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.