Coming off an intense and emotionally rough period that surrounded the recording and release of 2013's No Morphine No Lilies, drummer Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom is in upbeat, adventurous form on 2016's Otis Was a Polar Bear. Which isn't to say that she and her bandmates weren't game for adventure on No Morphine No Lilies. On the contrary, the group found its footing on that album born out of a tumultuous year that included Miller taking care of her sick girlfriend, two of her bandmates having babies, and Miller drawing attention, some unfairly negative, for a Huffington Post article she wrote about being a lesbian feminist in the jazz world.
This comprehensive Bear Family audiotheque is dedicated to the mid-Sixties German Beat music boom. A total of 30 installments with 20 to 30 titles per CD, all remastered for the best possible sound quality. The author, Hans-Jürgen Klitsch, has written the hugely informative booklets for our CDs. Please note that all liner notes are in German language. Another Bear Family exclusive!
Having come to the U.S. from his native Nigeria to study medicine, percussionist Babatunde Olatunji eventually became one of the first African music stars in the States. He also soon counted jazz heavyweights like John Coltrane ("Tunji") and Dizzy Gillespie among his admirers (Gillespie had, a decade earlier, also courted many Cuban music stars via his trailblazing Latin jazz recordings). And, in spite of it being viewed by some as a symbol of African chic, Drums of Passion is still a substantial record thanks to Olatunji's complex and raw drumming.
All of Sleepy LaBeef's most important records – from his early singles for Starday to his latter-day sides for Sun – are included on the mammoth, six-disc box set Larger Than Life. LaBeef recorded for a number of different labels during his career, and during that time, he explored a variety of roots music, from rockabilly and country to blues and soul. Spanning three full decades, Larger Than Life contains 158 tracks, including all of his recordings for Starday, Dixie, Columbia, and Sun.
Perhaps the most difficult thing in writing about a box set like this is how to convey in words – few or many – the magic, wonder, and intimidating musicianship that is contained on these recordings. Over four CDs, the seeds, roots, branches, and trees of a musical partnership were formed and lived out on the public stage, and remain all but unknown to those who were not country music fans during the era. While one Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant compilation has appeared on Razor & Tie, as a single disc it only begins to offer the legend of this pair of musical innovators.
Ferlin Husky shares billing on his volume of Bear Family's ongoing rockabilly and country-boogie series, Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight, with Simon Crum and Terry Preston – two aliases he adopted in the thick of and at the start of his career, respectively. Unlike Collectors' Choice Music's 2002 collection Country Music Is Here to Stay, the focus of this 2016 set is not on the novelties of Simon Crum. Instead, this rounds up 32 sides Husky recorded in any incarnation, with the uniting factor being its swing.
Merle Haggard, RIP. In Memoriam. Merle Haggard, an icon of American music, died at his home in California on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. It was the singer, songwriter, and musician’s 79th birthday. In 2008 he battled lung cancer, and was hospitalized in December 2015 with double pneumonia. Haggard returned to the stage soon after, but was sidelined again in February due to continuing health concerns. “A week ago Dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday,” Merle’s son and lead guitarist, Ben, revealed the day his father died, “and he wasn’t wrong.”