After a great response to the Gallery live set from ’76, we’ve convinced Nicky Siano to crack open the vaults once more: Part Two of a tape-recorded live set at seminal New York City club the Gallery in October of 1976.
This set has a couple of interesting aspects to it, beyond the to-be-expected quality music and mixing. The preponderance of Stevie Wonder tunes may seem a little strange until you consider the date. Stevie’s masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life (which, coincidentally, the singer is reprising on tour now) was released in late September of 1976. “I had the album in advance from Motown,” Nicky says. “At that time, I was a Billboard reporter, so every record on earth that was danceable was mailed to me.” And two copies it seems, as he mixes from “Ordinary Pain” (already at this early stage Siano was wittily utilizing only the Shirley Brewer section of the song) into “Sir Duke.” A perfect transition to Dr. Buzzard’s “I’ll Play the Fool” (also brand new at the time) follows, and we’re off on another trademark Gallery journey.
Something curious occurs around the 27-minute mark, however. “For years, I have told people about a primitive drum machine I had [legendary sound man Alex] Rosner install,” Siano says. “I would mix into it in the middle of the night, and on the fly I would create beats. I was so happy when I heard this tape, because there it is right in the middle of this side. It even hums a bit; being such a primitive version of this machine, it didn’t have a ground!” Wax Poetics contacted Alex Rosner, still dapper and sharp at 79 years of age, who told us, “With regard to the Beat Box, I went back into the This and That Gallery [as it was known] file and I found it listed in an old invoice, where it’s called the SR-95 Rhythmer. We connected it to Nicky’s Bozak mixer on June 12, 1976. His distinctive signature is on our Service Report dated that day.”