Category Archives: BILL LASWELL


VARIOUS ARTISTS Trilogy: New Africa 2 / Hard Cell / Beat Freaks (1985) – A 3CD Celluloid Collection featuring Material, Golden Palominos, Fela, Deadline, Time Zone, Tore Kunda, The Last Poets & more

VA-TrilogyNew Africa 2 / Hard Cell / Beat Freaks (1985)
A 3CD Celluloid Collection

An early CD compilation that gathers together three various artist LPs from the late, great Celluloid label… home of Bill Laswell and his pals, and one of the 70s/80s labels synonymous with trend-setting musical scenes in both New York and Africa. The track list below will give you a clue. There are probably newer, fresher remasters of this import collection out there somewhere, but this one’s off-the-shelf. We’ve got more from some of these great bands & artists in the archives already, like… MASSACRE Killing Time, Funny Valentine, Meltdown, Lonely Heart and Love Me Tender (HERE), THE GOLDEN PALOMINOS This Is How It Feels and Prison Of The Rhythm – The Remixes (HERE), oodles of BILL LASWELL (too much to list, HERE), THE LAST POETS Holy Terror and “Black And Strong (Homesick)” Maxi-CD (HERE) + ABIODUN OYEWOLE 25 Years and UMAR BIN HASSAN Be Bop Or Be Dead (both HERE), ANTON FIER Dreamspeed (HERE) and DEADLINE Dissident (HERE). Find the 3CD Trilogy compilation at Amazon, HERE.

New Africa 2
Touré Kunda Casa Di Mansa (5:40)
Touré Kunda
Touré Kunda (3:47)
Dewgal (6:18)
Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70
Mr. Follow Follow (6:40)
Manu Dibango
Electric Africa (3:58)
Boat Peoples (7:07)
Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70
No Agreement (7:25)

Hard Cell
Time Zone World Destruction (5:08)
Legs (2:06)
Lightnin’ Rod & Jimi Hendrix
Doriella Du Fontaine (4:55)
Makossa Rock (4:07)
The Golden Palominos
Omaha (3:13)
1984 (4:07)
The Golden Palominos
Two Sided Fist (7:47)
The Golden Palominos
Boy (Go) (5:20)

Beat Freaks
D.ST Home Of Hip Hop (3:52)
The Last Poets
Get Movin’ (4:07)
Zulu Groove (4:16)
D. ST/Jalal
Mean Machine (4:43)
For A Few Dollars More (3:53)
Time Zone
The Wildstyle (4:59)
Change The Beat (3:45)
Tribe 2
What I Like (American Dreams) (6:12)
MegaMix II (Why Is It Fresh?) (4:59)


BILL LASWELL / SANTANA / BOB MARLEY / MILES DAVIS – Divine Light: Music From Illuminations & Love Devotion Surrender (2001), Dreams Of Freedom: Ambient Translations Of Bob Marley In Dub (1997), Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974 (1998) + Panthalassa: The Remixes (1999)

Divine Light: Music From Illuminations & Love Devotion Surrender (2001)
Dreams Of Freedom: Ambient Translations Of Bob Marley In Dub (1997)
Panthalassa: The Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974 (1998)

Panthalassa: The Remixes (1999)

Laswell’s Spacey Road Trips To The Netherworld

Mega-cool ambient/dub reconstructions from ace producer Bill Laswell. His credentials need no verification and his catalog of pro-creative utilization of sound is unparalleled, but these projects have to rank high in Laswell’s personal pantheon. The Miles disc is especially rewarding, as Laswell delves deep into the multi-colored, multi-track master tapes to reveal lost sounds and effects buried beneath the sometime noisy cacophony of Davis’ jam sessions. Many of Miles’ originals were studio creations in themselves, often live, but often cut-and-pasted together to form something just short of unattainable in real life. Laswell takes it a step further with a dark, moody, downright spooky bent. Hidden nuance found buried in the session tapes are sometimes pushed to the fore, creating something both surreal and unusual. I can’t help but imagine the ever-curious Miles would approve. The Marley disc is created in the same manner, with the emphasis on the dub, naturally, and Laswell offers some additional sounds from his stable of talent, Aiyb Dieng and Tetsu Inoue, to push Marley’s original work to ambient/dub extremes. The Santana re-imagination uses only the original master tapes from Carlos’ 1973-74 collaborations with John McLaughlin and Alice Coltrane (with Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Michael Shrieve, Jan Hammer, Tom Coster and many others). There’s less ambience (and no dub) here, as Laswell works to reconcile two stylistically different LPs from Santana’s catalog. Some scoff at tinkering with the past like this. But the past is already available in multiple forms, these re-visits only add to the variety of tone and texture, opening up new worlds using the most cherished of root sources as guides. Find Miles (HERE), Marley (HERE) and Santana (HERE) at Amazon.

