WGRS Mixtape 7 on Soundcloud

That's it, really. Now you can listen to Warm Glow Record Show 7: Mind the Psyche, 105-107 bpm on Soundcloud.

WGRS Mixtape 4 on SoundCloud

I've been on a summer break of sorts, and I still am, but in the spirit of gearing back up for something like more regular posting, here's the re-release of Warm Glow Record Show 4: Dance It Out, 99-101 bpm on SoundCloud.

8 June 2017, Oh my, Omar

Omar has died. Long live Omar!

West Philadelphia will never be the same, but it was all illusion and conspiracy to begin with. From Disney World to Dahlak, his trip wasn't long enough. He called me Jesse James Christ Born Pilot, and I miss him already.

4 June 2017, Deb Talan, "Bring Water (JJC's F-Word Re-Drum)"

SoundCloud has been unaccountably kind to my Asaf Avidan edit, but the copyright protection filters simply wouldn't let this one through. Guess not everyone likes a promotional leak. We'll see how long it stays on Mixcloud. [Edit: It stayed on Mixcloud for about two minutes. Zippyshare it is. Bonus? Download it!]

Here's my re-drum for the F-Word of Deb Talan's "Bring Water" from her record Lucky Girl.


WGRS Mixtape 3 on SoundCloud

The third mixtape in the Warm Glow Record Show series is now available on SoundCloud, so give a listen there if SoundCloud is your app of choice.

29 May 2017, The Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach 2xLP

The Eat a Peach double LP from the Allman Brothers is hot. Too hot for the unattenuable preamplified analog signal going into my turntable’s built-in analog-to-digital converter and out via USB. This is no good. I can’t have my archival recordings clipping. I even tried a quieter stylus, but that only brought the level down a little, and it was still clipping in Audacity and Ableton. Now I’m bypassing the turntable’s ADC and sending the analog signal from the turntable into my Tascam audio interface, but this brings me back to the several problems I was trying to avoid when I decided on the turntable with the built-in ADC with USB output. I won’t go into those problems now, but the upshot is that unless Eat a Peach is an anomaly gainwise, I may be back on the market for a turntable and/or an audio interface better suited for both attenuating and boosting a stereo signal.

Eat a Peach is among a selection of Allman stuff I keep around because my dad likes it. Or liked it. Or owned it, anyway. As a kid the artwork inside the gatefold sleeve was more interesting to me than the music, and I don’t have distinct memories of the record playing, only pulling it off the shelf to look at the fantastically sized fruit in the flatbed and the naked lady in the sky. My dad was playing mostly classical on vinyl by the time I was old enough to dig through the stacks, since most of the new stuff was coming into the house on tapes and later CDs. By that time maybe The Allman Brothers seemed to my dad like a throwback to a more freewheeling time in his life. Even though it’s lyric-less, I bet he played “Little Martha” when he was courting my mom.

When I put the record on today, I expected more blues than country, but even more than either of those influences I heard a jam band like the ones I avoided in the 1990s. I should have known since the second side of each disc is taken up by what is presumably an excerpt of a much longer “Mountain Jam.” The jam is bluesy, but it’s also prog-y and fusion-y and not very country. Dicky Betts gets his down-home licks in elsewhere on the first sides of the discs, and that’s something to look forward to when you’re jammed halfway up the mountain on one of the flipsides. If you’re like me, during the 19- and 15-minute mountain jams, you look over at the turntable to see how far from the runout grooves the stylus still lies.

The C side (Side III on my copy) is where the blues really come to the fore. “One Way Out” is a cover of a Sonny Boy Williamson tune and is particularly good. “Blue Sky” meanders back into jam band territory with a strong country feeling, but it also features some impressive soloing from composer Betts. As is typical of the genre (these are the archetypes, after all), the soloing goes on far too long before the vocals kick back in and the song wraps up. Then the pleasant little aforementioned instrumental interlude bearing my mother’s name, and then Side IV is the also aforementioned long-form “Mountain Jam (Cont’d).” This one starts out with some cool bass solo work and has Betts playing some dissonant notes that give his guitar solos an atonal feel in places, which I respect for making me feel uncomfortable when I wasn’t expecting anything unusual.

Author Denis Johnson died a few days ago, and I probably should have written about him instead of Allman, but Johnson’s best known book’s title is an allusion to a line from a song by Lou Reed, the subject of my first rock ’n’ roll eulogy, so I’m taking that as a sign to stay in this lane. Gregg Allman died a couple days ago, and now he and Brother Duane play songs on another plane. Eat a Peach. Play it again.

WGRS Mixtape 2 on SoundCloud

That's all, really. You can now listen to the second Warm Glow Record Show mixtape on SoundCloud. Stay tuned for the rest of them!

WGRS Mixtape 1 on SoundCloud

I'm moving it all over to SoundCloud, and that's a good excuse to recycle stuff, right? Plus I'm cooking up something interesting, and I need a little time away from writing little pieces of music appreciation to do it. For now, click play and relive WGRS's early days.

7 May 2017, No. 250, Commodores, “The Assembly Line”

Without such subversive lyrics, No. 250 wouldn’t have made the list. Usually my ears perk up at the sound of ill synths and slick grooves, but “The Assembly Line” from Commodores has only big horns to recommend it musically—unless you like churchy music. Gloria Jones of “Tainted Love” fame takes co-writing credits for “The Assembly Line,” and she got her start singing in church, so that feeling makes sense here. Pam Sawyer is the songwriter credited first on this tune, and she co-wrote a bunch of songs for Motown in the late 1960s and all through the ’70s—“If I Were Your Woman” (Gladys Knight and the Pips), “Love Child” (Diana Ross and the Supremes), and “Love Hangover” (The 5th Dimension, though Diana Ross’s version is the one).

Sawyer and Jones want us to know culture is a factory. Clearly it was a fresher metaphor forty years ago, and a more relevant one, given the decline in manufacturing in the U.S. in the intervening years. Especially relevant for a Detroit-based record label whose very name is an allusion to the motors that made the town famous, rolling off the assembly lines gleaming, identical, and ready to combust.

The first verse is a pat second-wave feminist interrogation of binary gender stereotypes: Why can’t boys cry? Why can’t girls play football? We’ve made plenty of progress in challenging those kinds of assumptions, but there are still pockets of the country that could stand to hear this message. Maybe the churchlike delivery makes it more palatable.

If you need your palate cleansed of that organ-laden liturgical sound but you’re still feeling the dystopian, mechanized-homogeneity vibe, give another “Assembly Line” a listen. This one is from Hilly Michaels, has synthesizers and vocoding, and is probably the only good song from his Lumia LP. Aside from the title, the Michaels tune has very little in common with the Commodores cut. Its only lyric aside from the titular line is “What are we working for?” No subversive gender politics, but also no hackneyed and obvious second verse about corrupt lawyers, so it has that going for it as well. Still, the Commodores song is better, in case you decide to listen to just one. From the moment you’re born, you’re on the assembly line. Keeps on messing with your mind.

29 April 2017, No. 249, Bar-Kays, ‘Let’s Have Some Fun’

Yow. The Wiccans are all like, “An’ it harm none” do what you want to, but I think “Let’s Have Some Fun” is a far better guiding principle, and it’s No. 249 in the record show. The free vocals at the end are just dying to be sampled, and every bar starts with that characteristic Bar-Kays farting synth sound. Minimoog, I assume, though the Yamaha CS-15 I once had could make bubbly, zipper-coming-down sounds like that. Winston Stewart keeps it on the one for the entire tune, even when he’s using his right hand (I assume) to solo on the organ. Stewart is credited on Rick Dees’ Disco Duck LP as “Moog-Winston Stewart,” so the Moog guess is strong, even though Stewart’s credit on that quacking novelty record is for ARP programming. In “Let’s Have Some Fun” the Bar-Kays could have used a tape loop or a sequencer to make each bar go byow, but having a human depress a key to make the noise every time is part of what gives this song something people call soul. Or, at least, the substitution of computers for human button depressors is part of why people say much contemporary music is soulless. That, and the lack of horn sections.

