The Last Poets – Chastisement (1973)


The Last Poets – Chastisment
1972 Blue Thumb Records – BTS 39
This reissue, Celluloid Records, 1992

Tribute To Obabi (Ogun) 10:16
Jazzoetry 3:46
Black Soldier 5:56
E Pluribus Unum 4:38
Hands Off 4:05
The Lone Ranger 0:28
Before The White Man Came 3:43
Bird’s Word 6:10

   Artwork By – Jim Dyson
Bass – Jon Hart (tracks: A1, A2, B5)
Congas – Obabi, Omiyinka (tracks: A1, A2, B5), Omonide (tracks: A1)
Cowbell – Alafia Pudim (tracks: A1)
Engineer – Tony Bongiovi
Other [Undefined] – Last Poets, The* (tracks: B3)
Photography – Edmund Watkins
Producer – Last Poets, The, Stefan Bright
Saxophone [Alto] – Sam Harkness (tracks: A1, B5)
Saxophone [Tenor] – Sam Harkness (tracks: A1, A2, B5)
Shaker – Bessermer Taylor (tracks: A1)
Vocals – Monjile (tracks: A1), Okantomi (tracks: A1), Olubiji (tracks: A1)
Voice [Poet] – Alafia Pudim (tracks: A2, B, B5), Suliaman El-Hadi (tracks: A3, B2, B4)
Written-By – Alafia Pudim (tracks: A2, B1, B5), Suliaman El-Hadi (tracks: A3, B2, B4)

Produced by The Last Poets and Stefan Bright for True Sound Communications, Inc.
Recorded at Media Sound Studios, New York City
Manager for The Last Poets: Obawole Akinwole
All Selections: Spoet Publishing Corporation


I had a request to repost this one, so here it is.  The early work of the Last Poets, like Leroi Jones/Amiri
Baraka, or Gil Scott-Heron, has to be contextualized in the Vietnam era
of post-MLK, post-Malcom X Afrocentricity, anger and indignation, or else any
interpretations you make are going to be as clueless as the kind of stuff they publish on, let’s say, the All Music Guide…  Anyway, the Poets records are ones I listen to
occasionally rather than frequently (in contrast,for example, to Gil’s work), not
so much because of its intensity but because they are more interesting
poetically than musically most of the time.  This record has a lot more
variety than their first two, however, although not as much as the next one, “At Last” which is probably the most compelling to my ears.  The jazz elements in the instrumentation that are only occasionally present here are given pride of place on “At Last” so that also probably explains my predilection for it.   (Unfortunately for “Chastisement” one of those tracks here is “Bird’s Word” which is a bit tediously didactic.)  The opening cut plays like a
long candomblé or santeria invocation, drawing down the blessing of the
Orixás on the rest of the music that follows.  It goes without saying that The Poets didn’t shy away from polemic.  The track Black Soldier questions the priorities of Black men going to fight in a foreign land in the name of a country that was also making war on their own people in the streets, “helping your oppressor oppress another man.”  Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin served as a paratrooper but was discharged for not saluting the flag; he’s sympathetic towards soldiers but thinks their skills could be put to better use at home.  The track is so tightly written, packed with excoriating critique, that it’s unjust to single out single lines.  But when they end the cut by warning that the violence in Newark and Detroit “wasn’t a riot, it was a dress rehearsal for things to come”, it’s chilling enough to make it clear why these guys were in the sights of COINTELPRO.     This album is also
impressive in that, given how much this music is tied in with a
particular place and time, it still sounds refreshingly relevant,
sometimes unnervingly and depressingly so:  listen to E Pluribis Unim
and you might think you’re hearing an anthem written for the Occupy
movement.  A classic, solid record all the way – I just wish they would get around to reissuing “At Last” already.

