Keith Jarrett: The Impulse! Story

Rating: 3.7/10
Rated as
: Anthology
Compilation Status
: Newbie Baiting
Released: 2006
Recorded: 1973–1976
Specific Genre: ECM Style Jazz
Main Genre: Jazz
Undertones
: Avant-Garde Jazz, Post-Bop, Bebop, Piano Jazz
Label: Impulse!

1 De Drums 2 The Rich (and the Poor) 3 Blue Streak 4 Treasure Island 5 Introduction and Yaqui Indian Folk Song 6 Victoria 7 Everything that Lives Laments 8 Konya 9 Bop-Be 10 Mushi Mushi 11 Silence

Good music, very questionable reason of existence as a compilation

Problems first: This compilation is called „The Impulse Story“, so the title suggests a sort of narrative for Jarrett’s American Quartet recordings for that label (1973–1976) – or it should, anyway. More complete compilations and box sets of Jarrett’s Impulse output had been issued before this (occupying both in name and completeness the „Impulse Years“ tag), and the question arises to what end there has to be a single disc compilation of that period. A plot? Sure. But there is no plot here, so let’s take a look.

Academically (and moronically) reconstructing the track choice, you‘ll be left with the knowledge that seven of the eleven tracks (make that ten actually – „Victoria“ wasn‘t issued on Jarrett‘s original Impulse albums – but it was first released on The Impulse Years: 1973–1974, so there is no point to view it as the selling point here) stem from just two of the eight albums while three albums aren’t represented at all. You‘ll also notice that the chronology hasn’t been touched (leading to the fact that the four tracks of Treasure Island come in a row). And you‘ll notice that the track choice as well as the liner notes were done by jazz expert Ashley Kahn. I was hoping to find an answer to the choices he made in his liner notes, and he only hints at it by mentioning that the last four albums for Impulse stem from roughly the same sessions Jarrett did in 1975/76. As there is no other information directly relating to the track choice, we’re left with a bunch of questions (why is it called story? Why such a stress on Treasure Island? Why a single disc compilation about a guy whose work has been documented excellently and comprehensively, and whose specialty were 20-minute-suites?), we‘re left to construct a) the scheme that this was called story to imply a personal and artistical ‚development‘ of Jarrett‘s Impulse years and b) the suspicion that the last four albums didn’t contribute so well to represent that arc (as they were part of temporarily close sessions as opposed to long evolution processes). Suspicion also arises this is a cash-in to lure in newbies. Who needs this?

Call me picky, but I simply expect better from the normally unerring Impulse!-label.

Economics aside, let’s take a look at the material. Like the albums it’s taken from, it is quite alright to excellent, a particular stand-out is the opener „De Drums“, with its swinging, swirling, breezy and moving pattern, akin to cape jazz, followed by some shorter tunes that all share the same airy and weightless atmosphere – an overall summer feeling permeates this. Things get a bit edgier in the last third, when the group shifted its sound away from the acoustic improvs from the beginning, and went for a less free-flowing, harder bopping approach once again (very sneaky by calling that last album Bop-Be). I prefer to listen to the first half, excellent for mornings and sunny afternoons, very laid-back music. Maybe that was the point, to lounge-ify Jarrett‘s Impulse output, possibly cross-financed by Starbucks. A thin plot: Good music, very questionable reason of existence as a compilation. As I said, I can’t imagine anyone seriously interested in this who wouldn’t want the albums in the first place.

1: Fort Yawuh (1973)
2–5: Treasure Island (1974)
6: from the Backhand (1975) sessions, but first released on The Impulse Years: 1973–1974 (1997)
7: Mysteries (1976)
8: Byablue (1977)
9–11: Bop-Be (1977)

Tok Tok Tok: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Rating: 4.6/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status
: for Fans
Released: 1999
Specific Genre: Vocal Jazz
Main Genre: Jazz
Undertones
: Soul Jazz, Pop Soul, Soul
Label: Einstein

1 Monkey-See and Monkey-Do 2 Alone Again 3 Day Tripper 4 I’ll Never Fall in Love Again 5 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover 6 Crime of Crimes 7 The Jack 8 Straighten Up and Fly Right 9 I Wish 10 Her Majesty 11 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 12 Hallelujah 13 Boogie Woogie Bossa Nova

