Clarence Bucaro’s new album Walls of the World is available now on 20/20 Records.
“Finding an unknown vinyl gem feels like discovering a secret road to somewhere really special.”
“When I am record shopping at my favorite shops I will go home with records I am familiar with or ones I know mostly what I’m getting into. But often times I will go home with a couple blind shots in the dark. Perhaps I liked the cover, the title, the artist’s picture, etc…..and ever so often one of those blind chances will end up being a rare piece of my collection I could not do without.
Many of times of course taking chances on certain unknown records burns me (yes, Bill Evans Symphony Record….I’m looking at you…and that Gram Parsons Lost Recordings buy I made in 2009….I still feel like a fool for that one) but in my collection I can think of 5 pieces that were just magical finds that have given me countless hours of inspiration, reflection and joy.
I have my favorite spots for shopping in the country (Amoeba in LA, Used Kids in Columbus, OH, and Academy Records in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) and these five I discovered at these three over the past years and I still revel in their discovery every time I put them on or share them with a fellow music loving friend. I love taking chances on new records, it’s at least half the fun of record shopping and when you catch a good one, it feels that fate has somehow given you and only you a little gift.
The Last Request: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ben Branch and the Operation Breadbasket Orchestra & Choir 1968
Moments before Dr. King was shot he leaned over to the orchestra leader of Operation Breadbasket (a Southern Christian Leadership Conference affiliated Chicago based organization featuring the young leader Jesse Jackson at the height of the Civil Rights Movement) and requested Ben and the group perform “Take My Hand Precious Lord” at a rally in Memphis, Tennessee for Garbage Workers.
This would be his last request as minutes later his young life was taken from the world tragically. This record, recorded in 1968 for Checker Records 13 days after Dr. King’s death is filled with raw passion and sorrow. It’s such a yearning and beautiful expression of sadness. Ben Branch’s sax solos are so meaningful and Reverend Clay Evans vocal on Motherless Child gives me chills every time. I have looked over and over again for this record (to have a backup incase it stops playing or warps) and I can’t find it anywhere including on CD. It’s also very difficult to find much information on the record but I feel all I need to know every time the record plays.
The Legendary Alberta Hunter: The London Sessions 1934
I had never heard of Alberta Hunter. This recording was reissued in 1974 by DRG Records. Hunter, from Memphis, Tennessee was acclaimed by Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith and performed frequently in Paris and London. This recording was done live at the Dorchester Hotel in London in 1934 and her voice reminds me in a way of Edith Piaf’s. Jack Jackson and Orchestra provide tasteful strings to accompany her elegant voice. I found this record at Academy Records in Williamsburg and was really glad I took the chance. It’s gorgeous.
The Gospel According to Dylan
The Los Angeles Gospel Choir 1971
An all-star ensemble of who’s who in background singers gathered in 1971 to do a record for A&M Records of some of Dylan’s finest tunes and it never fails to be magical! I’ve heard so many “gospel versions” of Dylan tunes and found them to be very uninspired, but this one rings with joy from the first note.
The first track of this UK import is a rendition of “Times They Are a Changing” that I can still remember the very feeling I got the first time I put it on. This record is so gorgeous and again I have searched since and can’t find any copies out there in the universe. My favorites are “Times Are a Changing,” “I Shall Be Released” and “My Back Pages” which is stunning on the lines “I was so much older then, I’m younger then that now.”
Vou Dar De Beber ‘A Dor
I have always been attracted to mournful music both in the US and abroad whether it be the blues or Cuban boleros or Fado music of Portugal. I first was introduced to Fado music through a movie. Fado music is music of melancholy and longing and love and was played in the poor streets of Lisbon. It’s quality is one of a dramatic portrayal of loss through song.
When in the international section at Amoeba Records I saw this record by Amelia Rodrigues. I thought the cover was striking and her dark eyes were captivating. I took it home and fell in love with it. It had a sad longing quality in it but also a playful tone to it. Little did I know she was the Queen of Fado and that all fado comes and goes through her.
The Heart, the Faith, The Soul of Clara Ward
I picked this Verve record up cause I usually trust their unknown (to me) releases. Well this one came as a shock to me. Her voice was so strong, Mahalia Jackson strong. I couldn’t believe I had never heard her name before. This lush record is a stunner. Clara’s voice is so strong and the strings behind it only help her voice cut deeper.
Clara’s life was supposedly filled with unhappiness and she was seemingly overworked in her life by her family amongst others. “I Pray for People” is gorgeous and this record feels like it could just as easily be a soul record as it is a Gospel record.”
5/24 – Shank Hall – Milwaukee, WI (w/Anders Osborne)
5/25 – Space – Evanston, IL (w/Anders Osborne)