Thomas Mapfumo
Conquering Lion from the Shona peoples, Thomas Tafirenyika Mukanya Mapfumo is an accomplished musician, poet as well as a defiant and stubborn social and political commentator. A champion of social and political justice, Mapfumo has not only defined a style of music with a consistent message, but he has relentlessly delivered timely and relevant social messages to his audiences through his music. Calling his music chimurenga, Mapfumo has made major contributions to the Zimbabwe's social, cultural and political landscape. Often ignored by Zimbabwe's elite, Mapfumo has consistently preached a message of social, political and economic reconciliation. Idolized as their social and cultural evangelist, Mapfumo has gained a large following among Zimbabwe's underpriviledged and working class. His emergence on the international scene in the mid-80s confirmed Mapfumo's stature as chimurenga master and international recording artist.

If Zimbabwe ever had a consistent musician, it is Thomas Mapfumo. His vision and ability to summarize social and political ills through his music is immense. His unusual ability to adapt traditional Shona music and use it to address domestic and international social issues makes him a rare musician. With an uncompromising commitment to the Shona culture and ways of life, Mapfumo has consistently challenged all Zimbabweans to honor and respect their culture and heritage. With a life-long resume of a musical genius, a consistent message of respect and admiration to the Shona culture, an impressive discography, Mapfumo has established himself as national hero. It is this author's opinion that when his day comes, Mapfumo deserves a resting place on Zimbabwe's Heroes Acre in recognition of his many under-appreciated and often ignored contributions towards Zimbabweans' cultural awareness.

What is Chimurenga?

Chimurenga is a Shona word which means to fight or struggle. Traditionally, chimurenga or bongozozo is a fight in which everyone at hand participates. The word's modern interpretation has been extended to describe a struggle for human rights, political dignity and social justice. Thomas Mapfumo coined the phrase chimurenga music to describe his revolutionary music which evolved during Zimbabwe's struggle to gain independence in the early seventies. The war of liberation which was dubbed Chimurenga Chechipiri or the second revolution was a fulfilment of the prophesy of a great Shona spirit, Mbuya Nehanda, sister of the great Shona prophet Chaminuka. Mbuya Nehanda led the first war, Chimurenga Chekutanga against British colonial rule in Zimbabwe and was hanged in the late eighteen hundreds. However before she died she declared that her bones will rise and fight the second war of liberation. Her prophesy was not realized until almost a hundred years later. While armed struggle ragged along the borders of Zimbabwe, Mapfumo used his music to arouse revolutionary sentiment among Zimbabweans during the seventies. Mapfumo has continued to use his chimurenga style of music to address a multitude of pressing political and social concerns in peace time Zimbabwe.

Characterized by biting social and political commentary, third person political innuendo, Mapfumo has developed a style of music whose roots are traditional Shona mbira music, but played with modern electric instrumentation, a more modern message adapted to current social and political affairs, a sense of urgency and a cry for justice.

Thomas Mapfumo:Birth of a Legend
Thomas Tafirenyika Mukanya Mapfumo was born on July 2nd 1945 near the town of Marondera in Zimbabwe. Even though his parents where staying in the capital city of Harare (then Salisbury), Thomas stayed with his grandparents in rural areas. Both his grandparents where avid traditional musicians. Thomas learned the music at an early age. His grandmother insisted on bringing him to some of the beer parties she was invited to play and sing. Shona music is participatory music. Unlike western music where a few musicians perform for a large audience, the Shona concept is one of every member participating in their own capacity. Mapfumo learned by playing and singing with the traditional masters.

As a young boy in the village, Thomas did what all youngsters in the rural areas do, graze cattle and goats, help grandparents in the fields, perform domestic chores and all activities that make living in the village an unforgettable experience.

As Thomas approached school age, his parent summoned him to come and stay with him in Harare. In contrast to life in the village, he was now exposed to radio, and television, media that he had no access to living in the village. Through these media, Mapfumo was exposed to other kinds of music. He was able to listen to music from South Africa, Zaire, USA, UK and many other parts of the world. Before long Mapfumo had a list of favorite regional and international musicians: Franco, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Bing Cosby, Frank Sinatra and many others.

After school Mapfumo would spend time practicing cover songs of his favorite musicians. He particularly idolized Nat King Cole and Elvis Presley, yes Elvis!

Rude Awakening
Mapfumo took his music seriously. He was now attempting to be a rock star. It so happened, that in Harare (then Salisbury) and annual best rock-and-roll band contest was held. Thomas and his friends always participated. There were both white and African bands participating from as far away as Lusaka, Zambia and Johannesburg, South Africa. However no African band ever won these contests regardless of their talent. It was this realization that no matter how good he was as a rocker, he was never going to win the contest that Thomas started to re-think what his music was supposed to represent. It was then that he convinced himself that, for the most part Africans were loosing their musical culture in pursuit of western music. He began to focus on Shona music.

His upbringing had given him enough exposure to explore a new direction in his career. A local African comedian who called himself, Charles Dee Ray Tiger had recorded a Shona song called Shungu Dzinondibaya in which he made fun of a rich man who lost his wealth overnight. Mapfumo took this song very seriously. He liked it so much that he decided to record it. Without any recording equipment or recording budget, Mapfumo recorded the song on tape. The tape fell in the hands of an entrepreneur who made it into a single on vinyl. To his amazement, Mapfumo heard his own voice on record while visiting a record store in Highfield, outside Harare. The record was very successful. This was Mapfumo's endorsement that he can succeed as a Shona musician.

AfroRock: Precursor of Chimurenga
In 1973, Thomas Mapfumo went to a mining town of Mhangura north of Harare to look for work. While he was there he met a few musicians who all worked at a chicken run. Together they formed a band, The Hallelujah Chicken Run Band to experiment with the then emerging Afro-Rock style of music pioneered by the band Osibisa. They made several Afrorock singles which all had limited success except for one single that was traditional Shona war song. By 1975, the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe had already taken hold and the song was met with critical acclaim.

In 1976, Thomas left Mhangura for Harare, where he hung out at the Jamaica Inn doing gigs whenever he could. The owner of Jamaica Inn asked him to form a house band, which he did. The band was the Black Spirits. The Spirits were together for a short while before they disbanded and Thomas was without a band again.

Blacks Unlimited are Born!
After Thomas left Jamaica Inn and Mushandira Pamwe Hotel, in Harare, he went to Mutare where he lived with a group of musicians. They played gigs in the Mutare area both in and out of the city. It wasn't until a local night-club in Mutare contracted Thomas and his friends as the club's house band. It was then that the Blacks Unlimited was formed. The band consisted of Thomas Mapfumo, Leonard Chiyangwa, Jona Sithole and Marshall Munhumumwe. The new Blacks Unlimited stayed together for a couple of years until Jona Sithole left the band to go back to Harare. After a few months the remaining members disbanded and also left Mutare for Harare. Thomas arrived in Harare without a band. However several club and hotel owners had come to like and admire his music. The owner of Mushandira Pamwe Hotel in Highfield asked Thomas to come and play with the hotel's band, The Pied Pipers. They were a rock and roll outfit with very little knowledge of Thomas's style of traditional music. The location of Mushandira Pamwe Hotel was ideal for Thomas. Leonard Chiyangwa, a former Blacks Unlimited member was playing with another band across the shopping center at Machipisa Hotel. Thomas used his breaks to listen to Leonard and his Acid Band. The Acid Band were peforming some traditional Shona music to Mapfumo's liking. He persuaded Leonard to practice with him and before long they recorded their critically acclaimed single, Pamuromo Chete which was in response to Ian Smith's declaration that Zimbabwe will never be ruled by Africans in his life time. Thomas and the Acid band's response was that was just mere talk. The song, sung in the native language Shona and laced with political innuendo literally ignited the nation as every African understood the message. Thomas Mapfumo had now become a household name. In the meantime, the liberation struggle was gaining ground around the country. As if to thank the fans for their support and appreciation, Mapfumo recorded another song that became an instant hit, Pfumvu Paruzevha which means trouble in the rural areas. Because of the fighting that was happening in the rural areas, people instantly identified with the song and Mapfumo's popularity soared. In the meantime the government started getting interested in Mapfumo's popularity. They finally figured out that Mapfumo's music was galvanizing the African population and encouraging young people to cross the border into Mozambique for military training.

Mapfumo: Political Prisoner
When it became apparent to the Smith regime that Mapfumo's music was subversive and politically inciting, he was detained for three moths without charge. However while he was in jail Mapfumo made lots of friends as most of the African prison workers knew who he was and what his music was about. The was so popular in prison that some prison employees used to bring him food from their homes so he wouldn't have to rely on prison food alone.

