Spotify Finds

Smithsonian Folkways is the not for profit record label from the Smithsonian Institute. Begun as Folkway Records in 1948, they've been dedicated to documenting "people's music," "spoken word, instruction, and sounds from around the world" which continued right through and on from their acquisition by the Smithsonian in 1987 at the death of the founder Moses Asch.

Folkways were one of the first labels to publish world music and to promote American folk music, the likes of Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seegar and as their website explains, "Topics included traditional, ethnic, and contemporary music from around the world; poetry, spoken word, and instructional recordings in numerous languages; and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, current events, and natural sounds. "

One of the conditions of their funding was that all of their two thousand odd titles would remain in print even if they only sold one copy in five years and the company continue to publish new material, three hundred items per year and, as I'm sure you've guessed considering the title of this post, it's all available on Spotify.

The best way to get a measure of what's available is to look at their website and click through the catalogue entries. Drama, African American music. documentary, language records, sounds, science and nature, a fascinating array of material originally released on wax, then cd, now streaming, continuing the company's educational trade. To be honest it's best if you simply go in and explore.

Here are some sample titles to give you a flavour:

Bluegrass Blast: A Mixed Bag of Ol' Timey Music

The Original Read-In for Peace in Vietnam

An Actual Story in Sound of a Dog's Life (which sounds like a precursor to This American Life)

Computer Music (which sounds like nothing else you've heard before)

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: The Complete Play

Che Guevara Speaks (or sings?)

Scottish Bagpipe Tunes

When I Was A Boy In Brooklyn

Barbara Dane Sings the Blues

Radio Moscow and the Western Hemisphere

Fasola: Fifty-three Shape Note Folk Hymns: All Day Sacred Harp Singing at Stewart's Chapel in Houston, Mississippi

12-String Guitar as Played by Lead Belly (as taught by Pete Seegar)

The Spotify Playlist returns next week.

the joke about Dogville

  • The Ten Most Influential Films of The Last Ten Years
  • Chooses the underrated Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Hilarity ensues in the comments. Someone misunderstands the joke about Dogville.

  • Clement Freud RIP
  • I'm still getting over the loss. Freud, like Humphrey Littleton is the kind of figure who you'd imagine would live forever and whose voice will be greatly missed from the radio.

  • You Are No Longer Here: Huge Pictorial Update
  • Insightful commentary on the Pet Shop Boys's almost unwatchable film. I managed to sell my copy at Vinyl Exchange for a tenner back in the day.

  • Your next box set: My So-Called Life
  • Nice piece though I think he's a bit harsh on Claire Danes -- I can't think of her ever giving a bad performance. It's fairly shocking to realise though that I'm probably getting up to the age of the parents. Dare I watch it again now?

  • Fox News Figures Out Why Everyone Was Laughing at...
  • Lol, rofl, etc.

  • The True Genius of the Tea Parties Revealed!
  • Incoherence more like. At least at the G20, the protesters seemed to know what they were protesting about. Here, people are throwing around words like fascism and communism about as though they're the same thing, clearly without any idea of how offensive they're being. By all means call someone a socialist -- but at least be able to back that up with some evidence.

  • Scotland Police List Jedi As Religion
  • Lol, rofl, etc. etc.

  • Space is the place for a diverting episode of 'CSI'
  • I've never seen a whole episode of CSI or any of its spin-offs. Or Stargate. And on the subject of 'I've Never Seen Star Wars' type discussions have you seen the one with Nigel Havers yet? Cultural tourism, certainly, but you'll not believe what he did in the name of a low budget BBC Four comedy programme.

    I know this highlighted quotes thing is a bit annoying, but I'm too tired to offer anything which could reasonably described as coherent commentary...

    ... plus my feet are throbbing from my new shoes or as I like to think of them, the medieval torture implements I'm choosing to put on my feet on a daily basis like a vest of thorns.

  • Zooey Deschanel's Cotton Commercial!
  • In which she does an advert for the US cotton industry whilst apparently simultaneously parodying Katie Perry's image. Download the song here.

  • AE12: Hairy Facades
  • "Today the use of thatching is departing from its traditional form, being used as roofs but also walls, what I'm calling hairy facades."

