Radioteleviziunea Română Orchestra de Studio- Rascoala

I am not sure what drew me to buy a Romanian opera record when I bought this.  Maybe it was the cover.  Maybe I was on an Opera kick, probably still riding the high of finishing off the 2017 Opera season at the HGO.  Either way, I bought this for $2.40 with discount.

I think part of the thought process of buying this involved taking it to my pal Scott, who used to sing in the chorus for the HGO and getting his thoughts on the album.  However, since taking over Dan Electo’s Guitar Bar and working the booking, plus the fact that I no longer really drink anymore, our schedules are mostly apart and I hardly get a chance to see him anymore.  That being said. if you are in Houston and are looking for music, might I suggest Dan Electros.  I thought about it a bit and thus, would compare the place to my blog, except the music is good ( I make no such guarantees for the records on this blog) and much more timely . They book a real diverse lineup of music and musicians.  Also, they have open mic nights which I participate in time to time.

Link to Dan Electro’s Home Page

Anyway, back to this. From what I am guessing, this is an opera based on the Romanian Peasant Rebellion of 1907. The Rebellion, lambasted by inequalities between landowners and the serf-class, was brought on when a local overseer(or lessor) of a wealthy property which owned 75% of arable land cut back work for the peasants The thought of no work which meant now food sparked a rebellion that started in Moldavia and spread thru the country, destroying property and killing or wounding lessors.  The event led to the overthrow of the ruling conservative parties and a more liberal government.

The history of Peasant rebellions, though, is largely a one sided affair with notable victories generally falling early in history and largely in East Asia.  In this case, the new liberal government called up the army to suppress the peasants and suppress they did.  Although official government figures are 400 casualties, most historians agree the number was more like 11,000 with 10,000 more arrested.  The army for its part, suffered a loss of 10. The government enacted new laws to help the peasants but none of them really effected the landowners so I believe they were mostly useless.  According to the Romanian Wikipage on this, this revolt tarnished Romania’s world reputation as a quiet peaceful nation at the time, although I can’t imagine many people on this side of the globe losing sleep over it.  The rebellion was a subject though of Romanian’s during the inter-war years with books and pieces of art, most notably the book Rascoala (1932) by Livio Rebreanu and the painting, The Uprising,  on the cover of this album by Octav Bancila, which I believe was banned for a period.  It was a series of 12.  Bancila also spent notable time looking for evidence that dispute the government tally of peasant deaths. Finally, there is a statue in Budapest to commemorate the event.

I am not 100% sure what this is or when it was written.  I believe it was written by Gheorge Dumitrescu (1901-1985) , a writer who worked on various mediums.  I am not sure what year this was written, perhaps 1959?  I believe he adapted the opera from Rebreanu’s work.  This work is performed by what I believe is the Radio/ Television Orchestra with the Studio Choir under the conduction of Carol Litvin.  Featured performers include Valentin Loghin, Silvia Voinea, and Cornel Rusu.  Again, I bevel this came out in 1977. (FACT CHECK- 1-Dumitrescu was in fact a composer with much work to his credit  2- This indeed came out in 1959).

I could not find much else out about the work but I found the music extremely interesting both in composition and execution.  I believe these are excerpts from the larger work.  I believe that Scott would judge this to be a good record.  A lot of chorus on it so its got that going for it. For samples, I decided to go with “Tabloul 2-Revelion” which to me sounds like a rural song of peasants gathering.  I also went with the last number “Tabloul 6 -Pirjolul” which Google translates into Pirates.  I am not sure how this song relates to the works but there are a lot of shrieking lines and the drum rolls sound like guns and cannons.

Nice little pick up for the price and really good music.  Satisfactory.


Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri- An Evening with Belafonte/ Mouskouri

This record was one I see a lot of when I go looking for records.  That usually means in must have been a popular record when it came out .  So when I finally found it for a dollar, I knew it would not go any lower so I jumped on it.

I knew a lot about Harry Belafonte but virtually nothing about the other singer, Nana Mouskouri.  Well, Mouskouri, whose name I am know hating to type out, is one of the most famous international singers of all time.

