16. 2021 Mixes

What were you listening to in 2021? As it turns out, I listened to a ton of Dub, Gospel, Blues and music from the eastern coast of Africa (e.g., Ethiopia, Somalia). In part, this is a result of way I spend my time in record stores. There is a nearly inviolate order that I follow when I’m crate digging – my (slight) ODC would not let me do otherwise. I start with Soul, move to Jamaica, then Africa, then the Blues, and if they have them, various other regions (e.g., India, Middle East). If I have time or the energy, I might half-heartedly skim through the rock and hip-hop sections. For that reason, the balance of records that I end up with is not really surprising. These days I’m finding the Soul selections to be slim pickings, and I’m not ready to start buying the expensive stuff they have up on the wall. It seems like Blues records are getting a bit pricier, so maybe there is renewed interest in them.

Despite my routine, there are still unexpected developments. For example, last year I picked up a number of records by folk musicians who produced one album and then kind of disappeared. This includes Jackson C. Frank (produced by a young Paul Simon), F..J. McMahon, and Sibylle Baier. Her record was actually a recent release of a tape she had made at home in the 1970’s. In this same vein is Vashti Bunyan, who had a few more records, and an LP of songs written by Karen Dalton that she never recorded. This reclusive folk singer strand happened too slow and steady to be a binge, but it certainly was a defining element of the year’s listening.

I still read music magazines but last year didn’t find many new artists to get excited about. Instead, I ended up ordering things from labels that specialize in re-releasing older material. Going to the websites for Analog Africa, Numero Group or Dust-to-Digital feels like free history lessons. I know that I would find other new stuff if I followed friends on streaming services, and my younger son methodically goes through certain artists and genres since they all seem to be there for the listening, but I’m not sure if streaming will ever be a fit for my lifestyle.

One other key factor that shaped my listening last year was the fact that my father passed his CD collection along to me. He loves music and loves to dance, but he figured he was done with fiddling around with discs. As a result, I got a milkcrate full of stuff to work though. A few were mixes from blow-out parties he used to throw back in the day, and the rest were genres and musicians he digs. This includes taiko and Keiko Matsui. He looooooves her. It also includes the Blues, which is why some standards show up on the song lists below. My mother passed away in 2020, and so I also have her CD collection and I listened to all of it last year. Hearing Judy Collins and Glen Campbell brought back fond memories, but their tunes didn’t make the cut here. She also had some CDs by Emmylou Harris, and it was nice to discover a connection that we had that I didn’t know about.

Another pleasant surprise were three records I picked up by The Reducers. I had not gotten anything by them in decades, but decided to finally complete their discography. Those few missing pieces had kept gnawing at me so I finally just bought them. I expected to listen somewhat dutifully rather than joyfully, but I was wrong. Some of the later stuff is really great, and I listened to them a lot. I already have a feeling that I will be listening to more of that rock-and-roll kind of thing next year.

Like other people, one reason I like records is the jackets. Here are two of my favorite that I picked up last year, both very much of their time.






The jacket of this gospel compilation is OK. What I really dig is this girl who is not as impressed as the rest of the crowd.

EPSON039 copy


I had to pick up this record because of the announcement on the jacket.

10114 copy

However, it turns out they had the wrong Smokey Hogg. How do you manage that?

List One

Muziqawi Silt                                               Wallias Band

Yegellé Tezeta (My Own Memory)            Mulatu Astatke

Uurkan Kaadonaya (I Want You)               Group RTD

Sikitiko                                                         Siti Muharam

Ebb Tide                                                      Houston and Dorsey

So Long and Far Away                                Marissa Nadler

Blues Run the Game                                   Jackson C. Frank

Titanic Blues                                                 Hi Henry Brown

Fare Thee Well Blues                                   Joe Calicott

Instrumental Guitar Piece in A                    James Hughes

Remembering Mountains                             Sharon Van Etten

I’d Like to Walk Around In Your Mind          Vashti Bunyan

Bonded To You                                               Bill Fox

Cold Cafe                                                        Karen Marks

You Are The Everything                                R.E.M.

My Problem                                                   The Reducers

I’m Not Ashamed                                           Culture

Say So                                                           King Tubby

Hold Down Miss Winey                               Glen Adams

Any Other Way                                            Jackie Shane

Southside Chicago                                      Otis Brown

I Don’t Want to Beg                                      Shirley Butler

What Side Your Bread Is Buttered On        Diane Pane

Zechariah                                        Deacon W.J. Mobley and Pilgrim Rest. M.B. Church Male Chorus

Kalimankou Denkou                      The Bulgarian State and Television Female Vocal Choir

Comments: I had been looking for The Bulgarian State and Television Female Vocal Choir record for a long time, and found it in a last “what the hell” look through a box tucked under a table. So glad I did.

