“Midnight Feast” by Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight

One of the few individuals who could lay any real claim to being essential to the British folk revival, Elaine “Lal” Waterson lent her unique voice — absolutely beautiful and instantly recognizable — to the records she and her brother Mike and sister Norma made as The Watersons, defining the passion and respect necessary to performing … Continue reading “Midnight Feast” by Lal Waterson and Oliver Knight

“Isle of View (Music for Helicopter Pilots)” by Penguin Cafe Orchestra

One of the great tragedies in twentieth-century music was the death of Simon Jeffes, age 48, in 1997. As leader for 23 years of the classically-pedigreed Penguin Cafe Orchestra, his music was sly, mostly wordless, and while greedily snapped up by advertising firms and public radio stations looking to set a mood fast, in long form the melodic … Continue reading “Isle of View (Music for Helicopter Pilots)” by Penguin Cafe Orchestra

“Stop Breaking Down” by the Rolling Stones

“Unlikely” is probably the right word, that the hairiest, grittiest, straight-uppenest American rock record of the 1970s, maybe ever, would be made by an English band in tax exile in the south of France lolling in unapologetic European decadence. That the Rolling Stones attained such a state of grace is only partly surprising, though, given the … Continue reading “Stop Breaking Down” by the Rolling Stones

“Traveling Riverside Blues” by Robert Johnson

On the heels of Benny Goodman’s concert at Carnegie Hall in January 1938, promoter/producer John Hammond (Billie Holliday, Bessie Smith, Count Basie, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan…unbelievable) conceived of a concert that would further acknowledge the debt American music owed its roots, within the hallowed walls of the Hall. Race relations being what … Continue reading “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Robert Johnson