Love is monkey-see and monkey-do

A stylish little combo somewhere between soul and jazz, consisting (almost) exclusively of a vocalist, a double bass and a saxophone, with an occasional human beatbox serving as percussion. Tokunbo Akinro’s vocals are smooth and convincing, the resulting minimalist sound being the concept here works surprisingly well. They do covers of jazz, jazz-pop, pop and soul standards, with a heavy focus on the 1970s. Highlights are Paul Simon’s title track and Stevie Wonder’s „I Wish“, still pretty funky even in this stripped-down arrangement. This low-key, acoustic approach makes for a quite consistent quality of the different performances, their smoothified-funk-sound really only goes awry on „Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child“, where spark and soul are tossed aside. But overall, this is pleasant and heartfelt background soul jazz by a talented band. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that all moments of these 59 and a half minutes, feeling like cover-song warm ups here and there, are all equally exciting.

Die Schlägels

Diskographie

Mach mir bitte ’ne Freude (1963)

Ich hab sie da drüben stehen sehen
Trübsal
Anna (geh zu ihm)
Ketten
Jungs
Frag mich wieso
Mach mir bitte ’ne Freude
Na hopp, sei mein Schatz
P.S. Ich liebe dich
Baby, du bist es
Soll ich dir ein Geheimnis verraten?
Ein Hauch von Honig
Es gibt einen Ort
Zappeln und schreien

Mit den Schlägels (1963)

Dauert nicht mehr lang
Ich muss nur
Nerv nicht
Kleines Mädel
Dann kamst du
Bitte, Herr Briefträger
Stück mal’n rück, Beethoven!
Halt mich fest
Du hast mich in der Tasche
Ich will dein Kerl sein
Die ist von Grund auf böse
Kein zweites Mal
Knete

Eine Nacht aus hartem Tag (1964)

Eine Nacht aus hartem Tag
Hätte ich besser wissen sollen
Wenn ich mich
Ich find’s schon toll, nur mit dir zu tanzen
Und ich liebe sie
Sag mir warum
Kann mir keine Liebe kaufen
Rund um die Uhr
Dann heul ich halt
Was wir heute gesagt haben
Wenn ich nach Hause komme
Das kannst du nicht machen
Ich komme wieder

Schlägels im Ausverkauf (1964)

Keine Antwort
Ich bin eine Null
Meine Flamme trägt schwarz
Sexmusik
Ich wende mich nach der Sonne
Herr Mondlicht
Südwindstadt / Hejo!
Acht Tage die Woche
Worte der Liebe
Honigmaus, hör auf
Jedes kleinste Ding
Ich will hier nicht die Spassbremse sein
Was du da machst
Alle wollen meine Honigmaus sein

Hilfe! (1965)

Hilfe!
Letzte Nacht
Du musst deine Verliebtheit überspielen
Ich brauche dich
Ein anderes Mädel
Du wirst dieses Mädel verlieren
Fahrschein
Sei einfach du selbst
Es ist nur Liebe
Du magst mich zu sehr
Sag mir, was du siehst
Ich hab grad ein Gesicht gesehen
Gestern
Irre Fräulein Ira

Gummi-Seele (1965)

Sei mein Chauffeur
Norwegisch Holz (Diese Maus ist raus)
Du willst dich nicht mit mir treffen
Nirgendmann
Denk dir’s selbst
Das Wort
Michaela
Was geht?
Mädel
Ich durchschau dich
In meinem Leben
Wart mal!
Wenn ich wen bräuchte
Renn um dein Leben

Drehpistole (1966)

Steuerinspektor
Eleanor Bergkammdorf
Ich schlafe doch nur
Unbedingt, dass du
Hier, dort und überall
Gelbes Unterseeboot
Hat sie gesagt, hat sie gesagt
Guter Tag Sonnenschein
Und dein Vogel kann zwitschern
Für niemanden
Doktor Robert
Ich möchte dir erzählen
Muss dich in mein Leben kriegen
Morgen weiss nicht

Oberfeldwebel Pfeffers Tanzorchester der einsamen Herzen (1967)

Oberfeldwebel Pfeffers Tanzorchester der einsamen Herzen
Mit ein wenig Unterstützung meiner Freunde
Lucia im Himmel mit Diamanten
Wird besser
Ein Loch stopfen
Sie verlässt Heim und Herd
Zugunsten von Herrn Drachen gibt’s
Selbst in dir, ausser dir selbst
Wenn ich vierundsechzig bin
Schöne Rita
Guten Morgen Guten Morgen
Oberfeldwebel Pfeffers Tanzorchester der einsamen Herzen (Zugabe)
Ein Tag im Leben