  • How to Throw a Beach Party (In Your Apartment)
  • "Can't wait for summer?"

  • Healy Mapping Mission
  • "As rising temperatures melt the polar ice cap, five countries race to map their claims to a new energy frontier. The stakes are huge. Nearly a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas may lie beneath the seabed of this vast wilderness."

  • When *Bloggers* Attack!
  • "Mike Morgan, the creator of the gripe site (clever Number of the Beast usage there, Mike) did what many bloggers often talk about but rarely do; he went on the legal offensive."

  • “Let the wild rumpus start!”
  • "President Obama reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are to a group of children"

  • Open letter to all film and TV directors

  • Waldeath
  • "I have seen hell, and it sells processed cheese and lawnmowers. And it is next to a motorway, and has a carpark the size of the moon. And before you know it, it will suck you in and you will walk out with a debt and a bag and a confused look on your face."

  • The Daily Mail: Campaigning both For AND Against the HPV Vaccine in Different Countries Simultaneously
  • "Are they insane?!"

  • They Really Wanted a Photo
  • "hree weeks ago, in Yemen, somewhere between Aden and Zabid and near Taiz — it could have been shortly after Lahj —"

  • The Most Precious Gift I've Been Given
  • "Only a few times in this space have I touched on my upbringing and family life as a child..."

  • Interview: Janeane Garofalo on 24, Henry Rollins,...
  • "I was offered a good job. At first I passed on it because of the right-wing nature of a couple of the writers. But then I realized A) I'm not being me, B) I was unemployed, and C) a very good friend of mine is on it, Mary Lynn Rajskub. And she loves it there."

  • Paul Brown on the Beatles' continuing online absence
  • "Frustratingly for digital music fans, the Beatles and a handful of other high-profile acts continue to occupy a small but significant gap in the online catalogues of the likes of iTunes and Spotify, preventing listeners from downloading and streaming some of the world's biggest artists."

  • *Google News* Scoops Next Steps in Google Search
  • "The age of the algorithm is over."

  • Clay Shirky on the failure of #amazonfail
  • "This isn’t because I am a generally stupid person; it was because I was, on Sunday, a specifically stupid person."

  • Doctor Who's Comedy Vehicle
  • " It didn't feel like a special, nor did it feel like a regular episode. Forever trapped in the some weird TV hinterland - like a daytime tv programme you can only glimpse through a convoluted series of angled mirrors."


    Music Yes, this is the final countdown.

    Also, doesn't the opening track on this soundtrack medley for the new Star Trek film sound like Nessun Dorma?

    Also watch out for bits of Puccini, Wagner, Beethoven and Alexander Courage.

    off-line play mode

    Music Spotify are working on an off-line play mode. In other words, playing music you've already streamed without the need to be on-line. Wow.

    already seen this

    Humour Uncomfortable plot summaries. You've probably already seen this, but just in case, a sample:
    DARK KNIGHT RETURNS: Aging sadist corrupts, endangers minor, facilitates murder, destroys superhero comic books for 30 years.
    DEADWOOD: Pimp and rapist charms frontier town into eventual fire-based disaster.
    DEMOLITION MAN: In a future where crime is completely eradicated, a black man steals and murders.
    DIE HARD: Dysfunctional cop saves marriage by murdering foreign national.
    DIRTY HARRY: Police incompetence allows murderer to go free.
    And of course...
    DOCTOR WHO: Elderly man serially abducts young women.
    Some of the additions in the comments are just as funny. Especially the one about SERENDIPITY.

    And today's readings ....

  • Sometimes the Story
  • "Sometimes you are in the story..."

  • Howard Jones heroically covers Dido's White Flag
  • "We've got a new feature for you here on, whereby we trawl the depths of YouTube for weird and wonderful Dido-related videos, then post them with a comment from Dido herself."

  • Liverpool's Lost Dock opens for first time in 200 years
  • "The Old Dock opened in 1715 and marked the beginning of Liverpool's rise to become an international seaport. Its construction was a technological innovation and represented the start of Liverpool as a Maritime Mercantile City."

