I’ve never seen the 1990 movie The Return of Superfly, and I don’t think many other people have either because it was a total flop and is apparently a bit crap too. Some may even be surprised to learn it exists and is actually the second sequel to the original.
I do, however, have this 12″ single from the soundtrack by the great Curtis Mayfield with Ice-T. Curtis’ career was in the doldrums at the time (he still drew crowds in England though, I saw him live twice in the late 80s) and teaming him up with a rapper was a way of appealing to the kids. Sadly, Curtis’ comeback was derailed later the same year when he had the accident that left him paralyzed.
While this can’t hold a candle to his original Superfly songs it’s a pretty good record. Gangsta Rap owed a lot to Blaxploitation movies so Ice-T is a good fit for the subject and it’s always nice to hear Curtis’ sweet, yearning voice, even if it is for a rubbish film.
This “Seven Minutes of Madness” remix by Coldcut from 1987 is still an amazing and radical piece of sound collage, throwing in Ofra Haza, Humphrey Bogart, James Brown, and a BBC Play School record while still keeping the bones of the original. Though we were all to get sick of that “This is a journey into sound” sample they were the first ones to use it.
Apparently Eric B dissed this as “Girly disco music”.
Roxy Music hid this gem away on the other side of the 12″ single of “Take A Chance With Me” in 1982. It’s an extended remix which takes the Avalon highlight on a 7:40 minute journey and listening to it makes me think their comeback albums would have been more interesting if they had pushed the songs in this expansive direction.
From “The Bogus Man” to “Manifesto” Roxy were always very good at long, atmospheric instrumental passages, so imagine the chill soundscapes of Avalon or the pulsing sequencers of “Same Old Scene” stretched out into more trippy, hypnotic territory. I think the results would have been terrific.
Producer Arthur Baker made quite the splash in 1982. First he unleashed the revolutionary “Planet Rock” on the world and changed dance music forever — I still remember the first time I heard it — and had his first big popular hit with this classic cover of an Eddy Grant song which took over dance floors all over the land that year.
After that double whammy Baker became one of the hottest knob-twiddlers around, in demand as a remixer, and producing other megahits like Freeez’s “I.O.U”. Even those gloomy buggers New Order flew over to New York to touch the hem of his garment and work with him on “Confusion” — which, to be frank, was a bit of a let-down and nowhere near as good as this track.
I’ve always thought of this as a perfect 12″ single, even though it lasts an epic 9.5 minutes it never feels too long (unlike some extended mixes). In fact, I think I’d be happy if this went on forever.
Orange Juice’s early Postcard records are rightly held in reverence but their later work gets a little overlooked as a result. Personally my favourite album of theirs is Texas Fever and I remember there being a bit of Dylan-going-electric purist snobbery about them signing to a big label and sounding more polished — like they could keep doing that kind of amateurish jangly indie forever. “Polished” is a relative term of course, their records always sounded a bit off-kilter no matter how many new chords and grooves they learned.
One time I saw them live Edwyn Collins jokingly introduced “Rip It Up” as “our one-hit wonder” and their final single “Lean Period” from 1984 wasn’t a hit either like 99% of their others, but it’s a bouncy and catchy number that should have done better even if it maybe isn’t one of their greatest. I still like it a lot though, a typically snarky Collins love song (and maybe even a sly commentary on his own critical reputation) here given a nice dubby remix by Dennis Bovell in this 12″ version which isn’t easily available anywhere far as I can tell.
When I worked in the record department of WH Smith in the late 70s there were a few records which we were guaranteed to sell a copy of if we played them. Giorgio Moroder’s soundtrack to Midnight Express was one, it’s haunting electronics inevitably bringing an entranced customer to the counter to ask what it was. I’m reminded of it now because it’s just been reissued on vinyl after many years out of print.
Director Alan Parker hired Moroder after hearing “I Feel Love” and asked him to do something similar, so while the album is mostly slow mood pieces he fully answered that brief with the pulsing opening track “Chase” which turned out to be just as influential as the Donna Summer record. The version on the album is over 8 minutes long but it was also issued as a 12″ single that clocked in at a whopping 13 minutes, and that’s the version I’m giving you here. At this length it moves beyond electronic disco into more trancey territory, sounding at times like a proto-Rave tune.
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.