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Afromantic Mix    


This mix is the result of my re-investigating post-punk music, after reading Simon Reynold's "Rip It Up And Start Again", a brilliant review of the period from 1978 - 1984. One recurring theme seemed to be the influence of jazz, funk and disco on young bands originally inspired by punk. Punk was famously anti-disco to start with, but "punk-funk" proved what great allies they could be in the war against rock and pop clichés. African percussion, rhythm machines, synthesizers and the distinctive 'slap' and 'pop' of the funk bass style of the late 1970's, when added to punk energy, produced an exciting new wave of diverse music.

1. Nina Hagen - African Reggae

First up is the inimitable Nina Hagen with "African Reggae". The title is an understatement. She manages to fit opera, yodelling, rap, free jazz, funk, punk and reggae all into just this one track! Unbelievable - until you hear her later albums and realise it was no accident.

2. Casino Music - The Beat Goes On

Casino Music were a French duo signed to ZE Records, a cutting edge New York label whose logo bore the black and yellow check of that city's famous taxicabs. Check the incredibly loose-but-funky groove of their cover of Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On".

3. Sandii & The Sunsetz - The Chunk O' Funk

The album I have of Sandii &The Sunsetz dates from 1982, titled "Immigrants". I don't know much about them, but they were Japanese and they name-check David Sylvian in the credits. Anyway the whole record sounds great, but quite like nothing else. Don't you wish you'd thought of the name "Chunk Of Funk"?

4. Grace Jones - Feel Up

Another thing recurring in the Reynolds book cited above is mention of the Island Records/Chris Blackwell/Compass Point studios connection with many of the artists here, such as Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Casino Music, and Ian Dury. Here Grace provides us with "Feel Up" from her "Nightclubbing" record. If you want to know which album of hers to get - the answer is 'all of them'.

5. David Byrne and Brian Eno - Moonlight In Glory

Tom Tom Club of course were half of Talking Heads, who, at their most interesting period, were produced by Brian Eno. The lead singer was David Byrne, and along with Eno together produced a project album of cut-up voice recordings, atmospheric tone collages, and "found objects" called "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts" from which this track is taken.

6. Talking Heads - Born Under Punches

Unsurprising then that a Talking Heads song from the same period continues the claustrophobic intensity. "Born Under Punches" comes from their 1980 masterpiece "Remain In Light".

7. Shriekback - My Spine is the Bassline

Shriekback records from this time I always recall as having great sounding drums. "My Spine... " was a club favourite back in the day (1983) but the other biggie from the "Care" album, "All Lined Up", was the radio favourite (I'm talking 4ZZZ FM here, not commercial radio!).

8. Tom Tom Club - Challenge of the Love Warriors

Tom Tom Club's 3rd album was a while coming... "Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom" landed in 1988. Not quite as funky as their first two, but I love this bit of experimental vocal and electronic percussion - early beatboxing!

9. Scritti Politti - Don't Work That Hard

Scritti Politti's album "Cupid and Psyche '85" stood out at the time for it's tight rhythms and crisp synths. "Don't Work That Hard" could be a Michael Jackson song, it's arrangement is so funky.

10. The Quick - Zulu

The Quick are a band I often throw in my mixes or sets. Their album from 1982 "Fascinating Rhythm" features sensational songs and production, like this one, "Zulu". For some reason they always seems to get overlooked by the eighties revivalists.

11. Ian Dury - Trust Is A Must

Having recently read the Ian Dury biography, I get the impression that he wasn't too proud of his 1981 "Lord Upminster" album. I can't understand why - it sounds gorgeous, and with Chaz Jankel and Sly and Robbie assisting, the grooves are totally sorted. "Spasticus Autisticus", the single remixed for 12 inch, was huge in the clubs at the time. Maybe he thought some of his lyrics, like here on "Trust Is A Must" were a bit simplistic? I dunno - works for me!

12. Konk - Love Attack

Recordings by New York band Konk seem thin on the ground. "Love Attack" I found on a Gomma comp called "Anti NY". They also have a track on "Disco Not Disco" on Strut. The sleevenotes of the "Anti NY" record states that Konk were a seven piece that played at The Loft, Paradise Garage, and The Mudd Club, and whose onstage number sometimes swelled to ten.

13. Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice (rmx)

John Lennon always said Yoko's music was way ahead of the game. Here was the proof. A favourite of Nile Rodgers and Larry Levan, and a track that never seems to date. This is my remix.

14. Kissing The Pink - Mr Blunt

(I think this refers to Sir Anthony Blunt, the British art historian revealed as a Soviet spy). This was the single from their 1983 album "Naked". Check those massive rolling tom toms!

15. James White and the Blacks - Contort Yourself (August Darnell remix)

"Rip It Up.." portrays James Chance's music and live performances as pretty confronting, 'punk-jazz' almost. Conservatory-trained, but self taught on the saxophone, Chance was inpired by James Brown's song structures, with the wailing free horns over the locked-tight grooves. Their label ZE Records called it "mutant disco". Here labelmate August Darnell from Kid Creole And The Coconuts strips back the craziness a bit but retains the funk.

16. The Police - Masoko Tanga

I love the way it's impossible to put your finger on the main vibe here - is it reggae? Funk? Afro? Stewart Copeland's drums seem to change gears and styles through this track like a chameleon changing colours. From their first album.

17. King Sunny Adé - Synchro System

Did that just give it away that this is a computer mix? From 142 to 102 bpm... but after the dust settles, isn't it strange how Sunny's Synchro sounds sorta speedier than Sting's? For more alliteration, how about those Punishing Psycho Polyrhythms??!! (Ooops... that only works in print, which, hopefully, you won't say about this mix).

Now I realise Sunny ain't exactly post-punk. The reason he's here is because the 'system' mentioned in the title refers to his method of very tightly defining the individual parts of his many players. It almost seems to be emulating a sequencer - a piece of music technology that revolutionised European pop music. So I thought it a nice twist to finish on... Enjoy!