Inspired by the October 10 birthdays of David Lee Roth, John Prine, Crystal Waters, Kirsty MacColl, Tanya Tucker, Mya, Ultravox’s Midge Ure, Ivory Joe Hunter, Oscar Brown Jr. and The Honeycombs’ Dennis D’Ell.
Inspired by the August 25 birthdays of Elvis Costello, Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy, The O’Jays’ Walter Williams, Digital Underground’s Shock G, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Billy Ray Cyrus, K7, Willy DeVille, Weather Report’s Wayne Shorter, The Korgis’ James Warren, Leonard Bernstein, Tim Burton, Sean Connery and John Savage.
Last week I regaled an audience with the story of the time I accidentally hired a prostitute to show me around Prague. These things happen. To me, anyway.
Half-glass-full guy that I am, once I realized what I did, I looked at the positive – I hired a prostitute to show me around Prague! Complications arose when the police got involved and I had to explain to my bank why they needed to credit that charge.
Though I ended up sightseeing that spectacular city on my own, I got a great story out of the trip. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, but you make the best of the situation and try to turn it into a positive.
Someday I’ll talk about the time I boarded a bus in Mexico to go on what I thought was a nature trip to the hot springs. Let’s just say I don’t think the springs got any hotter than they did that night.
In 1987, two bands, both interested in making a dance record, got together in the studio at the suggestion of the head of their record label, 4AD. Colourbox and A R Kane didn’t hit it off, so each worked on their own track, which they then turned over to the other group to embellish.
Colourbox came up with “Pump up the Volume,” its title line sampled from Eric B & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul.” A R Kane added some guitar to the track, and DJs CJ Macintosh and Dave Dorrell added a bunch of samples.
The record was released under the name M|A|R|R|S. “Pump up the Volume” became a worldwide smash and was groundbreaking in its use of samples on a British house track.
Though the idea of a true collaboration between the two bands didn’t come to fruition, and the acts didn’t get along and never worked together again, they did produce a dance classic. “Pump up the Volume” kicks off today’s dance playlist. Have a great weekend and before you buy anything, make sure you know exactly what it is you are paying for.
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Ten Facts about Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”
1. Yes, the word “don’t” is repeated in the parenthetical.
2. Melle Mel was the most prominent rapper in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Grandmaster Flash was the DJ, not a rapper.
3. Though credited to Grandmaster & Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash does not appear on “White Lines,” nor did he appear on the classic “The Message” (“it’s like a jungle sometimes / It makes me wonder how I keep from going under”). Forced out of the group that bore his name, Flash sued Melle Mel and their label, Sugarhill Records, over the use of his name to sell records, the result of which was the odd artist credit on the “White Lines” single.
4. Flash heard “White lines,” about the dangers of cocaine addiction, while on his way to buy crack.
5. Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel reunited in 1987 at a charity concert hosted by Paul Simon.
6. The bassline was lifted from Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern.”
7. The record credits Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson as the song’s writers. Robinson was the head of Sugarhill Records. Previously, she had a hit in 1973 with “Pillow Talk,” a song she wrote for Al Green, who declined to record it, and as one-half of Mickey & Sylvia, she took the classic ”Love is Strange” to #11 in 1957.
8. The lyrics include a reference to car manufacturer John DeLorean (“A businessman is caught with 24 kilos”). In 1982 the FBI arrested DeLorean for purchasing 24 kilos of coke. The song compares his fate (“He’s out on bail and out of jail”) with that of an inner city youth (“A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time. He got out three years from now just to commit more crime.”).
9. An unofficial music video for the song was directed by an NYU student named Spike Lee. It starred Laurence Fishburne, the actor who at that time was playing Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
10. The record hit the top ten on the US dance chart in 1983. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.
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