Per Cussion CD booklet

In the early eighties I visited New York several times. It was the beginning of the whole Hip Hop movement: – “The Message” was spread by Grandmaster Flash through ghettoblasters everywhere, young kids doing break
dance was the most exciting street entertainment, and graffiti was producing its first great artists. Inspired by the emergence of this great new folk art form I returned to Sweden convinced that elements from Hip Hop could successfully be combined with the music I was mostly into at the time, which was African, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music, and Jazz orientated improvisational stuff. The rap artist seemed to me a modern extension of the West African “Griot” (storyteller, social commentator, history teacher). And the beats were slamming!

A friend told me about this guy from Brooklyn who was doing a little breakdancing and rapping in a Stockholm club. Michael (his last name a constant subject to change) called himself Grandmaster Funk, later shortened to GM Funk, and we got along well right away: a few days later we had recorded rap overdubs for two tracks on my upcoming album, which was great since I had recorded the tracks without a clue as how to find a rapper in Sweden at the time.

The single “Don’t Stop!” was the first Swedish rap record, released before the album in 7” and 12” versions (and a video as well, which was not yet the standard procedure in Sweden). It was a substantial “hit”, and for months you could hear it in any of the “important” night hangouts in Stockholm. When released in the states it was listed as “recommended” in the Dance/Disco column in Billboard, it was in “key rotation” at WBLS, and a favourite of NY Ritz DJ Justin Strauss. I was especially flattered when Africa Bambaata, whom I considered the high priest of Hip Hop, asked me if I had any spare copies of the 12” since he had worn his out when DJ-ing.

The tune was based on a simple bass riff, and the lyrics were simple too, to say the least, since they were improvised on the spot by GM Funk. It was released all over, on more or less obscure labels from Virgin Greece to NY label Black Market (no joke) who reported sales of over 15 000 sold copies (just before going out of business, of course). Swedish newspaper Kvällsposten went on to report the humorous figure of 160 000 sold copies – me and Silence must have made more money than we’ve never seen!

The backing tracks was recorded in a few days, using a method I have favoured ever since – that is to have a bunch of expert musicians set up a groove and grind on forever, with little other choice than to “trust that I know what I’m doing”. Then, through overdubs and editing, I try to make it into something that makes sense as a musical piece, still keeping the live feeling of the music originally recorded. In effect, one could easily extract several very different sounding tracks from all the stuff crammed into the 24-track tape of what became the tune “Don’t Stop!”, for example. Most of the time, though, I had the final structures more mapped out than, I suspect, anyone involved dared to hope for. Anyway, all the basic tracks were cut in no more than one take, as I recall it.

It’s interesting to note how a heavily edited track like “Miles Over Pygmyland” became the composition, as played live structured almost identically to the album version. The band performing this – and lots of other music – in non stop marathon concerts were dubbed Per Cussion All Stars, since all the guys were hot-shots in their own right. The live act was quite a bit more spectacular than was yet common in Sweden, and for one concert we had Youssou N’Dour as our opening act – for three hours!

The original issue of “Don’t Stop!” was released by “Per Cussion” being the artist, a simple commercial decision due to the fact that I was know by that name in the band Dag Vag, one of Sweden’s most popular at the time, in which all the members had “funny names”. The band has just broke up, and solo material was “in demand”. The problem was that critics and audiences outside Sweden did not see the joke, not knowing that Per is a common Swedish name, and in the end, neither did I, returning to recording using my real name after two more Per Cussion albums.

So, here we go folks – as they say: Don’t Stop – the album.

