“silence is a riddim’ too…”

23 10 2010

With a mixed cultural heritage (German/British), mixed-up cultural focus (noise/reggae) and a mixmastered public persona (art school/wild child), Ari Up brought a disjointed beauty to her vocals that remain haunting.  I had seen her perform with the Slits @ Tier3 in 1980 (?), the foot-off-the-ground stage adding to the intimacy surrounding a band that never seemed all that distant.  I had met her a few times at the Rough Trade office in London also, back in the Rasta distribution area, a permanent cloud of weedsmoke hovering over the shipping desk, a time when it seemed the label, the people, the scene would go on forever.


Ari (Ariane Forster) died a few days ago.  She is survived by three children, a more than interesting extend family (publishing scions, Johnny Rotten),  jungle homes (Indonesia, Belize) and a very satisfying body of work.

My favorite (above) is the eponymous twelve-inch single containing “In the Beginning There Was Rhythm.”  Using a range of Jamaican musics as a jumping off point, the songs dispense with the heavy-on-the-upstroke Reggae guitar, replaced with a more than satisfying sharp No New York minimalist sound and solid base work.  It’s difficult for me to describe a music that was both discordant and charming.  But I’m not a critic.  But I never stopped listening to this stuff.

You can still get versions of the Slits’ “Cut” on CD, on Island.  When it was released it caused a bit of a stir because of the skin.  More importantly the name was similar to overusing ‘nigger’ by rappers, taking a pejorative and making it their own.  So while the stance and the cover produced some sales,  the band never charted in the US, only reaching #30 on the UK charts in Sept 1979.  No other single or LP charted here or there.  But the influences flowed into and from a variety of kindred spirits; The Raincoats, UT, Blurt, Flowers of Romance, The Pop Group, The New Age Steppers.

Ari’s Slits recordings were mostly produced by Dennis Bovell, but my favorite things were with the New Age Steppers and producer Adrian Sherwood.  Here Ari’s joined by second-gen Slitmate, Viv Albertine.  These two LPs are treasures, meandering deeply atmospheric dub, still clearly British.

You can get pieces of Action Battlefield on iTunes, but even the CD of the self titled LP is going for more than $30 used these days.  It contains one of the bands gems, “Fade Away.”  Nice records to be remembered by.

Here’s an alpha list of the Slits vinyl recordings @ the ARChive:

• “Animal Space”//”Man Next Door”/”In the Beginning There Was Rhythm” (Human Records, USA, YUS-1, 12″ 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1980).

• “Animal Space”/“Animal Spacier” (Human Records, USA, HUM-4, 7” 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1980).

• Cut (Island Records, UK, ILPS-9573, 12″ 33 1/3 rpm, vinyl disc LP, 1979).  One version here has a special custom label with a silhouette of the girls.

• Cut (Antilles Records, US, AN-7077, 12″, 33 1/3 rpm, vinyl disc LP, 1979).

• “Earthbeat”/“Begin Again Rhythm” (CBS, UK, CBS-A1498, 7” 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1981).

• “Earthbeat And Earthdub”/“Begin Again Rhythm” (CBS, UK, CBS-A 13 1498, 12” 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1981).

• “Earthbeat And Earthdub”/”Or What Is It” (Epic, USA, 49-02576, 12” 33-1/3rpm, vinyl disc single, 1981).

• ”In the Beginning There Was Rhythm” (Slits)/”Where There’s A Will There’s a way” (Pop Group) (Rough Trade/Y Records, UK, RT 039/Y-1, 12″ vinyl disc single, 1980).

“Man Next Door”/ “Man Next Door Dub” (Rough Trade/Y Records, UK, RT 004/Y-4, 7″ 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 1980).

• Return of the Giant Slits  (Urgent Records/CBS, UK, 85269, 12” vinyl disc LP with single containing an extra cut and interview, 1981)

• “Typical Girls”/”I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (Antilles, ANS-102, with a folded poster sleeve, 7″ 45rpm, vinyl disc single, 198?).

• “Typical Girls”/ “Typical Girls – Brink Style”//”I Heard It Through the Grapevine”/”Liebe And Romance” (Island Records, UK, 12WIP-6505, 12″ 45rpm, vinyl disc EP, 1979).

• Typical Girls Won’t Pay More Than $8.00 So Why Should You? (Basic Records, USA, BASE-1, 12″, vinyl disc-Lp, Bootleg, 19??)





No Columbus, no Cha Cha Cha!

9 10 2010

We think you should take the long weekend off and find some time to dance!

In honor of this new commitment, may we show you a few of our favorite Cha Cha Cha LP covers (from our collection of over 300 here @ the ARChive)?  Click to enlarge.

After all, had Mr. C. actually made it to India, mighta been, Chi Chi Chi…

And a reminder : THIS is one of our worst funded years ever, and all contributions ($50 min) are greatly appreciated to help keep the library going.  Plus you’ll get first dibs at our next sale in Dec.    Maybe pick up a cha cha record or two…     Thanks, B. George

DONATE NOW via PayPal





vacance, puces et…we’re back!

