Home Mambo Nassau
Lizzy Mercier Descloux
- Remastered from the original tapes
- Essay by “Punk Professor” Vivien Goldman, interviewing key players
- LP Includes download card for full album + 6 bonus tracks
- CD includes full album plus 6 bonus tracks
After 1979’s Press Color – reissued by Light In The Attic – Lizzy Mercier Descloux went tropical. Mambo Nassau, released in 1981 on ZE Records, saw the vagabond Parisian poet, artist and musician decamp from New York to the Bahamas with her manager and sometime lover, Michel Esteban.
After 1979’s Press Color – reissued by Light In The Attic – Lizzy Mercier Descloux went tropical. Mambo Nassau, released in 1981 on ZE Records, saw the vagabond Parisian poet, artist and musician decamp from New York to the Bahamas with her manager Michel Esteban.
The effect on her music was not as expected. Press Color had been an album of dissonant, distorted disco influenced by the New York no wave scene, but Chris Blackwell’s Compass Point Studios provided a hermetically sealed environment into which the island’s relaxed atmosphere did not seep. Instead, music from within those four walls – made by Tom Tom Club and Grace Jones – had the effect of a feedback loop. The album, meanwhile, reflected the growing confidence of Descloux as a musician, an increasing interest in African music and the input of two new collaborators: synthesizer innovator Wally Badarou and Jamaican engineer Steve Stanley, the album’s de facto producer.
“Since 1975, we had spent seven years in New York and it felt like the end of a cycle,” says Esteban, who co-founded ZE Records, on which label Descloux’s first album was released. “We wanted to get out of Manhattan and move towards Africa. We needed new adventures and change. Mambo Nassau was our next stage.”
Mambo Nassau’s skip through styles is like a tour of Lizzy’s musical DNA, embracing mutant funk, disco and punk.
Mambo Nassau did speak to the mavericks enamored of Lizzy’s free spirit but it did not sell well. “We never were commercial,” notes Esteban. The album is presented now with bonus tracks including “Mister Soweto”, “Corpo Molli Pau Duro” and a cover of Bob Marley’s “Sun Is Shining”, all of which were intended to help score a record deal that would allow her to record in Soweto, South Africa. It worked. With the follow-up, Zulu Rock, on the horizon, Descloux’s African adventure was only just beginning…
Lizzy Mercier Descloux
Mercier Descloux, with partner Michel Esteban, established the magazine Rock News and ran in the same circles as Patti Smith and Richard Hell. She became a genre defying artist and pioneer of worldbeat and avant garde rock, and supreme minimalist of the no wave genre in her own right.
In 1978, legendary label ZE Records released a mini-album by Mercier Descloux’s performance art duo, Rosa Yemen, and went on to release several of Lizzy’s solo albums. Her debut solo album, Press Color, consists of eight songs owing more to disco, funk, and film scores than punk rock, all recorded within a two week span. Lizzy’s second solo release, Mambo Nassau, evokes Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra” and “Born Under Punches,” riddled with off-kilter-time-keeping, flailing guitars, and lush basslines. Heavily influenced by African music, art rock, funk, and soul, Mercier Descloux’s music gained extreme popularity in her native France, the height of which came with her 1984 album, Zulu Rock. The album seems a more vivacious and enthralling harbinger for Paul Simon’s Graceland. ZE Records’ Michel Esteban recalls, “This South African music reminded us, as incredible as it may sound, of The Velvet Underground.”
Lizzy spent the next two decades living somewhat nomadically in Africa, France, New York, South America, and the West Indies, never ceasing her pursuit of the arts as she transitioned from music to painting and writing. Mercier Descloux was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and passed away the following year.