Boogie Mosson in some awesome ‘Motor Booty Affair’ garb
Thanks to commenter Daniel Kalmann for alerting me to this sad news last week via Facebook. On April 18th, Cordell ‘Boogie’ Mosson, bassist and integral player in the Parliafunkadelicment Thang, funked off this mortal coil and ascended to that Mothership in the sky.
Mosson was originally introduced to Parilament-Funkadelic by way of the band Untied Soul, who were signed to Detroit label Westbound in the early 70s, and ended up being produced by George Clinton. Clinton poached both Mosson and Gary “Daiperman” Shider from United Soul, and even re-recorded some of United Soul’s tracks on later Funkadelic albums. Bootsy wasn’t the only bass whizz in the band(s), from the mid-70s it was Mosson who became Bootsy’s permanent replacement. That’s another very important tentacle of the funktapus now gone.
CORDELL “BOOGIE” MOSSON, the ultimate FUNK theologian, one of P-FUNK’s most pivotal and vital musicians (bass, guitar, drums and vocals), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and one of my teachers, has passed away today. We lost more information, lessons, and vast rare funk knowledge today, then most learn in a lifetime. Much like the last of the samurai, the end of the era of the pyramid builders, and the passing of an age, vast sums of knowledge are now lost. For those few of us to have studied under him (Boog’s tenure with P-funk starts in 1971, and his Plainfield NJ roots go back much further, giving him preponderance in the P-Funk histories), we must go on with the knowledge we have been imparted by Boog’s far seeing vision of funk theory. Boog’s knowledge and understanding of Rhythm, the ONE, the Pocket, and the FEEL of P-FUNK, was UNMATCHED. We in Parliament-Funkadelic, wish to send our prayers to Boog’s family, and with extreme sadness, we say our worldly goodbye to our brother, our uncle, our friend, our teacher, our valued, trusted, master of musical expression: CORDELL “BOOGIE” MOSSON (October 16th, 1952 – April 18th, 2013)
Funk in Peace brother!
Cordell “Boogie” Mosson on Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Hazel and Michael Hampton (2004):
We lost one of THE heavy hitters of the disco/soul era on Saturday, a man who helped birth some of the greatest anthems of the 70s and 80s, but whose name will mean very little to the average Joe on the street.
Vincent Montana Jr was vibraphone player and band leader for both Philadelphia International’s MFSB and New York’s Salsoul Orchestra, outfits that, just between them, could rack up a near-definitive “Hits Of Disco” compilation. But that’s not even taking into account the hits he played on or produced for others…
“La La Means I Love You”, “TSOP (aka Theme from Soul Train)”, “Love Train”, “Me & Mrs Jones”, “Disco Inferno”, “Runaway”, “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”, “Love Is The Message”, “Armed and Extremely Dangerous”, “Backstabbers”, “People Make The World Go Round”, “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” (with Nuyorican Soul), the list goes on and on.
He also had some success with his own acts Montana Sextet and the Goody Goody Orchestra, including “It Looks Like Love”, which remains one of the keystone records in the vast cannon of disco. Like Loose Joints “Is It All Over My Face” or “For The Love Of Money” by the Disco Dub Band, “It Looks Like Love” has been responsible for turning subsequent generations onto the underground/dancefloor disco sound, and rehabilitating the genre from the sea of plastic crap that almost engulfed it.
In fact, it could be argued that “It Looks Like Love” is THE definitive “disco” record, as its stylish, graceful, sexy vibe is everything disco patrons aspired to be, and the perfect soundtrack to the time machine ride back to those clubs of the late 70s and early 80s. Others may disagree, but this is the track that does it for me. I can close my eyes and I am THERE.
For that, if nothing else (though there was of course LOTS more) we salute you Vincent Montana Jr! Play those vibes, once more time…
Moved by the news of Donna Summer’s death, South Bronx-bred aerosol artist and DJ, SERVE (a/k/a SERVE ONE), wasted no time painting the stunning mural pictured above in homage to the late singer. With “Last Dance” – the title of Summer’s 1978 classic – emblazoned by an iconic image from the cover of her Live & More LP of the same year, it’s a beautiful piece of work. “I just had to do it…” SERVE wrote on his Facebook wall to the enthusiastic response of friends. Props, SERVE. RIP, Donna Summer.
