Special Offers

Excavated Shellac
The Excavated Shellac Special
Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM (Grammy-nominated box set) + Excavated Shellac: Reeds (new release on CD) + Excavated Shellac: Strings (available on CD for the first time)
Publication Date: October 2, 2015
Availability: In stock

Price: $50.00

Description: Vinyl LP includes download code + insert of extensive liner notes and photos / CD in digipak includes 20-page booklet
Publication Date: October 2, 2015
Availability: In stock

Price: $12.00

Reed instruments are capable of some of the most impassioned music on the planet, all due to the malleability of the reeds, themselves—historically made of plant tissue – which vibrate when air hits them. The origin of most reed instruments is steeped in rural, pastoral culture. Many insistent, loud, often joyful, reed instruments have always been played outdoors as traditional accompaniment for dancing and celebrations.

This compelling album is the second volume in the Excavated Shellac release series, featuring rare, never-before issued 78rpm records from around the world, centered on a unique theme. The previous volume (Excavated Shellac: Strings) focused on stellar stringed instrument performances. This release examines some of the most intense and hypnotic music set to disc during the early years of international recording, all featuring reed instruments. All previously unreleased on CD, with three bonus tracks not available on the newly-released vinyl LP. All records have been carefully transferred and mastered and are presented with extensive liner notes by Jonathan Ward.

Description: Vinyl LP (Out of Print), CD in digipak with 20-page booklet
Publication Date: October 2, 2015
Availability: In stock

Price: $12.00

Compiled by Jonathan Ward, Excavated Shellac: Strings features seventeen (including 3 bonus tracks not on LP) outstanding performances from the four corners of the world played on stringed instruments and recorded and released on 78rpm records circa 1920-1950. This vinyl LP features fiddles, shamisen, charango, Paraguyan harp, Indian vina, Lebanese oud, Persian violin, Vietnamese moon guitar, and more. Compiled by Jonathan Ward, all tracks are previously unreissued, carefully transferred and mastered and presented with detailed liner notes by Ward.

Description: 112 page book with 4 CDs, dozens of full-color images from the era, the CDs feature 100 never-before-reissued recordings from the 1909-1960s.
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Availability: In Stock

Price: $40.00

Grammy-nominated box set, compiled and edited by Jonathan Ward

From the Introduction to Opika Pende:

It is truly astonishing to consider the tremendous variety of music that was pressed to shellac discs on the continent of Africa. Popular songs, topical songs, work songs, comic songs, songs of worship, ritual, dance, and praise—the sheer range of musical styles resists any easy categorization. Further, African geography itself resists boundaries. The boundaries of cultures and languages are often far more complex than political boundaries. Complicating things further, entire countries seem to have been skipped over by both commercial 78 rpm record companies and ethnographers during the 78 rpm era. No doubt it was the same with many cultures. But that doesn’t mean that 78s weren’t everywhere, even in remote parts of the continent. By the mid-1960s, 78s were still a popular if not preferred medium in much of Africa, as a significant amount of the population still used wind-up gramophone players.

I have created this compilation with one simple goal in mind: to showcase a diverse amount of long-forgotten music from Africa that transports me as a listener. It is one person’s offering of music that is wholly unavailable except in its original elusive and fragile format. While it is not definitive, nor am I attempting to construct or invent a narrative, there are important connections to be made. Around one musical corner is another corner, and another. Within these 100 tracks, traditional music stands side by side with popular music as traditional culture coexists with so-called modernity. As a non-African, I offer this set as an example of the riches that lay in waiting when considering the tens of thousands of phenomenal African 78 rpm discs that were issued, played, dispersed, and in large part, forgotten.