Friday, June 02, 2006

Funky Friday - The Tommy Boy Story

I loves me some old skool. Tommy Boy Records is a bastion of old skool goodness. Formed (and inspired by Sugarhill) in 1981 in NYC by music tipsheet publisher Tom Silverman when he started releasing demos that he was getting, it grew from it's small DIY roots into an international powerhouse with major label backing. Along the way it helped shape the face of modern music, beginning with the seminal Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force recording Planet Rock. Taking it's inspiration from the experimental electronic music of Europe - OK, Kraftwerk - it was mutated into backing tracks for rappers from the NYC hood. I remember buying that 45, and loving how two such culturally disparate styles could come together and be so overpoweringly good. Over the years the label continued to release classic hiphop records - De La Soul, Digital Underground, Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature, Paris, Coolio and House Of Pain are all on the list. The label also took risks and invested in European talent and the newly emerging UK variations of Chicago house and Detroit techno. 808 State's debut was on ZTT in the UK and Tommy Boy in the US. Coldcut cut their teeth on Lisa Stansfield's People Hold On, selling boatloads of records before moving on to the Ninja leftfield. Back in April Rhino released a 2 CD set called The Tommy Boy Story Vol.01. It is a beauty of a package - a replica Tommy Boy 12" sleeve with a hole cut in the middle and with the CD sleeves made to look like the paper sleeve inserts. It is a collection of 22 of the label's classic 12" singles. It is fantastic. Some people might have a problem with some of the track selections, but that can all be taken care of with ensuing volumes of the series. This one gives you Planet Rock, Looking For The Perfect Beat, tracks from Club Nouveau, K7, Minneapolis' own Information Society, Force MD's, The Latin Rascals and on and on and on. I have been playing it at work all week and people have been really enjoying it's old school vibes - nothing like a bit of classic electro to put a smile on your face!

Special Request's Salsa Smurph cops big chunks of Kraftwerk and a bit of Cat Stevens' Was Dog A Doughnut and wraps it up in Latin flavor. Love the weird pitchiness of this tune.

Jonzun Crew's Pack Jam is just a killer electro jam. All of your requisite (video game) sounds are here, but to my ears there is a grungier and darker element to this tune. Bust out the cardboard and drop to your head.

808 State - Pacific 0101 (Remix Edit) I loved this tune back when it came out and it still moves me today. The synth washes, the hook, the skittering percussion and the saxophone all make this one gorgeously blissed out piece of music.

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