One of my guilty pleasures today… what have you done to deserve this? This duet with Dusty Springfield featured on the Pet Shop Boys 1987 long player Actually, with that album cover.
One of the original Chicago house-music labels,D.J. International Records releases included Joe Smooth’s ‘Promised Land’, Fast Eddie’s “Acid Thunder’ and Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’. In 1987, Sterling Void’s Duane Pelt released this soulful house track with Paris Brightledge on vocals. Uplifting, groovy and dated, this was late 1980s’ houseland.
The Cult’s 1987 album Electric may not have been as exceptional as its predecessor, but it did something that Love had not achieved; it broke America. The album’s calling card ‘Love Removal Machine’ said it all. Listen and think Steppenwolf, AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. At the hands of Rick Rubin, Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury has shed their successful post-punk goth sound for the wider appeal of pure, unadulterated rock. Have a great week.
It’s a buttery start to the week for I’ve just learned that Al Jarreau died yesterday. His canon of work that so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B, is largely lost on me; mainly because it so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B. However, after much of his most celebrated recordings has passed, he wrote and recorded this Nile Rodgers-produced tune for a TV series that left an indelible feelgood mark on my memory. R.I.P.
Eric Barrier and William Griffin (Rakim) benefitted from both having the talent and being in the right place at the right time. Vivien’s Goldman’s video depicts what being a hip-hop artist in 1987 New York City actually meant. According to the director, Flavor Flav ended up scene-stealing because he was always about and that’s just what he did. Despite the extended family, Rakim shows the self-belief that have made listeners consider him to be the G.O.A.T. ‘I Ain’t No Joke’ was the second single from Eric B. & Rakim’s classic album Paid In Full. 1-2-3, “You could get a smack for this”. Pure nostalgia. Have a great week.
“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you/Without a strong rhyme, to step to”. Those immortal words are from the pioneering MC Rakim, and occur immediately after Eric B’s brilliant drum sample spot from Funkadelic’s ‘You’ll Like It Too’. In 1987, ‘I Know You Got Soul’ would have a huge impact; its use of George Clinton and JB-associated samples would become the default artistic path for hip hop artists. And by naming the track after Bobby Byrd’s classic funk workout, which they sample throughout, these guys were lighting the way. The following year, the inferior M|A|R|R|S derivative ‘Pump Up the Volume’ and Norman Cook (Double Trouble) remix would take the dance floors by storm.
The original aciiid house sound, bubbling with a 303 synthesiser bassline. By 1985, it was evident that Roland has failed in creating a synth to rival the Fender bass guitar. The lack of an English language instruction manual had not helped. So, DJ Pierre was able to walk into a Chicago thrift store and pick up a secondhand one for just $50. Together with Earle Smith and Nathaniel Jones, he formed Phuture and created a new subgenre of house music with the legendary ‘Acid Tracks’.
Armando Gallop was a Chicago house pioneer, and more importantly for this post, the producer of one of the 2 or 3 standout acid tracks of the golden era. If you don’t like ‘Land of Confusion’, you don’t like acid house. More funky than Garden of Eden and less relentless than Phuture’s ‘Acid Tracks’. This exemplar use of the Roland TR-808 was released on Westbrook Records when he was just 17. A bonafide stormer.
In 1987, ‘True Faith’ was released as a single and on the classic New order compilation Substance, both released by Factory Records. With its collection of 12″ singles, the album and the band helped usher in one of the true eras of dance music, converting post-punksters into dance heads. Joy Division and their unique version of rock had been reinvented.
This year’s Christmas day highlight is Run-DMC’s ‘Christmas in Hollis’. It samples Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa” and features the frosty cool declaration: “My name’s D.M.C. with the mic in my hand/And I’m chilling and coolin’ just like a snowman”. Merry Christmas everyone!
With the release of their second single ‘Sally Cinnamon’ in 1987, The Stone Roses embarked on the sound that so many would come to know and love. Recorded before Mani joined the band, Ian Brown’s lyrics and vocals were underpinned by Reni’s distinctive use of a reduced drum kit. If Gary Powell held together The Libertines, Alan ‘Reni’ Wren’s liquid rhythm led the way for his band and a resurgence in British indie music. Have a good week.
A live recording of ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ is a suitable spotlight on the talent that is sometimes known as Prince. Firstly, unearthing any Prince track on YouTube is like finding a hen’s tooth. But this song is also off his classic long player Sign “O” The Times. Put out as the second single off the album, the track was originally created for a shelved project, which was to be released by his alter ego Camille. Just to add to an extra layer of sexuality, Prince sings it from a male perspective, exploring the possibilities of being his lover’s girlfriend. Yup, he was out there.
Bagdad Café is a 1987 German comedy film set in the Californian Mojave. Now if that doesn’t already sound unlikely, it also gave birth to this game changer. ‘Calling You’ was written and recorded by Bob Telson, but he was sensible enough to ask Jevetta Steele to perform it as the centrepiece for the movie’s score. Have a great weekend.
Record producers Arthur Baker and Shep Pettibone did much to advance the stateside hip-hop sound of the mid 1980s. However, it was their work with New Order that brought them to my ears. While Arthur Baker is better known for his collaboration with the Hacienda crew, it is Shep Pettibone’s remix of ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ taken from 1987’s Substance compilation that still stands out.