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Friday, November 25, 2016

The Viscounts' "Harlem Nocturne" (Amy Records, recorded in 1960, released in 1965)


The Viscounts, from New Jersey, where they started in 1958, made this album "Harlem Nocturne" in 1960, and somehow it sounds like the father of the first Lounge Lizards' album and the first solo Andy Mackay (from Roxy Music).   The basic sound is a great beautiful melodic saxophone, echo electric guitar, electric organ, and of course drums.  They have two sounds on this album.  Upbeat rock n' roll, and then dreamy.  The slow and dramatic ballads like "Harlem Nocturne, "I Cover the Waterfront," "September Song," and the great theme song to the French gangster flick Le Grisbi" are soaked in blue mood, that reeks of stale smoke and strong whiskey.   



I mentioned the early Lounge Lizards, because there is something sophisticated about how they approach their material, as well as The Viscounts.  The creepy organ sneaks between the guitarist and sax player, and it sits there in a very solid fashion.   The John Lurie melodic sense is also here.  With respect to Andy Mackay, the sax player's method is very similar to the Roxy Music member.  The glistering guitar is consistently in dialogue with the sax, and it's an orchestration that serves the song.   "Harlem Nocturne" is an exciting discovery for me.  God knows what one will find at their local record store - in this case, Mono Records on Glendale Blvd.