General Jimmy

Writer / DJ / PR Manager / Fat Bastard

Archive for the tag “Frankie Valli”

Five for the Funk – Italian-American Singers

Last week was the first time in a LONG time I went a calender week without DJing. Tonight it’ll be thirteen days since I last played records for other people, which I’m pretty sure hasn’t happened since June 2011. I’ve got a double header at my Saturday residency at Bar 81 above Salt Dog Slims starting tonight, and so rather than going on down the hip-hop tip like I’ve recently done with the Five for the Funk series, I felt it was a good point to showcase some of artists that I play here, specifically showing some love to the ones that crop up in my set at 81.

Considering the relatively small percentage of the population they made up for, Italian-American singers have certainly had a hefty grip on the pop charts from before the second world war. Much can be made of the fact the mob ran the jukebox syndicates which would account for their early exposure, but equally two of the biggest female mega stars of the past thirty years have Italian roots. There must be something in the pasta. Here’s a quick glance into the annals of Italian-american songwriters that do the do for me.


Dion ‘The Wanderer’

Before four uppity scousers and a shedload of other brits ‘ruined everything’, the early 60s pop landscape was all about clean cut crooners like Dion. The type of singer that the stand up guys that dominate the mob focused films would of loved, the ones that were true to them. The music was a whitened version of black music from the 50s but that didn’t matter, this was something white America could relate to, and a precursor of the likes of the Yardbirds, Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones making an even bigger advancement on blues. Better yet it still stands up as a classic, a wedding tune that will make everyone dance.


Frankie Valli ‘The Night’

If Dion was creating an Italian focused rip off of blues, this was the motown soul counterpart. Frankie Valli and the Four seasons famously signed for the label and bombed catastrophically, but amidst the wreckage was this gem that never even got released in the states. It did see the light of day over here however, becoming a Northern Soul favourite and eventually making No 7 in the charts. Joining blues in the 50s and decades later house and techno, this is one of the records Americans undervalued that we loved. Their equivalent is Bush. Ouch.


Jim Croce – Bad Bad Leroy Brown

Classic slab of bluesy folk that’s great early doors, this is much more in the vein of 70s americana and the kind of track that no doubt sounds great coming on a jukebox in a bar in Nebraska where everyone wears plaid shirts. And what’s not to love about someone so mean finally getting their comeuppance?


Madonna ‘Lucky Star’

At the apex of her career Madonna was the dancefloor queen. Produced by Jellybean Benitez and, in the case of this song, Mtume producer Reggie Lucas, she had that post disco groove going on for sure. This 12″ edit of it is just accessible dancefloor dynamite.


Tony Bennett ‘Rags to Riches’

‘As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be a gangster’

So opines Ray Liotta at the start of Scorcese’s classic Goodfellas. Much is made of Tarrantino’s glorious grip of soundtracking his films, but this is easily one of the finest juxtapositions of celluloid and music ever. Much is to do with the sheer class of Tony and the song, delivering the quintessential crooner performance, the thinly veiled metaphor of love and power shuffling by one another and a great backing band. An end of night anthem if ever there was one.

I’ll be in Bar 81 from 10pm-3am both tonight and tomorrow evening (15th & 16th March)

Five for the Funk – De La Soul

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This week’s instalment of Five for the Funk comes in the shape of a De la Soul themed ensemble, down in no part to Madnice Maruaders bringing their DJ Maseo back to the city for a silly showcase in the hold of the Shipping Forecast Even though they’re not my favourite group of all time and ‘3 feet High…’ is overrated (more on that below), you cannot front on De la’s input on hip-hop and their DJ is someone who rocks hard.

Maseo’s world renown as a jock centres on being able to do most things adeptly (technique, musical knowledge etc), and one thing extremely well; bring the party. Hip-hop may be littered with light fingered assassins, beat diggin maestros and DJs who have showcased the turntable as a weapon far capable of outweighing the sonic possibilities of mere musical instruments, but hip-hop began out of one carnal desire. Make. People. Move.

Maseo does just that. His No Fakin appearances in the Zanzibar are the stuff of legend, and I can remember him playing a Chibuku party at Nation, 2005 I think, and the reaction afterwards ranged from those doffing their cap at a master to those scoffing because he played Beyonce. This was the DJ from a group that came to prominence in part from obvious pop samples, rocking a crowd, and there was chin-strokers kicking off about a great R&B record. It seems that certain hip-hop fans have no grasp of irony.

