Many years ago, a Japanese couple I knew in Tokyo got married and together they constructed and published a really elaborate full color book and CD (that came inside of a gatefold 12” album cover) for their wedding guests. It was an expertly made object incorporating incomprehensibly captioned Japanglish cartoons with a disc containing an almost Paul’s Boutique-level mixtape/audio collage that probably sampled 300 records in its 77-minute running time. It was densely packed with brief snippets of movie and cartoon dialogue, Moog, easy listening, garage rock, Barbarella, Morricone, 70s soul, novelty records and other obscure music and sounds. Think Future Sound of London in their “Amorphous Androgynous” guise, but mixed by a Shibuya-kei in-crowd obsessive record collector DJ and art director. Truly delightful stuff.
There was one particular song on it that I was absolutely crazy about, but I couldn’t tell who it was by, called “I’m the One.” Today we’re all carrying around devices that could quickly answer that question, of course, but this was pre-Internet. “I’m the One” sounded like something straight out of Liquid Sky, very “Me and My Rhythmbox.” Or a bratty, nasal, very American version of Nico. It was sung by a deeply bored-sounding woman with her flat vocals being modified by an analog synthesizer. In my mind I pictured a young Laraine Newman—who was an expert on playing blasé Beatnik art chick types on early SNL—doing the song. It sounded freeform, jazzy, funky, improvised, but the ennui was palpable, the languid delivery like a rap being yawned:
“I’m the one, you don’t have to look any further. I’m the one. I’m here, right here for you.”
I had to own this. Years later when I first saw the metallic foil album cover of Annette Peacock‘s I’m the One record, I knew instantly that I’d found one of my final holy grails as a record collector, and one for which I didn’t even know what the artist’s name was. Score.
1972’s I’m the One was an audaciously strange album even during an era of audaciously strange music-making. Had there been a category for its avant garde but never abrasive synthesized sounds—produced with her then-husband, the late jazz pianist Paul Bley—it would have shared this genre with the likes of Delia Derbyshire, the Silver Apples, Wendy Carlos and the nearly forgotten Ruth White. She has much in common with Laurie Anderson, too. Throughout a long, yet sporadic career—Peacock’s albums often have many years between them—she’s worked with the likes of Yes/King Crimson’s Bill Bruford, the great saxophonist Albert Ayler and Salvador Dali. She appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and hung out at Millbrook with Timothy Leary. Last Fall, at the invitation of the mighty Sunn O))), Annette Peacock made a rare live appearance at the Le Guess Who? festival in Holland. Many of her albums have been re-released on her own Ironic Records imprint. The album that preceded I’m the One, 1968’s Revenge: The Bigger The Love The Greater The Hate (originally credited to the Bley-Peacock Synthesizer Show when it was released in 1971) was retitled I Belong To A World That’s Destroying Itself for a 2014 re-release.
There was quite an interesting Annette Peacock/David Bowie career overlap around the time of I’m the One. First off the album was released by RCA, the same label as the Dame obviously. Peacock is said to have kicked Bowie out of a recording session in New York and she turned down his offer to produce an album for her, despite his advocacy of her talents to anyone who would listen. He even got her signed to MainMan, the management firm headed up by Tony Defries that also handled Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Mick Ronson, Mott the Hoople and John Cougar Mellencamp, yet she still turned him down when he asked her to contribute to Aladdin Sane and the subsequent tour. Her pianist, Mike Garson, however, went on to play with Bowie and was one of the musicians most closely associated with him over the years. Mick Ronson recorded “I’m the One” (and stole her unique arrangement of “Love Me Tender”) on his Slaughter on 10th Avenue solo album.
More Annette Peacock after the jump…