raoul.jpgWhen I first received this record, I thought, “Gee, could a record possibly be in worse condition?” I had purchased it for a cheap price knowing that it was heavily battered, which is pretty uncommon for me. I don’t often want to go down that road of buying records that are destroyed simply because they are rare. Not really my style. It has less to do with feeling high and mighty, and more about conserving space! However, this was Raoul Journo, perhaps the greatest male Tunisian singer ever, so I made an exception.

It paid off in a way. Yes, this record is heavily worn, but it doesn’t sound nearly as bad as it looks, with its wasteland of grey grooves, thousands of scratches, its myriad of “digs.” Like everything else I offer on this blog, it has never been made available in any format as far as I know (although I’m betting he re-recorded it later in his long career). And, again – did I mention that this is Raoul Journo we’re talking about? In short: my apologies for the sound, but I thought it was worth it in this case. These are not common.

Journo (1911-2001) was a Jewish Tunisian singer, and I believe this stems from one of his earliest sessions, in 1935 for the Polydor company. He’s accompanied by percussion, violin, and oud – plus, there’s a nice qanún solo in the introduction.

Also – I included BOTH sides of the record this time (Parts 1 and 2).

For more of his work, try the Secret Museum’s fantastic North African compilation. This outfit offers some later releases, as does this one. And here’s another site of interest.

Raoul Journo – El-Oua’che-Ouel-Ghorba

Technical Notes
Label: Polyphon
Issue Number: 46.402
Matrix: 0212-ACP/0213-ACP

sadik.jpgOk. Here’s a doozy. Really, this is one of my absolute favorite, favorite 78s of all time.

You want hyperbole? You’ve got it. I’m casting aside all restraint on this one, and probably my critical faculties. This is one of the most entertaining instrumental soloists I’ve ever heard. Sadık must have been from the region around the Black Sea, because his kemençe technique, well, rocks. He’s like the Jimi Hendrix of the instrument, which is a 3-stringed fiddle, held upright. It sounds like he’s taunting the competition when he plays.

I’m not positive when this recording was made, perhaps between the late 30s and mid-40s, on the Turkish HMV imprint, Sahibinin Sesi. I have been lucky to find a second Sadık 78 on Turkish Columbia. And as long as we’re in the nerdy, provenance-related paragraph, I should mention another, extra-special reason I enjoy this 78 so much: the surface of this record looks like garbage, yet it sounds beautiful! Hats off to the Turkish pressing. I really hope you enjoy this. For more, here’s a great video of a present-day kemençe master.

Rizeli Sadık – Erkek Kadın Oyun Havası

Technical Notes
Label: Sahibinin Sesi (Turkish HMV)
Issue Number: AX. 2023
Matrix Number: OTB 593

japan.jpgWhile I do have some examples of Japanese instrumental folk music 78s, I thought this might be unique to post: an example of gagaku, or the traditional court music of Japan, recorded in the late 1920s or so.

First off, I have to send heaps of thanks to Steve and Sari at Airform Archives and inbetweennoise.com, as well as Rika Hiro, for going far beyond the call of duty for translations and meanings. Without their help and information, I’d be more or less clueless. So, this entry was co-produced!

Gagaku is truly an ancient form of music, dating as far back as 700 CE, when it was employed by the Imperial court. There are numerous styles and variants of gaguku, and the one being played here is an example of saibara. I don’t think I could explain the song type better than my friends, who wrote:

Sai-bara is a kind of gagaku song that is grew out of the folk songs of horsemen….basically the folk song of someone who owns a horse and sort of used the horse like a taxi cab (holding the reins while the rich person rode on the horse, because the rider is above the horse person in class)…[saibara] was eventually, during the 700’s, influenced by gagaku or entered the canon of gagaku and became more of a proper song.

The players listed, Kunai-sho gakubu, are the Music Department of the Ministry of Imperial Household. And the song title, Koromogo-e, roughly translates to “exchange of clothes,” in the sense that changing of clothes means the changing of seasons. And in the sense that in ancient Japan, this phrasing was a another way of suggesting the union of a man and woman.

Kunai-sho gakubu – Koromoga-e

Technical Notes
Label: Victor
Issue Number: 13024
Matrix Number: 273

lidya-mw.jpgThere’s precious little that can compare with the unmistakable voice and guitarra doble of Lidya Mendoza, also known as “La Alondra de la Frontera,” or “The Lark of the Border.”

Lidya (commonly known as “Lydia”) was born in 1916 and began singing with her family in the Plaza del Zacate of San Antonio at a young age. In 1928, the Mendoza Family recorded 10 sides for the Okeh label. However, in the early 1930s, she signed a 10 year contract with the Victor subsidiary Bluebird, and recorded hundreds of tejano classics.

This canción, uncompiled as far as I know, was recorded on August 12th, 1935, in San Antonio’s Texas Hotel. The title translates to “I Will Not Forget You.” Her 78s can be found, but most often in one condition: trashed! They were well loved, and finding a decent copy of any early Mendoza is a good thing.

She is a legend, and there’s little else but hyperbole I can add to her biography. For more, go here. Or here. And if you’re interested in music, please go to the Arhoolie label and check out their fine Mendoza releases.

Lidya Mendoza – Olvidarte Jamás

As a recent reader noted, Lydia Mendoza passed away on December 20, 2007. The New York Times obit can be read here.

Technical Notes
Label: Montgomery Ward
Issue Number: M-4866
Matrix Number: B-2379A

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