Music; six degrees of separation.

I have a large CD collection that evolved out of various lines of investigation across what is mostly the popular music landscape. It all started with Bronski Beat, Thomas Dolby and Propaganda.

The connections across the collection are sometimes surprising. For example, Public Image Ltd. released Album in 1985 (named Compact Disc on the CD release, pictured at left — that is a link to the Amazon product page). iTunes Music Store has the album, too. Surprised it isn’t called “Digital Download” or something like it.

Anyway, it is a great album. Driving rhythms. Lots of great guitar and synth work and Lydon’s somewhat disturbing voice on top. It stands out in the pop music arena. There is something more to the composition and musicianship than would be expected from just some random band.

Not surprising. Musicians contributing to the album include:

  • Ginger Baker: one of the best rock and roll droppers around. Brilliant solo career, too. A very fine example of his work is Ginger Baker Middle Passage.
  • Bill Laswell: Beyond being an extraordinary producer and founder of the brilliant Axiom label. Examples of his work? There are thousands. This guy is unbelievably prolifc. Two standouts are The Goldan Palominos Dead Inside (Dark. dark dark dark. Brilliant.) and Praxis’ Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) (Insane album. Brilliant. Soundstage moves around all the time).
  • Steve Vai: Brilliant guitarist, both in terms of play ability and in his technical musicianship. He got a job playing with Zappa by transcribing Zappa’s music by ear and sending Zappa a copy. Many a guitarist has idolized Vai. The guitar solo in rise certainly smells like a Vai guitar-wank anthem. On top of Baker’s thundering drums, it is just plain old awesome.
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto A classically trained synth virtuoso. Ryuichi has played with David Sylvian, Robbie Robertson, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and many others.
  • Nicky Skopelitis Often appearing as a session guitarist (or stringed instrument player), Nicky has contributed to lots of well known albums.

End result? A brilliant bit of musicianship in a genre — synth-punk — where you really wouldn’t expect a lot of emphasis on composition. Lydon’s contributions are obvious and he certainly sets the energy level appropriately.

Branching out from the above list of artists, I could easily find connections — six degrees of separation or less — to most of the three thousand or so albums in my music library.

3 Responses to “Music; six degrees of separation.”

  1. David says:

    Cool! I had completely forgotten about “Rise” and now have it back in my collection!

  2. Kevin Kitching says:

    I hadn’t quite forgotten about that disc … but it had been a long time since I’d dug it out and played it. Much coolness.

    And if anyone wants to question Vai as God, then I will direct them to the story that, while he was shooting ‘Crossroads’, he was unable to play the bad note in the guitar duel for something like 20 takes…he just couldn’t do it.

    Put that in yer pipe and smoke it, unbelievers.

  3. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Dark Side of AmazonMP3 says:

    […] As its name implies, it is Fela and his band playing with Ginger Baker — drummer extraordinaire of whom I have written about before. […]

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