Tired of being reminded by other magazines that the best albums in the world were made by The Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones? So was The Wire magazine. In 1998 they polled their writers to come up with a guide to 100 records that should have ignited the world’s imagination, except that everyone else was fiddling.
One of the least-honoured links between disco and the avant garde, Russell, a cellist whose experiments were too much for the Manhattan School of Music, was making connections between the formats as soon as he hit New York in the mid-70s. Though not his first release, World Of Echo – for solo cello, voice, effects and electronics – encapsulated many of his ideas for loose-limbed music that kept curiosity at its heart. Echo remains an extraordinary record: sonar rhythms and melodies drift through various layers of sound and meaning, like a metaphor for the unconsciousness. Russell, who died in 1992 from AIDS, is remembered for his disco singles – “Kiss Me Again”, “Is It All Over My Face“, “Go Bang”, the latter resurrected by Todd Terry’s “Bango” – and co-founding Sleeping Bag Records; but this record, categorized as just plain weird when it was released, should be re-examined closely. LG
Lee Perry’s “Yehol Evol” – B-side of a tune called “Honey Love” which ran the vocal track backwards over the backing track – had served notice as far back as 1967 that the producer was prepared to take his music beyond the bounds of the merely sensible. Besides some wildly eccentric vocals, Revolution Dub, from 1975, contains material completely foreign to popular music – snatches of television dialogue. I am Doctor on the Go”, proclaims Perry to a chorus of canned laughter, and so on. The collision of the British sitcom with the rhythm from Junior Byles’s aching “Long Way” took reggae into retaliatory culture-shock experimentation. Also, this album had some of the most potent dubs ever recorded by Perry. There’s the ultra-heavy version of Bunny Clarke’s “Move Out Of My Way,” the rock-hard reworking of Jimmy Riley’s take of Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It”; and a juddering dub of “Bushweed Corntrash”. Fierce and funny. WM