Saturday, April 16, 2011

Omni: from the not so lucky country, back to US.

Americans make great music. There might be a lot of shitty things we hate about this place, but no one can argue that we make some of the greatest fucking music ever produced by the human species. Many of us are descended from British settlers, and the language we speak is still called 'English', but now it is they who emulate us. This is no great revelation. For instance, The Rolling Stones have never been anything other than a rhythm and blues band, trying their very hardest to emulate their idols: Chuck Berry, Scotty Moore, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, the list goes on, and on, and on. Led Zeppelin were the same.

I hear people comment with some degree of incredulity that it is the Europeans- the Germans, for example- putting together all these collections of American music and then selling it back to us. The Bear Family label is a good example, not to mention all the hundreds of rockabilly comps like the Desperate Rock'n'Roll or That'll Flat Git It serieseses.

I'm not really leading up to any major point here, only that...DUH! We humans frequently take for granted what is easily accessible or at least familiar, and rhythm and blues, rock'n'roll, country and rockabilly certainly are that to Americans. It isn't really surprising then that an Australian label is now giving us back some of the bitterest, weirdest, not-square-est country music we've ever made. I'm talking about Omni Recordings, a project of basically one guy who happens to have a taste for American country music and has licensed quite a wide range of it from Columbia and other original labels. In many cases, he is using the master tapes and reissuing recordings that were previously available only on 78s. A friend of mine who works for Allmusic got this as a promo, and I decided I could no longer be aware of the great shit Omni was doing without asking for some of it for WCBN. As a college radio station, it just isn't in our budget to go out and buy everything we want, so we have to ask for freebies. That is how things work. In the old days, radio was free advertising for record companies.

So I wrote to Omni, and I asked nicely and said please, and would you believe, I received a reply saying they were trying to cut down on promos because postage was so expensive from Australia but what the hell, since I made a great case for WCBN. Two weeks later a box arrived, with 12 CDs in it. It was far more than we expected, and then last week another bigger box with even more goodies in it arrived, and all we've done is fax the guy some money for the international postage. We now have practically the whole Omni catalog.

This post is basically me urging all three of you to buy something from Omni. Even if you don't like country, there is probably something there you will like. He is reissuing Bruce Haack, for example, for all you vintage electro heads. Keep the man solvent so WCBN can keep playing more great American music. And all music. On this phony, dying-music-industry-created "record store day", be glad there are still labels out there making great stuff available to you.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Manheim, I'm posting comments on my own blog. I think it works.