Performing on all “Don’t Stop!” album tracks are:
Amadeo Nicoletti: Guitar
Christian Falk: Bass
Åke Eriksson: Drums

The Warning 4:17
(lyrics: GM Funk, music: Amadeo Nicoletti)
GM Funk: Rap
Ulf Adåker: Trumpets
Bo Gustavsson AKA Kopp Te: Tenor Saxophone
Harald Svensson: Synthesizer, Moog Bass
Per Tjernberg: Linn Drum Machine, Bell Tree

After several desperate stabs at the guitar solo, it was jokingly suggested that Amadeo should try doing it backwards. Figuring he had nothing to loose he did, and so: one take, everybody happy. The Linn Drum Machine was the state-of-the-art toy at the time, destined to make drummers and percussionists unemployed for years to come. Not knowing how to program the damn thing (and not being able to synchronize it to tape anyway) I played all the extra drum and percussion parts by simply pushing the buttons, a stone age method also used on the title track.

Miles Over Pygmyland 4:05
(Per Tjernberg/ Per Cussion All Stars)

Ulf Adåker: Trumpet
Johan Zachrisson AKA Zilver Zurf: Frenetic Guitar Solo
Harald Svensson: Clavinet
Per Tjernberg: Hindewhu, Cuica, Congas, Bongos, Misc. Percussion, Mouth Percussion
Stig Vig: “Allright, Zacke.”

“Hindewhu” is not an instrument, but a description used by the Pygmy peoples of the Central African Republic of a special way of alternating notes sung while inhaling and blowing a one-note panpipe when exhaling. This, together with the peculiar voice-like sound of the Brazilian friction drum Cuica, and my voice imitation of a Cabassa, is heard in the opening section. The Miles reference should be obvious.

Lucumi Suite 8:12
(Lyrics: Trad.arr.Wilfredo Stephenson, music: Per Tjernberg)

Wilfredo Stephenson: Lead and Chorus Vocals, Batá
Torbjörn Langborn: Chorus Vocals, Batá
Ulf Adåker: Electric Trumpet
Harald Svensson: Clavinet, Fender Rhodes
Per Tjernberg: Chorus Vocals, African Thumb Piano, Synthesizer, Batá, Atumpan Drum, Vibra Slap
Shango: Thunder

Santeria – a mixture of catholic beliefs and those of the West African Yoruba people – has always fascinated me and Santeria music is something I constantly turn to for spiritual healing. The songs sung in this piece all belong to the Santeria liturgy. Ulf ran his electrified trumpet through a device called a Pitch Follower which fed into an ancient Arp Synthesizer telephone switchboard module, creating the multi-harmonic effect in his beautiful solo. The Batá drums are sacred to the Santeria religion, Shango is its God of thunder and sexuality and protector of drums.

Don’t Stop (Extended version) 9:22
(Lyrics: GM Funk, Music: Per Cussion All Stars)

GM Funk: Rap
Harald Svensson: Clavinet, Synthesizer
Ulf Adåker: Synthesizer Effects
Per Tjernberg: African Thumb Piano (Kalimba), Timbales, Cuica, Log Drum, Frying Pans, Linn Drum Machine

Extended by way of the 7” single b-side dub version. The Timbales solo might be more minimalistic than I had planned, but, believe me, it was the only thing that worked with the odd start-and-stop rhythm. Again the Linn parts were played manually.

42nd Street Heartbeat 4:20
(Ulf Adåker)

Ulf Adåker: Trumpet, Sequencer and Ancient Beat Box Programming
Harald Svensson: Synthesizers
Per Tjernberg: Bass Marimba, Temple Blocks, Cowbells, A-Gó-Gó Bells, Tambourine, Sleigh Bells, Vibra Slap

The live version of this tune incorporated a cheerful little rap by Mr Funk about “42nd Street, a motherfucking heartbeat, a place where you can buy anything you desire, if you want girls you can get girls and you can buy any kind of drug known to mankind.” Etc
During its first live performance Mr Funk surprised the entire band by climaxing his rap by pulling out a (luckily fake) gun, in order to act out a grim NY street scenario: “’Cause I don’t give a fuck about you – BANG – or you – BANG – or you – BANG!” After the gig it was promptly decided that this part of the show was a bit too realistic in its portrayal of NY street life (though in these days of chainsaw-waving rappers it might seem quite innocent…).

