31 December 2016, No. 225, Barrabas, ‘Wild Safari’

Whoa oh oh, “Wild Safari” by Barrabas is No. 225. We had the funkier “It” at No. 162, and we’ll have David Mancuso’s Loft standard “Woman” in the low 500s. While “Woman” was the song that brought Barrabas to my awareness and made me buy Barrabas records, working on the eighth mixtape I came to love “Wild Safari” most of all. It’s one of those tunes that starts with a lone conguero (probably Tito Duarte), and then every sound that joins in just makes it better. Not a spoiler in the bunch.

The first time I saw someone mute and unmute a triangle in syncopated counterpoint to the rhythm he tapped on its side with the little steel stick, it was a pretty funky epiphany for me. Grade school triangles just went “ding,” but this one opened and closed like hi-hat. Now I hardly go anywhere without a drum line flowing through my fingers. The books on my shelves bear fingernail marks on their textblocks and spines. The edges of my keyboard are worn and pocked.

The triangle that joins the conga in “Wild Safari” is followed by the drum kit, mostly hi-hats, and then the first really promising payoff: “Way / oh way / oh way oh way oh way” the women’s chant fades in and doubles up in a higher register, boding well.

Then it stops and gives way to a staccato and mildly distorted guitar lick, which bodes less well. The guitar lasts more than a bar before the chants come back with “Ooh ha,” coed this time and reminding us there’s still something hot going on behind the organ-cooled rock posturing.

When the vocal kicks in with the verses, it’s mostly incomprehensible to me. Look up the lyrics. They’re vague, which I like, though this vagueness renders them unmemorable as well. Say elephants like buildings. And when the hook takes off, hold on.

I know it’s meant to evoke a jungle theme—“Wild Safari” and elephants and all—but the title brings to my mind The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ Safari” (the Jan and Dean version, actually), and when everyone in the studio joins in to sing “Whoa oh oh / wild safari …” it feels like the song is a surfboard cresting a wave rather than a jeep full of tourists waiting for wild animals to kill.

Say everyone is something. Say all the cars are roaring. Wave or safari, a good token of either type should bring you full circle to unload your stories and/or spoils. Whoa oh oh, “Wild Safari” by Barrabas is No. 225.

22 December 2016, No. 224, Average White Band, ‘Pick Up the Pieces’

Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces” at No. 224 is so pervasive in the popular culture that when I first came across it on a K-Tel compilation many years ago, I recognized it even though I’d never collected much funk music before. Probably because of its inclusion on pop compilations, it’s one of those go-to songs films use to represent a funky good time, and that’s probably why it rang my bell. Swingers, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Private Parts, Bowfinger, and Undercover Brother are all movies inclusive of the song that I would have seen before I started buying K-Tel comps. Not that I buy K-Tel comps anymore, cheap pieces of junk. But when I was first starting out, they carried the only James Brown cuts in the dollar bins. You find the funk where it festers, and then it follows you around.

There are other Average White Band (a.k.a. AWB) songs that are ill—“Cut the Cake” shows up on compilations sometimes too—but I haven’t added any of them to this list. I’ll put “Cut the Cake” on the next list. It has a nice open guitar intro, and I should remember to play it occasionally instead of always cueing up No. 224. AWB also has a sexy logo. The W takes the form of shapely hips and buttocks, and so does the B if one tilts one’s head 90 degrees…

The “Pick Up the Pieces” horn riffs are engaging from the start, and the structure of the song enhances both the effect of the variations and the satisfaction of the repetitions. The first section of the song is fourteen bars long rather than the expected twelve or sixteen, which enhances its attention grabbing. The horns are exactly two bars on and two bars off for ten bars, playing two phrases, the first of which repeats. In fact, the second bar of each two-bar horn riff is also repeated. At the conclusion of the third horn riff there are four bars of vamp instead of the usual two, and then the fourteen-bar segment repeats. At the end of the opening 28 bars, the horns soar higher than they have so far and attempt successfully to resolve the questions posed by the opening phrases.

Later in the tune the band chants the song title, but it’s unimpressive and seems tacked on, afterthoughtish, the only words left to say after every syncopated part has fallen into the groove. The directive is clear, but a question remains: If the pieces are that funky, can one even pick them up?

18 December 2016, No. 223, West Street Mob, ‘Monster Jam (Instrumental)’

Maybe because it sounds a tiny bit like “Good Times” with those three bass notes on the first three downbeats, I always think “Monster Jam (Instrumental)” at No. 223 is a cover or at least an interpolation of some other song. As far as I can tell, however, it’s an original composition from Spoonie Gee and The Sequence (and Sylvia Robinson, of course) that was attributed the next year to West Street Mob. You may recall The Sequence from No. 173, “Funk You Up,” which delivers on its titular promise tenfold. At least.

The instrumental version of “Monster Jam” I have is from the B side of West Street Mob’s “Let’s Dance (Make Your Body Move).” West Street Mob comes back to the list in the early 400s to deliver their favorite tune of mine, “Break Dancin’ – Electric Boogie,” which is really just an edit of the Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” with outstanding vocoding overlaid. Spin on your back and spin on your knees; stand on your hands and then freeze. “Break Dancin’ – Electric Boogie” also borrows “One for the treble, two for the time…” from “Monster Jam,” bringing this entry—as would a six-step or a backspin—full circle.

17 December 2016, WGRS Book 4

Warm Glow Record Show 4: Dance It Out is now a book as well as a mixtape, and you can get yours now!

You can also read about it here.

14 December 2016, No. 222, The Meters, ‘Stretch Your Rubber Band’

In addition to the “disco jams” crate I’m drawing from here, I have another Serato crate labeled “stuff not to forget about,” and that’s maybe where No. 222 should have wound up. There’s nothing bad about “Stretch Your Rubber Band” from The Meters, but there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it either, and the tunes in the disco jams crate are meant to be remarkable.

I compiled said crate over a period of ten years, so it’s only in retrospect I’m noticing things like maybe there are too many Meters songs on the list, or Todd Terje edits, etc. Ah well. Luther Vandross would say there’s never too much, though the song in which he says it is not on this list.

“Stretch Your Rubber Band” has a somewhat remarkable fuzz guitar tone that gives it a more rockin’ edge than other Meters songs that spring immediately to mind, so maybe that’s why it’s on the list. I’m always on the lookout for funky tunes with a rock feel to appease the “punk rock or it’s not music” attitude of my 13-year-old self.

Musically at least, No. 222 seems to have nothing to do with the much slower No. 28, “The Rubber Band” from Eddie Bo and the Soulfinders. Lyrically they share “stretch your rubber band,” and I’m not the first person to connect The Meters’ lyrics about a dance craze with the Eddie Bo record and conclude that there must have been a dance called “the rubber band” going around New Orleans at the start of the 1970s. 

Go ahead, stretch it out.

11 December 2016, Austin Otto’s Ostinati Vols. 1–3

Offered for your consideration, consumption, and convivial gift-giving are these Austin Otto books I’ve finally made available after sitting on them for a year. They’re not books, really; more like lovely gestures to give to people you care about. I’ll be giving them away for free on Monday and Tuesday, and while you can’t gift them to others during the free trial, it will give you a chance to check out the whole things with no risk. Granted there’s not much in the book one can’t infer from the free preview, but check them out anyway. Even if you don’t give them away, they make fine mantras to read to yourself too. Or if you get them while they’re free, you can count them as a gift and message from me.




10 December 2016, Mykel Board, ‘The Spoken Word’

How many records to file? Six hundred I think. Ah, nice, only 506. Getting the last of the records out of boxes and onto the shelves is the task I set for myself today instead of going out and buying more records. I want the new Common LP, and it’s been a long time since I went digging for real. I plundered some thrift store stacks when we were shopping for furniture for the new place and found a couple decent sides, but it’s been too long since I flipped through a bin of disco 12s and walked off with a stack of the good stuff.