Here’s another thing of rare beauty, Donna performing the wonderful “Spring Affair” from the Four Seasons Of Love EP on Soul Train:
I’m feeling a little spooked out right now, not just at the news that the number one Disco Queen Donna Summer has died at age 63 after battling cancer, but also because I was going to post this clip today just because it is so damn good.
Taken from a 1979 TV special, here is Donna performing a live version of her classic “Sunset People” from the Bad Girls LP. The original track is one of my all time disco favorites, and one of her best collaborations with that damned pop music genius Giorgio Moroder.
In this clip Donna performs the track live while walking down the actual Sunset Strip, and play acts different roles of some of the Strip’s denziens (starlet, showgirl, traffic cop.) The track itself is different to the recorded version too, being slightly faster and sounding more “live band” than “studio whizz.”
The reason I wanted to post this clip today, before I heard the news, is that it is awesome, a real treat for Summer/Moroder/disco fans. Only now it takes on a new gravitas as the news filters through of Summer’s untimely death. And there I was, only recently pondering the thought of a Donna Summer-revival tour. She was one of the few major (still living) solo acts from the disco period not to be out touring again, and a glaring omission from the Etam Paris Fashion week “Disco Divas” show (which featured Grace Jones, Sister Sledge, the Pointer Sisters, Chaka Khan and Gloria Gaynor - what a fucking line-up!).
There are going to be plenty of Donna Summer obituaries coming through over the next few days with the passing of this true legend. If you’re aware of my other posts over the last 18 months here on Dangerous Minds, you will have gathered by now that I am a disco music obsessive. I shouldn’t have to explain what Donna Summer means to me, or to popular music culture in general. After the male-oriented “free love” boom of the 60s, she brought assertive female sexuality to the masses with “Love To Love You Baby” in 1975. Along with Giorgio Moroder, Summer redefined pop music with the epoch-defining “I Feel Love.” Hell, I still drop that track in my dj sets to this day, and it never fails to tear the roof off.
If you’re still in doubt as to how important her work was, ask Bernard Sumner of New Order who was more important to the band - Donna Summer or Kraftwerk?
Well then, here’s to you Donna Summer, performer and co-author of some of the best songs in dance, and pop, music history. You will be missed!
Donna Summer “Sunset People” (1979 TV special version)
It’s still sinking in here that MCA-aka Adam Yauch- has died, and that, in effect, the Beastie Boys are no more. What a fucking bummer.
It’s an inescapable fact that the Beastie Boys are one of the bands that define my generation. If you were a child at any point from the mid 80s up until the late 90s you cannot have escaped their influence. And I’m not just talking about their music; their aesthetic reached everywhere, from film and music videos to magazine publishing and clothes lines.
I feel like my generation (and I use that term loosely) don’t have a singular iconic figure they can point too, like a Prince or a Bowie. You know, that one person that unites an entire age group through sheer talent and poise. Well, the Beasties may not have had the incredible album-a-year productivity rate of Prince or Bowie at their prime (in fact they were legendarily slow at making music,) but their extra-musicular activites more than made up for that, and meant that when their albums did drop it was a major event.
More than just the music on its own, more than the Grande Royale magazine and record label, more than fantastic the art work or the trend-setting X-Large clothing range, it was the Beastie Boys incredible videos that set them apart, and brought their diverse fan base together. They really knew how to work in different media while retaining their core identity, making them some of the first and most successful rap music entrepreneurs, and this placed them right at the centre of the 90s golden age of both hip-hop and music videos. And there steering the helm of most of those awesome Beastie Boys promo clips was Yauch himself, often in the guise of Swiss director Nathanial Hornblower.
My God, looking back now it’s startling to think of how these videos have influenced my life and my addiction to (and perception of) pop culture.
I caught the raunchy video for ‘She’s On It” on TV when I was about 8 years old and the image of Mike D sliding an ice cube down a bikini-clad model’s back has been seared into my brain ever since. I didn’t quite understand what was going on in that shot at the time (hey, I was too young and too sheltered) but there was naked flesh and it was naughty and exciting. I still remember that tingly feeling of not wanting my parents to walk in and see me watching the video. Even though that’s a feeling that returned often in my teenage years, I guess I can say that seeing “She’s On It” was one of my first childhood sexual experiences.