I Walk On Guilded Splinters (8:10)
(Malcolm Rebbenack)
Published by Marzique/Joharv BMI

Dr John: Lead Vocal
Py Bäckman, Emily Gray, Lena Andersson: Backing Vocals
Ulf Adåker: Electric trumpet, Synthesizer Effects
Harald Svensson: Clavinet, Synthesizer
Per Tjernberg: Congas, Log Drums, Talking Drum, Bell Tree, Chimes, Bamboo, Finger Snaps, Cabassa, Misc. Percussion, Bird Whistles

As a teenager I used to roam every record shop in town in order to decide on which “psychedelic”-looking album I should spend my saved allowance money. Seeing Dr John’s first album “Gris-Gris” I decided that this guy who labelled himself “The Night Tripper” must be the most far-out guy on earth, and bought the LP without hesitation. Unlike a lot of “mind expanding” records from this period “Gris-Gris” remains a brilliant, influential classic. I played it until the grooves threatened to spiral off the turntable like spaghetti and its many weird percussive sounds sure sent me off in pursuit of those instruments. Needless to say, it was a dream come true when later in my life I found myself playing in his touring band, and he agreed to revive this “Gris-Gris” classic for my album. We went on to collaborate on songs for my next album in New York and remain good friends to this day. (And for Swedish listeners – yes, it is that Lena Andersson).

2 Am Berimbau 1: 34
(Per Tjernberg)

Per Tjernberg: Berimbau
Adåker, Svensson, Nicoletti, Eriksson, Falk: Handclaps

After finishing the basic tracks for the album we spent a late night celebrating, during which this jam with me playing the Brazilian music-bow evidently was recorded…

Bonus Tracks

Paying The Price 4:58
(Lyrics: GM Funk – music: Tjernberg, Cerha, Blomqvist)

GM Funk: Rap
Kathy Hazzard, Camilla Henemark: Backing Vocals
Ulf Adåker: Trumpet
Stefan Blomqvist: Synthesizer
Johan Zachrisson: Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer
Martin Cerha: Chapman Stick
Åke Eriksson: Hi-Hat, Snare
Bill Öhrström: Congas, Cowbell
Per Tjernberg: Synthesizer, Timbales, Batá, Roto Toms, Electric Berimbau, A-Gó-Gó Bells, Linn Drum Programming, Turntable

My next album, called “Beatwave”, was assembled in New York from bits and pieces recorded in Sweden. We have included three tunes here that are related to the “Don’t Stop!” touring band. The melodic patterns of the Berimbau was achieved by feeding the recorded signal through a vocoder, playing the notes on the vocoder’s keyboard. I also for the first and only time tried my hands on scratching (using an ABBA album) – to my knowledge the first time scratching was used on a Swedish record. Of the two female voices heard Kathy was a veteran of Stevie Wonders “Wonderlove” band, while Camilla went on to become famous as part of the pop combo Army of Lovers.When “Beatwave” was released a criticism that was frequently voiced in the Swedish press went “yeah, yeah, this kind of thing might have seemed fresh last year, but seriously, who will listen to Rap music in a couple of years” – some prophecy…

Manhattan Jungle 5:05
(Per Tjernberg – Horn Arrangement: Ulf Adåker)

Ulf Adåker: Trumpet
Lars Olofsson: Trombone
Krister Andersson: Tenor Saxophone
Johan Zachrisson: Guitar Synthesizer
Martin Cerha: Bass
Åke Eriksson: Drums
Bill Öhrström: Congas
Per Tjernberg: African Thumb Piano, Keyboards, Syndrums, Cowbells

Mondays At The Gate 2:00
(Per Tjernberg)

Per Tjernberg: Congas, Bongos, Hi-Hat, Cowbell, Clavé, Vibra slap, Mouth Percussion
Bill Öhrström: Congas, Quinto

