This is German label
Trikont's new series of imaginative and nicely packaged re-issues of out-of-copyright
US 78s from the first half of the last century. What they have in common
is good remastering, digipaks with extensive notes in German and English
(the latter excellent by Keith Chandler, the former by Werner Pieper would
need a German reader to judge but look just as informatively dense), and
around two dozen tracks apiece.
The selections are a good balance of the well-known (but possibly not
with an existing place in your home) and the wonderfully obscure. The
theming is occasionally a little odd - some tracks clutch at subject staws,
others simply seem to have simply jumped disc - but nobody's complaining.
The fRoots listening panel came down heavily in favour of drugs, sex and
rock'n'roll in that order - and in fact the numbering of the series seems
to pretty much follow our placings as to desirability.
To give you a taster, #1 has Lord Buckley's pal Harry The Hipster enquiring
Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs Murphy's Ovaltine?, Blue Lu Barker's Don't
Make Me High and Dick Justice's Cocaine (but wilfully misinterprets the
title of Bukka White's Fixin' To Die unless I missed something all these
years!); #2 includes The Hoosier Hot Shots' I Like Bananas Because They
Have No Bones, Lonzo & Oscar's I'm My Own Granpa and the utterly bizarre
Viennese Seven Singing Sisters' William Tell Overture; #3 kicks off with
Alberta Hunter's You Can't Tell The Difference After Dark and goes via
The Light Crust Doughboys' Pussy, Pussy, Pussy to Lucille Bogan's rightly
infamous Shave 'Em Dry; #4 has as diverse blues as you can get, from Blind
Willie Johnson via Mezz Mezzrow to the Ink Spots with Ella Fitzgerald;
#5 is the glorious sound of gospel varieties - Golden Gate Quartet, Soul
Stirrers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe - that'll thrill you even if your religion
only runs as far as Vols 1 & 3. And then there's #6 which, although it
includes favourites like the Golden Gate Quartet's Stalin' Wasn't Stallin',
the Southern Sons Quartet's Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition and
some heartfelt tracks by Leadbelly and the extraordinary Rev. J.M. Gates,
is otherwise far too full of over-sincere ham-acted jingoist kack: useful
if you need inducement to vomit but for little else apart from a view
on true historical awfulness.
Vols 1 & 2 are definitely indispensable and among the better and more
entertaining re-issues of the year. Vols 3, 4 & 5 are pretty desirable
too. You can probably skip Vol. 6 unless you're a set work perfectionist,
a masochist or George W. Bush.
Distributed in the U.K. by Klang, Tel 01422 842212, or worldwide check
Ian Anderson -- Ian Anderson
Editor: fRoots Magazine