Born in Chania on the Greek isle of Crete in 1934, Mouskouri has released over 200 albums as well as singles in multiple languages.  She has also been parodied by such luminaries as Benny Hill, Ronnie Barker, and SCTV’s Andrea Martin. She retired to Switzerland in 2008.  She also gave up her pension after the Greek financial crisis of 2010.  Perhaps this led her to return to show business the following year. I believe she is sporadically active here and there.

According to the liner notes, Belafonte saw Mouskouri while working in Athens in 1960 and helped her gain fame across the ocean in the US of A.  Mouskouri’s career at the time was taking off in Europe ( Wikipedia credits Quincy Jones in 1962) Anyway, their first performance together was in 1964.  The two would tour together thru 1965 and 1966. Wikipedia also states that Belafonte convinced Mouskouri to remove her trademark black rimmed glasses during her performance.  When she tried it, she hated it so much that she nearly quit the tour.  As a result, Belafonte relented.

This record, released by RCA Victor in 1966, features the pair of singers, singing songs in Mouskouri’s native tongue, Greek.  Ten songs, four solos by each singer and two duets. All the songs have song writing credits so I do not know if these were just songs that were popular in Greece at the time.  Despite Belafonte being the bigger star at the time, this album is all Mouskouri. Belafonte’s singing is slightly subdued on this effort. This is a little less fair to Belafonte as he is singing in a foreign tongue. I also believe Belafonte was being respectful, allowing Mouskouri more of the spotlight.

Anway, for samples, I went with Mouskouri’s “Dream” and the duo’s “Irene”.

Good stuff.  Satisfactory.

Petula Clark- Color My World/ Who Am I

Perhaps you have noticed that the quality or length of my posts goes down the closer to the end of the month. Well, if I am getting smart ( and I think I am), I should start using artists who appear frequently on this blog towards the end. And so there is this, which I bought for 80 cents.  

This was Petula Clark’s 6th US record, released in 1967 (with a similar record released in the UK).  The two title tracks were singles in the US the year prior. The album contains songs from various artists including Roger Miller and Paul McCatrney as well as collaboration between Clark and others.  

One such collaboration was this track, “Las Vegas” which I felt was really swinging.  That it kind of belonged in the movie Casino.  I really liked this track for many reason, one of which that this is an English woman belting out a song about the bright lights and dark underbelly of Vegas.

Other than that, this was a pretty good album of songs.  Satisfactory.

Yvette Horner- Les Plus Grandes Valses Musettes D’Yvette Horner

This is another record I bought at the swap meet in Amsterdam when I went last November.  It was one euro.  When I posted the other dutch albums I bought back in January, I had a spot conversion but I am too lazy to go back to see what it was. If I knew the subject was red headed, I might not have elected to go with back to back red hairs, two days in a row.  Oh well, this has been typed so here we go. 

Yvette Horner, is a French accordionist/ pianist which meant I had to translate French Wikipedia for this info.  Born in Tarbes in 1922, she won the Accordion World Cup in 1948, becoming the first female to do so.  

According to this translation, she has played over 2,000 concerts, as well as released over 150 records with cumulative sales of 30 million. She has collaborated with musicians from the world of jazz, country, and electronica among others.

From what I can tell, she is of no relation to the German instrument manufacturer, Horner, of whose accordion she has in the cover photo.  From what I can tell, she currently lives in a retirement home in Paris.

This record, which was a dutch release, on EMI.  This might have come out in 1986 or perhaps may have been a re-release of an older record.  I am not sure and did not want to spend more than 4 minutes to find out.  What I do know is this is a pretty decent collection of polka flavored accordion in a Parisian style.  The title translates to the grandest waltzes and that is what this is.  Pretty good stuff accordion-wise, Horner did have a pretty tremendous talent.  

That reminds me.  I probably picked this album to reminisce of how I used to play accordion and how I do not do that anymore.  When I did though, I did have the idea to do “Popcorn” on the instrument.  Well, apparently Horner beat me to that.

Well,  there is not much to add to that.  So here is the sample, “Gigolette”.

Good album. Satisfactory.

Afternoon in Amsterdam

This was one dollar.  I have been holding on to it for some time meaning to tie it in to Amsterdam. A couple months back, flights were $500 or so.  When I looked last month, they were $1,300 but I need to make sure I have the right dates.  Really want to go in December for the Lights on the Canals Festival, but it is not the most fiscally prudent thing to do at this time.