Not going to the record store. Not going to the record store. Filing the records I already have. Right. But I saw a post on Facebook that recycles the slogan “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one,” and I got to thinking about a recording of a poem about that very slogan and the line of reasoning it represents. I couldn’t recall easily the name of the poet, the title of the poem, or the CD of mine from which it came; I only remembered a few lines from the poem, including “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.”

Along with the five boxes of records to I’ve yet to file, there are another five boxes of CDs stacked in the corner, and those poor things don’t even have a shelf to go home to, nor do I have a catalog of the CD collection yet, so the only way to figure out which disc I had that poem on it was to scroll through the “My CDs” crate in my Serato library. The poem I wanted was near the middle of the list on a disc called Less Rock More Talk from AK Press. It took hours to find, but I’m glad I found it, because Mykel’s Board’s poem “The Spoken Word” is better than I remembered.

Board opens by placing a drawn-out whine on the last syllable of each line in a parody of that ’90s spoken word style that’s now been peppered with more passion but remains pervasive in the scene. “The thing / I hate most / about spoken word / is that the guys who do it / always use this stupid voice. / They make it sound like every word / is important / and what they’re saying is so profound. / It’s as if they learned English from a cassette machine / where the little belt that moves the tape / is wearing out.” Hilarious and totally unrelated to the rest of the poem. In fact, in the next line or two Board says “so I’m not going to do it” and drops the shtick.

In addition to the poet, poem title, and CD title, I couldn’t remember how one could argue against that whole “don’t like abortion? don’t have one” line of reasoning without winding up on the wrong side of the issue, so I was heartened as I recalled the last lines while they played: “You don’t like murder? / Don’t kill anyone…. / That’s being ‘pro-choice.’ / Now, don’t get me wrong, / I’m pro-abortion. / We don’t have enough of them. / But I’m not pro-stupidity / or pro-cliché / or pro-thoughtlessness. / Abortion isn’t murder; that’s the key, / not that if you don’t like something evil you don’t do it. / A fetus isn’t a human. / Humans are born, that’s it. / A fetus is no more born than an appendix is born. / Abortion is no more evil than an appendectomy. / But bumper sticker brains are not going to solve the problem.” That phrase “bumper sticker brains” was one that jumped into my mind and sent me on my quest to track down the poem. Of course now that I’ve found it, I should probably start putting some records on the shelves.

9 December 2016, Hip-Hop Evolution

I feel like it’s been a long time since I went off book and ad libitum’d something, so I want to take a moment to plug Netflix’s Hip-Hop Evolution series. When I started playing records in public, I went for electro rap and gradually worked backward chronologically until I learned to appreciate disco rap and then disco itself. Chic’s disco jams may be the foundations of some foundational hip-hop, but it was that Kraftwerk mashup ish I was after. Both styles and universes of sample sources are covered in the first two episodes of Hip-Hop Evolution.

I haven’t gotten to episode three yet, but Couch Baughman is telling me I should put in some TV-watching reps when I finish the writing and digital bookbinding. (I’m coding Hangin’ Around in Limbo: Poems at the moment; formatting poetry in HTML for devices of varying size is annoying? fun? challenging? frustrating? Frustrating. Insert, courtesy of my father, a quotation from Lao Tzu about the smart reeds bending in the current or some shit.) Couch Baughman’s prescribed training regimen is grueling, so later I’ll do some reclining, unwinding, and TV mining, never mind bending in the current.

Actually there’s not much to mine from the first two episodes of Hip-Hop Evolution unless you’re unfamiliar with the intertwined histories of DJing and MCing. If you’ve read Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey (Brewster & Broughton, 2000), there won’t be much news here, but there’s nuance aplenty. Interview subjects include Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, Melle Mel, Kurtis Blow, Grand Mixer DX(S)T, Charlie Ahearn, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Jazzy Jay, Darryl McDaniels, Russell Simmons, and on and on. Various luminaries telling stories about how they came to build, in an ad hoc way, a huge chunk of the mainstream music industry. Worth your time, funky, and full of soul. Check it out.

8 December 2016, No. 221, Juice, ‘Catch a Groove’

I’m a sucker for samples from Beastie Boys records, but No. 221, “Catch a Groove” by Juice, is so slowed down in “Posse in Effect” that I think that association of mine must be somewhat subliminal. More familiar to me is the horn lick at the regular tempo from The B-Boys doing “Two, Three, Break” (not to be confused with DJ Born Supreme Allah’s “Two Three Break (Part II – The Sequel),” which doesn’t contain the sample but which does make extensive use of “Dance to the Drummer’s Beat” by Herman Kelly and Life; in this list “Dance to the Drummer’s Beat” shows up about five songs before the Teddy Pendergrass tune I’ll mention a couple paragraphs infra.) Or maybe I recognize “Catch a Groove” from “Bust That Groove” by Stetsasonic, wherein it’s deployed a little more clearly and closer to its original tempo than in the Beastie Boys joint. Thanks, Rick Rubin. Thanks, Prince Paul. Both records are 1986. I wonder who bit whom.

Apropos of nothing, “Posse in Effect” contains one of my favorite lyrics, a line that taught me about appropriate condimentation: “cheaper than a hot dog with no mustard.”

The horn lick that serves as a pickup to the break in “Catch a Groove” is distinctive for comprising sixteenth-note triplets. It squeezes seven notes into a small space, “beedle-y buddle-a bump,” with a nice sustain on the “bump.” All in a beat and a half. On the mixtape I used it to emulate some beat juggling, and it’s maybe my favorite part of that mix. Songs that sample the drums from this tune and leave out the horn are disappointing if you know what languishes on the cutting room floor.

“Catch a Groove” was written by Jake Riley, trombonist in the group LTD. LTD’s song “(Every Time I Turn Around) Back in Love Again” (a) gets stuck in my head unbidden sometimes, (b) enters this list 50 songs hence, (c) lends parts of its title to the titles of WGRS mixtapes 9 and 10, and (d) I often mistake for a Teddy Pendergrass tune because I’m thinking of “Only You.” I can’t explain that one to you; there are few similarities between the two songs. Not the parentheses in the LTD title, not the record labels, and not the tempos—“Only You” comes at us 500 songs from now in the 121-bpm range. The song’s keys are closely related but not the same, and whereas Pendergrass is pretty much shouting throughout, Jeffrey Osborne’s vocals on the LTD effort are only sparsely passionate, mostly in the choruses.

I used to own two copies of Osborne’s Stay With Me Tonight LP, but it’s not great and it’s worth less than $2, so they both went out the door after I ripped the nicer one for the archive. Luckier insofar as objects have fortunes, the spreadsheets tell me a 12-inch version of Osborne’s “The Borderlines” survived this year’s culling and move to Georgia. It’s not worth more money than the LP, so I suppose the only reason I kept it is my bias toward 12-inch singles. When I first started buying records with dance floors in mind, I wanted only LPs—more cuts for your money—but I came around to appreciating the advantages of the 12-inch single. I like quick mixes, but the advantages inherent in putting on an 11-minute extended remix and heading to the bathroom are undeniable. Now it appears I’m more likely to keep a 12 inch than a full length, at least in the case of Jeffrey Osborne’s output from the early ’80s.

You may have noticed I don’t have a ton to say about “Catch a Groove” itself. It’s a solid tune with fun vocals, cool wah-wah guitar, and sax work that includes the lead-in to that unmistakable break. Not much more complicated than that. Everybody catch a groove.

