Good Music We Can Know

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flash Strap Presents: Jungle Shadows Vol. 4- Discover Jungle Shadows

I present to you, in the dead center of this summer, the fourth volume of Jungle Shadows, a slightly-experimental installment inspired by (and functioning as an homage to) Van Dyke Parks' phenomenal Discover America.

Using that album as a launching-point, conceptual guide, and loose framework, I have designed this Jungle Shadows as an exploration of cultural relationships: between the U.S. and its Southern neighbors, the western world and the greater "exotic" world; the various two-way streets of appropriation, collaboration, homage, and cross-cultural pollinations; the cover and the covered, the artist and the producer.

Many of the original versions of compositions from Discover America are included (notated below with an *).  Several of the selections have complex or at least very specific reasons for their inclusion, while others are just great songs that loosely fit the theme.  Its not airtight-- give me a break-- but it ought to be interesting, and a fun listen, anyway.  The Bermuda triangle of Caribbean music, Black American music, and experimental "pop" music plays a large role here, exemplified perhaps by The Beach Boys diaspora of pop, the soul/funk of Allen Toussaint and Lee Dorsey, and Calypso.  WWII-era American obsession with Brazil and Latin America checks in as well.

Please enjoy, make sure to grab both parts (links at the playlist head), and drink some palm soda or coconut juice or something.  Have a great week.


1. Have You Been To Baia? (from Three Caballeros)
2. Baia- Cults Percussion Ensemble
3. Four Mills Brothers- The Radio*
4. Riverboat- Lee Dorsey (composed by Allen Toussaint)*
5. Slave (feat. Bert Inniss and the National Recording Orchestra)- Mighty Sparrow
6. Aren't You Glad- Beach Boys
7. Summertime- Sharon Marie (produced by Brian Wilson)
8. Out On The Rolling Sea When Jesus Speak To Me- Van Dyke Parks (cover of a song by Bahamian musician Joseph Spence, and apparently an occasional bonus track on some reissues of Discover America)
9. Sinnerman (1956 original with vocal by Will Holt)- Les Baxter (recording of the classic spiritual from which most modern versions are derived)
10. Our Prayer- Beach Boys
11. Born Again Cretin- Robert Wyatt
12. Out Of The City (Into Country Life)- Allen Toussaint
13. Storm Chant of the Skraelings- Robert Calvert (from Lucky Leif and the Longships, a concept album dealing with how American culture might have been different had the Vikings managed to colonise the continent, produced by Brian Eno)
14. Surf Rider- Eden Ahbez
15. Taboo- Buddy Collette (jazz version of the Margarita Lecuona composition from the awesome album Polynesia)
16. Hindou- Lecuona Cuban Boys
17. Caravan- The Mills Brothers (A capella, save for the guitar accompaniment)
18. Danse Arabe- Xavier Cugat (Rhumba version of the Tchaikovsky composition from The Nutcracker)


1. You Belong To My Heart (from Three Caballeros)
2. Bing Crosby- The Lion*
3. Occapella- Lee Dorsey (composed by Allen Toussaint)*
4. Bacon Fat- Andre Williams & His New Group
5. John Jones- Rudy Mills*
6. Tambo, Tambo- La Cumbia Soledeña
7. Taboo- Cyril Diaz & His Orchestra (1950's Trinidadian, an intense reworking of the M. Lecuona composition)
8. River Come Down- Andre Tanker (the Trinidadian genius)
9. Take Me Away From The River- Fletcher Henderson
10. G-Man Hoover- Sir Lancelot*
11. I Wish I Was a Cowboy- S.E. Rogie (Sierra Leonian palm wine guitarist)
12. Cool Water- Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
13. Cool, Cool Water- Beach Boys
14. Ports O' Call- Paul Page
15. Ode to Tobago- Lord Kitchener*
16. Jingle Bells- Brute Force Steel Bands

As a parting note: if you haven't heard Discover America, one of the greatest albums of the 70's if not all time, then allow me to gently encourage you to to change that fact about yourself.  It is a masterpiece and a deep pleasure, and you need it in your life.  Either way, anybody might enjoy this incredible video of Mr. Van Dyke Parks talking about the album.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Bevy of Duo Ouro Negro Singles and EPs, A Godsend

I've expressed to you in the past my love for the brilliant and beautiful Angolan musical duo, Duo Ouro Negro.  I've recommended the superb shares to be found over at the old Ghostcapital (by the way, you should hit up his new site if you haven't) and I've shared a couple additional LPs over a year ago, Mulowa Afrika and the beyond-excellent Blackground .  Apparently those latter shares, sent to me by a friend with the hope that I would disseminate them, were the subject of some distress for a fellow blogger (and the original ripper I presume), who-- as courteously as he could, under the circumstances-- alerted me to his desire to receive some credit for his own posts.  Indeed: fair enough.

Only too happy to oblige (and as balefully remorseful for my unintentional transgressions as any man can be), I trotted over to his site to check the link to the source and see what in fact was what.  To my thorough surprise and delight, I discovered there a treasure chest of Duo Ouro Negro singles and EPs.  I, for one, had never seen them anywhere else before, and while there is some considerable inevitable overlap with various LP tracks from the period, there's also a wealth of material that was brand new to my ears.  Such a thing is good indeed.

