In the world of record collecting, there are no real guidelines for the use of the term "rare," so it's often misapplied to releases that may only be scarce in a certain territory. Take, for example, the entertaining story of Seymour Nurse's quest for his Holy Grail, a stereo test record called The Bottom End that he heard at the age of 14 in England and spent the next 20-plus years pursuing. Apparently, Nurse was unaware that the dance-floor jazz cooker is reasonably well-known in collectors' circles and sometimes turns up cheap on www.gemm. com. His search for information about the musicians behind the record (Freestyle just reissued it as Get Off The Ground , by Baaska & Scavelli ) could've been shortened by more than a decade had someone mentioned that the original manufacturer, M&K Sound Inc. , has stayed in business since the recording was made, and amiable company co-founder Ken Kreisel is easily reached by phone or e-mail. Check out how Nurse managed to solve the "mystery" at www.thebottomend.co.uk .
To put the concept of rare recordings in proper perspective, you need look no further than Yazoo 's The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of , a two-disc compendium of rousing blues, country and spiritual recordings from the 20s and 30s, many of which have never been heard by collectors or even known to exist. Compiled from 78s and one-of-a-kind acetates by lifelong digger Richard Nevins , the set is an end-to-end revelation, not only because of the obscurity of the tracks, but also because these are unknown performances by historically important artists like Son House , the Georgia Pot Lickers , Dock Boggs , Kentucky Ramblers , Wilmer Watts and Henry Whitter - and they're really good to boot. Nevins's notes recounting bizarre tales of vinyl-hoarding gone horribly awry will leave you roaring.
The Stones Throw label has been raising the bar for reissues of funk, hiphop and soul music for the past 10 years, so the superior quality of the two-CD Kashmere Stage Band anthology Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974 released through their Now-Again subsidiary is really just exemplary business as usual. Along with some of the very best funk ever cut by teenagers - including unreleased live recordings and studio outtakes - the enhanced second disc boasts a 12-minute documentary. And it all comes packaged with a 40-page booklet loaded with interviews, archival photos and session notes. Celebrate 10 awesome years of Stones Throw with Peanut Butter Wolf , J.Rocc and Koushik at Revival Friday (August 4).
Senegal's Orchestra Baobab hit its stride during the late 70s, yet for some reason, most of the amazing Afro-Latin recordings made by guitar great Barthelemy Attisso and company during the period have never been reissued. While proper digital remasters of Baobab's prized albums for Disques Buur, Bellot Records, Musicafrique, Productions Ledoux and other French indie labels may still be years away, it's something of a relief that Oriki Music is making a few of their hard-to-find swingers available on vinyl with A Night At Club Baobab . In addition to the desirable head-nodder Kelen Ati Leen and the delightful Seeri Koko from 75's Visage Du Sénégal , you also get the majestic Jin Ma Jin Ma and Diarabi lifted from 78's classic N'deleng N'deleng album. Bring on the boxed set!