Elizabeth Cotten – Live! (1983)

FrontCover1.jpgElizabeth Cotten, born January 5, 1895 in Chapel Hill, S.C., died June 29, 1987 in Syracuse, N.Y., was a self taught blues and folk musician, singer and songwriter. She developed her own style of playing left-handed by holding a normally tuned guitar upside down so she played the melodies with her thumb and the bass lines with her fingers. Her style of playing became known as “Cotten picking”.

Cotten wrote most of her music in her early teens and earlier (she wrote “Freight Train” at age 11). After marrying at 15 and getting work as a maid she stopped playing music for 40 years. It wasn’t until she was working as a maid for Charles Seeger, an avid music lover, that she relearned how to play the guitar.

In the 1950s Mike Seeger began to record Cotten on reel to reel tape. In 1960 she began to play live for the first time, her first show was with Mike Seeger and she went on to perform with musicians such as Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters. Because of the positive reaction Cotten began to write, record and tour with new material which she continued to do into her 80s. In 1984 she won the Grammy “Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording” for the album Elizabeth Cotten – Live!.

Elizabeth died when she was 92 in Syracuse, New York. (discogs.com)


I’m not lying when I said that I weeped when I heard “Freight Train” the first time. Every song on this CD moved me as well as her lovely storytelling. This incredible woman was 85 when it was recorded and she sounds so hip and cool. Her guitar playing was very impressive and very ahead of its time. As a musician myself, I have learned a great deal about “Cotten Picking” and melodies. This album is a must have for Elizabeth fans and for people who have an interest in true blue acoustic music. (by Rose Natalie Grullon)

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Alternate front + back cover

Elizabeth Cotten (vocals, guitar, banjo)


01. Freight Train 4.56
02. Washington Blues 4.36
03. Jumpin’ Jack 3.30
04. Shake Sugaree 4.28
05. Shake Sugaree / Banjo Story, Rattler 5.23
06. Vastopol 4.52
07. Guitar Story 4.20
08. Oh Baby, It Ain’t No Lie 7.14
09. Elizabeth Story, et al., / Honey Babe, Your Papa Cares for You 7.56
10. Spanish Flangdang 2.44
11. ‘Til We Meet Again 1.23

All songs written by Elizabeth Cotten




Elizabeth Cotten  (January 5, 1893 – June 29, 1987)

Dorothy Ashby – Concierto De Aranjuez (1983)

FrontCover1.jpgDorothy Jeanne Thompson (August 6, 1932 – April 13, 1986) better known as Dorothy Ashby, was an American jazz harpist and composer. Hailed as one of the most “unjustly under loved jazz greats of the 1950’s” and the “most accomplished modern jazz harpist,”[6] Ashby established the harp as an improvising jazz instrument, beyond earlier use as a novelty or background orchestral instrument, proving the harp could play bebop as adeptly as the instruments commonly associated with jazz, such as the saxophone or piano.

Ashby had to overcome many obstacles during the pursuit of her career. As a black woman musician in a male dominated industry, she was at a disadvantage. In a 1983 interview with W. Royal Stokes for his book Living the Jazz Life, she remarked of her career, “It’s been maybe a triple burden in that not a lot of women are becoming known as jazz players. There is also the connection with black women. The audiences I was trying to reach were not interested in the harp, period—classical or otherwise—and they were certainly not interested in seeing a black woman playing the harp.” Ashby successfully navigated these disadvantages, and subsequently aided in the expansion of who was listening to harp music and what the harp was deemed capable of producing as an instrument.


Ashby’s albums were of the jazz genre, but often moved into R&B, world music, and other styles, especially her 1970 album The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, where she demonstrates her talents on another instrument, the Japanese koto, successfully integrating it into jazz.

Dorothy Thompson grew up around music in Detroit, where her father, guitarist Wiley Thompson, often brought home fellow jazz musicians. Even as a young girl, she would provide support and background to their music by playing the piano. She attended Cass Technical High School, where fellow students included such future musical talents and jazz greats as Donald Byrd, Gerald Wilson, and Kenny Burrell. While in high school she played a number of instruments (including the saxophone and string bass) before coming upon the harp.

