The Last Poets, Alan Douglas, Bill Laswell

I was having a rough week but my loving wife gave me a gift that cured my blues. She gave me The Last Poets CD, thanks honey ((((hugs))))). I listened to it this morning on the drive to work. This revolutionary quartet, in poetic pentameter punctuated with percussion, ingrains you into the culture and turbulent times of 1968-1970. You can smell the concrete and feel the summer heat rising from the asphalt of 125th Street in every track.  The Last Poets are a wake up call. As the liner notes state, “Wake up, dammit, wake up.”

The Last Poets recording has reawakened my dormant interest in Alan Douglas and Douglas Records. Alan Douglas, the visionary record producer/label owner of Douglas Records recorded The Last Poets personally, overseeing the details, helping them perfect their craft to vinyl and master tape. Here are Alan Douglas’s words on the day he met and recorded The Last Poets.

      Source: ALAN DOUGLAS: HENDRIX PRODUCER UNDER FIRE by Michael Davis
      c. BAM Magazine Aug 25 95 http://www.me.umn.edu/~kgeisler/ad.html

I heard a snatch of material on television one night, and it stopped me
short. It was on PBS, so I called the station, and I got an address and a
telephone number. I called the next day and got a very hostile voice on the
phone. I told them who I was and that I had heard a little bit of their
material on television the night before, and I would like to talk to them
about making records. So he said, "Well, if you want to hear it, man, you
gotta come up here, and you have to be alone." Real hostile shit! So I
said, "Where's up here?" and he made a date with me at 137th Street and
Lennox Avenue. So, I went up there, and it was a schoolyard with two old,
funky basketball courts with rims and no nets. I looked over at one of the
courts, and there was a whole bunch of black guys - must have been 25 of
them - standing there. I got out of the car and walked over, thinking,
"This is either suicide or a great sign." As I got there, the crowd kind of
separated, and these four guys were left. There were three rappers and a
conga player standing underneath a basket. They pointed at the foul line
and said, "You stand there," and they did the material that ended up on the
first album with me. So I said, "Come to the studio with me right now, and
we'll record this. If you like the tape, we'll do a deal; if you don't like
it, you take the tape with you." They thought that was reasonable. They all
jumped in my car, and we went down to a friend of mine's studio on 66th
Street, and we recorded the whole thing in one afternoon. They liked it. I
got whatever money together I could - $1,000 or something - and we did a
deal. I put the record out, and the rest is history.

Visit The Last Poets on the Web. Their official Web site is  under construction but will be back with a renewed vengeance. 😉  The Last Poets continue to communicate and express at this location, http://www.myspace.com/thelastpoetsdotnet.

Alan Douglas has engineered some of my favorite recordings bringing them to vivid  life. I appreciate immensely the work he did with John McLaughlin on a recording I savor royally, Devotion.

The powerful synergy of Alan Douglas and Bill Laswell working in combination at Douglas Records is very compelling. (You can’t tell me Bill Laswell isn’t Alan Douglas’s direct descendant because the genetic DNA between and surrounding the two of them is ever present, especially when it comes to their studio engineering skills).

I expect great things of Bill Laswell in 2010, I am hoping we we might see the Carlos Santana, Bill Laswell studio work that will unearth more than Sonny Sharrock or Jimi Hendrix foundation they collectively share.

I plan to dig deeper into Alan Douglas and Bill Laswell’s unique doors of perception. There is much gold to pan from their efforts respectively.

Yours in electronic avant-garde,

Edje