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Published: 2014/02/07
by Ron Hart

Various Artists
The East Village Other

ESP-Disk

Long before Al Gore invented the Internet, the electric newspaper was a living, breathing entity in The East Village Other.

This groundbreaking concept was a Downtown New York City-based talking journal of sorts that would be the audio equivalent of what Jay Babcock did in the 00s with the sorely missed Arthur magazine. Dated August 6, 1966, this ten-track “happening” is a freeform sonic collage containing a news item about how the wedding of Lyndon Johnson’s daughter fell on the 21st anniversary of Hiroshima, a 1:44 instrumental track from the Velvet Underground called “Noise”, a gossip column hosted by Warhol Factory icons Gerard Malanga and Ingrid Superstar, a two-and-a-half minute blast of free jazz from New York sax man Marlon Brown, a solo track from Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs, a fragment of song by Steve Weber of Holy Modal Rounders, a ten-minute mantra from poetry royalty Allen GInsberg and Peter Orlovsky and a moment of “silence” from Andy Warhol among other curiosities.

The East Village Other has got to be one of the weirdest albums to emerge from the New York underground. And only a label like ESP-Disk would be both brave and wise enough to reintroduce it into the world in 2014.

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