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12" 1980s 33 rpm Folk LP World music

Solitary bird in flight

There are times, here on Planet Vinyl, when inclusiveness is a challenge. Manuel’s syrupy strings. The testosterone-soaked roar of heavy metal. Not my thing, really – but all music is good music if it brings people joy, whether to millions of people or even only to the musician creating it. But yes, it is nice […]

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12" 33 rpm Choral Singing Folk LP World music

Something wonderful grew

Joseph Shabalala had a dream. He was to create a male voice choir which would sing with heavenly harmony and bring change to his land and to the world. All of which, for a black man in Apartheid South Africa in 1964, was preposterous. But Shabalala did form his choir, and though it took a […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Comedy Folk LP World music

Tough love

The Beatles throw a long shadow, such that other parts of the rich musical tradition of Liverpool can get a bit lost. Like many other ports and industrial centres, Liverpool drew waves of migrants in search of work. Each community brought their own music, and the result was a melting pot of influences from all […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Compilations Folk LP World music

When the boat comes in

If you were around in the 1970s you are likely to remember When the Boat Comes In, a television drama set in a working-class British town in the years after the First World War. It was a drama about disillusion. The men who returned from “the war to end all wars” struggled to deal with […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Folk LP

Marking time

It is marking season at the university where I work. I love my job, but not this bit of it. I once wrote a song about it: The unmarked essays pile high I start to scan with dread The words of those who cannot write ‘Bout books they have not read To make the task […]

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1960s 45 rpm 7" Country Folk Single

Sun filtering though curtains

She was a southern belle with big hair and a husky voice, and for a short time she was the biggest thing in country music. Born in Mississippi in 1944 to dirt-poor farmers, Roberta Lee Streeter managed to get to college, where she studied philosophy and music. She was good at both, and adopting the […]

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12" 1970s 33 rpm Folk LP World music

Mountain music

The things I know about Nepal can be put in dot points: Mountains (generally, and one very big mountain in particular) Sherpas (who help rich westerners climb said mountains) Kathmandu (the city, not the clothing franchise) A Maoist insurgency Yaks That’s about it. Of the music of the people of Nepal, I had never heard […]

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12" 1960s 33 rpm Dance Folk LP

Kali or an octopus

The uilleann pipes is a musical instrument of such extraordinary complexity it could only have been invented by the Irish. It is related to the bagpipes, but you don’t blow into it. The uilleann pipes is inflated with a small set of bellows, strapped around the waist and the right arm. It has three sorts […]

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12" 1960s 33 rpm Folk LP

What became of her?

Somewhere in his sprawling masterpiece, Moby Dick, one of Herman Melville’s characters muses that “It’s a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians”. We are all interlinked and intertwined and astonishing coincidence happens so often that we should cease to be astonished. Even so. I was listening to an old LP, a compilation called Hootenanny Vol. […]

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12" 1930s Choral Singing Folk LP

Hear the real Maria

Sound of Music tragics, of whom there are many, will tell you that there is a scene early on in the film in which Maria, played by Julie Andrews, passes through an archway, and you see an old lady in the background. That, so I have heard, is the real Maria von Trapp. A fellow […]