Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spun #7

Blasius To Una Turtavu
"Guitar Songs of Papua New Guinea"
Lyrichord Stereo LLST 7367

A few years back my ears were struck by lightning. Or at least, that's what it felt like the first time I heard the New Guinean string bands compiled on the third disc of Smithsonian Folkways' "Bosavi" box set. I didn't know that guitars and ukuleles and a few voices could sound so beautifully sublime and I couldn't tell whether I was being hypnotised or whether I was about to have a heart attack. Anyway, I knew that I needed to hear more string band music from Papua New Guinea.

So when I found this album (at the WFMU record fair, I think, where several of these posts have come from) I didn't think twice before grabbing my wallet. And although these songs lack the raw group sound and field-recording atmosphere of the Bosavi stuff, they are still delightful, especially when Blasius is joined by a second guitar and/or ukulele.

From the liner notes: "This record attempts to show the different faces of Blasius To Una Turtavu's creativity through the 28 years of his musical life. Humorous and satirical songs in Pidgin, like FOPELA LEK or KUNAI DUMDUM, ballads in his own Kuanua tongue like IAU ABUL RAMALMAL or AMARI NA RAVIAN and in English like LONELY EVENING. Blasius To Una might make you feel sad, but in the next song, he will cheer you up and really make you laugh. At fifty three, Blasius is still full of energy, and very much in love with music. Maybe that is what makes it very difficult not to fall in love with the man and his guitar."


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Spun #6

The Relations
"The Relations"

The sticker next to the $2.50 price tag does not lie: "Decent early 70s Honky Tonk." What we have here are drinking songs, lonesome broken heart songs, getting older songs, all of them written by group members Bob Crank or Calvin Ott, lots of solid but modest pedal steel playing, an over-all clean, no-frills production. . .no surprises here. But do you really want surprises from a country album?

The back cover reveals just the facts:

"Bob Crank was born and raised in Adams, Indiana. He started playing a guitar and singing when he was sixteen years old. He took over the group called The Relations, in 1973.

Calvin Ott was born and raised in the South Mt. area of Shippensburg, Pa. He started playing a guitar and singing when he was twelve years old. He has been with The Relations for four years.

Denny Ott was born and raised in the South Mt. area of Shippensburg, Pa. He started playing the bass when he was twenty-one years old. He has been with The Relations for five years.

Dave Reed was born and raised in Ellicott City, Maryland. He started playing drums when he was fourteen years old. He also likes to play the banjo. He's been with The Relations for six months.

Kenny Piper was born and raised near Amerson, Pa. He started playing the guitar when he was fifteen years old. He plays lead guitar for The Relations.

The Relations love and enjoy playing and listening to music. In the summer they travel around to all the Bluegrass Festivals they can. They play for parties, festivals, clubs, and other engagements. They have been wanting to cut an album for quite some time. Hope you all enjoy it."

Find it here.