Top Ten Documents of Old and Forgotten Sounds in 2009

By Jason Diamond

1. A Fine Romance (Nextbook) takes a look at the very hefty Jewish contribution to the Great American songbook. The work of names like Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and others is explored in this lovingly written book by poet David Lehman.

2. Documenting the generation after the big boom of Mississippi bluesmen making their migration north, Chicago photographer Michael Abramson made his way to his cities South Side, snapping photos from 1975-77 for what would in 2009 become the book, Light: On the South Side (Numero Group).

Vice posted some great shots from the book.

3. When Dust-to-Digital chooses to release something, you best believe it’s going to be of the highest quality. Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 is full of baptism photographs from the collection of Jim Linderman, with an essay by Luc Sante.

4. The More Than a Witness blog has been an incredible resource for finding some amazing treasures from the glory days of punk and hardcore. From Born Against and Sick of it All on WNYU, or a soundboard recording of the Buzzcocks from 1977, site curator Chris Prorock is the Alan Lomax of the genre.

5. WNYC’s presentation of The Jazz Loft Project Radio Series was a huge highlight at the end of the year.

6. As if his YETI Magazine wasn’t enough of a field guide to weird, and otherwise undocumented sounds (both old and new), Mike McGonigal has produced the collection, Fire in My Bones: three discs of rare American gospel from 1944-2007 that touches on rock, psych, funk and just about everything else. On Tompkins Square.

7. Anything you can label as 80’s German drone garage punk, is always a good thing. De Stijl Records should be thanked over and over for releasing the music of 39 Clocks.

8. Being credited as the person who invented “Ethio Jazz” is no joke, so it was a good thing that the folks at Strut decided to put together a retrospective of Mulatu Astatke’s that is much more comprehensive than the series Ethiopiques that was dedicated to his work. New York -Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz pays tribute to the guy that Jim Jarmusch used for the score for most of Broken Flowers.

9. Death sounded like every good Motor City band before them (MC5, Alice Cooper, Stooges), but nastier. Drag City did the world a favor putting out …For the Whole World to See, the slim discography by this band that was so good, it even caught the ears of the Old Gray Lady.

10. After having my mind blown by the comp, Nigeria Special, I didn’t think a follow up would be possible. Soundway Records proved me wrong with Ghana Special.

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