DorothyAshby4.jpgShe attended Wayne State University in Detroit, where she studied piano and music education. After she graduated, she began playing the piano in the jazz scene in Detroit, though by 1952 she had made the harp her main instrument.[15] At first her fellow jazz musicians were resistant to the idea of adding the harp, which they perceived as an instrument of classical music and somewhat ethereal in sound in jazz performances. So Ashby overcame their initial resistance and built support for the harp as a jazz instrument by organizing free shows and playing at dances and weddings with her trio.[15] She recorded with Jimmy Cobb, Ed Thigpen, Richard Davis, Frank Wess and others in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During the 1960s, she also had her own radio show in Detroit.

Ashby’s trio, including her husband, John Ashby, on drums, regularly toured the country, recording albums for several record labels. She played with Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman, among others. In 1962, Ashby won Down Beat magazine’s critics’ and readers’ awards for best jazz performers. Extending her range of interests and talents, she also worked with her husband in a theater company, the Ashby Players, which her husband founded in Detroit, and for which Dorothy often wrote the scores. In the 1960s Dorothy Ashby, together with her husband, formed a theatrical group to produce plays that would be relevant to the African-American community of Detroit. This production group went by several names depending on the theater production.

They created a series of theatrical musical plays that Dorothy and John Ashby produced together as this theatrical company, the Ashby Players of Detroit.[17] In the case of most of the plays, John Ashby wrote the scripts and Dorothy Ashby wrote the scores.[16] Dorothy Ashby also played harp and piano on the soundtracks to all of her plays. She DorothyAshby5starred in the production of the play “3–6–9” herself. Most of the music that she wrote for these plays is available only on a handful of the reel to reel tapes that Dorothy Ashby recorded herself. Only a couple of the many songs she created for her plays later appeared on LPs that she released. Later in her career, she would make recordings and perform at concerts primarily to raise money for the Ashby Players theatrical productions.

The theatrical production group “The Ashby Players” not only produced black theater in Detroit and Canada but provided early theatrical and acting opportunities for black actors. Ernie Hudson (of Ghostbusters 1 actor, credited as Earnest L. Hudson) was a featured actor in the Artists Productions version of the play 3–6–9. In the late 1960s, the Ashbys gave up touring and settled in California, where Dorothy broke into the studio recording system as a harpist through the help of the soul singer Bill Withers, who recommended her to Stevie Wonder. As a result, she was called upon for a number of studio sessions playing for more pop-oriented acts.

Ashby died from cancer on April 13, 1986, in Santa Monica, California. Her recordings have proven influential in various genres. The High Llamas recorded a song entitled “Dorothy Ashby” on their 2007 album Can Cladders. Hip-hop artists have sampled her work often, including Jurassic 5, on their album Feedback, as well as Andre Nickatina on his song “Jungle”. Bonobo included the track “Essence of Sapphire” on his mix album Late Night Tales.


Concierto de Aranjuez is a studio album by jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby released via the Philips Records label in 1984. The record is her final album as a leader. (by wikipedia)

The harp is such a phenomenally beautiful instrument and I don’t understand why it isn’t much more prominent in jazz, or music in general. Dorothy Ashby plays with grace and feeling. Listening to this album feels like being swept away into some mystical fairy tale land. It’s soothing but also kind of melancholy in a way that I don’t think can really be described properly with words. (ClipsMcGrips)

And this is a very intimate, quit album and this fits to my sad mood today …

A great album … if you would like to relax …


Dorothy Ashby (harp)


01. Concierto de Aranjuez (Rodrigo) 9.26
02. Gypsy Airs (de Sarasate) 3.50
03. Green Sleeves (Traditional) 4.31
04. Gershwin Melody (Gershwin) 7.45
04.1. Summer Time
04.2. Someone To Watch Over Me
04.3. Porgy
05. Autumn Leaves (Kosma) 5.15
06. Dear Old Stockholm (Traditional) 4.15
07. Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney) 2.54




