"Mrs. America, tell me how is your favorite son?"
July 19, 2011 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Pop quiz! What do these musicians have in common: Lou Reed, E Street Band keyboardists Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, rhythm section Andrew Bodnar and Stephen Goulding of The Rumour, dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, erstwhile SNL bandleader G.E. Smith, session horn section the Brecker Brothers, LaBelle alum Nona Hendryx, guitar virtuoso Adrian Belew, and David Johansen of the New York Dolls? Answer: they were (most of) the studio band on the 1981 album Escape Artist by Garland Jeffreys. Which raises the question, "Garland who?"

Over his 40-plus-year career, Garland Jeffreys has forged an eclectic sound incorporating elements of straight-ahead rock, new wave pop, Latin soul, ska, and introspective jazzy singer-songwriter stylings.

After a few post-college years playing Greenwich Village clubs, Jeffreys burst upon the music
scene in 1973 with a self-titled debut album that went unnoticed by, well, everybody. But then came a catchy little single called "Wild in the Streets" (b/w "35 Millimeter Dreams"yes, that's Brinsley Schwarz on slide guitar), which became an FM hit and, somehow, a widely known Circle Jerks cover version. And the rest, as they say, is discography.

Jeffreys' songs address a variety of subject matter from street life to pop romance. Frequently – especially on the 1992 concept album Don't Call Me Buckwheat – they explore racial complications and confrontations in American life, drawing from his experiences growing up multi-ethnic in 50s and 60s Brooklyn.

These days, Garland's having one of his periodic resurgences of recording, touring, and even occasional blogging.
posted by FelliniBlank (22 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
FWIW most musicians, and AFAIK at least half of the ones you list, are hirable by anyone with money. Check out "Moonalice".
posted by lothar at 12:13 PM on July 19, 2011


"R.O.C.K. Rock" blared constantly from WNEW-FM that summer. Good times.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:17 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW most musicians, and AFAIK at least half of the ones you list, are hirable by anyone with money.

But if they're not willing to tour and flog tee-shirts, who has the money to pay them?
posted by three blind mice at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2011


FWIW most musicians, and AFAIK at least half of the ones you list, are hirable by anyone with money.

I know a fairly prominent singer-songwriter who has been having serious health problems the last few years. He has been playing with more or less the same backing band for a couple of decades now, and while _________ is sidelined, these guys are making no money. Even people who have the money to hire them tend to shy off and say, "No, that is __________'s band -- I can't presume to ask them." In fact, they would love to be asked.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:33 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nice post. I miss 1981.
posted by octothorpe at 1:18 PM on July 19, 2011


David Johansen was also a longtime SNL fixture.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2011


That song clearly comes from another era... before New York became a beaten, cowed, generally less significant enterprise.
posted by markkraft at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ghost Writer is essential.
posted by e1c at 1:48 PM on July 19, 2011


Ghost Writer is easily in my top ten. I got a chance to see him live with The Rumour in the mid -eighties. Nice post.
posted by DaddyNewt at 2:37 PM on July 19, 2011


What I like (and wish there was more of, with other artists) is how he has the lyrics posted with the videos. Not that the vocals are hard to understand, but being able to read the lyrics is nice.

There's some great music in those links. I had never heard of Garland Jeffreys until today, thanks!
posted by zeroisoff at 2:49 PM on July 19, 2011


Somehow my "reggae inflections" links disappeared from the FPP, dagnabbit.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:57 PM on July 19, 2011


They have never been in my kitchen
posted by joelf at 3:06 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I am really liking Escape Artist. It's cheesy and a little jaded, just great. Does anyone have a way to hear ghost writer? I can't seem to *cough* find it.
posted by kittensofthenight at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2011


Garland is great. Nice post. R-O-C-K on with your bad self.
posted by jonmc at 5:18 PM on July 19, 2011


There are a few Ghost Writer tracks in the post: "Wild in the Streets," "35 Millimeter Dreams" are from that album, and "Ghost Writer" the song is the reggae link in my previous comment.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:24 PM on July 19, 2011


Does anyone have a way to hear ghost writer? I can't seem to *cough* find it.

I've only got Ghost Writer on vinyl, or I'd *cough* help you out with that. Here it is in bits and pieces, album versions except as noted:

Rough and Ready
I May Not Be Your Kind (live)
New York Skyline
Cool Down Boy (live)
can't find Lift Me Up
Why-O
Wild in the Streets (live)
35 Millimeter Dreams
Spanish Town live
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:42 PM on July 19, 2011


Thank you SO MUCH for this!!! I played Ghost Writer on my radio show in 1977... 35 mm dreams was one of my very favorite tracks and since then I've met very very few folks familiar with Garland. Such a treat to hear that album again.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:59 PM on July 19, 2011


Ghost Writer was one of my favorite albums. I lost track of G.J. for years, until I saw Soul Of A Man, Wim Wender's contribution to Scorsese' blues series on PBS which featured Garland performing a wonderful cover of Skip James' Washington D.C. Hospital Center Blues.
posted by archaic at 3:44 AM on July 20, 2011


I knew the answer. Have to say I'm not a big fan, though.
posted by Decani at 9:03 AM on July 20, 2011


I knew the answer. Have to say I'm not a big fan, though.

Heh, I didn't know the answer, but my answer was "a bunch of musicians I actively dislike?" It's like the "supergroup" Asia. Define "super" ... ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:03 PM on July 20, 2011


Ha, the idea wasn't "super" but rather "weird assemblage to be on the same thing." Like you wouldn't necessarily expect David Pajo to do an album of Misfits covers, but there you go.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:58 PM on July 20, 2011


I knew the answer. Have to say I'm not a big fan, though.

I'm not entirely sure that you have to say it.
posted by bakerina at 4:04 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


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