Keith Tippett Group - Dedicated to You, But You Weren't Listening (1971)

Awesome jazz album featuring Canterbury allstars Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean and others.


Pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader Keith Tippett's first album, You Are Here...I Am There, was issued in 1969, and received some notice as the work of an ambitious composer looking for a voice. Apparently, by the time he recorded Dedicated to You, But You Weren't Listening, which was released in 1971, he'd found it in spades. Tippett has become one of the great lights of the British free jazz movement, and for more than 30 years he has led groups of improvising musicians, from two to 40 in number, on some of the most exploratory and revelatory harmonic adventures in musical history -- whether those in America know it or not. The band here is comprised of 11 pieces, including Elton Dean, Robert Wyatt, Nick Evans, Roy Babbington, Gary Boyle, Neville Whitehead, and others. The commitment to jazz here is total, as Tippett grafts the dynamic sensibilities of George Russell, the textural and chromatic palettes of Gil Evans, and the sheer force of Oliver Nelson onto his own palette. The interplay between soloists and ensembles is dazzling -- check "Thoughts for Geoff," with blazing solos by Nick Evans, cornetist Marc Charig, and Tippett himself in a series of angular arpeggios interspersed with chordal elocution. Wyatt's drumming, which opens the record with a bang on "This Is What Happens," is easily the most inspired of his career on record. The nod to Mingus on "Green and Orange Night Park" is more than formal; it's an engagement with some of the same melodic constructs Mingus was working out in New Tijuana Moods. In sum, this is an adventurous kind of jazz that still swings very hard despite its dissonance and regards a written chart as something more than a constraint to creative expression. Brilliant.


Kim Hiorthøy - Hei (2003)

Quirky and beautiful IDM.


Norway's Kim Hiorthøy is a multi-faceted artist whose work has included painting, illustration, graphic design, film, photography, and writing in addition his music, which is primarily electronic-based. In any given field of creative endeavor, and certainly in his musical explorations, he tends to defy conventions and rigid definitions, taking an unstudied and deliberately amateurish approach with typically curious and sometimes whimsical results.


Finally given a vinyl airing by the Vertical Form label, ‘Hei’ is one of those records that has fast attained classic status. Here’s what we said about it when it came out on CD a couple of years ago :
“What a revelation this album is....'Hei' (Hey in Norwegian) is one of those albums that crosses any number of genres..spends a little time with each, mixes them about and comes out with a gorgeously lovely, masterful pop album. In much the same way as Iceland's Mum, or the groundbreaking 'The West' LP from Matmos, Hiorthoy has embraced known stylings and sounds and has created something completely unique. Playful, melodic, sometimes embracing electronica, sometimes employing glitch, sometimes exposing itself to folk music, sometimes flowering childrens lullabies...the overall effect is one of pure joy. Please, trust us, you will treasure this album”. And indeed you will. Utterly lovely.


Otis Rush - Essential Collection: The Classic Cobra Recordings (1956-1958)


The title says it all. This is the essential Otis Rush, the singles recorded for Eli Toscano's Cobra label between 1956 and 1958. If Rush had never recorded another note, his legendary status would remain intact based solely on these recordings. Backed by players like Willie Dixon and Little Walter, it's Rush's impassioned vocals and stinging guitar lines that make "I Can't Quit You Baby," "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)," and "Double Trouble" the classics they are. In addition to the A- and B-sides of all eight singles released by Cobra, eight alternate takes are included, four more than the Paula edition of this material released in 1991. Along with a slightly better transfer from the original tapes, this is not only one of the best places to start for someone getting interested in the blues, but a vital part of any blues collection. Outstanding.



Various Artists - AK-79 (1979)

The famous New Zealand punk comp from '79.


AK79 is probably the best compilation of New Zealand's entries for punk rock and new wave of the late '70s. While most of this material was released on small independent labels like Ripper, Propeller, Flying Nun, and Mushroom and never saw any exposure outside of New Zealand, the quality of the songs and raw energy behind them should appeal to genre specialists and certainly deserves discovery. Included are rarities from the brilliant yet underrated Swingers, Suburban Reptiles, and Toy Love, among others.