Magische Mysteriösitätentour (1967)

Magische Mysteriösitätentour
Der Narr auf dem Hügel
Fliegen
Blauhäherweg
Deine Mutter sollte das wissen
Ich bin das Walross („Nein, bist du nicht!“ sagte die kleine Nicole)
Hallo, und tschüss
Erdbeerfelder für immer
Pfennigschneise
Schatz, du bist Krösus
Alles, was du brauchst, ist Liebe

Die Schlägels (1969)

Zurück in der UdSSR
Liebe Umsicht
Glasszwiebel
Hoppe Hoppe Reiter
Wilde Honigmaus
Die Fortsetzungsgeschichte von Plattenbau-Didi
Während meine Gitarre sanft wimmert
Glück ist eine warme Knarre
Martha mein Liebling
Ich bin so müde
Amsel
Schweinchen
Wolfi Waschbär
Lass mich nicht links liegen
Wieso machen wir’s nicht mitten auf der Strasse?
Ich werde es tun
Julia
Geburtstag
Dein Blues, wa?
Mutter Naturs Sohn
Alle haben etwas zu verstecken ausser mir und mein Affe
Maharishi
Rutschbahn
Lang, lang, lang
Umsturz Eins
Honigmaus
Savoyer Trüffelpraline
Weine, Baby, weine
Umsturz Neun
Gute Nacht

Gelbes Unterseeboot (1969)

Gelbes Unterseeboot
Nur ein nördliches Lied
Jetzt alle zusammen
Hey Bulldogge
Es ist alles zu viel
Alles, was du brauchst, ist Liebe
Pfefferland
See der Zeit
See der Löcher
See der Monster
Marsch der Miesepeter
Pfefferland geschrottet
Gelbes Unterseeboot in Pfefferland

Everest (1969)

Gleichzeitig kommen
Ein gewisses Etwas
Alfreds Silberhammer
Oh! Liebling
Tintenfischs Garten
Ich will dich (sie ist so krass)
Hier kommt die Sonne
Weil
Du gibst mir nie dein Geld
Sonnenkönig
Fieser Herr Senf
Polyethylen Paula
Sie kam durchs Badezimmerfenster
Goldener Schlummer
Die Bürde schultern
Das Ende
Ihre Majestät

Lass es werden (1970)

Wir beide
Ponies pudeln
Durchs Universum hindurch
Ich Mir Meins
Lass dich gehen!
Lass es werden
Cornelia Kramer
Ich hab so’n Gefühl
Der nach dem Neun-nach-Neuner
Die lange und gewundene Strasse
Schmoll dir nach
Zurück

Dies ist die komplette (offizielle) Diskographie der bekannten Band Die Schlägels (Friedrich, August, Wilhelm und Ringo).

Sun Ra: Disco 3000

Rating: 6.6/10
Rated as
: Album / Live
Album Status
: for Fans
Released: 1978
Recorded: 1978
Specific Genre: Free Jazz
Main Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz, Jazz
Undertones
: Free Improvisation, Jazz Fusion
Label: Saturn

1 Disco 3000 2 Third Planet 3 Friendly Galaxy 4 Dance of the Cosmo-Aliens

A straight line through a Pollock-painting

A live album by the Sun Ra quartet, taken from a reportedly busy time in Italy 1978 – there are more complete versions out there, but this LP (with a side-long jam and three shorter freak-outs) was the initial form of its release. It is not an essential release, but that doesn’t mean it’s not thoroughly entertaining for people drenched in carefree free jazz.

There is a brittle trumpet dominating the first part of the jam, sound volume shifts up and down (intentionally, I think, it sounds as if Sun Ra phases his keyboards in and out as an effect) and although there are some grooves and soloing, this is not the kind of free jazz that sounds as if its creators are constantly inspired and incessantly hit by epiphanies – this is more like a bored toddler rummaging around the attic, finding a million little things to keep her entertained for a moment, only to shift attention the next second. With Sun Ra, this approach works. In true improv-manner, Sun Ra messes with the then brand-new Crumar DS-2 synthesizer which could produce programmed rhythms – he turns those beats on and off, each of them like a straight line through a Pollock-painting. They give you the illusion you can groove for a second – but then they’re gone! Begone, structure! Sun Ra wants to chant „Space Is the Place“! (some point after the five-minute mark…)

The second side is a bit more groove-oriented, with some tribal stuff and recognisable patterns – there even is something like a song, since ‚melody prop‘ of the weird and fun jungle groove that is „Dance of the Cosmo-Aliens“ is based on „Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child“. This becomes obvious about four minutes into the track. Also, check this out if you’re looking for stuff that heavily influenced Jimi Tenor.

Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports

Rating: 7.1/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status: Defining Classic
Released: 1978
Specific Genre: Ambient
Main Genre: Ambient
Undertones
: Minimalism, Experimental, New Age
Label: Polydor

1. 1/1 2. 2/1 3. 1/2 4. 2/2

He told you: As ignorable as it is interesting

While no obsession drives me towards the ambient-genre – I’m casually interested, so maybe the worst kind of ambient listener – there is an appealing pull to the presentation and personality of this record. It’s not the concept, it’s not its mythological history of invention. It’s the determination and the simplicity. The music here glides on a sheet of air-cooled velvet offering the least amount of friction while still being material. Piano loops, vocal „Ohs“ sampled to structure the silence – all harmony, all assembled to give you nothing to hold on to for more than a few moments. I like this. It may well be the best of its kind, sure – but nothing more (and nothing less). And he told you: As ignorable as it is interesting. Either way, a must-have.

American Federation of Musicians vs. Musicians‘ Union

Hennessey, Mike: Klook. The Story of Kenny Clarke. London: Quartet Books Limited 1990, 121.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Paris was the European hotspot for American jazz musicians, the place to go if you were looking for jobs and admiration by European jazz lovers. As Paris had been associated with jazz eversince the 1930s through Django Reinhardt and the likes, this seems somewhat commonplace today, but it does beg some questions: What about London? Why did American jazz greats like Sidney Bechet or Kenny „Klook“ Clarke (among many, many others) opt to regularly perform and settle down in the French-speaking world after World War II as opposed to an English metropolis?

There are a few more factors, but the main answer, it turns out, lies in one of the oddest factoids of musical history I encountered for the 20th century: American musicians were, with few exceptions, banned from performing in the UK for almost thirty years,from 1933 until the late 1950s.

It comes down to what is at its core a protectionist conflict of unions. Turns out, the American Federation of Musicians (AMF) and the British Musicians‘ Union (MU) were at each others throats eversince the beginning of the century or even before that. Without going into details, the quibbling was mostly about expectable things: copyrights, anxiety that foreign musicians flood the market and put local musicians out of jobs (this was especially a growing concern in the 1930s considering jobs for the „Talkies“, as jobs for muscially accompanying silent movies became superfluous). So for instance, the Musicians‘ Union had tried to establish quite early that for each American playing in the UK, there had to be a British musician playing in the US:

The law which underpinned the restrictions was the Aliens Restriction Act, originally a wartime measure introduced in 1914 and revised in 1919. In 1920, the Aliens Order was introduced, an amendment to the Aliens Restriction Act of the previous year. Specifically, the part concerning foreign musicians was the Aliens Order, 1920, Part 1 (3) (b), which stated that any foreign musician must „if desirous of entering the services of an employer in this country, produce a permit in writing for this employment issued to the employer by the Ministry of Labour“. In 1923, the Prince of Wales helped to ensure that Paul Whiteman was able to tour Britain. Whiteman was allowed to perform provided that for every American musician employed, a British musician was employed. This became know as ‚the Whiteman clause‘, designed to protect the work of the British musician from the importation of the American musicians.

The application of the Aliens Order was the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour, not the MU. The supposed ban is often referred to as an MU ban, but this is slightly misleading.

(Hodgetts 2017, 65)

Anyhow, the American Federation of Musicians seemed quite comfortable to simply ignore these kinds of quid-pro-quo-requests and seemed to be quite a bit more protectionist than its British counterpart (or at least that is how the Musicians‘ Union perceived it), and with jazz emerging the American art form per se, they probably felt they had some leverage considering demand/supply over the Europeans.

In 1935, as the popularity of touring US jazz bands grew, the MU managed to get the Ministry of Labour to agree that it would not issue work permits for foreign musicians without Union approval—which was routinely refused. This situation lasted until 1955 and is often referred to as a “ban” on US jazz musicians entering the UK.

