Sonny Sharrock – 1969 – Black Woman
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Picked by WIRE magazine as one of the 100 records which set the world on fire, 1970s-era Miles Davis guitarist Sonny Shamrock’s LP was released in 1969 is an album of ecstatic music and produced by Herbie Mann, who loved Sharrock’s uncompromising blasts of atonal guitar with Mann’s own band.
Recorded with N.Y. free jazz musicians Dave Burrell, Norris Jones, Ted Daniel and Milford Graves, the LP features Sonny with Linda on Yoko Ono-style vocals. There’s plenty of soul and gospel influences and a slight pop element counterpoint to Sonny’s aggressive guitar and Linda’s wails. Originally released on Atlantic Records.
A1 Black Woman 5:11
A2 Peanut 9:14
B1 Bialero 4:49
B2 Blind Willy 3:18
B3 Portrait of Linda in Three Colors, All Black 9:06
By David Lang
A record so rare it’s almost mythical finally got a reissue in 2005 and of course it took the Japanese to do it (why no American release! ). Anyway, originally released in 1969 to utter befuddlement from the jazz community, the 31 minutes of screaming, wailing and general vocal/guitar torture on this disc have found a safe, loving home within the “out-rock” community over the last 30 years, mostly amongst those with a weakness for some no-wave/skronk/industrio/punk action, if you know where I’m coming from.
Produced by none other than Herbie Mann, honky flute-player extraordinaire (Sharrock was playing guitar in his band at the time for “money reasons”), “Black Woman” is – musically speaking – a real tough disc to pin down. Featuring a stellar line-up that includes free-jazz legends Milford Graves and Dave Burrell on drums and piano, respectively, and Linda Sharrock (Sonny’s wife) on “vocals”, the music is a curious mix of free-jazz thump, psychotic gospel vocalese, flamenco/calypso guitar stylings and a serious dose of proto-No Wave screech. Most of all, it works, and works well. The two best tracks, the title song and the scorching “Portrait of Linda in Three Colours, All Black“, reach thunderous ascensions in sound, where all the player whollop and wail in unison to various ecstatic peaks, leaving one drained yet craving more. Talking of more, what about a reissue of Sharrock’s similarly classic “Monkey Pockie Boo” LP from ’70?
Imagine, if you a will, a mix between Hendrix, Yoko Ono and Cecil Taylor, and that’s somewhere near “Black Woman”‘s universe. Such beautiful noise…