Dorothy Ashby (August 6, 1932 – April 13, 1986)

Van Morrison – Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983)

LPFrontCover1.jpgInarticulate Speech of the Heart is the fourteenth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, released in 1983. Morrison said he arrived at the title from a Shavian saying: “that idea of communicating with as little articulation as possible, at the same time being emotionally articulate”. As his last album for Warner Bros. Records, he decided to do an album of mostly instrumentals. As he explained in 1984, “Sometimes when I’m playing something, I’m just sort of humming along with it, and that’s got a different vibration than an actual song. So the instrumentals just come from trying to get that form of expression, which is not the same as writing a song.” Although not expanded upon, of note is that a special thanks is given to L. Ron Hubbard in the liner notes. The reissued and remastered version of the album contains alternative takes of “Cry for Home” and “Inarticulate Speech of the Heart No. 2”.

The recording sessions took place in California, Dublin, and a series of marathon sessions at the Town House in London. Morrison played piano, guitar and saxophone on these sessions. Two Irish musicians played on the album (Arty McGlynn and Davy Spillane) and overall the music had a strong Celtic colouring. Four of the songs were instrumentals. (by wikipedia)


Almost a forgotten album, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart takes listeners to the deepest, most inward areas of Van Morrison’s renegade Irish soul, the culmination of his spiritual jazz period and also — perhaps not coincidentally — the last record he made for Warner Bros. Four of the 11 tracks are moody instrumentals, which might partly explain the indifference of many rock critics toward the album, although the album’s very title gives a clue to their presence. The mood is predominantly mellow but never flaccid or complacent; there is a radiance that glows throughout. “Higher Than the World” is simply one of the most beautiful recordings Morrison ever made, with Mark Isham’s choir-like synthesizer laying down the lovely backdrop. The instrumental “Connswater” is the most Irish-flavored piece that Morrison had made up to that point, and would continue to be until he recorded with the Chieftains in 1988. “Rave on, John Donne” — in part a recitation invoking a roster of writers over a supple two-chord vamp — seems to have had the longest afterlife, reappearing in Morrison’s live shows and greatest-hits compilations. “The Street Only Knew Your Name” is the only piece that could be classified as a rocker, tempered even here by the synthesizer overlays. The record sold poorly, but many of those who bought it consider it one of the most cherished items in their Van Morrison collections. (by Richard S. Ginell)


John Allair (keyboards)
Tom Donlinger (percussion, drums, percussion)
Pee Wee Ellis (saxophone, flute)
David Hayes (bass)
Peter van Hooke (drums, tambourine)
Mark Isham (synthesizer, trumpet)
Arty McGlynn (guitar)
Chris Michie (guitar)
Van Morrison (guitar, piano, saxophone, vocals)
Davy Spillane (uilleann pipes, flute)
background vocals:
Annie Stocking –Bianca Thornton – Mihr Un Nisa Douglass – Stephanie Douglass – Pauline Lozana


01. Higher Than The World 3.39
02. Connswater 4.08
03. River Of Time 3.00
04. Celtic Swing 5.03
05. Rave On, John Donne 5.15
06. Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 1 4.52
07. Irish Heartbeat 4.38
08. The Street Only Knew Your Name 3.36
09. Cry For Home 3.42
10. Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart No. 2 3.53
11. September Night 5.14

All songs written by Van Morrison



Mushi & Lakansyel – Koté Ou (1983)

SAMSUNGOnce upon a time, a musician named Gerald Merceron was Haiti’s most important music critic. Merceron had been a jazz critic for US and French publications, and had moved back to Haiti with a deep understanding. At his side, youngsters came to the their own, including a young man named Mushi Widmaier. Mushi played on Merceron’s little known avant-guard albums (and others) before launching the group Zekle on his own, and then a second, Mushi & Lakansyel. Zekle made history as popular music, Mushi & Lakansyel as art music.