Two years after this cut came out, the band put out “Holy Ghost,” which we’ve already covered (if lightly) and which employs the same bass synth strategy with a very similar sound. No wonder both tunes made the list. The thing I should have mentioned about “Holy Ghost” but didn’t is the distinctive double taps on the cowbell, and while “Let’s Have Some Fun” doesn’t have any cool cowbell happening, it does have a really long break like “Holy Ghost,” from 3:30ish to 5:30ish, replete with chants and horn licks. Get funky with it.

20 April 2017, WGRS Book 7, Mind the Psyche

Warm Glow Record Show 7: Mind the Psyche invites listeners to greet the mind while the mixtape itself is thinking of you (and perhaps of Paris). If you need somebody to love tonight, you can go out looking, but you might just find out heaven and hell is on Earth. As Earth has plenty of theme songs already, I hope the future will bring us themes from the exoplanets. Maybe we meet some aliens. That’s the kind of change that should make you want to hustle toward the UFO, you sexy thing. Don’t believe in miracles, but do get down with the Philly jump, woo-ooh, while “T” plays it cool. If you’re wondering how to get on down with the aqua boogie, just know that it’s a psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop, and a flash light can illuminate it further, as can giving up the funk and tearing the roof off the sucker so everyone gets a little light under the sun.

Señoras y señores, hombres y mujeres, damas y caballeros, I’m an all-day sucker hurtling through hyperspace, doing different strokes and dropping the bomb seemingly indiscriminately, but there’s a method to the madness, please believe. Please believe also that Prisencolinensinainciusol wants to back it on up, dance dance dance a tangoterje, and do it in a Kalimba tree. If nothing else, that should inspire listeners to get up and dance until their psyches rock fatboys from here to Malpaso Creek. Mind the psyche when entering or exiting the groove.


16 April 2017, No. 248, Skyy, ‘First Time Around’

Your first time around you would have stopped to finish your cigarette on the sidewalk before ascending five steps and parting the crowds to get through the front door. The bass drums that started as a dull thud around Locust Street reached the peak of their streetside crescendo there outside the basement window. Like the one you’re visiting, the row home next door has couches on its porch draped with revelers drinking. Up five steps and through the front door you’d have found a DJ in the front room playing through a sound system just loud enough to overcome the noise seeping up through the floorboards, which floorboards vibrated in time to the basement bass drums alone.

Through an adjoining and couch-lined living room you’d find a butler’s pantry with two doors to your left and the kitchen at the other end, and then a door to a mud room before the true back door; in case you were passing through only to look for your friends, you could slip out the back and down a narrow path that after two turns emptied onto the same street from which you’d entered. (Turn the other way down the path and you’d hit nothing but unkempt thicket, though I’ve heard in the last few years it’s been trimmed back and both directions are navigable). If you’d have taken the door in the butler’s pantry immediately before the kitchen, you’d have been in a well-used half bath. The other door led to the source of the loudest music, and the unlit stairway turned ninety degrees before emptying into the loudest laundry room on the block, and another 180-degree turn brought you into the big room with ten-foot ceilings, Christmas lights, and a drunken, sweating crowd. Ooh, what a groove. And such a big room underground.

Those who bothered to push, stumble, or dance fluidly through the crowd and past the furnace found a long, sturdy workbench with a desk lamp suspended over Technics 1200s, more like a wash than a spotlight, and on this night there was me hunched over the “ First Time Around” twelve (No. 248 on our list) from which pew pew toms emanated along with the bass heard down the street. One of the first lessons I learned in digging was to buy every LP whose cover featured people dressed in weird costumes, especially space-themed weird costumes, and this tune is from one of the LPs that taught me the lesson. I think I pulled it out of a thrift shop called The Second Mile. But while the self-titled Skyy LP taught me to watch for space costumes, by the time I started playing basement parties at Haus 409, I’d learned the value of wide grooves and extended remixes and so I played more twelves. Which didn’t mean I stopped playing LPs altogether. I started avoiding them, but sometimes the album has the only version available, and if you’ve gotta hear that song, you’ve gotta play the LP.

Randy Muller, probably better known for his project Brass Construction, is also behind Skyy, with production, arrangement, flute, keyboard, and percussion credits, as well as writing credits for a number of the cuts on the self-titled album, including “First Time Around.” Muller also did most of the arrangements for the B.T. Express LP Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied), from which we’ll hear a cut in the late 400s with “Give Up the Funk.” I recommend the long-form Wax Poetics piece on Muller from Andrew Mason, so much so that I won’t bore you with extracts here. Muller is still around, too, as of this writing, in case you want to check him out on Facebook.

Before I checked, I would have predicted there to be at least one tune from Chicago-based Captain Sky on this list, but there isn’t. This is something I’ll have to rectify in the compilation of the second list. Regardless, Captain Sky is unrelated to the New York-based Skyy of No. 248, so who cares? I like the way you do it when you do it. I like the way you do it; wanna do it one more time? That free bass intro will make you feel like your whole world’s on fire.

5 April 2017, No. 247, Sharon Redd, ‘Can You Handle It’

Sharon Redd’s first appearance here in the record show is directly attributable to some hot, muted agogo bells that aren’t even in No. 247, “Can You Handle It.” We covered the most iconic agogo bells in No. 227 from Bob James , and the Sharon Redd bells will come in right at the end of the 300s. In this report we’re concerned with a song that has no similarly defining feature. The hook has a nice feel, and the horn stabs are sharp and well timed, but I could do without the smooth sax solo, and there are no distinctive synths to be found here. The break, which puts the bassline out front, is the funky element that lands this tune on the list. And the effected guitar plinking in the break almost makes up for the dearth of synthesizers. Almost.

A couple entries after Bob James’ Mardi Gras bells, we covered an Eddie Bo tune (No. 231) with the same title as today’s. Bo’s “Can You Handle It” lyrics focus on the lead-up to the acquisition of a thing, whereas Redd’s are concerned with the reasons one might not be able to handle a thing. “’Cause you ain’t had nothin’ like it,” Redd begins to answer her own question. Or, well, songwriters Willie Lester and Rodney Brown’s question. Aside from the hook, there are no other lyrics in common with the Eddie Bo tune. Mr. Bocage wrote his lyrics ten or eleven years before this Sharon Redd joint hit the clubs, but the Redd joint is not a cover.

Redd—who got her start in the late 1960s, appeared in the Sydney production of Hair, and served as one of Bette Midler’s “Harlettes” backup singers—was by the early 1980s the Prelude label’s most successful artist. “Can You Handle It” enjoyed a brief resurgence of popularity in 1992 when the group DNA remixed it (yes, that DNA, who reworked Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” into a downtempo dawn-of-the-’90s jam), but the same year they resurrected “Can You Handle It,” Redd died of AIDS-related pneumonia, stopping short her efforts to revitalize her career. Redd is survived by her half sister Penny(e) Ford. I have Ford’s “Change Your Wicked Ways” single, but it’s not on this list. It’s kinda cheesy, and I think I purged it in the last move. Ford is more recognizable (and easier to appreciate) as the voice of Snap!, singing the indelible hook in “The Power.”

If you’ve been a reader of these record show reports (and, more importantly, if you’ve listened to the songs), No. 247’s claim that “you ain’t had nothin’ like it” is pretty far off the mark. We’ve had songs similar to this one, and we’ll have many more before we reach the end of the show. Some of the songs, as I mentioned, even come from elsewhere in the Sharon Redd catalog. Can you handle it?

