Last night the ladies of Emerald, Sapphire and Gold- ESG from the Bronx for those that don't know, thumped and clacked to a packed house at the newish West Village spot Le Poisson Rouge. This was not my first time seeing the legends of No Wave play live. I actually caught them back in 2001 when they headlined the Ladyfest Midwest festival in Chicago. They did not disappoint either time.
What I enjoyed the most from seeing them last night is just how relevant they still are. Yes, their sound has always been simple and complex all at once. Yes, the screeching sounds on the original 'UFO' was hard to reproduce last night, and yet the propulsive rhythm still kept the track in that creeping funkenstein that exists on record. There is no argument though that new groups like New Young Pony Club and Watchers owe much of their sound to ESG.
Their career pattern is proof that the best music recorded does eventually get its recognition. The earliest singles released by the Scroggins sisters came out in 1981 on CT Records, 99 Records and eventually Factory. After a full length called 'Come Away With ESG' and handful of singles, ESG faded away along with their contemporaries like Liquid Liquid, Konk and A Certain Ratio.
The tiny sticks of ESG would not be silenced though. In the year 2000, Soul Jazz Records imprint Universal Sound released 'A South Bronx Story' which compiled the bands earliest recordings into a re-release package. Around the same time Soul Jazz along with many other labels started digging into the vaults releasing packages of other No Wave and Post Punk acts. ESG is by far the group of the bunch, along with James Chance perhaps, that are still playing out and if you're ESG- still recording new albums.
2002 saw the release of 'Step Off' and in 2006 'Keep On Moving' hit the racks, both released on Soul Jazz. If you've never listened to them before, I have to recommend you start with 'A South Bronx Story' and now there is a part two with rarities and B-sides. If you're not hooked after the first side of record one, and yes I suggest buying it on vinyl, I am not sure what to tell you.
Listen to UFO here:
Another favorite of mine, 'Dance':