Wire’s 100 Records that set the world on fire while no one was listening. 41 – 45
This post is part of a series. You can see the previous post here.
Oh it’s all happening here today with this selection of amazing music. Its the first half of the 1970’s still, and the most brilliant musicians are learning about musique concrete and jazz fusion and adding it to funk, blues and groovy jazz heat. Add to that a little ‘poor-little-white-guy’ cool from Lewis Furey and some naked-in-the-bush Karutrock from Faust and you have the absolute brilliance of this magnificent section of the Wires list. I was wild with pleasure when I first discovered early seventies jazz. Oh, I love the trad – don’t get me wrong – but when they all get high and get down there’s nothing like it. The above pic is the incomparable Betty Davis, who, for the record, denies cheating on Miles Davis with Jimmy Hendrix.
What a life.
The Faust Tapes
For no other reason than I can’t do everything in the world, I missed this incredible band when they came to Australia last year. I regret it now… I’m not sure what inane thing I was doing instead. “We made tons and kilometres of tapes and The Faust Tapes is only the best,” is how the group’s Jean-Herve Peron assessed this epochal album. This was made in a converted school house in the countryside near Wumme in Germany where they grew their own dope, tomatoes and lived naked. This is pure sonic collage, magnificently edited and dipping into that musique contretem, which if anyone here is following my Creel Pone posts, will knmow I have a passion for. This is a little more accessible for a wider audience – but here’s the thing. None of the integrity is lost, which makes this album oh so oh so very spesh. Apparently the story goes, Uwe Nettelbeck signed the band up with Virgin Records in London him trading the bands latest hard-wired genius for an album sold at a single price. The result was 50,000 copies sold (huge at the time for music of this style) and a whole new fan base in the UK. Legendary.
Electronic music gets accused of being cold, and while I don’t find that myself, melding it with that ‘baby-im-on-fire-kiss-my-ass’ hot/mellow/hot/mellow/hot/mellow jazz feel that our friend Herbie can do better than anyone takes it to another level. Wire have this to say: When The Herbie Hancock Sextet recorded Sextant they’d been using clavinets and mellotrons and ARP synthesizers on the road for three years. This gave their burbling sonics a hands on, funky spin that still causes smiles today. Buster Williams’s groovesome basslines and Hancock’s boogie figures float over polymetric layerings that recall Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch and Miles Davis’s ESP. Trombonist Julian Priester supplied the umbilical link to The Sun Ra Arkestra. Uncushioned by the harmonic conventions that padded out later, more saleable fusions, the players’ lines glisten over deep black space and tangle into multicoloured collective improvisations. Of course, like so much brilliant music, the inacessability of this alienated much of Hancocks fan base. I can’t understand this. Just listen to it. If you stretch toward the music, instead of refusing it, how much floating pleasure is there to enjoy?
Lawrence of Newark
For those of you new to Larry Young, prepare to be absolutely flooredby the unorthodox sounds of this brilliant jazz organist. Listen to what Dangerous Minds blog has to say about this:
I first heard Young’s playing on a bootleg of him jamming in the studio with Jimi Hendrix. If you can hold your own with Jimi, you’ve got to have CHOPS and Young—sometimes called the “Coltrane of the organ”—had chops to spare. What sent me out (er…. to Google) to find this, though, was a reference in a Nick Cave interview where he was saying how he and the musicians in the Grinderman project had been grooving in the studio on Young’s monster of a song “Khadid of Space, Pt. 2 Welcome.” With a title like that—and knowing that Pharoah Sanders was all over this album—I just had to hear it. It did not disappoint. It’s a massive HUNK of music. Funky, psychedelic, both droning and jazzy simultaneously, it’s nothing shot of exhilarating and stunning. Look at the album cover. I’m a sucker for anything that even faintly reeks of Sun Ra-style Afro-Futurism and if you, too, are so inclined, you can thank me in the comments section.
The beating heart of the record is “Khalid of Space Part Two” (Part One remains missing to this day) – 12 minutes of Sun Ra inspired cosmo jam that pushes Young and his ‘Arkestra’ toppling over the edge of free jazz freakout to tear a mindblowing solo from the primal fretboard of James ‘Blood’ Ulmer. Young’s untimely death, and the imprisonment of Perception’s founder, ensured that no further experiments of this kind would be carried out. Meanwhile, Laurence Of Newark begs to be reissued. Get your teeth into this one ASAP!
They Say I’m Different
Women may be underrepresented in the world of fine fine music, but as this list attests, when they make an impact, they REALLY make an impact. This woman aint like no one, no how! More cool than Jimmy, as much talent as Miles and funkier than Sly, this woman inspired and thrilled all of them with her phsenomenal talent and exceptional beauty. She is sass personified. Her own music was a pressure cooker of sex and adrenalin, equaled in guts by only a handful of her husband’s records. They Say I’m Different contains the much sampled “Shoo-B- Doop And Cop Him”, the tough fetish-funk “He Was A Big Freak” (“Pain was his middle name… he used to laugh when I made him cry”), and a title track that remains one of the decade’s overlooked funk masterpieces. In Davis’s own words “If Betty were singing today she’d be something like Madonna; something like Prince… She was the beginning of all that when she was singing as Betty Davis. She was ahead of her time.” Miles made Bitches Brew while passionately in love with Betty – in fact it is rumored he wanted to call it Witches Brew and it was Betty the genius who convinced him to change it. If the world was a different place, this woman would be as big as any of those men, and the track I’ve posted above would be one of the best known samples of funk brilliance.
You can hear the influencer on Rufus Wainright here immediately, that campy, show stopping show stopper feel. I like this album a lot, but Im deferring to Wire for the info here:
Previously known to the world only by a session violin credit on Leonard Cohen’s New Skin For The Old Ceremony, Lewis Furey established himself as nothing less than Montreal’s answer to Lou Reed on this, his first (and best) solo album. Cohen’s producer John Lissauer created the sound of francophone cabaret trapped in a bell jar, the perfect showcase for Furey’s piano – and banjo-driven tales of obsessive love and betrayal. Those who currently thrill to Rufus Wainwright’s debut need only hear a few seconds of Lewis’s torchy, nasal vocals to know that there is nothing new under the sun. These tales of Quebec’s demi-monde are laced with imagery drawn equally from Blake and Burroughs, brutal metaphors and sly, devilish arrangements. And speak of the devil, The Rocky Horror Show’s Tim Curry turns up as backing vocalist – along with Cat Stevens.
Didn’t I tell you that you’d love the show today?