(Cloonan 2014, 35)

This led to some straight-up absurd situations, like the AMF pushing through deals that the Britons had to financially compensate American musicians that didn’t even perform, just so English orchestras were even allowed to play on American ground, as in 1932:

 Louis Armstrong visits the UK and plays shows in London, while [English musician] Jack Hylton broadcast to the USA, via. arrangement with NBC. However, while this broadcast was taking place the AFM had struck a deal that the same number of American musicians would sit in a New York studio and receive the same fee as Hylton’s band without playing a note. This typified the bizarre nature of reciprocal deals between the UK and US unions, which returned in the 1950s and 1960s.

(University of Glasgow, URL: https://www.muhistory.com/contact-us/1931-1940/ )

The climax of these petty fights came in 1934, and of course we need another historical name for this event: Duke Ellington.

[In 1933], Duke Ellington plays a series of shows in London and is quoted as saying “if it doesn’t become an annual trip, I’ll be most disappointed.” However, the protectionist policies of both the MU and the AFM, meant that he would be unable to return until 1958. This was the last major performance by a US dance band in the UK until the 1950s.

(University of Glasgow, URL: https://www.muhistory.com/contact-us/1931-1940/ )

The Ministry of Labour (technically not the MU, but they pushed for it) refused Ellington re-entry in 1934, when the orchestra was scheduled to play. The Ministry is quoted in Hodgetts (2017, 67) as stating that they were „becoming more and more alive to [the] entire absence of reciprocity“ from the AMF. This procedure was repeated in 1935 for Duke Ellington and became the standard attitude towards American performers for the coming twenty years.

What can I say? All this kerfuffle didn’t really start to change again until 1955/56, with some penny-pinching, intercontinental swapping of British and American acts, but the weirdness didn’t stop immediately. My favourite anecdote about the ongoing quarrelling is that British skiffle-star Lonnie Donegan was indeed allowed to tour the US in 1956 – but he was refused to play his guitar (in order to ensure the hiring of an American backing band). By the way, according to Billy Bragg’s book Roots, Radicals and Rockers (2017), Donegan was ‚exchanged‘ for what the English newspapers announced as a certain „Elvin“ Presley.

Anyway, back on topic: American jazz and its new developments from 1930 to 1960 were basically banned from being performed in the UK for the probably most seminal three decades of its development (in stylistic and commercial respect). This not only made Paris the jazz-capital of Europe, with no truly relevant jazz scene in London (sorry). It also made sure that young people in the UK couldn’t witness any of the transformations of jazz from swing to bop to cool jazz to hard bop first-hand. Let’s think about this in terms of what happened: For instance, Bragg puts forward the thesis that this ‚ban‘ basically created the British Invasion in the long run, as rock&roller Bill Haley’s UK tour of 1957 was greeted by young UK-audiences as a sort of big bang or messianic event, and, since there had been no fancy jazz going on, young folks flocked to the simple guitar- or banjo-based skiffle style à la Lonnie Donegan – there simply wasn’t anything else nearly as cool and American. Skiffle bands (instead of, I don’t know, a Liverpool-bebop scene – dibs on the genre name „liverbop“ for my alternate history novel about this. I know „merseybop“ is more obvious, but liverbop sounds cooler) led to Beat music, voilà: British Invasion of the US as soon as the ban was loosened in the early 1960s. By the way: The quid-pro-quo-approach for performing musicians was technically in place until the 1980s.

There’s another scenario in which the ban never happened. Imagine a young Paul McCartney growing up in a world surrounded by jazz giants having relocated to England instead of France. «Yesterday» becomes his «Body and Soul» on the saxophone. Or let’s say the ban had stuck around in its severe form until much later. No British Invasion at all, the Beatles being refused to perform in the US for the entire decade, just like Duke Ellington during the 1930s in the UK. And so on. There’s a number of alternate history-novels here.

Sources:                                                    

Bragg, Billy: Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World. London: Faber & Faber 2017.

Cloonan, Martin: Musicians as Workers: Putting the Uk Musicians‘ Union into Context. In: MUSICultures 41:1 (2014), 10–29.

Hennessey, Mike: Klook. The Story of Kenny Clarke. London: Quartet Books Limited 1990.

