I was cooking on Mardi Gras, shrimp etoufee by the way, and had a playlist of Mardi Gras songs on. Lots of good stuff I knew, but then this song came on. It’s not in any way obscure. It was written by Marshall Sehorn and Allen Toussaint and I gather it was used in a grocery store commercial at some point. It’s been covered quite a bit, too. But it was new to me.
It was just a few years ago that I regularly ran into Sylvain’s Rampage of Songs, a night of youtube clips on Facebook. They were the delightful mashup of rock, old rock, rnb, and great stuff you’d expect. His energy in that enterprise was so so Syl!
We’re on first person terms because I lived in an apartment on Mott Street near Prince back in the 70s that had some carvings in the window sill that convinced me that the previous tenant was Syl Sylvain.
It may not have been true, but the carvings were real (they said Syl Sylvain if I remember correctly) and there were plenty of musicians in that building. In those days when I walked through the village I was often mistaken for Lenny Kaye. Why wouldn’t we live in Syl’s bathtub in kitchen tenement apartment?
I hadn’t seen the Dolls back then. I was in high school when they broke up. I did see them when they got back together in the late aughts with Earl Slick playing Johnny, at Bowery Ballroom. Earlier that day I was at the dentist, and the radio was promoting an REO Speedwagon show at the Garden, an oldies show. I went to see the remainders of the Dolls and they were very fine, most notable because Syl was so committed to bringing back all they had before with them to the now. Old but not oldies.
And it worked, mostly. David is great, first name though I don’t think I’ve lived in one of his places, but Syl seemed to believe that that night mattered completely. Like a Phil Spector production.
Which doesn’t say that much about the magnificence of the Dolls who I championed in high school over the logorrheic Bruce Springsteen. But the music says all about Syl.
I didn’t know Erik, I think I emailed him once, but maybe it was someone else in Hans Condor. They were a Nashville band that gloriously went on a Japan tour, and leave behind a great album and at least one terrific video.
So this isn’t a personal reminiscence.
But a lot of Nashville loved Erik. Reading the remarks would be emotional (a young person dies) but his generosity is legend.
From “half way to Memphis” to rocking Cleveland and everything in-between, Ian Hunter has now brought us five generations of songwriting wit and musical prowess. This ode to a dear friend, David Bowie, reminds us of better days. Days when we smiled, we laughed, and we enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship shared between two amazing human beings.
“Dandy – the world was black ‘n’ white You showed us what it’s like To live inside a rainbow Dandy – you thrilled us to the core You left us wanting more And then we took the last bus home”
Wesley Morris wrote about this version in the Times today, while making a bigger point.
I’ve always thought the Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes version was great, but even if you agree with that you’ll want to watch Patti LaBelle sing it.
Allen was the drummer who shaped the Afrobeat sound with Fela. The two of them combined jazz and Nigerian pop and lots of political edge to create a music that drove the central government wild.
I once had tickets to see Fela in NY, but he was imprisioned in Nigeria and couldn’t travel.
I did see Tony Allen once, at the Knitting Factory when it was on Leonard Street in New York’s Tribeca. A joy, and the opening band was Antibalas, a Brooklyn based Afrobeat band. They didn’t cover Fela, they didn’t impersonate him, but they surely inhabited his vibe and made it work.
Antilbalas eventually became the house band when the musical about Fela and Tony Allen hit Broadway.
Tony Allen is drumming on this, maybe Fela and Afrika 70’s greatest song.
This is one you may not have heard of. Or may have forgotten.
The Golden Palominos were a working outfit from 1981 to 2012, when their last record came out. Their first album was a work of No Wave, a punk jazz fusion thing that highlighted bandleader Anton Fier’s massive drumming, and lots of skronking and wailing by downtown notables like John Zorn, Aarto Lindsey, Fred Frith, and bassist Bill Laswell, who played with the band consistently.
I’m not impugning the first album, but like much of No Wave, the joys are hard earned. Worthwhile? Probably, but it is on their second album that Golden Palominos became music for minds like mine.
This is a great rock record. For one thing it features guest vocals by Michael Stipe, John Lydon, and Jack Bruce. It has a cover of Skip Spence’s Omaha. Richard Thompson plays guitar. Carla Bley plays organ on Buenos Aires. And it introduces us to Syd Straw, who in subsequent permutations became one of the Palominos’s front people.
I only saw them once, on stage at Studio 54, with the great Ordinaires opening for them. But this is a record that is heavy, jazzy, poppy, full of songwriters and singers, with great playing and a killer rhythm section.
Try it out.