Thursday, February 01, 2018

Birth Stone City: Rick James 70

The changing of the month brings a celebration, bitches.
For today woulda coulda shoulda been the 70th birthday of a truly legendary Freak of the Super variety.
He's been tributed, parodied, memed, and mocked forever, sometimes in the same sentence or comedy sketch.
He began in music in the mid 1960s in a Toronto group -- he was in Canada avoiding the Vietnam draft -- that also contained, for a while, Neil Young.
It took him until the late 1970s to really break through commercially, but when he did it made quite an impact.
His ridiculously indulgent lifestyle is the stuff of myth, and almost a template of how to destroy oneself with drugs.
He passed way too soon in 2004, but not before leaving the world with several of the all-time bumpingest songs that will ever be recorded by anyone.
They're all front and center in today's share, which -- no hyperbole -- may be the craziest, fonkiest show I will ever put on this page.
It dates from his ultra-peak, in the early 1980s, and comes from what it thought to be one of the greatest single music festivals ever held.
It happened in Jamaica at the end of November of 1982, and featured a roster of acts so randomly diverse and distinct from each other that it prompts our birthday boy to opine mid-set about how insane and improbable it is that all the different bands fit together so well.
It's a performance for the ages, people.... miss it at your own peril. Halfway through the immortal herbal anthem Mary Jane, he lights up a giant spliff he tells the audience came backstage from reggae stalwarts Black Uhuru, who are "trying to hurt me".
He then stops the song and the audience watches him -- no music is playing -- just smoke the whole damn thing. Who can stop a show to just get high onstage, just send the band off and puff for 150,000 people?
There aren't too many who could pull it off, but I know one that fits the description: Rick James.
Anyway let's get to it cuz it's a real funked up burner, lemme tell you what. Ninety minutes of mayhem the caliber of which may never have been seen on this page in the four years I have had it. Truth.
Rick James & The Stone City Band
Jamaica World Music Festival
Bob Marley Performing Arts Center
Montego Bay, Jamaica
11.27.1982

01 Ghetto Life
02 Standing On the Top
03 Love Gun
04 guitar solo
05 Fire and Desire
06 Hard to Get
07 Mary Jane
08 You and I
09 Give It to Me Baby
10 Super Freak
11 bass/drum solos
12 Down In Jamaica (There's a Party Goin' On)
13 Dance with Me

Total time: 1:29:50
disc break can go after Track 05

Rick James - bass, vocals
Lanise Hughes – drums
Oscar Alston - bass, percussion
Tom McDermott - guitar, percussion
Danny LeMelle - flute, saxophone
Levi Ruffin - syntheziser, vocals 
Erskine Williams – keyboards 
Nate Hughes - percussion
JoAnne McDuffie - vocals 
Lisa Sarna – vocals

master soundboard cassette that needs an official issue before we all die
515 MB FLAC here
Again, the idea that this absolutely gorgeous capture --I have no idea what "cassette deck" our intrepid soundman at the gig was using, but I know he didn't get it at Circuit City -- isn't available officially just boggles the brainpan... sheesh whatta thunderthumbed, megablast of a tape. Rick thrashes the bass like it owes him billions and he finna collect tonight, or else.
I shall return with all sorts of things to celebrate Black History Month in February, but right now you need to get to clicking on the above link so you can figure out what the five fingers said to the face (SLAP!) and let Rick James -- born this day in 1948 -- completely freak your weekend with the deepest grooves possible.--J.
2.1.1948 - 8.6.2004