Quick, what do Joe Harriott , Johnny Osbourne , Harold McNair , JoJo Bennett and Cedric "Im" Brooks have in common? Well, apart from their Jamaican roots, all of the aforementioned reggae and jazz greats are alumni of the excellent music program at the Alpha Boys' School, which producer Coxsone Dodd used like a farm team for Studio One session men.
With the excellent Alpha Boys' School: Music In Education collection, Trojan pays tribute to the school and the late Sister Mary Ignatius Davies, who nurtured young talents there during her incredible 64-year tenure. It offers a 25-track sampling of the amazing music her students went on to create after graduation. Sister Mary Ignatius always had a special love for brass, and that's reflected in the track selection, but you can't really go wrong with a set of tracks by Don Drummond , Dizzy Reece , Lester Sterling and Tommy McCook .
Now that freak folk is all the rage, it was only a matter of time before Andy Votel and his Finders Keepers reissue crew turned their focus from Euro-prog novelties to Britfolk oddities closer to home, and with Chris Harwood 's Nice To Meet Miss Christine , originally cut for Young Blood label offshoot Birth in 1972, they've come up with a funky stunner.
Musicians from the Strawbs , Juicy Lucy , McDonald & Giles and the Joe Cocker Band keep things grooving at a pleasantly downtempo clip with head-nodding beats while Harwood soars above like a younger Julie Driscoll circa Indian Rope Man. Since original copies now trade for over $400, you might want to grab this reissue, which comes with four previously unheard bonus tracks.
Finders Keepers has also launched a new Compacta singles series with Harwood 's Wooden Ships -- the best track off the album -- along with a second 7-inch by Susan Christie boasting the proto-triphop Paint A Lady and a radical revision of Ghost Riders In The Sky. They're supposedily limited to 500 copies, so you'd better act fast. www.finderskeepersrecords.com.
Not to be left out of the folk re-revival, the Numero Group reissue operation has come up with a collection high in flute 'n' nut content of its own called Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies From The Canyon , which focuses on obscure, mostly private-press late-60s and early-70s recordings by freaky U.S. folkies of the female variety.
Much of the material comes off like subpar Joni Mitchell, so it's no great shock that most of these artists never made it big, but some intriguing contributions from Judy Kelly , Shira Small , Jennie Pearl , Collie Ryan and the fabulous Caroline Peyton make for a captivating spin while watching candles burn. Numero really shouldconsider an all-Canuck edition for the follow-up. Bonnie Dobson anyone?