Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Street Sounds Crucial Electro - Various Artists

This is a really classy collection of hot electro-funk tunes from 1984. Should bring back some sweet memories for all you folks old enough to remember Afrika Bambaataa, polyester tracksuits and body popping.

This music sounds so fresh, futuristic and progressive its easy to forget that these tracks were produced in some of America's most impoverished ghettos - the Bronx, Detroit, Washington D.C. - at a time when the Reagan's brutal individualism and predatory capitalism were deepening the divisions between communities and between the haves and have-nots. Fortunately, people find ways to express themselves even in the most desperate of times and this music is a testament to that; as Twilight 22 put it:
Huh, deep in the city people live in the streets
You got to be careful of everyone you meet
There’s lootin and shootin’, people stabbin’ and grabbin’
The innocent bystander the police are grabbin’

Ain’t it a pity ‘cause you hate the city
But the way you feel ain’t no big deal
You’ve got to survive and that the real nitty gritty
You go uptown, downtown, you’ve got to turn your life around (Huh)

Back in the jungle a man is free
Free from the street, from captivity
Break out, break in, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been
Snake pit, lion’s den, you need someone to be your friend
My first exposure to this stuff came when I was a schoolboy in 1984 when Channel 4 (I think) showed this fabulous documentary:


01 Tyrone - Brunson The Smurf
02 Warp 9 - Light Years Away
03 Warp 9 - Nunk (New Wave Funk)
04 Man Parrish - Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don't Stop)
05 Herbie Hancock - Rockit
06 Twilight 22 - Electric Kingdom
07 Cybotron - Clear
08 Hashim - Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)
09 Captain Rock - Return Of Captain Rock
10 Time Zone - Wild Style

Get it HERE.


Anonymous said...

Looks fantastic. Thanks!

Holly said...

Very cool, thank you!

clazy8 said...

Is the political commentary necessary? You post some cool stuff, but remarks like this -- "a time when the Reagan's brutal individualism and predatory capitalism were deepening the divisions between communities and between the haves and have-nots" -- are laughable.

Mr Tear said...

Hi Clazy8,

Is the political commentary necessary? Well, I wouldn't class a couple of comments about stuff that happened over twenty years ago as political commentary. I do however, think its important to remember that music (and art in general) is not produced in a vacuum. There are always events (political, social cultural)taking place in the world in which musicians live which inform the music they make. That's why I make these laughable comments. Whether the comments are well written or not, that's spmething for you to decide but the stark fact of the matter is that the Reagan administration's economic and social policies did increase the disparities in wealth between the rich and poor, just as Thatcher's quasi-neoliberal policies did here in the UK.
If you feel the need to laugh, then go ahead 'cos its good for the soul.

clazy8 said...

Hi Mr Tear,

Thanks for taking my rudeness so well. I needn't have used the word "laughable". "Ill-informed" would have been far more appropriate.

I appreciate the thoughtful reply, also. However, I still regard your comments as ill-informed, particularly in light of the link you included.

There are so many problems with Naomi Klein's lazy analysis that I'm not sure where to start. Her very premise, that this "crackdown" is a response to the OWS demand that money get out of politics, is absurd. The Tea Parties made the same point two years ago, and they've been making it ever since, far more effectively and without aimless "occupations". But they oppose President Obama's agenda and favor smaller government, so the media generally treat them as right-wing wackos.

And what is this about "unparalleled police brutality"? Is she serious? The police coddled those people for two months, allowing them to conflate freedom of speech with the freedom to usurp public space for a squalid shantytown from which to harass locals with noise and filth. That should not have lasted more than one day.

Klein's comparison of the OWS occupation with kids camping outside NBC overnight to get tickets is so poor that I wonder if she has no respect for her readers. Surely she's not stupid enough to think the analogy demonstrates anything.

As for the horrors of pepper spray -- the photo appalled me when I first saw it, but after seeing video putting the incident into context, I've changed my mind. Have you seen the video showing the same cop speaking with the leader of the kids? The cop tells them he's going to spray them if they do not rise and clear the area; and this protester says, "You're going to shoot us? That's fine." Everyone covers up as the cops get their spray cans ready, and then the fat one gives everyone the photo op they'd been waiting for. Woo, police brutality! I suppose Klein never considered the alternative, that the cops could have used their batons, or simply wrenched the protesters away, one by one, risking injury.

And where were these "phalanxes" of riot police that she mentions? That particular incident featured about ten or fifteen cops surrounded by a crowd of about a thousand or more students.

Enough of that. I agree that the context of hip hops emergence -- poverty and hopelessness -- is important to understanding the music, but Reagan had nothing to do with creating that environment, which was already well established by the end of the 1970s. That documentary you linked -- remember the images of the Bronx? The 70s. Poverty and hopelessness were a consequence of the rioting of the 60s, exacerbated by misguided, oversized, centralized social engineering projects that undermined individual initiative by treating the poor like helpless cattle who could be shunted here or there for their own good.

I'm done. Thanks for the good music.

Holly said...

