Its that time of year again when every music blogger puts together her/his ‘Best of 2011’ list. A reminder of the Washerman’s Dog selection criteria.
· *These were not 2011 releases. Just a few of the albums I enjoyed listening to the most over the past 12 months.
· *The music must amaze.
· *The music must make you smile.
· *The music must groove and move.
So without further ado, let’s to it.
Ilham Madfai Baghdad (2003)
The John Lennon of Iraq sings a set of tunes in homage to his hometown. Infectious rhythms, rousing choruses, tasty blends of traditional and modern instruments. The lonely and intimate title track is a killer. A glimpse into the once (and future?) city.
The Audreys Between Last Night and Us (2006)
Australian folk/roots band from Adelaide/Melbourne won Australia’s version of a Grammy for this debut. Splendid lead singer Taasha Coates has a voice as heavenly as Emmylou Harris’s that especially shines on Pale Dress and
Long Ride. Understated sophisticated songwriting and musicality.
Harry Manx Road Ragas Live (2005)
An epiphany. Canadian (via England) blues guitarist studied for ten years with Vishwamohan Bhatt in India during which time he mastered the mohan veena Bhatt’s adaption of the slide guitar. Manx lives to play live and this set is an astoundingly good acoustic blues record, which includes occasional slices of Indian masala.
O.V. Wright 8 Men 4 Women (1967)
Drug troubled Overton Vertis Wright died prematurely at 41 in 1980. But what a voice! And backed by the gold standard of Memphis soul sound production out of Willie Mitchell’s Hi Studio this record is pure black gold. Smooth, effortless and absolutely committed. Completes the Hi Studio Holy Trinity along with Al Green and Ann Peebles.
Various Artists Darker Than Blue: Soul from Jam Town 1973-1980 (2001)
Beautifully rendered, deeply felt interpretations of the great American soul classics by some of Jamaica’s tuffest reggae stars. Is It Because I’m Black by Ken Boothe, For the Love of You by John Holt and Darker Than Blue by Lloyd Charmers just three of the many gems in this treasure chest.
Freddie Roach Brown Sugar (1964)
Slinky, funky Hammond B3 by one of the giants of the instrument. Accompanied by some of the era’s finest jazz musicians such as Joe Henderson on sax, this is top shelf soul jazz from the golden age.
Mavis Staples Live: Hope at the Hideout (2008)
The return of the native. Back to Chicago with a power (rockin’) trio and a very lucky and appreciative audience. One of the best live records in a long while. You get the atmospherics. You get the poor ventilation. You get Mavis’s larger than life personality. But most of all you get some very juicy slabs of blues/gospel music that will keep you listening again and again.
Stovall Sisters Stovall Sisters (1971)
What do the touring back up singers for the following artists, The Staple Singers, The Caravans, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Ray Charles & The Blind Boys, The Harmonizing Four, The Soul Stirrers,The Salem Travelers, The Pilgrim Jubilees The Highway Q.C's, BB King, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Jimmy McCracklin, Bobby Bland, Charles Brown, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Earth Wind & Fire, Jackie Wilson, Joe Tex, Parliament/Funkadelic, Sam Cooke, Cannonball Adley, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Norman Greenbaum and Ike & Tina Turner, have to offer? Only optimal 1970’s R&B-funk infused gospel music. Get it or go straight to hell.
The Green Arrows 4 Track Recording Session (2006)
19 cuts of fast moving guitar driven southern African ‘beer music’ from the legendary Zimbabwean band which led the way for other chiromenga stars like Thomas Mapfumo throughout the 1970’s.
Dan Baker Sad Song Junkie (2010)
Boston folkie Baker has a warm sonorous voice and tells some interesting tales on his second album.
The Sound Stylistics Greasin’ the Wheels (2009)
British jazz/funk group The Sound Stylistics let rip with sparkling organ keyboard runs, sizzling guitar riffs and waves of big band brass that tips the hat to the American soul jazz era of the 1960s and especially that produced by the Chicago based Prestige label.