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!

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