Sunday, May 23, 2010

Carribean Yacht Rock Vol 1. Esso Steel Band "Listen To The Music"

Lately I've been finding lots of interesting Carribean records. Many of them of have cover versions of 1970's AM radio classics...and of course this means they were getting their yacht rock on. I mean, this cover just screams YACHT ROCK! Here is Esso Steel Band doing a cover of The Doobie Brothers "Listen To The Music".

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dub meets Disco, Boogie meets Dub

Ever since first hearing Risco Connection many years ago I have been obsessed with finding music where the worlds of reggae and disco collide. Since my favorite form of reggae is dub, it's even more exciting to find dub with a 4/4 disco beat. This rare track by D-Roy Band is a nice example of dub with a stomping "steppers" groove that could mix well in a house or disco set.

D-Roy "Trenchtown Skank"

I also love finding a fantastic disco or boogie single with an inventive dub or instrumental "version" on the flip. Sometime in the late 1970's dance music producers began to borrow heavily from the studio innovation that dub producers were experimenting with. Lots of heavy reverbs, delays and panning and just a touch of vocals really added excitement to sometimes standard dance mixes. Often the dub is preferrable to the vocal mix on the A-side.

The Rah Band were a British funk band from the 1970's who really
blossomed in the 1980's under legendary producer Richard A. Hewson (his initials form the R.A.H in Rah Band). Hewson released the cult classic 12" "What Shall We Do When The Disco's Over" on the Rinder and Lewis AVI label in 1978.

Released in 1983, "Messages From the Stars" is his true masterpiece. Unleashing one of the fiercest boogie synth basslines ever committed to tape on top of heavy drum machines, "Messages From the Stars" is tough to beat on the dancefloor. And yet the wistful female vocals and cosmic subject matter give it a softer edge that is irresistible.
On the b-side Hewson really lets loose and gives us just the hook of the vocals lovingly dubbed out while the drums delay and flange all over the mix. It's called the "astro mix" and it really takes you to outer space!

Rah Band "Messages From The Stars"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bollywood Boogie-Hazan "Get A Little Closer"

The record gods were smiling down on me last week as I found this 12" at the same thrift that brought me "The Toke Monster". As much as I love finding private press lps, my one true vinyl love will always be 12" singles. They sound better, they usually contain extended mixes, and they are a dj's number one tool.

This Hazan 12" looked like a gamble. I was intrigued by the song titles and the picture of the stylish couple on the back. And the fact that it is from 1983 is promising considering that much of my favorite music comes from that year. And yet, it could be some weird new wave or rock record. The duo looks to be of Middle Eastern descent, but the label is EMI out of London.

Luckily I didn't leave the record behind! The A-side "Dreamer Devane" is an extended dance mix that reminds me of Italo Disco from the same era. With it's arpeggiated synths and 4/4 beat this sounds like a lost WBMX classic. Perhaps "Bolly Italo" is a genre worth exloring more of?

My favorite track on the 12" is the last song on the B-side, "Get A Little Closer". This has all the elements of a classic 80's boogie tune: deep synth bass, muted guitar, synth swells, funky electronic drums, a touch of vocoder and a killer breakdown. And the best part is that it's essentially a dub mix with minimal vocals, but the vocals that are present are quite tasty. As the only example of Bollywood Boogie currently in my collection, I'm hooked and I want more!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Toke Monster and Hippie Disco

What is the Toke Monster? That's the question I asked myself when I found this record at a Goodwill in the Upper East Side. It
was sandwiched between tons of kids records and Pete Seeger Folkways albums.The only person pictured on the album is the kind grandfatherly man on the back cover. Drug songs and grandfathers don't usually go too well together...bu
t it was worth the $1 risk to take it home and find out.

WEBN is a radio station in Cincinatti that put out a string of records in the 70's and 80's to raise money and showcase local talent. Volume 1 is highly sought after for containing a rare track by Roger & The Human Body, a precursor to Zapp. Volume 3 doesn't boast such prestige, but it's not without it's charms.

Cut 2 on side 1 is "The Toke Monster" by a group called Venus. It's a fantastic track that sounds like Steve Miller at his "Macho City" funkiest. The production is top notch: saxophones sit on top of heavily chorused chunky guitar chords and biting guitar solos while a solid breakbeat carries the whole tune. But the best thing about "The Toke Monster" is it's lyrics. The singer seems to have a split personality about his drug has ruined his life and yet opened his mind. His smoking has made him so paranoid he wonders if the F.B.I. is listening to the song!

The rest of the record is a pastiche of generic rock indicative of what was filling the airwaves in 1978. But hidden on side 2 is Coyote's "With You In My Eyes". This gem contains elements of 70s rock and disco while dipping back into 60's hippie era to create something unique and definitely engaging. The song has the same forlorn 70's burnout vibe of Fleetwood Mac "Dreams" or Nicolette Larson "Lotta Love" but the male and female vocals sound like Woodstock flashbacks.

Both songs are good examples of Hippie Disco...a genre I am now coining will be exploring further here at The Toke Monster. Hippie Disco is music from the 70s that tries to come to terms with the disco production that was then all the rage while still holding onto elements of 60's songwriting and production. When it works, it works it works really well.

But back to the question...What is The Toke Monster? The Toke Monster has a voracious appetite for obscure music from the past and loves to have his mind blown by deep grooves. I'll be sharing records I find that I think The Toke Monster would approve of. Coming up next...Bollywood Boogie!