You're Shouting So Loud You'd Do Better To Mime
My love/hate relationship
with Soul Jazz Records continues. There is still something about the set-up
that grates, but they do come up trumps so often. The recent Miami Sound set was wonderful, but now the New
York Noise collection is perhaps their
best yet. And they could so easily have fallen on their face with a collection
sub-titled 'dance music from the New York Underground 1978-1982'. The danger is in defining an arbitrary area of music that could be facilely fashionable; but as ever if some of it sticks, takes root, and blooms afresh, then I'm
all for it. The context is right (like the earlier UK equivalent set, In
The Beginning There Was Rhythm) and the track listing exemplary. I do hope
it will prove to be a jumping-off point, and that prospectors will dig deeper.
It certainly set my mind shooting off at tangents:
|And so to Arthur Russell
and Dinosaur L. Is it just me, or does it seem bizarre in an age where so
much salvage work is going on that there is so little available from this
genius? And yet the name is dropped so often. Maybe it's all to do with copyrights? Surely at least his Rough Trade Let's Go Swimming set should be in circulation, or a comprehensive Dinosaur L round-up? Maybe I'm missing out? It wouldn't
be the first time! |
Apart from the well-known collections, like the Liquid Liquid one on Mo'Wax, ESG on Universal Sound, and the Bush Tetras on ROIR, other labels have been doing their bit to rescue the sounds of that New York Underground. Let's not forget Henry Rollins for salvaging various James Chance/James White sets, and collecting together some great lost Bush Tetras recordings for Infinite Zero some years ago. And Atavistic have collected some great sounds from the noisier No Wave end of the spectrum, like the Mars recordings which are so memorably listed in Lester Bangs' Reasonable Guide to Horrible Noise. I love the idea of dance dilettantes being jolted and jarred by the racket Mars made!
Of course the first editions of Tangents were filled with things like the Bush Tetras and Defunkt. Again, it may be a copyright thing, but I really cannot believe the Defunkt Thermonuclear Sweat set and Razor's Edge masterpiece (with the perfect Neville Brody sleeve) are not available. What an opportunity going to waste!
And again a few Konk tracks are cropping up on different compilations (a good chance to pay tribute to the Anti-NY one on Gomma few years back!) but surely someone can get their act together to collect up the recordings they made?
|So to Ze! The records of
this year will be the NY No Wave and Mutant Disco sets the reactivated Ze is
about to let loose. They develop themes touched upon on New York Noise, and
it is impossible to overstate how wonderful and important these compilations
are. Please support them, and make possible the comprehensive reissuing of
the Ze back catologue. Strangely the New York Noise set avoids any Lydia Lunch
recordings while the Ze NY No Wave collection will have you falling at her
knees. Her Teenage Jesus blasts of noise and solo Queen of Siam songs are exceptional
and unsurpassed for glamour. We need to get our act together to petition Ze
and make sure Lydia's Queen of Siam set is reissued in the full glory of its original sleeve Check out www.zerecords.com for photos of Lydia and the equally great Lizzy Mercier Descloux! And did you see that Epiphany piece Lydia wrote for The Wire? Wow!
'La Varieté:- the French term for popular radio, everything that's not heavy rock; music drawing on diversity and depth.' Remember that one from the great Weekend LP; which I have just discovered on CD from Vinyl Japan, and no one told me it's been out for years! Also available from the same source is an Archive Weekend set, that features their first couple of singles plus some radio and live recordings. So, yes, A View From Her Room is available again at last!! 'Have you ever walked alone for miles and miles .. . by sea and sky' or whatever that line is! Yes!! Where Alison Statton is as glamorous as Lydia Lunch, and the sound in its quietness as confrontational as Mars and the Contortions. For this was the next step on from New York Noise. Back across the ocean, a flip of the coin, and there's the quiet defiance of the softly spoken creating beauty among so much ugliness. The Archive set features an (uncredited) Dave McCullough interview with the group which now reads like a manifesto for insurrection. Because of course sadly by that time Lydia was recording with the Birthday Party, and that's a different story. Another story goes that Weekend was as responsible as Defunkt and James Chance for turning a lot of people on to all things jazz in the early ï80s. That too is another story, and perhaps one that brings us back to Soul Jazz. Bless them!
© 2003 John Carney