Don Fleming Produces Kim Rancourt Solo Debut With All-Star Band
Kim Rancourt's plum plum album is the latest project overseen by producer/archivist/musician Don Fleming.
Last month his preceding gig went public - the preparation of the massive Lou Reed archives which is being transferred to the New York Public Library. Before that, he and Lee Renaldo oversaw the creation of much of the punk music heard in Martin Scorcese's Vinyl series, utilizing an all star band, many of whom provided the music for plum plum: drummer Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, etc.) and Fleming on guitars and bassist Joe Bouchard (Blue Oyster Cult). plum plum is being released on Clown Heroes Records May 12.
Kim goes walking along the beach at Coney Island most every Sunday morning. Picking through the seaweed and the broken furniture. He's found 8,000 Barbie dolls, a motorcycle and a carpet of flowers that leaked out of a fractured container vessel. He even found Harry Connick Junior out there one morning, and when they met they talked about Kim's career in music. Kim Rancourt sees stuff you might miss and finds value in things you don't see.
Kim gets paid to give tours of New York City - the performance halls at Lincoln Center, the art deco labyrinth that comprises Rockereller Center and such, and that makes sense because he is a storyteller and cheerleader for the place. Well, no-there's a lot of stuff that drives him crazy about NYC, but that's part of his story, too. He knows the unpretty landmarks of New York City, where the noise gathers, and the backstory of Luna Park. Sounds a lot like plum plum.
About that band that made the music Kim performs to: they're pretty good! Starting with Don Fleming, the guitarist (formerly with B.A.L.L., Gumball, Velvet Monkeys) and deal-maker who assembled this klatch. "Don knew in his head exactly what he wanted," says Kim. "Don put the band together. Of course when he mentioned who he wanted to bring in I said, 'uh yeah.' He felt that we didn't need any guest stars on the record-this band was great enough." Uh: YEAH. Joe Bouchard, founding bassist of the Blue Oyster Cult and studio savant, may be the most valuable player. "The album was mostly made live in the studio but the genius is Joe Bouchard-he is one hell of a musician and one hell of a nice guy." Also in attendance is fellow Michigander Steve Shelley: "I think it's the best drumming he's ever done. It's snappy!," Rancourt cackles. Two guitars-Fleming and the always in motion Gary Lucas (besides Beefheart he's worked with Jeff Buckley, and led Gods and Monsters for many years) laying a carpet of flowers and fugg over everything they touch. It's glorious. "It was so much fun to see Don doing the Ron Asheton thing and Gary Lucas putting flamenco flourishes on top of the cake," he says.
plum plum is an album that loosely references New York then and now. There's a song about no wave icon Pat Place, and "She Got Hit" is a side-door tribute to Lou Reed-it's "Sister Ray" for the era of the Second Avenue Subway. "Leave Your Light On" was written, Rancourt says, for Dolly Parton to sing, and she should, too, preferably greeting a boat of new immigrants at the Statue of Liberty. Kim says "Arkansas is Burning" is his favorite song, a pink pussy hat of a protest against political stupidity. Some protest songs don't get dated.
Kim was born and bred in Royal Oak, Michigan, moving to New York in 1974; dishwashing and amazing encounters with idols ensued. Slowly, a band came together. When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water, the first group he led (with Joe DeFillips), debuted on the boardwalk at Coney Island. They were funny and hostile and conceptual. The New York Times said: "this group's love of bad taste seemed honest and heartfelt." In a few years his soul migrated to The Shapir-O'Rama, a crashing, unraveling guitar band that put out three fine albums (two with Jad Fair also on mic). It was the sound of bad old ideas being torn down and children playing in their rubble. Robert Christgau, The Village Voice: "Rancourt sings several of the best soliloquies here all by himself." Some things never change.