I recently wrote a short story which has just been published in the spring edition of Faith Fanzine. It`s a fictional account of a night out in New York, circa 1979, 1980 – focused on White Street`s infamous hot spot, The Mudd Club. I drew on conversations I`d had with DJ / producer / remixer extraordinaire, Justin Strauss, and Liquid Liquid`s Sal Principato – both of whom were kind enough to also give the piece a once over and provide cool details that added a finishing touch. The narrative, however, is based heavily on the recollections of The Mudd`s former doorman – artist and author, Richard Boch – as recorded in his marvelous memoir, The Mudd Club. I`m super happy to say that Richard saw the final draft and gave it a thumbs up. It wouldn’t have been possible without his blessing.
I’ve mentioned before that whenever I set out to write something fictional, something more like a story, that the soundtrack always comes first. In this case it was 3 hours of music, cherry-picked from Richard`s prose, and play-lists generously supplied by Justin. It was fun, to say the least, to dash back through my vinyl hoard, through proto-punk, punk, and post-punk, through examples of hip hop’s earliest commercial recordings.
The Mudd in most folk`s minds is synonymous with hip hop, and graffiti – since the club hosted some of NYC`s first street art exhibitions, and Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat were both regulars. But all of that came a little bit later, in around `81 / `82. Basquiat didn’t really make his name until he landed the residency at Annina Nosei`s Gallery in 1982. In `79 / `80 Jean-Michel was just another smiling, green-mohawked face in the Mudd Club crowd. Instead the music here is definitely skewed more toward rock – independent, DIY, anti-authoritarian, off the wall, rock. There are exotic European releases that New Yorkers could only buy from Gina Franklyn and Ed Bahlman`s 99 Records, on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. I`m sure I read somewhere that Ed used to visit Rough Trade in London and fly home with suitcases full of 45s by artists such as The Au Pairs, Delta 5, Flying Lizards, Glaxo Babies, Human League, The Normal, and The Slits.
A lot of the music played at the Mudd Club was actually made by its patrons. David Bowie, Blondie, The Bush Tetras, Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, John Lydon, Marylin, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Iggy Pop, The Pretenders, The Ramones, Lou Reed, members of the Patti Smith Group – but not Patti herself, Talking Heads, and Johnny Thunders, all hung out. Most of them danced. The B52s were booked for the Mudd`s opening night. The reggae, by Junior Murvin, Peter Tosh, Derrick Laro and Trinity (RIP), reflected the queues that would go right round the block whenever bands like Black Slate and Burning Spear were on the bill.
I mentioned to Justin that I`d love to have a residency indulging in a mix of music like the one here – since much like balearic it has an “all inclusive” vibe. I’m not sure, though, how well a such a retro set would go down in 2021`s Tokyo. It`s essential to remember that that the Mudd`s DJs were – largely – constantly searching for fresh underground sounds to shake their human constellation. They weren’t on a nostalgia trip – save the odd curveball, from Scott Walker, or Nancy Sinatra. It`s true that Mudd founder, Steve Maas, was a huge rock `n` roll fan, and that he hired Howie Pyro to spin nights solely of `50s Las Vegas grind, but the bulk of what Justin, David Azarch, Johnny Dynell, and Anita Sarko, were all playing was brand, spanking, new. I do wonder what the Mudd track-list would look like if the club were still rocking today.
The original Faith Fanzine piece ran to around 4000 words, which turned out to be a little too long for the proofs once images had been chosen. Here’s a paragraph, a teaser, that didn’t make the final cut:
“Troubled teens dancing toe-to-toe with artists celebrating Guggenheim retrospectives. This modern milieu of journalists, film-makers, musicians, painters, photographers, sculptors, and dealers. Glamour girls, models, the heirs to Broome Street`s Little Italy mob dynasties, shoulder to shoulder, packed back to back at a bar stacked 3 deep with Bridge & Tunnel kids, and “tourists” – the uptown crowd, slumming it, looking for sex and drugs.”
You can purchase Richard Boch`s brilliant memoir, The Mudd Club, care of Feral House, over on Amazon.
Faith Fanzine can be ordered directly from Defected for zero poundings. All you pay is postage.
David Bowie – Moss Garden
Brian Eno – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Marylin – Sex Means Nothing When You’re Dead
Patti Smith – Reconda Beach
Marianne Faithful – Why D`ya Do It?
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Were Made For Walking
Johnny Thunders – Great Big Kiss
The Normal – Warm Leatherette
Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
The B52s – Rock Lobster
Derrick Laro & Trinity – Don`t Stop
James Brown – Sex Machine
Lyn Collins – Think
Talking Heads – I Zimbra
Glaxo Babies – Shake The Foundations
Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Mission Impossible
Fingerprintz – Wet Job
Wire – Three Girl Rhumba
Au Pairs – It`s Obvious
Marie Et Les Garçons – Bebop
Lizzy Mercier Descloux – Fire
Kurtis Blow – The Breaks
Marva Whitney – It`s My Thing
Talking Heads – Life During Wartime
Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug
The Cramps – Human Fly
The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
Trouble Funk – Pump Me Up
Younger Generation – We Rap More Mellow
Funky Four + 1 – It`s The Joint
Bush Tetra – Can`t Be Funky
James White – Contort Yourself
Peter Tosh – Stepping Razor
The Slits – I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Delta 5 – Mind Your Own Business
Bobby Freeman – Betty Lou`s Got A New Pair Of Shoes
Bryan Ferry – Let`s Stick Together
The Pretenders – The Wait
Talking Heads – Take Me To The River
Patti Smith – Gloria
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Lou Reed -Sweet Jane (Live)
Blondie – One Way Or Another
Public Image – Public Image