  • Lindsay Lohan posts 'dating ad' on the internet
  • "I'm looking for a compatible mate who likes a night out on the town, as long as he or she is driving of course, likes ankle monitoring bracelets, and doesn't have family members quick to issue restraining orders."

  • The Man Who Lost His Job For Discussing a Seinfeld Episode
  • "In the episode, Seinfeld tries to guess the name of his date, which he knows rhymes with a part of the female anatomy (her name was Delores)."

  • X-Men: First Class is a Prequel, NOT a Spin-Off
  • “So it’s young Scott, young Jean, young Beast and that’ll be really fun"

  • How WENN uses copyright threats as a sales tool
  • "I took the image down (one image of a polar bear is not worth the fight) and instead replaced it with a still from German TV footage of the exact same incident."

  • Spreading like wildfire: Twitter, Amazon and the social media mob
  • "Hitting temperatures of up to 1000°C, the radiant heat from the racing wall of fire destroys everything before the flames even get close."


    That Day Sometimes you feel you feel the need to say something but aren't sure how to say it. So you must leave it to someone else:

    [via] [explanation]

    had time

    People Scarlett Johansson writes for Huffington Post about tabloid rumours regarding her weight. Reminds me (a bit) of Elizabeth Wurtzel:
    "Since dedicating myself to getting into "superhero shape," several articles regarding my weight have been brought to my attention. Claims have been made that I've been on a strict workout routine regulated by co-stars, whipped into shape by trainers I've never met, eating sprouted grains I can't pronounce and ultimately losing 14 pounds off my 5'3" frame. Losing 14 pounds out of necessity in order to live a healthier life is a huge victory. I'm a petite person to begin with, so the idea of my losing this amount of weight is utter lunacy. If I were to lose 14 pounds, I'd have to part with both arms. And a foot. I'm frustrated with the irresponsibility of tabloid media who sell the public ideas about what we should look like and how we should get there."
    Added to the list of celebrities we wish had time to keep a proper blog.

    as a Wordle

    Life I can't believe I haven't done this already. Here's my MA dissertation (less contents pages and reference) as a Wordle:

    Click here for the big version.

    Newer readers: can you tell from that jumble what the thing was about?

    This wasn't automatic

    About Watch this:

  • Brown aide Damian McBride's resignation: one more down for the bloggers
  • Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead
  • Starlog’s Final Entry
  • Jesus found in Lego
  • Caption Challenge: Barack Obama and Peter Rabbit
  • Jay Rayner reviews Time and Space, Royal Institution, London
  • Camera Obscura
  • “…And That’s Easter - On BBC North East & Cumbria!”

  • For ages, probably years, I've been looking for an easy way of dumping links into blog posts to record what I've been reading. I've looked at all kinds of ways of doing it automatically, emailing delicious links through feedburner, this and that. But nothing has really worked. There was something in 2004 which lasted for about a month, but even then all kinds of editing was required.

    This wasn't automatic, but it worked:

    (1) Installed the Firefox add-on Extended Copy Menu 1.6
    (2) Scooched on down the sidebar of this blog to the list of Google Reader shared items under the heading 'sharing'
    (3) Blocked some links. From today and a couple of others.
    (4) Opened up the Blogger posting window.
    (5) Paste.

    I can't believe how easy that is. It does create a maze of html, but I can still add sources and offer some commentary if I'm in the mood:

  • Kristine Lowe: Brown aide Damian McBride's resignation: one more down for the bloggers
  • I can't believe people are surprised by this. The only difference between what happened here and between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (as shown in Stephen Frears's film The Deal) is that the conversations happened in emails rather than verbally which meant they could be forwarded on.

  • Woman Who Talked Too Much: Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead
  • This may be my favourite review.

  • Star Wars Blog: Starlog’s Final Entry
  • etc.

    Of course, all of this is simply because Google seem to have cut back on Blogger's development and aren't adding features which the likes of Wordpress have had for years. I like Blogger, but this is silly.

    a livejournal feed for this blog

    About Someone has created a livejournal feed for this blog, which you might find useful if you're that way inclined. I like the name, listless_feed.

