The Frankie Machine MP3 Blog of Choice

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steven Jesse Bernstein

Camden Market in the early 90's, I bought a bootleg video of the last ever Big Black gig. Filmed in a power station, the footage started with the support act - a weird looking tattooed fella ranting at the audience. Kind of like Derby Market Place on a Saturday night, except he wasn't asking for money. He was reciting poetry.

Someone once claimed that the blond haired kid at the front of the stage was Kurt Cobain. Could be true but is probably just apocrypha. They have two things in common though...both great artists and they both committed suicide.

A couple of years after I saw this footage, I heard his album "The Prison". It was on Sub-Pop, had a 60's looking sleeve & was produced by legend of the Pacific North-West Steve Fisk. It was achingly cool before I'd even heard it. Unsurprisingly it was not a happy record...well the lyrics weren't but Fisk's score was incredible & coupled with Bernstein's hypnotic delivery, I think I can safely say this is one of my favourite records of all time.

"No No Man Pt.1" is the opening track and pretty much sets the scene for what to expect over the next 54 minutes. I'm not altogether that big on poetry but if you can't listen to a piece like "Face" and not be moved then you are either clinically dead or Tony Blair.

Steven Jesse Bernstein - No No Man (Part 1)

Great interview with Steve Fisk about the making of "The Prison"

Steven Jesse Bernstein - The Prison on Amazon
Steven Jesse Bernstein official MySpace page (seriously..)


  • At 2:06 AM, Anonymous mudgeek said…

    You hit the nail right in the head! "Prison" is also one of my all time faves! The hype on the SubPop bands kept me off them, but when I saw THAT cover at a record store (I used to work there myself) I was sure there was something in it, especially when I read the insert credits, having heard Steve Fisk's work before.
    Well, "Face" made me transcribe it right after I'd heard it! I also did transcribe "The Man Upstairs" (I loved it!).
    So the man left behind a truly amazing record! Two thumbs up...


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