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World Jazz

Morgan Fisher – Miniatures

In 1980, Mott The Hoople Keyboardist and Londoner Morgan Fisher solicited musical contributions from 50 musicians that he admired, hailing from the cutting edge of the New Wave scene (David Cunningham, The Residents, Andy Partridge), to the British jazz/canterbury cult (Robert Wyatt, Fred Frith) to the brainy avant-garde composer circle (Joseph Racaille, Michael Nyman, Hector Zazou) plus tons of other unclassifiable artists (Quentin Crisp, Ivor Cutler, Henri Chopin). The result is the most varied 50 minutes ever put to wax with each artist getting only 60 seconds to prove their point.

There’s something about Miniatures that captures the electric creativity that must have been floating around the UK at that time as punk waned and mutated into New Wave and 80s pop, and it’s distinctly British. Nobody sounds like they’re making ‘art for art’s sake’ but instead having fun. The electronic pieces sound more invested than current-day bedroom knob-twisters and the lo-fi experiments are actually quite rich sounding – due to the fact that not everything was recorded on tinny push-button digital gear like it is these days.

Some of the gems you’ll hear:

ROBERT WYATT singing a Frank Sinatra song
FRED FRITH shrinking the entire works of Henry Cow
ROBERT FRIPP playing a keyboard
RALPH STEADMAN singing a John Donne poem
R.D.LAING playing the piano
MARTIN CHAMBERS (THE PRETENDERS) lecturing on ornithology while drumming
PETE SEEGER playing Beethoven on the banjo

The list of artists on this album might be viewed as a counterpart to the lists on Frank Zappa’s Freak Out or Nurse With Wound’s first album, in that tracking down other works by the names checked – or artists heard in this case – could lead you to a world of possibilities.

7 Comments

  • $mall ¢hange

    dope rekkid!

  • word. lots of great, weird moments on this record.

  • does your copy have the poster?

  • MP3’s maybe?

  • Hi released a second set in 2000 with a whole new gaggle of artists. It’s actually available (sans wax) on iTunes for $10 (60 songs).

  • Both volumes are classics, though i prefer the first, which has more novelty to it and because on volume 2 a lot of the tracks were edits of longer pieces rather than serious efforts to make a minature song, which was the original point. Still, lots of great artists of the sort you might find in the nether reaches of the Recommended Records catalog. The miniatures vinyl has another issue, which is each track on the album has 5 songs, so finding exactly which track you want can be hard. Beats trying to sort out RRR-100, though. Bought my copy in 1984 from a filmmaker who was selling off albums to pay for a trip to Nicaraugua to finish the documentary that was to be his MFA thesis. I also bought Just Another Asshole #5 on LP, which is basically the same thing done by downtown NYC artists in 1980 (and reissued on CD by Atavistic about a decade ago). I actually first heard about the miniatures album when i heard a few excerpts on Dr. Demento’s radio show.

  • The first editions of MINIATURES included micro cassettes from Morgan Fishers telephone answer machine !!!. First pressing in England and Italy includes poster. UK reissue without.

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