    Reminds me of the last time I visited a Macdonalds.

    Buddum, chish.

    the soundtrack to my bus ride home last night

    Life Here's the soundtrack to my bus ride home last night. A woman shouting into a phone all the while her companion telling her to keep her voice down. I might have paraphrased this a little bit, but the gist was:

    "Hello? Hello is Suzanna with you. Is she? Well you tell err that if she's not home by eleven, I'll rip her face off and dance on err head. I'll fucking kick her head in. And I'll phone the police and get them to do the same. An arrest err. No. I'm going 'ome myself now. I don't want to see. Actually tell err if she does come 'ome I'll fucking kick err fucking face in. Actually, tell to come home to I can rip her face off."

    By then, I was confused as to whether Suzanna would even want to go home and was tempted to ask. But luckily my stop drifted into view.

    Amazon isn't evil

    Commerce Anyone who reads my Twitter feed will know that I've been following the #amazonfail debarckle over the Easter weekend (posting my own knee jerk reaction here to the reaction late on Easter evening before thinking better of it and deleting it from the blog but not before it turned up in the RSS feed). Throughout (or at least since my own knee jerk reaction to my own knee jerk reaction about the knee jerk reaction) I've believed four things:

    (1) Amazon isn't evil or homophobic because ...
    (2) Someone at Amazon probably pressed the wrong button
    (3) Some people were jumping to conclusions based on rumour and hearsay. Was it a hacker? Was it...
    (4) Amazon needed to release a statement about it in order to offset the rumour and hearsay

    Overnight (if you're in the uk) Amazon finally released a statement and an explanation is at hand:
    "After hearing from people on the inside at Amazon, I am convinced it was in fact, a 'glitch,'" he says on his Web site. "Well, more like user error--some idiot editing code for one of the many international versions of Amazon mixed up the difference between 'adult' and 'erotic' and 'sexuality.' All the sites are tied together, so editing one affected all for blacklisting, and ta-da, you get the situation."
    (2) led to (3) because (4) didn't happen quickly enough. So there was an #amazonfail but not of the magnitude some of us thought.

    unintentionally funny

    Film Before the six suspense films Alfred Hitchcock trotted out Waltzes from Vienna, the story of Strauss Jr writing The Blue Danube, and a film which sight unseen you’d at no point suspect was by Hitchcock. His only musical, it’s another piece he hated working on, and it’s reputed half way through shooting he gathered the actors and crew together and told them as much. It’s usually described as the worst things he ever made (presumably by people who haven’t sat through Juno and the Paycock) but it’s actually rather charming probably because in places it's so unintentionally funny.

    Perversely, I think it's become one of my favourite Hitchcock films. It’s the kind of biopic in which a composer seemingly plucks a game changing piece of music from the air and knocks it out on paper without much in the way of preparation or feverish revery so that it can spend more of its time charming us with the love triangle between Strauss and his patron and shop girl girlfriend. The dependable Edmund Gwenn is hilariously grumpy as Strauss Snr and you’d have to have a hard heart indeed not to be moved when the opening strains of the tune drift through the soundtrack at the conclusion.

    Someone has been good enough to upload the film to YouTube which is where I watched it. The transfer is very good in HD mode and despite Hitch's animosity to the material it’s still technically well planned with a virtuoso opening based around a fire at a bakers shop and some trickery being employed at the close to turn what’s obviously a very small set into a giant concert area for the premiere of the tune, by suggesting the camera is shifting through 360 degrees through some Rope-style cross wipes at strategically placed trees and columns.

    Planet of the Dead.

    TV Now that the Doctor Who Forum becomes a members only club after a ‘major event’ like the broadcasting of a new episode, I decided to search Twitter to find out what other people thought of Planet of the Dead. Unsurprisingly, even though a percentage of twittererers are the 'not we' or 'casuals', the comments are much the same a mix of ‘it was the shits’ and ‘it was shit’ along with people wanting to communicate the fact they recorded it/forgot it was on and that Russell T Davies is rubbish/God that David Tennant should/shouldn’t be going and that Michelle Ryan is well fit/too posh (I’m paraphrasing). In fact the only different I can see between Twitter and the discussion board formerly known as Outpost Gallifrey is that people tend to use their own faces as their avatars rather than a shot of Beacon Alpha Four and no one’s asked in which year it was set and the UNIT Dating implications.

