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Episode 96 : Adele Bertei on Labelle + Peter Laughner + August Darnell

22 March 2021

Content warning: This episode contains discussion of domestic abuse, misogyny and violence against women (33:50–37:42). 

In this episode, we talk to the amazing Adele Bertei about her career as a singer, songwriter and the author of two terrific books, Peter & the Wolves & the new Why Labelle Matters. Starting with her wild life as a gay teenager in Cleveland, Ohio, we hear about her friend & mentor Peter Laughner, founder member of Pere Ubu and a tragically self-destructive troubadour who died back in 1977.

Adele then talks us through her move to New York's East Village and her participation in the city's No Wave punk-funk scene as a member of James White & the Contortions — and as the leader of the all-girl Bloods. This leads on to discussion of ZE Records & August "Kid Creole" Darnell, audio clips of whom we hear in a 2016 conversation with Larry Jaffee... which in turn takes us on to Adele's hymn of love for Labelle, the trailblazing trio who morphed from '60s girl group into '70s Afrofuturists. RBP's co-hosts ask Adele about the group's manager Vicki Wickham (hear Vicki's own RBP podcast episode) and about Laura Nyro, Bobby Womack's Poet II, and female power & resistance in the decades before #MeToo.

Finally, after noting the passing of Sally Grossman — widow of Bob Dylan's manager Albert & the "lady in red" on the cover of Bob's Bringing It All Back Home — Mark rounds up the highlights of his recent additions to the RBP Library, including Richard Goldstein's review of The Band's Big Pink, Philip Elwood's prescient 1970 appreciation of a young Bruce Springsteen playing live in San Francisco & the recently-recruited Maureen O'Grady interviewing new Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Jasper takes us out with thoughts on pieces about white appropriation of Black soul, plus an underwhelming 2000 "chart battle" between (insert polite cough) Westlife & Spice Girls...

Many thanks to special guest Adele BerteiWhy Labelle Matters is published by UT Press and Peter & the Wolves by Smog Veil.