Granit Records has reissued Mushi & Lakansyel’s one album “Kote Ou,” or “Where Are You,” first released in 1983. It’s an album of songs constructed as jazzlike enclaves of beauty and depth in a Haiti of violent politics, strife, of “dilere” (a woman left her husband / to live in a beautiful house / it’s where she got sick / god take her, o) as a classic rara sons titles itself to mean misery. Thus the names of the albums songs, like “Port Salut” or “Kalalou”: things that are phenomenal about Haiti. They, coupled with the name of the album, make it an intensely philosophical album, a proposition of truth.


Lakansyel? I have no real idea, though I can say that lakansyel or rainbow is very important in Haitian Vodou. For one, the serpent and the rainbow are father and mother to this world. Secondly, the Boumba deities, the ones that Dessalines served, according to houngan Andre Basquiat, from the Congo, are rainbow deities, for serving Eskalye Boumba brings you to heaven.

“Kote Ou” is a brilliant album, one of the best that Haiti has to offer. It tells of Haitian beauty, blatantly. It asks of us to sit and feel, to make a wish. (by Adolf Alzuphar)

Mushi & Lakansyel recorded Koté Ou? in Haiti in 1983, marshalling the finest Hatian musicians for a set of unusual jazz and creole fusion. The music is smooth, cool, and distantly sad, and well worthy of rediscovery.


Joe Charles (bass)
D.T. Richard (guitar)
Joël Widmaier (drums, percussion, vocals)
Mushi Widmaier (piano, synthesizer)
Raoul Denis Jr. (synthesizer on 01.,02. + 04., cello on 02.)
Oswald Durand Jr. (flute on 07.)
Jacques Fatier (trumpet, saxophone on 04. + 06.)
Arius Joseph (perussion on 04.)
Lyrics: Ralph Boncy


01. Port Salut (M.Widmaier) 7.15
02. Sab Lan Mé (M.Widmaier) 5.07
03. Distances (M.Widmaier) 8.19
04. Kalalou (M.Widmaier) 9.33
05. Tout S’En Va (M.Widmaier) 3.06
06. Saut Mathurine (Sylvain) 5.14
07. Koté Ou? (M.Widmaier) 5.03


Betts, Hall, Leavel & Trucks – Geneva , NY (1983)

FrontCover1.jpgBetts, Hall, Leavell & Trucks features Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks (Allman Bros), Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie) and Chuck Leavell (Allman Bros & Sea Level). Unlike most Southern Rock bands in the early 80’s, this band did not venture into AOR territory. Instead, this is fairly classic Southern Rock, with songs of The Allman Brothers, and Jimmy Hall and Dickey Betts solo cuts. It’s a soundboard recording of a gig they played in Geneva, NY, on Jimmy’s birthday. The sound is a little thin at the start, but it gets better with the second song. Vocal duties are being shared by both Dickey and Jimmy. I don’t know if they ever recorded any studio demos, but this is very nice anyway. The kind of band you’d love to hear on a Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam. I’m guessing you’ll enjoy hearing this lot keep playing Southern Rock like the 80’s never happened (by skydogselysium.blogspot)

Dickey Betts

Dickey Betts (guitar, vocals)
David Goldflies (bass)
Jimmy Hall (saxophone, vocals, harmonica)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards)
Danny Parks (violin, vocals)
Butch Trucks (drums)


01. There Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do (Betts) 3.47
02. Whole Lotta Memories (Betts) 4.31
03. One Track Mind (Duke/Hall) 6.00
04. Need Somebody’s Help Tonight (Betts) 5.05
05. Pick A Little Boogie (unknown) 4.27
06. Ramblin’ Man (Betts) 4.42
07. Rain (Betts) 5.10
08. Stop Knockin’ On My Door (unknown)
09. Lorraine (unknown) 4.40
10. Cadillac Tracks (Hall/Berwald) 13.36
11. Jessica (Betts) 10.12
12. Southbound (Betts) 7.34



Jack Bruce – Automatic (1983)

