Monday, March 23, 2009

off white #1

james chance, lydia lunch and chums on the bowery, summer 1978.

No Yorker, James Chance...

found a home on the pages of those earliest issues of 'The Face', a fashion & music monthly launched in the UK in 1979.
The writing in that magazine, while mostly fine, unquestionably played second fiddle to its sharp graphic content; in particular the cutting edge typography of Neville Brody.

High contrast monochrome images of Chance with his saxophone jockeyed for column dominance under retro features on US manufactured pomades - 'Black & White' from Memphis, Tennessee
- and colour spreads on Vivienne Westwood kilts kissed arse with Jah Wobble, Levine and Lydon. Robert Elms briefly proclaimed Trevor Sorbie the new Vidal Sassoon. Free Jazz was considered the new punk.
The afterbirth of No Wave was considered and cool.

Like a good many New York City icons, of course, James Chance was no native son. Born James Siegfried on April 20th, 1953, his birthplace was actually in the industrial midwest - Milwaukee, Wisconsin - but relocating to NYC in the 70's, the newly Christened Chance / White / Black formed an early alliance with Lydia Lunch (who wrote and sings on "Stained Sheets") in the seminal Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, championed by Bri
an Eno, and out of the abrasive ashes of the No Wave scene first the Blacks then the Contortions were reborn.

Recorded at Blank Tape Studios, NYC, in the Autumn of 1978.

Jody Harris: guitar; Pat Place: slide guitar;
George Scott: bass; Lydia Lunch: vocals;
Don Christensen: drums; James Chance: saxophone.

Ray Mantilla: congas; Anya Phillips: vocals;
Kristian Hoffman: piano, vocals.

Produced by Bob Blank.
"Tropical Heatwave" written by Irving Berlin.

JAMES WHITE AND THE BLACKS: STAINED SHEETS from "Off White" 12" (Ze Records) 1979 (US)
JAMES WHITE AND THE BLACKS: TROPICAL HEATWAVE from "Off White" 12" (Ze Records) 1979 (US)



Anonymous said...

Tx for these

Anonymous said...


Your driver said...

I was never a huge fan of James White, but I'm willing to give him a second listen.

When The Face came out, I thought it was brilliant. I lost interest pretty quickly, but I remember reading some genuine thought provoking journalism of the sort that I had previously only occasionally encountered In LA's Slash. You didn't see much of it there either.

ib said...

Thanks for the feedback, Evan.

SdC: the link is appreciated; and the English translation!

I've added Le Gouter to my sidecar links. Nice site.

ib said...

The Face filled a huge gap in the market initially, demonstrating a concrete demand for a graphically and intellectually challenging music monthly with an innovative emphasis on the kind of production values previously identified as the exclusive domain of well established fashion bibles.

Ultimately - and more swiftly than its readership anticipated - it became very tired. Ironically, the very Thatcherite economic model which fed its early success also contributed directly to its eventual downfall; its promotion of design over content and its sycophantic subservience to 80's bloat and bulimic over indulgence.

At some point it came to represent everything I detested about the 1980s.

Those early issues are now probably worth a small fortune. I owned the first sixty at least. I have no idea what became of them, but no doubt they have long since gone the way of paper recycling.

Anonymous said...

nice post ib

those are soo good, I almost wish I didn't have 'em already - the joy of discovery.

Ramone666 said...

Good one Ib. It´s quite a surprise these tracks don´t sound dated at all. Have to dig out my vinyl copy and play the whole album now.

ib said...

Yeah, definitely, Ramone666. I was surprised too at how well these had stood the test of time. Funny thing, though; having listened to and loved "Tropical Heatwave" again, it made me want to dig out the soundtrack to "West Side Story" - an LP I've featured previously on a couple of occasions, and which I'm almost always amazed to find I enjoy.

I'm listening to "Buy The Contortions" next, and I also want to listen to nathan nothin's NO WAVE post in a little more detail.

I need to stop by your place too; I'm still kind of out of the loop.