Divine Light
Angel Of Air/Angel Of Water (11:19)
A Love Supreme (6:49)
Illuminations (4:31)
The Life Divine (6:45)
Naima (4:05)
Angel Of Sunlight (14:50)
Bliss: The Eternal Now (5:51)
Meditation (1:58)
Bliss: The Eternal Now – Return (4:04)

Dreams Of Freedom
Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock) (10:19)
No Woman No Cry (4:11)
The Heathen (8:38)
Them Belly Full (But We Hungry) (5:59)
Waiting In Vain (4:40)
So Much Trouble In The World (4:50)
Exodus (8:57)
Burnin’ And Lootin’ (4:10)
Is This Love (4:32)
One Love (People Get Ready) (4:13)
Midnight Ravers (6:19)

In A Silent Way/Shhh Peaceful/It’s About That Time (15:20)
Black Satin/What If/Agharta Prelude Dub (16:06)
Rated X/Billy Preston (14:34)
He Loved Him Madly (13:40)

Panthalassa: The Remixes (1999)
Here’s the 1999 compendium, Panthalassa: The Remixes, featuring re-re-visualizations by Laswell, King Britt & Philip Charles, Doc Scott, DJ Cam and Jamie Myerson. ALSO INCLUDED: The rare bonus track remix from DJ Krush, only available on the vinyl version and promotional CD.




Sssh (Sea4 Miles Remix) (Remixed By King Britt & Philip Charles) (10:28)
Rated X (Remixed By Doc Scott) (6:41)
In A Silent Way (Remixed By DJ Cam) (5:05)
On The Corner (Subterranean Channel Mix) (Remixed By Bill Laswell) (16:42)
Rated X (Remixed By Jamie Meyerson) (8:02)
Black Satin/On The Corner (Remixed By DJ Krush) (6:20) – Bonus Track


BUDDY MILES EXPRESS Hell And Back (1994) – Produced By Bill Laswell

FrontHell And Back (1994)
Buddy Miles Returns w/Bill Laswell At The Helm

Rick Rubin and Bill Laswell approach some of their favorite artists with a similar thought process… strip away the baggage of their careers and get them back to their roots. Rubin has racked up a garage full of platinum records for his efforts, while Laswell has only garnered a shelf full of cool, out-of-print CDs. Of course, the difference is that Laswell rarely trafficked in commercially viable music. In the 90s, via his label imprint, Black Arc, Laswell backed – both musically and financially – some great, long-lost artists, ranging from The Last Posts, Bootsy Collins, Sly & Robbie, Jerome “Big Foot” Brailey, Anton Fier, George Clinton… and Buddy Miles, who returned strong in 1994, with guitarist Nicky Skopelitis and The Uptown Horns in tow. On one hand, Hell And Back is a rather by-the-numbers, hard-driving rock/funk release (with some surprisingly soft-hearted R&B). But, because Laswell knows something about how to framework a groove, even routine ideas like “Born Under A Bad Sign” and “All Along The Watchtower” have something to offer. Grooving and horn-driven, “The Decision” is a standout, as is the infectious “Nothing Left To Lose.” So, overall, this LP winds up being a respectable showing from both Miles and Laswell. Find Hell And Back at Amazon, HERE.

We’ve got plenty more Laswell-related projects in the archives, including another Buddy Miles album, the power trio, Hardware, featuring Bootsy Collins & Stevie Salas (HERE)… also THIRD RAIL South Saturn Delta (with James Blood Ulmer, HERE), MUTINY Aftershock 2005 (with Jerome “Big Foot” Brailey, HERE), LEE SCRATCH PERRY Rise Again (HERE), ABIODUN OYEWOLE 25 Years & UMAR BIN HASSAN Be Bop Or Be Dead (both HERE), DEADLINE Dissident (HERE), GOLDEN PALOMINOS w/LORI CARSON This Is How It Feels + Prison Of The Rhythm – The Remixes (HERE), THE LAST POETS Holy Terror (HERE), Dreams Of Freedom: Ambient Translations Of Bob Marley In Dub & Panthalassa: Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974 + Panthalassa: The Remixes, (both HERE) and Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon + Axiom Ambient: Lost In The Translation (both HERE). Not to mention Massacre‘s entire discography, HERE.

