (one even featuring Benny Goodman), the same month Wright Patman introduced his doomed bill to Congress — one was called “Headin’ for Better Times” and the other titled “There’s a New Day Comin’.” And another Victor Young single issued by Brunswick in 1931 also had some fun lines about food.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Its hard to say if the music of Generation X is as characteristically optimistic, because popular music is so much more fragmented now than it was in the early 30s. Surely there have been waves of oppressive pessimism, like seemingly every corporate rock record recorded by an Xer in the 90s. Today it would all seem characteristically diverse more than anything else. Its amazing how many different things you could hear on an average night here in the Twin Cities, and how wide-ranging the interests of regular customers here at the record shop.

Having finally outlived the shackles of being the “slacker” generation, we’re now regarded as the “Meh” generation.

The positive side of this hardly-apathetic expression is the live-and-let-live attitude it embodies. More and more folks are creating music and other art for the simple joy of creation — here at Hymie’s we’re inspired by the hard-working musicians who balance the artistic ambitions with the obligations of work, parenthood, caring for parents, whatever it is, with grace and dignity. Whether we’re poorer or richer, we’re creating together a richer world.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Our friend Jack Klatt wrote this song, “Life’s a Drag,” a few years ago for his second disc, Mississippi Roll. He didn’t like when we compared him to Bing Crosby, but we meant it in the kindest of ways. A drag or not, life here on East Lake Street is a bowl of cherries.

A local release we have been anticipating all summer is Nightosaur’s third album, Set Fire to the Mountain. You’ll be able to hear the whole thing — and take home a copy for yourself — on Friday night, but until then all you’ll get to hear is this single, “Devourer,” which they have posted online. It is but a heralding, a brief forewarning of all that is to follow, the smoke before the eruption of the mountain, a tremor to hint of the bursting of the Earth below.

It is so because we know. Hymie’s has been given foreknowledge of the coming of the new Nightosaur in the form of a disc of the master before it was sent to press. We have heard all that is to be unleashed, and we can attest that it is good. Very good. The title track is our favorite thing the band has recorded, a driving epic we cannot wait to add to the archives of our collection. And Set Fire to the Mountain is, by the way, their first release on an LP, although one of the new songs (“Skeleton Key”) was on Learning Curve Records’ Held Hostage Vol. 2 which came out this spring — it the main reason we brought home a copy of that collection.

coverweb

Nightosaur sounds a little different on Set Fire to the Mountain, having shifted from a ‘twin axe attack’ to a trio, but they didn’t drop their flair for dynamic, dramatic arrangements. The album opens with “Old Man Grandfather Tree,” a sludgy, steady burner that’s good enough to recall vintage Sabbath. Drummer Brad Schwab adds otherworldly percussion in just the right proportion to his pulsating fills, while the new dual attack lineup, bass and guitar by Andy Webber and John Henry, play off one another with harmonic intensity. Any fears the band would sound smaller are put down like a lame horse in the first six minutes.

Last year Numero Group released a compilation in its Wayfaring Strangers series, Darkscorch Canticles, which featured obscure occult-themed Sabbath-sounding seventies metal singles. We can’t possibly recommend this collection enough — it really reinvigorated our enthusiasm for everything from Iommi to Iron Maiden, and reminded us there really isn’t enough music like it anymore. What we love about Nightosaur is that they fill that hole in our hearts and in our record collection. They ace the familiar form in songs like “Old Gods” and “Bow Down to the Destroyer” while also pressing their range in “(The Shocking Tale of) Wilson Pinafore” and pretty much everything about the album’s epic title track.

All this isn’t to say the new Nightosaur sounds like a ‘throwback’ act — not that it would be such a bad thing if they stopped there, as we’re a little fatigued with retro-soul records and would love to hear a revival of some fresh blasts from the past. “Wilson Pinatore” and “Old Gods” are brightly-recorded and thrashy, a successful more modern turn not entirely removed from the big M’s of the 80s, Metallica and Megadeath. And “Skeleton Key” (which you can listen to here by the way) is awesomely Iron Maiden-y even though Nightosaur no longer has that signature dual lead ‘twin axe attack’ sound.

We agreed not to post anything but the single until after the release show, but we’ll probably post another song from this album next week. In the past we’ve called Nightosaur the funnest band in the Twin Cities. The musicianship on Set Fire to the Mountain far surpasses anything they’ve previously recorded, but they’re still, especially in their vocals, not taking their music to the heights of seriousness which started making metal no fun. Schwab sounds especially awesome throughout, and the bands interplay on “Bow Down to the Destroyer” and “Set Fire to the Mountain” is both intuitive and rockin’. The disc we were given this summer had a handwritten message, “some of the titles may be shortened,” so we may have been listening to an extended version of the album all this time (doing the math it seems likely all seven tracks will fit over two sides of an LP without pushing the limits of good sound quality).

