None But One
Ritchie’s Singing The Traditional Songs Of Her Kentucky Mountain Family (1952) was Elektra’s first folk album, sung in the purest of voices, accompanying herself on a dulcimer. Ritchie would record for all the key NY folk labels before taking a break in the late ’60s. With None But One, she resurfaced, perhaps surprisingly, on Sire. She adheres to the expected traditional songs and instrumentation – albeit in a more ensemble setting with family and friends like Eric Weissberg adding additional guitars, mandolins, even drums. Mary Travers, Susan Reed and Janis Ian add their voices – “Wondrous Love” a wonderful choral piece. Only discontinued on CD last year – grab one while you can.
EXPECT TO PAY: £15
Paradise Don’t Come Cheap
(Gee Street, 1996)
Entire generations have grown up in the shadow of gangsta rap, blithe to the existence of other forms. It’s a crime, then, that this low-slung classic is now available only on Japanese import. For their ominous second LP, New Yorkers Nosaj and Sebastian took hip hop out of the city and dragged it into the dusty Southwestern hinterlands, adding opiated brass, wah-pedalling guitars and the kind of growled flows that made Ol’ Dirty Bastard sound lucid. Cypress Hill and their dope-addled Spanglish are, perhaps, one contextual touchstone; Jimi Hendrix gets a namecheck. But the heaviosity of their breaks and breadth of New Kingdom’s fear and loathing still stuns, 14 years later. A work of urban outsider art, too long neglected.
EXPECT TO PAY: Paradise might not come cheap, but this will, at £5…
From Gardens Where We Feel Secure
(Happy Valley, 1983; Rough Trade, 2003)
Daughter of the composer of TV’s The Saint theme, and Pete Townshend’s sister-in-law, Virginia Astley intended her pastoral ambient suite to evoke the passage of a timeless English summer day. Over gentle, minimalistic drifts of piano, string quartet and woodwinds, she and co-producer Russell Webb (The Skids) spliced field recordings taken from the Oxfordshire countryside: distant church bells, a creaking swing, ticking clocks, plashing oars, bleating livestock and twittering skylarks. Originally issued on Astley’s own Happy Valley via Rough Trade, Geoff Travis’ operation finally put out a CD in 2003; now deleted, it, too, has become highly collectable.
EXPECT TO PAY: £40 should do it