Born Under A Bad Sign (5:08)
The Change (6:57)
All Along The Watchtower (5:06)
Let It Be Me (5:44)
Come Back Home (4:36)
Be Kind To Your Girlfriend (4:45)
The Decision (5:18)
Nothing Left To Lose (4:28)


THE LAST POETS Holy Terror (1994) + “Black And Strong (Homesick)” Maxi-CD – Produced By Bill Laswell

coverHoly Terror (1994)
Bill Laswell & Rap’s 60s Messengers

RE-UPPED FROM 2007 The Last Poets stirred the shit back in the late 60s – practically inventing modern rap while boldly confronting society’s unspoken black & white taboos. Armed with words, bongos and a bad attitude, they (unsurprisingly) managed to radicalized themselves to the outer edge of the mainstream… and nearly out of the business altogether. Minimized after a couple of decades on the movement’s sidelines, Bill Laswell brought together Umar Bin Hassan & Abiodun Oyewole (original members of The Last Poets) and backed them with his bass, his production and his small band of ultra-cool pals; Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Aiyb Dieng and Melle Mel. A lean crew by Laswell’s standards, and mean, too. Listen to the irresistible funk groove of “Homesick.” The words matter most, but the Laswell gang’s presence makes this album easily one of The Last Poets’ best. Out of print and cheap at Amazon (HERE), which is more criminal than downloading.

Invocation (2:01)
Homesick (8:20)
Black Rage (5:19)
Men-Tality (5:15)
Pelourinho (5:16)
Funk (6:06)
If We Only Knew (3:28)
Illusion Of Self (8:17)
Talk Show (5:32)
Black And Strong (Homesick) (11:29)
Last Rites (1:11)

Black And Strong (Homesick)“Black And Strong (Homesick)” (1995)
Maxi With Alternate Versions & Vocal Samples

Cool Maxi-CD (also issued on 12″ vinyl) featuring variations of Holy Terror‘s coolest groove, “Homesick” and “Black And Strong (Homesick).” Features the LP version of each, a radio edit and a 12-minute Bill Laswell ambient dub mix… along with isolated vocal samples, so you can get your Bill on and make mixes of your own. One of Laswell’s heaviest grooves. Still gettable at Amazon, HERE.

Black And Strong (Homesick) album track (11:31)
Black And Strong (Homesick) radio edit (4:37)
Black And Strong (Homesick) ambient dub mix (12:13)
Homesick (album track) (8:22)
“I’m Coming Home…” vocal only edit (0:22)
“…Bang Bang Another Nigger Going To Jail” vocal only edit (0:52)
“Like Graffiti On The Walls Of Wall Street… Black And Strong” vocal only edit (0:26)
“Like Graffiti On The Walls Of Wall Street… (Black And Strong” vocal only edit (0:12)
“The Screams…” vocal only edit (2:22)
“I See A Slave…” vocal only edit (0:44)
“The Blood…” vocal only edit (1:58)
“I’m Coming Home…” vocal only edit (0:21)


MASSACRE Killing Time (1981), Funny Valentine (1998), Meltdown (2001), Lonely Heart (2007) & Love Me Tender (2013) – Featuring Bill Laswell, Fred Frith & Fred Maher/Charles Hayward

A strange and bizarre alliance between guitarist Fred Frith (Henry Cow) and Material alumni, super-producer/bassist Bill Laswell and drummer Fred Maher. They began as a makeshift unit in New York City, and lasted only two years, but their first release (and last with this line-up), 1981’s Killing Time, out waved the new wave, with its spiky, barbed-wire take on stripped, progressive rock. The band’s energy was manic and tense, with pent-up, adrenalized rhythms that could only spring from the mean streets of NYC, circa 1980. It’s a longtime favorite of mine. But it took another 17 years before Frith & Laswell got around to a follow-up, 1998’s Funny Valentine. With a new drummer on board, Charles Hayward (of This Heat), Massacre’s dynamics changed, as the trio began delving into heavy improv, replacing taut, two and three-minute exchanges with 20 minute conversations on later releases. Three live albums would follow, 2001’s Meltdown (recorded largely at Robert Wyatt’s Meltdown Festival), 2007’s Lonely Heart (recorded largely at 2003’s Roskilde Festival) and 2013’s Love Me Tender, a release that took me by surprise, prompting this post. Click the covers for links to Amazon, and find a bunch more Laswell projects and productions in the archives, HERE.

