Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C. (1984)


“Years after the release of Run-D.M.C.‘s eponymous 1984 debut, the group generally was acknowledged to be hip-hop’s Beatles — a sentiment that makes a lot of sense, even if Run-D.M.C. isn’t quite the equivalent of a rap Please Please Me. Run-D.M.C. were the Beatles of rap because they signaled a cultural and musical change for the music, ushering it into its accepted form; neither group originated the music, but they gave it the shape known today. But, no matter how true and useful the comparison is, it is also a little misleading, because it implies that Run-D.M.C. also were a melodic, accessible group, bringing in elements from all different strands of popular music. No, Run-D.M.C.‘s expanded their music by making it tough and spare, primarily by adapting the sound and attitude of hard rock to hip-hop. Prior to this, rap felt like a block party — the beats were funky and elastic, all about the groove. Run-D.M.C. hit hard. The production is tough and minimal, built on relentless drum machines and Jam Master Jay‘s furious scratching, mixing in a guitar riff or a keyboard hit on occasion. It is brutal urban music, and Run and D.M.C.‘s forceful, muscular rhymes match the music. Where other MCs sounded cheerful, Run and D.M.C. prowl and taunt the listener, sounding as if they were a street gang. And while much of the record is devoted to braggadocio, boasting, and block parties, Run-D.M.C. also addressed grittier realities of urban life, giving this record both context and thematic weight. All of this — the music, the attitude, the words, the themes — marked a turning point for rap, and it’s impossible to calculate Run-D.M.C.‘s influence on all that came afterward. Years later, some of the production may sound a bit of its time, but the music itself does not because music this powerful and original always retains its impact and force as music.”
allmusic
W – Run-D.M.C.
Pitchfork
YouTube: Full Concert – 09/25/84 – Capitol Theatre (OFFICIAL)
YouTube: Run D.M.C Deluxe Edition [Full Album] 57:25

Max Romeo – War Ina Babylon (1976)


“Like the epochal Police & Thieves by Junior Murvin, which also originated at Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry‘s Black Ark Studio and thus shares with this album Perry‘s trademark dark, swampy ambience, War ina Babylon is something of a mountain on the reggae landscape. But what makes it so remarkable is not just the consistently high quality of the music — indeed, by 1976 one had come to expect nothing but the finest and heaviest grooves from Perry and his studio band, the Upsetters — rather, it’s the fact that Max Romeo had proved to be such a convincing singer of cultural (or ‘conscious’) reggae after several years of raking it in as a purveyor of the most abject slackness. (His ‘Wet Dream’ had been a huge hit in England several years earlier, and had been followed by such other delicacies as ‘Wine Her Goosie’ and ‘Pussy Watch Man.’) But there’s no denying the authority of his admonishing voice here, and the title track (which describes the violent mood during Jamaica’s 1972 general election) has remained a standard for decades. Other highlights include ‘One Step Forward’ and ‘Smile Out a Style.’ Essential to any reggae collection.”
allmusic
W – War ina Babylon
Lee “Scratch” Perry and the Golden Age of Roots: ‘War Ina Babylon’
YouTube: Max Romeo – War Ina Babylon 37:52

The B-52s – Wild Planet (1980)


“Following the viral success of their first single, ‘Rock Lobster’, off their 1979 self-titled debut album, The B-52s had to prove they were more than just a wacky novelty act. Hailing from Athens, Georgia, the eccentric quintet had already won over New York’s downtown club scene and even inspired John Lennon to write again, but they had yet to get everyone to join their party. The group’s motley mix of surf rock, new wave, girl group and post-punk sounds confused critics and audiences alike, but The B-52s’ sophomore album, Wild Planet, was about to live up to their title of ‘World’s Greatest Party Band’. The B-52s don’t engender the same kind of cultural criticism as, say, Devo, Talking Heads and their other new wave contemporaries, yet they were post-punk pioneers in their own right. With their dissonant jams, absurdist lyrics and kitschy 60s aesthetic, the group ambushed the pop mainstream, and their influence now looms larger than their towering bouffants. …”
‘Wild Planet’: How The B-52s Partied Out Of Post-Punk’s Bounds (Audio/Video)
W – Wild Planet
Spectrum Culture (Video)
YouTube: Private Idaho (Live), Give Me Back My Man (Live)
YouTube: Wild Planet 9 videos

Dial-A-Poem Poets – Big Ego (1978)