Anyway, big ups again to Madnice for bringing Maseo to the unfathomably intimate surroundings of the Hold for what will be an swaggering block party affair. Here’s my five favourite de la based party joints on this Friday in March. Party people, your dreams have now been fulfilled…

‘Oooh’ ft Redman

That paragraph’s closing line is the opening gambit for this absolute riot of a record. The video is a classic, a genius play on hip-hop’s bling culture which goes for out there weirdness rather than straight up parody. They transform the Wizard of Oz into the land of ‘Oooh’ complete with Brick City nightspot, a doff of the cap to the looting ringmaster at the centre of the track, Redman. There’s cameos from fellow new jersey emcee Rah-Digga and comedian Dave Chappelle, and it’s proof that this era of hip-hop could do big budget twists on what was aesthetically en vogue at the time without being formulaic – see also Hype Williams’ piece de resistance.

On the actual track, it’s one of the best meetings of minds of the era as hip-hop came out of the diametrically opposed factions of bling and backpack to realise they could work together. Redman steals the show, gifting a glorious party beat from Prince Paul even more crunk with some ridiculous hype man histrionics. Littered with humour drenched asides and pure charisma, he outshines Plugs One and Two with asides about fat chicks getting their fuck on tonight. Absolute party rocking gold.


‘All Good’ ft Chaka Khan

Coming straight off the same AOI opus as ‘Oooh’, again De la are outshone by their sparring partner but when said guest is Chaka Khan doing one of her greatest vocal performances, you can’t front. I realise that is one lofty statement but this record is nigh on perfect, a proper bumping beat with Chaka exuding class, heart and panache with every single syllable that echoes from her throat.

Pos and Trugoy come nice and correct on the lyrical tip as well, proving their class as hip-hop’s elder statesman with an intelligent grasp of disagreement (aimed at those that slept on them during the Buhloone and Stakes is High eras of the band) rather than hip-hop’s usual profanity littered ripostes.



‘B Side to Hollywood’

Not strictly a de la joint as only Trugoy appears, but this track off Camp Lo’s ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ is a gem, a real gem. The Eddie Bo loop announces the track before the three emcees share hook duties, and then each getting a verse.

Flipping the script from ‘Ooh and ‘All Good, this time it is Trugoy who steals the limelight, dumbing down effortlessly for an awesome combination of laid back braggadocio and off kilter silliness (cartoons, cereals and that all important ‘big spoon’ make an appearance) that affirms Dove as the Number one Tycoon. A record for real hip-hop heads to completely lose their shit too.

‘Say No Go’

The de la debut is one of those mythical records that critics value as era defining, a stone cold classic and elevated to the upper echelons of hip-hop’s critical canon. Although I can’t argue on the influence of it, it’s an assessment I don’t particularly agree with. It’s very good, but the skits skewer the feel of the album rather than add to it (and inflicting that particular thing on hip-hop isn’t something to be celebrated), and I’d argue the follow up was much better.

That said however, there truly are some brilliant songs side by side with all the game show shitness, real pop masterclasses rather than just straight up hip-hop bangers. This is maybe the pick of the bunch, that Hall & Oates loop combines with the storytelling genius of De la (they are at times worthy of comparison to Slick Rick) warning you not to take drugs. Awesome.

‘A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’ ft Q-Tip & Vinia Mojica

When De la dropped second album ‘De la Soul is dead‘ with the dead daisy artwork, they were making a clear statement. You’d be stretching the truth somewhat though if you said that they made a complete musical departure from ‘3 Feet High’. Not only does ‘Say No Go’ proves they didn’t shirk issues, they also lambasted the hippes charge on ‘Me Myself and I’ and not everything on ‘De la…’ is darkness. Case in point this monster.

This record was extremely ‘3 Feet High’ in style, and to my ears is THE quintessential Native Tongues tune, either as an original or with this remix. The samples are great and plucked from the obvious rather than the obscure, Chicago’s ‘Saturday in the Park’, the Larry Levan bolstered ‘Got My Mind Made Up’ by Instant Funk at the beginning and then the immortal riff from Frankie Valli’s ‘Grease‘ later on. Every emcee is brilliant, particularly Q-Tip with the boy meets girl playfulness. And Vinia delivers one of the greatest hooks ever…

‘Now is the time, to act a fool tonight, forget about your worries and we gon be alright. It’s Saturday, It’s Saturday!’

Five minutes of relentless, grin inducing escapism. On the early hours of Saturday March 9th, you’ll be able to catch the man himself dropping it.

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