Killing TimeKilling Time (1981)
Legs (2:05)
Aging With Dignity (3:07)
Subway Heart (2:46)
Killing Time (2:54)
Corridor (1:58)
Lost Causes (3:15)
Not The Person We Knew (3:18)
Bones (1:42)
Tourism (4:13)
Surfing (1:15)
As Is (8:06)
After (5:02)
Gate (2:39)

Funny ValentineFunny Valentine (1998)
Leaf Violence (4:44)
Down To Five A Day (4:42)
Lizard-Skin Junk-Mail (5:27)
Ladder (11:31)
South Orange Sunset (4:14)
Six-Cylinder Sinister (5:22)
300 Days In The Vacant Lot (7:34)
Say Hey Willie (2:14)
Talk Radio (3:49)
Well-Dressed Ripping Up Wood (4:23)
Further Conversations With White Arc (6:25)

MeltdownMeltdown (2001)
Up For It: Song For Che (20:38)
Hover (3:49)
For Food And Scatter (10:26)
Figure Out (25:23)
The Empire Strikes Back (2:06)
Over (5:16)

Lonely HeartLonely Heart (2007)
Send (19:49)
Step (5:11)
In (7:40)
Gracias A La Vida (18:31)
Return (6:53)

Love Me TenderLove Me Tender (2013)
Bright Blue (7:42)
Dot In The Prison (4:08)
Rosey Good Shook (4:22)
Shadow Then Omitted (5:54)
In Search Of The Nervous System (6:12)
History Fictions (2:34)
Between Roof And Bird (2:01)
Shoe Often Repeated (3:56)
The North Reaches To The Ankle (4:52)
Madness Is Medicine (8:06)
Chapter Amber (4:03)


RONALD SHANNON JACKSON & THE DECODING SOCIETY Mandance (1982), Live At Greenwich House (1986/1999), Texas (1988), Taboo (1990) & Red Warrior (1990)

Ronald Shannon Jackson was one of the great, eternally fearless, drumming band leaders of the new breed of jazz/rock fusionists to surface in the 80s… though, his rich resume dates back to the 60s playing in bands alongside Charles Mingus, Stanley Turrentine and Albert Ayler, among others. It was Jackson’s stint with Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time in the mid-to-late 70s, however, that helped shape his instincts for the fiery, fusionist attitude that permeated his longtime band, The Decoding Society. Jackson passed away last week, and while his obit was only noticed by a criminally small cadre of faithful music lovers, his passion and energy will be greatly missed. Here’s a handful of off-the-shelf discs that I’ve been revisiting this week that some of you might also enjoy. If nothing else, click a few of the streaming players to get a taste. Check Readers’ Links for Don From Oregon’s Oct. 20th contributions of some of Jackson’s work with Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and don’t forget our Power Tools post (HERE) featuring Jackson, Melvin Gibbs & Bill Frisell. Track listings for the rips below are in comments.

FrontMandance (1982)
Outstanding Early 80s Release

Considered by many to be a definitive Decoding Society release, with electrically charged arrangements and drive. One of Shannon Jackson’s better sounding releases, too, and this is an ancient 80s CD. Inexplicable interplay and invention with players bouncing all over the room. Includes Vernon Reid and Melvin Gibbs (2/3 of Living Color) along with Henry Scott, Zane Massey and Bruce Johnson on flurious (that’s fluid and furious) bass. Amazon’s got it (HERE). Hear “Man Dance” below.