After three months the government of Rhodesia decided to release Mapfumo on condition that he play at a political rally for the African National Council (ANC) then headed by Bishop Abel Muzorewa. The ANC was working with the Smith regime to forge a political agreement to set a timetable for Zimbabwe's independence. -Zambuko.com

This is street-Zimbabwean at its best, with Zairian and eastern African overtones. -John Storm Roberts

'Recorded in the late 70s, Gwindingwi Rine Shumba is Zimbabwean artist Thomas Mapfumo's second full length album. Featuring Mapfumo's incendiary guitar playing and lyrics of struggle, sung in his native Shona language, this is political dance music that rivals the work of another African legend, Nigerian Fela Kuti. Available on CD in the U.S. for the first time ever.'

Thomas Mapfumo's greatest album ever

The album starts off with Shumba, probably Thomas Mapfumo's greatest song ever, a perfect re-imagining of traditional music into a modern band format. It doesn't matter that the first three songs are quite familiar to Mapfumo aficionados, being available on a wide range of compilations. They sound even more exciting when played in their original order. Chitima Cherusununguko is another awesome, awesome song, never mind that it's celebrating the coming to power of one Robert Mugabe in 1980. You can still feel the energy in that song and imagine the euphoria of those days that now seem centuries ago. The diversity of musical styles and emotions on this album is also impressive. It's no wonder Analog Africa calls it the greatest Zimbabwean album ever. Eight killer tracks, no need to skip anything here. -Tamuka

1. Shumba 5:08
2. Hwahwa 4:53
3. Mhondoro 5:06
4. Tinodanana 6:05
5. Nzwananai 5:02
6. Rita 5:09
7. Chitima Cherusununguko 5:30
8. Zimbabwe Yevatema 4:06

This album is available as The Long Walk, at a reasonable price. Great CD. Recorded in 1983, this predates Mapfumos introduction of the mbira into his band. Great swirling chimurenga music. These were done shortly after the Zimbabwean independence and still have that youthful fire.

'No crib sheets accompany these six circa-1983 tracks, but I gather they're less propagandistic than the wartime output of this rock-influenced Zimbabwean singer turned Mugabe partisan, which given his main man's Shona chauvinism is probably a good thing. What I'm sure is that they generate a ferocious groove--the rhythm guitar attack of Mapfumo's Black Unlimited band never slacks off, maintaining the indomitable uprush of great African pop well past its usual fading point. You think music "transcends" politics? Then get this sucker.' -Robert Christgau

'This is one of the first of Mapfumo's albums to be released in the United States and Europe, and it finds him and The Blacks Unlimited band at the top of their musical game. Compelling repeating guitar lines grab you as the first song "Nyara Mukadzi Wangu" starts. Soon, Mapfumo's growling voice takes center stage, handclapping and prodding the song along with serious edginess. "Temerina" and "Emma" are more laid-back and happier tunes propelled by horns, interlocking guitars, and percolating trap drums. "Nyoko Musango" ("Snake in the Grass") with its ominous mood, great call and response vocals, and relentless guitar work is one of The Lion of Zimbabwe's, as he is affectionately called, greatest songs. Other songs on the CD, mostly mid-tempo danceable numbers, fill out the release to make this a very satisfying collection of music.' --Jeff Grubb

1. Nyarara Mukadzi Wangu 7:23
2. Temerina 7:04
3. Handina Mwana Anozochena 4:39
4. Nyoka Musango 5:25
5. Kambiri Kaenda 5:17
6. Emma 7:28

Here's more evidence that Mapfumo is one of the very greatest talents of African music. He seems totally impervious to fads, and his mix of Zimbabwean traditional music (finger-pianos, hocketing vocal tones), down-home eastern African guitars and punchy horns only gets more masterly every time. -AllMusic Review by John Storm Roberts

Thomas at his most hypnotic, natural mystic states

I happen to own 98% of Thomas Mapfumos commercial releases and if I rate this CD, I would put it at number 1, followed by Chamunorerwa (the album he did just before this one). This is first three cuts are pure, hyponotic mbira and a classical Thomas Mapfumo at his natural mystic best. I always suspect that when Thomas performed tracks number 2 and 3, he really must have been high on the holy plant because the songs and the performance is so trance inducing. -SKDziwa

'Thomas Mapfumo hails from Zimbabwe, where decades of political and racial unrest in the latter half of the 20th century had a tremendous impact on his music. In fact, back in 1977 the government of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then known, felt Mapfumo's song "Hokoya" was so incendiary that the singer was detained in prison for 90 days. While Mapfumo's music is no longer officially classified as dangerous, it has a power and a passion that is undeniable.

Thomas Mapfumo's music is built upon the cyclical rhythms and melodies of the mbira, the primary traditional musical instrument of the Shona people. The mbira consists of between 22 and 28 metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard placed inside a large gourd resonator. Mapfumo melds this traditional base to western musical styles through the addition of electric guitars and keyboards. There are also layers of percussion, jazz and reggae-influenced horns and a pair of female background vocalists who provide a wonderful complement to Mapfumo's voice. It's a big sound that's balanced by an understated, almost lazy lead vocal style -- grand and soothing at the same time.

One of the things that amazes me about much of the best southern African music, and Mapfumo's songs in particular, is that despite their circular, repetitive style the songs almost never feel overly long. Even when these tracks clock in at seven, eight or even eleven minutes they hold their appeal thanks to hypnotic rhythms and a strong melodic sense. "Chaka Ndechaka" is a prime example of this; seven-plus minutes of mesmerizing dance groove that will exhaust the feet without ever tiring the ear.

The booklet that accompanies Hondo features English translations of Mapfumo's lyrics, and I was struck by the juxtaposition of ideas contained on the album. Contrasting the lyrics of the opening track, "Hondo," and the description provided for the third song, "Buka Tiende," vividly illustrates the incongruities. "Hondo" includes the lyrics, "We said no to war long ago, we rejected war long ago, o lord ... only the poor get killed, and look the rich survive." Meanwhile, "Buka Tiende" is "an ancient Shona war song, sung by warriors just as they were about to go into battle."

This dichotomy is present in much of the southern African music I've run across. But on Hondo it extends beyond the celebration of both a proud warrior history and a pacifist vision of the future to a broader traditionalist/modernist tug of war. It's a battle that allows Mapfumo to update and electrify Shona music while declaring in his lyrics, "the good and the bad are mixed up in shame, twisting the minds of the children with foreign things ... we are not in America, we are here in Zimbabwe ... teach your children the culture of Zimbabwe, tradition and human dignity" (from "Vanhu Vekwedu"). Thomas Mapfumo strikes a delicate balance between the old and the new creating, in the process, music that moves the heart and the head with equal intensity.

Unfortunately, Hondo isn't an album you'll find front-racked at the mall, but if you're at all interested in African popular music, if you're looking for great grooves and music with a message, it's a disc that's well worth hunting down. Outlets that stock a good supply of world music may well have it on hand, or look for it online.' -Gregg Thurlbeck

1. Hondo 8:34
2. Maiti Kurima Hamubvire 7:00
3. Buka Tiende 5:04
4. Magariro 4:30
5. Chako Ndechako 7:00
6. Vanhu Vekwedu 7:00
7. Mukondombera 11:20


Created by RasLeroy

I came across this digital-only release about 4 years ago and just dismissed it, being so skeptical about the majority of reggae releases on mp3 sites that are really just the same old Bunny Lee productions under different names. A bredren of mine checked it a couple of weeks later and actually bought the thing (at least it was in flac and not cheap itunes mp3 fuckery). Well, before I had time to tell him what a rasclaat he'd been for getting ripped off by buying the same old Bunny Lee tracks again, he sent me a message telling me how good it was. Turns out I should have listened to the soundclips or studied the tracklist a little harder because this is actually a very interesting likkle collection.

The title, Essential Jamaican Deejay Tracks 1974-76 is wrong (try 1969 - 1982) and the artwork is appalling; but really this is a very cool collection that covers the evolution of reggae deejaying in style, showcasing lots of different producers and styles and with a keen eye for the obscure and rare track selection.

This isn't a professional release by any means, it's obviously ripped from someone's private vinyl collection (with all the crackles and pops intact) and the likelihood of any legitimate licensing or royalties paid is very slim; but as an opportunity for the non vinyl collector to have these wonderful sides of wax then this is truly indispensable.

Now, given that this isn't a physical release and some of the track information was inaccurate, I've re-ordered, renamed and retagged the songs and present them now in chronological order. 
The only track I couldn't identify or find any information on is the track called here Heavier Than Lead by Hugh Roy Junior. No song called Heavier Than Lead performed by Hugh Roy Junior exists, and indeed if you listen to the other track on this compilation by him you'll realize that this Heavier Than Lead track features a completely different deejay.
I left it on here tagged wrongly (with an estimated release date) until someone more knowledgeable than me can identify it properly.