13 09 2010

To celebrate the new year, the end of summer, strikes in France or as the kids say, “whatever,” I took the day off and made a trek way uptown to the Whitney Museum.  Prime reason was to see the Christian Marclay exhibition and then walk back downtown to see some friends.  Well Christian’s show was nice, The Lee Friedlander exhibit shot from inside his car was terrific, and the Charles Burchfield paintings were a revelation.  Not someone I would have gone out of my way to see.  Glad I did.

Marclay’s galleries are a lot like the ARChive’s basement –rows and rows of audio–related bibelots and bilia, suggesting meaning through juxtaposition.  One nice assemblage was a rack of clothing with musical imagery + themes.  That’s a good lead-in for last weekend’s finds at an upstate flea.

Who knew Canada was the home of the Twist?  Beyond the French Twist, there’s a big CAN C&W line dance fascination with the Honky Tonk Twist, and you can practice the chorégraphe via the 600 plus videos on that u-tubby thing.

The real deal weekendwise was the Wal-feld 5000!  This children’s 78 rpm player has a Bakelite resonator/pick-up/needle holder (UK Made) on a tin tonearm, and a brightly lithographed tin body, covered with fairy tale and children’s story imagery.  I see a lot of early playback devices, and seldom are they in such perfect shape.

Wal-feld Co. Inc. was in Lynbrook, NY, and manufactured a wide range of audio related gotta-haves, including musical dolls and wooden juke boxes.  No date on my machine, but it only cost a buck to return for repairs.  Online legal notices indicate Wal-feld went bankrupt in 1965.

Another “O Canada’ flea-find was this Nov 2, 1974 George Harrison / Ravi Shankar concert program for a benefit at the Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, to aid the Appalachian Regional Hospitals.  Nice artists pics, good graphics and a fine glossary of all things India, musically.





Friends, Encounters + Wished I Met

22 01 2010

Easing into the new year, slowly.

An old friend, Richard Fleming, aka DJ Richard Nixon, has worked his obsessions (music, hiking, the Caribbean, birding, photography) into a wonderful new book and photographic gallery show.   I first met Rich in Cartegena, Colombia in the early 90s at a music festival, and he has kept in touch, at one point cataloging many of his rarer reggae records for the ARC.  The book is a great read (Walking to Guantánamo, Commons, cloth, 351pp, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-9814579-1-8), and if you are anywhere near New Orleans you can see some of the pics he took on his trip.

Accompanying test :  “I met Dagoberto Manzo in Matanzas, sitting on a stool in front of his house, sanding the neck of an acoustic guitar. You can see the sawdust on the floor. As soon as I expressed an interest in music, he put that job down and rushed into the house to get one of his prize creations, a double-necked tres and acoustic-guitar combo that he claimed is the only one of its kind in Cuba.”

he show is at the Antenna Gallery 3161 Burgundy St. in the Bywater.   Runs until Feb 7.

An even older, more tenuous link to people and places in Louisiana was at a recent concert by Joel Savoy and David Greeley.   About the same time I met Rich I was writing a piece about the Festival de Louisiane in Lafayette for Billboard.  One side trip included a sit on the porch of musicians Mark and Ann Savoy,  Off to the side was lil’ Joel.  All grown up now, he was in New York doing workshops and concerts, the one Patrice and I saw them perform this January at  Scott Kettner‘s studio in Brooklyn.  This was a house concert, about twenty people in an intimate setting, pretty rare these days.  P. fiddles a bit, knows so much more than me about the music, and has taken a workshop with both Joel and David in the past.  Here’s some of her comments:

  • It’s rare to hear two Cajun fiddles without accordion…in the old style.  Each has a distinct personal style: David seemed the more traditional player, recounting how he had the privilege of learning tunes from old timers like Dennis McGee. Joel has a special knack for playing around with the chords, using the choppy Cajun bowing style to keep the beat in motion. In Savoy’s hands the fiddle almost sounds like it has bellows, which may come from growing up with the sound of his dad’s (Mark Savoy) accordion.
  • Another feature of the Greeley–Savoy duo is the perfection of their intonation…….especially in minor-key tunes like a waltz that was dedicated to a dead calf.  They mention how proud they were that they could end a tune on different notes…apparently not a common accomplishment among Cajun fiddlers.
  • Although today’s Cajun dances are usually a two-step and a waltz, they played a couple of Cajun polkas…quirky off-beat tunes that might have confused dancers at a bohemian beer-hall.  Originally, there were a lot more dances (Greely called it a “rond de danse” or round of dances), that the musicians would have to play for a dance night.

You can see Scott on Brasilian percussion with David Greeley here.

Lastly, Kate McGarrigle has died.  Never met her.  Last live listen about 10 ft away, a few summers ago when she and sister Anna, assorted kin and Emmylou Harris played a free concert in Tribeca.  Still remember their reluctantly offered-always asked to play, Heart Like A Wheel, the piercing voice and stabbing lyric.

