Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Story Behind The Tunes | Illvibe Radio 8 (12.12.12.) Edition Pt. 2

For this month's episode of Illvibe Radio we chose to rock out for December 12, 2012 with 12 of our favorite 12 inch records. These are tunes that are classics in their respective genres. And each are special to us for personal reasons.

Illvibe Radio 8 (Special 12.12.12.) Edition - DJ Skipmode

Disco Dave & The Force of the Five MC's (Crash Crew) - High Power Rap: 
This is one of my favorite early hip hop records and a 12" I'm proud to own.  One thing I love about the early rap acts is that they actually performed as a group - playing off each others lines, practicing routines, doing back ups and harmonies and whatnot...you know like a real group...and this record is a pretty good example of that era.  There's also lots of quotables, sampled phrases, and it's an overall engaging record - you can kinda picture these dudes in front of you performing this live on a stage in an outdoor park circa 1980.  Extra snaps up go to this 12" for being one-sided and having the cool looking vinyl etch design (but no music) on the b-side. 

World's Famous Supreme Team - Hey DJ: 
Another old-school rap classic from 1983.  For those who don't know, The World Famous Supreme Team were a radio team that hosted one of the earliest hip-hop radio shows.  Granted it was late night and on a smaller FM station from outside of NYC so folks prob had to fine tune their radio dials with precision just to get a taste of the rap, breakbeats, and "street music"  they'd play, mix, and scratch every week.  Of course the show was a bit before my time, and geographically impossible for me to have tuned into, but from the tapes of the show I've heard, the effort seems like it would've been worth it.  Somehow the WFST linked up with ex-Sex Pistols manager and British entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren, and contributed a few songs to his hip-hop/ african exploitation album "Duck Rock", this being one of them.

M/A/R/R/S - Pump Up The Volume: 
This one holds a place in my memory as one of the first cassette "Maxi-Singles" I ever purchased.  There was no full length M/A/R/R/S album, so the only way to get that song I liked from the radio, was on 12" vinyl, cassette single, or cassette "maxi-single" - which for you young schoolers is essentially the 12" vinyl version in a cassette format.  Comparing the track listing on the back of the cardboard wrapped "cassingle", to the hard plastic cased "Maxi-Single" revealed that the maxi had two additional versions of the song I liked, and that one was a whopping 7+ minutes.  Say Whaaat?  So I took a chance and went with the slightly more expensive, but ultimately more rewarding maxi-single. 
In hindsight, I probably should've gone with the 12" vinyl purchase, but cassettes were just more convenient as they could slide right into your walkman and have you jamming on your way out of the store, and that's where my head was at on that day in 1987.  Luckily these records were easily available through the years and I've now owned several copies.

Eddy Grant - Time Warp: 
"Electric Avenue" was and is one of my all-time favorite 80's jams.  It also has the honor of being one the first commercial tapes I convinced my parents to buy me as a preschooler (Naked Eyes, Men at Work, and Billy Joel cassettes also come to mind).  But this tape right here was something special...Why?  Because it contained "Two Bonus Tracks!!!".  The long version of Electric Avenue which was exciting enough, and "Time Warp", which sounded unlike anything I had ever heard before, and also completely out of place on the reggae/ pop-ish sounding album.  I won't front like I was on some electro proto-house visionary listener type shit at 4 years old, but the song did make an impression - something like "This music is weird".  But I don't recall fast-forwarding the song like some others on the album just to get back to Electric Avenue.  
Fast forward about 15 years later when I'm starting to DJ some parties here and there and hunting many a used record shop gathering all of my favorite songs on vinyl.  "Electric Avenue" on a 12"?... yeah...gotta have that.  So later that night, when listening to vinyl purchases of the day, I eventually got around to flipping over the Eddy Grant record, and was instantly flooded with childhood memories of sitting on the floor with my gray boombox wondering what to make of this weirdo bonus track on the Eddy Grant album.  I also couldn't believe that until that moment I had completely erased the song from memory, and had to slap myself for forgetting such a completely awesome and influential track for about 15 years.  Just goes to show that sometimes the best shit is right in front of you and you don't even realize it.  Thanks for the reminder Eddy!

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