Okay, here's what you get

1. SIR COLLINS & THE BLACK DIAMONDS - Black Panther (1969) 2:57
2. SIR HARRY - Musical Broom (1969) 2:54
3. TOMMY MCCOOK & ACE CANNON - Wanted (1969) 2:37
4. CRUTCHES - Go Back Version (1969) 3:12
5. THE HOT ROD ALL STARS - Lick It Back (1970) 3:09
6. LIZZY - More Heartaches (1970)  2:30
7. BLACK PANTA - White Man Is Fuckery (1971)3:01
8. CHARLIE ACE - Do Something (1971) 2:27
9. PRINCE BUSTER & FENDER - Baby Version (1971) 2:38
10. DELROY JONES - Zion Train (1971) 3:15
11. BIG JOE - Mas Gan (1971) 3:41
12. HUGH ROY JUNIOR - Rhythm Shack (1972) 2:53
13. JOHNNIE LOVER - Straight To The Head (1972) 2:27
14. JEFF DIXON (as J.D. THE ROC) - Superbad (1972) 2:26
15. JAH FISH - Vampire Rock (1972) 3:13
16. KING KOUCHI - Run Come Hide (1972) 2:33
17. KING SMILEY - Do It To Me (1972) 3:08
18. LIZZY - Bandolo Skank (1972) 2:08
19. JERRY LEWIS - The Godfather (1972) 3:49
20. JERRY LEWIS - 5000 Watts (1973) 3:18
21. DERRICK MORGAN - Great Musical Battle (1973) 3:32
22. AL MOODIE - Moses Rock (1973) 3:11
23. U-ROY (as HUGH ROY) - Hard Feeling (1973) 2:27
24. U-ROY (as HUGH ROY) - Regular Style (1973) 2:27
25. DENNIS ALCAPONE & LIZZY - Take Your Time (1973) 2:30
26. JAH MOJO - Truth And Truth (1973) 3:05
27. JAH VILL - The Bump (1973) 1:54
28. KING MIGUEL - The World Is Black (1973) 3:22
29. KING MIGUEL - Town Talk (1973) 3:09
30. JAH NATTY & THE REBELS - Man To Man (1975) 2:59
31. KING ONEY - Your Honour (1975) 2:49
32. SIR LEE - Whip Them No Skip Them (1975) 3:31
33. SHORTY THE PRESIDENT - Beast From The East (1975) 3:18
34. SHORTY THE PRESIDENT - Loving Bingo (1976) 2:59
35. HUGH ROY JUNIOR - Heavier Than Lead (1977) 3:46
36. SPANNA & FREDDIE MCKAY - A Little Longer (1977) 2:56
37. TRINITY - The Book Of Roots (1977) 3:14
38. BIG JOE - Home Guard (1978) 3:18
39. RANKING CHARLIE - Caught Her Red Handed (1979) 4:15
40. JAH WOOSH - Ethiopia Pretty (1982) 3:28


The Silvertones’ debut LP, Silver Bullets, is a crate-digging reggae classic, a melding of doo-wop harmonies and the beginnings of dub.

'The Silvertones' album debut, Silver Bullets, came in 1973 with another legendary Jamaican music producer, Lee 'Scratch' Perry. Gilmore recalls that it was one hot session - literally. The album was recorded in one night at Osbourne 'King Tubby' Ruddock's studio and, Gilmore said, "Place hot! Every time we record, we have to come out and drink a beer", and has since become regarded one of the most sought-after Perry-produced collections from a pivotal period in his career as a music maker.'

Jamaican singers Keith Coley, Delroy Denton, and Gilmore Grant first joined together as the Silvertones in the mid 1960s. The group recorded numerous singles with Duke Reid at Treasure Isle and Coxsone Dodd at Studio One over the following decade and a half, but released just one album, 1973’s Silver Bullets, under the direction of Lee “Scratch” Perry, before disbanding.

In this rich and colorful short documentary, timed to coincide with the first-ever reissue of Silver Bullets (out tomorrow via Trojan Records and record delivery service Vinyl Me, Please) Coley takes a film crew through Kingston, and back to the days when songs were composed on public street corners. As he links up with two younger singers (though the Silvertones recently reunited for a performance at last year’s Rototom Sunsplash, Denton and Grant do not appear in the doc) Coley waxes nostalgic, remembering a competitive era when group harmony ruled, not soloists and Autotune.

“You don’t see that so regular again, to combine together and sing harmony under the street light,” Coley remarks. “Cause that is a vibes. I like those vibes.”

The Silvertones' only LP release was 1973's Silver Bullets, produced by Lee Perry -- who had virtually debuted as a vocal-group producer in 1968 with this Delroy Denton-led combo. Although it has a few too many American R&B covers for its own good (especially considering both Denton and Perry were strong writers), the Silvertones' performances definitely justify the full-length release. With one notable exception (the bubblegum toss-off "Sugar, Sugar"), the covers are well-chosen, including the Drifters' "I'll Take You Home," Ben E. King's "That's When It Hurts," and Jerry Butler's "He Will Break Your Heart" (for the latter, the group even tries to approximate Butler's low growl). The originals are far better, including Denton's "Early in the Morning" and "Soul Sister" and Perry's "Rejoice Jah Jah Children." -AllMusic Review by John Bush

'The story of the Silvertones goes back to 1964; founded by Gilmore Grant and Keith Coley, they were soon joined by Delroy Denton on lead vocals, assuming the classic 3 part Jamaican harmony lineup. My True Confession for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label was an early hit, as was a cover of Wilson Pickett’s In The Midnight Hour and notable recordings for Sonia Pottinger and Clancy Eccles followed in the rocksteady and early reggae eras.

Having had a brief association with maverick producer Lee “Scratch” Perry in the late 60’s, the group checked him again at his Upsetter record shop in the early 70’s; work on an LP - the Silvertones’ first - commenced, with rhythm tracks laid down at Perry’s as yet uncompleted studio and voiced in a single night at King Tubby’s.

Covers of Ben E. King’s That’s When It Hurts and Souvenir Of Mexico (with a suitably Spanish flair), and the Impressions’ He’ll Break Your Heart showcased the trio’s roots in classic r&b; the album’s true highlight though was the stunning Rejoice Jah Jah Children with its proto-Black Ark sound, pointing the way to Perry’s increasingly creative, deeply dread experimentations at the mixing desk. Singing as if in the fervour of a religious vision or revelation, the group’s harmonies were never so entrancing, becoming even more ethereal on the version, which brings the skanking rhythm to the forefront with phasing, echo and reverb added to the mix. The last track, a version of the Staple Singers’ Are You Sure, was not the Silvertones at all but a Dave Barker dub borrowed from UK producer Larry Lawrence.

Issued on Trojan in the UK, the LP also appeared in a different mix from Perry in Jamaica, a version that is highly collectible and sells for over $1K. This first repress (in celebration of Trojan Records’ 50th anniversary) appeared this year through Vinyl Me, Please, mastered from original tapes and on “vanilla sky” vinyl; the Silvertones (still active today) would continue recording, most notably for Studio One where they scored hits like Smile, but would have to wait until 1999 for their next album...'

Silver Bullets CD (1996/2003):
1. I'll Take You Home 3:47
2. Early In The Morning 3:20
3. Sugar Sugar 2:47
4. Souvenir Of Mexico 2:48
5. Rejoice Jah Jah Children 3:12
6. Rejoicing Skank 3:21
7. That's When It Hurts 2:40
8. Soul Sister 2:52
9. Rock Me In Your Soul 3:05
10. Sweet And Loving Baby 2:49
11. He'll Break Your Heart 3:14
12. Are You Sure? 2:03

Don't Cry 7'' (1977)

This great 7" inch comes out of Studio One. It features a warm, full horn section and smooth harmony singing. Part 1 on the A side seems more like a radio vocal mix and the B side mix is more instrumental, with the vocals cut out at points.

A Don't Cry (Pt 1) 2:32
B Don't Cry (Pt 2) 2:33

Extra Tracks (Studio One)

1. Take A Little Love 7:01
2. Cheating And Lying 9:53


"Chaino" The congo drummer who re-invented African Music."

