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 use...it 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!