Thursday, December 31, 2009

Andy Summers

Artist: Andy Summers
LP: 7" single
Song: "2010"
[ listen ]

Here's an instrumental track from guitarist Andy Summers about the year 2010, which is now just a few hours away! If losing weight is one of your goals for the New Year, this song is perfect for a medium-intensity cardio aerobic workout routine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Orchestre Super Choucoune

Artist: Orchestre Super Choucoune
LP: Instrumental / Myrtho
Song: "Aline et Carole"
[ listen ]

Here's a lovely and leisurely ('60s?) instrumental record from Haiti's Orchestre Super Choucoune—picked up at Weirdo Records when I was in Boston last month. As hinted at by the cover art, this seems like the sort of music fish might secretly be listening to in their aquariums when no one's around.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vic Chesnutt [1964-2009]

Artist: Vic Chesnutt
LP: Silver Lake
Song: "Band Camp"
[ listen ]
Song: "I'm Through"
[ listen ]

I first heard of Vic Chesnutt about six years ago when both Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly (from the band Throwing Muses) named "Silver Lake" their favorite release of the year. I bought it without hearing it first, and it's still one of my favorites to listen to. Sadly, Vic Chesnutt died on December 25th, an apparent suicide from an overdose of muscle relaxants. You can read about the talented singer/songwriter on Wikipedia here and visit his website here. There's an obituary from Rolling Stone here, where you can also find links to the magazine's reviews of Chesnutt's albums, and there's a nice-but-sad piece on the singer from The Guardian's blog here.

Vic Chesnutt
[November 12, 1964 — December 25, 2009]
We will miss you, Vic.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Night of the Iguana

Artist: Benjamin Frankel / Lee Ramos
LP: The Night of the Iguana
Song: "The Night of the Iguana Theme" by Benjamin Frankel
[ listen ]
Song: "Flor De Azalea" by Lee Ramos
[ listen ]

Earlier this year my friend Mark in L.A. recommended I see John Huston's 1964 film, The Night of the Iguana. I rented the DVD and enjoyed one of my most memorable movie-watching experiences of 2009. The film immediately became one of my all-time favorites and sparked a mini-obsession with the cinematic adaptations of the works of Tennessee Williams. The notes from the back of the film's soundtrack are included here, followed by a thoughtful review copied from The Night of the Iguana's comments page on IMDB. You can find additional trivia, links and info about the film on Wikipedia here.

"The Night of the Iguana" — reviewed by Ruvi Simmons, London

It is possible to watch a film on a wide range of emotional and
intellectual levels. One can pay attention only to the visuals,
only to the minute trivia related to actors and actresses, to
the most obvious displays of physical action, to appeals to
one's sympathies, or to the underlying content and profundity
trying to be expressed and communicated to the viewer. Thus,
films can be judged to fail on the one hand when they succeed
on the other, and this, I think, explains the lukewarm response to
what is (one of) the finest films ever made in the English language.
Whether or not Richard Burton always plays a drunk, whether or
not it should have been in colour, are not in the least bit rele-
vant to the significance, the concepts and the issues at play
in this brilliant film, this monument to the resilience of human
souls, to the compassion that can bring such succour on long,
tortured nights, to the precious decency that is for some a
perpetual struggle to attain, and the search, the life-long
search, for belief, love and light.

The backdrop to the exploration of these issues that are
so fundamental to individual lives is a Mexican coastal hotel.
The central character is a defrocked and unstable priest, T.
Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) who, like the iguana that
is tethered up in preparation to being eaten, is at the end of
his rope. He walks alone, without the crutch of facile beliefs
or human companionship beyond sterile physical conquests
which only serve to heighten his own self-loathing and isolation.
He arrives at the hotel in search of sanctuary in light of his
mental deterioration. On his arrival he meets his old friend,
the lascivious but no less desperate Maxine (Ava Gardner),
a poet on the verge of death who is nevertheless striving for
one last creative act, one last stab at beautiful self-expression,
and his granddaughter Hannah (Deborah Kerr), a resilient woman
painfully trying to reconcile herself to loss, loneliness and the
bitter struggle she faces with her own personal demons. They
are united in that they are divided, in that they are all tortured
souls seeking beauty, life, meaning and engaged in battles to
stand tall, to live with integrity and love. On a hot, cloying
night, a night of the iguana, when all their ropes
snap taut, they meet.

