Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Unity—
O Wa Nou Me Nou Ma/Jimi


Released 1971 on LMCE
The Seth Man, June 2007ce
Unity were a short-lived, five-piece Rock band from Paris, France who released only two singles: the first, “Baby Go Now”/“Rollin’ Five Years” saw the five piece working things out as best as they could into an unrequited entrée in comparison to the steaming main course they wheeled out as their second and final single, “O Wa Nou Me Nou Ma”/“Jimi.” It obliterated all that preceded it as all their hard saved jizz came shooting out from both sides in an orgasmic Rock monsoon and they probably even knew it themselves, seeing as they had inscribed on the back of the sleeve the none-too hard sell line: “Finally, two good titles on the same disc!” And in fancy longhand script, too: just so you know they meant it.

Oh, but HOW they meant it -- Five heads on the cover, five tail feathers being shaken and all ya-yas gotten out. What a wrecked single. Don’t think these guys got to a third time at bat, ultimately to be resigned forevermore as also-rans in the world of French Rock where the bands that did make it were either signed to Byg Records, managed by the Paris office of the Robert Stigwood Organisation, got their sole gig immortalised forever on ‘Pop Deux’ or their only album produced by J.P. Massiera. Although regarding this last named sound engineer, the A-side’s intro does sport a junior version of the kind of electronic squall that was his aural meat and drink. But once this brief space-out intro parts it reveals a clearing where the title “O Wa Nou Me Nou Ma” is group chanted repeatedly. The song then breaks out along with the lead vocalist, who then barks out in call and response with the lightning guitar accents that break his thoughts into broken phrases but retain their technicolour super-strength:


“In the afterglow / there is a spider!
Purple needles / on the valley!
When you will be / on blue mountain!
When a sun / burns the sea!
You will understand/ madness! Anguish!
The black witch cries:
Dogs!
Dogs!
Snakes!”


Fuck, but you don’t come across lyrics like this every day (or even in 1971.) Except when it happens to escape the burden of a singer whose command of English is relegated into the crowded corner of second language status as it melts into psychic shorthand akin to the white light ramblings of Damo Suzuki, Chico with the directness of scrawls on institutional toilet walls plus the nonplussing qualities of Japanese LP lyric sheet translations from the 1970’s all at once. And since the vocals seem touched by a more than a degree of Patois Caribe sans even a hint of a French accent, I’m convinced that it’s the black guy doing all the shouting; seeing as his head placed is dead centre on the sleeve in the traditional position of the lead vocalist in most group shots of the time. Then again, I don’t even know who plays what, let alone the names of this quintet but I still bet the guy with the beard was no way in Hell the drummer.

Leaking feedback, the guitar solo is killer. It buoyantly cascades a slipstream over the rhythm’s stepping stones comprised of dryly produced drums, dampened tom toms that report far sharper than they should and the bass running down a primordial version of “Lust For Life” as first rendered thousands of years ago in Ife as the rhythmic root anchor for “You Can’t Hurry Love” soon after being first drawn out by electro-magnetic impulses...OR WILL ALONE...from an ancient tree recently felled by a bolt of lightning and sliding out as a single, gleaming, dripping tube of iridescent THANG to then be hoisted and cast aloft into the mouth of a dormant volcano that promptly reignites the fucker with a dull thud, a blinding flash and one massive eruption accompanied by chanting to signal the beginning of a ceremonial dance of creation -- with either a track that should’ve been written by the poetically-assigned songwriting team of Wonder-Riser-Hunter-Hardaway...or “O Wa Nou Me Nou Ma.” It finally peters out far too soon in a flurry of phased drum rolls and off-beat snare hits while the title is repeated as a continuous incantation to the song’s fade out.

“Jimi (En Hommage A Jimi Hendrix)” is full-throttle proto metal and shoulda been subtitled ‘en hommage a James Patrick Page’ for the spiky guitar solo runs riot like a single-engine plane tanked up on illegitimately siphoned diesel offa Jimmy Page’s mid section “Dazed And Confused” fuel line during Zeppelin’s insane performance from ‘Supershow.’ For it’s that same splintery and jagged precipice-hanging guitar run that breaks down communication into dazed’n’confused unto paranoid hot smoke, blue ice and white lightning during its journey to the center of the mind. This single condenses so many proto-metal influences together all at once so that no single one emerges as an isolated part cos they all are happening at the same time and to an inspiring degree. Compressed rhythm guitar recollects after the solo, bearing down with rapid riffing while the vocalist proclaims in rapid succession:


“I go mad, Jimi!
I can’t live a long, long time!
I’m gonna stop before
I go crazy!
I go crazy!”

“I can’t love!
I can’t live!
I can’t love!
I can’t live!”

“I go crazy, Jimi!
I supplicate!
The wind cries your name!
I go mad!
I go mad!”

“Hey, I can’t, Jimi!
I live this country forever!
I want a new world!
Where all is fine...”


Me too, you great unknowns. Me, too.