6 December 2016, No. 220, The Coup, ‘The Guillotine’

It ought to rumble the rooftops to rubble, but I can’t allow that from a humble JJC mixtape, so “The Guillotine” from The Coup at No. 220 can’t decide how loud it wants to be. I turn it up 1.3 dB in the mix, and that’s too much. Down to 0.7 dB over zero, but that seems too quiet (we’ve got 6 dB of headroom in the master, lest you think I’m just clipping and/or compressing everything). Anyway, I think I left it too quiet.

It doesn’t matter if it’s too quiet in comparison to the rest of the mixtape or even just the preceding song; the lyrical content is loud even in the confines of my text-only review. This is the voice of the popular vote, the masses, the hoi polloi hollering now louder than ever, “look in the sky, wait for missiles to show / It’s finna blow / ’Cause they got the TV; we got the truth / They own the judges, and we got the proof / We got hella people; they got helicopters / They got the bombs, and we got the guillotine / You better run.”

I appreciate the sentiment, but I can’t decide if pitting hella people and the guillotine against helicopters and bombs is inspiring or insipid. I lean toward inspiring, but the grownup in me wants to identify with my father telling my 12-year-old self to quit wasting my time with The Anarchist Cookbook.

On another grownup [read: nerd!] note, there’s maybe some interesting etymological work to be done on finna, fixing to, and fit to. One could start with “The History of Be Fixing To: Grammaticization, Sociolinguistic Distribution, and Emerging Literary Spaces” (Smith, 2009). One could, but I won’t. I’m much more interested in whether the backlash against the incipient (and totally insipid) supreme leadership will precipitate a class war, as forecast here by The Coup. Time to oil up l’old machine?

“Hey you, we got your war / We’re at the gates; we’re at your door.”


Powell, W. (1989). The anarchist cookbook. Secaucus, NJ: Barricade Books.

Smith, K. A. (2009). The history of be fixing to: Grammaticization, sociolinguistic distribution, and emerging literary spaces. English Today, 25(1), 12–18. doi:10.1017/S0266078409000030

4 December 2016, No. 219, Diana Ross, ‘Upside Down’

Excepting some Supremes stuff (because who doesn’t love that Motown sound?), No. 219, “Upside Down,” is my favorite Diana Ross song. I should look for (or make) an extended version or intro edit to add some kind of mixable just-drums thing to the beginning, since as it is it has only two beats of percussive guitar, I think that noise is. Rather than mixing in, it’s best just to slam the fader over on the one and let this one hit ’em full force.

There’s a video of Diana Ross inviting Michael Jackson onstage to perform this song with her. Jackson’s idolization of Ross is as evident in this video as his desire to use cosmetic surgery to make himself look more like her would become in later years.

“Round and round” never made much sense to me as a lyric alongside “upside down” and “inside out,” but now that I’m considering it, I suppose all three are phrases that work with the verb turn, as in, “Turn me upside down; turn me inside out; turn me round and round.”

Also, this song uses the word thee, which I find pretty hilarious in a disco number and which brings to mind a record I don’t have yet but know I need: Alec R. Costandinos and the Syncophonic Orchestra’s Romeo and Juliet LP. Once upon a time I borrowed a copy along with a big stack of other records, and for a month those records were the only things that kept me happy. Gwen McRae’s 1981 self-titled LP with “Funky Sensation” on it was another one. I need to track those records down and add the outstanding cuts to the new disco jams list. The Enigma Variations 2 2xLP was yet another from those stacks, featuring Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper making me feel at home with “Amsterdam Dog Shit Blues,” a couple Agent Orange tunes, Wire, Dead Milkmen, and even an SSQ song. “The Viper’s Drag / The Reefer Song” from the Broadway musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ 2xLP—another standout from that little library I left behind. Couldn’t keep any of the records from that pile, unfortunately, but I oughta buy the ones I liked.

Anyway, that’s enough longing; linger long enough on the lacunae and miss the other 6,000 LPs. Back to Diana Ross: Give your love instinctively, and may you never find yourself upside down, inside out, or going round and round—unless you want to, in which case, cherish the moments and play the field.

1 December 2016, No. 218, Rose Royce, ‘It Makes You Feel Like Dancin’’

Mixtape 8 in the series is chop-chop paste-pasting right along, and as I predicted, the mixtape production has outpaced the writing, which means I’ll need to write more often and adhere rigidly to the order I establish with the tapes. Ideally I’ll get into the daily routines of both writing about a song and adding it to the going mixtape, but in truth I think that would be more encumbrance than recreation, a fate that befalls anything enjoyable when practiced too religiously.

Or when played too often. I’ve got No. 218, Rose Royce’s “It Makes You Feel Like Dancin’,” running on a loop, and it’s less appealing each time. It doesn’t help that I’m looping the two-minute edit from the mixtape. Don’t let this detract from your willingness to give a listen. You don’t have to listen to the same snippet over and over unless you want to. If you do, I suggest choosing the synth solo. Listen to the effect of that LFO.

Another reason this song makes the list is that it announces the name of the group. “The group you’re hearing in the background is Rose Royce, Rose Royce.” This is especially useful in the sea of funk that is a WGRS mixtape. But then the guy announces that Rose Royce is “the people’s choice,” confusing because there’s another funk/disco group called People’s Choice. I thought I had a People’s Choice record, but I was thinking of First Choice, whom I always confuse with First Circle, which brings to mind both Third World and Inner Circle. That’s usually where the train of associations stops, except sometimes Inner Life and Inner City compose a little disco/house mashup caboose.

Rose Royce is certainly best known for “Car Wash” from the soundtrack of the film of the same name, but that song doesn’t make it onto the list. Pure oversight on my part, plus which I didn’t own a copy of that soundtrack until recently. I’ll add the title cut, with its infectious clap-clap clap clap, to the next list.

No. 218 makes you feel like dancing. Don’t it feel good to feel the funk? Come on, come on, shake your rump.

28 November 2016, No. 217, The Revenge, ‘Heavy Love’

The Revenge’s “Heavy Love” at No. 217 always brings to my mind another number we’ll get to in the 400s, “Heavy Vibes” by Montana Sextet. Both feature vibraphones prominently, but “Heavy Love” is built from Marvin Gaye’s “Heavy Love Affair” and not from the Montana Sextet piece.

The Revenge is an alias of a producer named Graeme Clark, who seems to have put edits into the hands of the best of the bunch: Danny Krivit, Todd Terje, and Bill Brewster, among others. Give a listen and it’s clear to hear why they were receptive. When the bassline finally breaks at the end of the third minute, all you want is for it to come back before the end. And it does. Feel the pain, then you’ll feel the very heavy love.

27 November 2016, No. 216, Mona Rae, ‘Do Me’

I’m pretty sure it was Mike Trombley who uncovered the label on No. 216 for me at his Paradise party in Philadelphia, and I’ve been playing Mona Rae’s “Do Me” regularly since then. All it took was that big, zooming synth that cuts through right before the vocal starts. The horn-like lead synth sound isn’t bad either, and I like the phase shifting on the rhythm guitar. The whole song is both relaxed and exciting simultaneously. Tee Scott has a “mixed by” credit here, and as I’ve mentioned before, we’ll get to “Tee’s Happy” by Northend in the mid-400s, which has a similar feel. At this moment, however, just give it everything you got; don’t stop.

21 November 2016, No. 215, Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, ‘Tramp’

The chronology is a little fuzzy here, but it’s a clean-shaven kind of clear that No. 215, “Tramp” from Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, is not the original. It’s a cover of “Tramp” by Lowell Fulson, which was released as a single and as the leading cut of an LP in 1967.

In 1966 Joe Tex put out “Papa Was Too” (which was No. 41 on our list), and that song also contains an accusation of tramphood and the response that, “well, papa was too.” Fulson’s “Tramp” is not an outright cover of “Papa Was Too,” and since songs are usually written and performed publicly before they’re recorded, the question of who inspired whom is open even though the Joe Tex record was first.

