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When “The Dance Electric” was released, I had already been a Prince fan for six years, of interest since Prince wrote the song. Prince was slowly winding down with what he presented with Purple Rain and was already getting into an Around The World In A Day mind state, so when this came out in early 1985, it really came out of the blue. I knew Andre Cymone was a part of Prince’s live band on his earlier albums and left a few years before this, and I had heard some of his solo material before, but this sounded nothing like what he had come out with before. To be honest, it didn’t sound anything like what Prince had come out with before either. To my ears it was harder, funkier, and sexier, and for this overeager 14 year old, I had no true concept of what a sexier song could be like, despite hearing music by Prince, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Barry White, Earth Wind & Fire and so many others, but no one was doing what this song had done. It’s a bit like Art Of Noise throwing around electronic music with drum sounds from different sources, I had no idea what they were doing or why it sounded that way, but I couldn’t stop listening. The same could be said for “The Dance Electric”.
What made me get into the song was the fantastic music video that was shown on Black Entertainment Television’s Video Soul and Video Vibrations. They were always supportive of anything that had the Minneapolis sound, so this was presented to the people by default. The video was some kind of pre-apocalyptic tale about going to a club where only the sexy people could be, although people seemed to judge themselves by how sexy they are. Some of them may have been greedy or deceitful, but the dance kept on going. Even when the world (or their world) was about to end, the centered dance kept on going, sexiness uninterrupted. Who didn’t want to find a partner to get involved in that?
I had felt “The Dance Electric” was the sexiest video I had ever seen in my young love, sexier than Rod Stewart’s “Tonight I’m Yours” or anything that was on the airwaves pre-1985. Two years later, when a certain movie was released and became an international success, I still felt “The Dance Electric” was the real Dirty Dancing. I’m sure by today’s standards, the video would be fairly tame and yet despite occasional off-tempo steps, it was the kind of seduction that you could only see on some foreign film that you could only watch on Cinemax After Hours or something. All of that appealed to me, and that only made me love the song even more.
As for the song, Prince’s guitar work throughout is solid and has a number of peaks and valleys that help carry the music towards its destination. The background vocals from Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman carry in the tradition of how Prince would arrange every vocal in the song as if it could be a possible lead vocal. There were so many statements made in the song that it lead to great quotes that hold up every much today:
“never mind your hatred, try a brand new style”
“when your youth is gone, when it comes to dawn, the light of truth will shine and you will fall”
“look, our world is falling, a rhythm-less house of blinded prophecy”
As for the Prince-isms in the song, where does one begin? In the Prince song “God” (the B-side to “Purple Rain”), he did say “wake up children, dance the dance electric” so perhaps he was dropping a hint of what he had created. While I never had the 45, I knew of the single version through the edit used in the video, but on the 12″ version, Cymone also said “we got 14 years”, which made be go “oh, it’ll be 1999″. This means we’re going to have to party before we get there. Being a 14 year old, I wasn’t about to party any time soon (nor was I a party-type guy) so how to party and with whom, I had no idea and had no sense of doing anything that felt good. It just seemed that Cymone was throwing out codes, with Prince laying some extra information along the way, with the voices/spirits of Melvoin and Coleman guiding the listener through the underground tunnels. Eventually, we were all going to get there, somehow.
It’s a song that made us (or at least me) think, and I could only imagine what this song must have been like in the right clubs. Were people getting heated in a sexual manner as the video showed, or did the song not get much dance floor action because it wasn’t a massive hit? While the version the 45rpm single was four minutes, the 12″ version was 5 1/2 minutes and known as the “long version”. There have been demo versions circulating for years amongst diehard Prince collectors but in 2012, an acetate surfaced which featured the longest mix of “The Dance Electric” known: 12 minutes. It was a mix with Cymone’s lead vocals, none of Prince’s vocals like existing demo versions, and his guitar work was intact, this was real. To think that this was a mix made for possible release but either he, Cymone, or Columbia Records rejected it and it remained untouched by anyone, it didn’t surface on any imported 12″ singles either. It eventually surfaced on a deluxe edition of Cymone’s A.C. album that was released last year. To fans of Cymone throughout his career, this remains one of the best songs he has done. For Prince fans, this was just another part of his endless dimensions. It remains one of the best songs of the 1980’s, which is often identified with other songs but for me, the 80’s would have been nothing without “The Dance Electric”.
(SIDE NOTE: One of the dancers in the video reminded me of a girl I liked in middle and high school, so there was that too. Respect to Lori S.)
They are The Dirty Jacks from Maryland, who have been called progressive/alt rockers, as listed in the press release for what you’re about to hear, which is in reference to a new EP the band will be releasing called All Part of the Plan. The song is called “From The Ashes To Attack”, and they know you’re going to be into it because it was (all together now) all part of the plan. See how it works? Now let’s hope you are truly into it too.
