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The Very Best Of Stan Rogers Fogarty’s Cove Music/Borealis (FCM 013D)

Can it really be 28 years since Stan Roger’s death in a aircraft fire at the age of 33? He was big man, larger than life, with a huge voice that sometimes came from somewhere below his boots, and a remarkable talent for writing memorable songs about the Canadi- an experience. He was beginning to become well known further afield, there were rumours of a European tour, and he was clearly going places before everything came to an untimely halt. You can still hear his songs sung pretty well anywhere in the English speaking folk music world: Barratt’s Privateers is often introduced in sessions by the unknowing as ‘traditional’, and North- west Passage has been adopted as the real Canadian national anthem.

This ‘best of’ collection, sensitively re- mastered by his long term friend and produc- er Paul Mills, is now available internationally, and provides an excellent opportunity for reassessment. No complaints about the choice of songs: this is pretty much the list I’d have come up with if asked (including Make And Break Harbour, The Jeannie C, The Flow- ers Of Bermuda, The Field Behind The Plough and Mary Ellen Carter), though listeners to our editor’s old radio programmes back in the ‘80s might wonder what happened to Mac- Donnell On The Heights.

Stan on song could be impressive, at ease in big musical arrangements (The Last Watch for example), or surprisingly quiet and sensi- tive (Lock Keeper, Lies). Listening to these tracks afresh it’s clear that his style of singing was of its time (although some of his decep- tively simple songs are trickier to sing than at first sight: trust me!), but both the music and performances have stood the test of time bet- ter than many from that period. It’s fruitless to speculate what heights he might have scaled subsequently, but even now it is clear that he was possessed of an extraordinary tal- ent, and has left a significant legacy. If the man has passed you by, then this album really is worth adding to your collection. Bob Walton SHIVKUMAR SHARMA

My Music – The Saregama Years Saregama CDNF 150932-949

Santoor is a trapezoid hammered dulcimer, a Kasmiri folk instrument when Shivkumar Sharma started recording back in the days of 78s. He changed all that.

This 18-CD career retrospective starts its story in 1955 and concludes in 1998 with Indrahanush, a duet with the next genera- tion, his son Rahul. Apart from recordings as a sideman with Ravi Shankar and, no doubt, some Bombay film industry work, it appears to include everything. It restores a body of work to the marketplace that most people – me included – will never have had the chance to hear. At its most basic, that is because of changing technology and unavailability due to geography or distribution or because, owing to the once-bitten-twice-shy pressing (back in the day when the predecessor com- panies to Saregama had a near-monopoly in the market, the quality-control wallahs at the pressing plants seemed to have absconded for a never-ending picnic), buying the vinyl was rather like a lottery.

My Music – The Saregama Years’s musical contents are like hitting the jackpot. Yet, organisationally speaking, the set is not always how it appears. This is, to some extent, caused by the absence of original catalogue numbers – only the year of release is given – and LPs straddle different CDs in order to fit

Stan Rogers

them in. The Gramophone Company of India tended not to give titles or generics like In Concert (here CD 10 with its fourth side’s folk air in Mishra Pilu tucked on CD 11). Yet surely to know that CD 5’s ragas Rageshwari, Sohoni and Mishra Tilang first appeared on The Heav- enly Sound Of Santoor (1977) would add a waft of bygone panegyrics?

The musical highlights come thick and fast. There is, of course, a host of ragas plus collaborations with the guitarist Brijbhushan Kabra (1964), the bansuri (transverse bamboo flute) player Hariprasad Chaurasia (1975) – including their cunning ShivHari ‘music direc- tor’ alias from Silsila (1981) – and, with both of those musicians, the immaculate Call Of The Valley (1968). Trained as a tabla player himself, one hallmark of his musicianship that emerges is his unerring skill when it comes to choosing rhythmists, notably Madhav Indorkar, Zakir Hussain, Shafaat Ahmed Khan and Vikku Vinayakram.