FrontCover1.JPGAutomatic is the eighth studio album by Scottish musician Jack Bruce, released in January 1983. It makes heavy use of the Fairlight CMI digital sampling synthesiser and Bruce is the sole performer. The album was originally only released in Germany, on the Intercord label. (by wikipedia)

Jack Bruce’s Automatic, recorded and originally released only in Germany in 1983, is an interesting LP and one that bears the distinction of being the final Bruce catalog album to be released on compact disc. It was recorded in the aftermath of a series of collaborative projects that included albums with Robin Trower, the Jan Hammer Group, and Rocket 88; the dreadful Jack Bruce and Friends album I’ve Always Wanted to Do This with Clem Clemson, Billy Cobham, and David Sancious; the beginning of his stellar collaboration with percussionist, conceptualist, and producer Kip Hanrahan; and a tour with his road band of Clemson, Bruce Gary, and Ronnie Leahy. The story is that Bruce became enamored with the Fairlight. The Fairlight was a keyboard and computer rolled into one, and was already being employed by numerous artists as a way of filling out their recordings without having to pay studio players. It was an ’80s phenomenon that is to be blamed for ruining many a record, though it is also to be credited with at least one classic: Ministry’s Twitch, produced by Adrian Sherwood, was recorded using only the Fairlight.


The end results on Bruce’s album, however, aren’t quite so stellar. He used the device in the extreme: he played bass, harmonica, and cello and used the Fairlight for everything else. First, the positive: musically, the songs hold up. Bruce’s ballads, such as “New World,” “Traveling Child,” and “Encore” are as fine and tight as anything he’d written. The album’s opener, the reggae-influenced soul number “Make Love,” might have been a hit with different production. Bruce’s voice was in fantastic shape on the set as well, cementing his rep as one of the most instantly recognizable voices in rock. Then there’s the rest. “E. Boogie” is a dreadful attempt at computerized urban funk and sounds like a Cerrone reject. “Swarm” is perhaps what Bruce conceived of as a jazz tune (something he’s more than capable of writing with real sophistication). Because of the production, it’s simply a mess, so dense one can’t make out just what it is supposed to be. The closing tune is a blues jam with Bruce accompanying himself only on the harmonica. Though extremely brief, it feels like a breath of fresh air after the rest of Automatic. Bruce himself admits in the liners that “I’m not sure of the merits of the project itself 25 years on, but I do see it as an attempt to do something very different and worthwhile.” And that’s the caveat: this one is perhaps for those who follow Bruce’s recording career rather obsessively and can see it for what it is — a rather interesting if utterly failed experiment. (by Thom Jurek)

Tourposter1983Jack Bruce, mastermusician, composer, vocalist, made a string of brilliant solo albums in the years after Cream broke up. “Songs For A Tailor”, “Harmony Row”, “Out Of The Storm”, masterfully blending hard rock, jazz, powertrio, avantgarde. But after that his soloalbums have been a more uneven affair, mixing the splendid with the more mundane.

One album has always stood out as a masterstroke, “Automatic”. So its certainly in due time this excellent and compelling music is out on CD. Really just Jack and a lot of synths and keyboards and perhaps his strongest collection of songs ever. Bruce has always belonged to the chosen few who can write ballads that’s not clichériden or sentimental, but instead heartgripping and transcendentally beautiful. Here we get a wholesome dose of those gorgous Jack-ballads, like “The Best Is Still To Come” and “Travellin’ Child”.

Some of synth-pads may sound a bit outdated, but as a whole this is really timeless quality music. Showing – in the many details – his great musical scope, incorporating elements of jazz and classical in the proceedings. Ranging from fiery soul in “Make Love (pt.II)” to the rather wacky avantgarde of “The Swarm”. All of it sung with his trademark golden voice.


And perhaps the finest bunch of lyrics ever from long time collaborator Pete Brown. Often hinting at the transcendental and the spiritual. (by Bodhi Heeren)

“Automatic Pilot” ends the album just Jack and his harmonica barking out
a bleak future.

