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Re: [thewire] SHEPP/BURNT SUGAR/TOP 10 LONG (was: summer top 10 )

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  • Ryan Whitehead
    Weighing in on the debate over Archie Shepp s recordings. I haven t taken a close listen to the 2 disc Blase/Live At Pan-African Festival. Unfortunately I saw
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 5, 2001
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      Weighing in on the debate over Archie Shepp's recordings. I haven't taken a
      close listen to the 2 disc Blase/Live At Pan-African Festival. Unfortunately
      I saw the beautiful 180 gm reissue of Blase and bought it before I knew
      extra material would be available for roughly the same price on double-CD.
      (As an aside, what's the deal with these erratic reissue programs--vinyl
      versions of Mu Part 1 but not 2? Blase but not the live disc? and then
      there's Barclay's Fela reissues ... vinyl/cd schism designed to confound).

      I've listened to Blase a couple times, and while it reaches fire, I don't
      find it as compelling as some of Shepp's earlier work on impulse where
      lyricism/blues based traditions/avantgardism find more common valences.
      First, the personnel was different (less tilted towards AACM) on the impulse
      sets--on my favorite sets (Four For Trane/Live In San Francisco/Mama Too
      Tight)Shepp had Beaver Harris or Charles Moffett on the drums instead of
      Philly Joe Jones, Roswell Rudd and/or Grachan Moncur on trombone, Charlie
      Haden or Reggie Workman on Bass instead of Malachi Favors, Tommy Turrentine
      or Alan Shorter on trumpet instead of Lester Bowie, and, on Four For Trane,
      John Tchicai of Alto. Tchicai puts together some raw work presaging
      (surpassing?) what he'd accomplish with Trane. For me, the Live in San
      Francisco set benchmarks Shepp's ambitions, offering one of the most
      extended recorded examples of his live work on Three For A Quarter, Four For
      A Dime. Basically, I think it's interesting to hear Shepp with AACM
      stalwarts, but his gig was different.

      The BYG sets are, like most of the BYG works, cultural moments (I'm thining
      of a rotating, impacted mass, experiencing deformation through
      displacement--anti-stasis). Very fertile but ad hoc ... driven to record an
      ephemerality ... and these events and their corresponding artifacts were/are
      always already vanishing, unconsumable, consuming, an artificial life
      (bearing it's characteristics--fecundity, negotiation, etc) ... enhanced by
      network effects, they are somehow both incredibly significant and
      disposable, inconsequential and essential ... I'm stumbling through
      this--it's a Gordian knot worthy of long thought and extended eloquence. And
      that's the difference, in some ways, between the BYG recordings and the best
      of the impulse recordings--the impulse (impulse versus moment--crucial
      physical concepts of bodies under impact, free bodies diagramed, in free
      fall--transformed versus battered) recordings were, in a way, an analysis of
      events to come (i shy away from saying "manifesto")--poetic as Wordsworth's
      emotion recollected in tranquility, but it was a recollection of things to
      come, nostalgia for the future in Eno's parlance (in the history of musical
      techno-mysticism, the fringe of the black jazz conflagration plays a minor
      but fascinating role--troubling the conventional wisdon).

      Another analogy, clumsy, comes to me: both the BYG and the Impulse sets
      couple sensuality with something acerbic, something pure with something
      tainted ... but the BYG stuff scorches the land, again a fire internal
      unleashed, scourging and clearing. But it's a recouperable devestation ...
      it couples destruction with a rebirth--the wreckage is subsumed into the
      land, promoting regrowth. The Impulse sets take longer term
      approach--cultivating or salting the land; imbedding, staying longer in the
      fold. They were analyses, controlled detonations, that many/most/all(?) of
      the 'new thing' artists were ever-more unable to approach. It's unfortunate,
      but so many burnt themselves hollow or left themselves fuseless.

      Speaking of burnt--someone--Jamello?--asked about Burnt Sugar. I believe
      you're in New York ... They play around town a lot and sell discs at their
      shows for $10. I recently saw them in Chicago--they mentioned that it was
      their first gig outside of NYC. The disc is a worthy purchase, but not
      approaching the heights the review led me to believe (I was so in love with
      Hua Hsu's phrase "organising the confusion or confunkshun or earth and wind
      and fire or army or whatever" that I would've bought whatever he was talking
      about). Don't get me wrong, all of his references are totally accurate:
      Butch Morris (for process more than sound), Eddie Hazel (with a bit of Dr.
      Know on/over-the top). What he neglects to mention--some will see this as
      negative, but in the theatre of a small club, it was hilarious--there's a
      good deal of Lenny Kravitz-gone-wrong ... one of the singers, poured into
      laced-up chrome bangled leather hip-huggers so tight gangrene set-in/peace
      sign on chain around neck, flexed/posed/kung-fu chopped his way across the
      stage. At first embarassing, but eventually revealed as a self-conscious
      pastiche (at the level of the real, rather than at the level of
      affected/dissasociated intelect: they were playing with stereotypes they
      both thought were ludicrous and, [not-so]secretly aspired to). Seeing them
      live expands upon the disc and makes their motives/motions more exciting.

      I'll drop word on the Steve Reid "Nova" reissue soon--I'm picking it up this

      AND: A top 11 of Some-are listening & Some-are Reading (while Some-aren't)--

      DISCO!! (for House and Garage lovers everywhere)
      1. The Loft: David Mancuso Presents The Loft--Volume Two
      2. Larry Levan's Classic West End Records Remixes Made Famous At The
      Legendary Paradise Garage
      3. Dazzle Me! Disco De-Lites From New York City 1974-81

      One of my happiest musical moments of the last several years was when I
      realized that Disco, like everything deeply maligned, had a fertile
      underbelly ... positioned in/against what made its masquerade so attrocious.
      One version of black music you'll never see Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar
      championing--he actively denigrates disco.


