100 Records That Set the World on Fire (While No One Was Listening)

Every week, we’ll be looking at 1 or two records from The Wire’s “100 Records That Set the World On Fire (While No One Was Listening)” list, originally published in the The Wire 175 (September 1998). You can find the list we’re working from in several places: A Discogs List, and a Rate Your Music List. Both the Discogs List and the Rate Your Music list also have an additional 30 Records that the Wire published later. You’ll also notice that the original lists are in alphabetical order. The Rate Your Music list is in chronological. I think it’s far more interesting to do it chronologically, so that’s how we’re going to do it. The text below the pieces are from the Wire writers. Please listen and comment on reactions.

Albert Ayler In Greenwich Village (Impulse! 1967)

Recorded in two sessions, one late 1966, the other early 67, Ayler had by this time assembled the ultimate collection of ecstatically inspired freedom-chasers: brother Donald on trumpet, Beaver Harris on drums, Grimes/Folwell both on bass and the phenomenal post-Ornette sawtooth violinist Michael Sampson. Word is that Sampson, previously a mainstay of classical orchestras, had such a moment of revelation during a chance encounter with Ayler’s music that he packed in his previously cushy career to join him in the back of a van on its way round Europe. The 1966 European tour has since taken on mythic proportions and In Greenwich Village catches them on their triumphal return. Side two’s “Truth is Marching In” still stands as the perfect synthesis of Ayler’s concerns: joyous whooping, marching band refrains, mass ensemble levitation, pig-throttling solo blurt — the OM that reverberated quietly round the base of Coltrane’s skull until he saw Ayler fully articulate it. Ayler would go on to perform “Truth is Marching In” at Coltrane’s graveside the next year. Albert wasn’t long for this planet either; his body was fished out of the East River in New York in November 1970. As he himself explained: “I can’t be confined to an earthly plane even though I was, like, born here and everything.” Amen. DK

Up Next: Bill Dixon Orchestra Intents And Purposes (RCA 1967)