But when I do go, I occasionally see these large organ type machines this album is showcasing, usually on the street mentioned on this album, on Kalverstraat just south of Dam Square.  Big, colorful, and with many moving parts, these things called Gavioli Draaiorgel Jupiter on this record, have been pretty noticeable while I was there.  Yet I do not have a picture of one.  Funny that.

Well, I now have a record of it from Capitol Record’s International series.  Released in 1956, this is record is a collection of tunes grouped by categories. There are songs of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Tangos, waltzes, marches, and Dutch South African songs among others.  It is an ok little album that sounds just like you would imagine.

For a sample, I decided to go with a trio of songs about Dutch towns, “Just Give Me Amsterdam”, “My Own Rotterdam”, and “There is Only One Den Haag”.

Decent album.  Satisfactory.  I mean if you bought it thinking it would sound any different, shame on you.  As far as going there this year, we shall see. I have always said where there is a will, there is a way.

Pedro Harras-Hecho En Venezuela / Musica Para Exportar

This was another international pickup from the hot spot of used international records, Half Price Books of Sugar Land.  This was $4.

There is no really any other way a putting it than Venezuela these days is a real messed up place.  Three weeks ago, there were anti-Maduro out over by the Galleria area.  Not going to really delve too deep into the subject being a full hemisphere over, nor being in a spot to lecture anyone as to how democracy works.  

So in regards to this album, this is a collection of songs from Venezuelan artists.  According to the back cover, the orchestra and choir is by Pedro Harras.  Songs are from such famous Venezuelans as Luis Felipe Ramon y Rivera, Rafael Gonzalez, and Jose La Riva Contreras.  I have heard from one source that this came out in the 60’s.  From another, I have heard 1973.  It was apparently made for export purposes, according to the title.

In fact most of the information I got on this record came from a Google translation from a fellow music blogger which I offer here:

“The disks of the seal BASF and POLYDOR have the defect of not indicating the year of production. Despite this, we occupy this place in the 1970s,

Once again, we have seen the need to edit the content to correct errors or omissions in copyright, which is a constant in MADE IN VENEZUELA discs.

We seem very good musical arrangements – with some resemblance to those of RAY CONNIFF – that this production offers us.”

Link to original blog post

For a sample, I went with a tune co-written by Juan Vicente Torrealba entitled “Campesina”.  Good little number.

Anyway, decent little album of Venezuelan tunes which seems to have its own unique sound as compared to its neighbors.  I liked this record.  It seemed to share some characteristics with Northern Brazilian and Colombian music, yet it had its own flavor as well. Satisfactory.


Peters and Lee- We Can Make It

This record was a bit pricey at $3.00.  I think the purple suits as well as pink lettering made me buy it.  I also liked the sunglasses on the dude.  I thought it made him look like Jose Felicano and that perhaps he may be blind as well.

Well, that hunch was correct.  Lennie Peters (born in 1931 in London and an uncle to the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts) was blinded in one eye after a car accident at age 5.  At age 16, fate cruelly came for the other eye after an incident with a thrown brick.  Despite this handicap, he became a piano player on the British pub circuit with two singles before meeting actress and dancer Diane Lee (born in Sheffield in 1950).  

Although she started as backup singer to Peters, the two became a folk/pop duo in the 1970’s scoring hit records in the 1970’s with numerous television appearances.  The duo split in 1980 with several reunions thereafter until the death of Peters from bone cancer in 1992. I believe Lee still performs in some capacity today or perhaps I just did not want to look into it any further.

This was the duo’s first album, released in 1973.  It was a #1 record in the UK and has the distinction of being one of the few #1 albums in Britain not to be transferred to CD format.  The album was bolstered by their hit single “Welcome Home” which was also #1.  Overall, a decent album.  Peters is really at the forefront of most songs. I really liked “Cryin Time”, “There They Go”, and “Never My Love”.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Good Morning Freedom”, I think because the wah-wah guitar.

Decent album but a bit higher than I would have liked and I do not think it translates well outside of 1970’s Britain.  But being that I am in a good mood today, satisfactory,  That is really what my reviews come down to: what side of the bed I get up on,


Martin Denny- Afro-Desia

Saturday means quick posts.  Also, since I have done many posts on Martin Denny, this greatly speeds today’s entry along.  This was from the bunch of records I got from my friend Micahl so it was at a cost of $0.00.  

