Friday, April 28, 2017

70s MOTOWN: Machine Gun

Just a couple more days in this unravelling relay of revolt, and should I be looking for some Stax in the 60s or some Atlantic in the 80s? And why be restrained by genre; a country ballad or a folky dirge might be just what this thread is searching for?
Nah, can't do it.
Time to play nicely and, in order so to do, I have to take myself back to 1975 and the School House 6th Form Disco. 6th form in the UK is the last grade at school, ahead of university. I was newly 18 and this was a supervised, inevitably, dance for the seniors of my all boys house and the girls of the all-girls house. I had managed to wangle the role of DJ for the evening, the physics teacher astonishingly having the kit, a twin deck and microphone, to fade in between discs of the day. And we are talking discs of black plastic. However I had to share this role with a classmate, the exotically named George Panda. My selections were all current and recent chart hits, with the odd left field choice thrown in for luck. (Kevin Ayers?) All lapped up in the frenzied novelty of the evening. George tempered this, as his african heritage expected of him, with oodles of soul and reggae. And of course we fought to inflict our tastes on our victims, sorry, audience, each ahead of the other, belittling shamelessly each others choices, champing at the bit for our turn. His selection, clearly and obviously was rubbish, it being only with considerable hindsight that I have come to realise he actually had some corkers on show. And this was one of them:

Machine Gun, the single, title and best known track from the Commodore's debut of only a year earlier, 1974. On Motown records. I remember George had the eponymous album, and had insisted on playing it during the set-up period before the shindig. It was a revelation. I was not used to all that funky music (white boy) and it captured both my interest and my feet, however hopelessly arrhythmically they failed to meet the beat. At that stage of the career the Commodores were a very different beast to their later incarnation. Not a sappy ballad in sight, Lionel Richie was mainly occupied with a saxophone rather than at the microphone: horn not foghorn, although, to be fair, he does sing a bit. Fabulous LP and recommended still, although the lyrics are often, shall we say, of their day. Next album and it was all downhill, Easy on the bank balance, his and theirs anyway, less so on my jaundiced ears.

Get it here.

And, George, if you are reading, thanks!

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