I have enjoyed the elated pleasure of being the only Record Producer of all of Chaino's primitive/Exotic works 40 to 45 years ago. There were a total of 8 LP's that were released out of the 300 or so master tapes that are almost ready to release on the market, with just 6 that have been found so far. It seems the more fans of primitive/Exotic music who discover him, become fans of Chaino. As a team, Chaino and I were able to bring out the best of his talent, aided by a rare extremely talented studio recording engineer, John Campbell, a true genius, who joined us in a venture together to become, mentally and emotionally, virtually, "one single unit." By using the power of total/complete positives as one unit, we automatically compounded our individual power of positives ten fold with total trust and confidence in ourselves, in each other and in our ability to accomplish the impossible. This little known magnification of power in numbers of 2 or more people gave us more than just good teamwork, but further beyond the imagination. There is no doubt that Chaino's works will not only live forever, but will become a basis for new sounds in future recorded music. -Kirby Allan

According to the liner notes, Chaino (pronounced "cha-ee-no") was discovered drumming in an L.A. dance studio by Kirby Allan, a former suave crooner turned producer who claims to have "produced, composed and arranged" all of Chaino's music. This 27-track compendium compiles material from the best Allan-produced albums of the so-called "Undisputed King of the Native Skins" -- including Jungle Echoes, Chaino Africana, Jungle Mating Rhythms, and Night of the Spectre -- that were recorded during the late '50s for various jazz labels. The master tapes for these albums were used here, in addition to vinyl copies (reportedly supplied by Allan himself) for extremely rare tracks that Chaino recorded for the Orb label. The collection is divided into three sections: "Chaino Exoticana" (tracks one through 15) mixes sultry jazz with Chaino's percussion, "Chaino Rock 'n Rollana" (tracks 16 through 20) shifts into commercial late-'50s-style pop, highlighted by sultry piano and guitar interplay and Chaino panting away on "Gone Ape," and the last section, "Chaino Africana" (tracks 21 through 27), is solo Chaino. Chaino's teen-oriented cuts, such as "Ubangi Rock" and "Rockin' Bird Bongo," have apparently found a new audience with exotica fans who discovered Chaino in the '90s. According to one source, the theme to The Ren & Stimpy Show, "Dog Pound Hop," was even inspired by Chaino's version of "Bongo Rock." -AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas


Leon "Chaino" Johnson (1927 – July 8, 1999), the self-styled "percussion genius of Africa," was an American bongo player. After touring for several years on the Chitlin' Circuit, he released several albums and became popular with listeners of exotica music in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the promotion of his albums, a fictional biography was developed, depicting Chaino as an orphan from a lost tribe in central Africa who had been rescued by a missionary after his tribe had been massacred. Chaino was actually born in Philadelphia and raised in Chicago.

Early years
Chaino was born in Philadelphia, but he grew up on the South Side of Chicago. After attending grammar school, Chaino left home to see the country. He began playing the bongos and toured "the so-called 'chitlin' circuit of black nightclubs." According to his brother, George Johnson, Chaino lost touch with his family and "vacillated between the brink of stardom and edge of starvation as he made a name for himself in the late 1940s and '50s as a percussionist."

Exotica albums
In 1958, Chaino teamed up with record producer Kirby Allan; the pair released several albums in the late 1950s. The first album released by the Chaino-Allan team was Jungle Mating Rhythms, released by Verve Records in 1958. Chaino and Allan released six additional albums: Percussion for Primitive Lovers, Percussion for Playboys (vols. 1 and 2), Jungle Echoes, Night of the Spectre, Africana, and Temptation. The albums featured Chaino playing bongos, steel drums and other percussion instruments, combined with primal chants and "strains of grunting and howling" that Allan called "sensual primitive music" or "Americanized African" music. In June 1958, Billboard gave Chaino's "Eyes of the Spectre" a four-star review and noted:

"A truly unusual sound can be heard on this album. Chaino turns in what amounts to a one-man show on a variety of bongos, congo drums, steel drums, gourds and assorted noisemakers, altho the label's sound work doesn't do it real justice. Rhythms are basically African or Afro-Cuban. In the background, Chaino whistles, wails and occasionally gives a blood-curdling whoop."

Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the exotica genre, the liner notes for Chaino's albums built a mythology of Chaino as an orphan who was "the only survivor of a lost race of people from the wilds of the jungle in a remote part of central Africa where few white men have ever been." According to the liner notes, he learned to "play seven or more drums at the same time, with such a blur of speed that you can hardly see his hands." The fictional biography developed for Chaino included a story of being brought to the United States by a missionary and his wife after his tribe was massacred by hostile neighbors. One music historian later wrote that the story contained familiar stereotypes that "seemed to parallel the screenplay for a Tarzan film."

Allan later recalled his experiences with Chaino: "He was a troubled artist, but it was what made him a great artist. He vented all his hang-ups and sexual frustrations busting out on those drums. I almost got shot trying to help him. People would come after him for all kinds of reason." In addition to his solo albums, Chaino also worked as a session musician and appeared in two feature films, Night Tide (1961) and The Devil's Hand (1962), and a television movie, The Phantom (1961). In 1962, he toured on the same bill with Miriam Makeba. He was scheduled to perform with Makeba at the Hollywood Bowl, but was unable to appear because he was in jail at the time.

Chaino's music enjoyed renewed popularity in the late 1990s as part of the revival of interest in the exotica and ultra lounge genres. In his book, Mondo Exotica, Francesco Adinolfi wrote that, in Chaino's albums, "exotica found its fullest expression: repeated, driving rhythms, savage cries, and tribal iconography intended to trigger the pagan fantasies of the listener." In Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living, Matt Maranian wrote: "This is music to mate by; a cut above your average exotica." Another reviewer in 1999 wrote that Chaino's work consisted of "trippy tunes" that "could be heard in settings like tiki parties and porno theaters."

Later years
Chaino later lived in Oklahoma City where he played in local clubs. In 1997, Chaino returned to Chicago for a reunion with his brother. He was badly injured in a bar fight in Los Angeles in 1998 and again returned to Chicago where he stayed with his brother. He developed a brain tumor and, in July 1999, he suffered a heart attack following surgery to remove the tumor and died in Chicago. A retrospective compact disc titled, Chaino, Africana and Beyond was released shortly after his death. -Wiki

Chaino Exoticana
1. Breathing Bongos 2:12
2. Swamp Girl 3:20
3. Walking Bongos 2:15
4. African Jazz 2:19
5. Bi La 2:39
6. Slave Girl 2:52
7. Poko Cha Cha 2:44
8. Ceremonial Feast Dance 3:22
9. Jungle Mood 2:32
10. Johannesburg Blues 4:11
11. Bongo Serenade 2:57
12. Jungle Love Chant 2:25
13. Jungle Drums 2:47
14. Watusi Ceremonial Dance 2:40
15. Bad & Beautiful 2:34
Chaino Rock 'N Rollana
16. Bongo Stick Boogie 2:26
17. Rockin' Bird Bongo 2:26
18. Swingin' Congo Bird 2:33
19. Ubangi Rock 2:19
20. Gone Ape 2:31
Chaino Africana
21. Jungle Chase 2:55
22. Torture Of The Mau Mau 2:19
23. Cumba See 2:25
24. The Spear Dance 2:43
25. Bongos And Whistling 2:12
26. Toomba-Leeru 2:25
27. Soo-Mak 3:48


All-time classic Brazilian album

'Brazilian guitarist and singer Toquinho (real name Antônio Pecci Filho) was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the 1940’s. His first major hit single was ‘Que Maravilha’, as featured here, that he wrote with Jorge Ben. This album also features ‘Zana’ and the ultra-famous ‘Carolina Carol Bela’, also written with Ben. Toquinho had a prolific career releasing a huge number of albums and writing on even more. He released many records with Vinicius De Moraes during the 70’s.'

'By the time he released the career-defining "Toquinho" in 1970, guitarist Antonio Pecci Filho was already a rising star in his native Brazil. Propelled forwards by cheery hit single "Que Maravilha" - a samba-soaked collaboration with fellow South American star Jorge Ben - the eponymous LP made "Toquinho" a massive star in his home country. As this reissue proves, the album has aged brilliantly. It features a fine mix of laidback instrumentals, shuffling samba songs (see the ace "Zana"), folksy excursions and cuts that later provided samples for some of dance music's best-loved tracks (most notably "Carolina Carol Bela", which was sampled by DJ Marky on his breakthrough hit "LK"). The kind of album that everyone should have in their record collection.'

'A wonderful early album from Brazilian guitarist/singer Toquinho – done before his famous collaborations with Vincius De Moraes, and with a very different groove. The record features guest appearances by Jorge Ben on two tracks – and much of the record seems to have Toquinho absorbing a bit of Ben's spirit – using lively samba rhythms on some of the best tracks, which creates a groove that's really unexpected – and which makes the album a real standout in his catalog. Toquinho's guitar work is wonderful in the setting – maybe even more compelling in its deftness, and no less full of feeling – and titles include a killer reading of "Que Maravilha", done with Jorge Ben, who also guests on "Carolina Carol Bela" – and other titles include a version of "Bachianinha No 1" with Paulinho Nogueira; a great cover of Ben's "Zana".' -dustygroove

1. Na Água Negra Da Lagoa 3:38
2. La Barca 3:04
3. Tocando Prá Silvinha 1:53
4. Chuva Na Praia De Juquí 2:45
5. Que Maravilha 2:39
6. Zana 3:27
7. Bachianinha 2:42
8. De Ontem Prá Hoje 1:50
9. Dobrando A Esquina 2:19
10. Carolina Carol Bela 3:08
11. Evocação À Jacob 2:35


Original, rare and in-demand 1983 International Soleil Band LP on West African Music out of France. Record in ''mint'' condition.

The International Soleil Band was a bunch of Malian and Guinean musicians who recorded a unique album in 1983 on the French based label “WAM“. Excellent album similar to the Super Rail Band de Bamako, progressive afro fusion - Great guitar playing by Sarati Diabate "Dit Vieux".

A Little Bit of Sunshine

Mali has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. The internal conflict is tearing the country apart, with approximately half a million people displaced according to the latest United Nations estimates. With elections set for a couple of months times hopefully relative stability will be restored or at least an end to fighting and reported human rights abuses, but things do not look great.

