09 April 2006

rounding out the alphabet part 2

This post was brought to you by the letters V, X, and Z, and by the number 120. That's 120 songs since I started this blog. Go me!

troubled so hard : vera hall
click here or on the image below to listen. 1m 37s
image taken from the vera hall project.

Like nearly everyone else, I knew nothing about the late Vera Hall until I heard Natural Blues by Moby, which samples this grievous acappella. Born near Livingston, Alabama sometime around 1902, Hall was a great folk and blues singer that the recording industry seems to have forgotten. There is not even a word in Wikipedia about her, or any of the other names she was known as in her lifetime. Save for a few songs on iTunes, a couple of compilation CDs on Amazon – this and this – and audio archives with downloadable MP3s from the Library of Congress website, her repertoire seems to be of quite limited availability. Nonetheless, thank people like Gabriel Greenberg, who runs The Vera Hall Project, for keeping awareness of Hall alive. Check out this interesting article from the website about the impact of Natural Blues on her estate, while listening to what is now her most popular song. Troubled So Hard is so raw you can imagine it being sung by someone in the midst of heavy toil, or penitence.

light the shade : xavier rudd
no woman no cry : xavier rudd
click here or on the image below to listen, then click on the left- and right-pointing arrows to switch between songs. 6m 44s total.

Xavier Rudd is an Australian multi-instrumentalist who makes music like an artist with little regard for commercial success. He writes about social issues – from rights of Aboriginies to the environment – and lays music using a host of indigenous instruments, from didgeridoos to djembes to banjos, all played by himself, often simultaneously, to various degrees of expertise. Yet this deviance is what has made him a commercial success, both in his homeland and in festival circuits abroad. Last year, his fourth album Solace, which he had put out independently in 2004, was picked up and released by a major label. Despite a growl and drawl that approximate Dave Matthews, there is nothing rudimentary about Rudd. The intensity of his singing reaches you in strokes, not in blows, and he sings with vocal control as if he's about to perform before an audience for the first time.

time of the season : the zombies
click here or on the band image below to listen. 3m 34s

Can there be a cooler intro than this? And had people been asking "Who's your daddy?" before the band released this song in 1968? Ah, but the Washington Post has an answer to that.

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