[by Ken Hunt, London] Originally written on the eve of London’s post-Valentine Peace March on 15 February 2003 with little taken out or added.
Ace’s catalogue is a reminder why I decided to specialise and limit my listening but especially writing habits for sanity’s sake. Not all the people I wrote about in this piece are still alive, notably Ali Akbar Khan, one of my hugest musical influences.
1 Bass Strings – Country Joe and the Fish
on Electric Music For The Mind And Body – VMD 79244-2
Bass Strings bottles the essence of psychedelic music, a microcosm beside the cosmos of the Dead’s Dark Star>St. Stephen>The Eleven. Compare the first version [on The Collected Country Joe & The Fish 1965-1970 – VCD 111] and this little beauty for insights galore into the creative process and why the righteously psychedelised mind passeth all understanding.
Joe McDonald is an excellent raconteur. Last time we met, gardeners both, we warmed up by exchanging recommendations about varieties of tomatoes, potatoes and basil, moved into environmental issues and launched a first-rate interview. Since his death, I usually think of the writer John Platt (1952-2001) when I listen to this masterpiece of an album.
2 Samson & Delilah (If I Had My Way) – Reverend Gary Davis
on Live At Newport – VCD 79588-2
A metaphor for life that has nothing to do with the biblical in my case.
3 Bilashkani Todi – Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan
on The Master Musicians Of India – PR20 1078-2
Chosen because I have known the work of these two musicians for longer than I haven’t, because I have known them as individuals for decades and because there was fire in their bellies when they used to play together, as here, before the shit hit the fan. (Do not cue Little Feat.)
[ADD JPEG KD_2000] 4 Om Shameo Shiva Shameo – Kadri Gopalnath
on Gem Tones – CDORBD 097
Kadri Golpanath is a saxophone colossus. What Ben Mandelson achieved with this album is nothing short of spectacular. When I compiled the second edition of The Rough Guide to India, this track was a first choice. But licensing – nothing to do with GlobeStyle – tripped me up.
5 Gonna Lay Down My Sword And Shield – Joseph Spence
on Gospel At Newport – 77014-2
Raptures of the deep from Joseph Spence, the musician whose singing with the Pinder Family introduced me to what they call World Music now. That first encounter with The Real Bahamas at Collet’s in London’s New Oxford Street, courtesy of Hans Fried, was the first stepping stone to me writing about it.
I never got to meet Spence but I got to know Jody Stecher and Peter Siegel who recorded that album. Peter took me and my daughter to the spot by the Brooklyn Bridge where Spence stood when he was over for Newport though.
Writing this on the eve of London’s post-Valentine Peace March on 15 February 2003, “Ain’t going to study war no more” rarely sounded sweeter or more needed.