Eddie Lang - Jazz Guitar Virtuoso (1927-32)


Eddie Lang did not lead many sessions during his short life, and the great majority are on this Yazoo collection. The most in-demand guitarist of 1925-1933, Lang's rare opportunities to head his own dates put the focus on his single-note lines and gave him a chance to be in the spotlight rather than making other players sound good. This album has two unaccompanied solos (including Rachmaninoff's Prelude), duets with pianists Frank Signorelli, Arthur Schutt, and Rube Bloom, and three of his famous collaborations with fellow guitarist Lonnie Johnson. However, the most memorable tracks are Lang's two exciting duets with guitarist Carl Kress: "Pickin' My Way" and an alternate take of "Feeling My Way." This is highly recommended music from the best jazz guitarist prior to the rise of Django Reinhardt.


Peter and Raymond - Shut Up, Little Man! (1997)

I must say, this takes a pretty twisted sense of humor to appreciate. But if that describes you, prepare yourself for, as the official website says: “36 tracks and 72 minutes of the most caustic dialogue and vitriolic abuse that you have ever had the pleasure of hearing.”
Sample: “Shut up little man! I got a decent dinner ready...nothing happened with the dinner...BECAUSE YOU CRUCIFIED IT!”


Shut Up, Little Man! is the title of a number of audio recordings of two argumentative and violent alcoholics, Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman. San Francisco's Bananafish magazine arranged for a commercial release of the tapes in 1992.
The recordings were made by “Eddie Lee Sausage” and “Mitchell D.”, who lived in a bright pink apartment building — dubbed the “Pepto Bismol Palace” — in San Francisco's Lower Haight district. Eddie Lee and Mitchell moved into the apartment in 1987, and discovered that their neighbors, Haskett and Huffman, argued nearly constantly, with Peter often shouting “shut up, little man!” at Ray. Eddie and Mitchell began tape recording the arguments, and distributing copies among their friends. Eddie Lee and Mitchell sometimes goaded Ray and Peter with prank telephone calls.
In 1992, Huffman died of a heart attack brought-on by colon cancer, pancreatitis, and alcoholism. Haskett died in 1996 of liver problems due to alcoholism.
The first Shut Up, Little Man! compact disc was released in early 1993. A number of other volumes were issued later. The recordings quickly gained a cult following, and were adapted into comic books, zines, a theatrical production and the 2002 independent film Shut Yer Dirty Little Mouth, starring Gill Gayle and Glenn Shadix as Ray and Peter, respectively.


Alexander Robotnick - Ce N'est Q'un Début (1984)

Warning: extremely cheesy, and extremely addicting.  Listen to the full 12" version of 'Problèmes D'Amour' here: 



Alexander Robotnick's seminal disco and synth-pop album from 1984 is digitized for the download crew for the 1st time! There's no understating this dudes influence on the dancefloor over the last 25 years, with tracks like the all-time classic 'Problemes D'Amour', the sublime 'Dance Boy Dance' and 'Hola Macci Kola' all taken from this LP and still ranking among the best Italo/synthpop tracks ever made. Just check the samples and you'll understand. Hugely recommended!


Quarteto Novo - Quarteto Novo (1967)

Amazing album which some call the holy grail of Brazilian Jazz.


The sole album by the legendary Quarteto Novo was released by the Odeon label in 1967 and was accorded various coveted Brazilian artistic prizes, including the Troféu Roquette Pinto and the Troféu Imprensa. The band was made up of four now legendary Brazilian musicians: percussionist Airto Moreira; bassist, guitarist, and violinist; guitarist Theo de Barros, violinist, violist, and sometimes banjo player Heraldo do Monte (these three musicians all being members of the previous Trio Novo); and later arrival Hermeto Pascoal. Coming from the northeastern part of the nation, all of these men were intimately familiar with baião music, the danceable rhythmic style comprised of a syncopated 2/4 time signature that could be played on the double-skinned zabumba drum and harmonic and melodic structures written around a Lydian flat seventh scale; it is derived from the tuning of the pífano flute, which has a raised fourth and flattened seventh. The chord structure is based on a dominant seventh. And while the style is not well-known outside Brazil, it nonetheless influenced a host of popular songwriters in America, England, and Europe, who scored hits with tunes utilizing the style's elements. (A couple of examples are the Burt Bacharach tune "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "Save the Last Dance for Me," written by Doc Pomus and Mort Schulman and recorded by the Drifters.) Quarteto Novo -- and their patron and songwriting collaborator Geraldo Vandré -- had a deep, some would say obsessional, interest in American bebop; combine them and you have something very special indeed. Though in many ways, these eight songs sound somewhat quaint to undisciplined in the 21st century, the opposite is actually quite true. This meld of styles and the deep interest in subtle yet innovative rhythmic interplay, counterpoint, and taut song structures are to this day quite revolutionary.