In 1968 an assemblage of studio musicians calling themselves The Mohawks put out “The Champ,” an instrumental cover of the Fulson tune. “The Champ” is coming up in the 400s and is maybe the most recognizable of the songs under discussion here, with an organ riff that’s been sampled everywhere.

Otis Redding, according to Carla Thomas in “Tramp,” was country, with his big old brogan shoes. In fact brogans are more like boots and have a construction similar to (yet simpler than) brogues. Redding was from Georgia and died at 26 in a plane crash. Maybe his ghost haunts Lake Monona, Wisconsin, where the plane went down, or maybe it tramps the Georgia woods in overalls and unkempt hair. Either way most of Redding’s stuff is a little too popular for this list, though I think I’ll add “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” to the next one, since even the current list has a “crowd pleasers” subsection.

This Redding and Thomas version of “Tramp” isn’t fully faithful to the Fulson original, and I’m happy to report Redding’s offer to replace minks and sables with squirrels, rats, and rabbits is wholly an invention for the new version. Plus Fulson had only three Cadillacs to Redding’s six and nothing in the way of Lincolns, Fords, or Mercuries.

But you’ll never catch either one in those continental clothes.

20 November 2016, No. 214, Orange Krush, ‘Action (Disco Version)’

No. 214 brings to mind one largely and one entirely dissimilar song. Maybe it’s because I live in Athens, Georgia, now, home of REM, but I can’t see this band name, Orange Krush, without thinking of the REM song “Orange Crush.” We are agents of the free, after all.

The other thing I think of when I hear Orange Krush doing “Action (Disco Version)” is the bassline from Keni Burke’s “Risin’ to the Top,” specifically as rearranged by Posdnuos from De La, which we covered at No. 74. Just the bassline, though, since “Risin’ to the Top” has an easy modern soul vibe while “Action (Disco Version)” is more of a party starter. Listening to the two back to back, it sounds almost like Pos had “Action (Disco Version)” in mind when he was cutting up the Keni Burke bassline for “Crosstown Beef.”

But we’re on Orange Krush, a group about whom I know nothing except that I have this single of theirs, “Action,” from 1982, that has ill open drums and credits one Russell Simmons with production and writing. Simmons would go on to cofound Def Jam with Rick Rubin the next year. Adding a little more faded star power to the (re)mix, the B side, which is the disco version we’re highlighting here, lists John “Jellybean” Benitez as creator of the dance mix.

The lyrical content of “Action (Disco Version)” (and the title, I suppose) brings to mind one more song, and since like REM’s “Orange Crush” the song likely won’t appear on the list otherwise, I’ll mention it here. Matty C’s “Action” is a great nu-disco adaptation of hairspray-era Poison’s “I Want Action.” There are some nu-disco tunes on this list, but I have another crate chock-full of those (though it ends in 2015; been busy doing other stuff and not collecting a lot of new music, clearly), and that’s where the Matty C tune is recorded for posterity. Maybe forever from now, when I finish this disco jams list, I’ll start on the nu-disco jams.

For now it’s No. 214, “Action (Disco Version)” from Orange Krush. And if you need a little more action, the first book in the Warm Glow Record Show series, Warm Glow Record Show 1: Your Self-Conscious Substitution, went live today. Get one now for $1, or wait and claim your free copy on Thanksgiving or on the black Friday that follows.

19 November 2016, No. 213, KC and the Sunshine Band, ‘Let’s Go Party’

Not to be confused with “Do You Wanna Go Party” from the LP of the same name, this is KC and the Sunshine Band with an album cut from their third full length, Part 3.Let’s Go Party” is a three-minute basket of boogie coming in at No. 213, and all it wants to do is go, you know, let’s party, let’s go get down.

In their typical fashion KC et al. eschew a chill, laid-back feel in favor of sending the horns almost over the top and offering up vocals that are little more than group chants, incantations calling forth tonight’s eponymous shindig and tomorrow’s and tomorrows’.

When trolling in the slower tempos, like in languid tropical waters, it’s good to play songs with lyrics about parties, getting funky, and getting down so as to remind people that the party poop deck on which they’re merely milling will fill up soon. So let’s party; let’s party. Let’s go, you know, let’s go get down.

18 November 2016, No. 212, Fred Wesley and the JB’s, ‘Watermelon Man’

I don’t think the Head Hunters LP version of “Watermelon Man” makes it onto our list, nor does the Mongo Santamaria Latin version, nor for that matter does the original Herbie Hancock recording of the tune from 1962’s Takin’ Off, his first LP. Instead we’ve got Fred Wesley and the JBs tearing it up again with their take on “Watermelon Man” at No. 212. Honestly (and obviously, if you’ve picked up on my proclivity for synthesizers), I like the Head Hunters version best, but I think I kept it off the list because the tempo varies too much. Or maybe it’s a simple oversight. I won’t correct it in this case because I fear the Head Hunters version is too slow, and we’ve passed its place already. I’ll add it to the next list. And it was “Chameleon” I kept off the list because of the uneven tempo, but maybe I’ll add that one to the next list too. Difficult to mix, but who doesn’t love a challenge?

17 November 2016, JJC Mixtape Archive 15 – Warm Glow Record Show 4: Dance It Out

I decided these little bits accompanying the releases of the mixtapes will constitute the introductions to the booklets I’m working on, so I’m being mindful now that I’m writing the front matter for a publication and not just an entry in a blog. It’s difficult to have much in the way of introductory material to write about the mixtape since the chapters in the book are all about the songs in the mix. Further, as I’ve noted before, the methodology for these mixes is pretty straightforward and maybe a little mechanical. Certainly formulaic.

I tried to recall whether any of the blends in this mix use novel effects, but nothing came to mind. Upon review I found a few. Some of the best ones I didn’t have to work for, like “Yaya” into “Funky Penguin” around 37:40. The mix into “Yaya” from “Disco-Fied” isn’t as good, even though it relies on the same technique. It’s always better to emerge from a swirling mess of sound and echo with something solid than it is to go from something straightforward into a big mess, even if the mess resolves into a beat pretty quickly. 

“Check Your Bucket” into “Keep on Moving” around 18:30 is pretty fun. I used the reverb to make Eddie Bo sound like he’s shouting from the bottom of a well. 

At 48:00 or so “Garden of Four Trees” ends with one of my favorite tricks from turntablism. I used the same “double ’em up instead of echo” technique on the first Dollar Grillz mixtape and at the very beginning of Warm Glow Record Show 3: It’s a Dance, Dance, Dance. Here I was unsure about leaving the dead cutoff, but I did it anyway the first time. Contrast that with the little reverb tail I added to the next stop and I think you’ll agree it’s fun to have both. “Garden of Four Trees” wasn’t mixing well with the next song, is why I ended it so abruptly, in case you were wondering.

“Superstition” wasn’t mixing well either, but I thought the results might be rewarding if I forced it, so I quantized the Clavinet and detuned it. Getting the tuning right was tough. It needed a semitone or two and a handful of cents before it sat comfortably in the mix. Then the mixtape almost goes out on a discordant snippet of “Superstition,” hinting that there will indeed be something to work out at the start of the next mixtape.

For now though, if it ain’t funky, don’t you know we can’t use it. Now.

Warm Glow Record Show 4: Dance It Out

What is this streaming crap? Give me my own copy.

11 November 2016, Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen has died. I didn’t care for him much on the page, but what a singing voice. I was surprised to learn of his death as I heard a review of his new album on the radio just last week. I stopped what I was playing at the gig last night and put on the live version of “Lover Lover Lover” from Field Commander Cohen. Then, to get back to the kind of mood I like more, I played a Cohen song I also like more: “First We Take Manhattan.”

