This month we'll flash back to one of the more eclectic record companies of the past. Indeed, this CD is appropriately titled Takoma Eclectic Sampler. Founded in the 60's by guitarist John Fahey, Takoma Records had its beginnings as a label dedicated primarily to releases by guitarists/composers. They later switched to a more diverse mix of American folk music, including some incredible blues recordings. Takoma was purchased by Chrysalis Records in 1978, and the company's better days were behind them.
The Takoma Eclectic Sampler is not all blues of course, but most of us will enjoy the variety found here. The disc begins with "World Boogie" by Mississippi Delta blues artist Bukka White, who was re-discovered by Fahey in 1963. Another Mississippi native, Dr. Ross, plays some exceptional harmonica on "Mama Blues" from the album Dr. Ross - One Man Band.
One of my favorite cuts is Ronnie Barron's version of the Art Neville hit "Cha Dooky-Doo," a spirited New Orleans party stomper. Did you know that Barron was once slated to be the original Dr. John prior to that role being assumed by Mac Rebennack?
Maria Muldaur did a gospel album for Takoma in 1980, and from that record we hear "Just Like An Eagle." Featured backup singers include The Chambers Brothers and The Burns Sisters.
Blues rock legends Canned Heat with Harvey Mandel and Michael Bloomfield each have a cut on the disc, and Spencer Davis does a good version of "Crossfire" from his 1984 album.
Of course there's got to be a cut from Fahey, and the guitar master does "Indian-Pacific R.R. Blues" from his 1981 "Live In Tasmania" record.
Among the better non-blues cuts are some great Texas honky-tonk from Sir Douglas Quintet ("I Keep Wishing For You") and a hot country number from Rose Maddox. What a singer!
Takoma Eclectic Sampler closes with the most eclectic number of all, a recording of The Santa Monica Pier Merry-Go-Round. Hearing "Washington Post March" again brought back vivid memories of my high school marching band days.
Other artists contributing tunes to this collection are Cal Hand, Ron Thompson & The Resistors, Swamp Dogg, Ron Cuccia & The Jazz Poetry Group, Colin Winski, and spoken word artist Charles Bukowski.
- Bill Mitchell
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