Arkology – Lee “Scratch” Perry (1997)


“Purportedly the definitive Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry compilation, the three-CD set Arkology is loaded with good intentions and is carefully constructed, but with a back catalog like Perry‘s — where it’s nearly impossible to find out what’s what — definitive in this case is a dream. Still, the compilers have done a fine job of providing an overview of Perry‘s career that makes sense musically, historically, and culturally. For those who want to jump headlong into Perry‘s world, this is the way to go. (Otherwise, buying two to three individual releases would be recommended.) Arkology‘s foundation is the 1979 anthology Scratch on the Wire; the compilers took those tracks and added a significant number of remixes and a few previously unreleased dub tracks to give it some weight. And that is perhaps the set’s biggest drawback; it doesn’t cover quite enough of Perry‘s career. Remixes are nice, but a representative sampling of the early, mid-, and late periods at Black Ark would have been better, as well as a few of the early-’60s ska tracks that didn’t make it onto Heartbeat’s excellent Chicken Scratch compilation. There are also some irritating audio considerations here; sometimes reggae reissues lose that warm, extremely loud bass sound that is crucial to the riddims. That’s not always the case on this release, but there are some moments when you wish there was just a little more blood coming from the speakers. So, all that said, is Arkology worth it? Absolutely. Don’t think that this large purchase will give you all the crucial Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry recordings; it provides a good overview and is an excellent introduction, but consider it the start, rather than the completion, of your journey with Scratch and the Upsetters.”
allmusic (Audio)
Jungle psychedelia
W – Arkology
iTunes
YouTube: Arkology 33 video

New York Dolls – New York Dolls (1973)


New York Dolls is the debut studio album by the American hard rock band New York Dolls. It was released on July 27, 1973, by Mercury Records. In the years leading up to the album, the New York Dolls had developed a local fanbase by playing regularly in lower Manhattan after forming in 1971. However, most music producers and record companies were reluctant to work with them because of their vulgarity and onstage fashion; the group later appeared in exaggerated drag on the album cover for shock value. After signing a contract with Mercury, the New York Dolls recorded their first album at The Record Plant in New York City with producer Todd Rundgren, who was known for his sophisticated pop tastes and held a lukewarm opinion of the band. Despite stories of conflicts during the recording sessions, lead singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain later said Rundgren successfully captured how the band sounded live. Their music on the album incorporated carefree rock and roll, Brill Building pop influences, and campy sensibilities, while Johansen’s colloquial and ambiguous lyrics explored themes of urban youth, teen alienation, adolescent romance, and authenticity. …”
Wikipedia
New York Dolls ‘Personality Crisis’ | Classic Tracks
Album Histories Monthly: New York Dolls – ‘New York Dolls’
iTunes
YouTube: The Midnight Special – Personality Crisis, Musikladen – Pills, Trash, Looking for a Kiss, Bad Girl, Jet Boy, Subway Train

Fehlfarben – 33 Tage in Ketten (1981)


Fehlfarben is a Neue Deutsche Welle band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The band name is from a German term referring to cigars with a discoloured wrapper leaf and sold cheaply: singer Peter Hein was in this line of work at Xerox while in the band. Its founding members were Peter Hein (vocals), former Mittagspause (‘lunch break’), Thomas Schwebel (guitar, former Mittagspause, S.Y.P.H.), Michael Kemner (bass, former 20 Colors, Mau Mau, DAF, YOU), Frank Fenstermacher (saxophone, later Der Plan), Markus Oehlen and Uwe Bauer (drums, former Mittagspause, Materialschlacht). … Shortly after having released their debut album, Fehlfarben suffered the departure of lead singer Peter Hein owing to his frustration at the follow-up tour’s being lengthened from three to six weeks on short notice. He went back to his day job at Xerox, where he worked until 2003. The band released two more albums without Hein during the 1980s, 33 Tage in Ketten (33 days in chains) and Glut und Asche (Blaze and ashes), with only the latter making it onto the German charts. After struggles with their label, they disbanded at the end of 1984. …”
Wikipedia
Discogs
amazon, iTunes
YouTube: 33 Tage in Ketten (Full)

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! – Devo (1978)


