The concept of a desert island disc is a bit far fetched. To begin, how the hell are you going to play an album if you are stranded on a desert island with no food, protection or life essentials, none the less electricity! I contemplated titling this post something similar to Rob’s “Top Five” lists from High Fidelity but that is another tricky endeavor. My tastes are always changing and the constant influx of new albums into my collection means old favorites continue to get bumped in favor of fresh slabs of wax. Simply put, it is impossible for me to create a condensed and small list of favorite albums. There are just too many. But for the sake of turning on readers to incredible masterpieces of music, I opted for desert island because if I were stranded with no help in sight, the raw power of Danser’s Inferno Creation One LP would keep me sane until help arrived.
Danser's Inferno LP
The back of the album states “Composer-arranger John Danser had an idea: combine the wildness of a hard-rock rhythm section with the structured harmonies of a brass choir.” Danser, who is credited with composing and arranging all the musical material on the album along with playing the tenor sax, amplified clarinet and flute, certainly had a keen ear for varied musical styles and was working under the radar in the music scene of the 1960s while attending the Manhattan School of Music. His network of the top New York musicians must have been expansive for he recruited a total of nine proficient brass instrumentalists to play on the album, with four solely representing on the trumpet and flugelhorn.
One of the reasons that Creation One is such a powerful album is the straightforwardness of its complexity. With its stunning horn arrangements, talented cast of completely unknown musicians and the booming vocals of an unknown singer by the name of Randy Maddison, one can wrap their hands around the sound. There is no over the top production or indications of overdubbing and post production tomfoolery- Just a hot and tasty platter filled with influences of jazz, rock, funk, soul, latin and orchestral epics.
“Sunday Morning,” the album’s dynamic opener, is a superb debut for a disc that shows a highly skilled ensemble of musicians coexisting harmoniously. The vocals are in top form on the track, hitting notes from low whispers to emotional cries of exuberance. This formula is heard throughout the disc as the band also spreads their sound in rising crests of rhythm, interchanging effortlessly between quiet passages and hard driving grooves.
1975 Reissue of Creation One
“Sombre Guitar” is the album’s most notable song in the wax community. Serious diggers who have unearthed this disc have catapulted this track into legendary status on compilations, mixes and live sets. Its latin-boogie flair makes for prime needle dropping during any funky set of music to get people down on the dance floor. “Inferno” is by far the most aptly named track on the disc for its backbone of congas and drums set a fierce tone as the horns flare up with intense peaks meant to scorch all who partake of the listening journey. The frenzied ticking of the organ and the guitar is finally heard in the foreground as the vocals bow out from this cut to allow for instrumental mayhem.
The momentum obtained on the A-Side is significant but the flip of this record further substantiates its desert island status. “Turning the Corner” is a flawless effort that runs the gamut from upbeat, poppier rock to straight up funk and soul grooves. The brass compositions are absolutely stellar and on par with some of the best heard in symphony halls around the world. The unique addition of these complex arrangements to rhythms rooted in rock and jazz is an incredible feat that only further showcases Danser’s talented ability. As for “Love, Rhythm of the World,” this is one of those songs that elicit goose bumps on my spine when Danser and his ensemble set the mood to allow the vocalist room to exhale an energetic and emotional repetition of the title on the track, tucked away at the end of the tune.
Creation One is a truly extraordinary album that can be listened to without interruption for each track offers incredible examples of talent at its finest. It’s an unprecedented record from the early 1970’s that has been raised to holy grail status in the digging world. A small, independent label repressed the album in 1975, only two years after its initial debut, but that is also hard to come by in today’s used vinyl market. I recently discovered that CDBaby.com has the entire album remastered and available for download and Amazon.com has a pre-order available for an Import release in November. It seems John Danser’s music is finally becoming accessible to the general public after decades of dormancy.
WFMU: The Biggest Record Show In The Country!
Looking to snag an original copy of this highly recommended LP? Well, the largest record show in the United States is coming to Manhattan TOMORROW! Come bump elbows and dig through crates with thousands upon thousands of record hungry customers being fed their fix of vinyl from hundreds of dealers. I’ve been hawking wax at the WFMU Record Fair for six years and counting and anticipate its yearly arrival more than my own birthday. Thinking of coming out to the event? Come by my booth and say hello. I am located directly next to the bar so you can grab a drink and maybe peruse my crates of hand selected, freshly picked platters of the finest nature. Looking for your own copy of Danser’s Inferno? I will never part with this sacred disc (remember, I need to keep it in case I get stranded on a desert island) but a little hustling, hunting and bargaining might get you an original copy from another dealer for under five hundred. Or just download the mp3s but promise you’ll buy a copy on vinyl if it gets a proper reissue.
Here is a link for all the information one needs about attending:
WFMU Record Fair 2009
Keep Digging For Holy Grails
P.S.- I paid fifty cents for my copy and it was the best two quarters I ever spent.