We’re told the jackets for Set Fire to the Mountain were custom screen printed, but haven’t seen one yet — either way we are very excited for this album. You can bet it will be playing in the shop a lot this fall.

Nightosaur’s record release show for Set Fire to the Mountain will be at the 331 Club this Friday, September 26th at 10pm. Free, 21+. Also performing will be Gay Witch Abortion and Bongonya. We have also scheduled an all-ages in-store appearance, but it’s not ’til November so you better get your butt up to Northeast on Friday to hear these guys.

Hey friends, you should stop by Hymie’s and grab one of these awesome sampler discs from the kind folks at House of Mercy Recordings, the in-house record label for House of Mercy Church in St. Paul, whose Sunday evening services are known for their great music (“You should come, it’s not that bad”).

The label has released discs by some of our favorites, including the Roe Family Singers, Charlie Parr and Pocahontas County. Yep, all folks who have performed here in the shop as well.

house of mercyWhen Erik Brandt performed here a couple weeks ago he brought a stack of these awesome seventeen-track samplers for us to share with you.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Waitin’ for the Creek to Rise” by the Blood Washed Band

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Down by the Riverside” by the Roe Family Singers

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“I Knew” by the Urban Hillbilly Quartet

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down” by Charlie Parr & the Black Twig Pickers

If you like what you hear, ask for your copy of this compilation next time you’re here at Hymie’s. We have also talked to Erik about hosting other House of Mercy Recordings artists later this year, so keep an eye on the events calendar linked above.

A well spent life

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Long Tall Gal Got Stuck On Me” by Mance Lipscomb

This is one of our favorite songs by Mance Lipscomb, who spent most of his life playing the guitar and singing around his hometown of Navasota, Texas. He didn’t make a recording until 1960, when Chris Strackwitz, who founded Arhoolie Records, brought him to a studio at the age of sixty-five. After this he made a number of albums characterized by his easy-going delivery and his alternating bass style of finger-picking.

His father had been a slave in Alabama. His mother was half Choctaw. He real name was Beau De Glen Lipscomb, but a friend of his brother gave him the name Mance as a shortened version of “emancipated.” He was a sharecropper most of his life, and performed primarily at social gatherings. A documentary about Mance Lipscomb, A Well Spent Life, was produced shortly after he passed away in 1970. Here’s a short scene we found online:

Jazz legend Earl “Fatha” Hines had a little to say with this oddball single, released during the California gubernatorial campaign of 1966. His parody of “Mack the Knife,” a jazz standard taken from The Threepenny Opera, responds to the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, who at the time promised to “get the welfare bums back to work, and to “clean up the mess at Berkeley” (in the Gipper’s own words).

Hines speculated on the effects of Reagan’s budget proposals, which in fact did freeze and then cut funding to both the University of California, and Medi-Cal, the state’s medical assistance program. The flip side was an instrumental (“The Medi-Cal Blues”).

DSC06750Earl “Fatha” Hines was sixty-three the year he cast his vote for Governor Pat Brown, and had only recently come out of a lengthy retirement from jazz, during which he ran a tobacco shop in Oakland. Just a couple years earlier his friend and oftentimes manager, jazz writer Stanley Dance, had pushed the pianist to perform again, leading to a surge of recordings in the mid-60s which were highly praised by jazz critics all over the country (Downbeat named him the “#1 jazz pianist” in 1966 — the first of six times he would receive their venerated award). Dance is one of our favorite writers, and we last referred to his amazing contributions to the history of jazz in this post about Johnny Hodges pet monkey, Shuma. For his part “Fatha” became an essential link between early jazz and it’s modern children, performing with musicians from several generations extensively until he passed away in 1983 at the age of seventy-nine.

Highlights from Hines’ post-retirement career include a session of duets with Jaki Byard which is one of the most interesting explorations of jazz piano ever recorded, and a fun appearance on Ry Cooder’s Paradise and Lunch where the two perform Blind Blake’s “Ditty wa Ditty” [sic]. Hines’ other duets from this period include duets with Marian MacPartland, Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson. He also joined legendary bassists Charles Mingus and Richard Davis, drummer Elvin Jones and singers Peggy Lee and Dinah Washington on sessions in his seventies. “Fatha” was so important to the history of jazz that no less an authority than Count Basie called him “the greatest piano player in the world.”

DSC06751

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Ron the Knife (The Ballad of Governor MacHealth”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“The Medi-Cal Blues”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Ron the Knife (The Ballad of Governor MacHealth”

« Older entries § Newer entries »

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.