Ah yes, the intangible, enduring allure of the 2nd hand record shop! Before I found a copy of Basic in the stuffed racks of this musty emporium last week I'd not previously heard of it. Now, of course, I'm semi-outraged as to why it's been unobtainable for so long - the cursory CD reissue appears to be rarer than the original LP, for God's sake!
An instrumental collaboration between Robert Quine & Fred Maher (Material, Scritti Politti), Basic was recorded at Quine's home studio in N.Y.C. in early '84, while both of them were still fresh from their brief tenure as fellow Voidoids (on 1982's Destiny Street) & in Lou Reed's last great live band (during his Blue Mask / Legendary Hearts period, alongside bassist Fernando Saunders). For whatever reason, Quine never got 'round to releasing a bona fide solo album, but Basic comes pretty close - Maher's unobtrusive bass & electronic percussion providing a stripped back, metronomic anchor for Quine's thoughtful, serpentine Fender wrangling. Alongside his well documented interest in The Velvet Underground & involvement in New York's formative punk scene, Quine cultivated an ongoing passion for contemporary jazz, & perhaps that's why parts of Basic remind me - a stereotypically ill-informed jazz novice - of Mile Davis' early 70s electric work, albeit with something of an Eno sensibility? Lester Bangs: "Someday Quine will be recognised for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument - he is the first guitarist to take the breakthroughs of early Lou Reed & James Williamson & work through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to On The Corner-era Miles Davis." N.B. Edifying Quine site here.