Double Leopards - Halve Maen (2006)


How to write about music like this? First the practical elements: Halve Maen is the Double Leopards' second recording for Eclipse. This double-CD reissue from Eclipse is a miniature replica of the long out of print, two-LP version, with a gatefold sleeve and mini insert. There are eight cuts on two discs. It's a handsome package, beautiful even, to hold in your hands. That's about the extent of light for this set, though. From the very first moments of the brief "Sound Holes," the sound is one of an enveloping darkness, and not a gradual one, either, it comes down softly but with authority and takes hold as the twelve-and-a-half minute "Fatal Affront" trips the listener into a fetal position for the remainder of disc one. There is something utterly creepy yet primal and beautiful about the Double Leopards music here. It's utterly new and unfamiliar in the same way Zeit was by Tangerine Dream, and it's as hallucinogenic (not a word to throw around lightly). Tension builds in the quiet, over-slow drones, single syllables by human voices uttering or simply droning. The creepy tension builds and builds and never lets go. Some low-tuned drums enter in "Druid Spectre," allowing for a feeling of entering into something, something ancient, completely unfamiliar, yet both scary and soothing at once. This music dares you in its slow, meandering way to go further, to close out the world around you and go inside. At the nadir of disc one is the 21-minute, "A Hemisphere in Your Hair." At the beginning, this piece pulls back on the creepy crawly dynamics a bit and indoctrinates the listener with spacious drones and atmospherics. It gradually, almost imperceptibly tightens, with unidentifiable sounds like bird calls, open, white noise, droning distorted guitars, feedback, and whispered voices, upping the ante to the point of near unbearable tautness that never resolves; yet there's this dead calm about it all that is inexplicable, and welcoming. The track just ends, leaving one to wonder if listening to disc two is even possible.

Disc Two's opening cut "Viking Blood" is sustained drone and drama, it ebbs and flows, ever moving, into a narrowing downward spiral. That bottom is a place that might be disturbing while listening alone at four in the morning, but it may just be the right environment to take it all in. There is no room in between the clouds for light. In fact, there are no clouds, only an insistent, authoritative darkness. When the noisescape of "The Forest Outlaws" enters in cut two, it's a relief-almost. It too is oppressive and yet makes for a compulsively obsessive listening experience because the ear of the listener is outside the realm of "music listening"; everything one responds to in this music comes from the inside, from the primeval. The dead calm returns on "The Secret Correspondence 1," and it is here where the human voice is an instrument, offering something unspeakable; it's seductive, unfathomable and irresistible, and continues its delirium tremens well into part two, which ends the disc and the album. The experience of encountering this Double Leopards' opus is one of dream and nightmare, one of an aural poetry that refuses answers or summation. In the end there is only silence, the mirror image of what has transpired. It is not ponderous, quiet, however; no more than Halve Maen's sonic bath is; in fact, it's the opposite, it's a deafening roar that quickens the breath with shock after such an exercise -- the tracks on Halve Maen have made it so. This album may seem an excessive introduction to this New York quartet who take inspiration from sources as diverse as the Taj Mahal Travellers and Eno to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, yet Halve Maen is not only rewarding, it is necessary. The Tangerine Dream reference above was no mistake or mere scripted hyperbole: it's solid, and if anything, Halve Maen takes the listener further, ever further into the margins of who knows where.

The Wedding Present - Seamonsters (1991)


Emerging in the wake of the Smiths' demise as the U.K.'s most successful indie pop band during the late '80s, the Wedding Present were founded in Leeds, England, in 1985. Formed from the ashes of the short-lived Lost Pandas, the Weddoes (as they were affectionately dubbed by fans) were essentially the vehicle of singer/songwriter David Gedge, the only constant member throughout the group's tumultuous history.
The group became the darlings of the British press overnight, winning acclaim for their distinct guitar pop frenzy as well as Gedge's idiosyncratic vocal style and wittily lovelorn, conversation-like lyrics.

Steve Albini's production gives Seamonsters a noisy, discordant feel in some spots, but David Gedge's suberb songwriting lies just under the surface. He manipulates his limited vocal range into a rich, wistful voice just about to crack. The Wedding Present work best on this album when Gedge's plaintive love songs explode into a distorted fury, as on "Dalliance."



