“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??)





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”





Quick UpDate on Sale + ARC News

17 12 2009

ARC Sale is doing swell.  We are pleased that the economic downturn has not affected the turntable, and there’s still plenty of hot vinyl for a cold  winter’s day…   So come on down!

We’re still at 54 White St and here from now until Sunday, Dec 20, everyday, 11am – 6pm.

Some classy doings recently, somewhat out of character, somewhat wonderful.  Last Sunday our pal Greg Mosher (Columbia Arts Initiative)  hosted talk with Liv Ullmann @ MOMA, and it was swell.  The event was a premier of a documentary (The Sealed Orders of Liv Ullmann by Simon & Goodman) about here master class with aspiring actors in a program sponsored by Young Arts.  It was very moving and will be on Public TV soon.  Ms. Ullmann is directing Streetcar Named Desire with Cate Blanchett as, obviously, Blanch, to rave reviews.  I must have said something she liked, cuz I got a hug and a kiss.   Starsearch: saw Edward Albee (thought he was dead) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (bigger than life).

Tuesday went to see/hear Michael Feinstein and David Hyde Pierce, at, wherelse, Feinsteins.  We have started working with Michael on a few things and we hope to have him on our Board (MANY new Board members to be announced in Jan).  Well cabaret @ Feinstein’s is a long way from Avenue A, but just as other worldly.  Songs were great, his piano playing greater, his knowledge of the American Songbook the greatest, and Pierce specialized is a few story songs that required a keen memory, including Jerry Herman’s delightful, twisty, “Penny in My Pocket.”  Michael’s best line: “Frank Loesser once described his first wife as, ‘the evil of two Loessers.’”  Lamenting the lack of Jews at Camelot, taken from his stint in Spamalot, David sang, “There’s a very small percentile/who enjoy a dancing Gentile.”  The Times said…

Speaking of dynamic duos, ARC supporter Dean Taucher sent down two signed recordings for the collection, one by Jerry Lewis and one by Ice-T.  Dean has an interesting range of interests if you ask me.

Other near family news of a  musical Mother nature :  son of a friend is doing A-OK as lead singer in the Antlers, with a nice review in the Times.  The other animal skin in the game is second cousin Aaron’s band the  Giraffes, who sources a common roots heritage with the group, Roumanian Buck.   All three bands are worth a look.





Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces “Live”

12 11 2009

Please join your friends at the ARChive as they present their first event up at Columbia University - Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces: Live

Thursday, November 19, 6 pm
Free and open to the public

Altschul Auditorium, 417 International Affairs Building (SIPA), 420 West 118th Street

Lipstick Traces_flyer

In Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century, Greil Marcus delved into the cross-currents, tangles, and whirlpools that made such vastly different movements as dada, lettrism, the Situationist International, and punk part of a single current. To mark the just-published 20th-anniversary edition of the book, Columbia University presents Greil Marcus in a one-man performance of Lipstick Traces.

This will be smart AND fun!

A book signing will follow the event. Lipstick Traces: Live is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Columbia Libraries, the ARChive of Contemporary Music, and the Arts Initiative at Columbia University.

In addition, the Music & Arts Library at Columbia University will display books by Marcus, books that influenced him, and posters, records, and other materials courtesy of the ARChive of Contemporary Music. The exhibition will be on display from November 1 to December 15, 2009 at The Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library, 7th floor of Dodge Hall, at 2960 Broadway.

Here’s a simple bibliography of Greil’s work:
* Rock & Roll Will Stand (1969), edited anthology
* Double Feature: Movies & Politics (1972), co-authored with Michael Goodwin.
* Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music (E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1975/2008).
* Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (1979, editor and contributor)
* Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (1989/2009), a book on 20th century avant-garde art movements like Dadaism, Lettrist International and Situationist International and their influence on late 20th century countercultures and The Sex Pistols and Punk Movement.
* Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession (1991), about the phenomenon of Elvis Presley in the years since his death
* In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992 (1993, published in the US as Ranters and Crowd Pleasers)
* The Dustbin of History (1995)
* Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes (1998; also published as The Old, Weird America: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, 2001), an account of American folk culture, seen through Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes.
* Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in a Land of No Alternatives (2001)
* The Manchurian Candidate (2002)
* The Rose & the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad (2004, co-edited with Sean Wilentz)
* Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads (2005), a “biography” of the Dylan song
* The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy in the American Voice (2006)
• A New Literary History of America (2009, with Werner Sollers, Harvard University Press)

call or e-me if you have any questions :  B. George 212-226-6967  arcmusic@inch.com=

DIRECTIONS  -  International Affairs Building (SIPA) / Altschul Auditorium

Getting to Columbia’s Campus:
The main entrances to Columbia’s campus on Morningside Heights in Manhattan are at Broadway and 116th Street (where the subway station is) and at Amsterdam Avenue and 116th Street.

Public Transportation:
The best way to reach campus is using the subway. Take subway line number 1 or 9 local to 116th Street (Columbia University) station.

Parking:
You may park on the street or use the local parking garages. The 512-520 Garage is located at the corner of 112th Street and Amsterdam; the Riverside Church Parking Garage is located on 120th Street between Claremont Avenue and Riverside Drive.

Finding Altschul Auditorium on Columbia’s Campus:
The International Affairs building (also known as SIPA) is on the eastern side of Columbia University’s Morningside Campus. The building is at 420 W. 118th Street, on the south side of 118th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Avenue (closer to Amsterdam). Altschul Auditorium is located in the lobby of the building on the first floor, room 417.

Entering From Campus:
From the main campus entrance (right by the subway stop at 116th Street and Broadway) walk east all the way across College Walk (116th Street) to Amsterdam Avenue. Go north two blocks to 118th Street and cross Amsterdam; the International Affairs building is there on the corner. The entrance is on 118th Street (south side).








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