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The Weekly Froth! - 20161021

  • Published in Columns

The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

Track of the Week: ‘You’re So Special’ by Chesus (Jacques Renault edit)

From the start this one gets the festive tones in, with a right amount of house as its base and the disco sounds running right on through it all. At about the thirty seconds mark there are the vocals for the first time, though at that point still slightly muffled. The sound cleans up though, getting a clear drum in with some of them horn sounds, and the classical tones of the original that we know so well. Renault keeps it running though, just looping the vocal line mentioning that you are a Very special lady, but not ready to cash in on the big kahuna just yet. Instead, at 2:30, he moves to a deeper beat, with the original sounds hidden deep and far underneath that blanket, giving himself some time to crawl out from under that one again. Which, about a minute later, happens, with the clarity returning in the drum and other instrumentals. Around the five minute mark, near its end, the track goes back to the deeper bass, moving this lovely dance tune to its close.


‘The Spell’ by David August

David August starts this one by providing us with some atmosphere, with the deep synth that comes in at about the twenty second mark doubling in function as both aiding the aforementioned and a working as a sort of riff. Then the drums come in, taking over the role of the deep sound with the synth moving to a more lighter tone. At the 1:30 mark they strip it all out, just putting the atmospheric synths in again and what sounds like some vocal work. Then, a more rhythmic drum line, indicating the start of the second part of this track. If you just listen to something like at 2:40, where basically all the additional sounds also give off a kind of broody vibe whilst not disturbing the momentum of the drums until these are taken out completely yet again, that kind of exemplifies this track nicely. This time around, there’s a long interlude, that first sees some spoken word before it moves to the piano. It’s a track that moves you through a couple of phases, all building blocks to the overall atmosphere, which seems to complement the SoundCloud picture next to the track quite well I’d say.


‘Off The Wall’ by Michael Jackson (Young Pulse rework)

This has just about got to be one of my favorite albums, such an unmitigated joy runs through it. And Young Pulse takes on the title track, giving you the vocals first, then putting a deep bass underneath that becomes more and more prominent before the actual funk comes in just before the minute mark. That funk is driven, amongst others, by the steady pace of the drum, and the little guitar riff running right on through it. And Jackson, in the mean time, sings that Tonight, just enjoy yourself (a sound advise for all y’all across the world, I’d say). In the mean time, all the rhythm parts keep on working, the horns come in to get it going on as well, and Jackson is talking about Boogie down, which one certainly should have the intention of doing when having this song on. It’s a fab track, and the rework keeps all them dancers doing their thang on this ol’ classic.


‘World Turning’ by Fleetwood Mac (Ray Mang edit)

Ray Mang opens with some spoken word about expression through music and stuff, taking about until the thirty second mark before the almost country sounding guitar riff comes in with the piano basically dictating the pace. The minute mark sees the growly male vocals enter, singing about The world turning, and how they need to get their Feet back on the ground. Ray Mang has a nice piano momentum working there, giving you that hypnotic loop but without any of the “normal” rhythm instruments until after the two minute mark, when the drum kick comes in to help out all that country&western that’s going on. At the three minute mark he mixes it up a bit again, and the guitar is let loose some as well, giving you a bit of that solo work on top of a fairly minimal base almost solely consisting of those drums. This until some extra percussion is added after four minutes have gone by, drumming their way to the end of this rework of some old Seventies Fleetwood Mac.


‘Sleepwalkin’’ by Cheryl Lynn (Doctorsoul Wake Me Up Dub Rework)

Doctorsoul is giving you the dancefloor vibes with that kind of drum, adding the deep bassline to put Cheryl Lynn’s tune to. Those are the main elements to get that mid-paced funk moving, really bringing those vibes with the guitar riff and the more Caribbean sounding percussion as the track moves closer and closer to putting those vocals in. In the mean time he keeps running with the deep bass, giving that some extended focus in this dub. Just after the three minute mark Doctorsoul lightens up the mood a bit, moving slightly away from the deeper bass to get the guitar sounds in a bit more, and then finally adding the vocals with Cheryl Lynn singing that she wants you to Wake me up with your love. With, at this point, you getting the full goodness of the 1982 track. And after such patience, Doctorsoul is relishing having her in now, adding the echoes to the vocals to prolong the goodness and savor the flavor of this funky little number.


‘Key To Life’ by Kauf

Kauf starts with some guitar, building a melancholic nighttime sound around it with a bit of a grainy growl in the bass. This is juxtaposed by the relatively higher pitched vocals, which give you that distanced, alienated vibe on top of the more angelic “aaah-haaa” chorus line that sometimes double the main voice. The drum and bass are there to provide the deep canvas, with primarily the guitar that keeps cutting through it, almost as a mediator to the vocals and the rhythm sounds. As soon as Kauf mentions the Key to Life the grainy bass gets back before the drum kicks up the pace a bit and whilst the guitar keeps moving through it, giving you that Darkside feel a bit, that nice mixture of a hypnotic, melancholic dance sound with the guitar lines cutting right on through all of that. Especially nearing the last minute there is a part where the layers build up, though never making it too muddled, but instead creating a unison that fits the atmosphere he has set out from the get go. A lovely cut from the upcoming album (early 2017 it’s saying at the minute).



The Weekly Froth! - 20160826

  • Published in Columns

The Weekly Froth! A weekly take on six tracks, most of which have recently popped up somewhere in the blogosphere. Bit of a mixed bag with a slight leaning towards house, disco, and remixes, but generally just anything that for some reason tickled the writer’s fancy.

The website Pitchfork just released their top 200 tracks of the Seventies, a decade infused with funk, synths, and all sorts of disco; music that this column is build around. Cherry picking through some of the punk and rock, here are six gems from that list that all y’all still can get down to on the dancefloor.