The R.E.M. tune was not new to me, but had new emotional resonance and so was in pretty heavy rotation. My Problem by the Reducers features Mark Mulcahy of Miracle Legion on lead vocals.

The Siti Muharam is actually new, as is the Group RTD. It seems like most of the contemporary stuff I buy is from various African countries and Finland.

I’m working on a newsletter piece about gospel music. I’m pretty picky and I think I’m getting closer to being able to describe what it is I like.

List Two

I Got Your Number                                       Marva Jones

Gonna Make Him My Baby                          April Young

But It’s Alright                                              J.J. Jackson

Yallow 2                                                         Stanislaw Tohon

Unknown                                                        Ali Nuur

Manbarani                                                    Natik Awayez

Kasalefkut Hulu (From All the Time I Have Passed) Mulatu Astatke

Baxsanow Ismaacil                                      4 Mars

Rei di Tabanka                                             Ferro Gaita

Fundo De Marê Palinha                              Voz di Sanicolau

Paisaje                                                          Ranil

Semi Classical Natty Dub                           Revolutionaries

Gucci Time                                                   Schoolly D

Poetry                                                           BDP

Say What?                                                    Trouble Funk

Party Time                                                    Kurtis Blow

Won’t Wear It For Long                                Karen Marks

I Believe Anything                                        The Reducers

Unrecovery                                                   Duster

My Baby Crying                                           Bill Fox

Autumn Leaves                                            Vashti Bunyan

Dark Clouds                                                 The Brooklyn Skyways

It’s Going to Pay                                          Brother Randy Wilson

Comments: I had been looking for Gucci Time forever, so I was happy to find a re-release. I wasn’t about to drop a ton of cash for an old 12”.

The J.J. Jackson song was on a crappy compilation record (24 Happening Tunes! ) I got for fifty cents. “How do manage to get 24 tunes on one LP?” you ask. Well, you do so by only including snippets of each of the songs. Would have been nice if that was made clear before I plunked down my two quarters. Being reminded of the song’s existence, but not having the whole song, meant I had to download it. So the record really cost me $1.79.

List Three

Reet Petite                                                    Jackie Wilson

Little Star                                                      The Elegants

Save My Soul                                                Jack Scott

Have I the Right                                           The Honeycombs

World Leader Pretend                                 R.E.M.

Tokyo Bay                                                     The Reducers

Furniture                                                        Fugazi

Downtown Tragedy                                      (Young) Pioneers

Stack O’Lee Blues                                         Mississippi John Hurt

Trouble Blues Part 1                                     Scrapper Blackwell

Jamestown Exhibition                                   Bayless Rose

Bring Me My Shotgun                                   Sonny Boy Watson

I Got a Letter from Hot Springs                   Mississippi Fred McDowell

Lord, I’m in Your Hand                                  Mary & Amanda Gordon

Trouble of Mine                                              Windell Brothers

Smokestack Lightnin’                                    Howlin’ Wolf

So Many Roads, So Many Trains                  Otis Rush

The Land of the Exiles                                    Natik Awayez

Yekermo sew – A man of experience and wisdom                   Mulatu Estatke

Revelation                                                     Alva “Reggie” Lewis

See Them A Come                                       Culture

Jamboree Dub                                              Revolutionaries

Right Cross                                                    Scientist

Keep On Dubbing                                          King Tubby

16.88                                                               Hayden Thompson

Winter Is Blue (Demo)                                   Vashti Bunyan

Early Blue                                                        F.J. McMahon

You and Me                                                    Penny and the Quarters

Comments: One of my projects last year was going through a box of old 45s I had inherited (see Scratch Ticket Radio #5). The first three songs here were from that pile.. Following them up with Have I the Right give this list an oldies station kind of feel. It is interesting that here in New Jersey the only oldies shows are on college radio stations. I guess the songs are now so old they are like ethnographic recordings that young hipsters dig.