    My initial tweet was “Doctor Who, short review: ****.” Here is the longer version.

    Given his propensity to turn the Christmas episodes into seasonal extravaganzas, you could almost forgive Russell for repeating the formula here, perhaps with Earth invaded by a killer bunny flying a battle egg like some evil mammalian Mork from Orc or inviting controversy by borrowing the plot of Garry Kilworth’s short story Let’s Go To Golgotha! (in which some time tourists insight Pilate to save Barabbas instead of the other guy). You have to imagine that the man who resurrected the Macra must have considered for at least a few seconds the return of Bassetts copyright bater The Kandyman with a mission to rot children’s teeth (if the saccharin conclusions to some recent episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures haven’t done the job already).

    Perhaps realising that Easter is difficult holiday to cater for (especially now that Woollies is closed), the egg was chocolate, the Jesus reference was veiled and what we got was something more akin to a standard season opener extended out to an hour with the introduction of a cool new companion (sans family for a change), some foreshadowing and a vertical action sequence. I can see why some might be disappointed by this stand alone antidote to the continuity heavy previous episodes, with only four episodes to play with this year and only three left now until the new Doctor comes calling, but for production reasons it’s difficult to see how a proper story arc could be built with at least seventh months between the first and second. Plus, most of Russell's stories have been powered by a bunch of random elements crashing into each other -- why stop now?

    Their strategy seemed to be to create what looked like a screen adaptation of one of the BBC Books with some real money thrown at it to try and create what might be going on in the reader's head. That’s not a criticism, since in recent times some of those have been very good indeed, invisibly extrapolating the television series into prose. Most of their stories, like this special, and in spite of their own medium, do tend to keep their timescale short and their locales spare, often beginning with a chase who’s relevance only becomes apparent later before settling down into introducing some humans in need, some alien bystanders and a massive threat that needs to the avoided by the two hundred and fortieth page.

    As we discovered in The Writer’s Tale, most of the Doctor Who scripts are ‘collaborations’, in some cases page one rewrites, so it’s difficult to know, despite them sharing the credit, how much of this was tapped out by Davies or Roberts. Either way, having chosen a relative simple premise of 'bis in peril', the execution was the expected clever mix of screwball comedy and running about usually at the same time. If, as Chris Bidmead suspects in that amazingly mean-spirited interview from this month’s party newsletter all of these scripts are first drafts, they’re still fairly well structured for all that, even if it was a bit exposition heavy in the middle on that ship. But weren’t they always, even in the old days, even in a Bidmead script, which had to work without the pretty pictures. I'd take The Mill over Quantel any day.

    Sensing that simply having the story stuck on the planet with the bus would be a repeat of Midnight’s claustrophobia, the writers brilliantly also included what was happening on the other side of that wormhole, offering a kind of faded photocopy of the 70s Pertwees if The Brig was a disloyal loony and the Doctor played by Norman Wisdom with a Welsh accent. The debate’s already raging on Twitter (well I’ve seen one or two tweets, Neil) about just what Lee Evans thought he was doing, but it’s ages since we’ve had a genuinely offbeat, offcentre, slapstick benign character in the series and well, if you’re going to have flying vehicles, wormholes and time travel, you have to have a Doc Brown.

    Dead3 Malcolm was an example of the old fashioned straightforward characterisation that ran through the script. The writers just didn't feel the need to flesh out the inhabitants on the bus, again in contrast to Voyage of the Damned where they arguably had too much. Just a bunch of humans in need of saving, the Doctor presumably warming to them because unlike in Midnight his fellow passengers thought him charming, trusted in him and did what they were told -- and that moment in which they talked about what they had to go home to was lovely, like that scene in Father’s Day talking about what the timelord can never had which makes it even more important.