Chuck Berry - The Great Twenty-Eight (1955-65)


This is the place to start listening to Chuck Berry. The Great Twenty-Eight was a two-LP, single CD compilation that emerged during the early '80s, amid a brief period in which the Chess catalog was in the hands of the Sugar Hill label, a disco-oriented outfit that later lost the catalog to MCA. It has proved to be one of the most enduring of all compilations of Berry's work. Up until the release of this disc, every attempt at a compilation had either been too sketchy (the 1964 Greatest Hits album on Chess) or too demanding for the casual listener (the three Golden Decade double-LP sets), and this was the first set to find a happy medium between convenience and thoroughness. Veteran listeners will love this CD even if they learn little from it, while neophytes will want to play it to death. All of the cuts come from Berry's first nine years in music, including all of the major singles as well as relatively minor hits such as "Come On" (which was more significant in the history of rock & roll in its cover version performed by the Rolling Stones as their debut release). The sound is decent throughout (surprisingly, except for "Come On," which has some considerable noise), although it is considerably outclassed by the most recent round of remasterings. In the decades since its release, there have been more comprehensive collections of Berry's work, but this is the best single disc, if one can overlook the relatively lo-fi digital sound.


Andrés Segovia - 1927-1939 Recordings (Vols 1-2)

Portrait of the legendary Segovia as a young man.

Charles Gayle – Repent (1992)


Charles Gayle made his first significant impact on the free jazz scene with a series of critically acclaimed New York performances at the Knitting Factory in the mid- to late '80s. The tenor saxophonist's hyper-kinetic free expressionism draws on stylistic devices pioneered in the '60s by the late free jazz icon Albert Ayler. Like Ayler, Gayle employs a huge tone which, more often than not, he splits into its individual harmonic components. Timbral distortion is a key aspect of Gayle's work. His improvisations feature long, vibrating, free-gospel melodies, full of huge intervallic leaps, screaming multiphonics, and a density of line that evidences a remarkable dexterity in all registers of his horn (especially the altissimo). Gayle is also capable of great lyricism, imbued with the same bracing intensity present in his high-energy work.

There is absolutely no one playing tenor (or any other saxophone) coming close to making the kind of music created by Charles Gayle.  This two-song CD was recorded live and features one number that runs 23 minutes; it's the short tune. "Jesus Christ and Scripture," the second piece, proceeds for over 50 minutes, much of that featuring Gayle's honks, bleats, turnarounds, moans, and anguished cries on tenor. After listening closely to this disc, its lack of repetition and gimmickry is commendable. It's certainly not for all (or even most tastes), but those who listen fairly and intently to Charles Gayle will be rewarded.

Papa Charlie Jackson - Fat Mouth (1924-27)

Horrendous sound quality, but its well worth it if you like pre-war blues.  This has never been issued on CD, so here's a shitty vinyl rip I found on "Rukus Juice."


Papa Charlie Jackson was the first bluesman to record, beginning in 1924 with the Paramount label, playing a hybrid banjo-guitar (six strings tuned like a guitar but with a banjo body that gave it a lighter resonance) and ukulele. And apart from his records and their recording dates, little else is known for sure about this pioneering blues performer, other than his probable city of birth, New Orleans; even his death in Chicago during 1938 is more probable than established fact.

Yazoo's Fat Mouth is the best overview of Papa Charlie Jackson's best recordings, offering 14 tracks he recorded between 1924 and 1927. While a few important songs didn't make it to this set, most of his very best did, and for many listeners this concise compilation is a preferable alternative to the exhaustive multi-volume Document series.

O.V. Wright - A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades (1971)


The golden era of Southern soul was essentially over by 1971, but thankfully no one told O.V. Wright about this; this album, which as the title suggests featured two of his biggest hits, showed that his gifts as a vocalist were near the peak of their strength, and this is Memphis-style R&B in the grand tradition. Willie Mitchell produced these sessions at his Royal Recording Studio in Memphis, with the Hi Records Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns providing the backing, and their performances lend the music a smooth, glorious burn like fine brandy, and are not unlike the work they did with Al Green, but reveal a darker and bluesier tone. Great as the band is, Wright headlines this show, and when he sings he dominates these sessions with grace and authority; the longing and hurt in his voice are a wonder to behold, and the burnished gospel influences in his voice meld the secular and the sacred with a powerful common belief, particularly on "He Made Woman for Man." The lovers' ache of "Don't Take It Away" and "When You Took Your Love from Me," and the blues-shot laments of "A Nickel and a Nail" and "Afflicted" are as powerful as Southern soul got in the early '70s. Wright was a master of this form, and while he would lose his life only nine years after this album was released, A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades sounds like the work of an artist as powerful and vital as you could ask for. Brilliant music, despite cover art that makes this look like a low-budget bootleg.