Up For The Downstroke ??
(George Clinton, William “Bootsy” Collins, Calvin “Fuzzy” Haskins, Bernie Worrell)
Published by Malbiz/Ricks Music BMI

GM Funk: Rap
Bill Öhrström, Camilla Henemark: Vocals
Ulf Adåker: Trumpet, Whistle, Vocal
Stefan Blomqvist: Clavinet, Vocoder
Johan Zachrisson: Guitar, Guitar synthesizer, Vocal
Martin Cerha: Bass, Vocal
Åke Eriksson: Drums, Vocal
Per Tjernberg: Moog Bass, Vibra Slap, Whistle, Vocal

Recorded during the “Beatwave” sessions, this was released as the B-side to the “Paying the Price” 12”.

Snowblind 6:41
(Lyrics: GM Funk – Music: Cerha, Blomqvist)

GM Funk: Rap
Stefan Blomqvist: Synthesizer
Johan Zachrisson: Guitar Synthesizer
Martin Cerha: Bass
Åke Eriksson: Hi-Hat, Snare
Ulf Adåker: Linn Drum Programming
Camilla Henemark: Vocoder Voice
Per Tjernberg: Cuica, Bongos, Wood Blocks, Vibra Slap, Voice

Recorded during the “Beatwave” sessions, this was released as a solo 12” by Grandmaster Funk. This CD re-release might be welcome to unfortunate buyers of the original 12” which was mastered so loud that many grammophones would skip grooves resulting in some very awkward rhythms (still can’t play my copy).

Hardcore ??
(Lyrics: GM Funk – Music: Blomqvist, Tjernberg, Cerha)

GM Funk: Rap
Stefan Blomqvist: Synthesizer
Johan Zachrisson: Guitar Synthesizer
Martin Cerha: Bass
Åke Eriksson: Simmons Drums, Hi-Hat
Per Tjernberg: Simmons Drums, Hi-Hat, Syndrums, Synthesizer
Ulf Adåker: Linn Drum Programming
Martin Luther King: ”I have a dream”

This is the rarest track here (so rare we had to transfer it from a vinyl 12”), the last recording of The Per Cussion All Stars and a personal favourite of mine. This 12” was released on an obscure Swedish label, that we have desperately tried to locate for this release, and credited only as “written and produced by Mickey Slick”.
No info on musicians or any “Grandmaster”. Soon after the recording of this track I was called up by Michael’s (or what-ever-his-name-was) girlfriend who, in tears, informed me that he had been thrown out of Sweden since, to my knowledge, he had been staying here illegally without a work permit . I have had no contact with him what-so-ever since – Hey, man – if you’re out there somewhere, get in touch, I’ll send you this CD! And by the way, this track features one of my favourite lines of yours: “The rich get richer and that’s no joke, ‘cause I can’t even pay attention ‘cause I’m so damn broke”. Still, we had some fun, didn’t we?

– Per Tjernberg, Stockholm, December 2002

Produced by Per Tjernberg
“Snowblind” and “Hardcore” produced by Grandmaster Funk
Engineered by Anders Lind, Göran Andersson, Robert Wellerfors, Lillemor Engholm, “Paris”, Tomas Gertz, Brynn Settels, Tom Hofwander, Ulf Henriksson (Sweden), Göran Andersson, Jorge Esteban, Matt The Deadhead (New York)

Mixed by Per Tjernberg, Anders Lind, Göran Andersson, Henrik Cederberg, GM Funk (Sweden), Per Tjernberg, Göran Andersson (New York)

Recorded at Silence Studio, Studio Decibel, Rub-A-Dub, Studio Polyvox, Studio Bastun, Polar Studio (Sweden)
and Intergalactic Studio (New York)

Original cover photo collage by Per Tjernberg
Black-and-white photos by Kärsti Stiege, Daniel Atterbom, Göran Andersson
Colour photo by Julia Murphy
CD release designed by Lars Ermalm

Special thanks to Lars “Amba” Esselius

In memory of Martin Cerha