06Feb2011

The Armando Project: The Life and Music of Armando Gallop


armando gallop

February 2011 Update

This is not so much an intro as a rallying call. Every day that passes is another chance for disaster - for master plates to be lost, DATs to disintegrate, boxes of cassettes and records to grow dull and warped.

It's time to take care of Armando.

Three years ago, I published these interviews and this story about Armando Gallop for a very simple reason: Armando was quite likely the first DJ I ever heard, and it bothered me that I felt he was being, in a sense, forgotten. I had no idea what he was doing when as a long-haired snot-nosed crusty punk I stumbled into a sweaty brick loft on Milwaukee Avenue in the early '90s, but I knew I loved it. Armando was at the peak of his creativity then, just a year or two before he passed away. All that we have left are memories and the recordings that were left behind.

The memories remain, sterling and bright. The recordings, not so much...

Good efforts have been made in the last few years to keep Armando's memory in the public consciousness. Thomos from Lets Pet Puppies somehow got his hands on some "lost" recordings, cleaned them up with the help of Johnny Fiasco's indomitable mastering skills and released them first on vinyl and, more recently, digitally. That single record - which despite what silly Euro reviewers claim, few but a small circle in Chicago ever heard before - showed up on comps this year from Tensnake on Defected, from DJ Deep on BBE, and Juan MacLean's DJ Kicks.

That's three comps in one year, by three DJs appealing to wildly different crowds, for a single track that few fans had ever heard before.

Angel Alanis is likewise releasing Armando's "Downfall" - first a remix by The Advent on his free comp Tribute to Acid and now as a remix package released on vinyl and digitally with additional remixes from Jason Fernandes and Hugo Paixao.

It's not as if Armando's music is obscure. It's not. But it isn't as well-known as it should be.

Since Armando passed away, recording media has undergone a revolution. Most of Armando's recordings were made on DATs and even ordinary cassettes. Some of those were pressed onto vinyl. Since then, we've seen the rise of CDs and their eclipse by MP3s, FLACs and WAVs. Short of putting a needle on a turntable and recording a 25 year old piece of wax - which is never going to give you anything that can be confused for a master - we're falling way behind here.

What would it take to put together a definitive, comprehensive set of Armando's recordings? Has enough time has passed that those who once held onto them would be more willing to pass them on than they once might have been? Will the rights holders (or claimed rights holders anyway - at least in the case of one track, I know of 3 people that claim ownership on it and none of them are related to Armando) step aside in favor of doing the right thing for a guy that deserves a street, a park or a statue named after him in this town but can't get a simple four vinyl or CD set of his definitive releases put together?

At this point I think it'll take more persistence than money to make this happen. But it needs to happen. Armando's hand is even today guiding producers in countries he couldn't have imagined - but think of how much greater it would be if we could take "Land of Confusion", "151", "Pleasure Dome", "Turn My Shit Up" and tracks he had a hand in like remixes of Robert Armani's "Circus Bells" or Ron Trent's "Altered States", put them in the hands of a competent engineer to remaster and generally clean what could use some cleaning and leave grimey what should stay grimey - imagine how much greater it would be to take all of that and put it out there. Imagine.

It's not like we need an Alan Lomax to wander through small towns collecting homespun tales of Robert Johnson at the crossroads. The stuff is out there, but day by day degrading. It's time this happens. It's past time that this happens.

Terry Matthew
February 2011

 

The Story _
  • /Armando Gallop: A Life
    An oral history, originally published in our February 2008 issue and reprinted many times since then.
Audio _
Interview Transcripts _

 

 

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terry matthew Terry Matthew is the managing editor of 5 Magazine. You can contact him at terry@5chicago.com.
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