NY 77: The Coolest Year In Hell

If anyone were to make a documentary based on Love Goes To Buildings On Fire (yo, drop me a line if you’re interested!), this VH1 doc on New York City in 1977 would be a fine place to begin the archival research.

You can watch the entire 2-hour program uninterupted here.

Or you can try the first 10+ minutes below. It’s pretty vivid stuff. (Thanks to WFMU’s Kurt Gottschalk for the one-stop-shop link.)

Juma Sultan, Jimi Hendrix, and the NYC loft scene

I finally got a copy of Father of Origin, the lavish box set of unreleased recordings by Juma Sultan and the Aboriginal Music Society. Wow. A taste and description can be found here.

Sultan was one of the most important and yet least-know figures involved in the New York City loft scene, a real pioneer. The AMS never made a record, and this material marks the free jazz group’s very first release, some 40+ years after the material was recorded. More on Juma Sultan here.

Sultan spent some formative time in Woodstock, New York, where he had been running a sort of musician-centered collectivist commune until one of the members stole the money the group had saved for the next year’s rent. Around that time, in 1969, Jimi Hendrix blew into town, feeling out the real Woodstock a week before the festival that had been relocated to Bethel. The men did a show together at the Tinker Street Cinema (where I still go to see films regularly) that was widely bootlegged. The quality is sketchy at best. But it’s a tantalizing glimpse of a direction Hendrix might have explored further had he lived longer.

Here’s all 30+ minutes of it; enjoy.

Patti Smith talk about her new photo show

Following in the footsteps of her late soulmate Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith opened a gallery show of her photographs recently at the Wadswoth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. It runs until February 19.

BBC-TV online has a video interview with her about the show here, including a montage of her photos — all Polariods, by the way.

Last Waltz? Patti Smith + Michael Stipe “Wichita Lineman” on NYE 2011/2012

Jeez, I love this song.

Patti Smith has made a point of playing a string of New York City shows around New Year’s Eve ever since the mid-’70s. I wrote about a number of these shows in Love Goes To Buildings On Fire.

At a panel discussion around the book, Lenny Kaye said this would be the last year of the shows. “We’re getting old,” he shrugged.

So maybe the waltz between Patti and Michael that ends this great cover, performed on New Year’s Eve at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, is a last of sorts. Either way, it’s incredibly touching.

NYC Winter Jazz Fest

To judge from last weekend’s Winter Jazz Fest, a two-night club crawl that showcased about 60 of the improvised music scene’s most innovative acts, the spirit of the ’70s loft jazz portrayed in Love Goes To Buildings On Fire is thriving. In fact, it seems more alive than ever.

There’s a great roundtable discussion about the event on NPR’s A Blog Supreme, which drives that point home.

One of the best sets I saw was by Mostly Other People Do The Killing. I could watch Kevin Shea play drums for hours. Here’s a clip from a few years ago; during his solo, he partly dismantles his kit, and sticks a gum wrapper on his nose. We’re talking IMPROV here, people!

NPR Music recorded many of the festival sets, and should be posting some on their site in the coming days. Stay tuned.

(photo by John Rogers)

Blondie + NY Dolls + Robert Fripp (!?) @ CBGBs 1978


Blondie cover the New York Dolls’ “Jet Boy” at CBGBs on May 7, 1978, with their new pal + producer Robert Fripp. The British prog-rock guru had recently moved to NY to plug into the new rock scene. Recording is way lo-fi, performance is sprited. Fripp really lets down his hair. If a dude is trying to impress Debbie Harry, apparently, half-measures will not do.

Legend has it Fripp applied to replace Tom Verlaine in Television when the group split, but Richard Lloyd + Co. passed. That would have been pretty interesting.

(BTW, the photo is from an unrelated show back in ’74 featuring some Blondie, some Dolls, and some Stilettos. Go figure.)

The second clip, from the same ’78 show, is an impressively trippy, Frippy cover of Iggy’s “Sister Midnight.” Further proof that Blondie were the most brilliantly mutable band on the CBGBs scene. Disco, rap, reggae, prog-rock: somehow they pulled it all off.

Best of 2011

My favorite LPs of last year, in approximate order of my affection. Happy New Year.

tUnE-yArDs – whokill (4AD)
The Weeknd – House of Balloons (self-released)
White Denim – D (Downtown)
James Blake – James Blake (Universal)
Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)
Bjork – Biophilia [iPad app version] (Nonesuch)
EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints (Souterrain Transmissions)
Bon Iver – Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)
Liturgy – Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey)
Lucas Santtana – Sem Nostalgia (Mais Um Discos)
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)
Fucked Up – David Comes To Life (Matador)
Hayes Carrl – KMAG YOYO (& other American stories) (Lost Highway)
Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow (Fish People/Anti-)
Destroyer – Kaputt (Merge)
Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica (Software/Mexican Summer)
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost (Matador)
Pistol Annies – Pistol Annies (Columbia Nashville)
Tom Waits- Bad (Anti-)
Drake – Take Care (Young Money)
Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtape (self-released)
Paul Simon – So Beautiful or So What? (Hear Music/Concord)
Ambrose Akinmusire – When The Heart Emerges Glistening (Blue Note)
The Field – A Looping State Of Mind (Kompakt)
Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin (Columbia)
Tinariwen – Tassili (Anti-)
The Decemberists – The King Is Dead (Capitol)
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Island)
Matraca Berg – The Dreaming Fields (Dualtone)
Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest (Acony)
Matana Roberts – COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact (4AD)
Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know (Virgin)
The Roots – undun (Def Jam)
Feist – Metals (Interscope)
Various artists – Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira! (Mais Um Discos)
Gary Clark Jr. – Bright Lights EP (Warner Bros.)
Craig Taborn – Avenging Angel (ECM)
Yuck – Yuck (Fat Possum)
Amir El Saffar & Two Rivers Ensemble – Inana (Pi)
TV On The Radio – Nine Types of Light (Interscope)
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation)
Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)
Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (Matador)
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy (4AD)
William Elliot Whitmore – Field Songs (Anti-)
Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Merge)
Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm)
Austra – Feel It Break (Domino)
Spank Rock – Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is A Fucking Liar (BNR)
Steve Earle – I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (Lost Highway)
various – The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (Egyptian/CMF/Columbia)
Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place (Asthmatic Kitty)
Ana Egge – Bad Blood (Ammal)
Josh T. Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen (Mute)
Various artists – Danger Mouse & Danielle Luppi Present Rome Starring Jack White & Norah Jones (Capitol)
Ashes & Fire – Ryan Adams (Capitol)
Jonathan Wilson – Gentle Spirit (Bella Union)
Iceage – New Brigade (What’s Your Rupture?)
Nick Lowe – The Old Magic (Yep Roc)
Super Heavy – Super Heavy (Universal)
Middle Brother – Middle Brother (Partisan)
The Jayhawks – Mockingbird Time (Rounder)
Dessa – Castor, The Twin (Doomtree)
Tyshawn Sorey – Oblique-I (Pi)
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
Andy Stott – Passed Me By EP (Modern Love)
Deer Tick – Divine Providence (Partisan)