With Music, Come Stories

RockadelicRockadelic Out Digging 13,993 Posts
edited February 2014 in Strut Central
Thought I'd share this here...

in the early 90???s my two close friends from New Orleans, Scott & Steve (aka Cheeks) showed up to our bi-annual Austin Record Show(aka ARC) gathering with a magical record. The tradition since the mid-80???s was for a group of like minded music fiends to spend Friday and Saturday nights in a motel room to play records and catch a buzz. These gatherings have ranged from as few as 10 and as many as 50 people there to hear amazing, newly discovered and virtually unknown records. It started as a strictly psychedelic/hard rock music gathering with the odd garage rock thrown in. It???s evolved today into a wide variety of sounds from Disco to Rap to Heavy Metal, etc., etc.

If there is a seminal moment when this gathering became musically integrated, it was when the aforementioned Steve placed Del Jones Postive Vibes ???Court Is Closed???on the motel room turntable. From the opening notes I was sucked in???.hard. This was some shit I had never heard the likes of before. A few of the hard rock/metal guys immediately squawked to take ???this crap??? off. Being the guy that paid for the room I had the leverage, and that LP stayed on the turntable???.for almost 3 hours. The room slowly emptied until there were maybe 5 or 6 dudes that were completely under the spell of Del. None moreso that Scott and myself. This record had crawled inside us like an inner city spirit that had travelled 1,000 miles and 20 years to find our cracker ass vessels.

Scott grew up in Algiers, a section of New Orleans where survival of the fittest is a game and they talk like Brooklyn Cajun Mafioso. He connected with this Philly ghetto vibe immediately and had listened to it ad infinitum prior to springing it on the rest of us. There was virtually nothing known about this LP in the record world, mainly because there were only 300 copies ever made and most were distributed in Del???s neighborhood. Once Scott knew I was hooked like him he said ???We need to reissue this???. And he was right. But I had my doubts it would happen???.after all, the first thing we???d have to do was simply find a guy named Jones in Philadelphia. About a week later I got an excited call from Scott, he had spoken to Del, and it just so happened he was going to be in New Orleans a week later???and then Dallas!

I called Del and told him how much I dug his LP. He explained that the LP had been released twice. The first one was the one we were familiar with. It was his labor of love and a stark portrait of Del???s life and life???s work. He explained that his brother worked for a major record label and he told Del the LP wasn???t ???commercial enough???. He took the original tapes to Electric Lady Studio???s in NYC and had horn tracks laid over the original songs, really transforming them into something completely different, and a little sterile. Del was thrilled that we liked HIS version and was looking forward to meeting us.

Del was going to Nawlins and Dallas to give ???talks??? at local colleges and was travelling with an entourage. Scott went to meet him at the airport and Del was genuinely shocked that he was a ???white boy???. The combination of the Algiers accent and the fact that he LOVED Del???s LP, had given Del a totally different mental image. He knew what to expect when I met him for breakfast in Dallas. He made sure his entourage didn???t see us together. We spent a good three hours discussing a reissue, his life and what he was doing in Dallas. I was so infatuated with this record I wanted to hear the story behind every song. He explained that one side of the LP was the ???Anti-Drug??? side and the flip was the ???kill Whitey??? side. The title track is a matter of fact announcement that even reparations could not square things up, Del was coming for your ass. That fate had already been decided, Court Is Closed.

Del was a militant, there is no other way to describe him, nor would he want you to. But I also found him to be a funny, honest dude who knew what his agenda was but didn???t let it get in the way of his every day life. The night before he had appeared on local provocateur John Wiley Price???s radio show who he described to me as a weak ass country somethin???. I asked him what I would see if I attended his speech that night and he immediately advised me not to show up. ???I can???t guarantee your safety, I get the brothers and sisters riled up???. As we parted he gave me a cassette of what he was going to speak on that night, it was called ???The American Nigger Factory???. I listened to it on the way home and dude was powerful.

Del also cared about his community, and walked the walk. His anti-drug crusade was strong but he laughingly related how people would come up to him on the streets years later asking him if he was ???clean??? having seen him perform his song ???Cold Turkey???, the most realistic drug withdrawal song ever recorded. Del was still in the neighborhood. He published a monthly newspaper called The War Correspondent. He wrote many books about the inner city struggle.