The pivotal and most crucial
part of this film is the conversation
between Lawrence and Hannah. The former is in the throes of
a nervous breakdown, the latter has survived and endured
through the same. They are kindred souls that aid one another
through the therapy of human connection, of empathy in the
long, lonely walk. It is in this conversation that Tennessee
Williams explores the issues (that) make this film so important:
through his characters, who are throughout depicted not as mere
shallow cliches but individuals with histories and feelings that
run deep, with subtleties that bring them to life, he meditates
upon the struggle to find meaning in one's life, the need for
companionship, the importance of compassion, and the way
in which people endure, all the time grasping at what dignity
they may have, and which may be forever threatened by
trials, doubts and pain. These are not issues that date, that
diminish in relevance, or that relate only to certain people—they
are concepts that are universal, that speak to each individual
and relate to fundamental facets of the human mind and spirit.

Because The Night of the Iguana sets out to tackle such issues,
it is elevated far beyond the level of most films. It is profound,
but also deeply emotional, made more so by the superb character-
isations (aided, in addition, by universally superb performances).
One is afforded an insight into characters, into people, who live,
breathe, cry, shout, scream and endure. They are fallible, capable
of spite, caprice and baseness, but they are also thoughtful,
courageous and strangely noble. To watch them interact, thrown
together as they are on a Mexican veranda, is affecting both
emotionally and intellectually, and it is this interaction which is
responsible for creating a film that stands (tall and dignified)
above nearly all others

Friday, December 25, 2009

Harp! The Herald Angels Sing

Here's a Christmas mix I made for my sister, Sarah. She plays the harp. I delivered the CD to her on Christmas Eve along with several packages of lefse—a holiday tradition brought from Norway by our Grandma Bea. In return, Sarah gave me jars of delicious strawberry and blackberry jam.

Track list:
01. Julsång (O Helga Natt!) - Ingvar Wixell
02. The First Noel - Carlos Salzedo

03. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Paul Mickelson w/ Orchestra
04. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Carlos Salzedo
05. Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant - Tino Rossi
06. Angels We Have Heard On High - Carlos Salzedo

07. Leise, Rieset Der Schnee (The Snow Falls Softly) - Schöneberger Sängerknaben
08. Klara Solen Pa Himmelen Den Lyser - Åke Jelving w/ Chrorus and Orchestra
09. Away In a Manger - Carlos Salzedo
10. No Room - Doug Oldham

11. Good King Wenceslas - Carlos Salzedo
12. Let Us Sing of Christmas - Marais and Miranda and the Pardo Players of Ancient Instruments
13. Deck the Halls - Carlos Salzedo
14. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jackie Gleason
15. Jingle Bells - Carlos Salzedo
16. Medly: Nu Ar Det Jul Igen / Hej Tomtegubbar - Axel Stordahl & His Orchestra and Chorus
17. What Child Is This - Carlos Salzedo
18. Sweet Little Jesus Boy - Mahalia Jackson
19. Adeste Fideles - Carlos Salzedo
20. Ihr Kinderlein Kommet - Music Boxes From the Collection of Rita Ford
21. O Tannenbaum - Carlos Salzedo
22. Agnus Dei - Andre Dassary
23. Silent Night - Kitty Wells
[ listen ]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Six Million Dollar Man

Artist: Six Million Dollar Man
LP: Hear 4 Exciting Christmas Adventures
Song: "The Toymaker"
[ listen ]

This exciting Christmas adventure with Colonel Steve Austin makes a terrific stocking-stuffer. Doesn't molecular structure specialist Fritz Konig sound just like Dr. Strangelove? Anyway, have a bionic Christmas and a six-million-dollar New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Organo, Ritmos y Coros

Artist: Organo, Ritmos y Coros
LP: Posadas Navideñas
Song: "Paseo En Trineo (Sleigh Ride)"
[ listen ]
Song: "Jingle Bells"
[ listen ]

...and this is what Christmas sounded like down in Mexico back in 1979—or in Los Angeles, California, anyway. The artist on this Navidad LP presented by L.A.-based Arriba Records is credited only as "Organo, Ritmos y Coros." I've included pictures of those below so you'll have some idea what to expect.