    This is a story in which no one is specifically evil (or misguided or whatever Russell’s opinion on the subject is this week) just caught up in one of the spectacular natural processes of the universe with the Doctor as their only way out. I always thought I’d probably like Voyage of the Damned a bit more if the disaster had only been caused by the meteors and not another alien nutter in a mobility chair and on this occasion it led to some good old fashioned five rounds rapid with the beautifully rendered giant space mutant plankton finding the sharp end of a UNIT canon and the back end of a flying London bus. Only in Doctor Who.

    That sequence demonstrated that James Strong’s become rather more comfortable with directing big action since his slightly off-kilter Dalek New York stories and he was ahem strong in other areas too. At time of writing I’ve not seen Confidential or heard the podcast, but I’m willing to bet someone mentions Star Wars or Lawrence of Arabia and all of that sand (not to mention the certificate defying skeleton). Time was that desert worlds in Doctor Who amounted to some hopefully forced perspective employing some polystyrene hills and a painted studio wall. Not any more.

    Dead4 No matter what some might have thought beforehand about the wisdom of going somewhere else to shoot sand when there’s enough beaches around the Welsh coast, the Dubai jolly really paid off with some amazing pictures of the leads silhouetted against the landscape, the sheer heat of the planet expressed rather more forcefully than the crew of Star Trek managed in their Final Mission (the one in which Wesley left). The series has always had a certain filmic quality, but in HD now it genuinely does, and offers plenty of material for the Currys showreel.

    But of course, all this is merely a rambling preamble to the real reason the episode worked. Michelle Ryan as Christina. For years she’s been near the top of the list of actresses I’d like to see as a companion and Lady De Souza’s exactly the kind of character I’d hope for, similar in temperament to Jeckyll’s assistant Katherine than Zoe Slater. Ryan's performance channelling Margaret Lockwood in The Wicked Lady (ask your granddad), Christina was a human aristocratic enough to look as incongruous on a London Bus as The Doctor, her teaser antics underscoring that she’s a larger than life figure, genuinely different to the shop girls, trainee doctors and temps.

    Tricked out in Bionic black, Christina’s really was one of the best companion introductions ever and the script cleverly did everything you’d expect a script introducing a companion to do before that final rejection which showed that the Doctor really does want to travel alone, that he’s had enough of the tragedy of loss, of turning his friends into soldiers, Davros’s words having hit home. Imagine as ever the impact that rejection scene might have had at the beginning of a series with the pre-publicity suggesting that this new companion would be with the Doctor for the whole thirteen.

    Which is why there’s no fifth star. Because in a perfect world, we’d have another twelve episodes of Tenth and Lady Christina flying around time, the Doctor trying to tame all of her thievery, passing back and forth their witty banter like the new Tom and Lalla. But I am willing to add a quarter for the random ROBOT and Quatermass references. No chance the third special is about The Doctor teaming up with Bernard at the British Experimental Rocket Group with Jason Flemyng as his nibs? And another quarter for the message of foreboding from the soothsayer of the episode. I almost expected a cutaway to a tall man dressed head to foot in cream material.

    @twitter Not classic, not that original, but lovable, funny, grin inducing & just enough 2 tied me over until xmas which seems lk a win 2 me. What more cud U want from a 200th story?

    Next: I’ll be reviewing Torchwood for five nights in a row. Oh yes. Just try and stop me. Doctor Christina San Helious.

    pass it on

    That Day It's lunch time already, though I'm no longer hungry having devoured bacon butties and chocolate eggs. In the middle of all those (Whispa, Cadbury's Creme Eggs (which I always thought was spelt 'cream') and Roses) was a rather good compilation of Hollywood Movie Themes which covers most of the bases and some I hadn't thought of, recorded by the likes of the Budapest Strings, Hungarian State Opera Orchestra and the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra.

    It's not available on Spotify, so to pass it on I've put together this playlist for you:

    Hollywood Movie Themes

    Unsurprisingly I have scribbled a few notes about last night's Doctor Who which I thought was pretty marvellous even if the fan reaction has been mixed, largely amongst the kinds of people who don't tend like this kind of episode. The twitter reaction amongst the 'not we' was very positive, which is probably what's most important. Doctor Who's no longer made for the fans whoever they etc.