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All-Female Bands of the 1970s -- Happy Women's History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 4, 2015 09:31pm | Post a Comment

I wrote a post on all-female bands from the 1910s-1950s, and a post covering all-female bands of the 1960s -- here's my attempt at a conclusive A-Z (and other alphabets) of all-female bands of the 1970s. Details are often sketchy or non-existent and as always corrections and contributions are appreciated!
 

DIE ATZTUSSIS


Die Atztussis were an anarcho-punk band from the Kreuzberg section of West Berlin, active at least as early as 1979 when they played the Antifaschistischen Festival. The members were Cordula (vocals), Kiki (bass), Menusch (guitar), and Petra (drums).


‘B’ GIRLS

'B' Girls in 1977 (image source: Rodney Bowes)




 
Cynthia Ross, Lucasta Rochas, Marcy Saddy, and Rhonda Ross formed 'B' Girls in Toronto in 1977. Although they recorded a handful of demos, they only released one single, "Fun At The Beach," on BOMP! in 1979. Roaches was replaced by Xenia Holiday before they broke up in 1981 or ’82. A collection of their recordings were released as Who Says Girls Can't Rock in 1997.


BEBE K’ROCHE

 
 

BeBe K’Roche were formed in Berkeley by Jake Lampert, Pamela "Tiik" Pollet, Peggy Mitchell, and Virginia Rubino in 1973. They released one single, “Hoodoo’d,” and an eponymous LP in 1976 on Los Angeles’s Olivia Records.


BERKELEY WOMEN’S MUSIC COLLECTIVE 

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15 American Pop Hits That Aren't in English

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 23, 2015 10:00pm | Post a Comment
In the United States there is no official language and in roughly 18% of American homes, one of hundreds of languages other than English is primarily spoken -- all of which, unless they're indigenousshould be considered "foreign languages." In Los Angeles, everyday you can hear pop songs on the radio in Cantonese, English, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, and Vietnamese and although I often find that pop music is better when the lyrics are unintelligible, only a handful of pop songs in a language other than English have made the journey onto the pop charts -- here are fifteen (or so).






Harry Choates's "Jole Blon" (1946, French



Domenico Modugno's "Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)"



Domenico Modugno's "Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)" (1958, Italian







Ritchie Valens's “La Bamba” (1959, Spanish)


上を向いて歩こう



Kyu Sakamoto's "Sukiyaki" -- originally  "上を向いて歩こう" or "I Look Up as I Walk" (1961, Japanese)






Soeur Sourire's "Dominique" (1963, French) 


Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin



Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's “Je T’Aime … Moi Non Plus” (1969, French)






Mocedades
“Eres Tu” (1973, Spanish)






Plastic Bertrand's “Ça Plane Pour Moi” (1977, French) 


Nena's "99 Luftballons"



Nena's "99 Luftballons" (1984, German






Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" (1987, German) 






Los Lobos' "La Bamba" (1987, Spanish)






Enigma's "Sadeness (Part I)" (1991, Latin and French) 






Deep Forest
's "Sweet Lullaby" (1992, Baeggu)






Los Del Rio's "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" (1996, Spanish) 


Shakira LA Tortura

 

Shakira with Alejandro Sanz's “La Tortura” (2005, Spanish)




 

Psy's "Gangnam Style" (2012, Korean)
*****
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Dirty Roots: Southern Hip-Hop Part I -- The 12" Era (1979-1983)

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 16, 2015 07:21pm | Post a Comment

As far as my ears can tell, pretty near every rapper from Inglewood to Plumstead nowadays owes more than a little something to the rise of the Dirty South sound that pretty much took over hip-hop in the late 1990s. As anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the genre knows, however, southern hip-hop was for many years primarily a regional concern. In the 1970s the hip-hop scene was firmly centered in the Northeast. In the early 1980s it made its way to the West Coast but as far as mainstream audiences were concerned, skipped the third and fourth coasts. In the 1990s, many casual fans and scholars alike will tell you, there was a war between the East and West Coasts during some Southern upstarts crashed the party and, despite the efforts of the backpack Taliban, restored a sense of fun to a genre which had increasingly grown joyless and conservative. 

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Black Hillbilly - or - What you really know about the Upper South?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 9, 2015 09:08am | Post a Comment
The first non-Native American settlers of Appalachia and later, the Ozarks, were of primarily of three ethnicities: Scots-Irish, English, and German. These hard-working farmers and craftsmen created a distinct culture which in the 19th Century came to be named “hillbilly.” Although the Northern European roots of hillbilly are routinely acknowledged, even scholars on the culture are far less likely to recognize hillbilly’s other significant place of ancestral origin, West Africa.