This could have been Denny’s sixth or so album, released in 1959 on Liberty Records.  This collection as the title would suggest as well as the back cover would state, draws its inspiration from Africa.  Lot of really good songs on here that I have posted from other artists including “Baia”, “Temptation”, “Simba” and “Siboney”.

In what is the ultimate bout of laziness, a link to Ambient Exotica’s album review.

But for a sample, I decided to go in a different direction for once and post “Cubano Chant”.  I think it was the vocal chants that drew me to it. Also, the rest of the album skipped heavily and I was too lazy to clean it.

Really good album though.  Top Rated.

Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Band- Play the Zydeco

Friday could not come fast enough this week.  And what a way to kick of the weekend with some zydeco.  Well, as the Stanley Cup Finals are winding down, so is crawfish season.  Did not eat a whole lot of it this year.  In fact, I ended up eating it once at Ragin’ Cajun this season.  It is hard to judge how well this season was.  I know last season was pretty massive.  Anyway, this was $3.00.

My first memory of Queen Ida is seeing her on Saturday Night Live in 1985(Pee Wee Herman was the host).  This was in the middle of SNL’s decline of sorts, the season that critics called awful but what I quite enjoyed. (For the record, the critics also hated the late 80’s/early 90’s which were probably SNL’s best years).  Anyway, during this time, top musical acts were avoiding the show somewhat in the 1980’s, forcing SNL to take chances on bands that were not necessarily mainstream. Not today.  SNL does not take chances anymore like they used to, music wise.  The music on the show today has become quite boring in comparison (although the fact that I am 40-something and these bands are for 20-somethings and teens may have something to do with it.) Anyway, I rambled enough with this subject.

I believe this is Queen Ida’s first album.  Released in 1976 on GNP Cresendo, this album features Queen Ida’s brother Al, on guitar and vocals as well as .her older brother Wilbert on rub board. Pretty good album as was the last one of hers I posted.  As for Ida, according to wikipedia, she retired in 2010 but still cooks for her family (see last post of hers for more detail about her cooking or Google it).

I had a bunch of choices for samples.  Favorite songs of mine included “Lucille Kanai”, “The Cherry Tree Song” and “Tayo Zydeco”.  I did decide to go with the opener”Rosa Majeur” or Rosa of Legal Age.  I also went with “Creole De Lake Charles” which was Ida and her family hailed from before moving out to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

Dennis De Souza- Moods 2

This was $1.00  It had a decent amount of songs that I liked on it.  Plus it looked like one of those small localized records that I seem to like.  Oddly enough, the small, local records as well as the tourist/souvenir records seem to be the most viewed on this site.  The way I figure, someone is searching (or possibly Googling themselves) and my blog about their small effort comes up, hence the increased popularity of my site.  

This record as well as Dennis De Souza are from Trinidad.  Well technically De Souza, a musical prodigy,  was from Guyana, (born in 1935?) but a stop over in Trinidad on a trip to England to study composition began a love affair between the artist and the island.  De Souza did not take the trip to England and instead, stayed in Trinidad.  It should be noted that it was not music that initially drew him to stay. It was cricket.  It was during a celebration party at the Port of Spain hotel, that he was asked by the hotel band leader to play piano.  That led to a lengthy stay at the hotel as well as a run at various hotels throughout the Caribbean.  De Souza died in 2012 at the age of 77 from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.  He died in Canada.

Obit for De Souza

This record, which I am guessing is a follow up to Moods 1, is by my guess a hotel souvenir/ tourist album.  It features De Souza’s piano work pretty prominently.  De Souza is backed up by his trio drummer Johnny Marquez and bassist Knolly Sorzano. Kenny Soranzo (who I am guessing is related) provided the occasional acoustic guitar.  A good collection of songs featuring “Mandy”, “My Elusive Dreams”, “The Way We Were” and his own composition “Nicky’s Theme”.  Who is this Nicky? Well your guess is as good as mine.  But overall, this is a nice album.

For a sample, I went with “Jumbie Call” which I felt was a good number.  I probably wanted to go with “My Elusive Dreams” but if memory serves me right, I think it skipped.

Good album. Satisfactory. Lately, my fact checking has been reduced to one source and mainly Wikipedia at that, so if anyone finds something non-factual. please let me know.  Leave me a comment and I will amend my site.