Prince Jammy - Kamikaze Dub (1979)

One of my favorite dub albums, and definitely one of the most overlooked.


Unlike Scientist, Prince Jammy espoused the minimal school of dub that their mentor King Tubby favored. In lieu of prevalent space-battle effects and flanger-riddled mixes, Jammy just stuck to warping the drum, bass and guitar tracks, with the occasional echo-treated horn or organ thrown in. On Kamikazi Dub's "Shaolin Temple" and "Kamikazi," Jammy creates that sense of boundless dub space simply by soaking the drum and bass in reverb, while organ and guitar additions are kept fleeting to maintain the eerily isolated atmosphere. For "Downtown Shanghai Rock" and "Waterfront Gang War," Jammy does include some of the "found" sound effects Scientist favored by using layered keyboard and percussion tracks, but this is kept to a minimum. Both Jammy and Scientist created masterful dub recordings, so it just comes down to a question of preference; for more psychedelic dub cuts, pick up a Scientist release, but for a more roots-informed yet sophisticated dub style, you will definitely want a copy of Kamikazi Dub.

João Gilberto - João Gilberto (1973)

Not much to add to the following review.

Dusty Groove:

One of the most heavenly albums ever recorded – a sublime post-60s session by Joao Gilberto, one with even more fluid grace than his original bossa nova classics! The setting here is extremely spare – Joao on vocals and acoustic guitar, backed by only a slight bit of percussion – and recorded with an sound that's incredibly clear and incredibly precise – so that each gentle note, each slight rasp of the guitar comes through beautifully – as do Joao's breathily personal vocals! There's a sense of poise and presence here that Gilberto hardly matched again – and that's saying a heck of a lot, given how great most of his other records already are. The whole thing's tremendous – a true treasure, and easily one of the top classics in Brazilian music from the 70s. Titles include a landmark version of "Aguas De Marco", plus "Undiu", "Falsa Baiana", "Avarandado", "Na Baixa Do Sapateiro", "Izaura", "E Preciso Perdoar", "Valsa", and "Eu Vim Da Bahia".

Luc Ferrari - Presque Rien (1970-89)

This album totally blew my mind and made me look at Musique Concrète and field recording in a whole different way.


A wonderful sampling of Luc Ferrari's work, Presque Rien also may serve as a smooth introduction to the world of musique concrète. His "Music Promenade," which opens the album, is a combination of ambient sounds (including marching bands and laughing girls) augmented by electronically processed sounds and snatches of other prerecorded music. It's actually illustrative of some of the pitfalls that can occur when a collage of this type is overly forced and the result is somewhat awkward. This is decidedly not the case with "Presque Rien No. 1." While the title translates to "almost nothing," the reality of the piece is far different. Rather, the piece is nothing less than a rich, sonic recreation of an early morning in a Yugoslavian seaside village. Though one knows he must have engaged in substantial manipulation, Ferrari's touch is virtually invisible. Instead one is transported to a beach where bird cries, outboard motors, children singing, and, more than anything, cicadas chirping surround the listener, offering a startlingly immediate sensation of "being there." More, of being in a heightened state of awareness. "Presque Rien No. 2" is a more private, though no less beguiling affair, as the composer talks softly to himself while walking through a very sonically active field. As in the first piece, there are again purely musical adornments, but here they meld beautifully with the natural sounds.


Brigitte Fontaine - Brigitte Fontaine Est... (1970)


Brigitte Fontaine's first album, arranged by Jean Claude Vannier (who had also done arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg), is her most normal and accessible record. It's still not terribly normal by pop standards, its arty songs dressed up with period Continental orchestration and quirky melodies and vocal deliveries. These can both hark back to Edith Piaf-styled material, or look forward to slight avant-garde/experimentalism. At times it sounds like the kind of thing Francoise Hardy might have done had she continued to develop along adventurous lines and keep pace with progressive pop and rock trends in the late '60s. In fact, songs like "Une Fois Mais Pas Deux" sound rather close to Hardy's best late-'60s material, but Hardy would have never done anything as goofy as "L'Homme Objet," with its music-box backing, or as odd as "Eternelle," with its tribal male backup vocals and rhythms, and "Blanche Neige," with its overdubbed tropical bird effects.