“They say that death is a tragedy
It comes once and it’s over
But my only wish is for that deep dark abyss
‘Cause what’s the use of living with no true lover”





Board Member Ellie Greenwich Dies

26 08 2009

Elle copy

A founding member of the ARChive’s Board of Advisors died today.  With sadness we report the death of songwriter Ellie Greenwich.  Pretty much a recluse for many years now, her great music lives on through classic songs like  “And Then He Kissed Me,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Chapel of Love,” “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Be My Baby.”   She also sang some perfectly silly ones like “Niki Hoeky.”  Her version of this is rockin’.  Do Wah Diddy, she will be missed.

…above LP from the ARC collection :   Ellie Greenwich Composes Produces and Sings. (United Artists, USA, UAS 6648, LP, 1968).





Summertime + the music stories are adequate

8 07 2008

• We recently found four Elvis bracelets at a flea market. While the packaging looked right, the bracelets themselves seemed a little iffy. What did these rocks have to do with Elvis? The date is 1956. So maybe “Jailhouse Rocks?” Our pal the internet turned up pics of the backing card and a reason for the diecut. Seems these were originally ‘Dog Tag Bracelets” and those were the cut out words. So someone just attached available bracelets. I hope they are Bakelite and worth much more than any Elvii souvenir. Jon thinks they’re melted bits of old telephones. Regardless, it’s a reminder of how your career can be on the rocks even if you’re tombstoned; this April both Madonna and Mariah buried the King’s record (36) for the most number one singles on the Billboard charts.

• EMI announced today that they have a NEW CEO. Elio Leoni-Sceti comes direct from handling the Woolite and Lysol accounts at Reckitt Benckiser. Qualifications? He’s gonna clean up the music business

Leoni-Sceti says that if the Melvins can make an album called “Lysol,” HE could run a record company!

By the way Reckitt Benckiser refused to give permission for Melvins to use the name, “Lysol” and our copy has black tape over the title. Yep, the right guy for the job.

• Q : Reporters asked A-Rod how he kept so fit, and commented that his unbelievable condition must have a lot to do with diet. Then they asked what was the most harmful thing he’s ever eaten?

8th Grader’s A : Wedding Cake.

Staff A : Madonna

• Speaking of musical snacks (and consumer goods), boxes of dal and curry from Kitchens of India all contain a Classic Indian music CD. I’ve gotten two of the four different titles so far, and, well, they’re tasty. They call the series “Indian Classical Maestros,” and artists include Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnai), Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod), Pt. Tarun Bhattacharya (Santoor), and Dr. Chitti Babu (Veena).

• As you may know we are putting together the NYMIA (launch in the fall) a webthing that will host info on all musical artists and music related businesses in New York. PROOF that it’s worth doing, and the wealth of talent lurking in the concrete underbelly of the Empire State, is the band, Tragedy, who do a metal tribute to the Bee Gees. Recently, Jon and Dan came across their MySpace page. Turns out, they’re taking the soft summer hits of the 1970s and making them very, very metal. Few remember, and this tribute does not help, that the B Boys (ARC has 72 of their releases from around the world) were an experimental band at launch – B. would play them right along Pearls before Swine and the Fugs. Rehear “Bee Gees’ 1st” and see why.

• Rell talk: Dan and Jon have taken John Hodgman’s course on hobo names twice now, and can be properly considered experts in the field. If you’re looking to find names for unidentified hobos mentioned in recordings by the likes of Whale, Jimmy Smith, Gene Autry, Karen & Cubby and John Lee Hooker, Jon and Dan are your guys. Yeeeeah! So, now what? Standby…

• We’ve been doing a lot of scans for the new Grammy Hall of Fame going up in LA. Well, after a while it gets kinda boring. But we did zoom in on a Cream LP to pull this exciting screen saver. Your’s for the taking

And finally, if you are one of the few who have not taken the time to hava look at the “Dancing” video on U-tub [sic] please do so. It is an an example of the good that companies do, in this case a chewing gum concern, oft lives after them. An simple idea taken to the heights.





Dance Fever

6 02 2008

File this as Part Two in an examination of the wonderful world of K-Tel as an instrument of dance education. The kids loved Dan’s previous Pop and Lock post featuring Breakdance (K-Tel NU3360) which helped spread the good word about the hip hop revolution way back when. Today we present Disco Fire (K-Tel TU2590) another hot one one from the folks at K-Tel. It’s a double album of top disco hits with instructions in the gatefold on how to do the “Hot Chocolate”. Never heard of this particular dance craze, though I was decidedly in the anti-disco camp when this hit your local bargain bin, so forgive my ignorance if the Hot Chocolate is in fact your all time fave rave. For you disco newbies here are the steps you’ll need to add the Hot Chocolate to your disco line dance arsenal.

discofire.jpghotchoco.jpg

And here’s what you’ll look like, with a little practice. Try whistling “The Hustle” while you watch.

disco.gif

Now, boogie down, my funky chickens!

– J.








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