Friday, September 11, 2009
Arhoolie 40th Anniversary Box Set (Cd 1)
Mance Lipscomb - Charlie James (buy) (1964)
Clifton Chenier - Louisiana Blues (buy) (1965)
Just before I went on holidays, I received this wonderful box set, a best of Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie label. I had burned it a few years ago but having the real thing is really something different : the liner notes are fantastic !
The man behind that label, Chris Strachwitz, is one of the most important record makers in roots music, and the equal of an Alan Lomax. Born in Germany, he arrived in the States at age 16, and like a lot of Europeans, was fond of traditional music. The box set follows his musical discoveries : first , the blues (especially from Texas, since Chris was living in San Francisco) and old-time country, then Cajun and Zydeco, Norteno, and his last love, sacred steel.
The first CD is focused on the 1960's. Chris, a school teacher then, started his label from scratch, making recording trips to meet his favorite artists : the great Sam Lighting Hopkins in the Houston ghetto, JE Mainer in the Appalachian, and one-man band Jesse Fuller in "San Francisco Bay" (his very first recording, made in 1954 at Jesse's house).
Highlights of this first cd include a lot of great bluesmen (Big Joe Williams, Lil' Son Jackson, Fred McDowell...) but I picked two artists that really owe to Mr. Strachwitz : Texas songster Mance Lipscomb and the Zydeco king Clifton Chenier.
So if you really love down home music of all kinds, don't hesitate and buy this wonderful box set. I had mine for 45 dollars and it's not much compared to its content (the music, of course, but also the liner notes). And you will support a great label !