Hillbilly music’s biracial parentage should be immediately evident to anyone with any knowledge of the music’s primary instruments, the fiddle and the banjo. The modern fiddle (or violin) may have originated in 16th Century Italy but similar bowed instruments preceded its development by several centuries and the violin made its way to the Americas thanks to English colonists. The banjo, descended from the numerous plucked instruments of West Africa such as the akonting, ngoni, and xalam, was introduced to the Americas by African slaves.


Famous slave owners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, and Andrew Johnson routinely required their forced laborers to learn to play violin to entertain their friends and themselves at plantation balls and the White House.



The fiddle and the banjo soon made their way to the mountains of the Upper South where they were played at barn dances and frolics by free men. Although it’s probably a widely held assumption that free blacks all hightailed it to the North, most actually remained in the South. Many free black southerners came from the Caribbean or had lived in France’s La Louisianewhere blacks were free until it was purchased by the US. Even more were freed former slaves who either elected to remain or were unable to leave. In 1860, 84% lived not in the Deep South, however, but in the hilly Upper South (Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia).



Although black musicians were influenced by white minstrels — often adding minstrel compositions to their repertoire — white minstrels of course took most of their inspiration from black culture. Although the earliest known document of the banjo and fiddle being played together is by The Virginia Minstrels in 1840, black banjo players were documented as having played both the banjo and fiddle in the proximity of one another as early as 1774 in southern Maryland. The Virginia Minstrels’ first banjoist, Bill Whitlock, also had learned his instrument from black musicians when he was a member of a traveling circus.


The Armstrong Brothers Band


Although hillbilly music, then, had revolved around the pairing together of the fiddle and banjo for many years, in the recording age record companies segregated music into racially-specific genres to simplify their marketing. Companies marketed race music to the black, record-buying public — which included blues, gospel, and jug band music among other genres. “Hillbilly music” was targeted toward the white public. Black hillbilly musicians, then, quickly learned some other tunes if they hoped to cut music for anyone besides field recorders and ethnomusicologists.


The Ebony Hillbillies (image source: Canberra Jazz Blog)


Take the case of DeFord Bailey. Bailey was the first black musician to play on the Grand Ole Opry, had a grandfather who’d been a champion Tennessee fiddler in the 1880s, and as a child played alongside relatives at the Wilson County Fair with The Bailey Family Band. In 1975 he revealed to an interviewer, “I never heard the blues till I came to Nashville to work. All I heard as a boy back then was what we called black hillbilly music.”


The Carolina Chocolate Drops (image source: MTV)


Beginning in the 1910s, all of hillbilly culture had begun to vanish along the hillbilly highway, an exodus from the mountains in which many hill folk moved to cities in search of work in the industrial sector and led to a good deal of popular entertainment based on regionalist stereotypes. In the 1940s, field recorders documented some black hillbillies, whose music by then often blurred the lines between blues and jazz. More musicians passed on and few of their descendants followed in their ancestors’ musical footsteps — although a few taught white musicians with whom hillbilly music came to be almost exclusively identified, musicians like A. P. Carter (taught by Lesley Riddle), Bill Monroe (taught by Arnold Shultz), and Hank Williams (taught by Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne).


If you’re interested in hearing black mountain music, here’s a discography which includes examples from all eras of recorded music:

Blind James Campbell and his Nashville Street Band: Blind James Campbell and his Nashville Street Band (1995)

Butch Cage and Willie B. Thomas: Old Time Black Southern String Band Music (2006)

Cannon’s Jug Stompers: The Best of Cannon’s Jug Stompers (2001)

Cats and the Fiddle: Killin’ Jive: 1939–1940, Complete Recordings, Volume 1 (1999)

Carl Martin: Carl Martin / Willie "61" Blackwell - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order (1994)

Carolina Chocolate Drops: Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind (2006), Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson (2008), Genuine Negro Jig (2010), Heritage (2011), Leaving Eden (2012), 

The Chicago String Band: Chicago String Band (1966)

Deford Bailey: The Legendary DeFord Bailey (1998)

The Ebony Hillbillies: Sabrina's Holiday (2004), I Thought You Knew (2005), and Barefoot And Flying (2011)

Elizabeth Cotton: Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes (1989)

Gus Cannon: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order: Volume 1 (November 1927 To 20 September 1928) (1990)

Henry ThomasTexas Worried Blues: Complete Recorded Works 1927-1929 (1991)

Howard Armstrong: Louie Bluie (1995)

Joe Thompson: Family Tradition (2009)

Martin, Bogan & Armstrong: Barnyard Dance (1972), Martin Bogan & Armstrong (1974), and That Old Gang Of Mine (1978)

Mississippi Sheiks: Complete Recorded Works Presented In Chronological Order, Vol. 5 (1991), Mississippi Sheiks & Chatman Brothers - Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order: Volume 4 (26 March 1934 To 15 October 1936) (1991), Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Volume 3: 25 October 1931 To 2 6 March 1934 (1991), Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Volume 2: 15 December 1930 To 24 October 1931 (1991), Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Volume 1: 17 February To 12 June 1930 (1991)

