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Various Artists

Noël Crooners

    How can you resist a bit of Deano "Let It Snow!" or Ol' Blue Eyes jazzin' up "Jingle Bells"? Surely everybody loves Louis Armstrong, right? Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles are all in there, and you've got a choice of a white or blue Christmas from Elvis. Sam Cooke has sneaked on there too, with "Wade In The Water" - not exactly a Christmas song, but good none the less.

    Brisa Roché

    Father

      With Father, her sixth album, American Brisa Roché delivers her most personal and accomplished album to date. A gem of minimalist folk, haunted by the unique voice of the singer and produced by the grand John Parish- who directed among others the magic To Bring You my Love of PJ Harvey, a record with which Father shares common points: a twilight ambiance, fantomatic, something of Gothic Americana, a disquiet climate underlined by mythic Jean Babtiste Mondino’s cover photos.

      In this album, written half in Paris where the singer lives and half in the small town in Northern California where she grew up, the timbre of Brisa Roché reveals itself more bewitching than ever. She inscribes herself in the line of great folk singers of the 60’s such as Karen Dalton or Vashti Bunyan and artists today like Alela Diane, shaman-singers, daughters of water and fire, capable of reviving the dead and reminding us of family operas, passion and the passing of seasons.

      As its title indicates, Father is an out-of-the-ordinary project. In it Brisa Roché sings the immense, impossible quasi-incestuous love she lived, as a child and teen in Northern California, for her father (who died when she was 16), a dealer who recited poetry and lived at a hundred miles per hour, a charismatic and sulphurous adventurer, a man of endless conquests.

      Far from being too personal or too centered around the artist’s own story, these songs reveal themselves to be universal, exploring all facets of love: longing, fascination, sadness, seduction, the desire to save the beloved. Songs everyone can see themselves in. And in them Brisa plays all roles: the tearful child seeking to hold her wildfire of a father back from death (the poignant Trying to control and Carnation), the role of a mother/wife (the marvelous Patience), or even the role of the unsettling dealers surrounding her pater (Holy Badness and its powerful refrain like an impious canticle).

      Each sketch takes us further, into cabins lost in the forest (48) or onto backseats of cars parked in front of liquor stores, as Brisa Roché proves herself an accomplished songwriter, capable of the most beautiful texts, stories magnified by the work of John Parish. We rediscover the spare, pure production that is the signature style of the English musician: folk chords rough as old pieces of wood, strident electric guitar riffs (Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lent a strong hand), a few epic bass drum hits… Midnight full of Nature’s rustling, where rises the lustral voice of the Inconsolable.

      If Dean Moriarty, the hero of On the Road, by Kerouac, had had a daughter, SHE would have recorded this album. Curled in the back of the Buick, criss-crossing America she would have scribbled these lyrics while watching the tanned neck of her “badass” father. In the career of every artist, there’s a piece of work that brings us into the depths of his/her heart, into its internal womb, where is crafted the need for expression, the very desire to sing. “Father” is of this kind. We are the closest one can get to lava. And, fuck, how it burns.

      What happens when you cross Hendrix with James Brown, throw in a bit of Mozart and lace your creation with arcane aphrodisiacs? You get Prince Rogers Nelson, that's what. Named for greatness, and so much greater than his name, the Purple One is and always will be the best. This set celebrates his unparalleled songwriting prowess, lining up ten top notch interpretations by some of the greatest names in jazz. Opening with Nina Simone's jazz-funk cover of "Sign O' The Times", this LP is already worth the entry fee, but as you hear the likes of Clotilde Rullard, Herbie Hancock and Osunlade enjoy their own moment in the purple spotlight, you'll be glad you copped a copy.

      Nina Simone strikes again with the spectacular reissue of ‘The Jazz Diva’ which is what she is crowned as, known for her incredible vast releases of jazz albums, she really does own it! This album includes some of her greatest songs such as the legendary ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ and countless others such as ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ and ‘Exactly Like You’ the list goes on. This is the complete capsule album that captures her array of talent and sass, she is the Jazz Diva after all!

      Brigitte Bardot

      La Madrage

        Perfect French pop from actress, singer and Serge Gainsbourg muse Brigitte Bardot.

        Marilyn Monroe

        I Wanna Be Loved By You

          Great compilation, featuring classic Marilyn songs including “I Wann Be Loved By You”, “Some Like It Hot” and “Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend”.

          Rock solid and timeless selection of reggae classics from Wagram here. Featuring a who's who of JA talent alongside THAT lovers rock collab between Gregory Isaacs and Simply Red and the chart topping Sister Nancy anthem. We go right back to 1971, with a variety of moods and styles explored. From the feel good stomper of Toots' "54-46 Was My Number" to more dancehall flavoured offerings from Max Romeo, and to the riotous dread of Black Uhuru. This is a wonderfully varied and ridiculously strong collection of hits! And look at the price tag! A no brainer surely...

