There's a myth about music critics according to which they are frustrated wannabe performers. Evidence to the contrary: Vivien Goldman. The London-born, New York-based Goldman is one of the foremost chroniclers of the perfect storm of reggae, punk, hip hop, and Afrobeat, but between 1979 and 1982, she was also a working musician, creating songs that, years later, would be sampled by The Roots and Madlib. These rare girl grooves are now collected for the first time on Resolutionary, covering Goldman's first three musical formations; first as a member of experimental British new wavers The Flying Lizards, next as a solo artist with her single "Launderette" featuring post-punk luminaries, and then as half of the Parisian duo Chantage with Afro-Parisian chanteuse Eve Blouin.
Goldman's eclectic musical crew included PiL's John Lydon, Keith Levene, and Bruce Smith; avant-gardists Steve Beresford and David Toop; The Raincoats' Vicky Aspinall; the mighty Robert Wyatt; Zaire's Jerry Malekani; Manu Dibango's guitarist; Viv Albertine, then of Goldman's good friends The Slits; and dubmaster Adrian Sherwood, who produced the majority of these tracks. Goldman sang in a lilting, clear-toned soprano honed during childhood. She began her singing career in the late '70s, doing backup with Neneh Cherry and Ari Up (The Slits) on Sherwood records by reggae artists including Prince Far I.
Goldman was grooving to the innovations of dub. The contrast between Goldman's high, lilting tones and the deep rumble of the bass is a hallmark of all her work, giving a haunting frisson of sex and alienation to songs like The Flying Lizards' "The Window." Reggae had been her London soundtrack, but after moving to Paris in the early '80s, she absorbed music from Africa, an interplay audible in exultant Chantage tracks like "It's Only Money," a mix of steelpan, African soukous guitar, and sobbing Romani violin riding ferocious funk.
As the '90s began, Goldman moved to Manhattan and became New York University's "Punk Professor," teaching original courses on punk, Bob Marley, David Bowie, and Fela Kuti. But she never stopped singing and writing songs. Chicks on Speed released a later cut, "7 Days," on their 2006 Girl Monster compilation. Her house 12" records with artists including Berlin's Moritz von Oswald are compiled on LPs. Goldman has also co-written tracks with Massive Attack, Coldcut, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Luscious Jackson. Early in 2016, she performed dub readings onstage with Boston's Berklee Marley Ensemble. Her multimedia beat goes on.