The SOS Band were one of the acts (along with Alexander O’Neal) that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis honed their production chops on before hitting the really big time with Janet Jackson. This was their first hit and you can already hear that signature drum machine sound (a Roland TR-808) which pretty much defined 80s dance music.
An absolute classic record, and extra marks for the guy playing a Keytar. Don’t see enough of those these days.
Though this was a medium-sized hit in the UK in 1979 it became better known 10 years later when that great brass riff was sampled by S-Express which got to #1. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that the original is the best.
I love how the guy is playing bongos for what is obviously a synth-drum sound.
This was the first House record to make the charts in the UK but little did I know when I bought the 12″ back in 1986 that it would turn out to be as influential and game-changing as ‘Anarchy In The UK’. I knew it was a bloody great record though, with a beat and a vocal that leapt out of the speakers at you.
This performance by Darryl Pandy on Top of The Pops must have helped it make a splash too.
I was doing a bit of crate-digging at home the other day and pulled out the 1985 compilation album Go Go Crankin’ which dates from that brief moment in the mid-80s when Go-Go music from Washington DC was the hottest thing around – at least on the London club scene and in trendy style magazines.
Go-Go was heavily percussive funk with an emphasis on extended live jams that had been a local scene in DC for years before it came to the attention of taste-makers and trendies on the other side of the pond. It was given a big push by Island Records, hyped by a big feature in The Face, and was very popular at London warehouse clubs like The Dirtbox where it shared turntable space with Rockabilly, Reggae, and Electro (clubs were a lot more eclectic in the days before House devoured the entire scene).
But despite the big push it never broke through to a mass audience the way Hip-Hop did, probably because Go-Go was more dependent on funky jams than snappy tunes — not surprisingly then that it’s high point in the UK was probably Trouble Funk’s famous gig at London’s Town & Country Club in 1986.
It’s brief moment in the English sun did bring us some great records though, of which Go Go Crankin’ was probably the most essential collection. I hadn’t played it in years and it’s still prime booty-shaking music.
Recorded from vinyl so forgive any sound imperfections.
Posting that terrific Archie Bell & The Drells clip on Friday got me to dig out this old 12″ single. Wally Jump Jnr. & The Criminal Element was a pseudonym of legendary producer Arthur Baker and singers Donnie Calvin and Will Downing who released this version of “Tighten Up” in 1987 that mixed in a pinch of Janet Jackson’s “When I Think of You” with some massive drum beats to make one ferociously funky dancefloor workout.
BONUS BEATS: The same year Baker also put out the stonking “Put The Needle To The Record” under the name The Criminal Element Orchestra which sampled a little bit of “Kiss” by Prince with an even bigger drum sound and twisted, turned, and stretched it out into a pile-driving beat monster.