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what i know about glen adams... part 1

what i know about glen adams... part 1

By vic

from what he told me, he and the upsetters were trying to bring some of the excitement that SKA had, into the ROCKSTEADY, and that's where his crazy REGGAE organ shuffle comes from. (the reason for the parts being almost manic and jumpy and even the wild loud drum fills...)
"you can hear the ska in the reggae" he told me... a lot of people will tell u that, but he was the guy who made me understand it... as a practical thing and not simply some sort of idea of genetic musical lineage.
one day we were playing and he sang a wailers tune to me, i think it was 'burnin and lootin',
"this morning i woke up inna curfew, oh lord i was a prisoner too..."
he went thru a bunch of the lines and he said, "see that's reggae man, nothin sound like that before... those words... that set the wailers apart, words that couldn't be anything else... and you hear the melody? it was a new sound... its own sound and lyrics talkin about OUR lives, in jamaica... before that it was just r&b and boogie woogie words "i love you baby" stuff and romantic things like that...
and then a melody like: sun is shining, weather is sweet, make you wanna move yer dancing feet...to the rescue... here i am... want u to know lord, can ya, can ya understand?..", he was shakin his head singin with his eyes closed, "nothing ever sounded like THAT before, it was OUR sound!!! "
"and then a few years later we hear MASTERBLASTER by stevie wonder and we know we had arrived!! man it was like he was playin OUR BEAT! after all those years of us wanting to be like stevie wonder, now HE wanted to sound like US !! "
Glen Adams helped THE SLACKERS mix our records from about 1997 onward. one time early on i asked him to play on a tune. it was a kinda mento-ish thing that our trombone man (glen pine) wrote... i didn't mention that about the tune for fear of embarrassing myself in front of him. But right away he says "oh yeah, it's a kind of mento style"... and that was cool cuz it meant we were on the right track. i think that's the thing that convinced him to play on it, because he was almost sheepishly trying to avoid playing and just show me how to do it, like proper producer style, (but then he even said somethin like his family came from a particular neighborhood or another island that has to do with mento's origins and so made it more appropriate for him to play on this track... haha!)
so i said somethin like, "...yeah, its in b-flat and goes here...blah blah..." and he looks at the keys and kinda pokes there and there with his fingers in a loose triad shape... and i realize that he kinda knows where b-flat is at but it's not making total sense to him and he's just doing it by ear anyway... after a few bars of utter chaos he picks it up real quick and then he's suddenly playing this minimalistic part that's all pokey and stickin in weird places in the groove u wouldn't ever think of. (i still could never duplicate the part) "what is that?" i ask him... and he just says "you know man... it mek it move" but he drags out "moooove" real long and his tone is kinda impatient and kinda high and laughin at me...but he's all beat and cool about it and encouraging me like "you know man... you know this..."
...and i ask him as i'm watching his fingers poke at the keys all crazy, i say real student like "so what patterns do you use ?" and looks over his shoulder all squinty eyed and he says " there's no pattern man, you just feel it out and fit it in and play what work "
that day i learned. i watched his posture and the way his hands and fingers and arms all expressed the reggae beat, hurkey jerky and smooth and a feeling and not a formula. its all bein inside the thing that makes it reggae and not playin some part u think yer supposed to.
i was askin him to play on another tune, ("red light") and he made me play it, so i did it all kinda sheepish in front of him and and i look over like "am i doin it right?" and he says "YEAH man!!! u got it... but u just playin TOO much! hahaha... pick yer hands up like this..." and he showed me and when he picked his hands up he lurched his whole body back like Frankenstein... like he got an electric shock...like as if he didn't do that there'd be no way to stop his hands from playing still...
"you hear that organ you play sounds nice, but you need good electric to make it be in tune. in Jamaica there's not good electric, so when the horns call for b-flat and the organ man goes for b-flat it maybe doesn't sound right... maybe its a note up or down. And that's where i had it better cuz i dont necessarily know what the notes are anyway and they call a key and i just pick it out by ear, and see it's not perfectly in tune, you can hear it on the records, but i get the closest... so the better organ players maybe they got asked off the organ cuz they're arguin that they're in the proper key... but me they asked to come back again and play cuz when i play it sounds right..." it wasn't pompous or self righteuos at all the way he said it... it was almost surprised, and so was his expression listening back to the part he played, as if he was surprised it was good... "yeah man... it sound goood... hahaha!"

Hey Vic, Thanks for taking

Hey Vic,
Thanks for taking the time to share some great memories you had with Glen. I had the pleasure of meeting him and Susan at your Holiday '04 show at The Knitting Factory and still watch the footage I have of Live Injection and Africa from the show every now and then. My condolences to all who knew and loved him.

Glen Adams Post

Hey Vic, just wanted to say thanks for posting these personal moments you had with Glen. I enjoyed the glimpse of the man. Looking forward to part 2.

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