We released the LP to a mediocre reception. The Funk and Breaks dudes liked the ???horn??? version better and bought a bootleg version of that instead of the more raw original. I gave the LP to anyone I thought would dig it. Like with Scott and I, this record really hit a lot of people really hard???.a unique journey into a place no other record has ever been. A ballsy Gil-Scott Heron who despises the drugs that destroyed genius. One of my most prized possessions is a letter that Del wrote me which is framed and on my wall. You can see his light in the letters defying the look on his face. I???ll post a couple of his songs tonight if anyone is interested. Del passed a few years ago. RIP Brother Del.

COURT IS CLOSED
http://www.divshare.com/download/8108303-6ad


  Comments


  • HarveyCanalHarveyCanal "a distraction from my main thesis." 13,234 Posts
    Algiers, West Bank, New Orleans 4 Life!

    Also, somehow over the course of a decade I've managed to never make the hotel room listening parties even though y'all have them literally around the corner from where I live. Now that I've made a couple Hoover's grub sessions, the hotel room is my next ARC conquest. I'll probably be more interested in the unknown weed strains than the unknown records though.

  • kalakala 3,348 Posts
    great story
    thanks for taking the time to write that up and also for sending me a copy of this years ago.
    i know tripledouble has an og or 3 of this?

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    kala said:
    great story
    thanks for taking the time to write that up and also for sending me a copy of this years ago.
    i know tripledouble has an og or 3 of this?

    Yeah, tremendous story. I don't recall this record ever being discussed on here, although I guess I could have just missed it. I like the music, too. To be honest, a lot of the private-boner-funk-raer that people routinely sweat ain't really that great to me, but this is much more like it.

  • bassiebassie 11,710 Posts
    One of my favourite records that I found out about on this board. Easy to listen to over and over again with new moments to love each time.

  • Big_StacksBig_Stacks "I don't worry about hittin' power, cause I don't give 'em nuttin' to hit." 4,670 Posts
    bassie said:
    One of my favourite records that I found out about on this board. Easy to listen to over and over again with new moments to love each time.

    Great story, Rich!!! This is one of the many reasons to love Soul Strut.

    Peace,

    Big Stacks from Kakalak

  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,881 Posts
    Big_Stacks said:
    Great story, Rich!!!

  • RockadelicRockadelic Out Digging 13,993 Posts
    bassie said:
    One of my favourite records that I found out about on this board. Easy to listen to over and over again with new moments to love each time.

    No sham, no shuck....It's still fresh to my ears after countless listens.

  • I was late to the party on this Lp, but really dig it. And I'm glad the version I prefer is his preferred version too, I never knew the story behind them.

    I didn't know you had a hand in this R*ch, you have a lot of great stories and have met some interesting folks!

  • "Del Jones, War Correspondent"

    That's great.

  • parallaxparallax no-style-having mf'er 1,266 Posts
    Horseleech said:
    I was late to the party on this Lp, but really dig it. And I'm glad the version I prefer is his preferred version too, I never knew the story behind them.

    I didn't know you had a hand in this R*ch, you have a lot of great stories and have met some interesting folks!

    +1

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for you, Rock, based on your literal involvement with music from way back when I was still a toddler, to today when you still find crazy records and post clips. Very few dudes do it like you.

    Much respect.

  • Yes, thanks for the story. Viva la Strut!

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    To echo what's been said, that's great story about a remarkable record.

    I think I first heard part of this one over at Dante's house, but it wasn't until a good while later that I heard the whole thing. I remember being initially disappointed that it wasn't a straight-out-the-gate brain-melter, but given a little time, it revealed itself as a deep and darkly insinuating record. When it's not hellfire, it feels like it's just kinda drifting, hazy and even a little jokey in spots, but then you ride along with it for a minute, the layers shift a little, get re-stacked in the wrong order, a glass breaks somewhere inside of it, and the whole thing just constricts into some panicked, heavy-weather dread shit, splintered and inescapable. When you're into it, it's a tough one to quit.

