Ever since the late Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts left Poison Idea, I confess that my interest in Portland's cultural exports has been waning.
But it seems that since Roberts's death in 2006, Portland has enjoyed something of an artistic rebirth. The growing distribution of dope archival reissue LPs from the Mississippi Records label has contributed to this renewal, along with the rising profile of the Yeti journal of "enthused music, art and literature," of which volume 6 has recently appeared.
My reason for buying the new issue of Yeti was to get the intriguing 23-track accompanying CD with otherwise unavailable recordings by the Clean, Great Unwashed, Mingering Mike, Sun City Girls and obscure Atlanta gospel duo Grant & Ella, who get busy on John Saw The Number
. Others might want it for the crazy cool black-and-white photos and the twisted drawings. yetipublishing.com.
X+Y=Fuck You (Sun City Girls)
Puente on 78
It's amazing that despite all the posthumous Tito Puente career retrospectives and reissues, the enormous wealth of material the prolific Latin bandleader, composer and timbales titan cut for the Tico label in the 50s has never been transferred to digital format. Thankfully, the current Fania reissue program is dealing with that puzzling oversight and has issued two double-disc volumes of hard-swinging jams from his early peak (he was still in his 20s) involving Mongo Santamaría, Manny Oquendo, Mario Bauzá, Charlie Palmieri, Willie Bobo and others. Excellent photos and insightful notes by compiler Joe Conzo make for a very entertaining and informative historical document. fania.com.
Babarabatiri (Tito Puente)
An archetypal songwriter's songwriter, Larry Jon Wilson, was one of the many tunesmiths who haunted Nashville's Bluebird Cafe - folks like Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark - and he took up part-time residence there after leaving his job as a consultant for a fibreglass manufacturing company in Langley, South Carolina. No shit.
Our man Wilson never became a wealthy hit-making superstar, but he wrote and recorded some amazing songs for Monument (see Tony Joe White, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Swan, etc) and made a cameo appearance in the Heartworn Highways documentary, which further enhanced his legend once he dropped out of sight circa 1979.
Now, some 29 years since his last recording, Wilson has just issued a new CD on the UK-based 1965 Records label run by former Rough Trade A&R flunky James Endeacott, who apparently has better taste in music than his signings would indicate. Beat Pimp? Toddla T?
The new self-titled disc, a brilliant series of soulful first takes captured in Florida-motel-room vérité by Jeb Loy Nichols, makes for a hugely enjoyable listen and very likely the comeback album of the year. Unfortunately, Wilson's disc doesn't have great distribution, but do yourself a favour and hunt it down. larry-jon-wilson.com.