FrontLive At Greenwich House (1999)
Live In NYC, January 1st, 1986

Wildly chaotic live set featuring Vernon Reid, Melvin Gibbs, Cary Denigris, Reggie Washington, Henry Scott and Eric Person. The band on this 1986 date is kinetic, zooming in all directions with colliding, melodic abandon. At times free swinging (“Erri Moments”), languid and atmospheric (“Sacred Language”) and/or freeform noise (“The Janitor”), Live At Greenwich House covers a lot of ground with a playfully upbeat air of creativity that’s often M.I.A. in this kind of “experimental jazz.” Released by Knitting Factory’s short-lived in-house label, Knit Classics, 13 years after the fact. As of today there are only two copies at Amazon (HERE), ranging in price from $14 to $226. Hear “Flatbush Roti” below.

FrontTexas (1988)
Lean And Mean Mid-80s Decoding Society

Between Jackson’s driving propulsion and the band’s melodic drive-bys and flittering riffage, Texas comes across as relatively concise within the RSJ & TDS catalog, with most tracks clocking in around the 5 minute mark – making for a lean presentation that works well here. More of the band’s eclectic mix of jazz rock fusion, atmospheric freeform and balls out improv. Features Hugh Riley, Cary Denigris, Zane Massey, Eric Person & John Moody. Amazon has it (HERE). Hear “Evoking” below.

FrontTaboo (1990)
Co-Produced By Bill Laswell

Rhythmic excursions that emit a distant, eerie, otherworldly vibe. Shannon Jackson’s combustible energy is the anchor, but the slightly Africanized horn charts color the proceedings. Co-producer (with Jackson) Bill Laswell’s technical guidance seems to take a back seat, but that’s OK. Many of the same players as above, along with Robin Eubanks, David Gordon, Akbar Ali and added horn players. This is a 1990 import rip on Virgin. Amazon has it (HERE). Hear “Challenge to Manhood.”

FrontRed Warrior (1990)
Rock ‘n Blues, Co-Produced by Laswell

A personal fave and one of Shannon Jackson’s better known albums boasts a three-guitar, dual-bass attack, featuring Stevie Salas, Jef Lee Johnson (more on Jef Lee HERE), Jack DeSalvo, Ramon Pooser and Conrad Mathieu. The unusual line-up (by Jackson’s standards), along with Salas’ imput, makes for a heavier, bluesier sound that sets Red Warrior apart from much of Jackson’s Decoding Society bigger band releases. Co-produced by Bill Laswell and RSJ. Originally released via Laswell’s Axiom imprint. Find it at Amazon (HERE). Hear “Red Warrior” below.


PETE NAMLOOK The Dark Side Of The Moog V (1996) w/ Bill Laswell & Klaus Schulze

frontThe Dark Side Of The Moog V (1997)
With An Intro By The Man Himself

I’m not exactly sure how many of these experiments in Moog extremes the late Pete Namlook has released (almost a dozen that I know of, this one credited to Namlook, Bill Laswell and Klaus Schulze), but all the ones I’ve heard are fun excursions, heavy on the instrumental atmospherics, grooves and wordplay (often involving Pink Floyd, naturally). V‘s “Psychedelic Brunch” is a play off of Atom Heart Mother‘s “Adam’s Psychedelic Breakfast,” while VII‘s title track is entitled, “Obscured By Klaus.” This one, the original German import, on FAX Records, features an opening vocal track by Bob Moog, himself. We’ve got Pete Namlook’s rare 5-hour-plus MP3 CD, 10 Years Of Silence, in the archives, HERE. Get Dark Side Of The Moog V (and probably the others in the series, too) at Amazon (very pricey), HERE.

Psychedelic Brunch, p.I (0:15)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.II (4:30)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.III (8:30)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.IV (3:46)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.V (16:21)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.VI (8:45)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.VII (9:50)
Psychedelic Brunch, p.VIII (8:22)


BILL LASWELL Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon (1995) + Axiom Ambient: Lost In The Translation (1994)

Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon (1995)
Axiom Ambient: Lost In The Translation (1994)
Two Two-Disc Views Of Two Bill Laswell Obsessions

