The concept of cutting a steel pan jazz session in Sweden is unusual enough. But when you consider that the line-up of Rudy Smith’s Modern Sound Quintet that recorded the Otinku album in Stockholm back in 1971 involved percussionists from Ghana and Trinidad, a bassist from Surinam and pianist from Barbados, you’ve got the sort of United Nations of Groove for which the term “world music” was invented. Thankfully, though, there’s nothing hippy-dippy about this disc, just reissued by Japan’s EM label in its new Steel Pan Series.
Otinku is a reasonably straight-ahead soul-jazz session, with Smith’s funky pan-plonking in place of the saxophone and guitar lines. Some will shrug it off as a nutty novelty, but the charming cracks at Memphis Underground and Bye Bye Blackbird will turn almost any mouldy fig frown upside down. www.emrecords.net.
Dylan free radio
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the eclectic mix of blues, jazz, country, gospel, R&B and old-school rock ’n’ roll that’s programmed on Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour but can’t stand to hear His Bobness prattle on about the artists, Ace Records has a best-of package for you.
The two-disc Theme Time Radio Hour set collects 50 of the more interesting selections cued up for Dylan – including Eddie Noack’s Take It Away Lucky, James Carr’s Pouring Water On A Drowning Man and Berna-Dean’s I Walk In My Sleep – without all the nonsense he mumbles between the tunes. No e-mail reading, bad poetry or lame recipes either. And those interested in the facts about each recording will be relieved to find the track-by-track annotation written by folks who actually know the real story. www.acerecords.co.uk.
It’s no secret that sussed hiphop producers have been lifting beats from rare sound library recordings for years, taking advantage of the wide variety of dope open breaks and the obscurity of the non-commercial releases. But the best titles are difficult to catch even for people with the disposable income to blow. So hiphop headz will be delighted that Joel Martin has compiled a follow-up to 1998’s excellent Bite Hard (BBE) sampler of the De Wolfe library’s heavy hitters.
Bite Harder (De Wolfe) brings together 19 more head-nodders, namely Reg Tilsley’s eerie Warlock (flipped for Cam’ron’s The Roc), Roger Jackson’s Flashpoint, which will be familiar to Kool G. Rap fans, Johnny Hawksworth’s Sandy Beach, which could be a 50 Cent track, and Keith Papworth’s Hair Raiser, that’s ready for rhyming. www.dewolfemusic.co.uk.
Even though there’s no apparent rhyme or reason to the tracks that Mark Davis (from New York’s Academy Records shop) chose to feature on his Obsession compilation for Montreal’s Bully label, if you’re into oddball psych joints from exotic locales, this 15-track assortment will be up your alley.
The songs were taken from small-run singles and EPs released in Turkey, India, Uruguay and Peru during the late 60s and early 70s, so the only thing most of them have in common is use of a distortion pedal. It’s almost like Davis ripped some of the better sides off the 45s he won in eBay auctions, scanned the sleeves and then added his musings about the artists. Quick and dirty. www.bullyrecords.com.