Boomkat Product Review:
Honest Jon's has spent the last two years delving through more than 150,000 78 records in the temperature-controlled steel vaults of EMI's Archive in Hayes, Middlesex. Following studious compilations of West African and Iraqi music of the 1920s, the latest release in the Honest Jon's Hayes Archive series is a sparkling late-summer lucky dip, Sprigs of Time. An eccentric survey of the Hayes shelves, Sprigs of Time is thirty tracks recorded between 1903 and 1957, everywhere from England (Percy Grainger's recording of the title song, sung by Joseph Taylor in 1908) to Japan (the bewilderingly beautiful Seigaiha, by the Japanese Imperial Palace Band, five years earlier). Organ rolls from Georgia run alongside Tamils impersonating motorized transport, and rumba from Beirut; forties fado sits next to the songs of Bengali beggars. As with the other Hayes releases, the tracks have been restored at Abbey Road and are beautifully presented, with extensive contemporary photographs. There are recognizable names (Joseph Taylor, the incomparable Fairuz, the Mighty Sparrow and an uncredited Ruben Gonzales, singing lead vocals on Rumba Negra) and extraordinary oddities (Vengopal Chari's rather unfunny Laughing and the peculiarly affecting hand bells of Gas All Clear). Taken out of the library and put back on the turntable, every track here is remarkable; every one worth the saving. Highly Recommended.