winner.jpgI couldn’t resist heading back to Africa this week. And not only that, I’m taking a brief break from the really early material I’ve been posting and moving ahead to the 1960s for this release.

And why not? South Africa (as well as other countries, such as India) kept pressing 78s up until the late 60s, at least. There were a slew of local labels churning out hundreds of fantastic jive singles throughout that decade – labels like Troubadour, Tempo, Stokvel, Tee Vee, F.M., Gallo New Sound, and Winner, which is where this nice jive track comes from. The pressings were great, too. A mint copy sounds like a mint copy with little to no surface noise. For you folks who prefer the older stuff, give this a try!

I have no idea what happened to the Trutone Dolls, although I have another great record by the group on the Stokvel label. It’s titled “Jo Jo In School.” If any of you out there are familiar with the late-60s, South African jive compilation on Mercury Records titled “Ice Cream and Suckers,” you might remember that title track’s melody. The Dolls used that same backing track for their “Jo Jo” song. It was written by Strike Vilakazi and I guess he tended to reuse backing tracks for other artists as he saw fit!

Enjoy!

Trutone Dolls – Kudala Ngikutshela

Technical Notes
Label: Winner
Issue Number: OK.263
Matrix Number: 15055

bekavietnam.jpgFirst off, I sure wish the Net would switch over to Unicode so I could type Vietnamese characters.

Thanks to reader Linh, we know know that one of the artists may be named Phuoc Cuong. They are performing an example of cai luong, a “classical” type of Vietnamese theater music played on traditional instruments. The record dates from the mid- to late 20s, as far as I can tell, though it could be considerably earlier. According to Linh’s helpful information, cai luong sets lyrics over older, classical Vietnamese songs. The songs that are played in this excerpt are Khoc huang thien, Ngu Diem, and Thien Tuong.

Beka was sold to Columbia in 1926, although the Beka imprint seemed to last at least until the early 1930s. The company made at least 140 recordings in Vietnam, and had a considerable presence in Asia throughout the early part of the century, having begun to record there since ca. 1906, when they first landed in Hong Kong.

The singers are accompanied by a bamboo flute (either the sao, or the tieu), a bowed instrument (probably a dan gao or dan nhi), and a plucked lute of some kind.

Khoc Hoang Thien – unknown

Technical Notes
Label: Beka
Issue Number: B 20107
Matrix Number: 92380

Peara Saheb – Gazal

July 15, 2007

peara.jpgSome “light classical” music from India, for this week’s post.

This record was recorded in India on October 20, 1910 (thanks to reader Howard Friedman for the sleuthing). In 1908, the Gramophone Company opened a pressing plant in Calcutta, and this record was pressed there for local distribution.

Mr. Saheb was a contemporary of this singer featured in this article, and was also credited on other recordings as “Peara Sahib.” For a more detailed biography on Peara Saheb, I am indebted to Suresh Chandvankar of the Society of Indian Record Collectors in Mumbai, who has graciously allowed me to distribute a recent edition of their newsletter. The newsletter can be downloaded in .pdf format here, and the biography on Peara Saheb appears on pages 14-15.

Saheb’s lilting voice is accompanied here by harmonium and percussion, and he sings a ghazal, an ancient poetic form originally from Persia. Listen closely at the very end of the track for a common occurance in early Indian music: the singer announcing himself in English. It’s a beautiful piece of work.

Peara Saheb – Gazal

If you’re interested in more information on early recording in India, there’s this article. There is also the fine article by Gerry Farrell in the British Journal of Ethnomusicology (Vol. 2, 1993), titled The Early Days of the Gramophone Industry in India: Historical, Social and Musical Perspectives. There is also yeoman’s research by Michael Kinnear in his book The Gramophone Company’s First Indian Recordings (1899-1908).

Technical Notes
Label: Gramophone Concert Record
Issue Number: G.C. 9-12117
Matrix Number: 13469

orthophonic.jpgThis week, I offer a nice example of Greek dimotika from the mid-1930s.

Dimotika refers to folk songs traditionally from the Greek countryside, as opposed to rebetika, which is an urban song type that I’m sure most listeners/viewers out there are doubtlessly familiar. This dimotika track is a syrto, a folkdance and song generally in 2/4 time, usually danced in a circle. The title roughly translates to “Up on the Ridge at Kriovrisi.” The transliterated name “Kriovrisi” is actually a reference to the municipality of Kria Vrisi, located in the Macedonia region of Greece.

Alas, I could find scant information on the vocalist, Ms. Atraidou. However, the clarinetist, also credited on the record, is Yiorgo Anestopoulos, a master player and an accompanist on hundreds of classic recordings. A collection of his recordings can be found here. The “L. Rouvas” listed as composer is most likely Lazaros Rouvas, who was also a lute player.

The Orthophonic label was a Victor subsidiary, run out of the United States by Tetos Demetriades. Throughout the 1930s, they released countless fine examples of Greek and Turkish music (much of which was originally recorded in those countries).

Athanasia Atraidou – Sti Raxi Stin Kriovrisi

A big thanks to Dave at Spectacular Opticals for help with translation, as well as musical info and insight.

Technical Notes
Label: Orthophonic
Issue Number: S-737
Matrix Number: n/a

A. Kevorkian – Gigo

July 2, 2007

columbia-kevorkian.jpgAnother one of my personal favorites, thanks to the folks with foresight working for Columbia Records in the late 1920s, who managed to capture some of the greatest folk music by American immigrants (Ukrainian, Polish, Albanian, Armenian, Irish, etc.).

Mr. Kevorkian sang this track in January of 1929 in Los Angeles, and is accompanied by violin, oud, and Mesrob Takakjian on clarinet. Takakjian must have been well-known in the 1920s, as I’ve found his presence on several Armenian, New York City-based labels around that time. (Pharos records, in particular. Sohag was another short-lived label associated with Pharos.) Other recordings from this session were released by Columbia.

For more by A. Kevorkian and Mesrob Takakjian, again try The Secret Museum of Mankind, Vol. 5.

A. Kevorkian – Gigo

Technical Notes
Label: Columbia
Issue Number: 28009-F
Matrix Number: 110266

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