"Poverty and hopelessness were a consequence of the rioting of the 60s"

cart>horse, me thinks

that is all :-)

Mr Tear said...

Hi Clazy8,

Laughable or ill-informed - makes no difference to me. You talk like a person who is in possession of the "facts", when what you're doing is expressing an opinion. You're right, Reagan's economic and social policies did not cause the problems in America's ghettos (there's a long history that goes way back beyond the riots of the 60s), but they certainly did nothing to improve the conditions of the lives of people living in them - and they weren't designed to. All the bluster about government's stepping back and allowing companies and individuals to make money and that wealth 'trickling down' through all sections of the population - like we should be satisfied with a life of exloitation in exchange for the crumbs off someone else's table.
What we're getting to here is ideological difference, and it will take more than the exchange of a few words on a blog to do anything about that. And before you say it, I're not into ideology - all that neoliberal economic theory is science and definately true, like god and apple pie and the right to bear arms.

clazy8 said...

That's a disappointing response, Mr Tear, except that you've made my original point: your comments about the 80s were political commentary, i.e., an "ideological" perspective insofar as you assert causes and characterize them as "brutal" and "predatory". I think you know that many people do not agree with your account. I'm sure you do not set out to offend them, certainly not here, which is obviously a labor of love. Unfortunately you seem to have assumed that everyone cool enough to appreciate what you've done shares your politics -- but they don't.

This is a pet peeve of mine because I live in New York, where the upper classes and the many Americans who move here to escape the monotony of home or to pursue individualistic careers unthinkingly assume that anyone intelligent will necessarily smirk at the right moment when the name Sarah Palin is dropped, or Fox News is mentioned, etc etc. I can see how this occurs. A host of transplants from the interior come here to escape the constraints of largely conservative hometowns. But though they were individualists back there, they succumb to the herd instinct here, a place where they finally "belong". Back home, they were forced to be on their intellectual toes; here they become intellectually lazy, provincial, but they still valorize themselves as principled individualists.

Anyway -- the way to counter a factual claim is with a better factual claim, not to dismiss the existence of facts with scare quotes or to shift the focus to ideology.

And by the way, I have no use for god, I do not eat apple pie, and I do not own a gun, but I do not look down upon people who do.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. I look forward to walking down memory lane. Love your blog!

Mr Tear said...

Oops Clazy8, you're right about my disappointing response. I was the one burbling about "stark facts" - like I'm somehow in possession of them. Lazy. I forgot that 'facts' are always open to interpretation. As a person who feels that capitalism stands in the way of the free development of human individuality, I will interpret phenomena in particular ways, just as you - who presumably thinks that the free market can deliver the best of possible worlds - will interpret the same phenomena in different ways.

This probably is the wrong place for political debate as again you're right that the blog is something of a labour of love. I get a deep enjoyment from sharing a bit of my passion for music, and at times I find it difficult to separate this passion from my interest in politics and events in the world. I'm sorry if this offends people but I don't think its something that I'll stop doing - people can always choose not to read what's written, or choose to ignore it, or leave comments telling me they disagree. We are told, after all, that choice is the glory of capitalist society, the thing it provides that no other economic or social system could. What I will do is try to be more measured, accurate and thoughtful in my comments rather than flinging out trite statements and massive generalisations.

I would like you to know that I don't assume a homogenous readership. This isn't a magazine. Some people come for a particular album and never return, some come regularly but never read a word I write. People of all ages visit from all parts of the world and many probably disagree with what I write, or are just confused by it. I hold no pretensions regarding being cool, indeed my teenage sons would be very quick to tell you how deeply unhip I am. I always thought that coolness was related to a cultivated disinterest, having worked for the last thirteen years with disaffected kids in the most deprived areas of my town, disinterest is something I can lay no claim to.

I'm sorry that your peers in New York find it difficult to understand, or share, your political ideals but I find it hard to believe that they're all cultivating an image of Baader-Meinhof chic, or that they're frightened to reveal their true opinions in case they blow their cool. I genuinely do think that many people find it difficult to swallow the hard edged individualism offered up by the American right especially when this is accompanied by free market proselytizing. I stand by what I said about the free market theories of people like Hayek, Robert Nozick or Milton Friedman, they are are just that: theories. Their assertion that wealth created in the market trickles down to benefit the poor does not sit well with those who find themselves being unable to pay the rent even after working 40 hour weeks. This is especially hurtful when you know that there are people out there living in gated communities sitting on more money than they could ever possibly need. So although you say that many people would find my views offensive, I would like you to understand that many people around the world do not trust the market to deliver a good outcome for them. Its very difficult for people to take advantage of the entrepreneurial opportunities apparently open to them in the free market when they have no access to the one thing the market values.

Regardless of all this, I hope that you will continue to enjoy the music I post here and that you can excuse our differing opinions on the occassions when I do allow myself the indulgence of expressing them.

X Mr Tear

HMPZ said...

I sincerely hope this record is as good as the discussion surrounding it :-)

clazy said...

I will, and I do, thanks, merry xmas and good luck in the new year

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