Alan Lomax left the United States in 1950, just as the Red Scare was setting its sights on left-leaning folk lovers like him, and relocated in England for the next nine years. Lomax, however, wasn't the type to remain idle wherever he was, so he actively collected folk music in Europe during the interim. Two stops along his way included Ibiza and Formentera in 1952, two islands off the coast of Spain, both representing folk cultures that had experienced, at the time, little modernization from the outside world. In the footnotes to The Spanish Recordings, Judith R. Cohen and Esperança Bonet Roig note that "there is no tradition of singing in harmony, and few songs are sung collectively." The music, then, has no association with what many listeners might consider "Spanish" music. Some songs are sung without instrumental accompaniment, others with no more than a drum backing (tabor). Other instruments include castanets (larger than those used in Spain), a sword scraped with a nail, and a cane pipe. From today's point of view, the vocals and music here are very rough-hewn, but that is -- from Lomax and other collectors' point of view -- its very charm. The Spanish Recordings reveal a people and a way of life that offer the uninitiated listener a window into these isolated cultures. As with other entries in this series, the liner notes are helpful and extensive. Lovers of authentic folk music and culture will appreciate the collection.
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