191

Various Artists: The Real Bahamas in Music and Song

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Various Artists: The Real Bahamas in Music and Song Here's the (hi)story in a nutshell. The Bahamas, a British colony, outlawed slavery in 1838, which meant that any lucky American slaves who could get there would be free, and the predictable outcome transpired. The music they brought contained the very roots of the blues, the connection between spirituals and folk music. And so generations around Nassau took this music as their own and turned it into something that today sounds at once familiar and distant: a new species.

These two volumes of music from the Bahamas feature 34 short songs which would almost fit on one disc, but alas, not quite. (A previous reissue chopped out a few to fit, but the collection is wisely preserved in its entirety here.) The music consists entirely of men and women singing, sometimes with guitars: alone, together, or in groups. Peter K. Siegel and Jody Stecher recorded this material in 1965 by going right to the source with a tape recorder, so this is a field recording and not a studio job. The original release dates were 1966 and 1978, respectively.

The dark spirit of Robert Johnson reverberates in Joseph Spence, the big star of the group. He launches into the only song not recorded in the Bahamas, picking and growling like he's coming straight out of the delta, but then he heads off into fingerstyle folk music, humming along toward a happy chord at the end. The refrain is the title and the message: "Don't Take Everybody to Be Your Friend."

The undertones to that little picker-upper are counterbalanced by "I Am So Glad" a few minutes later. Bruce Green leads a vocal trio through a freeform harmonized introduction, which eventually coalesces into pure prayer: "I am happy forever... newborn again." These are the voices of a strain of Christianity which embraces call-and-response trance music on the borders of choral music. But just voices, nothing else. The vocal style called "rhyming" is native to the Bahamas, as is the bright accent of the islands.

The great thing about these two records, both meaty and well-documented, is that they reveal a bridge between the dark (blues) and light (gospel) sides of American black music, embracing both equally as part of a greater whole. That separation never really happened in the Bahamas, it seems. Sing along, tap your feet, whatever. It's about being alive, one way or the other.

Visit Nonesuch Records on the web.


Track Listing: Vol. 1: We'll Understand It Better By and By; Sheep Know When Thy Shephard Calling; I Told You People Judgement Coming; Don't Take Everybody to Be Your Friend; Sailboat Malarkey; Up in the Heaven Shouting; Won't That Be a Happy Time; Out on the Rolling Sea; I Am So Glad; Come for Your Dinner; God Locked the Lion's Jaw; Great Dream from Heaven; My Lord Help Me to Pray; Numberless As the Sands on the Seashore; I Ain't Got Long; I Bid You Goodnight. Vol. 2: Mary and Joseph; Peter, You Need the Lord; Jesus Promised Me a Home over There; Troublesome Water; Kneeling Down Inside the Gate; Jesus Your Name So Sweet; Take Me over the Tide; When the Leaves Turn Red; That Glad Reunion Day; The Great Coronation; The Captain Go Ashore; Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold God's Body Down.

Personnel: Edith Pinder, Raymond Pinder, Geneva Pinder, Joseph Spence, Frederick McQueen, Reverend W.G. McPhee, Sam Green & group, Bruce Green, Tweedie Gibson, Clifton Green, Louise Spence, Shelton Swain, George McKenzie, Stanley Thompson, Stanley Swain, Ronald Swain. Vol. 2: Joseph Spence, Geneva Pinder, Edith Pinder, Raymond Pinder, Bruce Green, Tweedie Gibson, Clifton Green, Shelton Swain, Ronald Swain, George McKenzie, Lyndall Albury, Stanley Swain.

Title: The Real Bahamas in Music and Song | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "Life" CD/LP/Track Review Life
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 16, 2016
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Sunshine! Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review Sunshine! Quartet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Heavy Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Dance
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.