Satan and Adam began as a sidewalk act on 125th Street in Harlem in the fall of 1986. When I first met him, Sterling Magee was known as "Mr. Satan." That's what everybody called him. He played guitar, sang, and stomped on one hi-hat cymbal. Over the next three years we became a team, working all four seasons in the same spot, one block east of the Apollo Theater and just across the street from the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, adjacent to the Studio Museum in Harlem. The members of U2 came by with a camera crew in the summer of 1987; that's how a brief clip of us ended up in Rattle and Hum (1988).
In Feburary of 1990, we went into the studio (Giant Sound, 1776 Broadway) for the first time, with Rachel Faro producing and Joe Ferla as engineer. This track, "Listen to the Music," was recorded during that session. It remained in the vaults for several decades. In 2011 it was finally released as part of our comeback album, BACK IN THE GAME.
Sterling Magee and I are still alive and kicking as a blues duo, 28 years after we first hooked up. This particular cut will always remain a watershed for me: my life blessed me with the chance, as a harmonica player, to team up with a musician whose passion and genius I can't begin to equal--although I gave it my best shot and had a hell of a lot of fun trying to keep up.
There have been many one-man bands of various sorts, down through the years, and some of them played blues. Was there ever a one-man blues band who accomplishes what Sterling "Mr. Satan" Magee accomplishes in this recording? On each of the three elements--guitar, percussion, and vocals--he scores a perfect 10. Each element doesn't just manifest technical genius, but stunning originality. His guitar style is inimitable and owes nothing audible to any other blues or funk player; his foot-powered percussion is polyrhythmic, intuitive, perfectly grooved; his singing, once he shifts into high gear, is a rapid-fire fusion of rap, soul, and blues. He fuses all three things in an epic way.
I hope you enjoy this cut. We certainly had a ball making it.