Sunday, January 24, 2021

If You Don't Nomi By Now

I can't think of a better way to start Sunday services than with the birthday of an icon long passed, but whom no one has ever forgotten because let's be honest, there's just no forgetting sincerely unusual and unashamedly unique people that burn themselves into lasting mass consciousness through the sheer force of their individuality.

Most people know him from what have to be considered the greatest musical segments ever aired in the 45 year history of Saturday Night Live, when he upstaged the megastar of the show -- who had met him a few months before, and had drafted he and his equally-as-alienesque friend into the nationally televised mayhem to come -- without even trying.

There's way more to the story, though. There's always way more to the story, isn't there?

For starters, he was the first person of renown ever to succumb to what became known as AIDS.

Before that sad finality, he had exploded across the firmament of a pulsating, Catherine-wheeling New York City over the course of the preceding few years, with a completely unprecedented presentation and music that defy category even today, 40 years later.

There was a time when his image was everywhere. I remember going to NYC back then and seeing murals of him on giant walls downtown.

There were ads with his face in bus stops. I think there still are. Who does that, stars in ads 40 years deceased? This person brought something no one else had brought and no one else will ever bring.

WTF would I even call his music, if I had to name it? The closest I could come is that it's the opera house where Italian Futurism, disco and Lohengrin meet. Good luck getting that on the radio.

If I had to choose, out of the entirety of the music of our lifetimes, who is the most likely to have been an actual extraterrestrial? It would be this chap, and the competition would not be close.

He'd have been 77 today, damn how time flies. I hope wherever his energy resides, he knows that it worked and his look and fashion sense wormed its way into the whole culture, forever.

In a way he was a total throwback, updating imagery that had been around in perhaps less extreme iterations. But he took it to a place so far into the wayahead that he almost achieved a sort of Futurepast perfection with it.

I remember the ads very distinctly. Like I said, he had a look that, once you saw it, you couldn't look away or forget. Especially at the age I was then, a young teen just beginning to hit the Big City unsupervised.

I guess, like most folks, my first exposure to Klaus Nomi -- born this day in 1944 -- was that eye-popping David Bowie SNL, and people have gone on record as feeling that their very lives were saved by watching people being allowed to do that -- and look like that doing it -- on live TV that night. But again, that few minutes of what the fuck did I just watch? is just the tip of a highly improbable, incandescent iceberg.

Take this live record they put together after he died, that's never been reissued since and contains his (astonishing, mutant and still-visionary) cover of Donna Summer's I Feel Love.

This is a superlative vinyl transfer of it, so meticulously made that it seems sonically indistinguishable from the CD of it that has never existed, or whatever.

Klaus Nomi
In Concert+
New York City, NY

01 Intro
02 Keys of Life
03 Falling In Love Again
04 Lightning Strikes
05 Nomi Song
06 The Twist
07 Total Eclipse
08 I Feel Love
09 Samson and Delilah intro
10 Samson and Delilah
11 After the Fall (bonus track, live 1982)
12 The Cold Song (bonus track, Munich December 1982)

Total time: 45:12

vinyl transfer of the original 1986 RCA LP, with two bonus cuts added by EN, January 2021
262 MB FLAC/January 2021 archive link

I added two tracks from 1982 to this, that were in the bonus materials of the DVD of the film about Klaus's life called The Nomi Song, which is must-see TV for anyone even moderately interested in his story. 
One is from a nightclub performance where Klaus is singing to a track, and the other is an absolutely devastating performance with a live orchestra from not that long before he passed away, and which stands as his valedictory farewell to a world still struggling to catch up.

I shall return in a fewsday, but I couldn't let seven years of doing this pass without adding Herr Klaus to the house. After the fall, we'll be born, born, born again!--J.

1.24.1944 - 8.6.1983