The Joup Friday Album: Nino Ferrer – Nino and Radiah

ninoferrerGenerally when I’m writing up one of these Joup Friday Album things, I stick to something from my collection of beloved albums, reviewing, re-hearing, and re-feeling all of the wonderful notes, moments, and sounds that made the record special to me to begin with.  But this time around, I thought I would try something different and take on a record that I do not own, though one that I have been wholly and completely infatuated with of late.  As an avid vinyl collector, I’ve had many an object of desire through the years, “holy grails” of sorts to search for, to hunt online for, to scour bins and garage sales for, to quest for and obsess over.  Whether it be the transparent gold edition of The Flaming Lips’s Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, a copy of Alvarius B’s Baroque Primitiva, or an original pressing of Wendy and Bonnie’s Genesis LP, I’ve always got my musical raison d’etre, my primary objective, my sacred idol.  My most recent is the fantastic 1974 album Nino and Radiah from Italian-French singer-songwriter Nino Ferrer, and that is what we are gathered round to listen to today.

The Italian born Ferrer spent his youth as a kind of journeyman, attending Jesuit schools in Genoa and Paris, university in Paris, and then travelling the world while working on a freighter ship.  Eventually his interest in jazz music and art led him back to France where he played bass alongside artists like American expat Bill Coleman’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and R&B singer Nancy Holloway before moving on to become a solo artist in the mid-‘60s.

Ferrer released several albums over his 40-year career, but on the English language Nino and Radiah, he teamed with American artist/singer/poet/model Radiah Frye to share vocal duties and recruited the amazing funk rock group Lafayette Afro Rock Band as his backing session musicians.  The result is a smooth and funky, and often otherworldly, collection of songs that feel cinematic and atmospheric, a kind of slow grooving score for a make believe ideal of the American south.  Album opener “South” plays like a yearning, wistful memory, “Mint Julep” like a drunk and funky dream, and “The Garden” is pure silk.  But the highlight has to be the record’s penultimate track, the mysterious and intoxicating “Looking for You,” a mix of motorway sound effects, detective movie strings, cooing vocals, and that aforementioned otherworldly vibe.  It’s an all-timer.

Sadly, Ferrrer passed away in 1998 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, leaving behind his wife, two sons, and a wonderful body of work.  But for today at least, let him live on with this sweet and breathtaking record from 1974.

And then maybe let me procure a copy.

Tag KJ!

 

Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Nino Ferrer – Nino and Radiah
  1. Shawn C Baker

    Shawn C Baker Reply

    You had me with the cover!

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