Locally produced ABC-TV music show, Unherd, just aired a Thanksgiving Special, inviting local viewers and musicians to fill-in for the regular hosts. They had me write something for the music history section normally hosted by radio veteran Mike Halloran. I was asked to relate it to A Tribe Called Quest since a review of their new album was preceding it, so I wrote about Q-Tip’s guest spot on Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart”.
Despite the combination of my hastily assigned and written script, bad eyesight and a quick shoot in a dark graffiti park in front of a group of strangers, I managed to get through it in just 374 takes. They were nice enough to post amateur outtakes on Facebook with my mistake obviously hinting at how frustrated I was getting. Definitely a HUGE newfound respect for folks who have to read tele-prompters. Here’s the section with my piece and staff-writer Andrea’s Lou Reed history.
Lito did a great job with the graphics and editing. The only thing they left out was explaining why I bothered mentioning my BMG intern desk. See if you can spot the Tribe promo album flat.
The short piece was only 100 words long which was quite an exercise in editing, especially for such an interesting tune. Here’s the 291 words it started out as……
Born out of the late 80’s New York dance clubs, Deee-Lite preached
global unity with a diverse lineup made up of Russian immigrant Dmitry
Brill (Supa DJ Dmitry), Japanese design student Dong-hwa Chung (who
became Towa Tei) and frontwoman Kierin M. Kirby, better known as Lady
Miss Kier. Often dismissed as a one hit wonder, their debut album
World Clique is a layered dancefloor masterpiece from front to back
and they topped the US dance charts six times in their short five year
recording career. None of the singles nearly matched the hook-filled
worldwide success of their debut, “Groove Is In The Heart”, which hit
#1 in Australia and was voted single of the year by the staff of both
NME and The Village Voice.
Jonathan Davis (the Q-Tip one not to be confused with the singer from
Korn) saw the band perform the song at the Hotel Amazon in New York
and asked if he could rhyme on the recording. He wrote his 16 bars on
a notepad while famed Parliament bassist Bootsy Collins laid down his
bass part and then recorded his rap in just one take. Collins also cut a
rap that found its way onto the song’s remixes and recruited famed
James Brown bandmates, horn players Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley to
play on the track. Almost everything else on the song was sampled
from a wide-ranging selection of sources from a belly-dance
instruction record to Eva Gabor sighing “I” on the Green Acres theme.
Most of the song is anchored on two samples, the bassline from the
Herbie Hancock song “Bring Down the Birds” from the 1966 soundtrack
album Blowup and 70’s R&B singer Vernon Burch’s “Get Up” for the
song’s drums, tambourine, crowd noise and famous (whistle) which kept
the world’s slide whistle industry in the money for years.
Here’s a Youtube playlist I put together of the songs sampled in “Groove”…
Sample breakdown c/o Wikipedia:
- Bel-Sha-Zaar with Tommy Genapopoluis and the Grecian Knights – “Introduction” from the album The Art of Belly Dancing, 1969, Gateway: GSLP 3527 (intro music, vocal sample: “We’re going to dance, and have some fun“)
- Herbie Hancock – “Bring Down the Birds” from the soundtrack album Blowup, 1966 (bassline)
- Vernon Burch – “Get Up” from the album Get Up (drums, crowd noise, slide whistle)
- Ray Barretto – “Right On” from the album Barretto Power, 1972 (cowbell)
- Theme from the TV series Green Acres (vocal sample: looped “I” sample (“I-i-i-i-i-i“), sung by Eva Gabor)
- Ralph MacDonald – “Jam on the Groove” from the album Sound of a Drum, 1976 (percussion)
- Billy Preston – “Uptight” from the album Wildest Organ in Town!, 1966 (breakbeat under rap by Q-Tip)
- The Headhunters – “God Make Me Funky” from the album Survival of the Fittest, 1975 (drum fill)
THE STORY BEHIND THE ONLY PHOTO OF ME DRINKING ALCOHOL: Some musician friends of mine decided to have their wedding reception at the legendary Lafayette Hotel in San Diego. It was a great night but when it came time for us to dance, the DJ they’d hired slowly began to ruin things. Time after time, right when he’d get a ton of excited, happy dancers going, he’d cut away to something that would empty the dancefloor and punctuate it with a “Lookin’ good out there!” on the mic. Finally, when he played “Groove Is In The Heart”, a song the bride and I had talked about dancing to earlier, I ran over and BEGGED him not to cut it short. About 90 seconds in and WAY before Q-Tip’s rap, he segued into Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and immediately cleared the place. ENTER SANDMAN!? I started SCREAMING at him until people had to hold me back. I don’t drink. EVER. I grabbed someone’s beer and went back to the empty dance floor and sat down, yelling “LOOK what ya did!” I hate to name names but this man is known as The Party Rican. “I’m a Puerto Rican that loves to party. Get it?…The Party Rican!” Yep, we get it. I was so inspired by how proud he was of his heritage that I almost started using the name “Jew Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party” when I DJ’d friends weddings. Almost.
Thanks again to everyone at Unherd TV for the invite!