“American label set up in 1972 by the poet John Giorno, the earliest releases were exclusively poetry collections of the ‘Dial-A-Poets’ (John Giorno, William S Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsberg, John Cage etc.): ‘In 1961 I was a young poet who hung out with young artists like Andy Warhol, Bob Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, as well as with members of the Judson Dance Theatre. The use of modern mass media and technologies by these artists made me realize that poetry was 75 years behind painting and sculpture, dance and music. And I thought, if they can do it, why can’t I do it for poetry. Why not try to connect with an audience using all the entertainments of ordinary life: television, the telephone, record albums, etc? It was the poet’s job to invent new venues and make fresh contact with the audience. This inspiration gave rise to Giorno Poetry Systems.’ – John Giorno”
Discogs
Discogs: Various ‎– Big Ego
UbuWeb (Video)

No Wave Cinema


Steve Mass & Diego Cortez.
No wave cinema was an underground filmmaking movement that flourished on the Lower East Side of New York City from about 1976 to 1985. Sponsored by and associated with the artists group Collaborative Projects or ‘Collab’, no wave cinema was a stripped-down style of guerrilla filmmaking that emphasized mood and texture above other concerns — similar to the parallel no wave music movement. This brief movement, also known as New Cinema (after a short-lived screening room on St. Mark’s Place run by several filmmakers on the scene), had a significant impact on underground film. No wave cinema spawned the Cinema of Transgression (Scott B and Beth B, Richard Kern, Nick Zedd, Tessa Hughes-Freeland and others) and a new generation of independent filmmaking in New York (Jim Jarmusch, Tom DiCillo, Steve Buscemi, and Vincent Gallo). … In 2010, French filmmaker Céline Danhier created a documentary film titled Blank City. The film presents an oral history of the no wave cinema and Cinema of Transgression movements through interviews with Jarmusch, Kern, Buscemi, Poe, Seidelman, Ahearn, Zedd, John Waters, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and Jack Sargeant. The soundtrack includes music by Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, James Chance and the Contortions, Bush Tetras and Sonic Youth. …”
Wikipedia
Shooting Blanks: A History of No Wave Cinema (Video)

“No Wave 78”

Joy Division – Closer (1980)


“If Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division at their most obsessively, carefully focused, ten songs yet of a piece, Closer was the sprawl, the chaotic explosion that went every direction at once. Who knows what the next path would have been had Ian Curtis not chosen his end? But steer away from the rereading of his every lyric after that date; treat Closer as what everyone else thought it was at first — simply the next album — and Joy Division‘s power just seems to have grown. Martin Hannett was still producing, but seems to have taken as many chances as the band itself throughout — differing mixes, differing atmospheres, new twists and turns define the entirety of Closer, songs suddenly returned in chopped-up, crumpled form, ending on hiss and random notes. Opener ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ was arguably the most fractured thing the band had yet recorded, Bernard Sumner‘s teeth-grinding guitar and Stephen MorrisCan-on-speed drumming making for one heck of a strange start. Keyboards also took the fore more so than ever — the drowned pianos underpinning Curtis‘ shadowy moan on ‘The Eternal,’ the squirrelly lead synth on the energetic but scared-out-of-its-wits ‘Isolation,’ and above all else ‘Decades,’ the album ender of album enders. A long slow crawl down and out, Curtis‘ portrait of lost youth inevitably applied to himself soon after, its sepulchral string-synths are practically a requiem. Songs like ‘Heart and Soul’ and especially the jaw-dropping, wrenching ‘Twenty Four Hours,’ as perfect a demonstration of the tension/release or soft/loud approach as will ever be heard, simply intensify the experience. Joy Division were at the height of their powers on Closer, equaling and arguably bettering the astonishing Unknown Pleasures, that’s how accomplished the four members were. Rock, however defined, rarely seems and sounds so important, so vital, and so impossible to resist or ignore as here.  …”
allmusic
Guardian – My favourite album: Closer by Joy Division
W – Closer
YouTube: Closer (Full Album) 9 videos

why tapes matter


“I’m pretty obsessed with contemporary cassette culture. Over the last few years, countless young and ambitious efforts have adopted the format – sculpting one of the most vibrant contexts of new music I’ve encountered, yet it seems – caught by the object itself (or simply not having a tape deck), people often miss what makes it so special. It feels reductive to mention the all mighty dollar – but it counts, and is generally downplayed in narrative of seminal music. Art is supposed to come first – and it does, but particularly for those of us who have shuffled through a frustrating flux in formats during the last three decades, it has played a significant role. Though everyone has their preferences and reasons, a largely unspoken factor which contributed to the vinyl revival we are currently witnessing, is that for many years (the 90’s and the first half of the 2000’s) LPs were the cheapest way to buy music. …”
the hum