Hodgets, Andrew: Protection and internationalism: The British Musicians‘ Union and restrictions on foreign musicians. In: Fagge, Roger and Nicolas Pillai (eds.): New Jazz Conceptions: History, Theory, Practice. London/New York: Routledge 2017, 63–89.

University of Glasgow: The Musicians‘ Union: A History (1893–2013). Timeline 1931–1940. URL: https://www.muhistory.com/contact-us/1931-1940/

Eric Andersen: Blue River

Rating: 6.3/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status:
for Genre-Enthusiasts
Released: 1972
Specific Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Contemporary Folk
Main Genre: Folk, Singer-Songwriter
Undertones
: Folk Rock, Country Rock, Soft Rock
Label: Columbia

If love were made of clouds, I almost wish that it would rain

A sweet and elusive singer-songwriter album, a bit on the cheesy side of acoustic folk, with a female ghost choir and glockenspiel kicking in around one minute into the record. With his fragile voice and rather feeble performance, Andersen falls into the vicinity of James Taylor. He belongs to the introspective, romantic sort of folk troubadours: gentle tunes, gentle performance, gentle lyrics, the production is spare but clever. There’s never just a guitar, there’s always a harmonium, or a glockenspiel, or flute-like keyboards, or gospel-ish piano clusters… and occasionally a fuller band-sound bordering on the soft-rock of the early 1970s Southern California-scene (though Andersen wasn’t part of that scene).

The compositions here, while today totally familiarized by the likes of Taylor or Carole King, must have been regarded as pretty ‚serious’ folk music in their day. Today, they are tame at worst and well-written somberness at best. Andersen isn’t afraid to tackle a surprising variety of styles here (why is it surprising? The production is so homogeneous that you don’t notice any variety the first few spins). He does standard balladry, Cohen-inspired depression („Sheila“, one of the better numbers) and even hints at country rock with the bittersweet, jaunty „More Often Than Not“ and, as a bonus track, the Hank Williams-classic „Why Don’t You Love Me“.

As a performer, Andersen lacks the intriguing bittersweet subtlety of Nick Drake or the abyssal baritone-dirge of Leonard Cohen. „More Often Than Not“ is a standout in both ways: it is a straight jaunty country song as opposed to the usual slow-tempo ballads here and one of the most immediately memorable numbers. Although the lyrics imply a sozzled roadrunner telling his story to an equally sozzled crowd, Andersen sticks to his usual contained singing style – the contrast this creates with what would be obvious crowd chant-along lines as „And here’s to all the ladies / That I’m not with tonight!“ or „And here’s to all the bottles / That I’ve drunk in my time!“ has its own charm. It’s just a sobering-up as opposed to a drunk version of that song. Of course, this song is so far from Andersen’s usual romantic staple poetry and ballad compositions, it goes unsaid this is the only song here not from his feather (as I said, on the CD there’s the Williams-cover as a bonus – it seems Andersen had a soft spot for upfront honkytonk country when not writing pained songs to Jesus, as on the ultra-cheesy „Round the Bend“).

Anyhow, this is a decent album if you’re into über-gentle singersongwriter balladeering from the early 1970s. It’s just good enough not to be very boring. This is a must I guess if you’re the kind of person that avidly listens to Carole King, James Taylor and the likes. For me, the record is mostly about „Sheila“ (Andersen’s only moment of true pain here) and the funny „More Often Than Not“. Of the qualities I personally like in Andersen, there’s just other guys and gals in those fields that are quite a bit better.

Howlin‘ Wolf: The Power of the Voice

Rating: 1.2/10
Rated as
: Anthology
Compilation Status
: Useless
Released: 1989
Recorded: 1951, 1952, 1970
Specific Genre: Chicago Blues
Main Genre: Blues, Electric Blues
Label: Blues Encore

1 I Ain’t Superstitious 2 Sittin‘ on the Top of the World 3 Built for Comfort 4 The Red Rooster 5 Highway 49 6 Cause of It All 7 Killing Floor 8 Brownskin Woman 9 The Sun Is Rising 10 I’m the Wolf 11 House Rockin‘ Boogie 12 Dog Me Around 13 Keep What You Got 14 My Babe Stole off 15 Crying at Daybreak 16 Passing By Blues 17 Poor Boy 18 Commit a Crime 19 Wang-Dang-Doodle 20 Do the Do 21 Worried About My Baby 22 Rockin‘ Daddy