In these troubled times it is important to focus on what makes Mali great; namely the music, which is some of the best in the world. Today’s selection is a slice of Malian disco from the early 1980’s by the International Soleil Band. The great guitarist Sarati Diabaté “dit Vieux” is credited as being the band leader and the organ is played by Ivory Coast musician Houon Pierre, who also produced and was responsible for the sound engineering on several Badmos releases.

today’s track Ta Lassa, is spiritual, and I urge you all to get to your knees if you can stop dancing! Diabaté’s beautiful guitar is just incredible and with the deep vocals the song explodes, not letting go, sending waves of shivers down the spine.

Help me God!

by DJ Obruni

A1 N' Nah Fanta 8:23
A2 Landaya 7:04
B1 Taa Lassa 7:01
B2 Mô Ti Kani Malo 6:37


''Most beautiful sound I have ever heard on the internet.'' -Jeannie Gichigi

''great stuff. One of the best in the mbira world today.'' -mbiraside

Newton Cheza Chozengwa, commonly addressed by his totem name “Matemai” (elephant), is a respected master musician, singer and instrument maker from Zimbabwe. A self-taught musician, he has developed his own musical style with his complex mbira arrangements and striking voice that can pierce hearts and the heavens.

Matemai was born 1952 in Mhondoro reserve, central Zimbabwe, and later moved to Dande, in the northeast to the region of the Korekore. At a young age, he was so taken with mbira music that he would constantly hear it, even when no one was playing nearby. It was also difficult for him to concentrate on his studies because he also had visions of mbira appear to him in his waking life.

Matemai has performed music professionally for over 25 years, and has released numerous recordings (under the name Newton Gwara and with his group Nheravauya) with varied arrangements from electric fusion to traditional mbira. He is adept at playing mbira as well as marimba and electric guitar. After his experience in the music industry in Zimbabwe, Matemai finally decided to refocus his music on the pure sound of the mbira. Matemai Mbira Group’s last CD “Harinamunda” was released in 2008, also with his first tour in the USA.

Today Matemai is a respected elder gwenyambira (mbira player), and is in demand to perform at mapira (spirit possession ceremonies) and is also called upon to play for powerful spirits like Ambuya Nehanda. Aside from performing music, Matemai is also an accomplished instrument maker, and has hand constructed mbiras, marimbas, electric guitars, among other things. Today his mbiras are sought out internationally by the global mbira community.

Mbira music is an ancient music played by certain groups of Shona people who live in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. At its origin, mbira’s main function is to communicate with the spirit world, its sound opens up the space for trance-possession. During ceremonies, people are able to get advice and wisdom from their ancestors through spirit mediums. Today in Zimbabwe the mbira is still actively used in traditional ceremonies, as well as for general entertainment at concerts, or in government and other social community events.

The trio of mbiras played on this album, Dinhidza, Mhiti, & Nhungudzo, have the same names and roles as the drums played in Zimbabwe (bass, rhythm, lead). These tunings have existed and were played many years ago, and are still continued to be played today.

'Since returning from Egypt, I’ve been torn between listening to all the great music we collected there, and catching up with all the awesome CDs that piled up on my doorstep over the course of a busy summer. One title that leapt out of the non-Egypt stack, is Shanda Ugarike by Matemai Mbira Group from Zimbabwe. I own a shelf full of recordings of the venerable Shona hand piano (for some, “thumb piano”), and I love most of them. But this titles stands out for its combination of virtuosity and musical depth with splendid production, clear and ringing in the high register and booming strong in the bass. To hear this is to fall in love with mbira all over again.

Newton Cheza Chozengwa, “Matemai,” leads this four-piece ensemble, and plays powerful “bass mbira,” and indeed, the force and richness of the low end is a distinct mark of this recording. By contrast, Matemai’s voice is high, almost keening, at moments, just on the edge of overtone singing. The rest of the group also sings, adding rich, harmonized responses to Matemai’s robust leads. Matemai was born in Mhondoro, but grew up in the north, in Dande, home of the Korekore Shona and also a major center of revolutionary activity during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle in the 1960s and 70s.

If the words Dande and Korekore are ringing bells, it may be because Zimbabwe’s iconic popular singer and champion of mbira music, Thomas Mapfumo, traces his paternal lineage to the Korekore of Dande. The link is more than a curiosity; you hear it in the music. Indeed among the 6 long tracks on  Shanda Ugarike are some that bear more than a passing resemblance to classic Mapfumo recordings, “Pidigori,” “Zvichapera,” and others. The songs go by different name here, and have different lyrics, melodies and vocal arrangements–but the ties are unmistakable. Such is the nature of Shona mbira music, where pieces evolve, get readapted with new words, names, and ideas, while still preserving the essence of a particular sub-family of traditional songs. All this can get quite confusing–even to Zimbabweans!–but what matters here is that Korekore mbira music has a reflective, brooding quality that colors Mapfumo’s most trenchant mbira anthems. And that same air of gravity also infuses Matemai’s ecstatic trance grooves.

As it happens, Melissa Cara Rigoli, who works with Matemai, ran into Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited at a show in Santa Cruz. She gave Thomas a copy of this CD. We await his review… She also wrote that, “After the concert, the whole Mapfumo band came to a party where my friend was cooking sauces and stews all day. Julia Chigamba [of the Chigamba mbira dynasty] came down from Oakland with friends and her kids, which created a nice Zimbabwean ambiance. The sadza was served around 2AM, then we played some, Tom Melkonian and I with Chaka [Mhembere of the Blacks Unlimited] on mbiras. Thomas was in a good mood and singing along with Lancelot [his brother] and Gilbert [guitarist for the Blacks Unlmited]…. We continued to play mbira into the wee hours.” Sounds sweet!' -By Banning Eyre on Afropop World

1. Nhiriri (Wild Cat) 7:11
2. Shanda Ugarike (Work Hard) 7:31
3. Mbirimo (Rich Man) 7:10
4. Shumba Inorura (Dangerous Lions) 8:14
5. Gomo RaMutare (Mutare Mountain) 6:43
6. Chapungu Nditakure (Eagle Carry Me) 13:24


Sol Hoopii is widely recognized as the greatest Hawaiian steel guitarist of any era. In 1925 he recorded his first 78s for the Hollywood Record Company. These highly influential performances forever changed the face of Hawaiian steel guitar and they are all reissued here together with additional tracks by other Hawaiian artists who recorded for the Hollywood label, namely Coppock's Hawaiians, Charles Fredericks and Charlie Diamond. All 26 tracks are digitally remastered by Ted Kendall and are previously unissued on CD.

Incredible archival release - Hawaiian history comes alive!

This is a wonderful collection which gathers the oldest recordings of Sol Hoopii, one of the legendary pioneers of Hawaiian steel guitar. These tracks are taken from of rare 78s recorded in 1925 for the microscopic Los Angeles-based indie, Hollywood Records. They are among the rarest West Coast 78s, and highly sought-after by vintage vinyl uber-collectors. More importantly, the music is stunning: these recordings capture Hoopii early in his career and show how advanced his technique and style were, and how seamlessly he fused Hawaiian elements with the jazz and pop of the day. The sound quality is excellent -- Grass Skirt Records, which also has put out a wonderful collection of Sam Ku West, and did a stellar job remastering the music. Also included are several other rare Hawaiian 78s, also released by Hollywood, featuring Dave Mahuka & The Coppock's Hawaiian Quartet, Charles Frederick's Honolulu Syncopators, and guitarist Charles Diamond, whose instrumental "Sleep" is one of the most alluring steel guitar tunes I've ever heard. These records are all extremely rare, and one track, Charles Frederick's "Hello, Aloha, How Are You?", is actually taken from a 78-RPM test acetate... the only known copy. Pick this collection up while you can... you'll be glad you did! (DJ Joe Sixpack - Slipcue music reviews)

In 2007 the U.K.'s Grass Skirt label (and its U.S. counterpart Beer Records) accomplished a feat of historic proportions by reissuing all of Hawaiian guitarist Sol Hoopii's pre-Columbia recordings, (including three alternate takes) which were waxed in Hollywood, CA in 1925. These rare relics originally appeared on the Sunset, Silver Screen and Hollywood labels, under the headings of "the Waikiki Hawaiian Trio," "the Hollywood Trio," "the Hawaiian Syncopaters," and Sol Hoopii & His Novelty Quartette. The few participants to have been positively or hypothetically identified are guitarist Lani McIntire and ukulele handler Glenwood Leslie. The individuals who operated the banjo, clarinet, and alto saxophone remain anonymous. This marks the first time that these precious recordings have found their way to the public at large via the CD format. There exists here a delicate balance between stylish instrumentals and tidy vocals, between traditional Hawaiian material and hot Tin Pan Alley pop tunes like "My Best Girl," "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby." Textures range from the zippy "Hilo March" to the gently reflective "All Alone," and from a stimulating take on James P. Johnson's "Charleston" to an unusually calm treatment of George Gershwin's "Oh Lady Be Good." "Come On Nancy" bears an uncanny resemblance to "Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula," a Hawaiian novelty tune published in 1916 that later became a mainstay in the standard Dixieland repertoire. This magnificent compilation also includes performances by everyone else who is known to have made Hawaiian-styled recordings for Hollywood and Sunset records. Those artists are: Coppock's Hawaiians (tracks 20-21), Charles Frederick's Hawaiians (tracks 22-24) and Charles Diamond (tracks 25 and 26). Diamond's rendition of the "Sleep" waltz and especially his dazzling adaptation of John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" clearly prefigure what finger style guitarist Guy Van Duser would accomplish as a Rounder recording artist during the '70s. -AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf