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Cascatinha & Inhana – Índia, Vol. 1 (1995) Recordings 1952-1960


1995 Revivendo RVCD 092
Recordings from 1952 – 1960

1 Índia
(M.O.Guerrero, J.A.Flores)
2 Noite de garoa
(Vicente Lima)
3 Mestiça
(Gonçalves Crespo)
4 Juramento sagrado
(Camargo, Arlindo Pinto)
5 Bombachudo
(Heitor de Barros)
6 Destino traçado
(Suely B. Languth, Euclides Rangel “Bolinha”)
7 Desilusão
(Paulo Freitas, José G. Paschoal “Zuzo”, Manoel Freitas)
8 Rolinha [La Paloma]
9 Flor da saudade
(Armando Neves)
10 Flor do outono
(Antônio Viana)
11 Na casa branca da serra
(Guimarães Passos)
12 Nossa noite
13 Asunción
14 Jangadeiro do norte
(João de Barro)
15 Dona do meu coração
(José de Oliveira Mendes, Ercílio Consoni)
16 O direito de viver
(Mário Pinto da Mota)
17 Aliança
(Antenor Bosco)
18 Casinha pequenina
19 Recordações de Ipacaraí [Recuerdos de Ypacaray]
(D.Ortiz, Z.Mirkin)


The reissue label / series Revivendo is sort of a Brazilian version of Yazoo or Arhoolie, minus a graphic design department (their artwork is all uniformly awful..), specializing in quality compilations of music from the era of 78s and recording artists who made their name singing live on the radio.

Such is the case with the husband and wife duo Cascatinha and Inhana, who sang a little bit of every popular style but are considered “música sertaneja”, roughly analogous to country music.  These days música sertaneja gets a bad rap: remarkably similar to the trajectory of its North American counterpart, it has become more centered around guys in big hats and tight pants, with overblown stage shows and pop-saturated schlock for their repertoire.  But in its golden days the style produced lots of great music.  A major influence on early música sertaneja was the Paraguayan genre of the “guarânia”, a style developed in the 1920s that is usually attributed to a single composer, José Asunción Flores.  The popularity of the genre spread though southern Brazil across the border from Mato Grosso do Sul in the 1940s.   The indigenous name for the style seems to have more to do with erudite fascination for romantic-nationalist poetry and literature that sought the roots of Paraguayan identity in the ‘noble savage’ and popular folklore, ideas also familiar to any Brazilian forced to read José de Alencar’s “Iracema”.  But musically the form took most of its cues from European music blended with Paraguayan rhythmic sensibilities of syncopation; in particular Señor Flores was toying around with slowing down the polka.  He is responsible for many of the most enduring compositions in the genre, several of which are included on this compilation.  It’s also worth mentioning that if you love the use of the accordion in acoustic music, as I do, you probably fall in love with this stuff instantly.

Cascatinha (Francisco dos Santos) originally played the drums and got a job touring with a circus, where he learned the guitar and eventually met his wife, Ana Eufronsina da Silva (Inhana).  He had begun perfoming as a duo with another man, nicknamed Chope, and they decided to relocate from the interior of São Paulo and try their luck in Rio de Janeiro, where they performed on famous radio programs like those hosted by Ary Barroso and Paulo Gracindo.  Chope and Cascatinha had a falling out, and looking for a quick replacement he handed the job to his wife Ana – a musical partnership that would endure for 40 years.  They continued performing at circuses, on the radio, and in the late 40s began working under contract to Rádio América and then Rádio Record, where they stayed for 12 years, and appearing in films.  In the 1950s they began recording 78s for the labels Todamérica and and Continental.  Their fifth release catapulted them into national fame – the two guaranias “Índia”, backed with “Meu Primeiro Amor”, both written by the genre’s godfather José Asunción Flores and adapted by Brazilian composer José Fortuna.  ‘Índia” is the song that drove me to find out more about this duo — A lot of people here will know it better from the version Gal Costa recorded for her 1973 album of the same name, with exquisite embellishments by Dominguinhos on the accordion.  Interestingly, it became a hit again in Brazil just within the last couple years, being covered by a fresh-faced lass in the sertaneja style — I don’t remember her name, but I saw her performing it on TV and although it was still a little too glossy and over-produced for my taste, I admit that she does it justice.  Or rather, she could have destroyed the song, but didn’t.  The B-side of this historic 78, “Meu Primeiro Amor,” by any logic should have been included on this compilation, but the marketing wizards at Revivendo slyly featured it as the centerpiece of the second volume of Cascatinha and Inhana works.  (And, alas, I do not have it..)  This song would also end up being covered by Nara Leão on an album of the same name during her semi-retirement, but without nearly the kind of impact as Gal’s recording of Índia.

