AMIRI BARAKA & THE SPIRIT HOUSE MOVERS - Black & Beautiful, Soul & Madness

Restocked. The original 1968 studio recording of Black & Beautiful, Soul & Madness by Amiri Baraka & The Spirit House Movers is finally available. Originally released on Barakas legendary Jihad label (along with the Sun Ra/LeRoi Jones collaboration A Black Mass. After 40 years of constant chatter and occasionally a snippet heard by some radio DJ who had a copy, this record has for most people been something that they heard about but never heard. Beautiful Black Women was both a love song and an anthem coming to us in the midst of the fire that was the 60s. Madness was always my favorite because it spoke about the ultimate conclusion of a society going mad. It is even more relevant today than it was then. With this release, Sonboy Records continues its commitment to re-issuing the entire Jihad catalog." - Thomas J. Porter.\r\n \r\n"The spoken word/soul/jazz album Black & Beautiful, Soul & Madness is both an invaluable artifact of its political and musical moment, as well as a challenge to contemporary listeners to listen harder and more thoughtfully about what our music is daring us to do. The opening track, Beautiful Black Women, features Baraka reciting, or rather expounding, his poem with accompaniment by an understated bass by Bobby Lyle and the Singers cooing the refrain from Ooo Baby Baby by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Anticipating the mash-up genre by several decades, Baraka and the Spirit House Movers throw down the gauntlet immediately: here we have, in one track, the soul-pop hit and Barakas exhortation to and excoriation of a Black American culture obsessed with Whiteness, the one sound commenting on and complementing the other. The juxtaposition is precisely the point. The performance is an embodiment of Barakas blues people (articulated in his eponymous book), the continuum of Black music and art that, he argues, resists a (Western) aesthetic that would divide art into high and low or folk and serious. We are not allowed to simply sit back and groove, although the groove is still there. The album could almost be played at a party; if enough drinks are passed around, the party guests might not notice Barakas conclusion that "The White man, at best, is corny"...The work is not merely historical or documentary (although that aspect of the recordings is crucially important); these records must be heard, in all their shocking beauty and ugliness, as part of a living art." - Brent Mix/\r\n\r\n"Black & Beautiful, Soul & Madness was the first word-music record I did completely devoted to this form. One piece on a New York Art Quartet side earlier, but Black & Beautiful was recorded at my home and in the small theater my wife, Amina, and I built there The Spirit House (33 Stirling St.) shortly after I had returned home to Newark, NJ, after the implosion of the Harlem based Blacks Arts Repertory Theater-School. Spirit House, like the Black Arts, was created to present Black theater, poetry, music and political dialogue. B&B was not the only side done on those premises, under the record label we created, Jihad A Black Mass with Sun Ra & His Myth Science Arkestra was another. Sonnys Time Now with Sonny Murray and Donald Ayler the third. B&B featured Yusef Iman, an actor I met at the Black Arts who began to come to the Spirit House after the Arts folded. Yusef was a member of the Spirit House Movers & Players which we shortened to The Spirit House Movers (inspired by the dudes in a bar we went to who worked for a moving company). The singing group B&B, the Jihad Singers, was an R&B singing group that Yusef was a member of, the lead singer Freddie Johnson, who I never saw again after the record date. All the musicians were local. Singer Aireen Eternal was Yusefs wife. In our mind we wanted to create world-music that reflected the Motown vibe so popular in the late-60s. Beautiful Black Women used Smokey Robinsons OOOH Baby, Baby as a model. Black And Beautiful was created by Yusef & Freddie and seemed a classic R&B du-wop send-up. But we also had a clear vision of what we wanted to say regarding the Afro-American struggle for equal rights and self-determination, at least we thought of ourselves as cultural workers, revolutionary artists pushing the program as some of our cultural nationalist comrades were wont to say. I think you can feel our excitement and commitment." - Amiri Baraka, September, 2009. \r\n\r\nThe Spirit House Movers: Freddy Johnson (lead & tenor), Leonard Cathcart (tenor), Aireen Eternal (2nd tenor), Gilbert Monk (baritone), Yusef Iman (bass), LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) (spoken-word).

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After nearly a decade of false starts, multiple game plans veering off the rails, and a handful of shattered hopes and/or dreams, the odyssey is finally complete—the new Fusetron site is here.

This is the first phase of a multipart rollout that will span the next few months: the currently browsable stock includes miscellaneous new releases from the past 8+ months (we have a lot of catching up to do), plus approximately a third of our backstock. Note that we’ve reduced/slashed prices on many titles and will continue to do so in order to make room for new stock. We’ll also be expanding / tweaking / improving / debugging the site itself (for example, we still have work to do on the automated international postage system, not to mention the inevitable inventory discrepancies that come with transferring an ancient and massive database to a new system).

Over the next few months, as we take inventory, clean house, and delve into our storage, we will be uploading thousands of additional items, gradually, on a near-daily basis. This will include the majority of the LPs, as well as many titles, in all formats, once thought long-gone. Many currently “sold out” items are likely to resurface.

Finally, once our general backstock is up (probably in the next two or three months) we’ll begin making our extensive stockpile of rarities available online for the first time: tons of random out-of-print titles, "deadstock," warehouse finds, secondhand collectibles, etc., accumulated over the past few decades.

Frequent/returning customers will be getting early access to these items. Details to follow on how this will work (a priority mailing list? a 'frequent flyer'-like program?), but it will not be based on dollars spent. We want to reward those who consistently support us, especially in the discogs marketplace era (to those who show up trying to poach five copies of a one-off rarity, and nothing else, ever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).

So—we suggest you take some time to dig through the site—even we’ve been surprised by what’s been turning up, and there’s much more to come.
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