Friday 26 April 2024

Master C & J - In The City (Devil Mix)

Immaculate restrained minimal disco-funk of the future... There's still something rather inexplicable about certain early Chicago house tracks and In The City is no exception with its liminal unnamed vibe. Bleak lyrical content delivered via frightening vocal science intermingled with bouncy bass and exuberant drum machine hand claps signal a somewhat poignant inevitability of 80s urban living. This downcast sensibility is blanketed by warm synth tones leaving feels tilted towards elation rather than agitation, adding a disconcerting dimension. Dystopian psychedelia where danger and excitement are so entwined they're indistinguishable from each other.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Mr. Fingers - Mystery Of Love

The enigmatical Mystery Of Love is still fresh to this day and ultimately transcendent. This is the original 1985 instrumental not the later re-recorded version with vocals that came out under the moniker Fingers Inc.

It's funny innit that years later somebody in the UK termed ambient house a sub-genre because house at its inception was already ambient and house so...

That fluid bass swirling like a kaleidoscope giving it a circular momentum, the ace cymbal work and those wistful washes of melodic synth with a euphoric tinge make this primo 80s tune-age from Chicago! 

A flowing atmospheric track like this seems more suited for driving, home listening or headphones than a sweaty dance-floor. Larry Heard created a timeless and indeed mysterious sound here.  

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Chip E - Time To Jack

More raw stripped down jackin' trax from Chicago. Appearing to be deceptively rudimentary these hypnotic, pounding yet intricate rhythms are sterling elemental beat-science. Chip E uses minimal elements from Italo-disco and electro-pop creating delirious drum machine driven damage, originating one of the finest early house tunes. 

Monday 22 April 2024

Jesse Saunders - On And On

Some people don't realise that house wasn't always a lame genre so here's some house before house got defined. No piano riff-age or acidic squelches here. On And On is still rudimentary and raw utilising specific disco elements but rearranged for maximum pleasure. Unhinged synth lines, primitive drum machine hand clap breaks galore and loops into the future. 

Saturday 20 April 2024

Vis-A-Vis - Obi Agye Me Dofo

Rolling golden grooves for miles... Highlife indeed!

I haven't heard this in 15 years but I came across it on the youtubes last night... and wow it's... magnificent! Soundway compiled this tune back in the 00s on the great double cd Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanian Blues 1968-81. This infectious track is highlife merging into afro-synth-funk and it's on another plain innit. 

If you love Nigerian synth legend William Onyeabor you are going to love what Tonny Doziz does with his synthesiser here. This is a hell of an ensemble. A crack percussion team is deployed to give you maximum rhythmic pleasure: On congas of glory George Asante, cowbell extraordinaire Alex Jubin, Danel Asare on maracas and drummer Kung-Fu Kwaku aka Shaolin Kung Fu (Gybson Papra). Held down bass-wise by Slim Yaw Manu.

... hypnotic sweet psychedelic-jazz-funk Ghanian stylee is the Vis-A-Vis highlife way. 

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Robbie Dupree - Hot Rod Hearts

When falling in love was like being on the run: It was gangster. It was heroic.

Roger's previous single Steal Away was an American top 10 smash and a number 24 hit here but this follow up didn't even crack the top 40 here in Australia but make no mistake this is one of the greatest soft rock radio anthems of all time. 

"Ten miles east of the highway
Hot sparks burnin' the night away
Two lips touchin' together
Cheek to cheek, sweatshirt to sweater"

Yes indeed he wrote and sang that line "sweatshirt to sweater" and somehow made it noble and beautiful.

Hot Rod Hearts lyrics are deceptively simple but are actually brilliantly concise. Coupled with the lightly sophisticated sound it's pop perfection innit, right up there with early Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Phil Spector's girl groups etc. 

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Home On Monday · Little River Band

Staying in Melbourne zones... What about this west coast classic from rainy Melbourne? Expansive melodies and harmonies galore, adult sentiments, gambling themes, such bleak lonely freedom loneliness, confusing wistfulness and dreary romance. 

I had this on a tape in primary school and the emotions entwined with that immaculate arrangement were just so unusually complex it was incredibly disconcerting yet enticing for a young mind. 

It's also a phone call song like the previous post's I'd Really Like To See You Tonight but much more consummate in its execution. 

Rick Springfield - Don’t Talk To Strangers

Here's a forgotten bit of gold that was at the intersection of soft-rock, teeny bop and yacht rock! It's our Broady-boy* Ricky and his lost classic Don't Talk To Strangers

Monday 8 April 2024

I'd Really Love to See You Tonight · England Dan & John Ford Coley

Getting more into the yacht-y end of the soft rock jamz. And boy oh boy they wrote an excellent chorus here, one of the great pop songs about laundry.

"I'm not talkin bout the linen"

It's the real name of the song innit, as stated by the song's true fans, AM radio enthusiasts and Samuel L Jackson in The Long Kiss Goodnight. Don't let Geena Davis tell you otherwise. 

There's some incredible 3D production shit goin on here... yeas.

Saturday 6 April 2024

Steve Perry - Oh Sherrie

Hits Huge 1984: Australians of a certain age are gonna remember that various artist hits compilation and this tune was the best thing on it. I don't think Journey were all that popular here, having no top 40 hits (Don't Stop Believin' peaked at #100) but Steve Perry's debut solo single was a top 5 smash. This song is just as excellent as the first time I heard it back in high school when I was in year 7. 

The synth-y intro, the voice, the emotions, all of those emotions in that fabulous voice, the dramatic doomed from the start romance, the self-hatred, the sexual confidence, the ace succinct guitar licks and a crafty coda outro all add up to soft-rock anthem gold.

"You'd be better off alone
If I'm not who you thought I'd be

But you know that there's a fever
That you'll never find nowhere else"

This depiction of a doomed passionate tryst captures a frisson that is incredibly enticing stuff, particularly for young players.  

Friday 5 April 2024

Eddie Money - Take Me Home Tonight/Be My Baby

Mid 80s mash up goodness. 

This is so much more goodness than I remember. I don't recall this video at all. It's hitting the synapse jackpot though: The 80s anthemic production, the oriental synths, the daggy dad dancing, those sunnies, that, I dunno what it is, some kinda legendary fancy tracksuit top, then wait for it he pulls out and pretends to play a mini saxophone. Then that break where it's just guitar and vocals and Ronnie fucking Spector. 

Eddie and Ronnie for the win.

Also this does not get the credit it deserves. It's at least a year prior to Walk This Way so... as I said Eddie and Ronnie for the win BABY!

Thursday 4 April 2024

REO Speedwagon - Take It On the Run

Unbelievably this wasn't a number one hit (#30) and doesn't ever feature on golden oldies radio here in Australia. It might just be the best thing they ever did though. A shonky love-life scenario entwined in large melodies in peak radio rock anthem sung by crafty songsmiths who were so uncool it was heroic! 

The  teen drama spirit of girl groups, Phil Spector and Love Me Do Beatles lived on here.

Sunset Grill · Don Henley

I don't recall hearing this in the 80s. I mean I had the 7" single of Boys Of Summer but I'm guessing this tune wasn't a hit here in Australia (quick search reveals it only got to #98 on the charts). Anyway this is something else innit. Fretless bass, brass smothered in thick layers of synthesisers and dodgy lyrics about watching prostitutes while drinking beer. Whether it's good or bad I cannot say... or just maybe this sprawling epic is awesome.