The recordings on this collection are all lovely stuff.  Being veterans of contexts like the circus and live radio, these two were capable of singing any genre:  canção, valsa (or waltzes), samba, ranchos, and even a baião and a tango are represented on this collection.  I have taken the trouble to include ID-tags detailing the composers and the associated styles for each track.  Cascatinha and Inhana’s vocal harmonies are impeccable, and it has to be acknowledged that the romantic leaning of all the material is made all the sweeter by the knowledge that they were apparently happily married up until the time of Ana’s death in the 1980s.  Still, it is the guarânias that stand out here and mark the duo as trail blazers in the Brazilian articulation of this musical style.  The compilation closes with another fine example, “Recordações de Ypacaray,” once again a direct adaptation of a Paraguayan success by Demétrio Ortiz.

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Curtis Mayfield – There’s No Place Like America Today (1975)

There’s No Place Like America Today
Released 1975 on Curtom
Reissue on Charley / Snapper 2001

1 Billy Jack 6:07
2 When Seasons Change 5:23
3 So In Love 5:10
4 Jesus 6:10
5 Blue Monday People 4:45
6 Hard Times 3:42
7 Love To The People 4:06

   Arranged By – Rich Tufo
Bass – Lucky Scott*
Design – Lockart*
Drums – Quinton Joseph
Engineer – Roger Anfinsen
Guitar – Phil Upchurch
Illustration – Peter Palombi
Keyboards – Rich Tufo
Keyboards, Guitar – Curtis Mayfield
Percussion [Congas And Bongos] – Henry Gibson
Producer, Written-By – Curtis Mayfield


(Special Independence Day post for our United States readers…)

It’s hard to pick a favorite Curtis Mayfield album, and my judgment is
surely clouded by the fact that this album was under-celebrated at the
time and still often overlooked.  But as speaking objectively as I can,
this is surely Mayfield at the top of his game.  And possibly my
favorite album.  Clive Anderson’s liner notes on this Charly reissue may
be a bit pretentious, opening up with a citation from Wordsworth, but
they do pretty much nail the album and do it justice.  The album is truly like
an extended meditation on the American underclass, and particularly the
despair in the Black communities of the mid-70s.  He is right to point
out that (unlike previous albums, like his landmark Superfly), this
record “refrains from excoriating Black Americans for their
predicament.”  Gone are the warnings about self-destruction, as well as
the anthems of ‘racial uplift’ like Move On Up or Miss Black America.
It’s as if the utopian optimism born in the Civil Rights movement, and
its counterpart in revolutionary consciousness like that found in the
Panthers, have fizzled out into a resignation to grim realities.
Still, the record may be spare and solemn, but it’s not bleak.  Music
can still get you through the Hard Times, and Mayfield manages to show
us the redemption found in everyday moments and daily struggle, of
turning to the people close to you when everything else has let you

It’s worth pointing out that the song ‘Hard Times’ was
first recorded by Baby Huey on his one and only album, produced by
Mayfield.  And even if it’s one of the funkier cuts on the record, it’s
still downbeat, much more so than the Baby Huey’s frantic version.  Also
there’s no adlib about living on Oreos and drinking Thunderbird.
Further testament to Mayfield’s genius that he could recast his own
compositions into such different contexts and wring two different
stories out of them.

this is also one of the BEST SOUNDING CD’s I OWN.  It makes me want to find the other Charly pressings of Curits’
stuff, because the Rhino reissues sound really harsh by comparison.  I have the vinyl too and this Charly / Snapper is as close as you’ll get to perfection short of that.


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