One World, One Voice
July 13, 2019 5:51 AM   Subscribe

In 1990, the BBC approached Kevin Godley to make a short film to cap off a concert - something "featuring musicians from various cultures singing and playing together". Godley had a different idea - an hour-long video based on some "chain tapes." He'd record a couple basic demo tracks and then sending them around the world for different artists to riff on and add to the track before sending it on. The result, the hour-long film One World One Voice, is simultaneously a window into global music circa 1990, an appeal to environmental awareness and global unity, a collection of fascinating mashups, and the thing that Kevin Godley says is "the most significant piece of work I've done".

The resulting film, which captures each of the performers, was broadcast on the BBC in May of 1990, prefaced by a short "Making Of" documentary. Some of the mashups may sound odd on paper - The Chieftains jamming with Chinese flautists, Laurie Anderson accompanied by a swimming pool, the Kodo Drummers backing up the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra - but it all works wonderfully, to this poster's opinion.

The music all flows together, but a loose "track list", with the various participating artists, is here (with timestamps to the various parts of the video in case I mess up the links):

* Robbie Robertson - Chief Seattle Speaks (1:30)
* Kevin Godley, Sting, Courtney Pine, Gypsy Kings, Ark - Opening (2:45)
* Gypsy Kings, Nusrath Fateh Ali Khan - Este Mundo (10:29)
* Laurie Anderson & Pool - (Instrumental) (12:30)
* The Chieftains, Guo Yue, Bagamogyo Players - (Irish Instrumental) (13:25)
* A Velha Guarda Da Portela - Brazilian Party (14:20)
* Steven van Zandt, Peter Gabriel - Foreplay To One Heart (15:04)
* Steven van Zandt, Peter Gabriel & Street-People - One Heart (17:30)
* Dave Stewart And The Spiritual Cowboys - One Music From Another (20:02)
* Junior, Steve Stevens - One World (22:40)
* Michael Rose, Steel Band - One World (24:45)
* Clannad, Peter Gabriel, Chrissie Hynde, Geoffrey Oryema - Ri Na Cruinne (26:55)
* Mari Boine - Gula Gula (29:30)
* Native Land & Themba - Oh Ya (30:29)
* Milton Nascimento - De Fira (32:20)
* Peter Gabriel, Suzanne Vega, Geoffrey Oryema - One White Field (33:22)
* Great Muungano Cultural Troup - (Drum Instrumental) (36:38)
* Lou Reed, Richard Galliano. Penguin Cafe Orchestra - One World, One Voice (37:29)
* Salif Keita, Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Nami Watah (39:12)
* Laurie Anderson - The Whale (41:40)
* Johnny Clegg & Savuka, Eddie Grant - Long Shawah/Free World (42:45)
* Christopher Warren-Greene, David Gilmour, Venice, Howard Jones, Bob Geldof, Terence Trent D'Arby, Clara Sandroni - Meet Again (A Hole To Fill) (46:00)
* Kodo-Drummers & Leningrad Symphony Orchestra - Finale (49:25)

A full artist list:

Afrika Bambaataa, Laurie Anderson, A Velha Guarda Da Portela, Bagamoya Players, Cedric, The Chieftains, Clannad, Johnny Clegg & Savuka, Cy Curnin, Terence Trent D'Arby, Dred, Marc Ducret, Peter Gabriel, Bob Geldof, David Gilmour, Egberto Gismonti, Kevin Godley, Eddie Grant, The Great Muungano Cultural Troupe, Richard Galliano, The Gipsy Kings, Rupert Hine, Chrissie Hynde, Howard Jones, Salif Keita, The Kodo Drummers, Helen Labarriere, Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, Ray Lema, Roger Ludvigsen, Maria McKee, Milton Nascimento, Native Land & Themba, New Frontier, New voices of freedom, Nu Sounds, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Remmy Ongala & The Super Matimala Orchestra, Geoffrey Oryema, Hermeto Pascoal, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Mari Boine Persen, Courtney Pine, Hossam Ramzy, Enrico Rava, Lou Reed, Robbie Robertson, Michael Rose & Junior, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Clara Sandroni, Shakespear's Sister, Steve Stevens, Dave Stewart and The Spiritual Cowboys, Sting, Joe Strummer, Steven Van Zandt, Suzanne Vega, Venice, Christopher Warren-Green, Adam Woods and Guo Yue.
posted by EmpressCallipygos (7 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Kevin Godley on Wikipedia. I’ve heard of Godley & Creme but had no idea he was a member of 10cc at some point.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:02 AM on July 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I got this on VHS sometime in the early 90s, and had a roommate who loved the part with the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra and the Kodo Drummers so much he'd sometimes borrow the tape, fast-forward to that part, watch it, and rewind to watch just that part again 3 or 4 more times.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:15 AM on July 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

It’s pretty early in the morning where I live, but I’ll be listening through this in the afternoon for sure.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:23 AM on July 13, 2019

It's a tiny bit reminiscent for me of the 1 Giant Leap project. There were cultural and business issues surrounding that project and its sequel (these things seem really hard to work out even when you have a good heart), but the resulting art is pretty outstanding. I don't know what the business or cultural arrangements or contexts were for anyone participating in this, but again, the resulting art is great.

I wish we had a better way to deal with doing these sorts of projects which weave strings around the world and help pull it together, but histories of racism and colonialism have the result that even modernly benign things can have overtones or implications which are seen through a single lens and invisible in all others.

I remain thankful for this kind of cultural cross-seeding and cross-development. It seems to always be music, and it always illustrates for me the fact that we all share a basic humanity no matter our context or culture.
posted by hippybear at 2:52 PM on July 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Hippybear: you raise a good point, that despite its global intent it was still created by a cishet white guy from a formerly-imperial nation, who had a filter through which he viewed things (as does anyone, that's part of the human condition).

I've always been reassured in this case by the sheer number of participating artists, and the fact that they seem to have been going out of their way to make it be a collaborative thing - a sort of musical version of the Exquisite Corpse, with each artist getting these existing tracks, having a listen, and saying "oh hey, I think I know how I can contribute to this one here" and then they record on it and pass everything on to the next artist. So you end up with these collaborations that are purely on the basis of nothing more than "hmm, what sounds cool?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:27 PM on July 13, 2019

Literally also how 1 Giant Leap proceeded. The parallels between the projects, artistically, are really strong.
posted by hippybear at 5:40 PM on July 13, 2019

Late discovery here - I found a copy of the entire thing, with the preliminary "making of" documentary AND the music; the catch is that the "making of" bit is dubbed for German-speaking audiences, so you frequently have the German dubbing over what people are saying. But it's actually infrequent enough that you do get some of the original spoken audio.

You also see the environmental-awareness PSAs that were interspersed throughout, which is a sobering thing because you see that dammit people were talking about global warming back in 19-fucking-90.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:49 PM on July 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

« Older 182 Languages 1120 Storybooks 5642 Translations...   |   เครื่องบิน: It Means Airplane Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments