sunnudagur, júní 01, 2008

Afmælisgestur 2

Við eigum ammæli og því buðum við kumpánum að gera gestafærslu. Hér erum við tekin í poppskóla af Baron von Luxxury frá hinu óviðjafnanlega Disco Workout.
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Malcolm Mclaren by Bob Gruen
You ladies might wanna find a good copyright lawyer...
Right: Malcolm Mclaren. Round the outside: Buffalo Gals. Photo by Bob Gruen.

Perhaps as repentance for the horrifyingly offensive video we posted Friday, today's Disco Sunday is about the white man pilfering rhythms from Africa, and how that is wrong and bad, and how it is pretty much the history of pop music. It's a slight departure from the electronic/dance stuff I usually post here but it's the story of a beat that is antecedent to all things disco. Plus its a fascinating story of musical connections.

The capital-B "Burundi Beat" was originally a field recording of 25 drummers of the Ingoma tribe in central Africa released on an album called "Musique Du Burundi" in 1968. An enhanced version (presumably the addition of a rather inorganically mechanical kick drum) was released as "Burundi Black" by Mike Steiphenson and was a minor hit in the UK in 1971.

Burundi Steiphenson Black - 'Burundi Black' mp3

Beastie Boy sample trainspotters take note:

Beastie Boys - '59 Chrystie Street' (Excerpt from B-Boy Bouillabaise) mp3



Enter Malcolm. In 1979 the ex-Sex Pistols manager offered up his services to a band of rising stars called Adam and the Ants. According to legend, he handed them a copy of the Burundi tape, suggesting they write all new material based on the rhythmns therein. Just months later, McLaren convinced the backing band of Ants to leave Adam, which they did - taking all of their new songs with them.



Then, the shamelessly scandal-seeking (and yet a Manet fan...High art! Low art! Neither! Both!) McLaren found himself a 14 year old Burmese girl with a mohawk. He wrote a stack of shock-horror lyrics about urban piracy and sex on airplanes for her to sing. The former Ants served up a backdrop of twang surf guitar, neverending walking melodic basslines and a tom-tom centric version of the Burundi beat. The new band, christened Bow Wow Wow, brought their amazing new look and sound to the UK Top 10:

Video: Bow Wow Wow perform "Wild In The Country" on Top of the Pops



Bow Wow Wow - 'Mile High Club' mp3

Bow Wow Wow broke in the US and had their biggest hit with a cover of an old 60's hit by The Strangeloves which, ironically, was based on a different stolen beat:

Bow Wow Wow - 'I Want Candy' (Kevin Shiekds remix) mp3

(The Strangeloves, by the way, were a studio group founded by three songwriters, one of whom would go on not only to produce the Go-Go's and Blondie but also to found Sire Records *and* the digital distribution company The Orchard. Quel flaneur!)



While it must have been doubly difficult to suffer not only the loss of his band but also to watch them succeed from afar, Adam (né Stuart) managed to dust himself off, find new musicians, and steal back the stolen beats. "Antmusic" was a huge hit, going to #2 in 1981, and once again the Western pop charts were infiltrated by African rhythms:

Video: "Ant Music" - Adam and The Ants



Adam and the Ants - 'Ant Music' mp3

This musical thread is far wider and deeper than what I've touched on, but I had to draw the line somewhere. There are a dozen more MP3s to post and facts to convey (for example: did you know that Boy George, aka "Lieutenant Lush" was the original singer for Bow Wow Wow?). So if you're interested in this particular slice of music history, here are some suggestions for further reading:

* I highly highly highly recommend Simon Reynolds' fantastic book "Rip It Up And Start Again". It covers the fertile period from 1978-1984 often known as "postpunk", which is to say after the Sex Pistols and before gigantic shoulder pads.
* Mr. Reynolds also has a great Blog.
* Also check out "More Reasons to Hate Vampire Weekend"
* And here's a nice article about Early Adam Ant
* Malcolm McLaren Wiki
* Adam Ant dot Net
* Bow Wow Wiki
* An Incredible Treasure Trove of BWW videos


xx,
Baron von Luxxury is My Fake Name

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