1. Sol Hoopii - Come On Nancy 2:52
2. Sol Hoopii - The Four Islands 2:40
3. Sol Hoopii - All Alone 3:00
4. Sol Hoopii - My Best Girl 2:47
5. Sol Hoopii - When My Sugar Walks Down The Street 2:43
6. Sol Hoopii - Oh Lady Be Good 3:04
7. Sol Hoopii - Hilo March 2:47
8. Sol Hoopii - Na Lei O Hawaii 3:00
9. Sol Hoopii - Moonlight And Roses 2:34
10. Sol Hoopii - Yearning 3:10
11. Sol Hoopii - Lady Of The Nile 3:05
12. Sol Hoopii - King's Serenade 2:41
13. Sol Hoopii - Charleston 2:29
14. Sol Hoopii - Yes Sir - That's My Baby 2:40
15. Sol Hoopii - Cecilia 3:33
16. Sol Hoopii - You Told Me To Go 3:28
17. Sol Hoopii - Na Lei O Hawaii (Alt. Take) 2:49
18. Sol Hoopii - Cecilia (Alt. Take) 3:28
19. Sol Hoopii - You Told Me To Go (Alt. Take) 3:24
20. Coppock's Hawaiians - Tie Me To Your Apron Strings Again 3:00
21. Coppock's Hawaiians - The Prisoner's Song 2:45
22. Charles Frederick's Hawaiians - Whose Who Are You 3:01
23. Charles Frederick's Hawaiians - Blinky Moon Bay 2:40
24. Charles Frederick's Hawaiians - Hello Aloha How Are You? 3:15
25. Charles Diamond - Sleep 2:36
26. Charles Diamond - Stars And Stripes 2:40

The artists appeared on the original shellac recordings under different names. Sol Hoopii: "Waikiki Hawaiian Trio", "Sol Hoopii and His Hawaiian Trio", "Hawaiian Syncopators", "Hollywood Trio". -- Coppock's Hawaiians: "Coppock's Hawaiian Quartet". -- Charles Frederick's Hawaiians: "Charles Frederick's Honolulu Syncopators" and "Hawaiian Wayfarers" - Information was taken from the booklet of the CD.


A dazzling, 10-star collection of classic Hawaiian steel guitar music

Jim and Bob were perhaps the greatest of the pre-WW2 Hawaiian bands with Bob recognized as among the very best steel guitar players of the era and to some ears the greatest ever. All 12 of the duo's original recordings, some never reissued until now, are collected here for the first time. George Ku's Paradise Islanders, with steel guitar player Charlie Opunui, were also among the leading bands of the time. Their complete output of 12 sides is also included. Martin Wheatley added expertise on pitch correction of the original 78s and the tunings employed by Bob Pauole and Charles Opunui. Robert Armstrong and Patty Graves are responsible for the beautiful cover design, and Anne Barcat, did an outstanding job with designing the booklet. Ted Kendall was the remastering expert!

Top Notch Instrumentals, Ku and Islanders More Genuine

If you like Hawaiian music, this is some fun stuff, quality recordings from 1933. Jim and Bob have a more Americanized style, with the typical perfectly enunciated lyrics in English, more akin to American recordings of the period - kind of cutesy. Still, the music itself is beautifully performed, and the guitar work is impressive and inventive. Jim and Bob perform the first 12 selections, and George Ku and his Islanders perform 12 more.

Personally, I prefer Ku and the Islanders, this alone worth the cost of the cd. All of the vocals on the second half of the album are in Hawaiian, dispensing with the cutesy vocal style so common in American recordings of the time. I find that the emotional inflections and the overall flow of the music is so much more genuine and engaging in the music sung in Hawaiian from this period, and these 12 tracks are just wonderful. The Hawaiian culture was steeped in a love of music traditionally, as well as a love for singing, both solo and in elaborate choral arrangements. The introduction of the guitar early in the 20th century, was embraced with great zeal, with many innovations, styles, and secret family tunings emerging, as well as solo phenoms such as Sol Hoopii, Bennie Nawahi, and Bob Pauole.

Among the songs recorded here by Bob and Jim, are some very classic numbers such as "The Hula Blues", and the brilliant use of guitar harmonics on "Chimes" and "Taps". But the real gem is Ku and the Islanders.

Another album in the same vein as the Islanders is the Sol Hoopii disc "King of the Hawaiian Guitar", 20 outstanding recordings from 1927 to 1936. But the "Genial Hawaiians" is fun listening, and outstanding performances all 'round. It's a nice variation to fill out your audio collection with something beautifully done, yet very light-hearted in spirit. -Writeagain

24 tracks, 69 mins, highly recommended
Another fine selection of vintage Hawaiian music from the good folks at Grass Skirt featuring two groups based on the mainland. Jim (Holstein) and Bob (Pauole) aka The Genial Hawaiians were based out of Chicago and the 12 tracks here recorded in 1933 is their entire recorded output. Most of their repertoire was American songs and tunes - Jim sang and played rhythm guitar and Bob played some wonderful steel guitar. Their instrumental tunes include a truly wonderful version of St Louis Blues plus very fine versions of Home On The Range (here called The Song Of The Range/ Taps and others including a version version of Sweet Georgia Brown with some hot ukulele. The vocal tracks are less interesting featuring rather bland dance band style vocals but there's more than enough great steel guitar work to keep Hawaiian guitar fans happy. George Ku and his Paradise Islanders were a three piece group featuring the superb steel guitar of Charles Opunui with Ku on rhythm guitar and Spencer Kulaniakea on ukulele, tiple and guitar with all three contributing vocals. Their material was a mix of Hawaiian and American tunes and songs and while not quite as exciting as Jim and Bob their singing and playing are superb. The sound quality is stunning. (FS) 


In December 1933 Jim and Bob entered the recording studios for the one and only time. This single session produced 12 recordings of outstanding brilliance.

The duo become popular on Chicago radio station WENR, which they joined in 1928, and  it was maybe surprising that it took a record label until 1933 before recording them. Even more puzzling is why there weren't any further sessions.

Several of their Victor sides are acknowledged as masterpieces of the pre WW 2 Hawaiian genre, such as The Song of the Range, By the Waters of Minnetonka and their versions of two standards of the day St Louis Blues and Hula Blues.

1. Jim & Bob - St. Louis Blues 2:44
2. Jim & Bob - (Coffee In The Morning) Kisses In The Night 2:53
3. Jim & Bob - Chimes 2:47
4. Jim & Bob - Rome Wasn't Built In A Day 2:39
5. Jim & Bob - Taps (Good Night) 2:29
6. Jim & Bob - Sweet Georgia Brown 2:03
7. Jim & Bob - By The Waters Of Minnetonka 2:35
8. Jim & Bob - Aloma 2:47
9. Jim & Bob - The Hula Blues 2:36
10. Jim & Bob - Calling Aloha To Me 2:48
11. Jim & Bob - There's A Little Gray Mother Dreaming 3:00
12. Jim & Bob - The Song Of The Range 2:55
13. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - Then Someone's In Love 3:03
14. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - The Flowers Of Hawaii (Na Pua O Hawaii) 3:04
15. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - The Melody Of My Heart 3:07
16. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - My Wreath (Kuu Lei) 3:08
17. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - Beautiful Ohio 3:03
18. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - The Prince (Na Alii) 3:14
19. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - The Missouri Waltz 3:21
20. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - The Voice In The Old Village Choir 3:09
21. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - Auana (The Wanderer) 3:09
22. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - Ke-Kali Nei Au (Waiting For Thee) 3:10
23. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - Eleu Mikimiki (Step Lively) 2:38
24. George Ku And His Paradise Islanders - Leilehua 2:55

Guitar, Vocals – George Ku (tracks: 13 to 24), Jim Holstein (tracks: 1 to 12)
Steel Guitar, Ukulele, Vocals – Bob Pauole (tracks: 1 to 12)
Steel Guitar, Vocals – Charles Opunui (tracks: 13 to 24)
Ukulele, Tiple, Guitar, Vocals – Spence Kulaniakea (tracks: 13 to 24)

Originally recorded in 1932 and 1933.


A collection of classic recordings from the 1920s and 30s featuring many all-time great performances of early American traditional music. These two volumes of love songs provide as well a fascinating overview of early American traditional musical styles from ancient ballads to lyrical blues.