    I like that thing Del does with his voice, too--not necessarily the Leon Thomas-style ululations in the open spaces, but that little unhinged flutter he puts into the way he sings the "off" in "Cold Turkey" or the "closed" in the title track. It'd almost sound like a chuckle if its finger wasn't so clearly on the trigger.

    Anwyay, the tracking/reissuing aspect of the story is cool, Rock, but I especially dig the personal aspect, about the circumstances under which you first got hooked on this record. That's something we don't get enough of, and I appreciate your taking the time to put all that down.

    I'm surprised, though, that this was such a ground-breaker/room-clearer at the hotel scene. I know how folks are in general and how record folks are in particular, but I guess I thought that by the early 90s psych/hard-rock dudes would have been coming around (if begrudgingly) to some of the Funkadelic guitar shit, or at the very least Hendrix, so it's odd to hear that the original-mix Del Jones was so roundly dismissed by that crowd. Was it the lyrics, or the sound? I wouldn't ask you to talk greasy about your old friends, but I'd be interested to hear their reasons.

    (In a side note: Are you the one with the great story about the Osmonds Plan acetate, or is that someone else?)

  • Thanks for helping popularize a truly incredible LP Rock! I've got an og copy with africa on the cover and love it to bits horns and all I guess. One of the Most powerful moments on that LP is also one of the quietest: Prelude Ta Hell "It's this time of morning I've always wished I was Dead, dead, dead..." Tangentially I've got a similar story w/ Milton Wright's: Friends and Buddies. One of my best pulls in the late nineties was finding a copy cheap in the field, and signed by Milton's brother Phillip, the lead guitarist, and addressed to their aunt. Very cool. I didn't know anything much about the LP at the time other then it blew my mind so I took it over to a buddy who was a few years ahead in the game. He listened, freaked out, then scratched his head, shrugged and said "never heard that mix, and it doesn't have "Keep It Up". The copy I'd found is more acoustic, less lush (incidentally Phillip's guitar work really shines on it), and as a result less commercial. Some of the tracks like Brothers and Sisters are much better. I've always wondered why the Lp was released then fucked with then released again... My take is that they tried to sex it up a la Del Jones to make more sale.

  • RockadelicRockadelic Out Digging 13,993 Posts
    james said:
    To echo what's been said, that's great story about a remarkable record.

    I think I first heard part of this one over at Dante's house, but it wasn't until a good while later that I heard the whole thing. I remember being initially disappointed that it wasn't a straight-out-the-gate brain-melter, but given a little time, it revealed itself as a deep and darkly insinuating record. When it's not hellfire, it feels like it's just kinda drifting, hazy and even a little jokey in spots, but then you ride along with it for a minute, the layers shift a little, get re-stacked in the wrong order, a glass breaks somewhere inside of it, and the whole thing just constricts into some panicked, heavy-weather dread shit, splintered and inescapable. When you're into it, it's a tough one to quit.

    I like that thing Del does with his voice, too--not necessarily the Leon Thomas-style ululations in the open spaces, but that little unhinged flutter he puts into the way he sings the "off" in "Cold Turkey" or the "closed" in the title track. It'd almost sound like a chuckle if its finger wasn't so clearly on the trigger.

    Anwyay, the tracking/reissuing aspect of the story is cool, Rock, but I especially dig the personal aspect, about the circumstances under which you first got hooked on this record. That's something we don't get enough of, and I appreciate your taking the time to put all that down.

    I'm surprised, though, that this was such a ground-breaker/room-clearer at the hotel scene. I know how folks are in general and how record folks are in particular, but I guess I thought that by the early 90s psych/hard-rock dudes would have been coming around (if begrudgingly) to some of the Funkadelic guitar shit, or at the very least Hendrix, so it's odd to hear that the original-mix Del Jones was so roundly dismissed by that crowd. Was it the lyrics, or the sound? I wouldn't ask you to talk greasy about your old friends, but I'd be interested to hear their reasons.

    (In a side note: Are you the one with the great story about the Osmonds Plan acetate, or is that someone else?)

    James.....I appreciate the kind words. Truth is that many of the hard rock/metal guys are/were pretty close minded. Not gonna name names but the most vocal opponents were "metalheads" just backing into 70's hard rock.

    I am the one who told the Osmond's Plan story...that is a ARC/Loopden legendary moment shared by many.
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