World Music Network is pleased to announce the release of two new Rough Guide compilation albums! The Rough Guide To Tango Legends: Carlos Gardel and The Rough Guide To East Coast Blues are available with the subscription to World Music Network or can be enjoyed via a one-off purchase!
Carlos Gardel’s style and charisma set him apart from all other singers and musicians of his time. This definitive collection of 27 lovingly remastered classic tracks shows why he remains the undisputed ‘King Of Tango’.
‘Every day his singing gets better,’ say the Argentines about Carlos Gardel. For nostalgic tango lovers all over the world, the passage and dusty patina of time only adds to his value and his beauty. There’s something about Gardel that sets him apart from all other artists and musicians, and which keeps him safe and sure in his position as undisputed number one tango legend. But no one quite knows what it is.
Born in Toulouse in 1890, Charles Romuald Gardes and his beloved mother, Berthe, sailed to South America in early 1893. They were just two of many thousands of economic migrants trying their luck in Buenos Aires. Berthe made a living as a laundress in the Abasto district. Her son – renamed Carlos Gardel to fit in – sang at private parties, and then strummed and sang in a folk duo with José Razzano. In 1912 he recorded 15 folk songs as a soloist.
But the key years were between 1917, when Gardel released his tango debut, ‘Mi Noche Triste’ and launched a genre known as ‘tango cancion’, and 1935, when he died tragically in an aeroplane accident in Medellin, Colombia, aged just 44. In this period he released more than 750 songs – many of which he penned the music for – visited Europe and the USA, and made eleven feature films, all vehicles for his toothsome smile and his tremulous baritone.
Undoubtedly the most varied and fun loving form of country blues, the East Coast blues was influenced by the ragtime traditions of the early twentieth century and pioneered by some of the greatest blues guitarists that ever lived.
The East Coast blues is a style born in the Piedmont region of the US, which lies between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain, running from Richmond, Virginia, southwards through the Carolinas and Georgia to Atlanta.
Often referred to as the Piedmont blues, it is very different in style from the harder and intense sounding Mississippi Delta blues and was pioneered by some of the greatest blues guitarists that ever lived. Their unique approach to the instrument was primarily influenced by the ragtime traditions of the early twentieth century, as well as string band, banjo and other forms of minstrel/medicine show music. This musical development was due to the cultural blurring of musical boundaries in this region and a more relaxed racial atmosphere, as blacks and whites borrowed musical ideas, tunes and instruments from each other. This was quite unlike the more supervised and stricter lifestyles of the vast plantations in the Delta where such musical interaction was more limited.
Typically, the Piedmont guitarist would create an alternating rhythmic bass accompaniment by moving the thumb of the picking hand between the different bass strings of the guitar, whilst one or more fingers of the same hand would pick out the melody on the higher strings. Essentially this approach gives the impression that the guitar is being played like a piano. One of the greatest of all the East Coast players, Reverend Gary Davis, would often joke that the guitarist was lucky as he had three hands: a fret hand which fingered the chord shape; the thumb of the picking hand which would imitate the left hand of the pianist; and the index and other fingers of the picking hand to play what the right hand of the pianist would play.
Like the guitar style, the vocal delivery tends to be friendlier, more relaxed and without the tortured emotional intensity of the Delta blues. This gives the music an instant accessibility and warmth, beautifully highlighted by the laid back vocals of East Coast favourites Curley Weaver, Barbecue Bob and Brownie McGhee.