Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock

Planet Rock

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The early days of hip hop collided with the early days of electronic music and no other artists encapsulated the era like Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force. Bambaataa embraced the groundbreaking eerie synths used by Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra and married the sounds to rhymes that were positive in nature. Produced by Arthur Baker, Planet Rock stands as the pinnacle of the sound & vision Afrika Bambaataa brought to music. Kraftwerk are a huge influence on this particular song – the TR-808 (and heartbreak) beat is based on the song Computer World while the melody is the synth line from Trans-Europe Express. The only other song I can think of that uses a sample to such stunning effect is the remix of Busta Rhymes Fire it Up that incorporates the Knight Rider theme. Planet Rock peaked at #4 on the soul charts and #48 on the Hot 100 – but has proven to be influential far beyond its modest chart positions. Hip-hop, dance, electronic, and trance all owe a huge debt to Afrika Bambaataa. The founders of Kraftwerk – Ralf Hütter & Florian Schneider – were later added as principal songwriters after reaching a settlement with Tommy Boy Records. Lyrically, this is a far cry from the later days of misogyny and violence in hip hop – in fact, the song is positively inspiring in places. With the perfect beat and infectious melody married to the perfect words, how can you go wrong? “You gotta rock it, pop it, ’cause it’s the century / There is such a place that creates such a melody / Our world is but a land of a master jam, get up and dance / It’s time to chase your dreams”

 

 

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A Geek’s Guide to Music in 2013

2013

Another year gone by too quickly. Nothing left to do but try and recount all the great music releases of 2013. We saw the return of David Bowie, (3) new Mark Kozelek records, band reunions, and high-profile hip-hop releases. We also saw people upset with Miley Cyrus quite a bit and while I don’t enjoy her music I thought that the controversies were overblown. I was really looking forward to the new Eminem record but ended up liking only a few songs. Kanye West’s new record didn’t really do anything for me and I couldn’t get into the long-awaited My Bloody Valentine. My list is lacking some of those albums that are on other sites – some of them I didn’t dig all that much and some of them I just didn’t replay very much.What can I say? I march to my own beat. On the flip side, I loved every Mark Kozelek related album, discovered a few gems, and rocked out to Black Sabbath. So here’s a look at 50 music releases from 2013 that I played over and over again. I’ll see you in about a week with the 1st article of 2014.

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New Order – Lost Sirens

lost sirens

Families can be curious things, can’t they? One minute family members are fighting, swearing never to deal with each other again – the next, they are vowing to always be there for each other. I tend to think of New Order in those terms – off and on fighting throughout the years, extended breaks, and even break ups. Somehow, someway – they’ve always come back together to make music that was mostly inspiring. It is no secret that their previous incarnation as Joy Division (minus Gillian Gilbert / plus Ian Curtis) is one of those bands that I discovered early in my teen years and has inspired me to try and forge my own path in life. I tend to frustrate people when they ask what I think of New Order, because my stock answer has always been “I like the bits that sound like Joy Division”. Not entirely true, mind you – but fun to say. So here we are in 2013 with a “new” New Order record, 8 years after the last. The question on the tip of my tongue was “Well, is it worth it? Why bother?” The answer is a resounding yes – this is a classic New Order album (just stop with the mini-album subtitles)

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