26 July 2016, No. 174, Silver Convention, ‘No, No, Joe’

Several times I recommended No. 174 to a guy named Samoan Joe who wasn’t really Samoan. The fat of his upper arms folded over and pooled around his elbows like a sumo wrestler’s. He claimed the two-tone tiger-stripe tattoo that trailed off at that same juncture was one he gave himself while high on LSD-25. Or, rather, he dropped acid having already started self-administering the tattoo, and the black ink lines’ wobbliness as they snuck under his sleeve attested he told the truth. I don’t think he ever listened to “No, No, Joe” from Silver Convention, even though I told him it was all platform shoes, lamé, and tolerable strings. Maybe I should have mentioned the cameo from Consuela, the housekeeper from Family Guy, saying, “No, no,” in the background. Anyway, the party’s over and I got to go. Don’t turn those lights down low. Mama don’t like it.

25 July 2016, No. 173, The Sequence, ‘Funk You Up’

The Sugar Hill template is to take a disco song, have the house band replay it, and get some dude from a pizza joint to rap over it, right? No. 173 from The Sequence shows it needn’t have shaken out that way. “Funk You Up” features women rapping over a probably original backing track; no one else gets writing credits, anyway, as Edwards and Rodgers did (eventually) for “Rapper’s Delight.” The Sequence also take that “do it, do it, do it” line from “Rapper’s Delight” and say it better than did Big Bank Hank or whomever’s on the mic for the “super sperm” brag.

This is also the origin of that “ring ding dong” bit from “Keep Their Heads Ringin’” by Dr. Dre, which is fun. Dre’s first line is a direct quote too. But my favorite thing by far about this song, better than the hook even, comes right before the fadeout when they sing, “Get up, get up, get up, get up, get up. Get up, get up, get up, get up, get up. Get up, get up, get up, get up, get up. Get up, get up, get up—sit back down.” Ha.

24 July 2016, No. 172, Rufus and Chaka Khan, ‘Ain’t Nobody’

The disco jams folder has a subfolder called “crowd pleasers,” but No. 172, “Ain’t Nobody” from Rufus and Chaka Khan, wasn’t in there. Now it is.

I remember trying to learn to play this song off the Breakin’ soundtrack LP and wrecking the train every time because I couldn’t find the one. Much easier to mix with some cue points marked in Serato.

By now I’ve got a 12-inch version. I wonder if it has a different intro. Probably not, since it’s still just 4:40ish. Ah well. Captured! [effortlessly]. But ain’t nobody loves you better.

23 July 2016, No. 171, Peter Brown, ‘Burning Love Breakdown’

I knew this groove when I heard it on the disco station in Grand Theft Auto IV. That little beep is unmistakable. But it took me a few more years to pick up a 12-inch “Do Ya Wanna Get Funky with Me” and realize that No. 171, “Burning Love Breakdown,” is the B side version. I’ve got four copies of the Peter Brown LP A Fantasy Love Affair, and the LP version of “Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me?” is about 30 seconds longer than the 12-inch version and pretty much contains “Burning Love Breakdown” in its entirety in the latter half of the tune. Also, I don’t know how I missed “Do You Wanna Get Funky with Me?” on this list, and I’ve added it retroactively. (It would have come in around No. 127.) The list isn’t closed, and it’ll probably see some additions in the evaluate/sort phase that has to follow when I go back to all those records I ripped but don’t want to own. But that’s for later. For today, I’m burnin’ up!

And here’s a buzzy homage/gaffle from Busy P called “Rainbow Man,” just for fun.

22 July 2016, End of For Sale

For a year now I’ve been making copies of records I don’t want to own. They are records I bought, a few I found, and a few that were given to me. Because they found their way into my stacks, I felt obligated to play each one once. And I figured if I were going to bother to drag a needle across each platter, I should play them into the computer while I played them at my ears.

I haven’t finished exporting the last few files, but there are about 2,100 discs taking up 125 GB in the “Records to Sell” folder of audio files. There are only 1,700 or so entries in the “For Sale” spreadsheet, though, plus about 100 45s, so I suppose I reclaimed 300ish LPs and 12 inches from the sale stacks after I’d already made the copies.

I bring all of this up because I ripped the last record today. Not the last record I own, but the last one I don’t want to own. Ask me what a Norman Luboff Choir record sounds like. I can’t put it in your hands, but I can play you the copy I made once when I had everything better to listen to.