          Various Artists

          Wanted Hip Hop

            The always affordable Wanted series returns this week with another set of beautifully presented, expertly selected comps covering a variety of genres. Here we have a set of overlooked and under the radar Hip Hop heaters including the lyricism and flow of De La Soul, Bubba Sparxxx and RZA & GZA from Wu Tang Clan and the production talents of Pete Rock, Jazzy Jeff and Timberland. Beats to make your head nod til your neck snaps.

            Various Artists

            Wanted Jazz Vol. 2

              The always affordable Wanted series returns this week with another set of beautifully presented, expertly selected comps covering a variety of genres. Tackling jazz was always going to be tricky so the folks at Wagram serve us a survey in two parts. Volume 1 treats us to luxurious grooves, mournful ballads and dreamy difters from the likes of Horace Silver, Charles Mingus, Donald Byrd and Gene Harris. 

              A famous French chemist and philosopher once said, 'Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed'. Does the same apply to music? From Mozart to Serge Gainsbourg, the greatest creators have always drawn on the works of their predecessors and contemporaries, before becoming influences themselves. So yes, music is about influence, borrowing from others, covering songs and... performing. This is particularly true of Jamaica, where producers record the same hit several times, performed by different singers. Artists cover - and sometimes change - other people's songs, and the public and producers have always looked to their American neighbours for inspiration, drawing from its catalogue. In this respect, Ken Boothe is definitely a very Jamaican artist. The first track on his new album (his first for 25 years, at least internationally), "Speak Softly Love", has a back story that perfectly illustrates this aspect of music. The song is known for having been written by Italian composer Nino Rota (lyrics by Larry Kusik) for the film "The Godfather" by Francis Ford Coppola. The original soundtrack became legendary at the time but was disqualified from its category at the Oscars: Nino Rota had already used the theme in another film twenty years before!1 What's even more intriguing is that this famous theme tune was itself borrowed from... Verdi's opera "La forza del destino". Ken Boothe covered the song in 1974, two years after the film's release, presumably inspired by Andre Williams's version in the USA. Suggested and produced by the brilliant Jamaican musician and producer Lloyd Charmers, it was released on Ken's best-selling album in England: "Everything I own". The singer put his own personal spin on it, showing how the quality of the performer can give music and lyrics a new lease of life and make them universal. More than forty years later, on the terrace of a house in the open air, he recreates the magic and transports us once again with this acoustic version: there's no doubt, he truly is 'the Godfather'. Like his contemporary Bob Marley, with whom he took his first steps in the studio, Ken Boothe was heavily influenced by great American soul singers. Like him, he successfully covered a number of hits. And while the future global reggae star was linked to Curtis Mayfield, Ken himself was compared to Wilson Pickett. But far from contenting himself with imitation, his inspirations fuelled his creativity. An iconic voice of ska, he was also a big name of the style that followed, and preceded reggae: "Rocksteady". To the point that he was crowned "Mr Rocksteady" on the eponymous album released in 1968. And so, from a fascination for American music, Ken Boothe helped craft new musical styles introduced by Jamaica to the world, rewriting the history of their country as well as that of music. While he is this historical figure of Jamaican music, and while he is undoubtedly one of the greatest performers of love songs on the island, whose charm and sentiment he expresses so well, Ken Boothe is nonetheless imbued with Rasta culture, having seen its birth and spent his life alongside it. Without having shown it ostensibly at the time of reggae roots, when each artist proudly lay claim to dreadlocks, ganja and rasta militancy, the great Jamaican singer is nevertheless a fervent rasta, in a more intimate capacity.



              Manu Dibango

              Wakafrika

              Soul and Makossa. "World Music", a two-word universe, was born in the early 70's. For the first time Africa, in the form of Cameroon Makossa, nosed its way into soul, the heir to jazz and rhythm'n blues. As is often the case, this particular stage in musical evolution, which today is considered as capital, was at the time nearly missed, the B-side of a single which should never have got further than the suburbs of Douala. Among Westerm audiences, Manu Dibango is best known for "Soul Makossa," a highly infectious blend of African music, soul-funk, and jazz that became a major pop hit in the early '70s. The African artist revisited his signature tune on 1994's "Wakafrika", which boasts an all-star cast that includes Peter Gabriel as well as Haiti's Papa Wemba and African heroes Ladysmith Black Mambazo, King Sunny Ade, and Youssou N'Dour. As you'd expect from such a stellar bunch of guests, "Wakafrika" is an outstanding LP, featuring the reggae-influenced "Em'ma," a remake of Gabriel's "Biko," and the "Makossa"-ish jams "Wakafrika" and "Jingo." 

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              2xLtd LP Info: Remastered edition of this legendary world music album from 1994. Available on vinyl for the first time ever.


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