Sunday, February 28, 2021

Jamaican History: A Toast to Those Now Gone

We're gonna wrap up Black 'istree Month by honoring a recently-passed Rap forefather and icon of Reggae music.

One of those artists that, for whatever reason, doesn't have much in the way of archival or unissued material that we know about.

Widely credited as the originator of what became known as Toasting -- essentially detouring a song you're either singing yourself, or playing on your Sound System to move the crowd, into a spoken word interlude, featuring a sort of proto-rapping style -- he created a bridge between the worlds of the DJ and the proper singer that has only widened since.

 His Jamaican innovations in the late 1960s and early 1970s helped to spark the Rap revolution that was soon to follow in the South Bronx.

He began musical life as a deejay in the early 1960s and began shifting to the mic as that decade unfolded, with stopping-off points in the Sound System orbits of luminaries like Coxsone Dodd and King Tubby.

By the end of the Sixties, he got so popular with his toasting over records that he was drafted into the studio to begin recording songs of his own, prominently emphasizing the new spoken style he almost singlehandedly had invented over the course of the previous decade.

Eventually he became Reggae royalty, as well as becoming credited for having helped kick off Rap and Hip-Hop in the process.

In the decades since he established himself, he went around the world as a kind of unofficial Reggae ambassador, touring extensively as well as recording.

Ten days ago, multiple ailments caught up to him, and he died at the age of 78.

Died in the physical sense, because it's easy to see why U-Roy -- one of the foundational pioneers of the music of our age -- will live forever.

Like I alluded to, there isn't a whole wealth of unreleased stuff of his, but there is this tremendous set from the Sierra Nevada Festival in Northern California, which I have touched up with repairs to its various outstanding sonic errors.

Look out for Roots bass legend "Fully" Fullwood leading the band, too.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
Angels Camp, California USA

01 introduction
02 Babylon Burning  
03 Chalice In the Palace
04 Amen
05 Jah Jah Call You
06 Money, Money
07 I'm Still In Love
08 Kung Fu Fighting incl. band introductions
09 Wear You to the Ball
10 This Station Rules the Nation
11 Soul Rebel
12 Have Mercy
13 Same Song
14 Pass the Kutchie

Total time: 58:36

U-Roy - vocals
with The "Fully" Fullwood Band:
Tony Chin - guitar
George "Fully" Fullwood - bass
Jawge Hughes - keyboards
Stephanie, Enroy "Tenor" Grant & Egion - horns
Lady Gina & Lady Gigi - vocals
Santa Davis - drums

sounds like a master DAT from the mixing desk
dropouts repaired, noise bursts removed, and slightly retracked by EN, February 2021

That will about do it for February and the BHM festivities for another year.

I'll start to march on March now, but I thought it was the perfect ending to the month to honor this monumental innovator, gone from us now on his journey to the next I-Risin'.--J.

9.21.1942 - 2.17.2021

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Boom Boom with a View

We are midway through a full weekend of BHM hits, with one more to come after this.

Today we'll go possibly as deep into The Blues as can be gone, with one of the idiom's towering and shamanic practitioners mesmerizing a college audience into a trance 50+ years ago.

Blues history is Black history, and listening to this diamond of the archives, thankfully liberated as part of a series recorded at this university back at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s, you get -- perhaps more than with any other artist of this genre -- an impression that at its best it's all one, long and continuous song flowing like an endless river.

This nearly 90-minute instance of hypnosis using only voice and guitar almost plays like one tune, unspooling over the hour and a half he's onstage.

I'm not even sure he changes key more than once. If at all.

There's something pure and unfiltered about the way John Lee Hooker lowered the Boom Boom on an audience, and the dronetastic vibrations of love, lust, loss and hope he lays on the crowd in this show convey the sense that you are tapping into some eternal vein of expression by eavesdropping on the magical state being induced.

Could it have been recorded better? Sure. Really, this is approaching the bottom limit of what I'll share here in terms of sonic pristineness.

Honestly with sets like this, you just feel overwhelmingly grateful that it was taped at all, and in the degree of quality that it was given the era and the circumstances.

This is like a time machine visit to another world, and the onlisteners at Reed College here in Oregon who were there must remember this performance with lifetime, bucketlist vividity.

John Lee Hooker
Reed College Community Center
Portland, Oregon

01 Letter to My Baby
02 "My Baby's Gone"
03 Serves Me Right to Suffer
04 Maudie, I Miss You So Bad Baby
05 "It's Alright"
06 Dimples
07 Night Time Is the Right Time
08 Boom Boom
09 How Many More Years?
10 Money
11 Crawling King Snake
12 Boogie Chillun
13 Country Boy
14 Hobo Blues
15 Five Long Years
16 I Feel Good
17 Sinner's Prayer
18 "Hey Hey - It's Alright"
19 Come Back Baby
20 "Talk to Me - It's Alright"

Total time: 1:28:56
disc break goes after Track 10
titles in quotes are approximations and may be improvisations

John Lee Hooker - guitar & vocals

mono 1st gen cassettes of the master soundboard reels
retracked by EN, February 2021
474 MB FLAC/February 2021 archive link

I'll get Black here in another 24 with the last for February, and rest assured it will be as Irie as the decals on King Tubby's mixing console.

