As I’ve mentioned before, when I told my colleague Alan Bisbort about the old crusty vinyl, record-obsessive, music-dork blog, he was at the office the next week with a stack of musty old LPs that needed a listening to. Among the stash I’ve already posted tunes from the Beau Brummels, Dion, Lindesfarne, Loudon Wainwright III and the Amazing Blondel. But there were so many more oddities and gems that I decided I needed to do a quick clearing of the decks. Here are three more from the Alan Bisbort library.
The Exuma record took a few listens before a worthy tune jumped out at me. And this isn’t really a song. It’s more like a spirit-possession chant/vamp. Exuma is the Obeah Man. The liner notes say this:
“EXUMA – BEYOND THE UNIVERSE – A STAR THAT ONCE LIT MARS. RIDING THE WIND, KISSING THE SAND. WALK IN THE NIGHT WITH THE HOUGAMAN.”
This is gris-gris music, voodoo blues, tourist exotica and hokum all rolled up together. He one ups Dr. John, drops a little Taj Mahal, and even hints at that ecstatic and crazed mystic thing that Cat Stevens sometimes went for. There’s a track on the record called “Junkanoo,” which is an African-derived carnival-type New Year’s street festival in the Bahamas, it’s also a dance from Jamaica with possible ties to stilt and masked dance traditions from Sierra Leone. You can read more about Exuma at AMG.
Next is Pearls Before Swine, which was basically Tom Rapp and whoever joined him. On These Things Too Rapp sings a Dylan song and puts an Auden poem to music. The rhymes on "Man in the Tree" sound a little forced, but Rapp can hold his own next to any contemporary bearded mystic, new energy generation, batik-revivalist.
And then there's McGuinness Flint, third-tier British folk-rock stuff, with just enough Harry Nilsson-ism. This track sounds like some Preservation Act-era Kinks outtake, complete with stumbling lumpy drunk-sounding funereal marching band, undue odd-time sections and lyrics of the I-didn't-have-anything-to-write-about variety. Still, worth a few listens.
Exuma - "Dambala"
Pearls Before Swine - "Man in the Tree"
McGuinness Flint - "Lazy Afternoon"