“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??)

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Ties that Bind

6 10 2010

Staying in NYC for the weekend for this and that, for both of them, saw and heard some very nice performances by Khaira (or Haira) Arby and Laurie Anderson.

On Saturday Khaira , ‘The Nightingale of the North,” aka, “The Aretha Franklin of Mali“ was playing a houseparty on the now nightlife-friendly Bowery.  Her North is the desert region of Mali, north of Timbuktu; the temp would make it the south in most countries, just about on a straight line with Jamaica.  The style is being marketed as ‘desert blues’ (she’s a cousin of Ali Farka Touré) and ‘duskcore,’ (think desert, not jungle or techno), but let’s say it fits in with the more established Songhai tradition (named for the Renaissance era African empire, village based, griot, largely secular, Islamic influenced, high tessitura praise singing) tweaked by monumental psych electric guitar runs from 17 year old Abdramane Touré.   One thing I noticed, and something I have seldom seen, is that for two plus hours no one in the band tapped their feet to the beat, any beat.  It just flowed.  So the voice is keening, soaring, evocative, the structure circular, haunting, hypnotic…but the guitar, but the guitar.

Here’s your dashing (means showing appreciation with cash in much of West Africa, not an attribute) author, reduced to singles in these hard times.

Like a lot of musicians in this world Khaira hopes her reception on her first US tour, and readily available music, will allow let her leave her day-job, as a salt trader along the old caravan routes.

It was a privilege to hear such a high quality performance in such an intimate space, the entire band smokin’ (but the guitar…).  I guess that’s why we live here, or in Timbuktu.

Here’s the discography I’ve been able to track down.  Cassette-player-less?  Get a copy of here first CD avail stateside.  I’ve never heard any of these, but did I mention I loved the guitar work I heard live?

• Moulaye     (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 1990) We have also seen this listed as Diabira.

• Hala    (Mali, CS, 1994)

• Ya Rassoul   (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 2002 or 2005?)

• Timbuktu Tarab    (Clermont Music, USA, CD, 2010)

This just in : a note from Clermont says they are looking to release all of the cassettes on CD in the future.

 

Now Laurie Anderson is also from the North (Illinois, Ireland, Sweden) and has brought her urban griot vision full circle, from the playful wondering of the early days to looking back and wondering why.  Her latest (Delusions) at BAM was majestic, the visuals not as striking as I wanted them (sheets of rain best), and the music better than ever (able accompaniment by Eyvind Kang on violin and Colin Stetson, sax.).   It was stories, non sequiturs, space-lore, snippets piled high, that by the end of the show are both zero sum and fully loaded, and you have no idea how she did it.

Her latest release is Homeland on Nonesuch Records.  For those of you who don’t know, I released LA’s first single, ‘O Superman,’ back when NYC was full of making, not the curatorial place holder it is now.   Nice to see her wearing my skinny ska tie I gave her in the 70s.

As both performers referenced their ancestors and offered unfamiliar nods to the Divine,  an e-mail that only came in today, addressed to “the Whole World,” seems to tie the skinny all together.

I, Margaret Veronica Nabakooza Kiyaga,

Katonda Afirika, WIFE OF GOD,

have the great honour and pleasure to announce to the whole world that The Lord God, has today,

the 27th September 2010,

beatified the beloved musician of Afirika, Franco.

MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED. AMEN.





This Tuesday…

26 07 2010

Last week my camera broke while us folks from the ARC were at a wonderful concert hosted by Trinity Real Estate, Great Performances and City Winery.

Here’s the blurred proof in this shot of Naomi Shelton performing with her Gospel Queens.

The outdoor space is swell, the food and drink were reasonable, the music inspirational and a good time was had by all.  We even bought the album – on vinyl of course.

This week I urge you all to come out and see/hear/dance this Tuesday with C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band.

Entry to this FREE event is from Spring Street, between Varick and Hudson, or from Vandam between Varick and Hudson.   Subway: Take the 1 Train to Houston. A,C,E to Spring Street.  This after work party starts early, 5:15 or so.

Hop on over to the City Winery site for more info. @ http://www.citywinery.com/events/86429 or call 212-608-0555 for additional info.  See you there…





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).








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