“Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” was a big question in 1979. This was Gary Numan at his best and earliest. A hit single with “no recognisable hook-line whatsoever”, as Numan once put it. Have a great week.
Neil Young wrote ‘My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)’ with its rocking counterpart ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)’ as bookends for his 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps. As the second part of the famous line goes: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Young had tapped into his encounters with Devo and an appreciation of the punk ethic to reach a new audience.
In 1977, the Parliament entourage released a long player called Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome. Yes, that’s right. Written by George Clinton, Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins, the simply named ‘Flash Light’ closes the album on a momentous high; all channelled through Worrell’s killer synth-bassline and Clinton’s otherwordly vocals.
Monday or not, I just fancy a spot of disco. Rose Royce’s fourth album Rose Royce IV: The Rainbow Connection was the last to feature vocalist Gwen “Rose” Dickey, who had shined so brightly on hits like ‘Carwash’, ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ and ‘Wishing on a Star’. Produced by Norman Whitfield, ‘Is It Love You’re After’ was a testament to what the LA band would be losing. They would never reach such heights again, although the distinctive synthesised into would feature across dance floors a decade later, courtesy of S’Express.
Gary’s Gang was the vehicle for Eric Matthew (real name Joe Tucci) and Gary Turnier. Their first single ‘Keep On Dancin” sold half a million copies around the world. And then, their follow-up ‘Let’s Lovedance Tonight’ featured one of the all-time classic disco breaks. The NYC label Sam Records had struck gold; the keyboard loop would be sampled over and over. The vocals have aged badly and so I prefer one of the instrumental versions. I have selected Danny Krivit’s remix that was originally released on Nervous Records in 2007. SAM Records was founded by Sam Weiss in 1976. In 1990, he founded Nervous with his son. A full circle. Have a great weekend.
While the very beautiful ‘Comfortably Numb’ may be the best song on the album, ‘Young Lust’ does more to rock 1979’s The Wall. And what’s more, like ‘Comfortably Numb’, it is one of the few songs that Dave Gilmour helped Roger Waters write for the album. Gilmour sings the lead about a “rock and roll refugee” seeking sex to relieve the humdrum of touring. “Oooh, baby set me free!”
What do you get if you can’t quite have the Kinks nor Kraftwerk? Well, Paul McCartney’s 1979 single ‘Temporary Secretary’ would have been a pretty good answer until Freelance Hellraiser’s fossilised the original. The DJ gave it one hell of a makeover as part of his Twin Freaks collaboration with Macca. It’s recognisable, but much better.
Released in the autumn of 1979, the B-side of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ also drew its inspiration from the world of film. It was the Misfits’ fourth single release and the band had already shown their disdain for the political and social messages abundant elsewhere in punk. Instead, ‘Where Eagles Dare’ was all about kicking out the jams and having fun.
Where their first album was downright scary, Suicide’s sophomore was disarmingly melodic. Much of the reason was the influence of Ric Ocasek. By chance, I heard ‘Double Life’ yesterday – one of my favourite tracks from The Cars’ canon. I like it for its simplicity. A year before the Second Album came out, Ocasek had already worked with Suicide on the classic single ‘Dream Baby Dream’. Alan Vega’s voice suddenly sounded appropriate.
Heavily sampled by De La Soul for their classic single ‘Me, Myself, and I’, ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’ is a funk track with its own vintage. Taking up most of the first side of Funkadelic’s 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You, the song is about a girl whose dance never misses a beat. George Clinton is unimpressed by the Jerk, the Monkey, the Moose and the Chicken, but is blown away by her Freak. I’ve been there baby. And as for the splendid use of the cuíca…
A last bit of nostalgia before we kick on with things next week… I’ve been relistening to quite a bit of Radiohead’s In Rainbows this week. It has struck me how much the guitar work on ‘Reckoner’ is like Andy Summers’ elaborate playing on ‘Bring On the Night’. The song featured on The Police’s 1979 long player Reggatta De Blanc. Andy Summers – there’s a name from the past. Have a great weekend.
Before he teamed up with Tito Puente, Alfredo De La Fe had an annus mirabilis. In 1979, the violinist played with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Chick Corea, and released his first solo album. Alfredo featured the song ‘Hot To Trot’. It’s all about the intro… whistles, choppy guitar, hand-clapping. Latino violin disco – a wonderful concept. S’Express thought so. Have a great week.
I hear piano trills and I think of Jools Holland. I first heard his work on the Squeeze album Cool For Cats. That album married the witty pop of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook with Jools’ distinctive keyboards. ‘Up the Junction’ is the perfect example. One for the dads.