You better keep what you got

Completely pointless cash-in compilation by the greatest hollerer there ever was. Although you get 22 tracks on a single disc, this isn’t worth your while: The track choice is completely random, all the tracks are either from 1970 or 1951/52; the sequencing is random (the disc starts with a bunch of 1970-recordings, tracks 1–7, the 1950s tracks follow, 8–16, then back to a row of the 1970-tracks, 17–22); the sound of this European issue is just awful (not scratchy, as these are studio recordings, but this is the most compressed, tinniest and flattest audio quality I’ve heard in my lifetime – which is all the worse, as Howlin‘ Wolf is about his roaring sound, totally betrayed here). Tracks 8–11 are from the same 1952-session in Memphis (but were published partly on different records under fishy circumstances), while 12–16 are from two Memphis-1952 sessions (September and October). In neither cases are these all of those sessions‘ tracks, so what’s the point? But worst of all: all the 1970-tracks are directly and redundantly taken from the famous London Howlin‘ Wolf Sessions-album, whose versions weren’t so hot to begin with.

There are so many good compilations by Howlin‘ Wolf, don’t be fooled by the large number of tracks here and be sure to skip this one. To check on how to collect Wolf’s material, compare my RateYourMusic-list Complete Blues Discographies: What to get.

Recording equipment vs. playback equipment

Epperson, Bruce D.: More Important Than the Music. A History of Jazz Discography. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 2013. P. 207.

In his book More Important than the Music, Bruce Epperson points out that, interestingly, for decades the technology of recording music – what you could put on a record – was much more developed than the technology to play this music back to the listener. Put technically: The machines couldn’t extract all the sonic data on a record. Put simply: The listener couldn’t hear everything that was on the record, no matter how hard he tried.

This raises a few interesting points. On is mentioned in snippet above: What about the authenticity effect? Should we get worse record players to be able to listen what the early jazz fans fell in love with? Additionally, with newer equipment playing old records, one could hear many „new“ instruments and sound that witnesses and lovers of the old records thought they had been overdubbed. This is a point Epperson raises earlier in the book:

Epperson, Bruce D.: More Important Than the Music. A History of Jazz Discography. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 2013. P. 82.

Another point raised in the paragraph concers the reliability of „by-ear“-discographies – that is, discographies with information about instruments and musicians that were made accordig to a judgement made by an expert listening. The newer and better playback technology largely renders „close-listening“-calls before the late 1940s fun guesswork for historians at best. It’s a moment of true wonder:

The state of the art in consumer playback equipment took thirty years to catch up with recording technology.

Epperson 2013, 82.

Santana: The World of Santana

Rating: 1.6/10
Rated as
: Bootleg / Live / Archival
Album Status: of Archival Interest
Released: 2001 (1994 Galaxy)
Recorded: ? [1960s/70s]
Specific Genre: Latin Rock
Main Genre: Rock
Undertones: Blues Rock
Label: ZYX Music

CD1: 1.1 Jingo 1.2 El Corazon Manda 1.3 La Puesta del Sol 1.4 Persuasion 1.5 As the Years Go Passing By 1.6 Acapulco Sunrise 1.7 Coconut Grave 1.8 Hot Tamales
CD2: 2.1 With a Little Help from My Friends 2.2 Every Day I Have the Blues 2.3 Jam in E 2.4 Travelin‘ Blues 2.5 Jammin‘ Home 2.6 Jammin G. Minor

Worthless packaging, zero information

This ultra-cheap double-issue is identical to the equally crummy releases Greatest Hits Live Vol 1 and Greatest Hits Live Vol 3 (don’t be fooled, as opposed to the Wilburys, there actually is a Vol 2). The title of these is a complete joke, as this is indistinct live bootleg jamming of what must be late 1960s/ early 1970s recordings. Atrocious sound quality, worthless packaging, zero information, and a totally indiscriminate track selection. If you came here for the novelty of hearing Santana play the Beatles’ „With a Little Help From My Friend“, you’ll get that novelty, but not much more.

Most of CD1 is simply their early 1970s latin rock jams, CD2 is surprisingly blues-tinged, as already indicated by the song titles. That stresses one of Santana’s more overlooked musical sources (B.B. King, for one). Either way, there are numerous bootlegs of exactly these and similar live cuts on the market, and while this isn’t bad music at all, it’s just very uninteresting and badly recorded stuff. Definitely not worth seeking out, even for fans.