Forgotten Music, Found In The Archives It's safe to say that albums like Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band will never be forgotten. But what about countless other music? Bob George, director of the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York City, stops by to tell us what we're missing.
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Forgotten Music, Found In The Archives

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Forgotten Music, Found In The Archives

Forgotten Music, Found In The Archives

Forgotten Music, Found In The Archives

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It's safe to say that albums like Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band will never be forgotten. But for every group like The Beatles, scores of other acts record music that is, for all its merits, destined to be promptly forgotten. This music doesn't get remastered; it just disappears into attics and yard-sale bins, waiting to be dusted off. If these musical unknowns are lucky, they'll pique the interest of someone at the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York City — a collection of 2 million records, both famous and obscure. The archive started as the personal collection of its current director, Bob George, who recently shared some outstanding overlooked music.

The cover art to Big Miller's 1959 album, Did You Ever Hear the Blues: His Choice of 11 Deep Blues by Langston Hughes. Big Miller hide caption

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Big Miller

The cover art to Big Miller's 1959 album, Did You Ever Hear the Blues: His Choice of 11 Deep Blues by Langston Hughes.

Big Miller

Hear The Music

'Did You Ever Hear The Blues?' by "Big" Miller (from Did You Ever Hear The Blues?)

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'Land Of My Dreams' by Anna Domino (from East And West)

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'La Picosa' by Sonic Band's [sic] (from Se Formo Espeluke de Terapia)

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George's collection includes music from all genres and covers the history of recorded pop music. Did You Ever Hear the Blues, from 1959, features Big Miller; George says it exemplifies the Kansas City sound.

"I bought this record because I started to put together a separate section at the archive of songs and performances by writers," George says. "And so I had, like, Carl Sandburg and Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. And I only really bought the record because Langston Hughes had written all of the songs. And then, usually these kinds of things are a springboard for doing more research, and so I had no idea that Langston Hughes had written over 800 songs, and that he was from Kansas City. And Big Miller made his reputation pretty much known as a Kansas City... that sort of shouter with the booming baritone."

Tokyo-born Anna Domino's In the Land of My Dreams has been described as "between Eros and entropy," according to George.

"There are certain records that, over decades, I have gone back to over and over again. And, you know, it's a guilty pleasure," George says. "You play it, you know, 30, 40 times in a row."

George's last selection hails from the dance halls of coastal Colombia. The music is called "terapia," which is Spanish for "therapy."

"It's an incredible scene," he says. "It's outdoors, it's 120 degrees, it's sweating, hot. They have no midrange speakers anywhere, but these giant four-by-six-foot bass speakers are all around. And then, strung like Chinese lanterns are tweeters up above your heads, with flashing lights and everything."

Sometimes, a good party is the best therapy you can get.