Several weeks back, while preparing for my contribution to WFMU's week-long celebration of the 7" known as Singles Going Steady, I rifled through the comps & splits 7" drawer and found the most frustratingly unknowable pair of records. They were clear flexis, seemingly torn from a magazine, bearing the word "Nice", the attribution "BarDor Productions", and a number (5, 6, 9 and 10), and that was it. These records were anonymous, and possibly orphaned. With such a near-complete lack of info, I had no choice but to listen.
I dropped the needle on one side... and heard some twisted gamelan-like orchestra recorded through 20 years of gauze; flipped and dropped it again... a disaffected woman's retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" as though it had all just happened to her, on the Lower East Side; switched to the other disc and it's like The Inflatable Boy Clams hitched a flying saucer ride. Everything I heard I absolutely loved. All the voices sounded familiar but alien; all the music seemed trapped in time, though not in the dated sense. I asked everyone in the WFMU office what it was - no one knew.
Googling "Bardor Productions" yielded 2 hits, one of which blew the case wide open: a link to a single Irwin Chusid playlist. I got on the horn to my ol' pal pronto, and within minutes the mystery was both solved and deepened. Within a week, the record was mine - a gift. Nice! Keep reading, and it's yours.
Unbelievably, incredibly, kismetally, the Bar in "BarDor" was revealed to be none other than the host of an amazing 1990s vintage 'FMU show, Bart Plantenga. I fondly remember Bart's show "Wreck This Mess" as the soundtrack to my flower-delivery days, stuck in the van. 2 hours and 40 minutes of unhinged freeform mixes, followed by a 20 minute set list to end the show. He's still at it, at Radio Patapoe in Amsterdam. Here are his playlists. Some of you are probably also familiar with Bart's book "Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodelling Around The World". The Dor in "BarDor" was Bart's pal Theo Dorian.
Bart has graciously assented to my posting this glorious artifact from his past (Nice #4 was published on the LES in 1981), and offered up some helpful info in the process. Here are the mp3s, arranged according to the "page" of the 'zine they originally appeared on. More info from Bart appears below all the musical meat. (Alas, nothing from front cover model Lizzy Mercier Descloux)
Harry Schneider, The Singing Plumber "A Love Song For Sona"
Moana Haggard "Prelude and Fugue" -- Denise Turner: cello
Ruggero Maggi with the Easter Island Singers "Me Maorio Tu Collu"
C. Mehrl Bennett "She Had a Towel In Her Nose"
John M. Bennett "Lip Lip Lip"
Lon Reeder "Boleroesque"
John M. Bennett "Her Bag"
Dona Ann McAdams "They're Juggling Our Genes"
John M. Bennett "I Was"
Ruby And The Roof Vandells "Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby (Oh Wow)"
Bart Plantenga reports:
Bardor Productions was mainly a project that erupted spontaneously from the needs and minds of Bart Plantenga and Theo Dorian and, in the beginning, poet Su Byron, along with a cute and cuddly cadre of
assistants-friends-lovers, in our HQ-cum-oversized-broom-closet at Bleecker and McDougal... Among this cadre were some who worked in copy-shops and were able to clandestinely slip our zine into gratis production, drastically cutting production costs. We sold our zines at various indie bookstores including Sohozat, Eastside Books, St. Marks, Gotham Bookmart and Printed Matter; also in Amsterdam, London, Paris, San Francisco and Albany. Nice #4 was also sold in some record stores like 99 Records in NYC.
Nice #4 The seminal, legendary zine, the only art-lit zine that could be played on your turntable. Yes the one Warhol went gaga over, the one Art forum rhapsodized in prose seldom read in those pages. This magazine contains the aural utterances of a wide swath of illegitimate artists who worked on the margins of responsibility and respectability. This history of this magazine has not been fully documented. It ignored all
economic factors, denied all limitations, refused to be not nice.
Follow this link for much more on other issues of Nice (#4 was the only audio issue), and for more publications from BarDor.