“First We Take Manhattan” is not amazing as far as synthpop goes, with its swelling choral pads and gated reverb on the snare. And here’s more proof that digital synthesis didn’t help bass or horn sounds in the late 1980s. We forgive all of that to hear Cohen threaten a takeover of major metropolises. First Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

10 November 2016, No. 211, Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier, ‘Psyché Rock (Fatboy Slim Malpaso Mix)’

Malpaso is the name of Clint Eastwood’s production company, and I’m fairly confident No. 211, “Psyché Rock (Fatboy Slim Malpaso Mix)” by Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier, starts with Alessandro Alessandroni whistling an Ennio Morricone score from some spaghetti western or another, maybe one from the Dollars trilogy that made Eastwood famous.

The tumbleweed-woven beginning of the tune brings Firefly, the best space western ever, to mind because after the whistling ceases this number takes a sharp left into the retro future, being all Futurama from here on out. It has more of a campy, go-go ’60s vibe than does the 30-second Futurama theme, so it also brings Austin Powers films to my mind. The flutes are what does it, playing those little trill-like parts reminiscent of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s work in Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova.” And the organ riff and double-time tempo in the last minute and a half. And the 1967 release date of the original, haha.

9 November 2016, Do You Want Total War?

“Do you want total war?”

Yesterday too many people in the States said, “Yeah, that sounds pretty good.”
NON, “Total War

8 November 2016, No. 210, Freedom, ‘Get Up and Dance’

Kazoos! Here’s hoping my household will make some celebratory noise tonight after the election results are in. No. 210 is “Get Up and Dance” by Freedom, something certainly worth celebrating. This tune forms the basis of Grandmaster Flash’s “Freedom,” a tune I confuse with another of his, “The Birthday Party,” since both feature choruses of kazoos.

I promised the fourth installment in the mixtape series today, but because I haven’t yet written a satisfactory introduction to it, I’ll wait another week to release that properly into the wild. In fact it’s already out there, and you’ll find it easily enough if you go and look for it, but you’ll have to wait until next week to hear me drone on about it.

For now I’m back to hoping that after all the polls close we’ll have something to get up and dance about.

[Edit: smfh. At least you no longer have to wait for Mixtape 4.]

7 November 2016, No. 209, Earth, Wind & Fire, ‘Kalimba Tree (Todd Terje Edit)’

Blame MCC SELFHELP (later Ten Thousand Villages) and relatives with missionary connections to Kenya, Zaire (which is not even a place anymore), and elsewhere in Africa, because as a kid I often came in contact with mbiras on knickknack shelves, and I never thought too much of their potential. Thumb pianos were fun to screw around with, but I don’t think I ever really established a groove. Earth, Wind, and Fire, on the other hand, grew a whole tree’s worth of the things, and Todd Terje is back on our list to quantize and rearrange them.

In fact, lead singer Maurice White bought the trademark for a smaller version of the mbira, this tune’s eponymous Kalimba, after discovering it in the 1970s. Also running through this edit are more of those non-lexical vocables, not nearly as good as the ones in Earth, Wind, and Fire’s too-short (and not on this list) “Brazilian Rhyme (Interlude),” but then those are some of the best vocables, non-lexical or otherwise, ever committed to wax, so at least Maurice White (who died earlier this year) is competing only with himself in that regard. 

The Kalimbas in No. 209, “Kalimba Tree (Todd Terje Edit),” play a lightly syncopated sixteenth-note pattern that gives this mid-tempo song a frantic feeling, especially on top of the long and rather dark bass synth notes. A guitar playing distorted sustains that compete with the synthesizer’s frequencies before they drift into feedback and give way to a ringing sort of riff adds to the endarkened atmosphere.

There’s a slim chance the chants in this tune mean something in some language, but I’m doubtful. “Don’t Look Any Further” by Dennis Edwards gives me pause with its approximation of Swahili, and the “Brazilian Rhyme” refrain might have originated as a reference to the Brazilian state of Bahia, but I’m assuming singing in foreign languages is not what they’re up to here. Give a listen, and you decide.

2 November 2016: Mixtape trifecta

The Halloween dust has settled (I went as the DJ from Westworld, haha), but I’m still a little late with this mixtape post, having vowed to post one on Tuesday, and now it’s half past midnight Wednesday morning. Ah well.

I’m also taking the lazy way out and reposting the first three volumes of the mixtape series rather than taking the time to upload the fourth installment. Next week for that one.

Closer to triptych than triple threat, this trifecta of mixtapes is relaxed, slowish, contemplative, and makes nice background music if you’re busy or foreground music if you want to lie back and groove.

The next mix breaks the fall color scheme and gets all crazy marbled tie-dyed looking, and the fifth starts the winter colors with a dull, icy blue, which is to say you ought to get into the deciduous-hued warm glow of this trinity before it’s displaced by something frostier.

You might also want to note bene that volumes 2 and 3 are on Soundcloud as well as Mixcloud.

27 October 2016, Lotus, ‘Basin to Benin (ft. Soul Rebels)’ b/w ‘Tarot’

I finally got around to ordering a copy of Eat the Light, the double LP from Lotus, and Jesse Miller was nice enough to include a copy of the Lotus 45 “Basin to Benin (ft. Soul Rebels)” b/w “Tarot.” Of course, now I’m torn. The B side, “Tarot,” is literally more my speed at 105 bpm or so, compared with the uptempo “Basin to Benin” clocking in around 170. Those horns, though…

Soul Rebels Brass Band, featured on that fast-paced A side, are from New Orleans, and it looks like they recorded their horn parts there. Much credit to the Miller boys’ production skills, because it sounds like they could have been packed into the room in Fishtown featured on the Miner Street Recordings homepage, in which studio the B side “Tarot” was recorded. (Other acts that have worked with Miner Street include Cornerstone Jesus weirdos Danielson, Haus 409 friends Dr. Dog, and fellow Goshen High School alumnus Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks.) “Tarot” has big organs and bigger guitars, and a funky little portamento synth sound that’s thin and ringing in a good way—just makes the organ stabs seem that much fatter.

26 October 2016, No. 208, Convertion, ‘Let’s Do It’

I played No. 208, Convertion’s “Let’s Do It,” at the spot the other week and was worried for a second that old school Big Bank Hank-style rapping was going to take over the track—but then it didn’t. I like that style of rapping (and rocking the house) well enough, but unless it’s actually “Rapper’s Delight” (or “The Breaks” or another well-known example), people react to disco rap as though it’s a little too far beneath the level of sophistication they require in their rap lyrics these days. I hope that trend changes, but for now it makes me mix out of some joints a little more quickly than I’d like. I’m thinking specifically of the go-go juggler “Pump Me Up” by Trouble Funk, which I love to play, but I don’t leave it on long.

In addition to singing lead vocals here, Leroy Burgess worked with Black Ivory, Inner Life, and Aleem, among others. Antonio Ocasio, in the documentary Maestro, tells a good story about Larry Levan mixing Aleem’s “Release Yourself” with Prince’s “When Doves Cry” at the Paradise Garage, but that’s getting a little too far off topic. “Let’s Do It” has a catchy hook, cool synth pads and leads, and those super fake-sounding synth toms, pew pew pew. There’s nothing to it.

25 October 2016, JJC Mixtape Archive 14 – Warm Glow Record Show 3: It’s a Dance, Dance, Dance

Pete Burns from Dead or Alive died yesterday, so I spent the morning reading Wikipedia articles about goth culture and bands and such. Rather than going off book to post “You Spin Me Round” or “Brand New Lover” (to the latter of which I’m partial probably because I found the 12 inch in the dollar bins and I’ve never owned a “You Spin Me Round” disc), I’m forging ahead and posting another mixtape just like I did last Tuesday (and will again Tuesday next, I imagine). I’ve also begun making books out of the entries that correspond to the tracks that compose each mixtape, and I hope to launch some or at least one of those soon, so be on the lookout for that/those.