      4. Thin Lizzy: Black Rose and Jailbreak
      Again, on the Greg Tate/Black Rock axis, why doesn't anyone recouperate Phil
      Lynott as one of legends of Black Rock? His fascination with Irish
      literature may be a problem--as is the fact that his music had zero
      connection with soul, jazz, r&b, or, arguably, the blues. Same question
      pertains to Arthur Lee of Love.

      5. Sweet: Desolation Boulevard
      All pleasure/no guilt/tastes great/less filling/none of the calories--listen
      more, lose your id/ego/mind.

      6. Harry Mudie: Let Me Tell You Boy
      7. Harry Mudie/King Tubby: All three volumes of Conference in Dub.

      Harry Mudie--and, to a lesser degree, Keith Hudson--are two of the most
      unjustly neglected producers in Jamaican music. Let Me Tell You Boy contains
      two of the greatest hidden gems of Jamaican music (in the pantheon of
      placeless greats): Let Me Tell You Boy by The Ebony Sisters and Time Is The
      Master by Winston Shand. The dub albums are some of the best pieces
      affiliated with Tubby. Rich strings all over the tracks ... subtle and
      sophisticated, eschewing the easy punch of panning tracks and interminably
      deep echos disolving into sibilance.

      8. Elephant Man--Comin' 4 You

      For those looking for cutting edge ragga, wild blasts of digital terrorism
      with near-molten gravel-pit toasting. Out drops the beat-in flies the glith
      of static blast-next up, bite a chorus from Dr. Dre. Once upon a post, I got
      jumped on for recommending Scud/Ambush label/etc as examples of the
      ragga-warzone--retract, replace with Elephant Man. Hip-hop ripped off, but a
      transformation so-complete, the thievery cycle should reverse itself.
      Experimental as only hardcore can be.

      9. Robert Walser: Jakob Von Gunten or Selected Stories.

      For fans of Kafka and the surrealism of the Brothers Quay and assorted
      Eastern European animators. Jakob Von Gunten is available on DVD ... the
      first feature of the Brothers Quay. Haunting soundtrack as well ...
      occasional feel of John Wall.

      10. Bruno Schulz: The Street Of Crocodiles

      Again, introduced to me as a short film by The Brothers Quay.

      11. Lewis Balz: New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California

      Long out of print monograph of one of the most amazing B&W photographers of
      the second half of the 20th century. Minimal and vacant without sinking to
      despair/tedium/received ideas. One of the few photographers to do anything
      interesting with the landscape in recent memory (add Andreas Gursky, Uta
      Barth, a handful of others). Anyone even remotely interested in photography,
      urbanism, beauty, looking, perceiving, respiration, the immense divide
      between the article "a" and "the"--check this out.

      Rien Out*

      >From: jklm@...
      >Reply-To: thewire@yahoogroups.com
      >To: thewire@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re[2]:[thewire] Re: my own bitter + twisted summer top 10 is
      >Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001 14:16:34 -0000
      >--- In thewire@y..., simonsmith@r... wrote:
      > > au contraire mon ami. I think the harmonica and the bluesy feel
      >works and There
      > > Is Balm in Gilead is amazing ... the live album is a bit rubbish
      >though ... my
      > > only previous real experience of Archie Shepp is the New Thing at
      >Newport split
      > > album with Coltrane on Impulse! ... which is amazing and one of the
      >things that
      > > 'turned me on' to jazz in the first place.
      >best thing for me is Jeanne Lee's vocals (I think she died last year
      >didn't she?). quite a few shepp albums seem to have been reissued
      >over the last couple of years and I'd previously bought "Fire music"
      >(great album and totally harmonica-free!) so I was disappointed that
      >this one wasn't really up to scratch.
      >might take it up on the train to
      > > Darlington tonight. Should fill two hours ....
      > >
      >been up to Feetams once. great crack.

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    • Jim Flannery
      ... Anyone with an idea how an American person might come to acquire such a thing? -- ... Jim Flannery
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 5, 2001
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        Ryan Whitehead wrote:
        > 8. Elephant Man--Comin' 4 You

        Anyone with an idea how an American person might come to acquire such a thing?

        Jim Flannery newgrange@...

        "I mean, you realise that Throbbing Gristle could have been
        as successful as the Nolan Sisters if they'd understood
        structure and procedure."
        -- Kim Fowley
        np: Skullflower, _IIIrd Gatekeeper_
        nr: Paul Morley, _Nothing_
      • jamello@aol.com
        ... Anyone with an idea how an American person might come to acquire such a thing?
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 6, 2001
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          > 8. Elephant Man--Comin' 4 You

          Anyone with an idea how an American person might come to acquire such a
          thing? <
          I've seen this in the reggae section of most major chains such as Tower, Virgin megastore, HMV, etc., should be easy to find. It's on Greensleeves and was a pretty big seller (almost as big as rap in certain neighborhoods here in NYC), he even ends the CD with a DMX track. It's quite good, although at about 70 minutes long could use a bit of editing.

          On a related front, what's the deal with all those Greensleeves rhythm CDs? I'm told they're different version of of one track, Greensleeves has about 15 of them out (one is even reviewed in the new Wire in the Dub section.)

          -- Jack
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