It is once again time for me to reach back in the refrigerator for some "choice cuts". Each time, I will be featuring sizzling and succulent morsels that are grabbing my ear right now that range from funk to country, from afro-beat to garage rock, etc. Sometimes there will be a theme to these songs that ties them all together in a nice bow, but other times the songs featured will just be a musical hodgepodge of eclectic delights. Without further ado, lets see what "choice cuts" the vinyl butcher has prepared for us today.
Today's edition of Choice Cuts features a track each from the latest releases on Tompkins Square: This May Be My Last Time Singing- Raw African American Gospel on 45 RPM 1957-1982 and To What Strange Place- The Music of the Ottoman -American Diaspora.
R. Jenkins and the Dayton Harmonaires: Put Your Hand in the Hand
From: This May Be My Last Time Singing- Raw African American Gospel on 45 RPM 1957-1982
Master curator and music lover Mike McGonigal painstakingly combed the archives of rare gospel music, and compiled this arresting collection of gritty gospel tunes that will have you singing from the top of your lungs and tapping your feet to the grooves. Before I laid ears on this collection, I was wriggling with anticipation as to what I was about to experience. Nothing could quite prepare me for the tenth track on the first disc of this set.
From the opening heavily-phased surf guitar on R. Jenkins and the Dayton Harmonaires' "Put Your Hand in the Hand", I knew that I was in for an aural delight. If I was to put a tag on the style, I would call it Psychedelic Gospel-Surf, as it conjures up images of a congregation belting it out on a sunny beach while surfers elegantly ride massive waves to the sound of the music. I'm guessing that this is a whacked-out interpretation of a gospel standard, but I can't for the life of me remember who composed the original song. One thing that I know for sure is that most of you will be hard-pressed to think of another example of music that melds these particular styles so perfectly. Off kilter basslines, psychedelicized surf guitar and throat-shredding vocals are all distinct elements of this track that will leave you scratching your head and grinning in unison.
Unknown Performers: Pehlivan Havasi
From: To What Strange Place- The Music of the Ottoman -American Diaspora
Ian Nagoski curated this mind-blowing collection by musical masters from Anatolia, The Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant who recorded most of this collection of 78's in New York City between WWI and the Depression, with the remainder of the records being imported from other countries in the Middle East.
The track that I am featuring here is one that struck a chord with me as soon as I heard it. Since I became familiar with the snake-charming pungi flute music several years back, I have been obsessed with finding any records that represent this style. This is why I was happily surprised to hear the trance-inducing snake-charming sound present on "Pehlivan Havasi". While this is not the pungi flute that is being played, the sound of the double reed zurna on this track could definitely be used to raise the spirits of a slithery snake. It is truly the kind of music that can keep you under it's spell long after the last notes fade.
I would love to hear what you think of this edition of Choice Cuts, so please drop me a line in the comments.