1 April 2017, No. 247, Lawrence Welk, ‘Pennsylvania Polka’

Coming in at No. 247 we have a cover of the Frankie Yankovic tune “Pennsylvania Polka” from the eminently funky Lawrence Welk. You may already know it was Philadelphia where I discovered the joy of being a disco DJ, and I’m always on the lookout for tunes that bring that origin story to mind. Plus the horn riffs here are huge and provide a lovely contrast to the chorale sections, which are as good as or better than any Ray Conniff or Esquivel record by virtue of being steeped in Welk’s Bohemian oompah groove. The bassline is bouncy too, the bells of the tubas surely bobbing in the studio when this was recorded.

Welk’s accent (and penchant for polka) always made think he was European (Swedish, specifically, for whatever reason), but I guess the maestro of champagne music is U.S. American through and through, as Welk is from a German-speaking community in North Dakota. I don’t think he ever lived in Pennsylvania, but the term champagne music is derived from something someone said to him at a concert he gave once in Pittsburgh. Stick with the tune until Welk starts soloing, and you’ll see he rocks that squeezebox as hard as any West Philly block party, and then there are those tubas again with that bump-bump-bumping bassline. It started in Scranton; it’s now No. 1. Go and get you some.

30 March 2017, No. 246, People’s Choice, ‘Do It Any Way You Wanna (Keep Schtum Re-Edit)’

There are two songs in the record show that share No. 246’s title, “Do It Any Way You Wanna,” and each of those songs has an edit in the record show too. This one, No. 246, is from People’s Choice and is the edited version: “Do It Any Way You Wanna (Keep Schtum Re-Edit).” There is a slight variation in the title of the song by Cashmere, anyway in place of any way, though unfortunately I didn’t do all my double checking before I published the last book, whose report on No. 184 incorrectly labels the non-edited version of the People’s Choice tune at No. 333 with anyway not any way. Sincerest apologies.

The groove here is remarkably consistent, the bassline rarely changing. At No. 333 we’ll find out if that was the original intention or something the editor decided to do. Something of an outlier on this list, this is a disco song without any remarkable synthesizers—maybe no synths at all, come to think of it. Just organ. The Cashmere song by basically the same name is bursting with synths. Being from 1982 helps Cashmere’s tune in that regard. It’s slicker and less funky, but I like it better.

As mentioned in No. 184, the group Escort stole the People’s Choice groove for a song about cocaine, but we’ll hear more about that (and hear the song itself) shortly at No. 260. For now, do it any way you wanna. Do it.

22 March 2017, No. 245, The Walter Murphy Band, ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’

For as much as I complain about disco tunes being ruined by too many strings, the inclusion of The Walter Murphy Band’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” in the list may seem odd. But it’s Beethoven with big drums, and I find little to complain about here. I also have nothing but good things to say about Mr. Murphy, who appears again later on this list and whose name I’m always happy to see in the credits of Family Guy, for which series he does the music. Anytime Family Guy sends up something from the 1970s, Murphy is back in his wheelhouse and the music is even better than usual. In fact, “A Fifth of Beethoven” itself is used in a roller boogie scene in one episode, a direct nod to Murphy’s disco past.

“A Fifth of Beethoven” achieved hit status when it was included on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. In every way it’s also more successful than another classically derived inclusion therefrom: David Shire’s take on Mussorgsky, “Night on Disco Mountain,” is too fast for its mood and tries to be far too big—like, epic, bro—both of which traits are hallmarks of the disco demise basically guaranteed by the appropriative popularity of Saturday Night Fever. Even the synths in the Shire tune are lame. Pity.

For the most part the instruments in “A Fifth of Beethoven” are doing what’s expected: The strings are playing Symphony No. 5, albeit a weird arrangement that’s locked to a click track and wanders away from Beethoven in the middle. The guitar, keys, and drums are playing a pretty standard funk groove, and the horns stab here and there and join the strings later. Nothing shocking. In the first section the bass doesn’t get to establish a groove, instead following the strings a little more closely until the strings reduce the Symphony No. 5 components down to just buh-buh-buh-bum as a vamp and then, as I said, wander off to play some non-canonical licks. All that happens around the 1:00 mark, and it’s where the bass finds a funkier pattern to fall into, and then maintains the groove for another 45 seconds or so until the bridge.

The only thing left to say is that I wish the organ solo were a synth solo. It might not fit the feel of the song as well as the organ does, but a synth is what I want to hear. Maybe by the time the LP A Fifth of Beethoven came out in 1976, Wendy Carlos’s 1968 Switched-On Bach LP and her Beethoven-laden work on A Clockwork Orange were considered played out or too campy for Murphy to revisit similar turf. At any rate, “A Fifth of Beethoven” is my favorite disco piece adapted from classical music. Buh-buh-buh-bum!

19 March 2017, Chuck Berry Is Duck-Walking in Space

In high school I played stand-up drums à la Slim Jim Phantom in a rockabilly band called Trailer Hog, and we covered Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” which also happens to be one of the few songs I can strum somewhat recognizably on the guitar. Just the rhythm parts. Not that flashy intro stuff that was Berry’s signature, at least in the minds of a generation who saw ’80s Michael J. Fox shred it in 1955, thereby inspiring Berry cover his own song before he’d actually written it and creating a causal loop that the film then totally ignores, which is fine; the fading photograph covers time travel paradoxes well enough.

These days when a Chuck Berry song come to my mind, it’s “Maybellene,” maybe because its hook is the most fun to sing. Berry’s discography contains the seeds of so much pop music to come, this essay should be longer, but it’s all been covered elsewhere as well. “Sweet Little Sixteen” is the explicit basis for “Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys, and Brian Wilson’s dad handed over all the rights to Berry’s publisher, Arc Music Group—even the rights to Wilson’s lyrics listing iconic surf spots. Berry’s publisher also sued John Lennon over the line “Here come old Flattop” and the melody generally in “Come Together,” as they are gaffled from Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” I won’t even mention the countless covers, except to say go look at the number and quality of artists who have done versions of “Rock and Roll Music.”

Chuck Berry died yesterday at age 90, but as journalist Chuck Klosterman has pointed out, “Johnny B. Goode” will still be out there duck-walking the grooves of Carl Sagan’s Golden Voyager Record long after—well, Klosterman envisions an Earth-swallowing Sun, but clearly we’ll boil our own oceans with a cold frame of carbonic acid gas before that other solar cataclysm comes. But never mind that. I’ve got a copy of The Great Twenty-Eight, and today I intend to play it loud.

12 March 2017, No. 244, M, ‘Pop Muzik’

I’ve always thought of this as a silly one-off studio project, and in some ways it was, but the guy behind the M, Robin Scott, had been writing songs since the sixties and owned a record label before he hit it big with No. 244, M’s “Pop Muzik.” Given Scott’s history, his sardonic delivery of the song’s hook makes sense; he’d earned his jadedness by 1979.

The album Scott wrote to carry “Pop Muzik” was recorded in Montreux in a studio owned by the band Queen. David Bowie lived in Montreux at the time and stopped by the studio to contribute some hand claps here and there. The album also featured the drumming of Phil Gould, a member of Level 42, which band we featured last time at No. 243.

Listeners astute and non-, provided they’re of a certain age, may recognize the bassline from Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters,” over which Huey Lewis and the News sued for copyright infringement given the similarity to “I Want a New Drug.” Both owe a debt to “Pop Muzik,” and if I felt like belaboring the point, I’d make a little mashup to demonstrate. But I don’t, so I won’t.

The inclusion of Munich in the lyrics is strange. New York, London, and Paris being bastions of music and fashion, one expects Berlin if a German city at all, but that screws up the rhyme scheme, making Munich an inevitability, I suppose. I once fell asleep in a train car en route to Berlin from Rome, but the car I chose was near the back of the train, and it got left behind in Munich while the cars in the front carried on to Berlin. Waking up to the calls of frustrated German train clearers—“München,” seemed to be all they could or would say—was confusing and disheartening. Waiting for the next train would have been totally miserable too except there were veggie burgers at German Burger King, a real novelty to a Midwestern teenager in 1999.

Before I go back to living in my disco, there are some timbres we should cover here, starting with Brigit Novik’s voice in the backup vocals. I’m sure the folks responsible for VH1’s Pop Up Video theme music had her in mind when recording their little jingle. Then there’s that guitar with what sounds like phaser, maybe, and a touch of tremolo. Maybe just the tremolo. It reminds me of cowboy sounds, The Reverend Horton Heat, riding horses on a mesa, and the cover of Invisible Man’s Band Really Wanna See You LP. The organ-like synth sound in the intro is enormous and lush, but it’s not in time with the rest of the song, so it doesn’t mix on the beat, which is a disappointment but can’t detract from the sonority of the synth.

Anyway, radio video, boogie with a suitcase. Mix me a Molotov, forget about the rat race.

10 March 2017, Ten Years of Heart Stuff

It was a dark and smoky night ten years ago when she walked into the bar looking for a ride home from a friend. She got a taxi and a Jesse instead. In the time since then she’s sometimes asked why I never write anything for her, not realizing it’s all for her, all the time, and that’s why we’re both still here, doing the work ten years later. Here’s to the last ten and to as many more as we can get.

9 March 2017, No. 243, Level 42, ‘The Chant Has Begun (OOFT! Edit)’

OOFT! is Ali Herron out of Glasgow, and I have a few of his edits here in the record show. We covered his long edit of Keni Burke’s “Risin’ to the Top” at No. 74, though OOFT! and the editing are barely discussed. This coverage of No. 243, “The Chant Has Begun (OOFT! Edit)” by Level 42, will be another like that, since I don’t know the original tune or the group. I’m classing them alongside Gang of Four and Shriekback, post-punk stuff that later got a little too saturated with slap-bass to be tolerable for more than a song or two in a row. I think of that happening starting in the late ’80s, like 1987, but this song’s from 1984, and “I Love a Man in Uniform” is from 1982, so maybe Gang of Four and Shriekback are bad examples. APB, “What Kind of Girl Are You,” sort of also comes to mind, but no slap bass there. I think saxophones also figure into this sound I’m trying to define; it verges on INXS sometimes.

The only other thing is that I wish the titular line was chanted like “the spirit of the people / the rhythm has begun.” I like those chants (and any chants, pretty much), but I want to hear them chant “the chant has begun,” not just sing it as the trailing-off final line of a few vocal sections. I suppose I should write my own music, and then I could make it exactly how I want it.

7 March 2017, No. 242, Kool and the Gang, ‘Ladies’ Night’

Mmmm, whoa yeah, oh what a night.

Such a cliché, but the “crowd pleasers” subcrate craves content. And the spirit of the Kool and the Gang’s “Ladies’ Night” is empowering enough. I think. Lemme go read the lyrics…yeah, they’re not too bad on a surface-level skim. The term of endearment “single baby” is a little weird, and what does it mean to see one’s name on disco lights? In disco lights would make more sense. Plenty of results for “name in lights” via Google Books’ n-gram viewer, but no results found for “name on lights.” I wonder if they botched the lyric in the studio or if it was awkward to start. “You’ll be a star, kid. We’ll put your name up on lights.” Huh?

Way at the end of the record show we’ll have DJ Apt One’s “Double Dutch Ladies Anthem,” which makes good use of the “Ladies’ Night” groove and horns at 133bpm while adding updated drums, chopped up vocal samples, and modern effects combos. More on that one in 700 songs or so. For now let’s all celebrate. This is your night, tonight, and everything’s going to be all right.

2 March 2017, No. 241, KC and the Sunshine Band, ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’

It’s difficult to guess from the title, but KC and the Sunshine Band’s Part 3 was their third full-length LP, and the second cut is the 241st disco jam in the record show. “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” also appears as the B side of a lot of the “I’m Your Boogie Man” 45s and on an outrageously overvalued twelve-inch promo containing not a remix but the album version. Which doesn’t mean I don’t want it; I do.

A relentless groove like krautrock but funkier, horn riffs like a phone booth full of college kids, and Harry Wayne Casey’s nasal vocal delivery are an unmistakable combo, and if you doubt the importance of the Sunshine Band’s role, take KC’s 1981 solo effort, the Space Cadet Solo Flight LP, for a spin. It has its moments, but the magic’s absence is palpable.

We can bring it back, though. Just wrap your arms around me. Come on, come on.

27 February 2017, No. 240, Melba Moore, ‘You Stepped into My Life’

I have No. 240, Melba Moore’s “You Stepped into My Life,” on a compilation, in case you wonder why the mixtape doesn’t use any of the breaks from the end. My version from Hit Action is truncated rather than edited, and it fades out around the 4:15 mark, just before the breaks and chants start heating up. There are a full two minutes of introductory vamping and string section warmups before Moore ever sings a word, though, so plenty of long-mix DJ fodder at the front end. Which is not to say the twelve-inch version isn’t now on my radar. It is, because I really like this song.

The vocal phrasing in the hook, particularly the rests between stepped and into and I’m and oh so happy is what does it for me in vocals. The punchy, punctuated vocals give an otherwise soft song something of a harder edge. Also the hook’s ascendant closer, “Stepped into my life / stepped into my life / stepped into my life” adds a nice sense of climbing toward something satisfying. This is anti-trauma music at its finest, all syrup and no cynicism.

In the intro there’s an instrument I’ve heard often but have trouble identifying. When I’ve heard it here and in other songs, I’ve always thought it was some sort of talking drum or bass cuíca, but having reviewed some videos of people playing talking drums and cuícas, I know it’s not those. It’s a pitch-bendy percussion-ish sound like booweeooh, and it hits on the fourth beat of the first bar. It must be what happens when you play the low conga while pressing on the head to change the tension. Or something with the conga. Maybe just the open tone? To my ear it has a little of that cuíca-like, plastic-straw-in-a-plastic-lid timbre, which I like because of its use in “Shake Your Rump” from the Beastie Boys. As is often the case, this is a sound I like because it was featured on or is similar to something from Paul’s Boutique.

The slappy bassline in the first eight bars reminds me of Locksmith’s “Far Beyond,” which forms the basis of “Red Alert” from Basement Jaxx, a song that in 1999 I thought of as background noise if I thought of it at all but later came to enjoy. When I get on a late ’90s house anthems kick, you’ll often hear me play that one.

For now, give Melba Moore a chance to step into your life and make you oh so happy.

26 February 2017, No. 239, The Jackson Sisters, ‘I Believe in Miracles (Extended Mix)’

In my files this copy of “I Believe in Miracles (Extended Mix)” from The Jackson Sisters says it’s an edit from someone called “Benny B,” but upon closer examination it turns out to be a poorly remastered duplicate of No. 238 (which isn’t even the original, as I thought it was). No. 239 might also be quantized, but I’m doubtful, and besides, quantization hardly constitutes an edit. Having never played the two tracks back to back, I never noticed they’re the same. Today’s track, the faux edit, has been compressed, limited, and made much louder, but primarily in one channel, as I learned when including it on the mixtape, in which context I fixed the balance, so you may not hear it. Anyway, I’ve made a note not to play this track in the future. Can’t delete it, though, or I’ll mess up the rest of the record show numbering, forget about having messed it up, and then talk about it later as though the disappearance of a tune or two from the list is some great mystery. Which means the inclusion of No. 239 and other similar errata as yet undiscovered will be stetted here and removed from real rotation over in “disco jams.” No. 238 I’ll stet in the crate, and we still haven’t really talked about the music yet. It’s a byow wow kind of jam, and I often have to restrain myself, or I’ll play it in every set.

I’ve always thought of that byow wow in the intro as a guitar with a wah-wah pedal, but upon closer listening I recognize it as a similarly accoutered Clavinet. Also present are huge drums, and the 30 seconds or so the sixteen-bar intro takes up are enough time to make a solid transition, especially if you EQ out the bass and start with just the Clavinet, hi-hats, and snare. Another nice feature of the intro is that the big horn stab in the sixteenth bar does not lead directly into the vocal, so if you forget to kill the other tune, the danger is slight. Regardless, the tempo does vary in those horn hits, so it’s best to quit riding the mix there and get out of the way. Simon Harris probably had this in mind when he made the 4:45 extended remix we’ve now spent two entries talking about, mistaking it first for the original and today for an edit by someone tryna cash in on Benny Benassi’s name. I should have guessed that what I thought of as the original was too long and neatly structured to be real. The actual original is still amazing, but its shorter intro and lack of a breakdown makes it less DJ friendly than Harris’s extended mix.

Gene Page did the arrangement on this tune, and I know his name because I have his Close Encounters LP. His discofied versions of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind leitmotif and the Star Trek theme are, like the rest of the Close Encounters LP, stringy and overproduced, but they feature cool keyboard and synth work throughout (Page was a pianist), so the LP stays on my shelves for now. I have just the one solo LP, but Page was an arranger for loads of prominent acts, and he has credits on 31 of the records in my stacks.

Finally there are the Sisters Jackson themselves—Jacqueline, Lyn, Pat, Rae, and Gennie—who wrote songs on a beat-up piano in their garage, won a talent competition, opened for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, moved from Compton to Detroit, and recorded “I Believe in Miracles.” I love to sing along with the hook and try to hit the high harmony on the sustained “you.” I’m not sure which sister sang which part, but Jacqueline gets top billing everywhere and was the oldest of the bunch, so let’s assume that’s her kicking off the first verse with the forceful and contradictory line, “They say the day is ending,” as the song is starting. Then we’ll let it keep playing and enjoy the miraculous world The Jackson Sisters have created just for you.

20 February 2017, No. 238, The Jackson Sisters, ‘I Believe in Miracles’

I don’t, actually, believe in miracles, is the first thing to cover here. I “believe in” clichés, and I “believe in” humans’ capacity for self-deception, willful or otherwise, but I don’t accept as objective reality that bullshit to which people ascribe the adjective miraculous. Detractors may “problematize” “objective reality” all they want. I have scare quotes for days. My point is your statue of that virgin, Mary, isn’t crying. It’s dripping toilet water from a floor above, and such indulgences shouldn’t be bottled and sold.

Lucky for us this ain’t no Dead show and we don’t need no miracle to get in. And also as well, whereas purported miracles usually stink to the highest of heavens, The Jackson Sisters’ belief in miracles at No. 238 (in “I Believe in Miracles”) smells oh so sweet.

The second thing to cover (another thing? how many things so far?) is how when I started writing the record show, it wasn’t a writing project. That’s why the essays in the first few books are so short. The main point was to reveal my list slowly, one item per day. Now I feel like it needs more than just a title every day, and I try to give a little essay. But it would take a bona fide miracle to get me to write daily like I mean to, plus even though there are a fair few words in this here exposition, it’s been mostly dilatory thus far, and I haven’t even talked at all about the stuff I like about the song.

We’ll get to defining and praiseworthy features next time when we do an edit of the same miraculous jawn that’s on display today.

13 February 2017, WGRS Book 6

The life of an editor is hard, especially when a mistake slips through. At 17:10ish on Warm Glow Record Show 6: Let It Mind, the Chicago Gangsters song “Gangster Boogie” skips a beat. Dammit. But then how did I do that “beadle-uh-beadle-uh bum” bullshit after the “share my dreams with you” at 21:47? It barely made sense to me when I was staring right at the Fourier transforms. I think I played a lot of finger drums along with that one. And upon review, it might still be a sixteenth note off.

Ableton’s quantization isn’t good enough yet to snap all this stuff to the grid automatically all the time, so when I get to a spot in an hour-long track where it would actually be useful, I’m invariably way off the grid. Luckily enough the record keeps spinning, though, baby, round and round with a new if imperfect take on the same old sound.

Another editor’s dilemma: I thought I had all the list numbers and tracks sorted out into the 950s, and I still pretty much do, but this book marks the first list discrepancy I’ve found. The original numbers in these pieces were off by two places, as though I found two more doubled-up tracks, deleted them, and forgot to make note. Anyway, for future editors who may be trying to re-curate this list, I apologize. I don’t think I deleted or lost two tracks, and I’m also not going back to look. Not now, anyway.

I’m gonna set you on fire, ’cause it’s hot.

I knew the copy of “Ain’t Nobody” I used was bad while I was using it, but I used it anyway. It’s from my copy of the Breakin’ soundtrack LP and is among the first record rips I ever made when I bought Serato Scratch Live in 2007. I ripped those records with the same poor Shure M44-7 I’d been beating up for a year tryna learn how to scratch. I know I need to go back to all those cuts and transcribe a second time, but I’ll keep the original copies around. They sound to me like the dark West Philly basements and sun-bright block parties where I learned to mix them together.

Get your finger on the funk. Or be the finger on the funk. Either way, anyway, take your handful of feeling and boogie down, jam. Then just let it mind.


12 February 2017, No. 237, Interior, ‘Giant Steps’

The quality of No. 237, “Giant Steps” by Interior, makes me think I need to go back and reevaluate this whole album. I have a real soft spot for pleasant-sounding music driven by synthesizers, and this is one of those songs. The drums and sand blocks here are relentless and do a nice job of offsetting the pretty and generally upbeat synth and piano lines. There’s a big rock guitar interlude I could maybe do without, and I think I edited at least some of it out for the mixtape. My other complaint is that “Giant Steps” just doesn’t have the bass to drive big speakers, so I EQ’d it to death on the mixtape. Then I dialed it back a little when I saw the Fouriers in Audacity during mastering, the amplified bass frequencies pushing the tune all the way up to reference level while most of the rest of the songs left my 6 dB of headroom intact. I didn’t dial the bass back all the way, though, and the mixtape edit/remix still adds a nice bit of bottom end.

I mentioned that No. 162, “It” from Barrabas, is one of the songs I might keep secret if I weren’t purposely giving all my secrets away here on the record show. “Giant Steps” is another such song. It’s not a tune that often draws people to the DJ booth to ask “What is this?” but I like to think it sticks with people who find themselves humming the melody, unable to place it, for a week or two after they’ve heard it. Let’s hear it now.

11 February 2017, No. 236, The Hues Corporation, ‘Rock the Boat’

This is one of those sleeper singles driven eventually to the top of the charts by the nascent New York disco scene, and its strings and schmaltz were still sweet and soulful in 1973, before they were replicated ad infinitum to make a buck off a trend. The Hues Corporation would like to know where you got the notion in No. 236, “Rock the Boat.” The cut was so popular, they put the single version on their second album too.

Soaring strings and record sales aside, I’ve always found the title of this song to contradict its core message, and maybe deliberately so. The participants in the stichomythic hook are diametrically opposed, with the chorus urging boat-rocking while a plaintive Fleming Williams countermands such capsizing silliness. As much as I hate falling on the side of the hoi polloi, I’m with the group on this one. Rock that boat. Provided you know how to swim.

One could swim in the horn lines in “Rock the Boat,” which sound like they’re being poured from a pitcher. Somewhere in the vicinity of sonorous and mellifluous there’s a word for this texture. Sonifluous? Syrupy, really, but still able to be poured from a pitcher and perhaps even swum in, once properly pooled. Just be sure to retain the services of salvage divers to go after that cargo of love and devotion what sunk to the bottom of the sea.

8 February 2017, No. 235, Hot Chocolate, ‘Every 1’s a Winner’

The use of the numeral 1 in the title of No. 235, Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s a Winner,” bothers me. It’s pointless, and Everyone’s would have served just as well. Better, even.

That 1 small matter aside (see, it irks 1, right?), I like the rock guitar riff that opens this tune about as much as I like any other opening rock guitar riff. Hot Chocolate songs are some of the few on this list that have both disco and rock in their genre ID3 tags, and I often find myself caught at the pinnacle of a rock-guitar run with nowhere to go from Hot Chocolate except to more Hot Chocolate. Fortunately, “You Sexy Thing” and “You Could’ve Been a Lady” always go over well.

When I first moved to Athens, I dragged the DJ gear out to the end of my driveway and played music to the runners in a half marathon who were passing my house. “Every 1’s a Winner” is one of the songs I played, along with “Marathon Runner (Alkalino Mutant Disco Edit)” from Aural Exciters and “The Runner” by The Three Degrees (which latter isn’t on this list; I’ve added it to the next one). I’m not sure I played “The Runner” from Tropique, which is not a cover of the Three Degrees tune, nor is it good enough to be on the list, probably, but there it is in the low 700s anyway with a note to play only 3:20 to 6:05, which does actually cover two pretty dope breaks without admitting much or any bad, stringy stuff. More on that record in the 123-bpm range, and that’s no lie.

5 February 2017, No. 234, George Clinton, ‘Atomic Dog (Original Extended Version)’

Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg taught me this song twice before I knew who George Clinton was, so when I first heard “bow wow wow yippee yo yippee yay” coming off the Computer Games LP, I experienced one of those epiphanic little clicks that make collecting old records fun. No. 234, George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog (Original Extended Version),” as the title implies, is not the LP version I first heard. I’m not sure if it’s the same as the “Atomic Mix” on most of the twelves, but the timing is within five seconds or so, making it a safe enough bet they’re similar if not the same. What definitely is the same is the bassline from another joint in the George Clinton universe Dr. Dre used in two tracks that both lift vocals from No. 234.

The bassline in “____ Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” and the bassline from Snoop’s “What’s My Name?” are slowed down versions of the bassline from a section of “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic. When I think of “(Not Just) Knee Deep,” I think only of the synth lead Maseo, Dave, and Prince Paul reused in De La Soul’s “Me, Myself, and I,” a song that makes no use of the bass part that must have fixed in Dre’s mind. Maybe now when I think of “(Not Just) Knee Deep” I’ll think of Dre’s g-funk bass interpolations too.

When the Dre and Snoop connections run out, stick with “Atomic Dog.” Bits and pieces of neutron dogs, funky dogs, and nasty dogs can be heard dancing far off into the outer reaches of the samplesphere, eluding dogcatchers starting in the ’80s and running right up through Lil Wayne.

Keep your ears up, and don’t bother chasing your tail.

2 February 2017, No. 233, Gaz Nevada, ‘I.C. Love Affair (Munk Edit)’

“Ooh, ’77. Ooh, she gave me heaven,” intones whomever’s singing for Gaz Nevada (or Gaznevada, depending on the release; the name derives from Raymond Chandler’s short story “Nevada Gas”) on “I.C. Love  Affair (Munk Edit).” Apparently the group was nostalgic for Italy’s Movement of ’77, during which demonstrations in Gaz Nevada’s hometown of Bologna turned bloody. Police killed a member of Lotta Continua, and Sartre spoke up, as did Foucault, de Beauvoir, Barthes, and Deleuze and Guattari.

A month after 100,000 people gathered for the violence-free National Convention Against Repression, also in Bologna, Gaz Nevada formed as a punk rock band with a situationist bent. Maybe that sardonic and absurdist outlook is what motivated them six years later to steal outright from the Bee Gees and use falsetto vocals to augment Fawsia’s backups on “I.C. Love Affair.” The nasally Bee Gees thing is quite clear in the line “Ooh, she gave me heaven,” and while the vocals are way up there in the stratosphere, I think the tongue was firmly in cheek.

Gaz Nevada’s origins in punk rock, no wave, and political art may have given them the seemingly counterintuitive impetus to make Italo disco. Sort of like the Beastie Boys decided a punk rock thing to do would be to make a rap record, I can see Gaz Nevada sitting around saying, “You know, disco’s been driven back underground. Wouldn’t it be transgressive to make some?” Thankfully they weren’t the only ones thinking along those lines, and there are bunch of great records like this.

The Munk edit featured here is from a compilation of material from Italian Records (and its imprints) called Confuzed Disco, the second disc of the CD version of which comprises edits and remixes. Among other italo records with a no wave feel, at least one of them is also on the Confuzed Disco comp; in the early 500s we’ll have an NOIA’s  “True Love (Sexual Version).”

Munk’s take on “I.C. Love Affair” is a little too obviously edited for effect, but I guess that was the style in 2006 when the compilation was released. There are too many repeated single beats, and the eighth notes after the vocal section in the last two minutes make the edit feel too modern for my tastes. Which is not to say I didn’t use some of that stuff in my own mixtape edit. Can’t everything feel old and dusty all the time.

Give a listen. History and editing aside, the synths here are bouncy without ebullience, and that’s what got the song on the list in the first place. Yeah.

1 February 2017, No. 232, Empress, ‘Dyin’ to Be Dancin’’

The intro here in No. 232 is everything one wants in free disco drums. “Dyin’ to Be Dancin’” from Empress has got a nice clap, a little guiro, and a slight phaser effect on the cymbals. Not to mention that ill bouncing basketball sound stacked up with the snares and claps on two and four. Somebody help me.

When the bass guitar kicks in, all I can think is “The Bubble Bunch” by Jimmy Spicer, a Spicer at least an order of magnitude better than the Sean who’s been trying to manipulate the news of late. He’ll never never get enough.

Another thing I like about the intro is the tension between the guiro’s sixteenth notes, which are very straight, and the tambourine’s, which are swinging all over the place. Through the rest of the song the sandpaper blocks try to strike a balance, and eventually the tambourine straightens up a little.

This tune features strong horn lines and sexy whispers, as well as a number of funky breaks. It’s also free from strings. A string synth comes in and lays down some pad-type lines, but you can tell it’s not a studio orchestra, and that helps sell it to me.

I have this on a compilation from the now-defunct 98.7 KISS FM New York called 98.7 Kiss FM Presents Shep Pettibone’s Mastermixes. The compilation introduced me to D Train, The Nick Straker Band, and most importantly, the Jeanette “Lady” Day “Come Let Me Love You” version with “Spasticus Autisticus” cut in. Oh so good. If only everything with Pettibone’s name on it were quite so satisfying.

For now we’re listening to bouncing ball sounds and a balloon-like bassline. Empress will have you dyin’ to be dancin’ too.

25 January 2017, Fresh Beats

A work meeting made me travel last week, and ever since I got back, I just haven’t had it in me to cover a tune for the record show. The meeting concluded on Inauguration Day 2017, and I walked out of it with a bunch more demands on my time.

Around the house we framed and hung a selection of stuff, including some ancient DJJJC flyers. As of this writing Queen of Sheba is still kickin’ and seems to have dropped the “II” designation.

Sure, I stole this from a record cover, but it makes me happy to look at it every day.

Fresh beats. Bass your streets and party.

17 January 2017, No. 231, Eddie Bo, ‘Can You Handle It’

If you see a thing, want it, after you get it, can you handle it?

I saw the title of No. 231 and my mind sprang to No. 247. Both tunes are called “Can You Handle It,” and Sharon’s Redd’s No. 247 is way more disco than Eddie Bo’s funky No. 231. The disco-fied and mislabeled Sharon Redd song in my mind made me think I might be further confusing my titles/songs with No. 181 from Bo, “When You’re Fingers on the Funk” [sic], which is the most disco of the Eddie Bo tunes I have on file.