The folks at Yazoo have outdone themselves in two genres with this collection of love songs. This is a mixed blues and country release, except that it goes back to a point in the 1920s and 1930s when blues and country weren't always easy to distinguish from each other, so they fit together just fine. Solo bluesmen and white banjo pickers and fiddlers alternate -- St. Louis-based bluesman Clifford Gibson deftly picks "Old Time Rider," followed by a rollicking duet of white Virginia fiddler B.F. Grayson and guitarist Henry Whitter whooping it up on "Handsome Molly," and a journey with a westward tilt, for Ephraim Woody and the Henpecked Husbands doing "Last Gold Dollar," and then a coarser, rougher solo blues lament ("Built Right on the Ground") from Teddy Darby. Among the major luminaries featured are Canadian cowboy singer Wilf Carter (aka Montana Slim) doing "You Are My Sunshine" and Lonnie Johnson, who turns up twice, playing piano (while his Jelly Roll Anderson plays slide) behind Katherine Baker, the only woman privileged to appear here, whose mournful "My Man Left Me" leaves one asking for more, and then back on guitar with his brother James for the brooding, lusty "Baby Won't You Please Come Home." For guitar enthusiasts, the revelation of this album may be the work of Louis Lasky, an almost primordial Chicago bluesman, whose percussive guitar style and topical references make him unique for his era. The sound, except for Dock Boggs' "Lost Love," is generally very good, and the notes are nicely detailed. -AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder

1. Clifford Gibson - Old Time Rider 2:57
2. Grayson and Whitter - Handsome Molly 2:43
3. Ephraim Woodie & The Henpecked Husbands - Last Gold Dollar 2:58
4. Blind Teddy Darby - Built Right on the Ground 2:49
5. Roy Harvey & North Carolina Ramblers - George Collins 2:50
6. Lewis McDaniel & Walter Smith - It's Hard to Leave You Sweet Love 3:11
7. Will Batts - Cheatin' Women 3:13
8. The Red Fox Chasers - Little Sweethart Pal of Mine 3:04
9. Clayton McMichen - Grave in the Pines 3:21
10. Memphis Jug Band - Tired of You Driving Me 2:43
11. Murphy Brothers Harp Band - Little Bunch of Roses 3:07
12. Alfred & Orville Reed - You'll Miss Me 2:58
13. Ruth Day - Experience Blues 3:13
14. Frank Jenkins & His Pilot Moutaineers - Once I Loved a Railroad Flagman 3:08
15. Blue Ridge Mountain Singers - I'll Remember You Love in My Prayers 2:53
16. Warren Capplinger's Cumberland Mountain Entertainers - Saro 2:45
17. Louis Lasky - Teasin Brown Blues 2:48
18. Dock Boggs - Lost Love Blues 3:04
19. Wade Mainer - Look on and Cry 2:05
20. Katherine Baker - My Man Left Me 2:46
21. Karl and Harty - Tombigbee River Farewell 3:00
22. Lonnie Johnson - Baby Will You Please Come Home 2:54
23. Wilf Carter - You Are My Sunshine 3:26


''For fiddlers, Kentucky fiddle tunes have been imbued with a special mystery and aura redolent of their archaic lineage. Kentucky tunes possess a bittersweet modal flavor and twisty contour that reflects the hills and hollers that nurtured this music.''

For years fiddlers and folklorists have prized the old-time fiddle tunes from Kentucky. Many of the most outstanding country music artists hail from the state, including Bill Monroe, widely regarded as the founder of bluegrass music. Even Aaron Copland lifted, note-for-note, a Kentucky fiddler's performance of "Bonaparte's Retreat" for the "Hoedown" section of his ballet Rodeo. That tune and nearly 200 others are transcribed here, most for the first time. They are taken from recordings of Kentucky fiddlers, many of whom were born before 1900, practitioners of a style of playing now extremely rare. Jeff Todd Titon places the tunes in their historical context, provides biographical sketches of the performers, and offers suggestions for contemporary fiddlers who want to use the book for performance. A compact disc of recordings is also included.

About the Author
Jeff Todd Titon, professor of music and director of the Ph.D. program in ethnomusicology at Brown University, is the author of numerous books on American music, including Early Downhome Blues.

"Journal of Folklore Research"―The CD on its own would be one of the best old-time records of the year. The boo

1. Clyde Davenport - Big Sweet Taters in Sandy Land (1990) 1:57
2. William H. Stepp - Pretty Little Widow (1937) 1:14
3. Clyde Davenport - Five Miles from Town (1990) 2:40
4. John Salyer - Billy in the Lowground  (1941) 3:17
5. Luther Strong - Black-Eyed Susie (1937) 1:40
6. Clyde Davenport - Dandy Jim (1990) 2:21
7. William H. Stepp - Piney Ridge (1937) 1:25
8. John M. Salyer - Fire in the Mountain (1941) 3:16
9. Clyde Davenport - Sugar in the Gourd (1990) 2:08
10. John M. Salyer - Mike in the Wilderness (1941) 3:02
11. William H. Stepp - Dolly (1937) 1:52
12. John M. Salyer - The Rose in the Mountain (1941) 1:56
13. Clyde Davenport - Flatwoods (1990) 1:56
14. Isham Monday - Nancy Dawson (1959) 1:11
15. William H. Stepp - Rebels Raid (1937) 1:13
16. Isham Monday - Fire On the Mountain (1959) 1:12
17. John Masters - Lost Partridge (1970) 0:43
18. Hiram Stamper - Chinquapin Hunting (1977) 2:28
19. Isham Monday - Green Monday (1959) 1:24
20. Hiram Stamper - Brushy Fork at John's Creek (1977) 2:23
21. Estill Bingham - Cookhouse Joe (1977) 1:25
22. Isham Monday - The New Five Cents (1959) 2:14
23. Estill Bingham - The Cotton Bonnett (1986) 1:19
24. Alva Green - Indian Squaw (1973) 0:57
25. Estill Bingham - Rabbit (1986) 1:13
26. Isham Monday - Sally Goodin (1959) 0:53

North Carolina

Great collection both archival and musically

It's a really fascinating collection of recordings of individuals and a few small groups. The recordings are intimate and elementary and I found them touching in their simplicity and authenticity. It's a very specific era of sounds that I listened to several times, enjoying both the music and the transporting feeling of that era. I liked it so much I bought a copy for my brother. You can sample it on Spotify. If you like this genre of music you might really like this album. -M

Various local musicians and singers from Union County, North Carolina, perform 20 folk melodies that have been handed down from generation to generation. Recorded by Karen G. Helms and Otto Henry, the collection consists of both vocal and instrumental performances. Perhaps the best known track is the children’s folk song “Froggie Went-A-Courtin,” performed a capella by Otis High and Flarrie Griffin. This 1979 release identifies the performers for each track; no other recording information is available. -Folkways

Vol. 1:
1. Roy Pope & The Carolina Homeboys - Cacklin' Hen 1:38
2. Otis High & Flarrie Griffin - Froggie Went-A-Courtin' 2:36
3. Otis High - Captain Karo 0:51
4. Bascom Traywick - Hook and Line 1:32
5. John A. Bivens - Jack and Jo 2:19
6. Otis High - Young Ladies Take Warning 1:24
7. Seena Helms - Lady Bride and Three Babes 2:02
8. Horace Helms - Katy Kline 1:50
9. John A. Bivens - Grandma's Advice 1:09
10. Roy Pope & The Carolina Homeboys - Fire On the Hillside 2:00
11. Willie Hamilton - It Rained Five Days 2:07
12. Willie Hamilton - Can't Hit Lucky 1:51
13. Willie Hamilton - John Henry 1:39
14. Roy Pope - Leather Britches 1:01
15. Henry Griffin - Holler Jimmy Riley Ho 0:51
16. Henry Griffin - Patsy Beasley 2:38
17. Bascom Traywick - In the Resurrection Morning 2:17
18. Seena Helms - Christian Pilgrim 1:45
19. Seena Helms - Pioneer Courtship 1:29
20. Horace & Karen Helms - Soldier's Joy 3:00

The second of two recordings in the Hand Me Down Music series, this collection of traditional folk music is performed by local North Carolina musicians and singers who learned the songs and lyrics from previous generations. The collection includes both secular and religious songs—and one song, “Amazing Grace,” Sung both ways. The first version is performed by Horace Helms and Shady Grove Partners as a brief bluegrass rendition, and the second by the CJ Evans Gospel Choir from the Nice Grove Baptist Church as a hymn. -Folkways

Vol. 2:
1. Donald Crowder - Hambone 2:20
2. Willie Hamilton - Little Red Rooster 2:37
3. Willie Hamilton - Black Cat Bone 2:51
4. Seena Helms - Barbara Allen 3:24
5. Seena Helms - Ground Hog 0:45
6. Horace Helms & The Shady Grove Partners - Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot? 1:26
7. Henry Griffin - George Collins 1:59
8. Bascom Traywick & George Griffin - Dancing Girl 1:42
9. Taylor Sisters - Rock-A-My Soul 1:20
10. Bishop Bowen & the Combined Gospel Choirs - I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say 4:54
11. Otis High - Old Gray Beard a-Flappin' 0:56
12. Roy Pope & The Carolina Homeboys - Watermelon On the Vine 2:49
13. Seena Helms - Hard Times 1:25
14. Elizabeth Bivens - Roll, Jordan, Roll 2:37
15. Elizabeth Bivens - Somebody's Gone (That Was Here Last Year) 1:21
16. Elizabeth Bivens - Go Tell It On the Mountain 1:44
17. Taylor Sisters - Climbing Up the Mountain 1:15
18. Taylor Sisters - Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 2:37
19. Roy Pope & The Carolina Homeboys - City On a Hill 3:05
20. Horace Helms & The Shady Grove Partners - Amazing Grace 1:17
21. C.J. Evans Gospel Choir - Amazing Grace 4:05

Incl. PDF


CD collection of ballads, blues and parlor songs from the 1920s and 1930s. The music was remastered from the original 78 rpm recordings.

