Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Notes from a World Music Catalog, part 3

John Storm Roberts with Betty the bookkeeper and Penelope the duck in front of my 1969 Beetle

An occasional series about the heyday of World Music, analog recordings, John Storm Roberts and Original Music.
Part Three, Buying the LPS.

In the 80's, JSR and I used to go down to Manhattan every couple of months to pick up Latin and Haitian music and eat at a Peruvian restaurant in the 40's, near Kubaney Records before they expanded and moved downtown to a bigger, flashier place. I always had corvina encebollado and a wedge of curried tuna fish pie with a chilled mashed potato crust , and a lovely corn soft drink. John usually tried something different each time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Extraordinary Claim & Extraordinary Evidence

There is a Rescue Pig in a fire truck playing the trombone with a colander on his head in What Do People Do All Day?*.

That is all.

*I like to think the emphasis is on the second "Do", because "playing the trombone with a colander on my head while racing to a fire" is a great answer to that question.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Bomb Shelter

Our house was built in 1888, as were the two houses that flank it. Ours is basically a large square with a mansard roof and some other fancies of the age that we can only guess at under the vinyl siding. In 1950 a garage was added to one side, and a mother-in-law apartment on the other side at the back. In the basement of this apartment was a bomb shelter.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Woods

A New Post, in which I introduce a Guest Writer.

"We’re living exactly on the borderline between the natural world from which we are being driven out, or we’re driving ourselves out of it, and that other world which is generated by our brain cells…. "

W.G. Sebald, After Nature

For more than a decade now my brother Jim and I have been hiking the section of the Appalachian Trail that straddles the shared borders of New York and Connecticut known as the Taconics. This winter it was hard to get out what with the snow and rain. And now it’s Spring and it’s still hard. We aimed for early March, then for the 23rd, our dad’s birthday; we would have made a toast to him out there in the wilderness he so loved. Now it’s April and we are at last getting out. It’s a perfect day; the sun is bright, clouds billowy and it’s mild. Because of all the rain it makes sense to stay high, so we agree to start from the Lion’s Head trailhead just North of Salisbury, which meets up with the Appalachian Trail, and to go as far as the Undermountain feeder trail which will take us back out to the road where we’ll park a second car. This will include a piece of the Appalachian Trail we haven’t hiked, and at about five or six miles seems just right for our first time out.

Monday, September 19, 2011

An LP to start

It is fitting that I should start with a Procol Harum LP.

Not because this is a rare or valuable album, but because Procol Harum was the first band that ever meant something to me in that way that bands mean something to us.  This one, A Salty Dog (their third) and Home (fourth) are still two of my favorite records even as other teenage fancies seem to belong to strangers, or are only worthy of my forbearance.

I even smoked Players Navy Cut cigarettes on occasion just because of this album cover, which still has the ability to charm me after all these years.  Because of this enchantment, my mother, for my 15th or 16th birthday, knitted me this sweater.  It still fits, and maybe I will post a picture of me in it some day.

to be continued.....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Notes from a World Music Catalog, part 2

An occasional series about the heyday of World Music, analog recordings, John Storm Roberts and Original Music.
Part Two, the Original Music Catalog Itself
Be prepared for a little dry detail to start this post!  When I decided to write about the catalog I delved into my archival stash and picked one that I liked, as an example for study.  Working so closely with it as I did, I never really gave much thought to what it looked like. And it occurred to me that it might be useful to establish some facts before moving on to the romancing - to take a step back and get a look from a new perspective.
I was a little astonished by this example catalog from Winter 1991:  
  • Dimensions: 9 inches tall by 6 inches wide
  • Length: 40 pages
  • Number of recordings: 200
  • Number of countries represented: over 60
  • Africa alone is represented by 61 recordings from 21 countries. 
  • There are also 16 books and 11 videos included, plus an essay by John, and Qarl's Qassette Qorner.  
  • I counted 95 recordings on LP only, a lot of them lavish affairs with glorious photos and extensive notes in several languages (I promise lots of lovely pictures of these wonderful albums are coming soon.)  
It seems quite an undertaking in hindsight. I was not a little impressed at what we managed to do!  Of course by this time John had built up a vast store of knowledge and the connections needed to hunt down what he wanted to make available.  Our own label often filled the gaps he saw in coverage of various forms and styles - but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Notes from a World Music Catalog, part 1

An occasional series about the heyday of World Music, analog recordings, John Storm Roberts and Original Music.

Part One, an introduction.

I don't have as many LPs as you think. I'm always saying that. It looks like a lot at first, but I've been plenty of places where people have had thousands of records. I am a piker compared to other collectors, in fact maybe I'm not a collector at all (hoarding is what the rest of the household calls it!)  However, most of my LPs come from a very particular time and place - when I worked for Original Music in Tivoli in the late 80's and early 90's. And so my collection is kaleidoscope of what once was called World Music.