List Four

Pilentze Pee                                           The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir

Dark Side of the Moon                                Eddy Bailes and the Cadillacs

Tonight                                                         Sibylle Baier

Love Song                                                    Vashti Bunyan

Walk on By                                                   Brenda and the Tabulations

This Time I’m Loving You                           Venicia Wilson

Summertime                                                 Billy Stewart

I’ve Got Another                                            Otis Brown

Nothing Takes The Place Of You                Toussaint McCall

He Will Fix It                                                  Sam Williams and the Harris Singers

Lord, It’s Me                                                 The Christones

Let Freedom Ring                                        The Sensational Six

The Sky Is Crying                                         Elmore James

All Night Long Blues                                    Louise Johnson

Picture on the Wall                                       Lightnin’ Hopkins

Here Come the Blues                                   Jackson C. Frank

Sister, Brother                                                F.J. McMahon

Frisco Blues                                                   Bayless Rose

Cannon Ball Rag                                            Davy Miller

Who Do You Love                                         Bo Diddley

Don’t Ya Wanna                                            The Reducers

Do You Like Me                                            Fugazi

All Dried Up                                                  Bill Fox

My Regrets                                                   Grant Hart

Cooking                                                         Duster

Right On Time                                             The Sensations

People Rock Steady                                     The Uniques

Stop Them Jah                                             King Tubby

Calling Rasta For I                                        Culture

Untitled                                                         R.E.M.

Comments: You can tell an old man put this list together. I mean, that is also true of the other lists, but here especially. The King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown LP has been repressed a number of times, and it seems like the song titles have gotten switched around. Stop Them Jah is what it says on mine, but your results may vary.

List Five

Andalusia                                                      Ranil

Dahier                                                           Ahmed Awad

Dja Dja Dja                                                  Stanislas Tohon

Halkaasad Dhigi Magtiisa (That’s Where You’ll Leave His Reward)   Group RTD

Munaye (My Muna)                                      Mulatu Astatke

Houe Djein Nada                                          Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou

Pom Um Grogu                                            Peps Love

Rabidanti                                                      Orlando Pantera

Travelogue                                                    Duster

Pritouritze Planinata                      The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir

Three O’Clock in the Morning                    Crying Marie Dixon

Long Ways From Home                               Louise Johnson

Thinkin’ and Worryin’                                  Lightnin’ Hopkins

Farther Up The Road                                   Bobby “Blue” Bland

Snake Blues                                                   Katie Watkins with Texas Red and Jimmie

It’s My Own Fault                                          John Lee Hooker

Chilly Winds Don’t Blow                              Nina Simone

Two Sevens Clash                                        Culture

I’ll Give It Away                                              Bill Fox

Nothing                                                         The Reducers

Work to Do                                                   The Reducers

Clean Kill                                                        Coriky

Jesus Gave Me Water                                  McCauley Spiritual Singers

Jesus is Living Today                                   Rev. Linston Triplett Jr and the Triplett Singers

Comments: I don’t usually like to have two songs by a single artist on a list, but there was still one Reducers song and it could not go on list six (Chill).

Other things of note – Crying Marie Dixon is Willie Dixon’s wife and I don’t know if she recorded any other songs.

The Ahmed Awad song I got at Excavated Shellac, which is website that focuses on 78’s from around the world, with a few files to download for each write up.

And man, there are so many different kinds of Nina Simone songs.

List Six: Chill

Jailhouse Rag                                                Davy Miller

Delkash                                                          Kiya Tabassian

You Don’t Mind                                             Natik Awayez

Karima                                                           Maher Cissoko

Future Strings In E                                       Seckou Keita

Pakistan                                                         Siti Muharam

Tezeta (Nostalgia)                                         Mulatu Astatke

Metche new                                         Asselefetch Ashine & Getenesh Kebret & Army Band

Raga Kaan Ka Eegtow (You Are the One I Love)                  Group RTD

Yebèqagnal                                                   Girma Bèyènè

Ninkaan Ogayn (He Who Does Not Know)     Gacaltooyo Band Feat. Faduumina Hilowle

Love and Devotion                                       Slim Smith

Dub for Michael Holding                             Revolutionaries

Dub Sound                                                   Revolutionaries

Knockout                                                      Scientist

Upper Cut                                                    Scientist

Frozen Dub                                                   King Tubby

Myrskylaulu (The Storm Song)                   Kupu

Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Have Wings and Fly Away   Buzz Clifford

Polegnala e Todora                              The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir

Sugar In My Bowl                                        Nina Simone

Comments: The version I have of Sugar in My Bowl is a live recording on what I think might be a bootleg. It is a bit less polished and bit more blue, but this version will do to capture the mood.

The two cuts here by both Revolutionaries and Scientist break my rule, but I really dig those records.

Honorable Mention

Sukiyaki Rap – Tasha Lee

Not a good tune, but I’m fascinated by how Sukiyaki has echoed across time.

Arcade Funk – Tilt

Could this sound any more 1983?

Black Is – The Last Poets

So powerful, but its gravity is so strong I couldn’t figure out where to place it without messing with the flow of all the songs around it.

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