I found this absolute gem four or five years ago in Manhattan on Lexington Ave near the corner of 28th at a particularly fabulous Indian cinema and music store that I believe closed down within the next year. The owner's son complained bitterly that the store was not doing well because they did not sell pirated material. Everyone, he said, preferred to get things on the cheap. But his father had integrity and sold only original discs.
Found at Thiri Video in east Elmhurst. Peter Doolan of Monrakplengthai had found out about this place a while ago and contacted me to see if I'd be interested in coming along with him on his first trip there. We finally met up today and made the trek.
I'm heading out the door, but I have another CD from the same store that I'll upload this coming week sometime, and when I do, I'll tell you all about our trip to Thiri.
Frankly, I'm scared to upload anymore music until September 1st, when my Divshare account limit zeroes out again. When I started this blog last year I had about 5 or 6 visitors a day; now I'm getting well over 100. By pop music standards, 100 people a day ain't much, but it's enough to push me up to the next level of Divshare accountage or whatever the word is that means "Gary, we're going to need a lot more money from you if you want to keep doing this."
But, what the hay. This is something I found on Argyle Street in Chicago a few years ago, and is one of my five favorite Vietnamese CDs. Hoàng Oanh is probably the most famous female singer from Vietnam prior to 1975 when, obviously, everything changed. I've got another fabulous CD from her on this site; just click on "Vietnam" in the label cloud to the right. I think Oanh now lives in Cerrito, Calif., and still performs.
I found this terrific CD, and two dozen others from the same (deservedly) legendary series, at one of my favorite Chinatown DVD/CD stores on Bowery. The shop, sadly, has since closed, though not before I happily absconded with their entire stock of these.
And, more upsetting, I don't know what's become of this series, either. Most that were previously available through yesasia are out of print, and have been for years. There is no website anywhere that I could find from the publisher. From what I can tell, this project has been abandoned.
A nice shout out about Bodega Pop from WFMU's "Beware of the Blog" reminds me that, in fact, my initial plan was not to do a blog at all, but a CD label. Talking with conceptual poet and WFMU DJ Kenneth Goldsmith, who encouraged me to consider doing a blog instead, ultimately led me (and now you) here.
Kenny was right, of course; I've probably posted more music to this blog in the first year than I'd have been able to publish in CD form, even if I lived to be 100. But a boy can still dream, can't he?
Were I to seriously consider a label, I think the very first project would be to compile a couple dozen of the most thrilling contemporary tracks from Japan, focusing on indy rock and some of the more accessible experimental stuff--from noodles and Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her to Melt Banana and OOIOO.
And that is, more or less, what I've done here. Some of this was found in Japan, but most of it was discovered online, a good portion of it at Rebel Japan Music, one of my all-time favorite music blogs.
If you like what you hear, I encourage you to seek out other music by the bands that intrigue you; many of whom, again, can be found on Rebel Japan.
And don't be too harsh on my imaginary CD cover--it's the first I've ever "designed."
Not so, as it turns out. I found Red Rock in one of my favorite Bowery Video stores, all way the in the back of the joint, where they keep the stuff from Korea and mainland China.
The rock versions of these communist songs are intentionally ironic; artists include Cuī Jiàn, whose "Balls under the Red Flag" I posted here.
In addition to a lot of the music on this admittedly uneven collection, I love the list of songs as translated into English on the back cover:
The long march newly on the road shakes to roll
The Chinese people's liberation army army song
Socialism is good
The small bird
Member of a society all is a light exposed to the sun
Colorful clothes clothing
Ideal and peace
Leave oil lamp light
The Chinese people's volunteer battle song
The detachment of women even song
We walk on the main road
The egg under the red flag
Not own a thing in the world
Feel too ashamed to show the face
Is not that I am in vain unknown
The end rises lucky its tommy gun
The tunnel warfare
The holding in arms armed forces flower drum
Learn the good good example of Lei Feng
The rambles in the sky
Mans and wives are in pairs the family still
It is full of water
Together Hong Bu
Girl is handsome
The ant ant
The river water of folk song in the spring of Caing be compared to
Beijing that good night
The beacon-fire Yangzhou road
The bird hovering
Check out this fabulously punked out video of Communist classic "She Hui Zhu Yi Hao" ("Socialism is good," the third track in Red Rock):
Found at a Thai/Cambodian grocery store in Portland, Oregon, a few years ago. Khmer Surin is a northern Cambodian/Thai dialect, similar to Khmer, but different enough that some suggest it be considered its own language.
Listen to a fabulous track from this CD. Grab it all here.
When I began collecting music from around the world in the 1990s, I could never have imagined that one day you'd be able to walk into a music store like Kim's or Other Music and find a solid row of rock music from around the world.
The same cannot yet be said for rap and hip-hop. There is so much out there, all over the world, that it seems likely that at some point some intrepid soul or souls will launch a label or two and begin a similar process for the genre.
There seem to be two kinds of non-American rap: That which attempts to sound in every way as close to contemporary American rap as possible; and that which creates a kind of fission (as opposed to fusion) between the source and host musics, the result of which is often exciting and genuinely new. Obviously, I'm far more interested in the latter.
Happily, that's what we have in the CD above, which I found in a music stall in Marrakeh's Jamaa el Fna.
Some day--perhaps some day soon--I'll put together a zip file of samples of rap and hip-hop from around the world that I've discovered over the last decade. Until then, enjoy the present disc!
Soon after I moved to New York City in 1997 I began to notice that bodegas run by people from around the world sometimes stocked CDs and DVDs of music and film from the countries they had come from.
The music I've collected from these bodegas can almost never be found in the "World Music" sections of the few remaining places to buy CDs in the U.S.; nor, for that matter on iTunes (or cheapo MP3 sites like Soundike).
If you are an artist or publisher and do not want your music here, just let me know and I'll remove it.