‘Haven’t You Heard’ by Patrice Rushen

You’ve got the rhythm right there from the get go on this disco song by Patrice Rushen. And, of course, that nice little guitar riff. After thirty seconds, the strings we know from disco come in as, in the mean time, the bass keeps bringing that groove. Then, at the minute mark, the sweet, sweet vocals of Patrice Rushen, who in the chorus gets some help from the girls in the back as they say I’ve been looking for you (haven’t you heard?). Girl, you made it loud and clear that you’re looking for a bit of love with this one. Just before the four minute mark the keys get a major solo, later helped out by some lovey-dovey strings. At 5:30 we, from whispery admissions of looking for love, go gospel a bit. It’s got all the hallmarks of that old school disco, from the groove to the instruments to the sweet vocals singing about love and realness. If you talk about classic disco, probably a track like this comes to mind. Number 199 on the Pitchfork list.

‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’ by The Spinners

It ain’t called Philly Soul for nothing, even if you are from Detroit. Moving from Atlantic to Sigma Sound in Philly, and adding in some help from the house band MFSB, The Spinners made this track, an epitomisation of what was called Sweet Soul, that thing that them at Philly were good at. And from the get go, you hear the sugar, the love, and the strings on this soul record, as the girls help out the guys as they wonder Could it be I’m falling in love?, further mentioning that Meeting you was my destiny. Just before Disco really exploded as dance music, this label was at their height, with the MFSB roster still in full swing, and with bands like the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, and indeed The Spinners charting for the city of brotherly love. And with this genre, who can argue? Number 184 on the Pitchfork list.

‘Girl, You Need A Change of Mind’ by Eddie Kendricks

This track can be said to be one of the first disco records, or at least is a track that already was inching eerily close to the upcoming trend. Also thanks to that snare that lays down the main “beat”. In the mean time, Motown’s Eddie Kendricks pleads that, Baby, you need a change of mind (what you say to that), after which the horns come in as all the men in the club sing a La-la-la-la-la line. It talks about how Love is a liberation, and it shirks close to a sweet talking right-into-yr-bed kind of thing, as he turns on the falsetto trying to persuade you to take his hand (I know you need me!). Add some piano plunking in as well, a sizeable 7 minute running time, and even a break for that bass and rhythm to take hold, and you’ve got something that those early seventies clubs could do some dancing to. Also, Baby, you need a change of mind can be a fantasy for a whole lot of people for a whole lot of things after that clock has struck midnight, of course. Number 173 on the Pitchfork list.

‘I Want Your Love’ by Chic

Chic are kind of the darlings of disco, and rightly so Nile Rodgers is finding fame and fortune even in today’s pop landscape. That bass and guitar riff, from the get go on this one, are fantastic, and how about those bells? Then the girls come in, waiting for another shot of love, and singing like they’ve already been alienated from reality and are now in a love infused haze. Fatalistically, they sing that they Want your love, and all of this song indicates that they simply cannot do without, presenting themselves on a silver platter while not reaching fulfilment. The guitar keeps strumming along, so restrained, and the whole mood seems to grab a different essence of disco then some of the more party-ish tracks that Chic made. A lot in their oeuvre was about celebrating pride and feeling proud about who you are and what you achieve, all the equality in that. This can also be interpreted as Disco’s other side, the need for going out another night, for finding yet another person (or three or four) that will validate you physically, and a devotion to that fit Marlboro man aesthetic. That unresolved desperation (even if it is resolved on a Saturday nightly basis) of hollow eyed men who can’t seem to quit it. And it works as a love song too, of course, though listen to the riff, those bell sounds at the six minute mark, and the distanced delivery of the vocals, and there’s, to me, something altogether not quite as celebratory about it as some of their greatest hits. Number 155 on the Pitchfork list.

‘Papa Was A Rolling Stones’ by The Temptations

Though Disco is seen as celebratory music first and foremost, there are many tracks within that disco/funk/soul spectrum that, next to the groove and the rhythm section, talked about the social issues of the time. Where disco was both African-American and gay, and where a lot of it celebrated the civil right movements of the time and their victories, black masculinity  and the identity of the African-American male were in full negotiation. And there came The Temptations, putting down the clamps on black male stereotypes with a deep bass, a cymbal beat, and a wah-wah guitar supplemented by the horns. And then, the tenor vocals singing about the African-American male’s discretions and putting all the pressure on the mother for the family, and the young boy to puzzle out his own manhood. The track takes aim at the pat-on-the-back-smile-in-your-face-while-cheating-on-your-wife thing, the smiley face saying that everything will be all right and I’ll take care of it but lo-and-behold, nothing gets done, nothing gets changed, and you’ve been taken for another loop. Scathingly packaged in a plethora of handclaps, bass, and guitar sounds. And strings, never forget the strings. Number 57 on the Pitchfork list.

‘Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough’ by Michael Jackson

The Off The Wall album by Michael Jackson has to be one of the most uplifting albums to ever be made. Put on the album, and you’re carried away for a ride of feel good fun, packaged in catchy dancefloor songs. ‘Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough’ is the opening tune, and already gives you a look into all the album is going to give you throughout its entire running time. It starts with that bass sound, the talking vocals, then the yelp, the light strings, the drums, and, lastly, the guitar riff that enters the fray. Jackson asks you to Let love take us through the hours, and he ensures you he won’t be complaining, giving perhaps the biggest evidence of that '60s mantra that sex is not only for reproduction, but also for fun. It’s the album I put on when I need/want/feel like a pop in my step, and this opener immediately brings it all. Number 2 on the Pitchfork list only after Bowie’s brilliant ‘Life On Mars?’, both rightfully in there I reckon.

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