An unusual, but very satisfying album by the one and onyl Jack Bruce !


Jack Bruce (vocals, bass, keyboards, Fairlight CMI digital sampling synthesizer, drum programming, harmonica)


01. A Boogie 4.27
02. Uptown Breakdown 4.29
03. Travelling Child 5.12
04. New World 3.23
05. Make Love (Part II) 3.37
06. Green & Blue 5.12
07. Swarm 4.00
08. Encore 4.10
09. Automatic Pilot 1.03

Music: Jack Bruce
Lyrics: Pete Brown

LabelB1.JPG* (coming soon)

More Jack Bruce:


Peggy Seeger & Ewan MacColl – Freeborn Man (1983)

AmigaFrontCover1Some not-so-old favourites by Ewan MacColl with the exception of “The Ballad of Springhill, ” which is chiefly the work of Peggy Seeger

For most of the nearly thirty years that Peggy and I have been singing together we have kept detailed programme lists. They fill twelve large notebooks and are an invaluable aid in planning the repertoire for a tour. Because of them we are able to visit a concert-hall or dub again and again, each time with a programme of new songs — or rather, with songs that are probably new to that particular audience.

It is these unfamiliar songs which lend the elements of surprise and freshness to a performance. But there is another equally important element which the new songs cannot provide: familiarity. Almost everyone who goes to a concert enjoys the stimulus that comes from listening to a new song but at the same time almost everyone finds comfort in listening to the old favourites.


The singer, then, must not only sing but compose programmes in which the familiar and the unfamiliar are held in balance. The people who have come to listen collaborate with the singer by requesting this or that song … and that brings us to the reason for issuing this album.

The titles listed above represent some of the most frequently requested songs in our joint repertoire. All of them have appeared on disc at some time or another but, for the most pan, are no longer available. A number of Peggy’s most popular songs are still available and consequently are not included here. The result is an album weighted rather heavily in my favour and consisting mostly of songs made up in the course of creating those BBC documentaries called “radio ballads, ” These songs were based on taped interviews with herring-fishermen, railwaymen, coal-miners, road-builders, boxers, and others and, several of them have already entered the traditional repertoire. (Ewan MacColl)

Biographical Note
Ewan MacColl is a Scot who considers himself primarily a playwright. He was one of the co-founders of Theatre Workshop and was their resident dramatist for eight years. He has worked in radio, television and film. Peggy Seeger, an American, joined him in 1956 and together they are considered one of the lop folksinging teams in the English-speaking world. Their records — nearly 160 LP’s — include connoisseur ballad-collections, women’s albums, children’s discs and specialised collections of songs Their sons Calum (20) and Neill (24), who play with them on this disc, occasionally accompany them onstage. (taken from the original liner – notes)

What a great family album … everybody who loves traditional folk songs … should listen to this album.

My album is a rare Amiga Records pressing … Amiga was the recorcd company of the German Democratic Republic, released in 1989 !


Dill Katz (bass)
Calum MacColl (zither, guitar, whistle, appalachian dulcimer, background vocals))
Ewan MacColl (vocals)
Neill MacColl (guitar, mandolin, background vocals)
Peggy Seeger (guitar, banjo, autoharp, concertina, vocals)
Chris Taylor (harmonica)
Ian Telfer (fiddle)
Bruce Turner (clarinet)
background vocals:
Calum MacColl – Hamish Mac’Coll – Kirsty


01. North Sea Holes 2.38
02. The Shoals Of Herring 3.53
03. The Lag’s Song 2.49
04. Come, Me Little Son 3.50
05. Moving-On Song 3.18
06. Sweet Thames, Flow Softly 4.57
07. I’m a Rambler (The Manchester Rambler) 4.34
08. Freeborn Man
09. The Driver’s Song
10. The Ballad of Springhill
11. Thirty-Foot Trailer
12. Down the Lane
13. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
14. The Big Hewer
15. The Battle is Done With
16. Dirty Old Town

All songs are Traditionals




Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger