The Second Disc

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Archive for February 19th, 2014

Jump on It! Incredible Bongo Band’s Debut Reissued on Vinyl

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Bongo RockOf all the breaks in hip-hop history to get you on the dance floor, few are more thrilling to this very day than “Apache,” as recorded by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band. A cover of a Jerry Lordan instrumental made famous by The Shadows in the U.K. and Jørgen Ingman and His Guitar in the U.S. in the early 1960s, the bongo-heavy version of “Apache” never charted but became a major influence on early hip-hop. The song’s spaghetti western-esque riff was sampled by the likes of The Beastie Boys, Nas, Grandmaster Flash, Sir Mix-a-Lot and, most famously, The Sugar Hill Gang, whose rap version of the track just missed the Top 40 in 1982 but gained immortality among a new generation when it scored an uproarious moment on rapper Will Smith’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. (The enduring popularity of the scene is such that Smith and surprise guests reprised it on BBC’s Graham Norton Show last summer.)

Some 40 years after its original release, the entire first album by The Incredible Bongo Band is now available on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl. What’s the real deal behind this project? Who were The Incredible Bongo Band? And what might a Beatle have to do with the whole ordeal? Keep reading after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 19, 2014 at 14:56

From De-Evolution to Revolution: Rare Devo Show to Be Released in Full for Record Store Day

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11183_JKTThe rock world was stunned yesterday by the announcement of the sudden passing of Bob Casale, guitarist/keyboardist/engineer for quintessential New Wave outfit Devo. “Bob 2,” as he was known to scores of fans (“Bob 1” being guitarist/vocalist Bob Mothersbaugh), was an integral part of one of the quirkiest pop bands of the last century, and his sudden death has left a hole in the hearts of fans everywhere. By sheer coincidence, Devo have been one of the first acts to announce a title for Record Store Day in April 2014, consisting of a pivotal 1977 show being released for the first time in full.

Devo had, of course, been challenging audiences with their maniacally catchy, satirical repertoire for much of the ’70s, from the Kent State University campus the band attended (the nascent band’s mindset turned from purely comedic to somewhat serious with the shooting deaths of several protesting students by National Guardsmen in 1970) to the greater Ohio area and beyond. Their appearance at New York club Max’s Kansas City in November 1977 may have been their most essential to date: the self-proclaimed “spudboys” were introduced that night by none other than David Bowie, who presented them as “the band of the future.” Band co-founder/bassist Gerald Casale would later note that record labels began calling after the performance; ultimately, the group would sign to Stiff Records (who’d put their first self-released singles together on an EP) and then Warner Bros. – their major-label home ever since.

Nine tracks from the Max’s performance made their way onto Rykodisc’s 1992 set DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years, but the impending release of DEVO Live At Max’s Kansas City 11/15/77 on Jackpot Records will feature the entire show. (Casale’s liner notes for The Mongoloid Years noted that the repertoire on that disc represented “the best of the only audio tapes that escaped total disintegration over the last 15 years.” Jackpot’s note about “working closely with the band and those who were there that night” means that the LP is likely sourced from multiple recordings, including fan-sourced ones.) Casale will write new liner notes; the package will also include a band press bio from 1974. Limited to 2,000 copies, this disc will be available at Record Store Day-participating stores on April 19.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 19, 2014 at 13:38

BBR Has “The Force” With Latest Kool and the Gang Remasters

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Kool and the Gang - Everybody's Dancin'Big Break Records is determined to make sure that Everybody’s Dancin’ with its latest two reissues from the kings of Kool.  The Cherry Red label dived into the Kool and the Gang catalogue in late 2013 with deluxe, expanded editions of all four of the band’s epochal albums with arranger-producer Eumir Deodato: Ladies’ Night (1979, Platinum), Celebrate! (1980, Platinum), Something Special (1981, Platinum) and As One (1982, Gold).  Prior to that, BBR had already given similarly lavish treatment to 1976’s Open Sesame.  With a new pair of releases, the label has filled in the gap between Open Sesame and Ladies’ Night.  1977’s The Force and 1978’s Everybody’s Dancin’ are today best remembered as the albums that set the stage for the sensational Ladies’ Night, but these new reissues make a case to appreciate them on their own considerable merits.

Formed in New Jersey as The Jazziacs, Kool and the Gang signed with Gene Redd’s De-Lite Records in 1969, scoring a hit single right away with an eponymous instrumental single.  With that No. 59 Pop/No. 19 R&B chart entry, Kool established its signature blend of soul, pop and jazz.  As the band continued to grow and explore new musical avenues, they scored a gold record in 1974 with Wild and Peaceful (“Funky Stuff,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood Swinging”) and in 1975 with the Grammy-nominated Light of Worlds.  Another breakthrough came via Open Sesame when its title song appeared on the colossally successful soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.  But that album became the final chapter of the first era of Kool and the Gang.

Robert “Kool” Bell (bass/vocals), Ronald Bell (tenor saxophone/keyboards/vocals), Dennis “D.T.” Thomas (alto saxophone/vocals), George “Funky” Brown (drums/vocals), Charles Smith (guitar) and Robert “Spike” Mickens (trumpet/vocals) were joined at Philadelphia’s De-Lite Studios by Claydes Smith (guitars/percussion/vocals), Otha Nash (vocals/percussion/trombone/tuba), Donal Boyce (vocals), Arthur Capehart (trumpet) and Kevin Lassiter (keyboards/clavinet/percussion/vocals) for late 1977’s The Force.  On the album’s eight tracks, Kool and the Gang stayed in R&B fusion jazz vein with which their fans were familiar, layering on enough funk to attract the disco revelers with tracks like the Top 20 R&B hit “Slick Superchick.”  In another concession to the times, “A Place in Space” touched on the public’s fascination with sci-fi, but things were more down to earth on the anthem of self-empowerment “Mighty Mighty High.”  Ronald Bell, Claydes Smith and George Brown’s production kept the album’s style slick yet compelling, and for extra sweetening, the MFSB string section even appeared, on loan from Philadelphia International Records.

Kool and the Gang were rewarded with a No. 33 success for The Force on the U.S. R&B chart.  Big Break’s reissue, remastered by Kevin Reeves, adds the single versions of “Slick Superchick” and “A Place in Space” as well as the 12-inch disco mix of “Mighty Mighty High.”  Steven E. Flemming, Jr.’s new liner notes compellingly chronicle both the band’s history and the story behind the album itself.

After the jump, Everybody’s Dancin’! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 19, 2014 at 09:53