Convextion - Convextion 12" (1995)

Legendary Detroit/dub techno record from 1995 a la Basic Channel.  New copies reputedly fetch around $100.  Check it out.

Artifacts - Between a Rock and a Hard Place (1994)


This is a strong mid-'90's hip-hop album from two Jerseyites with a fairly unique style, B-boyism mixed with EPMD-esque funk flavor. Hard-edged but not gangster, the Artifacts stress the true elements of hip-hop culture in their music with an accent on their forte, graffiti writing. Calling their debut album the "the first and last showing of graffiti rock," the Artifacts rap about typical subjects like marijuana and skirt-chasing, but their cleverness and wit are singular. Tracks like "Wrong Side Of The Tracks," "Flexi Wit Da Tech," and "C'mon With Da Git Down," are arguably '90s underground classics, while other tracks, like the Redman-produced "Comin' Through Your F****n' Block" and "Wassup Now Muthaf****" also hit hard. The synoptic track "Whayback" is a shout to rap's forefathers and a longing for hip-hop's glory days of old. Although slack in a few places, overall, this a stellar album and sincere attempt to keep the essence of hip-hop alive.

The Bats - Daddy's Highway (1987)

One of my all-time favorites.


The Bats' first full album continues the early promise of their EPs and, with only the slightest deviations and changes since, established their sound for just about everything that followed. Scott and company may not be the most willfully experimental of musicians, but when they're on -- more often the case than not -- their lovely, melancholic songs simply hit the spot. Woodward forms the perfect singing partner for Scott, while guest violinist Alastair Galbraith brings his talent to the fore as he has for so many other New Zealand bands. "Treason" makes for a good start to the album, but the real standout on Daddy's Highway is the surging "North by North." Featuring a fantastic Galbraith violin solo, it gives the band the opportunity to show its sometime hidden strengths for more energetic, nervous material. Scott's vocal performance is one of his best, and the quick, on-edge pace seems to get even more so as the song continues. Quieter songs unsurprisingly abound as well, from the understated sweetness of "Sir Queen" to the gentle keyboard-touched "Candidate." "Tragedy" is one of the best in this vein, ending in a disturbing low drone (or at least as much of a drone as the generally quick-length songs by the Bats allow for). Though Daddy's Highway suffers a touch from the same problem that affects all Bats releases -- an increasing sameness, especially towards album's end -- it's still a great full album debut.

High Rise - Live (1994)

Ridiculously loud, amphetamine-drenched garage rock...Hell yeah.


High Rise's studio albums Disallow, High Rise II, and Dispersion are all well worth owning, but if you absolutely had to narrow your High Rise purchases down to a single CD, this live album would be the best choice. Unfortunately, the liner notes don't tell listeners what the venue was or give a recording date. But wherever it was recorded, the Japanese trio is especially powerful, especially heavy and especially freewheeling on this disc (which first came out in Japan in 1994 on P.S.F. and was reissued in the U.S. by Squealer in 1999). This isn't to say that High Rise sounds neutered or inhibited in the studio, only that it is even more forceful than usual on live versions of "Mainliner," "Outside Gentiles," and "Sadame" as well as "Door," "Ikon," "Mira," and "Popsicle." In the studio, Asahito Nanjo's vocals have always been placed way down in the mix, and on-stage, they're still purposely overpowered by Munehiro Nirito's very prominent lead guitar. That might sound peculiar to some -- you never heard Robert Plant drowned out by Jimmy Page or David Lee Roth drowned out by Eddie Van Halen -- but oddly enough, it's an effect that works for High Rise. As appealing as High Rise's studio albums are, Live is by far its most essential CD. 

Francis Bebey - Akwaaba (1985)


In this 1985 release, composer/guitarist/singer/author Bebey used finger-piano, African flute, percussion and electric bass to draw on the whole range of African music today: traditional vocal styles (including an extraordinary "double-voice" technique), Ghanaian flute, soukous basslines. The Boston Herald called Akwaaba "one of the most amazing and beautiful records I have ever heard."