Friday, April 27, 2007
The original Sound of the Suburbs
It seems fitting that I follow up yesterday's post on A Hawk and a Hacksaw with another piece of Eastern European folk goodness. This time it’s real gypsy folk. That is, played by real gypsies.
This album I’m posting from here is by legendary gypsy singer Romica Puceanu, who performed with the even-more-legendary Gore Brothers in Bucharest in the 1960s and 70s. The CD is in the Sounds From a Bygone Age series, from which my previous post on Dona Dumitru Siminica was taken. That was volume 3. This album is volume 2. And interestingly, in a seamless link with yesterday, the last post on A Hawk and a Hacksaw’s myspace blog revealed that they were listening to volume 1.
Anyway, back to Puceanu. She was known as a singer of traditional ‘cantece de mahaha’ or ‘songs of the suburbs’. These suburbs, on the edge of Romanian towns, were where gypsies settled following the abolition of Roma slavery in 1864. There they entertained people in garden cafés with songs with rustic themes, but given ‘urban’ arrangements. Romica recorded her first album with the Gore Brothers in 1964 and was apparently known for turning up at the studio with a teapot filled with cognac! She was said to be a lively funny woman, and despite her inability to read had a vast repertoire of songs which she sang with her unique, haunting voice. We can all hear that.
Unfortunately Romica was killed in a car accident on the way back from a wedding performance in 1996. This album has lovingly restored some lost classics, which probably most of her fellow country-people don’t know, let alone the rest of the world. Let’s hope the re-release belatedly brings her music to a wider audience. I’ve enjoyed listening to these. Hope you do too.
Download: Romica Puceanu & The Gore Brothers – Doi Tovarasi Am La Drum
Download: Romica Puceanu & The Gore Brothers – Balanus
Order Sounds from a Bygone Age Vol 2.
If you're interested in further listening, there's a heap more Romica Puceanu mp3s at this website.