His Santoor 2 and Santoor 1 from the

1955 film Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje – they open CD 1 in that order – mark his break back in the days of shellac. His Dogri Folk Tune reveals his bloodlines (although bio- graphical information of that nature is almost entirely omitted in Surendra Narvekar’s notes in this spiral-bound collec- tion). His Ahir Bhairav (CD 9) from 1985 is revelatory (and poignantly reminds of missed opportunities because of the snap, crackle and pop switch-off factor). In short, Shivku- mar Sharma’s My Music – The Saregama Years is the story of the gift of genius and the discovery of the santoor’s genome. Ken Hunt VARIOUS ARTISTS

The Rounder Records Story Rounder 1161- 3295-2


Beginners Guide To Americana Nascente NS BOX 703

A fitting time for a well-compiled box set telling in music the Rounder Records story. A 40-year journey from their inception in 1970 right to the owners’ sale of the label in 2010, it has been a journey from George Pegram to Robert Plant. From the obscure to the famous, the Rounder collective have never been swayed by the potential of the latter to ignore the former. They have always been people of the highest musical integrity, and have been rewarded by the commercial suc- cesses of, first, George Thorogood, and then Alison Krauss, but both seen as opportunities, not head-turning moments. Particularly in the

early years, this box set represents records I have owned and enjoyed for many years, Don Stover, Hazel Dickens, Norman Blake, The Balfa Brothers, D L Menard, Joe Val… and on it goes. American acoustic music second to few. Later years saw them add the likes of Ruth and Charles Brown and even Wilson Pickett to their roster as major labels lost interest in artists who made great music but did not ring the cash registers sufficiently. Thanks to Irwin, Nowlin and Leighton, Rounder Records has been, and will continue to be a repository for the very best roots music has to offer and this four-CD set is as good a way as any to explore their rich catalogue.

Had the categorisation existed back in 1970, Rounder might well have styled them- selves ‘Americana’, which I seem to recall start- ed out as a catch all for country music that was no longer accepted by the country music industry; music that was looking for a new label. Now it seems to embrace all music from the USA, and this box set runs from the raw blues of Charley Patton to the punk/ country sound of The Goodnight Loving. To attempt a three-CD compilation between these two points is something like trying to boil the ocean. Most of the expected names are here Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Robert John- son, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Hank Williams, Bill Monroe up to Steve Earle, Caitlin Rose and Calexico. Like sampling food, I think it better to break it down into individual meals rather than try a 62-dish menu like this all at one go. John Atkins

THE FOGHORN TRIO Sud De La Louisiane Own label


No Sleep ‘Til Rockridge Red Rocking Records RRR06

There was never much doubt about the pedigree and aplomb of The Foghorn Trio considering that two of the founding mem- bers of the rather wonderful Foghorn String- band make ip two-thirds of this triumvirate. The fiddle-wielding, banjo and guitar pickin’ Sammy Lind and Caleb Klauder are joined by the guitar and vocals of Nadine Landry for a glorious, sepia-tinged walk back in time through the 1930s Appalachian Mountains… with a brief Cajun detour for the title track.

The trio manage, without compromising their musical dexterity and sensibilities, to cre- ate a raw, driven edge to their old-time sound. It’s literally like they are channelling the Carter family! Gorgeous pining vocals, poignant mandolin-strumming, keening fid- dle lines lead us through a mixture of self- penned tunes and old time classics (Carters, Doc Watson, Kitty Wells). It is the spirit of their playing which is so captivating and ener- gising. I’m considering getting a front porch to maximise listening pleasure! Get to see them play live this month if you can. A joy!

While the old time of the Foghorns is old-skool, recorded in unison around a single mic, Stockholm’s Rockridge Brothers are alto- gether more smooth and produced. With a punky, Pogues-esque attitude and spirit, they attack a range of standards – John Henry, Wayfaring Stranger, My Home Is Across The Blue Ridge Mountains – with admirable verve and energy. However, good playing and spir- ited performances (I imagine they would be a great crowd-pleasing act live) don’t make up for the fact they are not The Foghorn Trio! They suffer by comparison. Sarah Coxson

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