Monday, April 19 2021
As if readers of this blogazine, Vice dropped a short film about Vanessa Carlton and “A Thousand Miles” two days after our last issue. I especially enjoy producer Ron Fair pointing out the peaks in his big hit arrangement of the big hit song, which may be his as much as it is Carlton’s. Looser and more expansive is this one-hour roundtable on WBLS, the first radio station in New York to book a prime time rap show. Mr. Magic started presenting Rap Attack on Newark’s WHBI in 1981 and then moved it in 1982 to Friday nights on WBLS. (Here’s what that sounded like in 1984.) Possibly better than all of that is a brand new, three-hour show by Trevor Jackson, a blended compilation of his own productions. It’s a chromium flow of chonky hip-hop, including my favorite Massive Attack remix and the sorely missed loudmouths of the Gravediggaz.
A nice man on Discogs named Fudgie the Whale (“the king of all ice cream whales”) recommended this 1965 album by the Sambrasa Trio to me, calling it “the greatest 30 minutes of hard bossa ever committed to tape!” It might be that and here’s why: Humberto Clayber plays bass, Airto Moreira plays drums, and Hermeto Pascal plays piano. It’s got that same kind of ice cube efficiency you hear in Monk and Otis Redding.
I loved Gary Lucas’s post about working as an A&R man with Arthur Russell, especially the bits about Arthur’s approach to work—flaking on Robert Wilson, recording “That Hat” with Peter Gordon—but his encounter with Mark Sinclair, now known as Vin Diesel, is pure gold.
Ranking Joe thought “John Lennon was a great superstar,” and knew that he was loved in both Canada and Africa. He made this clear in this 1981 track, “Tribute to John Lennon,” which I heard on DJ Andy Smith’s weekend reggae show. Smiley Culture’s fantastic 1984 single, “Police Officer,” is about, in part, a traffic stop. Smiley died in 2011 when he allegedly “stabbed himself after being arrested at his home in Hillbury Road during a police drugs investigation.” This suspect narrative deserves its own song and every neighborhood deserves to have their own Smiley Culture documenting the moment. Follow it up with this 1994 BBC documentary about jungle, which was posted yesterday. This birth moment is when jungle was more or less double-time reggae, a direct descendant of Smiley Culture’s London skank. The voiceover is crap but the footage is great. (Please find me the Anita Baker white label.) Shy FX and his buddies bopping around the bedroom—you love to see it.
And, yes—François K’s weekly shows are still keeping us alive.
KTCA, now known as Twin Cities PBS, serves the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. From 1977 to 1980, the station aired a program called Wyld Ryce, which they described as an “arts magazine.” This ten minute Wyld Ryce segment about Charlemagne Palestine from 1979 is magical. Palestine screams, talks about the madness of his minimalism, pounds the piano, keeps a pipe in his mouth, screams, plays with fire—and more. We don’t seem to have a place now for figures like this, people who are both entirely serious and entirely theatrical, or maybe we just lost the mandate for this kind of excess. For more of the same “What was Earth?’” feeling, try this episode from March 5, 1980, featuring a local-ish singer named Iggy Pop.
Tokyo Melody, Elizabeth Lennard’s hour-long 1984 film about Ryuichi Sakamoto, is one of the best artist documentaries out there. His studio discipline is matched only by his ability to think about music, in general, and go wherever his art takes him. Ryuichi is scared of nothing.
We close with four bangers. This grime tune from 2003, “Ping Pong,” is relentless. Bill Wurtz’s new song, “I’m a Princess,” is what you need to understand the stranger corners of TikTok. He is being copied every single day, and nobody even sort of approximates his light jazz surrealist trail mix. This 1992 film about Leonora Carrington and her home in Mexico City is magical. You half-expect Charlemagne Palestine to show up—there is at least one discussion of someone setting themselves on fire. And this brand new Essential Mix for the BBC by Oneohtrix Point Never is a fully thought-out electro history, the music reproduced and chopped up and reborn.