To celebrate 16 years of what SFTRI label boss Long Gone John calls "performance anxiety, instability and poor judgment," the Lord of Long Beach is releasing an awesome 1999 session cut by Danny & the Nightmares (actually Daniel Johnston and some pals) in his parent's garage in Waller, Texas. The darkly twisted Freak Brain disc comes topped up with raw rockin' tunes about haunted houses, hell chicks, funeral girls and other spooky stuff. You'll also find the scariest song ever titled The Lord Loves You and the sweetest one ever called See Satan Die. Yeah! www.sympathyrecords.com.
Unless you're a northern soul nut, the mention of the name Evie Sands won't cause your palms to sweat, but there's good reason why Beth Orton , Beck , Dusty Springfield and the members of Belle & Sebastian are all Evie fans: she's one of the all-time great blue-eyed soul singers who never caught a break. Don't believe it? You'll be convinced after one spin through the Rev-ola reissue of her unjustly overlooked orch-pop masterpiece Any Way That You Want Me from 1969, beautifully produced by songwriter Chip "Wild Thing" Taylor with some stellar string and horn arrangements by Al Gorgoni . I'm happy to report she's currently working on a new album.
As much as I love a good Afrobeat jam, far too many archival collections of "golden era" West African music have been focusing on Fela Kuti's followers to the regrettable exclusion of truly innovative artists exploring other forms. The Honest Jon's label has taken it on itself to correct the oversight with two wonderfully swinging Nigerian music comps, Lagos Chop Up and Lagos All Routes , both of which offer diverse selections of highlife, juju, fuji and apala joints that funk snob collectors wouldn't dare touch. There are loads of amazing grooves here from the mid-60s to the mid-80s by the likes of Ebenezer Obey , Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson , Sir Victor Uwaifo and Ikenga Super Stars and even some liner notes, but you'll need a microscope to read them.
Part of the reason brassy blues shouter Big Mama Thornton never became the superstar she deserved to be after hitting with Hound Dog was that she could never keep a band together and had to rely on often lame pickup groups. Fortunately for the travelling American Folk and Blues Festival of 1965, her band consisted of tourmates Buddy Guy , Fred Below , Eddie Boyd and Fred McDowell , who add some kick to the Big Mama Thornton In Europe recording just reissued by Arhoolie with six bonus tracks. Best of all, there's a 15-minute interview tacked on in which we find out Thornton would rather have sung spirituals. Who knew?