The last record was better than a Luboff jawn, at least, and it forecasts a pleasant future for the ripping of the records I’m keeping. Here’s Mitch Ryder’s version of “You Are My Sunshine.”

21 July 2016, No. 170, The Members, ‘Boys Like Us’

It’s the whistling, for sure, but also the call and response bits—“Hey Members,” “Yeah?”—and the understated horns that make this tune happen. There’s also that high-pitched synth or organ floating around in there sounding like a piccolo to add some extra whistle. Take no pressure, cause no fight or fuss. There ain’t no flies on the “Boys Like Us” at No. 170 from The Members.

20 July 2016, No. 169, Maceo and the Macks, ‘Soul Power 74’

You could do worse for semi-free sax than No. 169, “Soul Power 74” from Maceo and the Macks. If I were going to use it, I’d probably try to cut around the claps just to be arbitrary. Far from needing to be flipped, though, this funky joint is fine on its own.

19 July 2016, Nos. 167 and 168, Indeep, ‘The Record Keeps Spinning,’ ‘The Record Keeps Spinning (Bonus Beats)’

Indeep has a better-known DJ jam in which the selector saves the singer’s life, but “The Record Keeps Spinning” at No. 167 is better. Just listen to the whoosh of white noise that leads up to every snare drum hit. It’s no wonder that No. 168 is “The Record Keeps Spinning (Bonus Beats)” with a “free drums no melody” note attached. It’s short, though, and has some rudimentary scratching toward the end, which is annoying. It’s also not already on the Internet, and I’m too lazy to post an excerpt, so you’ll just have to imagine the bonus beats track or buy yourself the 12 inch. Just be sure you wipe the lipstick off your shirt before you get it home.

18 July 2016, No. 166, Herbie Hancock, ‘No Means Yes’

Except to clear out a few obvious doubles, I didn’t edit this list of disco jams before I started writing it up. Which means that some of the tunes maybe shouldn’t have made the list for one reason or another, like No. 166, which isn’t quite lively enough. It’s a funky effort from Herbie Hancock, but it’s a little too chill. Also, it has an unfortunate title: “No Means Yes.” Start at 2:50 to hear what, in retrospect, I’m certain was my reason for throwing this tune in the crate. It’s like a bizarro “Holy Ghost” break with constant cowbell and that busy bassline always coming back to hit hard on the one. All right, “No Means Yes,” I see you have your merits. Maybe I’m coming around to your point of view after all.

17 July 2016

Today was maybe the 10th or 11th time I’ve thought of this song since I first heard it in 1999 on the evening jazz show on 88.1 WVPE. I was driving north through the industrial park in Goshen when it came on, and my right toes tapped a faint bossa nova bass drum on the gas pedal. The sun was setting over the college soccer fields past the train tracks on my left. For the next fifteen years, when the song popped into my mind it sounded like “The Girl from Ipanema,” but I knew it was about a little boat, not a girl, and last year I finally looked it up, found it, and forgot it again. Today I found it once more, and so “O Barquinho” as sung by Karrin Allyson makes its mark here, and this way I won’t forget it yet again and have to go looking through Diana Krall’s catalog before I remember it’s not her. Also something about how Rimbaud’s “The Drunken Boat” bobs like a cork and how there’s a weird passing mention of Rimbaud in Nathanael West’s Day of the Locust, but I think that free association’s neither here nor there.

16 July 2016, No. 165, Funkadelic, ‘You’ll Like It Too’

Sure, everyone samples this for the free drums, and they’re great, but I’m in it for the soaring synth that kicks it off and plays it out like laser beam eyes. Lens flare eyes. Don’t worry, “You’ll Like It Too” at No. 165 from Funkadelic.

15 July 2016

Off list today. Soon after we started dating, the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man” became my ringtone on my baby’s phone. Soon after that, she turned 30. It’s her birthday again, and sometimes it feels like nothing has changed. Happy birthday, dear!