No. 231 has one of those big organic bwahs from the bass guitar and low horns (trombones, I think) playing a sustained note in unison. The main riff’s last two and a half beats are the full stop at the end of a two-bar sentence skeptical of your ability to handle it after all. Musically there’s not much else that pops out. From the background the guitarist noodles around at times and the piano player’s highest pitched embellishments peek through.

Don’t let your eyes bring on a load that they can’t carry. The lyrical content seems a simple enough cautionary tale: Be sure you’re equipped to deal with the implications of getting what you want. I’m trying to figure out how the hard head and consequent soft backside form a corollary. I guess if one repeatedly goes after something one can’t handle, therein lies true folly. If you can’t handle it, leave it alone.

15 January 2017, No. 230, The Supremes and The Four Tops, ‘Love The One You’re With (Todd Terje Edit)’

The self-titled debut LP from Stephen Stills I had went out in the great Illinois-to-Georgia purge, so if I want to punch up the original version of No. 230, I’m resigned to my digital transcription of 1970’s Stephen Stills. I haven’t yet refiled all the records I rescued at the last minute from the “get rid of” pile; the spreadsheets indicate that I have 1975’s Stills LP in a box waiting to be reshelved while the Manassas 2xLP was never in danger of being culled. Those two titles are, however, the only Stephen Stills solo efforts left in the stacks.

No matter. No. 230 is an edit of a cover anyway, “Love the One You’re With (Todd Terje Edit).” It’s apparent from the title the edit is Todd Terje’s, but I’m having a little trouble discerning the recording artist. (It occurs to me too that putting out apocryphal edits would be pretty easy.) I have this “Love the One You’re With” edit labeled as Diana Ross, but it’s never sounded quite like Diana Ross to me. Elsewhere it’s credited to Jean Terrell, who replaced Ross as lead singer of The Supremes in 1970, and in fact it looks like the original is The Supremes and The Four Tops from 1971’s Dynamite LP with Terrell on lead vocals. Dynamite is the third such collaborative LP from those two groups, and since it didn’t sell as well as its predecessors, it was also the last. The Four Tops left Motown the next year.

I like the flutes in “Love the One You’re With (Todd Terje Edit),” and I love the “ba-na-na-na” cello riff that follows each iteration of the lyric “love the one you’re with” in the third chorus. Speaking of “ba-na-na-na” parts, there are some grand and celebratory passages of nonlexical vocables here that illustrate also a technical thing I appreciate about this edit. The nonlexical vocables, unlike the cello’s “ba-na-na-na,” go more like “ya-duh da-duh da-da dah-dah,” and on subsequent listening I think perhaps that’s a piccolo rather than a flute playing along with the singers.

The technical thing that draws me further into the “ya-duh da-duh” sections (and this selection generally) is that Terje used a recording of the tune from vinyl for this edit. “Love the One You’re With” is the penultimate track on the Dynamite LP’s A side, and the edit exhibits as a consequence characteristic inner groove distortion and maybe even a little wear. I like these audio artifacts for nostalgic reasons and for a poke in the eye of the audiophiles. (Poke in the ear of the audiophiles?)

Most or all of the “analog warmth of vinyl” is an amalgam of a longing for artifacts/imperfections and the cool factor of owning a substantial, interesting-looking, and durable physical object. Plus there are lots of literal moving parts involved in playing records, and that gives audiophiles endless tweakable permeations to test, purchase, and sell along to their friends to fund the ever more expensive next purchase. CDs, in contrast, are small, simple to play, ephemeral, and the only part that dances around is a laser reading one zero one zero one zero one.

I share and encourage both the nostalgic motives to listen to vinyl and the audiophiles’ need to horse-trade their mechanical thoroughbreds. Plus records really are durable when well cared for. Let me show you some examples of disc rot from my CD collection.

Terje may or may not feel similarly. In this case the preservation of that old school sound was a matter of necessity not aesthetic choice; it seems there is no digital version of the Dynamite LP available. I forget sometimes that not everything made it onto CD and that those titles that didn’t make it can, as a consequence, be hard to find as paid/remastered digital downloads. I didn’t search very hard, but it appears the original Supremes/Four Tops “Love the One You’re With” cover hasn’t even shown up on a compilation, so there’s still no $0.99 download available anywhere, not even for ready money.

Don’t be angry, don’t be sad. Just give a listen and see if it matches the good times you’ve had.

11 January 2017, No. 229, Commodores, ‘Brick House (A Special Length Disco Version)’

The dollar bins at The Marvelous in West Philadelphia were the source of my copy of “Brick House (A Special Length Disco Version)” by Commodores, which is No. 229 on this list. Mine is one of those double-A-sided 12s, but I made a digital copy of each side anyway. Each digital copy bears a note in the title: “better,” “worse.” The worse version has more record noise—more pops and clicks—than the better version, and though I like record noise well enough to play just about any beat-up piece of polyvinyl chloride if it’s the only copy I have, I don’t seek out the noisiest copies; in fact, if I have a version from a CD and a version from vinyl, which one I’ll play is a toss-up. Probably the one with cue points already set up. This record, I play the better side, which is still not without the audio indicators of dust, wear, and tear. Physical artifacts beget audio artifacts, after all.

I never understood the appeal of serving as tenor in a metaphor whose vehicle is the brick shithouse of the “built like a…” cliché. “Hey girl, you’re like an outhouse” seems about as smooth as “you remind me of my Jeep.” And in the case of Mr. Kelly, the Commodores lyrics are maybe a little too close to his actual sentiments about women, never mind metaphor.

Seriously, though, whatever happened to, like, light through yonder window, y’know? Arise, fair sun, and pee on the envious moon like a president-elect in a Russian presidential suite. Shithouse as vehicle is inescapable, it seems. Just keep your eye on the truly deserving tenors and disregard the misdirection.

I get it that one might seek a certain metaphorical sturdiness in a mate, and solid is a synonym for good, but really I suspect that at the root of my confusion are cultural differences in beauty standards. Cf. the Monday Upstairs at Elena’s Soul on which a group including a big black girl was hanging out. Fich had me put on a song I’d never heard, Jimmy Jones’ “Watch Out for Da Big Girl,” much to my skinny white boy mortification. But the big girl recognized her song immediately and dragged her friends out onto the floor to tear it up.

Commodores shout out some measurements in “Brick House”—“36-24-36”—but they leave off a crucial qualifier that sheds light on the ideal body image thing and the racial differences implied. I should have learned the lesson long ago when Mix-a-Lot reinserted the caveat after the measurements, disclaiming: “36-24-36? Only if she’s 5’3”.”

So if you’re built like a brick shithouse, know that you’re mighty mighty, and let it all hang out.

Also: Shake it down. Shake it down now.

9 January 2017, No. 228, Brooklyn Express, ‘Back in Time’

Ah ah baby, it’s all right. What you say to that? The first minute and a half of Brooklyn Express’s “Back in Time” at No. 228 is okay, but skip ahead to the break at 1:35 or so. Despite the break’s understated feel, the soft falsetto vocals set against big stabs and cavernous claps make it start to feel memorable. That memorable impression is probably due to the stabs and claps occurring more frequently, which increase in frequency also signals the close of the break and our entry into a section defined by a wobbly piano line.

The piano after the break has a rolling feel to it, and what I guess must have been a little wow in the tape makes it feel clumsy, like stumbling down a spiral staircase. I have the LP version of the tune from the Best of Disco Demands compilation, and it’s possible (though barely) that the compilers introduced the error.