[ El Organo ]

[ El Ritmo ]

[ El Coro ]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mirror Image

Artist: Mirror Image
LP: Yuletide Disco
Song: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
[ listen ]

This is what Christmas sounded like back in 1979. You can buy your own copy of Mirror Image's Yuletide Disco LP on eBay here. But hurry, it's almost Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Derek B

Artist: Derek B
LP: Christmas Rap
Song: "Chillin' With Santa"
[ listen ]

As my mother always used to say, "Alex, what the hell is this? Turn that off, you're ruining the holidays! Where's your Doris Day Christmas CD?" You can read about British rap pioneer Derek Boland, who recorded this track for Profile Records' 1987 various artists Christmas Rap LP, on his Wikipedia page here. Sadly, Derek died of a heart attack just last month at the age of 44. His obituary in The Guardian can be found here. Looks like Derek B will be chillin' with Santa up in heaven this year.

[ Derek B: January 15, 1965 — November 15, 2009 ]

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Lennon Sisters

Artist: The Lennon Sisters
LP: Noel
Song: "Home For the Holidays"
[ listen ]

As my mother always used to say, Christmas just isn't the same without the holiday music of The Lennon Sisters. You can read about the singing sibling quartet of Dianne, Peggy, Kathy and Janet on Wikipedia here, and visit their website here where you can browse through their neat photo album (warning: the site loads with really loud music).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tommy Collins

Artist: Tommy Collins
LP: Words and Music Country Style
Song: "Love-a-me S'il Vous Plait"
[ listen ]

Tommy Collins has been one of my favorite old-time country singers ever since I heard him sing "You Better Not Do That" on a country compilation CD about twelve years ago. And after seeing his picture on this 1957 "Made In England" LP I found in Fargo, North Dakota this past summer, I like him even more. What a hunk! Unfortunately, Collins abandoned his musical career in 1957 to begin studying to become a minister. He didn't record again until the early-to-mid 1960s, after realizing that ministering wasn't really his thing. You can read about the life and career of Tommy Collins (aka Leonard Raymond Sipes) on his Rockabilly Hall of Fame page here. Biographical notes from the back of this LP—along with accompanying drawings depicting the stages of his life from about 1939 to 1957—are included below.

[ Tommy Collins: September 28, 1930 — March 14, 2000 ]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bogdan Czyżewski and Danuta Rinn

Artist: Bogdan Czyżewski and Danuta Rinn
LP: Nie Obiecuj Nie Przyrzekaj
Song: "Nie Obiecuj Nie Przyrzekaj (Do Not Promise)"
[ listen ]

Here's an LP from (early 1970s?) Poland that I found at Cheapo Records in Cambridge, Massachusetts last month. I can't tell you much about Bodgan Czyżewski and Danuta Rinn except that in the late '60s, Danuta looked a lot like my Auntie Karen. If anyone reading this can provide more info on the duo, that would be great! My web search did turn up some neat YouTube clips, which I've included below with photos and notes (in Polish) from the LP.

