Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #169 - B Side, "Cairo Nights"

"Somewhere between shadow and light/There are Cairo nights".

More unknown/forgotten wonders from the Peel Archive, which has now strided magnificently into the Bs. (I wonder how many Royal Opera Houses/public subscriptions it would take to expand this to the whole collection rather than the first one hundred of each letter and make it permanent.) (And will there be a hundred records beginning with X?)

This is a very toothsome record indeed - slinky as a dolphin in goosefat, leaking glamour from each and every invisible pore, expansive and Francophonic. It's from 1985 and it's massive. All bass and drum machines and breathy vocals. Almost like Prince dub. And I find any musical references to Egypt difficult to resist.

"Bones" has massed up banks of John Hughes movies, liquidised then frozen into thunderclouds that glower over the musical horizon with Idaho skybigness. If the TV series "Bones" had this as its theme tune, I'd have to watch it. It has that high Eighties guitar picking and percussive noises that point at excited fingers prodding at new equipment. There's a bit of "sexy" saxophone on "Change The Beat", which is less my cup of tea, too Seinfeld. The lyrics are in French, but seem to be about giving sleazy suitors the brush off. Although with that sax, love, you're asking for it, etc.

The Eighties definitely had its own take on sexuality: not just the power dressing and AIDS epidemics. But it was quite straightforward. "So Hot" is a good example, with the steamy bongos and chanting backing vocals giving it a colonial feel. I wish I could take this Eighties sexuality idea somewhere but I can't. Maybe it was given energy by the self-confidence of gay culture spreading out across the Overground. I really don't know.

Side B of B-Side begins with a chunky tide of slap bass and crashing percussive synths again, all the tension loaded up into one key press. That's "Paris - Taxi". "What I Like (American Dreams)" is even further out on that extreme-skeletal-funk type pedalstool. "I like men that shop/I love women that rock!" It's gauche, but just about successful. It's all that excitement again; when technology made anything possible but not easy. I'd love to get an idea of what Peelie thought of this back in 1985. "Beatnik" is another version of "Change The Beat"; I think I've seen what they did there; and I can hear that they made it more stuttering and urban and Eighties. "A Lot to Give" ticks the box marked George Michael/Debbie Harry Rap.

I like this record. I thumb it up. I hope that featuring in the Peel Archive will boost their profile and get a few ears wagging in their faded direction. B Side and Francois Holland - all nice and retro in France at the minute, eh?

Rating: Stuttering Funk out of Unimaginable Context

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