Peg Leg Howell & Eddie Anthony: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order: Volume 1 (8 November 1926 To 13 August 1928) (1993)

Sankofa Strings: Colored Aristocracy

Spirits of Rhythm: The Spirits Of Rhythm 1932-34 (1985), Spirits Of Rhythm 1932-1941 (1996)

Tommie Bradley - James Cole Groups: 1928-32 (Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order (1991)

Various Artist Compilations:

Ain’t Gonna Rain No More: Blues and Pre-Blues from Piedmont North Carolina (2006), Altamont: Black Stringband Music From The Library Of Congress (1989), Before the Blues: The Early American Black Music Scene, vol. 1–3 (1996), Black & White Hillbilly Music: Early Harmonica Recordings from the 1920s & 1930s (1996), Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia (1997), Black Fiddlers (The Remaining Titles Of Andrew & Jim Bxter, Nathan Frazier & Frank Patterson. The Complete Recorded Works Of Cuje Bertram) (1929-c.1970) (1999), The Cornshuckers’s Frolic: Downhome Music and Entertainment from the American Countryside, vol. 1 and 2 (1999), Country Negro Jam Session (1993), Deep River of Song: Black Appalachia: String Bands, Songsters and Hoedowns (1999), From Where I Stand: The Black Experience in Country Music (1998), Old Time Black Southern String Band Music (2006), String Bands: 1926–1929 (1993), and Virginia Traditions: Non-Blues Secular Black Music (1995)



Further Reading:

A Man Apart: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774 - 1781, (2009) edited by George M. Curtis III and Harold B. Gill, Jr. 

African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A Study of Folk Tradition
(1995), by Cecelia Conway

Blacks in Appalachia (2009), edited by William H. Turner and Edward J. Cabbell

Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music
(2013), edited by Diane Pecknold

Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South
(1974) by Ira Berlin

Sinful Tunes and Spirituals: Black Folk Music to the Civil War
(1977), by Dena Epstein

“Black String Bands: A Few Notes on the Lost Cause”
(1987) and “Rural Black String Band Music” (1990), by Charles K. Wolfe

*****


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One album wonders: The Glove's Blue Sunshine

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 1, 2015 12:24am | Post a Comment
 THE GLOVE - BLUE SUNSHINE (recorded 1982, released 1983) 



For about 40 years The Cure have been the main creative outlet for Robert Smith but he's engaged in the occasional side project here and there (and there). Whilst not as obscure as Cogasm or Cult Hero, The Glove and their sole album, Blue Sunshine, is a one album wonder that deserves better. 


I suppose that The Glove were as much a Siouxsie & The Banshees side project as a Cure one, since aside from Smith (who was himself twice a Banshee) the Glove was full-time Banshee Steve Severin. They also came about largely because Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie were off recording their own Banshee side project, the first Creatures record. It also owed a lot to the neo-psychedelic direction that the Banshee's had first pursued with 1980's Kaleidoscope


The first Glove song I ever heard was "Mr. Alphabet Says," on the radio. The vocals were unmistakably those of Robert Smith. However, Smith was contractually prohibited from singing on the album so aside from that song and "Perfect Murder" the vocals were handled by Budgie's then-girlfriend, Jeanette Landray. Landray's vocals are fine -- icy and remote but perhaps not entirely memorable. After recording Blue Sunshine, she did appear in another one hit wonder, Kiss That, who released the Mick Ronson-produced Kiss And Tell in 1986.


Blue Sunshine produced two singles, “Like An Animal” b/w “Mouth To Mouth” and “Punish Me With Kisses” b/w “The Tightrope” in 1983 -- the same year that The Cure, then essentially reduced to a duo, released the non-album singles compilation, Japanese Whispers. After the release of Blue Sunshine, that recording's session drummer, Andy Anderson, joined The Cure. Violinist Martin McCarrick later played with Siouxsie and the Banshees. Blue Sunshine has been re-issued many times on various formats over the years although notably in 2006, when Rhino digitally remastered the album and added a bonus disc of studio demos with Smith on vocals. 



*****

We've had a pleasantly wet winter this year in Southern California. In fact, I reckon it's one of the nicest rainy seasons we've had in a decade. Confronted daily with lush greenery in the hills around me and cloudy, gray skies above it's no wonder (to me at least) that I keep hearing Teardrop Explodes songs in my head all day long which means that Alan Gudguy gets to experience me singing "Soft Enough for You," "Treason (It's Just A Story)" and "Metranil Vavin" all day long. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consider adding Blue Sunshine to your neo-psych/raincoat rock repertoire, your cat with thank you.


*****


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