SummaryThis is the second in the Digs series of compilations and, like Volume I, this album was curated by DJ Gilles Peterson. We'd initially thought Digs would be a series involving different collectors but by popular demand (and because he has more than his fair share of wax) volume two is another collection from the world renowned tastemaker, DJ, and BBC radio host.
Digs America II was compiled with tracks from the famous Brownswood Basement (a version of his radio show dedicated to rare and old tunes, and also the name of the house where his collection is kept) and also includes music bought on a recent visit to the USA and Canada. Between DJ dates Peterson squeezed in trips to local record stores and while he found plenty of goodies he was also reminded of the demise of the record store. The best specialty vinyl shops, typically run by a knowledgeable owner, promising a selection of rare, curious, and classic tunes, are sadly vanishing fast. Village Music, the Mill Valley, California-based record store that provided the backdrop for front and back of this album, will be closed by the time this album is released. Fingers have been pointed at all kind of reasons for store closures including a lack of new vinyl to keep stores ticking over, Ebay, iTunes, sharing of files, poorly run stores, raised rent etc. Whatever the reason, the casual trip to your favorite vinyl emporium is quickly becoming much more difficult as stores disappear like endangered species. So here is Gilles Peterson digging and sharing (legally!) to keep quality rarities alive, but searching perhaps at the end of an era...
Included on this compilation are tracks like the ultra rare Mary Lou Williams 45" "You Know Baby" (and her previously unreleased "Pussy's In The Well") alongside other well known artists like a version of "My Favorite Things" from Al Jarreau's first ever album, a spiritual Jazz piece from piano-great James Tatum and a moody Soul Jazz ballad from Lorez Alexandria. Soul favorites RAMP are on-board with an unreleased gem that rivals any of the tracks on their much loved "Come Into Knowledge" album, Detroit's Dee Edwards and little-known Bay Area singer Carrie Cleveland mix a little Northern Soul with a touch of Funk while The Diddys get cosmic and Ray Camacho drops a Latin version of a Brass Construction classic.