Remember This Great Music? The Archive Does Guest host David Greene visits what is believed to be the biggest collection of records in the world, the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York. Director Bob George plays three forgotten but great records.
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Remember This Great Music? The Archive Does

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Remember This Great Music? The Archive Does

Remember This Great Music? The Archive Does

Guest host David Greene visits what is believed to be the biggest collection of records in the world, the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York. Director Bob George plays three forgotten but great records.

DAVID GREENE, host:

And so you might wonder where this band, Portugal The Man, will be in 20 years - still putting out CDs, assuming CDs still actually exist? Will people remember them? Regardless of what happens to the band, there's a good chance their recordings will wind up in an archive, like the Archive of Contemporary Music in New York City.

Bob George is the director there. The archive began decades ago as his personal collection. Today, it's believed to the biggest in the world - close to two million records. Obscure punk bands, early hip-hop, old Robert Johnson 78s, blues, Brazilian, African - you name it, it's there.

We stopped by his musty warehouse-like space in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, and we asked Bob George to select some of his more obscure musical gems. He led us through this maze of gigantic shelves stacked with records over to a turntable.

(Soundbite of footsteps)

Mr. BOB GEORGE (Director, Archive of Contemporary Music): I can play something loud and stupid, right?

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. PENELOPE HOUSTON (Musician): (Singing) The American music (unintelligible) and California (unintelligible)

Mr. GEORGE: "American and Me," and it's a L.A. band. Penelope Houston is the singer. It's, you know, it's everything. It's conspiracy theories, it's L.A., it's about being, you know, completely uninterested in being a part of that Hollywood, being part of that scene. It doesn't mean that this is an important piece of music or this era is the greatest thing ever. But it does characterize a place and an era, and that's interesting to us.

GREENE: All right. What else do you have?

Mr. GEORGE: Now I'm going to play something really nice by The Twilight Zoners. They did 100 different covers.

GREENE: The Twilight Zoners

Mr. GEORGE: Yeah.

GREENE: should I be embarrassed to not know them?

Mr. GEORGE: No. They're completely unimportant.

(Soundbite of song, Liquid, Liquid)

THE TWILIGHT ZONERS: (Singing) Highlight, lowlight, strobe light, slow lights down. Attack, attack, and you stood there every time. (unintelligible), taking me home, taking me nowhere, let it slide, facing me on, let it slide

Mr. GEORGE: Emphasis on the bass, just like (unintelligible). This is just the revival of "Liquid, Liquid." This is 1979. It just

GREENE: (Unintelligible)

Mr. GEORGE: Yeah. So, you have all those things in England happening and the world's completely bankrupt, right? '77, '78, '79 - basically these were all what they called DIY projects, where people made it themselves. We're not looking for meaning here; we just save it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GEORGE: That's all I'm going to say.

GREENE: You see the importance of sort of keeping something that represents the times, but you dont look for why or what.

Mr. GEORGE: I go after things I like to hear, a very visceral reason for why I have 30 different versions of this song with 30 different covers.

(Soundbite of song, Liquid, Liquid)

THE TWILIGHT ZONERS: (Singing) It's a warning.

Mr. GEORGE: Now you're going to hear something that is so great and so rare, we shouldn't even give the title

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GEORGE: 'cause other people will want it.

GREENE: It will come in (unintelligible).

Mr. GEORGE: They'll break down the doors. Because what it does is something that no - as far as I've been able to find, this record is a Juju record. Then all of the sudden they take acid. They decide that they're going to shift into afro and then layer these psychedelic guitars over the whole thing. This is the party record of all time.

This is - you should take drugs, you should put on some silly clothes and you should dance. This is like one of the most amazing things that happens on a record. So that explains it - that's what I'm interested in, and as an adult I shouldn't.

Admiral Dele Abiodun and His Top Hitters Band.

(Soundbite of music)

ADMIRAL DELE ABIODUN AND HIS TOP HITTERS BAND: (Singing) (Foreign language spoken)

GREENE: The songs you're playing for us today all come from within six months

Mr. GEORGE: Six months of each other. That's why I wanted to do it, to give you a sense that there's this incredible amount of stuff that has these incredible amount of influences from all over and everybody's producing great music all the time.

GREENE: Well, thanks for doing this.

Mr. GEORGE: You're welcome.

GREENE: You heard it here. That's Bob George. He's director of the Archive of Contemporary Music here in New York.

(Soundbite of music)

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