Sunday, January 23, 2011

Land of the good groove

Been listening to Nile Rodgers' solo album Adventures in the land of the good groove recently. Rodgers has recently disclosed on his website that he is battling cancer. I hope he makes a full recovery.

Rodgers is currently recovering from surgery and taking daily walks around NYC - he's been posting cool photos of old personal landmarks on his Facebook page, with tales like  this one... "Early Morning Walk Today: Me and Joey Ramone were passed out in this apt bldg in '80s - I was found by Jed Lieber and went to rehab".

I looked up this album, and I came across a blog dedicated to maps called Strange Maps, written by Frank Jacobs. His bio says he "...loves maps, but finds most atlases too predictable. He collects and comments on all kinds of intriguing maps—real, fictional, and what-if ones..."

"A while back, I found a record album in a thrift store here in NYC, and I just had to buy it,” writes Adam King [a reader of Frank's blog]. As a mapophile, I understand the categoric cartographic imperative at work here. The map in question is the front cover of Nile Rodgers’ 1983 solo album ‘Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove’. The name Nile Rodgers sounded vaguely familiar, but a little research turned up that this was due to my lack of musical knowledge, not Mr Rodgers’ lack of notoriety. He is influential in his own right as well as instrumental in the careers of many other world-class artists..."

"For this Nile Rodgers solo album, the native New Yorker chose to have lower Manhattan represent the ‘Land of the Good Groove’. The map is made to look like an antique map of the 17th century or thereabouts, down to the ornamental ships and ‘monsters’ in the water. The use of (pig) Latin amplifies the old feel of the map, and is used to some humorous effect — Brooklyn is labelled Terra Incognita and New Jersey is Nova Joisea.

"Lower Manhattan’s streets and avenues also get the fake Latin treatment, and are rendered as Twenty-Thirdium, Houstanus, Canalus and Via Broadicus. Other locales include Tribeccium, Terra Financicus and Villagius Easticus. Over on the West Side is the intriguing Mysterium. Is anybody familiar enough with Mr Rodgers’ oeuvre to know why?"

One of the commenters on Frank's blog has the answer... Mysterium "...was largely derelict waterfront that served as the underbelly of the West Village. Great place to find heroin and transvestite hookers."

Of course this album will be remembered by many Auckland folk as the one that gave the name and theme tune to Murray Cammick's fantastic radio show on Radio 95BFM, Land of the good groove, on Monday nights. Murray hosted that show from 1983 to 1993. Listen to his interview with BFM reminiscing about that time, recorded for their 40th Anniversary.

Adventures in the land of the good groove was reissued on CD in 2009, with a few bonus tracks, including an extended version of the title track.

Bonus - just found this song by Carly Simon, produced by Chic. Check the great photo of Nile and Carly both looking a bit spaced. As sampled by Tribe called Quest on Bonita Applebum.

Here's some great interview clips I came across with Rodgers from 2008, talking about the early days of Chic. In the first clip, he talks about the dramas of getting Dance Dance Dance, their first record, out. The only person at their record company that believed in them was the president of the company, who heard the record and said "Oh my god, it's a smash". And then Nile says what his musical partner Bernard's reaction to that was... I aint gonna give away the punchline, just watch it, it's funny.

Next clip... "We got turned down seven times for our first record, the eighth time is when we finally got signed... that I guess, was sort of a reflection of society. Record companies were racially divided..."

Rodgers talks about his early years...

Rodgers got introduced to hiphop by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, they took him to a hiphop as they called it, in the Bronx. He also talks about a gig Chic did with Blondie and The Clash at Bonds where Fab 5 Freddy jumped up onstage and rapped with them when they played Good Times.Which of course leads to Rappers Delight...

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