The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Out There #2

Out There (again)

Americans can be pretty snobby (snooty?) about their language – I remember once trying to play a game with another record collector, “Name your Most Obscure Records!” – and he merely came up with some stuff that wasn’t really obscure – it just wasn’t sung in English! In fact, I think he even cited even a fairly popular French artist of the day…and I was thinking of stuff like – are there records that I own where I can’t even read the name of the artist or label – or title of the record? Yes, to all three – I have several Japanese language spoken word records – the only one I even have a vague idea about is one where it (supposedly) tells the listener “how to act during an earthquake”. I have some Vietnamese or (possibly) Thai records that I can’t read ANYTHING on the entire package – song titles, even the name of the label! I have some old records from India – the only thing not written in Indian anywhere on the record are the words “Made In India” – something the South Africans seem to know something about – in New Zealand, I found some South African pressings of some fairly well-known records – but nowhere on the record did it say where it was from – but if you see the words “Gallo” (a mighty S.A. publisher) or “Interpak” (the folks who printed the LP covers) – it’s a safe bet that the pressing you have is from South Africa.

I have Greek LP’s that I can’t read – but I can recognize the (multi-national) record label – I remember going out and buying a GREEK – ENGLISH dictionary, but…I do not recall successfully finding any of the Greek words in the dictionary that I wanted to. I didn’t know what order the alphabet was in etc. – which is something I always enjoy about used CD stores in Japan – what the heck order are they in? Sure, they are separated essentially by genre – but most of them file the artists under their first names – so all of the ‘Johns’ are together: John Lennon, John Denver etc.

I’ve got home-made / vanity records that have little or no text on the cover or label – kind of like test pressings, but…’finished’. No idea who the artists are. I’ve had a few ‘psychedelic era’ records that I could never quite nail down – “The Eddie Sears Conspiracy” – is this thing Dutch? It certainly looks like a Dutch pressing – but Eddie isn’t in the lexicon of Dutch Pop & Rock. From someplace else – Scandanavia, perhaps? I bet there are some un-identify-able records from France – I certainly have some funky hand-made records from La Belle France. I never even got close to understanding how the sub-genres separated once you get to African music – I know that I like most everything I’ve heard by Manu Dibango (his book “Three Kilos of Coffee” is absolutely wonderful!) – but – apart from him being from Cameroon…I think of all of those catalogues from Sterns – are they French guys in New York? Who can possibly know what all of that stuff is? (I know, I know – people in Africa!).

It’s also amusing for me to arrive at how little I know about ‘classical music’ – I am just lost, if we’re not talking 20th century music. In Kunitachi, Japan – I wandered into a store called “Apollo Records” – and (not being able to read Japanese and not recognizing anything) it was all classical music (on compact disc). When I go through the used classical LP’s at Canterbury in Pasadena – I go as much for the labels and pressings (HMV UK, anyone?) as I do the artists. Heitor Villa-Lobos, anyone?


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