If you bypass this Bluesy blast on its 51st anniversary, though, I'm afraid it's like the man says and it serves you right to suffer.--J.

8.22.1912 - 6.21.2001

Friday, February 26, 2021

Dancing Machinery: A Jackson In Your House

Let's begin to wrap up Black History postings with this smoking pistol of an anniversary piece.

It's 42 today, from a long time ago before its main protagonist was really a thing on his own, and was still very much part of a group with his brothers.

After this tour, that all changed. For the better maybe at first, but then, as time went on, not so much.

We all know the story, so I won't recount it here.

It's kind of fun to think about it all in this frame, when everyone was young and full of possibility and before the various downfalls put it all into a rather lurid permacontext.

Anyway in their day, and in no small way because of their later-to-fall leader, these guys were among the biggest draws on planet Earth.

This tour, in support of their megahit Destiny platter, went around the world twice and lasted a year, playing to sellout houses throughout.

This show comes from a venue they played three nights.... in the same month. Two at the start and then back at the end of February for this one, aired over Dutch radio.

The Jacksons
Koninklijk Theater Carré
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

01 Dancing Machine
02 Things I Do for You
03 Ben
04 I Am Love
05 Keep On Dancing
06 Jackson 5 medley: I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save
07 I'll Be There
08 band introductions
09 Enjoy Yourself
10 Destiny
11 Show You the Way to Go
12 All Night Dancing
13 Blame It On the Boogie

Total time: 57:15

Jackie Jackson - vocals
Tito Jackson - guitar & vocals
Marlon Jackson - vocals
Michael Jackson - vocals
Randy Jackson - vocals, congas, percussion & keyboards
Bud Rizzo - guitar
Mike McKinney - bass
James McField - keyboards
Tony "T-Bird" Lewis - drums

FM broadcast of indeterminate origin
246 MB FLAC/February 2021 archive link

I'm back tomorrow with the hardcore, vintage BHM shit to make your head go Boom Boom, but don't sleep on The Jacksons here.... and if you do, don't you try to blame it on the boogie or whatnot.--J.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

You Can Call Me Altissimo

I'm kind of depressed about my doctor's appointment tomorrow, and lots of other junk, but I promised a Sunday BHM screed so I'm here to deliver the goods.

I've wanted to cover this guy for years, but suitable archival bits of him are kind of scarce for whatever reason. Luckily, someone popped this set -- two sets, really -- onto one of the bootleg trackers a while back.

Today's hero of yesteryore ought need no introduction, except to say that if you don't know who Jackie McLean is, you're just what eventually results when music gets taken out of schools.

I won't say too much about this beautiful two hours, except that if you like your Hard Bop hard, intense and played with commitment, you've come to the right show, as this is the only concert I've ever heard where the bass player gets so into it he unintentionally rips the double bass right off its frame in the middle of a tune.

After the song is over, Jackie discusses it with the audience, and they give the guy a huge ovation. Then, he shifts to electric for the remainder of the 1st set.

Obviously that's not the primo highlight, but you do of course get oodles of Jackie and trombone master Steve Davis blowing boss and brash for the whole 115 minutes of mayhem.

All right Jazz snobs, this one is 27 years old today, so let's anniversarize.

Jackie McLean Quintet
University of Virginia Jazz Festival
Old Cabell Hall
Charlottesville, Virginia

01 Rhythm of the Earth
02 Cyclical
03 band introductions
04 Knot the Blues
05 Five
06 announcements
07 Minor March
08 band introductions
09 A Glass Enclosure
10 Yesterday's Blues Tomorrow
11 Zimbabwe
12 Five

Total time: 1:55:05
disc break goes after Track 05

Jackie McLean – alto saxophone
Nat Reeves – bass
Steve Davis – trombone
Alan Palmer – piano
Eric McPherson – drums

master DAT from the mixing desk, transferred and mastered in 2009 by Bill Koucky
announcements and band introductions -- which were nearly inaudible -- increased 12dB and some dead air trimmed by EN, February 2022

612 MB FLAC/February 2021 archive link

I'll magnetize some more Black History Month movement in a few days, but let Jackie Sax here -- yes he's one of the blazingest altos ever to bend a reed -- send some good air through your weekend fare, if you dare! I share because I care.--J.

5.17.1931 - 3.31.2006