14 July 2016, Nos. 164 and 180, Eddie Bo and the Soul Finders, ‘We’re Doing It (Thang) Pt. I,’ ‘We’re Doing It (Thang) Pt. II’

We’re doing two today, and they’re out of order in more ways than one. First, at No. 164, we’ve got “We’re Doing It (Thang) Pt. II” from Eddie Bo and the Soul Finders, and then we’re piling on the slightly faster A side of the same single, “We’re Doing It (Thang) Pt. I,” which is No. 180. I won’t make a habit of jumping ahead like this, but there’s a ton of Eddie Bo down in this tempo range, so why not? You’ll miss Mr. Bo later in the list. He doesn’t show up again after 119 bpm. But for now, hey everybody, we’re doing it! Doing what? The thang! Right on.

13 July 2016, No. 163, Chicago Gangsters, ‘Gangster Boogie’

These are my kind of lyrics. Largely free of other instrumental impediments, comprising only two words, and taking up very little real estate in the landscape of the song, they make one want to chant along. I forgot that No. 163, “Gangster Boogie” from Chicago Gangsters, shows up in LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” and I think I never even noticed it’s in Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story” for a bar or two.

Chicago Gangsters also have the slowest tune on the list and, as a consequence, are the group who kicked off this whole effort with “Your Self Conscious Mind” [sic] at No. 1. Don’t worry, though; this snake hasn’t eaten its tail yet, and there’s plenty more disco, funk, and soul to go, plus whatever else gets churned into the mix. We don’t hit 120 beats per minute until No. 632, so maybe in a couple years unless I get better about writing these every day. And sneak peek spoiler alert: The first 120-bpm tune at No. 632 is more synthpop than disco, being an edit of ABC’s “Look of Love.” Anyway, all of that is for the future. For now, boogie like a gangster and look forward to all the mid-tempo burners we’re doing before we get to the after-midnight jams.

11 July 2016, No. 162, Barrabas, ‘It’

If I were to keep any of these tunes off the list so as not to “give away secrets,” this might be one of them. It’s not like it’s unknown or comes from a rare LP or anything. It’s just not from the LP with “Woman,” so it doesn’t turn up much. That’s my theory anyway. But the synth intro can’t be stopped, and the vocals are fun before they sail too far into los mares de queso. All the vocals except the “we got to do it my way…I can take it all” section are acceptable, and future editors would do well to cut those bits out. But anyway, if “It” from Barrabas at No. 162 doesn’t make you wanna stomp across the floor, then your stompin’ days are surely over. Get on the one!

9 July 2016, No. 161, A. A. Wallace, ‘It’s Not Magic (AA Dark Balearic Edit)’

There aren’t too many mashups on this list, but this one uses the vocal from “Let No Man Put Asunder” (later for that one from First Choice at No. 651) and has a nice rock feel owing to the driving “Magic Man” guitar riff from Heart. Plus it takes the big Mimimoog solo from the tail end of “Magic Man,” shoves it right up front, and works it in throughout, thus cementing the place of A. A. Wallace’s “It’s Not Magic (AA Dark Balearic Edit)” at No. 161 on this list.

7 July 2016, No. 160, D Train, ‘Tryin’ to Get Over’

Until today I’ve always thought D-Train and James “D-Train” Williams were one and the same. Sorry, Hubert Eaves III, second member of the group D-Train. Eaves is the one in the group whose work I particularly admire, too, as he handled keys, bass, drums, and arrangements. The ill little boogie synth line and handclaps that start No. 160, an instrumental version of D-Train’s “Tryin’ to Get Over,” were probably Eaves’ ideas, not “D-Train” Williams’. Anyway, this isn’t the hottest D-Train tune, but the synth line will stick with you after it’s gone, and the horn flourishes are quite nice. If anyone’s interested, this comes from the B side of a “Walk on By” 12 inch, where it is not marked as an instrumental.

6 July 2016, No. 159, DJ Grand Wizard Theodore, ‘Subway Theme’

“You gotta write, you gotta do the action, man. You know, you gotta go out there and rack up…and be called an outlaw at the same time.” In that brief New York moment when no wave and hip-hop overlapped, we got moody little grooves like No. 159, the instrumental “Subway Theme” from the movie Wild Style. I prefer the documentary Style Wars, but I don’t think anyone ever released a soundtrack for that one.

4 July 2016, No. 158, Barry White, ‘It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me’

No. 158 is no paean to independence, but on our nation’s birthday I think it’s worth celebrating the unalienable human right to choose whom to lie down next to. Barry White’s “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me” [sic] does just that. Also, I never noticed before, but No. 149’s bassline and general groove are lifted from this tune.