Bogdan Czyżewski and Danuta Rinn on YouTube:
[ "Ciuciu-Babka" ]

Bogdan Czyżewski and Danuta Rinn on YouTube:
[ "Zapamietajmy Kazda Chwile" ]

Bogdan Czyżewski and Danuta Rinn on YouTube:
[ "Pamiętaj o Mnie" ]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Unintentional Mess

Actually, I made this mess on purpose.

side one:
01. Yo Fo - Molotov
02. Rains - Igor Kornelyuk

03. Monkey See, Monkey Do - Addrisi Brothers
04. Flashback - Eberhard Schoener w/ Sting
05. I Was Waiting For You - Richard Cocciante
06. Summer Wind - Andre Kostelanetz & His Orchestra

07. Mister Female Crazy - Dave Howard
08. News - Tune-Yards
09. Forgive Me - Le Loup
10. Stranger In Paradise - Gisele MacKenzie

11. Maori Brown Eyes - Leroy Holmes, His Orchestra and Chorus
12. Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On - Edwin Starr
13. Show Some Respect - Tina Turner
14. Creole - The Crusaders
[ listen ]

side two:
01. Besoin Pour Vivre - Claude Dubois
02. Burn With the Fever - Bugs Tomorrow

03. Come Out the Wilderness - His Name Is Alive
04. Freeze-Frame - The J. Geils Band
05. Mirror - Vikki Carr
06. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas - Kiyoshi Sakazume
07. Mulher Brasileira - Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra
08. The Lonely Spy - Lori and the Chameleons
09. Trying to Get You - Z-66

10. The Crystal Ship - The Doors
11. Ernest, Un Coup D'Blanc - Jacques Debronckart

12. Anko Kanashiya (Tearful Maiden of Oshima Island) - Yotsuo Koyama's Cherry Blossom Ensemble

13. Save a Prayer - Duran Duran
14. Troubles - Major Lance
[ listen ]

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Doug Oldham

Artist: Doug Oldham
LP: Christmas With Doug Oldham
Song: "No Room"
[ listen ]
Song: "Mary's Boy Child"
[ listen ]

Being named "Old-ham" is an unfortunately appropriate coincidence for this talented elderly Christian gentleman with a flair for incorporating earnest melodrama, spoken word, and robust vibrato into his religious musical performances. Still, Doug seems like an amiable fellow and I wouldn't mind spending Christmas with him, his lovely wife Laura Lee, and their three daughters—who range from "just like dad" to "just like mom" with one "mixed" daughter in between. The girls have been strategically placed in the family's holiday photo in case folks have trouble guessing which daughter goes where on the Oldham genetic spectrum. You can read about Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee Doug Oldham on his website here, were you can also order more of his music on CDs, which his daughter Rebekah will send to you, if she can find the time.

[ Doug , Laura Lee and Laura Lee's boots. ]

Friday, December 11, 2009

"Big" Tiny Little

Artist: "Big" Tiny Little
LP: Christmas With "Big" Tiny Little
Song: "Santa's Chopsticks"
[ listen ]
Song: "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"
[ listen ]

As my mother always used to say, Christmas just isn't Christmas without mistletoe, spiked egg-nog and the honky-tonk piano music of "Big" Tiny Little. You can go here and here to read about this talented father of eight from Worthington, Minnesota who first got his start on The Lawrence Welk Show.

[ "Big" Tiny Little ]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jimmy Smith

Artist: Jimmy Smith
LP: The Cat
Song: "Theme From 'Joy House'"
[ listen ]

[ "Joy House"—aka: "Les Félins" ]

This morning I rode my bike to work through temperatures of 18°F, which actually felt like 12° according to some local weather website. If you ask me, it felt more like -39°. It doesn't often get below freezing here in Seattle and it's been like this for more than a week, so we're all really suffering here. This Jimmy Smith track should heat things up a bit. In the 1950s, Jimmy Smith evidently revolutionized the way the Hammond organ was being played! One of his most popular and successful albums, "The Cat" was produced by Creed Taylor and reached #12 on Billboard's pop album charts back in 1964. You can read more about Jimmy Smith here and here, and some neat pictures and info from the LP are included below.

[ The Cat ]

[ Jimmy Smith ]

[ Alain Delon ]

[ Lalo Schifrin ]

[ Jimmy Smith: December 8, 1928 — February 8, 2005 ]