Ruined in the Basement – Manic Nirvana Single Hurting Kind
This now ruined artifact was a gift given to me as a thank you for entry with – you guessed it- backstage passes to the incredible NO QUARTER show at Bercy (Paris) about 1995/6 just before I was about to leave France for good. Said person was quite the music aficionado with about 10,000 vinyl records alone in their private collection.This 45 was one of them. (CD’s in the mid 90’s were just starting to catch on).The Andy Warhol like cover of Plant for “Hurting Kind” was a rarity and unless Jimmy Page gives me another copy I think that’s it. He strikes me as “the squirrel” in the bunch archiving everything precious and rare. (Everything else is now going into plastic containers. I live in a post Hurricane Sandy world). We sat about 20 rows back and had a superb view of the goings on which I most appreciated. – EKAYANI
“Lay Down Your Arms”
Amazing Concert that had two orchestras! This was the BIG news and world music at it’s most intriguing and diplomatic. You see for France,that continues to have a contentious relationship with citizens of former colonies,(Algeria for one) this very bold musical statement was a validation of the enormous yet seemingly eternally unrecognized musical contributions of Algeria, Morocco and Egypt by the Gods of Rock. During this time period in Paris there was an explosion of “world” music coming in from Africa,the Balkans,Algeria and fusions thereof. Rachid Taha, a very talented bold artist who was regularly working with Steve Hillage had the nerve to question with his track “Voila Voila” from his album Carte de Sejour the institutionalized discrimination and racism in France openly challenging the extreme right wing and xenophobia politics of Jean Marie Le Pen. KHALED was crossing over to the mainstream with his joyous riffs and infectious smile. Down south in Marseille “I AM” was asserting a North African’s human right to live and love through hip hop. And how could I not mention “L’Orchestre Nationale de Barbes” a fantastic group made of a band of Tunisians and other North Africans living in the Parisian neighborhood Barbes creating a musical quilt. Ah and I would be remiss not to mention Ekova Diem Ekova signed to Six Degree Records or the resurgent appreciation of RAI music by the mother of RAI Oum Kalsoum. Nelson Mandela was now president of South Africa,apartheid was officially over with Hugh Masekela newly named as the country’s Cultural Ambassador coming to Parc de La Villette with arguably the best show I had ever seen in my life. Kudos to Plant and Page for going in this North African direction and exploring the other side of their “roots” bringing a looming large richness to the musical landscape at this moment as they carried their fans further along in human understanding. If we are real and stop talking about the Greeks for just a moment, we know that the West was built on the shoulders of the Orient with everything from advanced mathematics (Algebra), University study (Alhambra), and nautical navigation (Astronomy). As my friend Cheb i Sabbah said so wisely Music knows no Prejudices. He was commenting specifically on his learning in Constantine, Algeria and the fluid interchange between Muslim and Jewish musicians and composers and cheiks (master teachers).Playing on each others projects was the norm and after all a gig is a gig! If music has the power to transcend and bind communities then we all should be listening and playing more music.
Getting back to the evening at hand.
The configuration was in thirds. One third was a classical Western style orchestra with a bevy of violins perfect for the new arrangement of KASHMIR with the second third being the wonderful addition of an Egyptian ensemble of 14. From the precious little I picked up about “la musique Orientale” during my sojourn in France, this part of the world had masterful string sections (let’s not forget Turkey) as well as bad ass funky drumming. In fact I would say that the Egyptians were the originators of funk. Try not to move when you hear them play! I was just bowled over by this whole configuration as it was a time so right for diplomacy and cultural exchange from the Arab world but alas… Too many wars now 13 years and raging. And the last but not least third were the classic rock musicians with Charlie on bass, Porl Thompson of The Cure on guitar and even a hurry gurdy that one man band workhorse of street culture of a century gone by.Their dress was handsome wearing flowing tunics and leggings.Part of the multi level appeal of Led Zeppelin was of course Page’s immersion in Celtic influences. It seems to me that this is an inevitable part of music coming out of Ireland and England. It’s stamp is strong. This wandering of the troubadour, the itinerant musician’s bag pipes found in the hills of North Africa and carried back to Ireland or even in dancing known as clogging. It’s a small world after all.Thanks to these labels: Musiques Du Mondes for their excellent series of world music, Melody Music, and producer and bassist Bill Laswell who was producing tracks with artists as far off as Iceland (not Bjork). The Zap Mamas were on fire at this time putting out one incredible release after another on a Belgian label if memory serves. MC Solar was talking his poetry. So there I was in the thick of it all.