I’ve been meaning to post another of Bill Laswell’s celebrated funk concoctions for a while, so thanks to Don From Oregon for recently dropping the 2CD, Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon in comments for everyone. At the time of its release, in the mid-90s – when Laswell was knee-deep in the funk via various productions – Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicon seemed like another in an already long series of superstar funk gatherings, In reality, though, Axiom Funk contains new and previously unreleased recordings – which is how Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel appears here three years after his death. The great Sly and Robbie are also on board, as are familiar names like Bernie Worrell, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Anton Fier and others. Despite the moniker, it’s not all straight-up funk, as plenty of old school soul finds its way into the mix, too. On the flip… Laswell’s ambient side is displayed on 1994’s Axiom Ambient: Lost In The Translation, a 2CD collection of new, remixed and previously released ambient and spacy electronica material, some coming from Laswell’s years in Material. All designed for the chill zone. Find Axiom Funk (HERE) and Axiom Ambient (HERE) at Amazon. We’ve got lots more Laswell productions in the archives, including THIRD RAIL South Saturn Delta (with James Blood Ulmer), MUTINY Aftershock 2005 (with Jerome “Big Foot” Brailey), LEE SCRATCH PERRY Rise Again, ABIODUN OYEWOLE 25 Years, UMAR BIN HASSAN Be Bop Or Be Dead, HARDWARE Third Eye Open, DEADLINE Dissident, GOLDEN PALOMINOS w/LORI CARSON This Is How It Feels + Prison Of The Rhythm – The Remixes, THE LAST POETS Holy Terror, Dreams Of Freedom: Ambient Translations Of Bob Marley In Dub & Panthalassa: Music Of Miles Davis 1969-1974 + Panthalassa: The Remixes, all (HERE).

Order Within The Universe (3:18)
Under The Influence (Jes Grew) (5:45)
If 6 Was 9 (6:00)
Orbitron Attack (12:27)
Cosmic Slop (5:17)
Free-Bass (Godzillatron Cush) (5:41)
Tell The World (3:53)
Pray My Soul (5:11)
Hideous Mutant Freekz (7:21)
Sax Machine (7:46)
Animal Behavior (4:27)
Trumpets And Violins, Violins (3:39)
Telling Time (5:02)
Jungle Free-Bass (5:37)
Blackout (3:44)
Sacred To The Pain (4:55)

Eternal Drift (15:53)
Peace (17:05)
Aum (17:34)
Cosmic Trigger (16:18)
Dharmapala (14:34)
Flash Of Panic (15:14)
Holy Mountain (16:38)
Ruins (7:57)


LEE SCRATCH PERRY Rise Again (2011) Produced By Bill Laswell

FrontRise Again (2011)
Laswell Works His Magic

Torch that spliff and settle in as Bill Laswell’s oozing, throbbing, sensuous baselines sooth your battered bones on this outstanding 2011 Lee Scratch release. The elements are, as one might guess, appropriately hazy and dubby, but the album’s reigned in “song” format gives Scratch a repeated listenability that betters some of his past work. Laswell and friends – Bernie Worrell, Aiyb Dieng, the great Sly Dunbar, among others – provide the flawless execution and glorious sonics that are sometimes missing from Perry’s work. It may not be as chaotic and haphazard as fans have come to love and expect from the master himself, but it’s a welcomed break from the sometimes excessive madness, and that’s bound to seduce a few more fans into the fold. Rise Again is at Amazon (HERE) and we’ve got lots more Laswell projects in the archives (HERE).

Higher Level (3:50)
Scratch Message (4:06)
Orthodox (4:12)
Wake The Dead (5:08)
Rise Again (4:13)
African Revolution (4:02)
Dancehall Kung Fu (5:33)
E.T. (5:10)
House Of God (4:07)
Butterfly (3:52)
Inakaya (Japanese Food) (3:15)


THIRD RAIL South Delta Space Age (1995) – James Blood Ulmer & Bill Laswell

frontSouth Delta Space Age (1995)
James Blood Ulmer w/ Bill Laswell & Band

This joint venture between the great James Blood Ulmer and producer/bassist Bill Laswell is a bit different from Laswell’s typical sessioneering, in that he doesn’t rely on an expanded cast of go-to players. Instead, the lineup is a set four or five-piece band consisting of Blood, Laswell, Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste on drums and Bernie Worrell & Amina Claudine Myers sharing B-3 duties. The result is more consistent than many Laswell productions, though, that’s not necessarily a virtue, depending on what you came here for in the first place. The tracks appear largely studio concocted – simple bass and drum arrangements augmented by chorded B-3s & solos, but there’s little in the way of “composition.” Ulmer’s guitar work, though steeped in the blues for the last few decades, is subdued here, while his vocals and lyrics are somewhat sub-standard, since they seem instantly written or largely improvised. Which all means there’s not much to hang your hat on besides the basic blues-based grooves and concept, which I love… but not much really sticks to the cranium. You might dig it for other reasons. Check out the cool instrumental, “Grounded” and Blood’s vocal work on “Itchin’,” to give you an idea. Find it at Amazon cheap (HERE). There’s Tons-O-Laswell (HERE) in the archives, including his work with Funkadelic drummer ‘Bigfoot’ Brailey (Mutiny), three releases with members of The Last Poets, master tape remixes of Bob Marley and Miles Davis (plus a rare remix compendium), The Golden Palominos and out-of-print studio projects, Deadline and Hardware.