What to say about the third mixtape? As promised, it’s red. It’s close to 100, and it introduces itself pretty well. And it’s a dance, dance, dance.

I’m deep into making tape six now, so all I can think is “Help Is on the Way” and whatnaut. Mixed with turtles. Sound weird? Wait and hear harmonicas into holy ghost breaks. But that’s six and this is three. Give a listen. Whee!

Warm Glow Record Show 3: It’s a Dance, Dance, Dance



What is this streaming crap? Give me my own copy.

24 October 2016, No. 207, Claudja Barry, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance (Todd Terje Tangoterje Edit)’

Another tune so nice we’re rocking it twice. Claudja Barry is back at No. 207 (this time at bpm 107) with “Dance, Dance, Dance (Todd Terje Tangoterje Edit).” The tempo boost of eight beats per minute over the original isn’t what does it here, which is not to say anything bad about 107 bpm. I love 107 bpm. But the section Terje excises from this tune is a section I’ve always kind of hated. Or resented, maybe, is more accurate. The little bridge that starts “Dance away the clouds / The sun will shine again…” makes it so you can play only 2:20 of this song without having to mix out or use a second copy and/or cue points to edit on the fly. That bridge gets distinctly un-funky, and I appreciate the edit more than do bar and nightclub crowds, who by virtue of Terje’s patchwork remain largely unaware of what they’re missing.

I was going to announce this as the last Claudja Barry tune on the list, but then what about “Boogie Woogie Dancin’ Shoes?” In a rare instance, I’ve corrected an oversight and added to the list, and now the last Claudja Barry song sits at No. 937. Assuming there are no further corrections (haha), that’s where it’ll be when we get there. One day.

23 October 2016, No. 206, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, ‘Back It On Up (Luke Edit)’

Yet another funky jawn from Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, this time cut up and pasted back together by Luke the Knife from Lotus. At No. 206 it’s “Back It On Up (Luke Edit).”

Note: Edit starts at about 11:15 in Luke’s Mix 8 – Heavy Handed Funk.

19 October 2016, No. 205, Adriano Celentano, ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’

I like songs with vocals that aren’t language. Non-lexical vocables seems to be the term, but that mostly refers to scatting and “ooh wee ooh, la la la” type noises, and that’s not quite what I mean. I’m talking about more guttural nonsense like e.g. the caveman bits on the Tubular Bells LP or “Seel Hole” from Download’s beautifully jarring Furnace LP. I’ve been told I ought to listen to Sigur Rós, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

Far from being some kind of made-up emotive thing, though, today’s tune features a lingua phony that’s meant to sound like English. It doesn’t, really, except for that one line that ends with the word girls, and there are other actual English words interspersed. All right is a refrain, and he says baby once or twice. Plus which “Prisencolinensinainciusol” from Adriano Celentano occupies the No. 205 spot in edited form, and the GW Ruff Edit includes some added English extras courtesy of Instant Funk, ending with the chant from “I Got My Mind Made Up.” Say what?

18 October 2016, No. 204, The Undisputed Truth, ‘Method to the Madness’

Undisputed truth is something you pretty much can’t find anywhere anymore in our age of global connectedness. There’s always a naysayer nattering somewhere, no matter the topic. Usually it’s me. But this time I’m tryna tell ya, there’s a method to the madness. It’s the truth, it’s the truth (undisputed).

No. 204, “Method to the Madness,” The Undisputed Truth.

17 October 2016, JJC Mixtape Archive 13 – Warm Glow Record Show 2: Synthetic New Day

Just because I opted not to drop these all at once doesn’t mean you have to wait too long for the next one, especially so long as I’m ahead of the game productionwise and have these things waiting in the wings. Any day now I’ll start working on the sixth installment, and if I keep up the pace at which I’ve been working, I suspect that Warm Glow Record Show 7 or 8 will catch up to the writing. I also thought the color scheme was appropriate for fall and for “warm glow”; the next one’s red.

Warm Glow Record Show 2, Synthetic New Day



What is this streaming crap? Give me my own copy.

15 October 2016, No. 203, Trouble Funk, ‘Drop the Bomb (Part I)’

Trouble Funk is great, and two of their tunes are on this list because the songs are funky and fun to play out: “E Flat Boogie” may have made the list because I’m always on the lookout for slower joints that aren’t actually slow jams, and “Pump Me Up” is another beat juggling practice jam introduced to me by Ken Raw. Unlike those two cuts, “Drop the Bomb (Part I)” at No. 203 is here mostly because it contains one of my favorite samples, and one of the Beastie Boys’ too, apparently. I was thinking of “The New Style” (from Licensed to Ill) when in my notes I wrote down “cf. Paul’s Boutique,” and it turns out I wasn’t wrong, exactly, since a transformed version of that big synth slide is a main feature in the beat from “Car Thief” on the Beastie Boys’ sophomore effort.

Note that the featured video is for the LP version. I can’t find the “(Part I)” variation from the 12 inch on YouTube, but the LP version has all the good stuff too, so it should be fine.

13 October 2016, No. 202, Syl Johnson, ‘Different Strokes’

As far as I can tell, the Ultimate Breaks and Beats version of No. 202, Syl Johnson’s “Different Strokes,” is identical to the seven-inch version, which is not the case with many Ultimate Breaks and Beats songs, but I guess this song didn’t need any extra looping to point people toward the sampleable bits.

And sample bits they did, but everyone latched onto the break and the grunts at the front. Until RZA. Thanks to Mr. Diggs’ looping, I can’t hear anything but Wu-Tang’s “Shame on a Nigga” when those five horn stabs hit, and that’s okay because this is one case in which I think the interpolation is as good as or better than the source material. What the interpolation is not, however, is “safe for work,” so don’t blast Ol’ Dirty Bastard rhyming diarrhea with gonorrhea if anyone who takes decorum seriously happens to be wandering by.

12 October 2016, No. 201, Sweat Band, ‘Hyper Space’

I imagine Fred Wesley saying to Bernie Worrell, “Hey, make that synthesizer sound more like a horn section,” and so we get the un-Horny Hornsified first cut on the Sweat Band self-titled LP, “Hyper Space,” which also occupies spot no. 201 on our list. That slowly opening filter envelope that makes a “fwah” synth sound reminds me of the vamp that opens No. 149, “Le Spank” de Le Pamplemousse, but on closer listening, the sounds aren’t so similar after all—aside from the fwah.

I don’t like the part of this song that starts near 0:40 and recurs periodically. Maybe when it comes time to put this on a mixtape I’ll edit around those sections. Probably not, though, since this tune doesn’t have a lot of diversity in terms of what’s going on. Plus the Clavinet and the synth have an interesting call and response lead happening over that chord progression, and I wouldn’t like to leave that on the cutting room floor.

11 October 2016, JJC Mixtape Archive 12 – Warm Glow Record Show 1: Your Self-Conscious Substitution

I was very excited to hurry up and write about No. 200 on the list so I could then release a triumvirate of these mixes, but I’ve decided against putting out a block of them all at once. Who has a whole hour to listen to a mixtape these days, let alone three hours—or even four hours? Because I’ll tell you, I’ve got four of these things packaged and ready to go.

One thing I noticed putting them together over the last few weeks is that making mixtapes in this way, with no consideration for the order of the tunes except for the order in which they appear on the list, starts to feel quite mechanical and repetitive. Insert song, match beats, set fades, apply EQ and effects, edit to two minutes, rinse, repeat.

