344 – Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove

“A while back, I found a record album in a thrift store here in NYC, and I just had to buy it,” writes Adam King. As a mapophile, I understand the categoric cartographic imperative at work here. The map in question is the front cover of Nile Rodgers’ 1983 solo album ‘Adventures in the Land of the Good Groove’. The name Nile Rodgers sounded vaguely familiar, but a little research turned up that this was due to my lack of musical knowledge, not Mr Rodgers’ lack of notoriety. He is influential in his own right as well as instrumental in the careers of many other world-class artists.

Nile Rodgers (b. 1952) started out as a session guitarist for the Sesame Street band, Harlem’s Apollo Theater house band and as a backing musician for Aretha Franklin and Parliament Funkadelic, among others. He became famous with the disco band Chic, best known for their hit ‘Le Freak’. A sample of Chic’s ‘Good Times’ was featured in the Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’, which is often cited as the first hip-hop record. After Chic’s demise in 1983, Rodgers founded Sister Sledge (hit: ‘We Are Family’) and focused on producing (for Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, Laurie Anderson, INXS, and many others). More recently, Rodgers has taken up producing soundtracks for video games, such as the Halo series. He also wrote music for movie soundtracks, among which the song ‘Love Me Sexy’ for the Will Ferrell vehicle ‘Semi-Pro’.

For this Nile Rodgers solo album, the native New Yorker chose to have lower Manhattan represent the ‘Land of the Good Groove’. The map is made to look like an antique map of the 17th century or thereabouts, down to the ornamental ships and ‘monsters’ in the water. The use of (pig) Latin amplifies the old feel of the map, and is used to some humorous effect — Brooklyn is labelled Terra Incognita and New Jersey is Nova Joisea.

Lower Manhattan’s streets and avenues also get the fake Latin treatment, and are rendered as Twenty-Thirdium, Houstanus, Canalus and Via Broadicus. Other locales include Tribeccium, Terra Financicus and Villagius Easticus. Over on the West Side is the intriguing Mysterium. Is anybody familiar enough with Mr Rodgers’ oeuvre to know why?

Many thanks to Mr King for sending in this image of the album cover.




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