If I see the original LP, I’ll grab it, and that’ll be a lucky feat because unless Discogs is simply incomplete (sometimes the case), the self-titled Brooklyn Express LP wasn’t pressed in the US. This seems unlikely to me, but if it’s true, it adds a nice level of irony to the band name and album title, like if the UK Subs had been from New Jersey. Makes sense that the LP was pressed in Yugoslavia, Spain, and Italy, as the band was the project of a Yugoslav producer named Began Cekic. US copies of a “Back in Time” 12 inch are available, and those are more appealing to me; they stretch the song out to 13:45 and list a “mixed by” credit from Tee Scott of No. 216 fame.

Clap your hands. Stomp your feet. In the jungle, bruh.

Apparently in the jungle the other stuff you do is you burn it up, you don’t stop, you keep it going, and you lift the bassline from Cymande’s “Bra,” bruh. This bass appropriation in the last two minutes makes me wonder if the horn line I disregard in the intro also has a source somewhere outside the Cekic canon, especially likely since Brooklyn Express’s output includes a lot of covers.

All original or not, the breaks in “Back in Time” make it well worth checking out.

7 January 2017, No. 227, Bob James,‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras’

Agogo bells were always around when I played percussion in the school band, but the bells riff from No. 227, Bob James’ “Take Me to the Mardi Gras,” isn’t very cool (or recognizable) without the trap kit accompaniment, and somehow we never got that groove together in our little jams before and after class. To be fair, Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper,” which uses the bells and drums intro from No. 227 to iconic effect, was pretty played out by the time I hit the band room in the early 1990s, and besides, we were busy figuring out Nirvana riffs on the marimba.

The longest portions of No. 227 are chock-full of syrupy electric piano happiness and crap strings. I never knew this was a Paul Simon song, and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the There Goes Rhymin’ Simon LP on which it appears, but Simon’s authorship goes some way toward explaining why most of the song is cloying and upbeat. There are only two good parts in the Bob James version, and for the mixtape I edited them together and cut out all the spun sugar. It’s maybe the shortest edit in any of these mixes so far, in and out in less than a minute, but there’s nothing left sneer at, and that’s what I wanted.

Some “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” drums also show up in “Hold It Now, Hit It” from the Beastie Boys, but not the bells. That song uses only the first three drum hits, ba-dap boom. Another case of Rick Rubin deploying the same samples all over the place. And I’m glad he did. “Goddamn that DJ made my day,” as they say (or producer, rather, though surely it was Jam Master Jay who turned Rubin on to the Bob James record). Hold it now (hold it now, hold it now), hit it!

6 January 2017, Remembering George Michael

Remembering George Michael, I played this Lake Street Dive cover of "Faith" at Blue Sky Bar tonight, and followed it up with a 12-minute version of "I Want Your Sex."

2 January 2017, No. 226, Blondie, ‘Rapture (Special Disco Mix)’

No. 226, Blondie’s “Rapture (Special Disco Mix),” falls just before the middle of the eighth mixtape, and it’s one of the mixtape edits I enjoy the most. For the first twelve bars there’s barely an indication it’s a crowd pleaser, all drums and sparse synthesizers. But when the bassline starts up, it’s hard not to feel the groove whether or not it’s a groove you’ve felt before.

Debbie Harry has no business rapping, and I made sure to leave in the line about the man from Mars eating cars as a testament to the faddish way rap was exploited on early records like “Rapper’s Delight.” Grandmaster Caz, from whom Big Bank Hank gaffled all those rhymes, is also the source of that sing-songy, markedly old school cadence that inflects disco rap, but Caz’s rhymes and prosody are more variegated and therefore more sophisticated than Hank’s. Good on Harry for giving it a try, and she does have some memorable rhymes, but maybe she ought to have stopped with the hip-hop sure shot. Then again, who am I to talk? I made a silly rap song once, so, you know, come visit me in my house of glass. Heart of glass. That one’s coming up later.

Before the man from Mars raps come in, I feature a horn thing that nicely bridges the gap between big-budget disco productions and sparser no wave stuff. Then after the man from Mars goes away I make sure to include one of the pretty and haunting parts. I never before thought to compare Julee Cruise and Debbie Harry, but there you have it, “Rapture’s” chorus connects my dots. I can’t tell what the lyrics are in this section, and the Internet transcriptions are unsatisfyingly incomplete, so here goes my version: “Back to bend / body muscular / Seismic decibel, like a javelin / One to one / teach on technology / And a DJ to add up / no sign of danger / in rapture.” Close, but not quite, and you can see how vain is the disc jockey. I bet you think this song is about you. But never mind that. Here’s a more accurate version of the lyrics I found: “Man to man / body muscular / Seismic decibel / by the jugular / Wall to wall / tea time technology / and a digital ladder / No sign of bad luck / in rapture.” No idea what tea time technology is.

And at any rate all I can hear is “Step into a World” from KRS-One, which song’s subtitle is “Rapture’s Delight.” I played the I Got Next CD in my car a lot and never looked at the liner notes, never saw the song’s title or subtitle, so it was years before I began to appreciate Blondie and made the conscious connection to the KRS-One melody’s origin. Step into a world indeed; just make sure no one chows down on your ride.

1 January 2017, WGRS Book 5

I didn’t set out to be a music critic, and I’m not sure exactly why I started writing about the tracks in my favorite virtual crate of records. I’ll speculate it was because I was writing nonfiction for a class with Joe Bonomo and didn’t have a steady DJ gig, so I figured if I wrote about the records, maybe people would listen to them without me being in the room to push the buttons and start them going. Never really thought about it before, but I’ve been copping Bonomo’s platform’s style in a different genre ever since I started writing about these tunes on Facebook. I think he’s the only person I know in real life who consistently writes a blog, so I must have had No Such Thing as Was in mind when I decided I needed a blog for the WGRS referents in How to Observe the Sun Safely. The entry for No. 154 is certainly an allusion to No Such Thing as Was. I’m not consciously trying to emulate Bonomo’s voice, although I do think often about things I learned from him, in particular a trick about blocking up lined verse as prose. I’ve not yet tried it out, but I mean to.

Another impetus to write about these tunes was my desire to subvert the DJ’s tendency toward secrecy. I wanted to tell everyone every record I had in the good stuff crate. I realized back then that it would take years and started anyway. One day I’ll sit down and cover all the rest of these records in a day, a week, a month, converting a periodic practice into a nonstop typing marathon, clack clack clack through a long roll of paper, and then we’ll be done. One day. Probably years from now when there are only a handful of tunes left to write about anyway.

In the Introduction to the last mixtape I went into detail about the transitions between songs, some more successful than others and still more getting descriptions more florid than perhaps they deserved. Not this time, except to note that I like the high-pass filter sweep bringing “Party Freaks” in over “Monkey See, Monkey Do” around 18:50. It’s simple, and it adds a cascading, grainy texture like playing sandpaper blocks down a Slip’N Slide.

Mostly as I listened back to this tape I thought to myself, “A lot of these mixes are lazy.” Some are extra good because of this laziness, but others of the mixes leave finesse and elegance to be desired. Cf. the mix out of “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)” into “Rock Your Baby,” which is discordant and fades The Gap Band out too rapidly just before 42:00. And four bars too many of Shadrach et al. over Stevie at 57:50. Sorry about that.

The more of these end-to-end overlays I make (and to this point I’ve made about 270, having just started mix 10), the more I think about excerpting smaller snippets of these songs and making something more compositional, like Ken Raw’s Left Handed Scissors or something even more complicated like I gather The Avalanches record my sister gave me for Christmas is. Gotta throw that one on the platter yet. Got a new platter for Christmas too. Our house is now home to a lovely piano black Pro-Ject turntable and a skein of yarn made from the coats of qiviut by a woman who oversees every inch of production. The people who deal in vicuña are jerks, apparently.

Anyway, a new year’s excitement abounds, and records flutter in the wings waiting to be transcribed. For now we’ve got to get back to the record show. Baby, let me do it, let me do it to you, baby. This is Warm Glow Record Show 5: We Can Workflow