Run The Jewels have been making a minor ruckus on the social media this morning with a note circulating on how people are able to welcome them to school for a performance and public speaking. Along with that is a new song from that that is a part of Adult Swim’s Singles Club, and this juicer is here right now for all to hear and download, for free. You can also head here if the Soundcloud link/player below is unavailable or not working.
Someone on YouTube had this to say about “Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer:
“this is like Dio mixed with Red Fang and Rage Against the Machine.”
I tend to get a hint of Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow and Tesla, but Crobot may sound like someone else entirely to you. Have a slice of the abdomen and see where the music takes you. The song is on Crobot’s self-titled EP on Wind-Up Records, but will also find its way on their forthcoming album, Something Supernatural.
Andrew St. James’ The Shakes (self-titled) is music for those who like latter-day/the current phase of Flaming Lips, if Wayne Coyne was strictly acoustic. Some of it sounds like a wholesome country or Americana album where St. James’ stories are content enough to not only listen to, but remember and sing along to yourself. The inclusion of the Hammond B-3 gives some songs a stronger feel, I don’t want to say sacred but I love the B-3 and when I hear it in a lot of jazz, I’m brought “home” in the sense that I want to hear my abdomen bathe in it so I can feel rich and tangy. St. James makes good rich and tangy songs, where he speaks about traveling in his lifetime but sometimes feeling lost, or at least unsure if his current location will be to his liking. The use of saxophone by Ralph Carney in “5 Years” has a slight “Baker Street” feel to it, or maybe it’s a Clarence Clemons vibe, but it returns to feeling what is rich and tangy and wanting to sit in a tavern and having two servings of whatever they’re serving. What I also liked was the fanzine assembly approach of the album cover artwork, where it looks as if St. James obtained some photos, cut it himself done not in a professional manner but look, who cares, it’s the music that matters most. There is a homemade feel to the artwork but the music could easily become something that takes on a following if he allows himself more into the world. I think he’s already there.
Alison Blunt (violin), Anna Kaluza (alto sax), Manuel Miethe (soprano sax), Nikolai Meinhold (piano) and Horst Nonnenmache (double bass) are the five that make up the Hanam Quintet, who recorded the album in two different locations, the Lumen Church in London and the Collegium Hungaricum in Berlin. The pieces are untitled as they speak to one another in a very comforting manner, as if they were people having a casual conversation at the park or at the mall. You can hear them as being oddly freaky or sensually beautiful, a bit like watching the origins of something being creative at high speed. The last part of the album is a three-part, 17 minute composition that features cellist Tristan Honsinger, who helps to bring the quintet into his world and he into theirs for a bit more conversation, although sometimes the silence shared between themselves is what makes this work nicely too. I also found the artwork by Sandrao Crisafi to be quite engaging too, allowing myself to interpret it along with the music if and when I wanted to.
Cups Glasses And Tanks (Aut) is a new collaboration between Nicola Guazzaloca, Pablo Montagne, and Giacomo Mongelli, with Guazzaloca playing jazz while Montagne and Mongelli performing in a number of different classical configurations. The album is very much on the avant-garde side and while there are jazz central points, at the moments one would think they’re about to stay locked in something nice, they all go off into another world. I think what makes this work is that even when I was secure in being comfortable with what I’m hearing, they didn’t stay there that long, leading into something more mysterious. There were moments in Montagne when he plucked a certain string to scratch it, and it reminded me of Okkyung Lee. Then again, it may have been Guazzaloca scratching the piano strings. The music here is evenly beautiful and clustered, it’s easy to get in the middle and watch it from the outside while inside.
There was a comment saxophonist Anthony Braxton said in an interview that I felt was very interesting. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something to the effect that just because he plays the saxophone doesn’t mean he plays or has to play jazz all the time. The instrument is held solid with jazz, even though it can be used in a wide range of settings, like a guitar, but the saxophone is just jazz. I thought of this as I was listening to this album by a trio who call themselves Bug Jargal. Nello Da Pont, Giorgio Pacorig, and Luciano Caruso begin in a very open fashion, not free jazz or anything but slowly building themselves up and I hear Caruso’s saxophone world. Here I was, expecting something textural and then Da Pont’s drums kick in and… it has a groove. Not funky, but it grooves well, just bars repeated without a bass line, and I say this because it’s what I generally crave in other music. Then Pacorig plays his Fender Rhodes and it sounds very much like jazz to me, or at least avant-garde jazz. It could be something freaky on ECM, it could be something on another distant record label, it could be one of Sun Ra’s musicians doodling in an earthbound manner. It’s not a garbled mess, there is some sense of precision going on, but it’s nice to hear just three guys playing for the sake of playing, very improvisational (at least to my ears) and without a care of where they’re going to go next, or with each other. Pacorig sometimes plays with the spirit of Herbie Hancock or Keith Jarrett so at times it may feel like you’ll think Miles Davis will come out, play his trumpet for two minutes, then stair at the wall for the next 22 minutes. As the liner notes state, “there is respect, mutual trust and complicity” and that can be felt. Again, unsure of where they’re going, but they’re going, and I’m glad they did. Further journeys, gentlemen.