Despite its subtitle -- Early American Rural Love Songs -- Yazoo's The Rose Grew Round the Briar features at least as many falsehearted lovers and broken relationships as requited love affairs and happy romance. Indeed, the emotional power of so many of these recordings stems from entwined themes of love and death, illustrated by the ballad metaphor of the rose and the briar. The selections by Clarence Ashley and Dock Boggs are as stark depictions of forsaken, shaken, and demented lovers as the best pieces in those men's repertoires. Especially haunting are the eerie harmonies of the lesser-known Shortbuckle Roark & Family on "I Truly Understand That You Love Another Man"; subsequent covers of this song by the New Lost City Ramblers or Jerry Garcia & David Grisman have never been able to recapture the tone of the original. Another often-imitated recording included here is Grayson & Whitter's "Little Maggie With a Dram Glass in Her Hand," later translated into a bluegrass standard by the Stanley Brothers. While this collection delves deeply and unflinchingly into the darkest and lonesomest hollers of human relationships, love here is not exclusively somber or violent; it figures also, with equal emotion, into a smaller handful of breakdown pieces, and emerges with a warm beauty in Bascom Lamar Lunsford's "Lula Walls." Though white "country" performers dominate the compilation, there are a handful of blues performances by Blind Willie McTell, Cannon's Jug Stompers, Leroy Carr, and others, which nicely widen the scope and power of the project. In addition to showcasing some of the great talents of the 1920s and '30s, this collection masterfully presents love in the tradition that 19th century Southern ballads and early-20th century blues characteristically cast it: as harsh, terrifying, deadly, beautiful, and profoundly real. The Rose Grew Round the Briar is consequently one of Yazoo's most effective collections and belongs in almost any collection. -AllMusic Review by Burgin Mathews

1. Lewis McDaniel & Walter Smith - I Went to See My Sweetheart 2:28
2. Clarence Ashley - Dark Holler Blues 2:58
3. Robert Wilkins - I Do Blues 3:39
4. Eck Dunford & Hattie Stoneman - What Will I Do for My Money's All Gone 3:21
5. Alfred & Orville Reed - The Old Fashioned Cottage 3:07
6. George Torey - Lonesome Man Blues 2:47
7. Grayson and Whitter - Little Maggie With a Dram Glass in Her Hand 3:27
8. Dock Boggs - False Hearted Lover Blues 3:22
9. Clifford Gibson - Brooklyn Blues 2:57
10. Red Fox Chasers - Stolen Love 2:44
11. Kentucky Thorobreds - Shady Grove 2:34
12. King Solomon Hill - Down on My Bended Knee 2:58
13. Shortbuckle Roark & Family - I Truly Understand That You Love Another Man 2:38
14. Hendley-Whitter-Small - A Pretty Gal's Love 2:44
15. Blind Willie McTell - Drive Away Blues 3:21
16. Buell Kazee - A Short Life of Trouble 2:53
17. Cannon's Jug Stompers - Going to Germany 2:34
18. Morris Family - Dark Eyes 2:55
19. Bascom Lamar Lunsford - Lulu Wall 3:03
20. Lottie Kimbrough - Lost Lover Blues 3:08
21. Leroy Carr - Don't Say Goodbye 2:54
22. Almoth Hodges - The Hobo From the T&P Line - Part 2 3:01
23. Bradley Kincaid - Barbara Allen 3:08


Pioneer Cajun Performer

'A Cajun fiddle master, Leo Soileau was one of the giant figures in Cajun music history. His early recordings from the late 20s are both powerful and emotive, and rank among the all-time classics of cajun music. Great contributions are also made on this album by legendary Cajun musicians and singers Mayeus La Fleur and Moise Robin. This CD is a major contribution to the history of early Cajun music and is jam packed with brilliant musicianship.'

'Wonderful fiddle playing regardless of his accompaniment, Soileau took many unique rhythmic liberties in his playing. His aesthetic often incorporates some very bluesy inflections and piercing melodic lines. He plays with three different accompanists throughout the set, and it's interesting to hear how Soileau rises to the challenge of playing with very different musicians and singers. Soileau's later works would begin to incorporate the western swing aesthetic incorporated and popularized in Cajun music of the 1940's and onwards, and so while this isn't Soileau's complete recorded body of work, it is his earliest and arguably most raw and "authentic" set of recordings, and a great addition to any traditional Cajun music collection.' -asoundpainter

'The late twenties was a pivotal time for Cajun music recordings. In 1928, Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux waxed the first Cajun record with 'Allons a Lafayette.' Shortly thereafter, Amédé Ardoin, the Breaux Brothers, Douglas Bellard, Angelas LeJeune, Dennis McGee and others joined the ranks as 'recording stars.' In 1929, so did fiddler Leo Soileau, who is considered one of Cajun music's great innovators. This 19 track album details the three early phases of Soileau's recording career which begins with accordionist Mayeus LeFleur. On the song "Mama, Where You At," LeFleur weepingly pleads for his mother's return, a reality in that he intended to use the $100 session money to find her. Unfortunately, that never happened as nine days later, LaFleur was shot in a barroom quarrel. There's also two waltzes, the bluesy "La Valse Criminelle" which is now a standard and "Grand Basile," better known as "Grand Mamou." After LeFleur's death, Soileau hooked up with Moise Robin, a younger accordionist but stylistically very similar. Most of Soileau's recorded output was done with Robin, who was known for his passionate, yet complicated, unpredictable playing. As vocalists, the two are similar, with LeFleur having an edgier tension about his singing. Included here is "Easy Rider Blues," and the classics "La Valse Pènitentiaire" and the beautiful "Ma Chère 'Tite Fille." Two other tracks are double fiddle pieces with cousin Alius Soileau. In the thirties, as the accordion dropped out of favor, Soileau became an innovator of the string band craze, which is what's significant about this disc. It's an intriguing examination of Soileau's early career that reveals his ingenuity and ability to record in a spectrum of styles.' -Dan Willging

'This wonderfully remastered Yazoo CD contains the early recordings of Leo Soileau, one of the most important pioneer Cajun recording artists. The material is from his earliest sessions (he only narrowly missed making the first Cajun records)and concentrates on fiddle duets and fiddle-accordion pieces. Of special importance are the forward looking duets with Mayeus Lafleur (who was killed shortly after their recording session), which anticipate the dancehall sound of the post WW2 era. Soileau and Lafleur are gloriously insync here. The tension filled duets with accordionist Moise Robin show that Soileau is already pulling away from accordion based music, though these are some of the bluesiest Cajun records ever cut. The fiddle duets harken back to the house dances of Soileau's youth. The CD does not present a complete picture of Soileau as an artist. After 1929 he began forming string bands that borrowed heavily from country and western swing, forging a new sound that reflected Cajuns' interaction with the modern world. Those string band recordings need fully reissue because they were heavily influential along the Gulf Coast and are really how Soileau is remembered in the dancehalls of Louisiana. That said, this is a wonderful CD that fully explores the early years of a great artist.' -Kevin Fontenot

1. Basile 2:53
2. La Valse De Josephine 3:14
3. Mama, Where You At? 3:00
4. Easy Rider Blues 2:58
5. Grosse Mama 3:10
6. La Valse À Moreau 2:47
7. Demain C'est Pas Dimanche 2:53
8. C'est Pas La Peine Tu Pleures 2:59
9. The Criminal Waltz 2:49
10. Je T'ai Rencontre Dans Le Brouillard 2:58
11. Your Father Put Me Out 2:54
12. Ma Mauvaise Fille 3:04
13. La Valse De Pacanière 2:45
14. Le Blues De Nèg' Français 2:44
15. Allons, Tous Boire Un Coup 3:00
16. Ma Chère 'Tite Fille 3:10
17. La Valse Pènitentiaire 3:09
18. Sur Le Chemin Chez Moi 3:00
19. Je Veux Marier 3:02