25 April 2016, No. 152, People Under the Stairs, ‘Trippin’ at the Disco (DJ Day Does It Again)’

Of course when I promise the next track is so good it deserves its own post, it’s one of those tracks that isn’t already up on the web. This one was vinyl only, so I posted a low-quality excerpt on Soundcloud; we’ll see if it stays there. I think I did that once before for a different tune, but I haven’t gone back to check on that one, whatever it was. Anyway, DJ Day took a pretty great song and recast it with a backing beat from Gino Soccio’s “Try It Out” and in the process created a little magic. The original version of People Under the Stairs’ “Trippin’ at the Disco” is cool and all, but at No. 152, “Trippin’ at the Disco (DJ Day Does It Again)” is far superior. I even used it to title and kick off the last mixtape I made.

23 April 2016, No. 151, One Way, ‘Cutie Pie (Instrumental)’

I want to double up today because we had the vocal version of One Way’s “Cutie Pie (Instrumental)” on the list already. Why Serato thinks the instrumental is a tiny bit faster than the vocal version I barely even have a guess. No. 152 is too good to double-bill, though, so at No. 151 the instrumental version of “Cutie Pie” is about all you can ask for in a funky synth bassline. Doesn’t do that much else, but who needs it to? [Note that the featured video is not the actual instrumental B side of the single. Can’t find a video for that; too lazy to upload one.]

Edit: Having conducted further investigation, I don’t think there is an official instrumental version. The one I have that claims to be from a 12-inch single is the same as the loop in the video, I think; it’s missing a section or two from the legitimate backing track. The absence of an official instrumental explains why this edit floats around out there. And I guess Serato calculates the tempo to be a little faster with the vocal sections removed. Harumph. Careful what you download, hey?

22 April 2016, No. 150, Miami, ‘Chicken Yellow (Let Me Do It to You)’

I’d almost trade the free drums in “Chicken Yellow (Let Me Do It to You)” for a free snippet of that horn. Miami’s tune at No. 150 also features seriously heavily reverberating claps from time to time that are fun to listen to. I was reading a little bit about plate reverb units yesterday. I wonder if that’s what they’re using. Oh, and it seems production team Bomb the Bass already gaffled the horn lick for Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance,” along with the bassline and the drums. No wonder it caught my ear.

21 April 2016, No. 149, Le Pamplemousse, ‘Le Spank’

No. 149 marks the second appearance of Le Pamplemousse (French for “The Grapefruit”) on the list. “Le Spank” (French for “The Spank”) has a solid groove, decent horn licks, a dope synth-build kinda break, and some fun square-wave synth leads. Then there’s the clapping break with a cute(ish) portamento’d lead and a picture of a butt on the LP cover. This grapefruit don’t need no salt to make it sweeter. Spank it!

18 April 2016, No. 148, James Brown, ‘Funky President (People It’s Bad)’

I copied James Brown’s “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” from an Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilation LP, so my version is pitched up about a half step and sped up a beat or so per minute. This does nothing to diminish the funkiness of the cut. Get over before we go under at No. 148.

14 April 2016, No. 147, Intimate Strangers, ‘Love Sounds (TZ Intimate Strangers Edit)’

Almost too stringy, but Tim Zawada’s edit of Intimate Strangers’ “Love Sounds” is also too lovely to pass up at No. 147.

10 April 2016, No. 146, George McCrae, ‘Rock Your Baby’

What a pretty song is “Rock Your Baby” at No. 146 from George McCrae. This version I have in the list is a re-drum from a disco compilation, and it seems to be slowed down a little from the version in the featured video. Bringing it down to 103 bpm or so makes it that much cooler. Love that Fender Rhodes.

7 April 2016, No. 145, The Gap Band, ‘I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)’

I always want The Gap Band to sing: “How you gonna do it if you really don’t wanna dance / by standing on the wall,” but those Kool and the Gang lyrics didn’t come out until a couple years after No. 145 on the list, “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!).” Same key as “Get Down On It” too, but eight beats per minute slower. We’ll get to “Get Down On It” early in the 300s, but it seems I really want to talk about that song today. “Oops, Up” is a great tune, but that line in “Get Down On It”—“by standing on the wall”—has always bugged me a little. One can lean on a wall, but a wall is not a thing one can stand on. It occurred to me just now that maybe they were trying to verb the word bystander. As in, “No one’s dancing; look at all those people bystanding on the wall.” But then if we agree that one can bystand, is on really the preposition we want for bystanding in proximity of a wall? When I sing along, I sing, “How you gonna do it if you really don’t want to dance / standing by the wall,” with an eighth-note rest before standing, where by is supposed to go. Because I’m a jerk like that. And now that we’ve gotten real nerdy about the lyrics of a Kool and the Gang song merely brought to mind by today’s actual song, go and have a listen to the Gap Band tune and let the DJ in your mind mix in whatever song you think mashes up well.

6 April 2016, No. 144, Experience Unlimited, ‘Knock Him Out Sugar Ray’

The Dust Brothers sampled this tune for Beck, I guess, but I didn’t recognize it from “Where It’s At.” That sliding bass thing at the start is pretty cool, but I find the guitarist’s variations on the Westminster Quarters to be much more entertaining. Maybe for their incongruity? Having come out in 1980, this song is surely about “Sugar” Ray Leonard, not “Sugar” Ray Robinson. When I was a kid I had some boxing gloves with “Sugar” Ray Leonard’s signature printed on them, but I never learned to fight. Ah well. Here’s Experience Unlimited at No. 144 with “Knock Him Out Sugar Ray.”

2 April 2016, No. 143, ESG, ‘Everything Goes’

Since he published the first book (which I haven’t even read, but I have a nephew old enough now to buy one for), every time I hear “Everything Goes” by ESG, I think of Brian Biggs’ Everything Goes book series. If I get one for my nephew, maybe I’ll read it first before I pass it along. I grew up with Richard Scarry and Where’s Waldo books, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

And now that we’ve talked a lot about cool kids’ books by a fellow synth nerd and not much at all about No. 143 on the list, give it a listen anyway. Hey world…

1 April 2016, Nos. 141 and 142, Eddie Bo, ‘Showdown,’ ‘Funky Jam’

Because our list is ordered by tempo, multiple songs by a single artist tend to clump together. Serato thinks each of these Eddie Bo tunes is 102.52 beats per minute. My first thought was maybe they came from the same recording session, maybe even using the same metronome to count off or something. But I have these cuts from compilations, and “Funky Jam” isn’t the B side of the “Showdown” single on Discogs, so who knows whether my guess would hold up to scrutiny. In fact, it turns out “Funky Jam” is the same tune as No. 119, “Live It Up” by James K-Nine. The version I have of “Live It Up” is a different mix or master, but it’s the same tune recorded in the same session. Blame the folks who reissued this stuff on CD, I suppose. Anyway, “Showdown” at No. 141 and “Funky Jam” at No. 142.