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Nordine, Ken: Wink
Nordine, Ken: Wink
Artist Nordine, Ken
Album Wink
Label Asphodel
Released 7/15/2003
Purchase www.insound.com
Robert Shure wrote the strange little poems, published in 1957 by City Lights Books, the San Francisco publishing company operated by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It was a tiny little book, three or four inches across, illustrated with whimsical black and white drawings by Ray Zimmerman. Nordine, whose own cult classic ("Word Jazz") was also first released in 1957, stumbled across the tiny gem years later, but instantly recognized a kindred spirit.

"Two voices, one head," he said. "I knew it was going to be perfect." He recorded the dialogue, talking to himself from opposite sides of the stereo spectrum, one voice recorded dry, the other drenched in echo. The album was released in 1967 while he was signed with Phillips Records. Nordine was experiencing a modest comeback at the time on the early freeform underground radio stations. Not only were tracks from "Word Jazz" and "Son Of Word Jazz" showing up on psychedelic airwaves, his most recent album, the intuitively trippy "Colors," also was finding favor in those circles. But "Twink" disappeared without a trace.

Along comes Mitzi Johnson of Asphodel Ltd., who arranged the re-release of Nordine's other Phillips album, "Colors," whose next project was the CD, "Wink." The recording was given a new title for its digital incarnation at the insistence of author Shure, who believed the original title to be a word entirely of his own invention, devoid completely at the time of any of the implications the term has gathered over the years in the gay community. The hallmark of his original work was its unfeigned innocence, an atmosphere the original title, alas, could no longer convey. "It's absolutely free of angst," said Nordine. "Oh, there may be a little sadness in it here and there."