I urge you to do the right thing for your life and your summer, and head over to Musica dos Anos 60 and scope the Angola section, brimming with wonders such as these (from the Duo) and many more besides.  Don't forget to thank our mutual benefactors while you're there.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On the Kyushu Island: Werner Müller and His Orchestra- East of India (1963)

Another odd one from the bosom of Sleepy Lagoon, and another very western take on the inscrutable and mystical Orient.  This one (by the much-maligned, often fairly so, Werner Müller), in contrast to the Paris Theater Orchestra, slathers on the exotic instrumentation (koto, shamisen, etc., along with exotica-stalwarts like vibraphone, wordless chorus, and 60's additions such as surf guitar and spy brass) and engages in all variety of reckless experimentation.  Add to that, all the compositions are originals, and you have one of those total outlier Exotica LPs.  It might not be perfect-- it's not even great, though it's awful close-- but it's just totally unique.

Sometimes its just bonkers (as on the dopey "Chinese Tittle-Tattle") but far more often it achieves a dreamy, transcendent and cinematic air, as on the sort-of Latin-tinged "Moon Over the Pagoda" or the excellent album-opener, "The Banquet," which offers exotica infused with a dose of Italian soundtrack and a killer vocal part.  Likewise, the sublime "On the Kyushu Island" mixes the hallucinogenic mysticism of Les Baxter's Sacred Idol work with a kind of wagon-train western sound, a weird act of East/West culture blending that works so well it's sort of hard to believe.  The sound, if not the intention, is not unlike Tak Shindo's Far East Goes Western or Edmudo Ros' Bongos from the South, but in this case actually successful (and far far less overt).

This is not a perfect album, and again I wish I had a clearer-sounding rip, but it's very much worth having a listen if you're an Exotica hunter.  For a more thorough, and very positive review, check out this post on Ambient Exotica.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Evoking the Oriental Construct, Orchestrally: The Paris Theatre Orchestra- A High Fidelity Adventure in Exotic Lands (1957)

A classic example of orchestral exotica, A High Fidelity Adventure in Exotic Lands first came to my ears through the late, great, lamentably expired Sleepy Lagoon, a wonderful resource for all things exotica-based.

The Paris Theatre Orchestra here presents for your listening pleasure an enjoyable set of exotic tone-poems steeped in the vague notion of the East.  Animated entirely by Western romanticism, there is virtually no trace of actual "exotic"/ethnic musical culture manifest in the music, save the occasional (very Western) use of "oriental" compositional signifiers.  The closest you get to any kind of alien presence on this record would be, perhaps, the bird sounds which open the last track.  The back cover notes are perfectly damning:

"The far east, Arab lands, India and Persia have always held great fascination to the western mind.  Their cultures are old and at times mysterious.

It would have presented the problem of uninteresting listening to have recorded the definite ethnic music of these places, therefor, this program in general is what we consider the music that these places suggest."

A lot of the selections you'd expect from an album of this ilk are present: "Theme from Prince Igor," "Arab Dance," "In A Persian Market," and of course, "Scheherazade."  It's a bit tame for Exotica, and hardly essential, but for some reason I just love having it around.  "Drifting Sampans" is great, and the whole thing has a real classic Hollywood vibe, sort of the perfect score for a huge-budget Orientalist costume epic.

A High Fidelity Adventure in Exotic Lands (320)
(This rip is a bit flat-sounding if you ask me, help me upgrade it if you can)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Flash Strap Presents: Dub Hot Dubs 3 ("Black Majesty")

Dub Hot Dubs 3 is here, "Black Majesty," a dread freighter for to steer you through the thick hot haze of these wicked and cruel days of superheated summertime perdition.  Cool off like the righteous and pull one with the ancients, so to speak.

1. Jungle Of Crime- Dennis Alcapone
2. Satta - Masa - Ganna- Cedric Im Brooks (United Africa Version)
3. Fighting Dub- Tommy McCook & King Tubby
4. Black Man's Dub- Impact Allstars
5. Black Man's Land- Vivian Jackson & The Prophets
6. African Roots- Skatalites
7. Kentucky Skank- Lee Perry and The Upsetters
8. Outcry- Cedric Im Brooks
9. My Nocturne- Keith Hudson
10. Spying Glass- Horace Andy
11. Iron Fist- The Observers
12. Heavy Duty- Herman Chin Loy

1. Satta Massa Gana- Cedric Im Brooks
2. Melody Maker- Keith Hudson
3. Waap You Waa- Lee Perry and The Upsetters
4. Present- Burning Spear
5. Tribal War- U Roy Junior
6. Lazy Mood- The Prophet All Stars
7. Money Money- Horace Andy
8. Invasion- King Tubby/The Aggrovators
9. Scientific (Hurting Dubb)- The 4th Street Orchestra
10. Sabasi- Cedric Im Brooks
11. Roots Talk- Mabrak
12. Try Love- Sugar Minott