“Produced by Brian Eno, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! was a seminal touchstone in the development of American new wave. It was one of the first pop albums to use synthesizers as an important textural element, and although they mostly play a supporting role in this guitar-driven set, the innovation began to lay the groundwork for the synth-pop explosion that would follow very shortly. Q: Are We Not Men also revived the absurdist social satire of the Mothers of Invention, claiming punk rock’s outsider alienation as a home for freaks and geeks. While Devo‘s appeal was certainly broader, their sound was tailored well enough to that sensibility that it still resonates with a rabid cult following. It isn’t just the dadaist pseudo-intellectual theories, or the critique of the American mindset as unthinkingly, submissively conformist. It was the way their music reflected that view, crafted to be as mechanical and robotic as their targets. Yet Devo hardly sounded like a machine that ran smoothly. There was an almost unbearable tension in the speed of their jerky, jumpy rhythms, outstripping Talking Heads, XTC, and other similarly nervy new wavers. And thanks to all the dissonant, angular melodies, odd-numbered time signatures, and yelping, sing-song vocals, the tension never finds release, which is key to the album’s impact. It also doesn’t hurt that this is arguably Devo‘s strongest set of material, though several brilliant peaks can overshadow the remainder. Of those peaks, the most definitive are the de-evolution manifesto ‘Jocko Homo’ (one of the extremely few rock anthems written in 7/8 time) and a wicked deconstruction of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’ which reworks the original’s alienation into a spastic freak-out that’s nearly unrecognizable. But Q: Are We Not Men? also had a conceptual unity that bolstered the consistent songwriting, making it an essential document of one of new wave’s most influential bands.”
allmusic
W – Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
40 years after Are We Not Men? we’re just now starting to get Devo (Video)
YouTube: [I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction (Live), Uncontrollable Urge (Live On Fridays)
YouTube: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Deluxe Remastered Version [Full Album]

Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side – Clayton Patterson (2005)


Captured is the definitive anthology of New York’s underground cinema in its creators’ own words. New York’s Lower East Side has been a fountain of creativity and art since the early 1950s, a free-wheeling bazaar of ideas and artists that has challenged and shaped mainstream culture. Captured tells the story of film and video in the Lower East Side and the East Village in the artists’ own words. Over one hundred contributors discuss the early years with Allen Ginsburg, Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Taylor Mead, and Jonas Mekas, as well as the wild ’70s and ’80s with Jim Jarmusch, Steve Buscemi, Louis Guzman, Nick Zedd, and many others. Movements such as No Wave and the Cinema of Transgression are covered, as is the story of Pull My Daisy, considered among the true progenitors of ‘indie film.’ Captured is part formal history and part inspirational text, to remind people on the outside looking in how often their contributions form the invisible pillars of American art and popular life. To quote the great pop art filmmaker Jack Smith, ‘Art school? Art school? I didn’t have the luxury of going to art school. I had to come to New York and go straight to work making art.’ Captured is a must-have for fans of independent film and students of cinema everywhere.”
Seven Stories Press
NY Times: The Lower East Side, Up Close and Personal
evergreen review – Review: Clay Patterson’s Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side
amazon

Spoonie Gee – Spoonin’ Rap (1979)


Gabriel Jackson (born May 27, 1963), better known by his stage name Spoonie Gee is one of the earliest rap artists, and one of the few rap artists to release records in the 1970s. He has been credited with originating the term hip hop and some of the themes in his music were precursors of gangsta rap. Jackson was born in Harlem, New York City, receiving his ‘Spoonie’ nickname as a child because the spoon was the only utensil that he used to eat with. His mother died when he was twelve years old, and he went to live with his uncle, the record producer Bobby Robinson, in whose apartment he began to practice rapping. His first recording came about after Peter Brown visited Robinson’s record store and mentioned that he was looking to make a rap record. Spoonie’s name was suggested, and he recorded ‘Spoonin’ Rap’, which was released on Brown’s Sound Of New York, USA imprint, featuring a lyric that included jailhouse references that would later become common in Gangsta rap, and with echo applied to vocals in a similar way to many Jamaican deejay records. Spoonie Gee has been described as ‘the original gangster rapper’. …”
Wikipedia
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Spoonin’ Rap

This Is the Modern World – The Jam (1977)


“As is so often the case for overnight successes, the Jam rush-recorded their sophomore effort during a hurried schedule to capitalize on the debut. This, combined with Paul Weller‘s various personal distractions and temporary lack of interest, led to less than satisfying results, especially in comparison to In the City. This Is the Modern World can be faulted for borrowed Who licks, pale rewrites of the debut, somewhat clichéd sloganeering, and unfinished ideas, but there were still some moments of inspiration, especially in more introspective Weller songs like ‘Life From a Window’ and ‘I Need You (For Someone)’ — both songs feature personal sentiments that the debut was clearly missing. This Is the Modern World is a flawed album by Jam standards, but it would certainly have received praise had it been released by another band.”
allmusic
W – This Is the Modern World
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: The Modern World (Live)
YouTube: This Is The Modern World (Full Album) 12 videos