Lost in the Maze
Backstage I was trying to find my way out
My first attempt had been unsuccessful as Bercy is labyrinth. Having failed the first time I was looking down at the floor so I would not lose my way a second time distracted by my senses. Concentrating on the instructions that had been given me by a man that worked down there,I walked intently tracing my way without the advantages of Ariadne. And then suddenly feeling a presence I stopped abruptly only to look up at a towering Robert Plant having almost smacked right into him. How does he see anything from that height? He made a crack but I didn’t hear it as I was rather speechless by surprise. I just mumbled a “I am sorry” with my New York sensibility about personal space realizing he was quite the cut up. I was just kind of dumbfounded and eventually found my guest who had been rifling through Page’s sheet music backstage! Say what? I should qualify respectfully rifling through with the temptation to touch the score sheets just too great. My memory is not linear as the night was just dotted with outstanding moments. It is images and exchanges I recall. Like Plants beautiful daughter Carmen then a new mother proudly pushing her baby in a stroller ahead of herself followed by a long procession of the artists I’d just seen on stage. They all had a satisfied smile on their faces as well they should have. Carmen was blonde like her father with long tresses that fell all the way to her waist. I was just dumbstruck by her. How to explain seeing the child and grand child of someone you have followed for so long? Flashback: Making my way out of the stadium via the only apparent way out via the car port, I find myself walking past Jimmy Page who was standing back on his heels,hands in his pocket and asked me “Haven’t we met before?” Considering the countless people he has met in his life it was incredible to me that he’d remembered in some form the introduction months earlier at the cafe. He was wearing a pin stripe suit. Just funny ya know?
Don’t Meet Your Idols for You May be Disappointed (You May Be A Rock Star but I’m a Woman)
At last we were standing next to Robert who was holding court talking and talking and talking with a woman whom as I understood it had sung one song with him.This went on for an hour and I am not kidding. While I respected him as the star that he was, I have never understood how someone who had me or anybody else standing at their elbow could just plain ignore them especially when bearing gifts. Sidney Poitier didn’t act like that and that was the standard I had come to consider right based on my mother’s appreciation for the gentle dealings he had with his fans. Bartenders have a knack for ignoring you but there were only four of us: Me,my guest,Robert and his conversationalist. Finally their conversation drew to an end but instead of turning to us he walked away.Something snapped in me and in a loud terse voice I half shouted “Robert”!” much in the way your mother enunciated your name when you were in trouble. It worked. He stopped and turned our way. My mood and demeanor immediately changed and with a big smile I introduced Robert to my guest who was offering him half a dozen carefully selected records of Turkish and North African music that he knew Plant wouldn’t have. Plant may specialize in the blues but this person specialized in la musique Orientale. At the end of the exchange I offered Robert an invitation card to Jagganatha’s Restaurant a lovely devotional vegetarian restaurant run by my friend Animisa dasa. I knew he had a fondness and appreciation for Hare Krsna food and just like a little boy as soon as he saw the image of Jagganattha’s face he smiled and said “Bless you!”. Our work done we left the venue and had a lot of fun talking about the tremendous evening we had until the wee hours of the morning.
Topics in this post were:
Rifling Though Jimmy’s Sheet Music? Oh No You Didn’t
Haven’t I You Seen You Before?
John Kruth passed it on.
Black Crowes and Jimmy Page 2000 Joes Beach Theatre
BP Fallon and a Ride Back on the Tour Bus
Ekayani grew up to be a singer. Her album Yoga on the Dance Floor is available on all fine digital sites August 20, 2014
Here is the link my friends. It goes LIVE August 20th https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yoga-on-the-dancefloor/id904706276
Out August 20th
Pre order your copy on iTunes!!!