Various Artists - Watch The Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot - (Compiled by Kris Needs) Album Review
Fresh of the back of the Dirty Water compilation series Kris Needs takes on his most ambitious compilation series to date. Watch The Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot is a six volume, double CD series, charting the musical and social history of New York from the mid-40s through to present day.
The first volume is a double cd set focusing on the 1940s - 1950s. The volume goes beyond music and is accompanied by extensive liner notes uncovering the stories behind the songs and the artists that made them, interspersed with Kris' own memories of living in New York with assistance from Suicide's Martin Rev. For instance behind the pure joy and innocence of 'Why do Fools Fall In Love' it is difficult to imagine the poverty and desperation that lies behind this eternally beautiful song. Frankie Lymon was a 13 year old pimp and hustler trying to eke out an existence in the tough tenements of New York. Joining the Teenagers in the stairwell to sing songs, Frankie got his lucky break when an audition for a record label came through and the original singer was late. Frankie stood up to the mic and a piece of music history was made.
Again as so often with compilations it's the ones that you've never heard before that jump out to you and urge you to seek more. Josh White - one of the highlights of this album is another with a heartbreaking story. Becoming homeless from the age of 7 and literally singing for his supper, Josh accompanied bluesmen to get something to eat, witnessing along the way horrific racial attacks. Josh rose above this to make highly regarded political records preceding the likes of the Woodstock era and Marvin Gaye by several years. In fact you will have heard one of Josh's songs before in the form of Richie Havens's Freedom which became the Woodstock anthem.
Elsewhere on this album there's plenty which you will be familiar with such as the jazz greats - Duke Ellington, Theolonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davies. Cab Calloway brings Minnie The Moocher (who most will know off the Blues Brothers) plus Harry Belafonte. Overall well compiled and thoroughly researched. The music and the liner notes go hand in hand and complement each other extremely well. Looking forward to Volume 2.