On the other hand, I’ve been listening to these mixes a lot, and the finished product is immensely enjoyable, so I’ll keep doing it. The mixtapes may eventually catch up to the current entry in the Record Show, and I don’t know what I’ll do then. Just have to write more, I guess, and actually follow through when I say I’ll do it every day. Ha!

Anyway, here’s the first mixtape in the Warm Glow Record Show series. It makes excellent diegetic background music in the movie of your life, and it stands up pretty well to active listening too.

Warm Glow Record Show 1 – Your Self-Conscious Substitution


What is this streaming crap? Give me my own copy.

10 October 2016, No. 200, Stevie Wonder, ‘All Day Sucker’

With today’s tune I don’t have yesterday’s problem. That is, I see the title “All Day Sucker” at No. 200 and I know exactly which Stevie Wonder tune it is. Probably because the hook follows a rhythm guitar line pretty precisely, though it could be the Clavinet playing that line; I’ve learned recently that the Clavinet plays wound strings in the same manner a guitarist performs a hammer-on, but I’m pretty sure the line I’m talking about bears the plucked character of a string picked with a plectrum. (In the same manner that I may be confusing a guitar for a Clavinet, I often confuse the words plectrum and plenum.) Obviously there was plenty of multitracking on this tune, but I’ll also point out that there are three guitarists credited, one lead and two rhythm, but only Stevie himself was handling keys, making it seem even more likely to me to be a guitar part. And there’s a little pitch bend on the last note, but apparently there’s also a Clavinet modification that adds a whammy bar. I hope it’s Michael Sembello (later of “Maniac” fame) laying down the plinky little guitar groove to which the refrain conforms. (Interestingly enough, Sembello has one of those Castlebar Clavinets in the “Maniac” video I was watching. Huh. Wonder if it’s the same one George Duke is shredding in another video I found.)

I always thought the vocal refrain was “all day sucker [now] for your love” or that now was girl, maybe, or some other single-syllable filler word, or even a rest in the vocal line. In looking up the lyrics, however, most sources have it as “all day sucker cup for your love.” Sucker cup? Like a suction cup? In my mind the metaphor’s vehicle is an enormous pinwheel lollipop. Not that the lollipop version of the metaphor makes much sense, but y’know, poetic license or somesuch.

Turns out the etymology of sucker as someone with an overabundance of credulity is far from clear. My favorite explanation is that it stems from the “pig in a poke” con, in which the mark thinks he is purchasing a suckling pig but in fact buys a cat in a sack. This con may also be the origin of the idiom “let the cat out of the bag.” We’ll have to settle for letting the sucker cup out of the bag. The lucky thing is it sticks around all day.

9 October 2016, No. 199, Stevie Wonder, ‘I Wish’

Sometimes Stevie Wonder’s tunes’ names bring to my mind neither the groove nor the melody. Regarding No. 199 (the first of a Stevie double header due to the same Serato quirk that lumped the last three P-Funk tunes together), the title “I Wish” doesn’t quite do it for me. I have to look at my notes that say “sneakin’ out the back door” and “those things,” and then I’ve got it. I blame the prominence of the lyrics “those things” and the unaccented “I wish” for my imperfect recall. The same features make me associate the song with Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing),” Faze’s “The Things You Do,” and a third song that I suspect doesn’t exist and may just be an as-yet unrealized mashup of the Hill and Faze tunes.

7 October 2016, No. 198, Sazon Booya, ‘Mujeres’

What do you get when you mix Dutch house and reggaeton? A new genre! I didn’t get deep into moombahton, but I have friends who produced a fair amount of it, so I’ve got moombahton tracks lying around. The super soulful vocal sample here pushes No. 198, Sazon Booya’s “Mujeres,” over the genre line and onto our list.

I don’t know the guys who composed the group Sazon Booya (and even just recently learned that Sazon Booya was [a] a duo/trio, not an individual, and [b] a play on Sazón Goya, which I’ve never tried, but I gather this bouillon is the secret weapon of Latino cuisines). Skinny Friedman knows them, though, so I sent a message to Joshua Vega to see if he’d reveal the sample source in “Mujeres” because I’m stumped. It’s something I should probably know, but how is one to learn if one doesn’t ask? No response yet, though. If he gets back to me, I’ll update here.

Edit: It's "There's Nothing in This World That Can Stop Me from Loving You" by Tom Brock. I'd have known this had I been listening to Jay-Z along with the backpacker hip-hop I liked in 2001. I heard Jay-Z's "Girls, Girls, Girls" the other day and it all came together.

4 October 2016, No. 197, Parliament, ‘Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)’

Maybe I take back all that stuff I said about “Flash Light.” Maybe No. 197, “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk),” is the definitive Parliament song.

I think I first saw/heard Parliament in 1994’s P.C.U., in which I identified most with Jon Favreau’s character, and he was the one who ran into and recruited Parliament to play the pivotal party. In an unrelated note, before I saw the song’s title in print, I always thought they were saying “give us the funk” instead of “give up the funk.” I believe I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I mostly don’t pay attention to lyrics.

I generally double-check the song titles when I’m writing these things so as not to introduce errors, and in checking today’s title I realized that the LP version of this tune has the title and subtitle reversed—“Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)”—and is a couple minutes longer. The version I have on file is the seven-inch version, so that’s what we’re reporting here. It’s a real type of thing.

2 October 2016, No. 196, Parliament, ‘Flash Light’

By total coincidence, our three P-Funk tunes are in reverse order both chronologically and as ranked by peak chart position on the Billboard Hot 100. Yesterday’s “Aqua Boogie” was the most recent of the three singles to be released and topped out at No. 89 on the main Billboard list (though it hit No. 1 on the R&B chart).

Today’s cut, “Flash Light” at No. 196 on our list, is the most recognizable Parliament song, and the charts back that up pretty well. Tomorrow’s tune hit No. 15 on the Hot 100, whereas “Flash Light” achieved only No. 16, but “Flash Light” was No. 1 on the R&B chart while tomorrow’s joint climbed to the five spot and no further. When I think of the Parliament song that everyone knows, I think of this one. I’m odd, though, and probably wrong on this count. The Wikipedia page for tomorrow’s tune has a way longer “in popular media” section than does the entry for “Flash Light.”

Bernie Worrell, not Bootsy Collins, covers bass duties here with a bunch of Minimoogs. Worrell died earlier this year, but having achieved Funkentelechy long ago, he’s now sweeping filters and bending pitches in the stars.

Grab your bop gun and we’ll go fight the spread of unFunkiness under Sir Nose’s Placebo Syndrome. Everybody’s got a little light under the sun. Even the Philae lander on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko gets shined on once in a while.

1 October 2016, No. 195, Parliament, ‘Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)’

I’ve mentioned that this list is ordered by tempo, and it turns out that this is only mostly true. I’ve noticed a quirk of the Serato software I used to do the ordering: Songs with a given whole-number tempo (112 bpm, for instance), are alphabetized by artist. The actual tempo values in the ID3 tags include two decimal places, but when I sort for the tempo field, Serato disregards those precise values in favor of alpha by artist. So while I’ve said in the past that the list is ordered by tempo, it’s more accurate to say that the songs are grouped by tempo and ordered alphabetically within each group. All of this is to explain why sometimes there are multiple tunes from the same artist back to back. I think the worst example is four tunes in a row somewhere in the 120-bpm range, but we won’t get there until next year at least. Maybe not even next year.

And but so at No. 195 is the first of three consecutive Parliament jawns. “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)” seems to be about a hydrophobic dude with pitch-shifted vocals. And “psychoalphadiscobetabioaqua” makes sense enough to me, but what’s a “doloop?” Is it like a doo rag? A Froot Loop? Listen and let me know if you figure it out.