Dusted (7:07)
Grounded (4:30)
Funk All Night (4:55)
In The Name Of (5:17)
Please Tell Her (3:57)
Itchin’ (4:49)
Blues March (7:45)
First Blood (5:23)
Lord Thank You (8:05)


MUTINY Aftershock 2005 (1995)… Funkadelic’s Jerome “Big Foot” Brailey and Bill Laswell

Aftershock 2005 (1995)
Funkadelic’s Big Beat, Courtesy Of Bill Laswell

The days of Bill Laswell’s unfettered CD output is one of the things I’ll miss most about the decline of the music industry. Creative obsessives with access to label manufacturing to release whatever their passions dictated is what will make the 90s the “good old days” for us aging music hounds. Fortunately… the music still survives, and this disc, “conceived and constructed” by Parliament/Funkadelic drummer Jerome “Big Foot” Brailey, is just another example of music you’d be hard pressed to imagine being released on disc these days. I don’t recognize a lot of the side players here, so I’m assuming they’re mostly part of Mutiny’s mid-90s touring outfit, while only a few of Laswell’s regular crew make cameo appearances (DXT, Nicky Skopelitis, Bernie Worrell). The music ranges from subdued guitar-driven funk to soulful asides, all anchored by Brailey’s funk/beat prowess. I wouldn’t call this disc essential, but it’s another great example of what Laswell was able to get into the marketplace via his Black Arc label… and his Rolodex of essential names, of which “Big Foot” often was. I had the pleasure of meeting the man around the time this CD was released, and his signature drumstick boasts one of the very few autographs I’ve ever collected over the years. Find Aftershock 2005 cheap at Amazon, HERE. We’ve got more P-Funk in the archives, HERE. Some mega-cool Bill Laswelll projects, too, HERE.

The Growl (5:10)
It’s All Good (5:20)
No Choice (4:27)
Passion (5:13)
Tickin’ Like A Time Bomb (4:49)
Rock The Boat (2:51)
2005 (5:53)
Desires (5:24)
Moments (2:53)
The Growl (Revamp) (1:56)


ABIODUN OYEWOLE 25 Years (1995) &
UMAR BIN HASSAN Be Bop Or Be Dead (1993)

ABIODUN OYEWOLE 25 Years (1995)
UMAR BIN HASSAN Be Bop Or Be Dead (1993)
Two Solo
Releases From Members Of The Last Poets… and Bill Laswell

It might be a safe bet that, with the record industry the way it is, you’ll probably never again see a guy like Bill Laswell get such unlimited latitude to follow his musical muse. Those days are gone, but Laswell’s insanely large body of production work still remains. These two releases come from the mid-90s, when Laswell was working hard to resurrect the legacy of radical, 60s beat-poet rappers, The Last Poets. These two releases by Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan, two of the Poets’ original vocalist/messengers, are typical of Laswell’s style – filled with all-star casts of funksters, jazzers and outsiders. Oyewole’s 25 Years features Henry Threadgill, Aiyb Dieng & Brandon Ross, among others, while Hassan’s Be Bop Or Be Dead boasts the likes of Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Buddy Miles and Anton Fier. Both discs re-explore The Poets’ late 60s radicalisms, even reworking some of the group’s original, explosive material. The naked anger of The Poets’ bongo-driven past has been transformed into a full ensemble attack fronted by wired, vocal maturity. Some of their best work. Both Abby (HERE) & Umar (HERE) are at Amazon for pennies on the dollar.

