“Rosa Yemen” by Rosa Yemen (Album)
The energy, passion, and a stylish distrust of style that marks the NYC post-punk era of 1978-1983-ish as the most exciting period in all of rock history is on full display on this obscure, deep breath-long albumlette by Rosa Yemen. But who the hell is Rosa Yemen? None other than the immortal, though deceased, Lizzy Mercier Descloux and her guitar-wielding sidekick DJ Barnes.
For their name, the band combined the first name of Jewish anarchist Rosa Luxemburg (that much I do know) with one of the most antisemitic places on earth. I’m not sure what the motivation was there, but they evidently hadn’t totally made up their mind, because there’s a track titled “Rosa Vertov,” so maybe that had been a band name option at one point. Go figure.
Descloux obviously went on the create some of the most iconic New York post-punk alongside Barnes, but they dropped the band name and put Descloux front and center. Not a bad idea at all.
I don’t know much biographically about Descloux, other than she was a Parisian who moved to NYC in 1977 (quite the year) and fell in with art rocks gods like Richard Hell and Patti Smith. If I were to write a biopic of her — which, why wouldn’t I? — I’d cast Celia Rowlson-Hall. Mostly because I’ve wanted to work with Rowlson-Hall since I first saw her early short films, like this one.