30 September 2016, No. 194, Marvin Gaye, ‘‘T’ Plays It Cool’

Not to be confused with “Tee’s Happy,” the B side of Northend’s “Happy Days” 12 inch and No. 467 on our list, today’s tune is from a movie I’ve never seen. Now that I know Marvin Gaye composed the score and the soundtrack for Trouble Man, I may check it out. No. 194 is “‘T’ Plays It Cool,” and for my taste it’s a little too laid back to be the second cut on an LP, but that by no means disqualifies it from our list. Bolsters its presence, in fact, since having some lower-energy tunes in a long set is always a plus. People need to order drinks and go to the restroom, talk to one another and be heard for a few minutes. After laying down a mushy Minimoog texture (the synth itself a gift from Stevie Wonder), Gaye’s staccato pecking with a quick decay on the filter envelope builds enough steam to support Trevor Lawrence’s sax solo, which while climactic still plays it relatively cool.

The character Mr. T in Trouble Man has nothing to do with bouncer-turned-bodyguard-turned-actor Mr. T, who in 1972 was either in college or the Army and whose acting career didn’t commence until the 1980s. While looking into this, I learned that the real-life Mr. T’s signature gold jewelry started as a collection of items lost on the dance floor and in fights at the club where he was a bouncer. I guess many potential claimants decided not to bother when they saw such an imposing lost and found.

Back to the record, if you listen closely there are pretty distinct, heavily reverbed hand claps throughout most of the song, and I picture Marvin Gaye standing near a microphone, clapping along to whichever elements they’d tracked so far. I like to imagine it was in a big echo chamber, not done with a plate reverb, and that’s possible since it was recorded in an L.A. film studio. Mean sax solo notwithstanding, this tune gets a “funk/chill” designation in the genre ID3 tag, and I think you’ll agree that it’s both.

29 September 2016, No. 193, Instant Funk, ‘Philly Jump’

I don’t know if No. 193, the “Philly Jump,” was a dance craze that ever caught on, but it did ride a promotional wave of killer horn licks and a catchy refrain courtesy of Instant Funk. I also don’t know if it’s apparent or not yet in the record show that I’ve got an affinity for songs that call out the names of cities I’ve lived in or near, and this one calls out West Philly in particular, which garners it extra points. I’d take more synths, but the tune is sufficiently funky without, so it makes the list. Get down with the Philly jump, woo-ooh.

28 September 2016, No. 192, Hot Chocolate, ‘You Sexy Thing’

We’ve been off the list for a long time writing about other records, and it feels strange to come back without having reported on all the mixtapes I’ve got up my sleeve, but I’m still putting the finishing touches on, and we’re building suspense, right? Like a novel in serial.

We’re coming back to the list on a high note, like we really did believe in miracles. It’s the “sexy thing” part of the song that rings truer, though, and boosts every listener’s ego.

No. 192, Hot Chocolate, “You Sexy Thing.”

27 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 11 – Trippin’ at the (Nu) Disco

Trippin’ at the (Nu) Disco
July 2014

When I made this mixtape I selected tunes that were already at least five years old to raise the point that this “nu” disco thing wasn’t even all that new anymore. It’s not a point I care deeply about, but all the kids in my town were acting like Daft Punk invented a new genre with “Get Lucky,” so I wanted to put out some old favorites from the “nu” genre. I think one day it will all just be disco, cf. rock and classic rock and how the timeframe for that rock which is ‘classic’ is constantly creeping forward, staying about ten years behind the contemporary stuff.

A few tunes on this mixtape sort of push at the boundaries of the genre. There’s a strong rap vibe in the first half thanks to remixes from DJ Day, DJ Apt One, and DJ Ayres, and I think the Trans Am, IQU, and Matmos cuts wouldn’t have been labeled “nu disco” when they came out. !!! maybe, and DFA. Not that genre boundaries are super important to me; there’s probably stuff on here people would argue doesn’t fit at all. Spoon we could argue about, or Apt One’s all-electro Debbie Deb x DJ Mehdi mashup.

This marks the end of an era of JJC mixtapes, and now I’ll go back to writing the regular record show. Believe me I’ll write it daily because I’m excited to hit No. 200 and then drop the new mixtape I’ve been working on. There may even be more than one.

26 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 10 – Pepsi

June 2014

There are some great tunes on this mixtape, some of the best of any of these mixtapes, but it’s a lazy mixtape. Fich told me once to play my records longer and let them do the work, and that’s what I was doing here: taking a long, lazy approach to mixing. It’s as if a broad, general view of things really is what’s called for in the end.

23 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 9 – Android Love Sensation

Android Love Sensation
August 2013

This mixtape starts with a cut from the only CD I’ve purchased for its retail price in a long, long time. Why the CD? I generally don’t pay real money for rare records, and this Disco Dream and the Androids CD was remastered and put out by the artist directly, so I went for it. (I think you can still get one too.) I’m glad I did. The tunes from this CD, “Disco Robots” from Superfunk, and “MYB (Move Your Body)” from Oliver were the main things I wanted to showcase, and I think without the Disco Dream and Androids disc, I might not have made the mixtape.

I’m not sure why I kept the mix so short. Matches my attention span, I suppose. This is also maybe where the naming convention I’m using for the new tapes started. Take a word or phrase from the first song in the mix and mash it up with a word or phrase from the last song in the mix. I’m not the first person to have named things like this, I know; I think it’s actually a pretty stock convention of the mashup genre, which is why I wrote “mash it up” up there, plus I loved the Mash It Up ska compilations when I was a teenager. The jackin’ disco robot jams on this quick dance mix are a long aesthetic way away from Mr. Cranky, but hey, my taste contains multitudes, as do I.

21 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 8 – Strictly Commercial

Strictly Commercial: Featuring 35 Top Dance Hits
October 2012

When I moved back to the States from Indonesia, I was excited to find some smaller rooms in which to play funkier music. The town I moved to wasn’t awesome, but it had a few venues, and I glommed onto the gay night at one of them and resumed purveying the kinds of tunes I usually write about here on the record show—dusty disco, funk, and soul. I was glad to get away from the kind of stuff that’s on the last two tapes.

A few weeks into my new residency, which the bartender let me name “Agenda,” one of the regulars came up to the booth and said, “Don’t you ever play anything new? Anything that’s on the radio?”

She wanted to hear Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt” and “Headband” from B.o.B., so I begrudgingly started going through the Billboard and Beatport charts and pulling out everything that was tolerable. I also found a few standouts that are actually pretty good, especially because a lot of deep house and nu-disco in the Beatport chart was sampling stuff that’s really good. I suppose it was worth it. Parts of the crowd were pleased, and the dancing got pretty dirty for a well-lit bar on a weeknight. Nevertheless, those hours I spent dropping a needle on every tune in those charts are hours I won’t get back. And if there are any hours I can get back, here’s hoping they’re not the ones during which I listened to even 10 seconds of Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, or Kenny Chesney.

Like many products for the mass market, some of this music is disposable. It has big, layered sawtooth synth leads and hard-hitting bass sounds, but that’s about all there is to recommend it. All of these tracks (except the ODB a cappella in the intro mashup) I pulled from the Beatport Top 100 and the Billboard Hot 100, hence the mixtape title and soulless ephemerality of some of the selections. That said, this mixtape comprises the best stuff I winnowed from the charts, and the transitions are exceptional when compared to the preceding live mixes I did in Indonesia, since blending these records in Ableton is a lot like snapping LEGOs together. I couldn’t help but give it a snarky name and a generic, UPC-inspired cover. Of course, it’s a mere four years later and already I’m feeling a little nostalgic for some of these insipid tunes. Well, whatever. Bubble gum tastes good too.