When The Revolution Comes (4:17)
Sample This (5:58)
Brown Sugar (5:15)
Dread Brother (6:38)
Festival (3:37)
Son’s Rising (4:11)
Brothers Working (4:11)
25 Years (5:53)

Niggers Are Scared Of Revolution (5:24)
Am (8:00)
Bum Rush (5:31)
This Is Madness (5:28)
Malcolm (6:25)
Pop (4:42)
Love (6:09)
40 Deuce Street (3:50)
Personal Things (4:30)
This Is Madness (Metal Mix) (5:33)


HARDWARE Third Eye Open (1992) & DEADLINE Dissident (1992)

HARDWARE Third Eye Open
DEADLINE Dissident (1992)
Laswell’s Never-Ending Studio Tour

Hardware is yet another in a long series of producer Bill Laswell’s experimentations with the fusion of every musical genre possible. In this case, a 70s-styled hard rock & soul power trio, with an unavoidable Hendrix spin and some funky underpinnings, courtesy of Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins. Drummer Buddy Miles’ thundering simplicity is front and center from the get go, but the entire project centers around guitarist/vocalist Stevie Salas. For something a bit more groovy, the Deadline moniker was first implemented by Laswell in the mid-80s, fusing African & industrial beats with funky synths and the studio’s kitchen sink. In 1992, Laswell resurrected the name with a whole new angle… three bassists; Jonas Hellborg, Bootsy Collins and Laswell himself, along with some familiar pals. The pace on Dissident is more groove-oriented and laid back but weird and quietly funky. Of course, they’re both out of print. Find Hardware (HERE) & Deadline (HERE) At Amazon.

Got A Feelin(6:31)
Waiting On You
What’s Goin‘ Down (5:06)
Love Obsession (When The Eagle Flies) (4:32)
Hard Look (6:07)
Shake It (4:28)
The Walls Came Down (4:15)
500 Years (5:43)
Tell Me (5:22)
Leakin (4:21)

Who’s Who (4:40)
Black Swans
World Disorder (4:51)
Refrain (5:17)
Heart Of Darkness (5:37)
The Stone That Speaks (5:30)
Broken Edge (4:39)



GOLDEN PALOMINOS w/ LORI CARSON This Is How It Feels + Prison Of The Rhythm – The Remixes (1993)

This Is How It Feels (1993)
Beauty And The Beat

The Golden Palominos are a long-standing avant-collective that, over the years, has hosted the likes of John Zorn, Fred Frith, Syd Straw, Arto Lindsay, Richard Thompson and dozens of others. The two mainstays have been de facto group leader Anton Fier (drummer, Lounge Lizards, Pere Ubu) and bassist/producer extraordinaire Bill Laswell. Here they’re joined by vocalist Lori Carson (the three co-wrote most of the material) and some of Laswell’s go-to talent pool; Bootsy Collins, Nicky Skopelitis and Bernie Worrell, among others. As one might guess, this stuff is far different from the quiet, introversion found on Carson’s solo work. Instead, you get Fier & Laswell’s full court press, characterized by heavy, throbbing bass lines, big trippy beats, cut up loops and all manner of slightly psych window dressing – with Carson’s feather-light soul-searching vocals floating above the fray. The Palominos have never made the same album twice and This Is How It Feels is yet another example of that. Their follow-up, 1994’s Pure, features most of the same players, but going back to the mid-80s the band has dabbled in everything from avant-funk to country folk to electronic ambiance. They’re a personal favorite, simply because you just never know what you’ll hear next. It’s at Amazon, HERE. A must for Lori Carson fans (find more Carson HERE in the archives).

Sleepwalk (5:13)
Prison Of The Rhythm (4:54)
I’m Not Sorry (5:07)
This Is How It Feels (4:45)
To A Stranger (5:41)
The Wonder (4:56)
Breakdown (4:59)
These Days (4:10)
Rain Holds (5:52)
Twist The Knife (5:22)
Bird Flying (5:54)
A Divine Kiss (3:16)

Prison Of The Rhythm – The Remixes (1993)
Forgot I had this one. Thanks to drfeelgoed for the reminder. Includes some excellent reworkings and a megamix from Laswell. Gettable at Amazon (HERE).

Original Version (4:55)
Exuberance Is Beauty Mix (16:07)
P.W.O.G.’s Dizzy Drift Mix (8:24)
Adam Peters Mix (5:42)
Purified Radio Edit/Original Version (4:54)