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The Live Lady of Down Town

Length: 30 pages22 minutes


Start playback: 1967, London, the Roundhouse, the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, Unit Delta Plus, the Lady. Live.

Delia Derbyshire is Helen AmeriKKKa, electronic superstar, goddess behind the spacey sound of Doctor Who, accidental mother of a sonic genre, and bookish idol to frenzied teen devotees of the UK and the USR and Nippon and the world.

Melissa is sixteen, American, and exploring for an opening. On a winter visit to London, with a studied-Brit cousin as her sherpa, everything opens for her. The clanking brass service robots are merely charming; the real attractions are the slang, the drugs, the mods, the rave, the sounds: banging around and making an experience.

Derbyshire makes. Through dragging, breathing, distorting, repeating--repeating, repeating, repeating--layer upon layer, reel upon reel, she makes a noise. Makes a culture. Makes an experience.

At the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, with a million damaged stars making her, she makes Melissa, she makes it all happen.

Robert N. Lee’s “The Live Lady of Down Town” is a trip to a 1967 that largely wasn’t, a tribute to the ecstasies of youth and electronic music, an exploration in experience and vice-to-the-versa.

Switch sides. Reverse playback. Helen AmeriKKKa’s new record is dropping.

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