Breakbeat Tuesday – With Bells

Yeah yeah, it’s Wednesday I know. I was in Canada, chill out. (and shout to all my Canadian friends.) Anyway, yesterday was Mardi Gras and so I figured we’ll make this week’s post a tribute to that. I’ve never been to New Orleans but I have always wanted to. We almost went there a few years ago with the A-Trak “Sunglasses Is A Must Tour” but the date that was scheduled in 2005, for 2006 happened before Katrina (we went to Baton Rouge instead.) But anyway, I’m fascinated by the city, its rich history and culture, its spirit. Choctaw Indians, jazz, Second Line, voodoo, Wild Tchoupitoulas, honestly in concept the city has pretty much everything for me haha. And I don’t really ever think my death, but have occasionally thought that I would like my funeral to at least have the spirit, if not the customs, of a Second Line march. But let’s get to the music…

So obviously like any kid my age, there was a fair amount of Paul Simon / Simon & Garfunkel that I was raised on. In fact it’s quite possible that “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” might have been one of the first songs that I memorized the lyrics to. And it’s funny to me because when you’re a teen and you want to rebel against anything that you parents like, it’s very easy to say that Paul Simon isn’t hip. “Turn this wack juice off mom, I want to listen to Public Enemy.” But now that I’m older I have no qualms about not only accepting, but publicly proclaiming that Paul is that dude. Honestly, who doesn’t have love for “Graceland?” And in my humble opinion, “Rhythm Of The Saints” is one of the finest albums of the 80s. One may say that without Paul Simon there would be no Diplo (oh snap, did I just say that haha…

Now, let me bring up CTI Records. CTI Records was founded in the late 60s by legendary record producer Creed Taylor as a subsidiary of Herb Albert’s A&M Records. It was a very distinctive record label that during the early and mid 70s was very much at the forefront of releasing a sound that bridged the gap from jazz to funk to easy-listening, all with a certain swing to it. Taylor, along with his artists and other in-house producers and arrangers, took the de rigueur sound of tepid 60s soul / jazz and infused a particular sheen to it that gave it all a very modern sound. That sound was embraced en-masse by a whole generation of hip-hop producers who mined the readily available CTI catalog in dollar bins to help sculpt the landscape of rap music in the late 80s and early 90s, a debt that often goes overlooked. And “diggers” often poke fun at CTI records because, for many of us, when we first started digging in the crates it was all the CTI records that many of us got in the initial stages of amassing our collection. So while many look at it the records as almost being somewhat pedestrian, I challenge that the back catalog is stronger than many of the rarer pieces out there. And trust me, I’ve GOT RECORDS, dudes…

Okay, tying this whole thing together, Bob James recorded a cover version of Paul Simon’s “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” for his 1975 release “Two.” It is a funk-infused monster at times, an easy-listening masterpiece at others… (did I really just say “easy-listening masterpiece?”) But the thing that James’ version is best known for is its incredibly infamous breakbeat at the top. Peep the game and tell me I’m lying. At the end of the day I can kind of listen to the Mardi Gras loop over and over, it’s just that classic. And it’s definitely one of those segments of music that’s ingrained into the minds of kids my age, word to Jam Master Jay (RIP.)

Bob James “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” (CTI, 1975)

And just to make it so that I’m beating you all over the head with the obvious, here’s a Mardi Gras tribute treat courtesy of my homie Supreme La Rock. For the few of you who don’t know him, Preme holds in own in Seattle and one of the illest DJs I know, period. Not only is his DJ game sick, he’s one of the top diggers in the world and has been for as long as I can remember. His is game to respect, no question. You should also check out his podcast here. So Preme sent me this record by The Spotnicks, a pop group from Sweden who recorded a version of Mardi Gras – complete with their own breakbeat. It’s pretty ill, and completely different from the Bob James version. Check it out, and happy Mardi Gras yall…

The Spotnicks “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” (Mariann Grammofon AB, 1978)

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  • Cosmo Baker’s Top Ten Records Of May

    DJ Stuart "Re-Work V2"
    Wet "All The Ways" (Branchez Remix)
    De La Soul "Beautiful Night"
    Phife "Nutshell"
    With You "Ghost" feat. Vince Staples (Major Lazer Remix)
    Tall Black Guy "The Heart Of The Town"
    KRNE "I'll Be Good"
    Hoodboi "Closer"
    Drake "With You" Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
    Christopher Cross "Ride Like The Wind" (Joey Negro Dub Disco Mix)


    Club Cheval "Discipline"
    Mura Masa "What If I Go"
    Kate Bush "Why Should I Love You?"

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