When I was 13 the promo for Check Your Head‘s opening track “Jimmy James” was a staple on late night European cable music channels, the kind I would creep downstairs and watch on low volume while my parents were asleep. It was hard to keep the volume on this one down, and the visuals themselves were a hypnotic template for everything I thought rocked in the world at the time - New York subways, vintage go-go strippers, dope looking rappers filmed in fish-eye lenses, burning 8mm film, Jimi fucking Hendrix. At this point the Beastie Boys were a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK press, as their reputation stemmed largely from the License To Ill “frat” period (Paul’s Boutique was still being seen as a costly, if interesting, flop.) Still, “Jimmy James” (and “So Watcha Want”) was THE SHIT, and helped spread the word of mouth amongst listeners and the journos alike about how great Check Your Head was.
Early 1994 saw the release of “Sabotage”. Sure, the clip was directed by Spike Jonze, but Yauch’s fingerprints were all over it. I don’t think I need to write much about this video, only to say that it really was a cultural milestone for people my age. Almost single handedly it ushered in a new era. Out went heroin-chic and woe-is-me grunge, and in came a new sense of fun (with a healthy dose of irony.) Here was an appreciation of pop-culture’s bargain bin that tied in nicely with Tarantino, some new looks that were equal parts vintage and street, and most importantly of all an incredibly broad musical palate where anything went.
Beyond the stone cold classic video, “Sabotage” pushed boundaries musically. Yeah, so it may be a straight forward punk song, but how many ‘rap groups’ had ever done something like that? In fact, me and my friends didn’t really perceive the Beasties as strictly a ‘rap group’ per se, even though (obviously) they rapped. They were more than that. Presumably because they were white and played actual instruments on occasion, they weren’t talked about in the same hallowed tones as Cypress Hill or Public Enemy. But they were very much a gateway to those bands, and the more commercial hip-hop that followed, and their blessing of the above mentioned acts with tours and remixes made it feel ok for middle-class white kids to define themselves as “rap fans.”
Last year’s video for “Make Some Noise” brought the band back in to the limelight, not least for the starry cast list: what other modern act would be able to convince Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood to play them in a clip AND THEN rope in Ted Danson, Kirstin Dunst and Will Ferrell for additional cameos? But the real fan treat was the clip for “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”, which featured G.I.Joe-style puppet versions of the band doing battle underwater, on ice, and even at a music festival.
Adam Yauch was a visionary, and should be remembered for his film work just as much as his music. In fact, he brought music and film together better than anyone else up to that point, and for that has to be counted as a huge influence and inspiration on the artistic endeavours of myself and my peers. I probably wouldn’t do what I do now if it weren’t for him.
And he did it while wearing a ginger wig and lederhosen. Here’s a strange (and strangely touching) short film of Yauch David Cross [? - what’s going on here?] as Hornblower, shooting the shit on a NY Street and engaging in a game of chess with a labrador:
Adam Yauch, aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hornblower (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012.)
Rest In Peace.
After the jump, videos for the above mentioned Beastie Boys songs, and a 1992 interview with the band featuring Yauch (yes, definitely Yauch this time) in full Hornblower attire…
At the time of his death on April 4th 1992, Arthur Russell could barely get arrested. There’s a moving scene near the end of the Wild Combination documentary on his life, which was filmed at one of Russell’s last ever gigs before he passed away. It’s a beautiful performance made all the more moving by the short time he has left, but painfully sad as it is obvious from the weak cheers that not many people are there.
However, twenty years later things could not be more different. Today Arthur Russell is widely recognised as being one of the most important composers and performers of his generation, and one of the most influential artists of the past two decades. From house to hip-hop to folk, dub, ambient and jazz, there are not many acts about today who could claim not to have been touched by his skewed genius.
Buddhist, cellist, cruiser, prodigious pot smoker - Arthur Russell was a genuine outsider artist, but without the usual negative, cynical connotations that term brings to mind. He didn’t—couldn’t—play the industry game as his muse was too strong, and he was known to obsessively re-record his signature compositions and melodies, often in wildly different styles. His music was genuinely years ahead of the curve and accordingly it took the world a while to catch up to his unique talents.
Russell’s music touched on many genres, but he is still best known for his work in the field of disco (and later what would go on to be called “house”.) The man pretty much invented “alternative disco” (“post-disco” is perhaps a better phrase) and the Larry Levan remix of his Loose Joints track “Is It All Over My Face” is one of the most influential—and sampled—tracks of all time. If anyone one artist could be said to have given the maligned genre of disco some credibility and kudos, then it is Arthur Russell.
I vividly remember the first time I heard “Is It All Over My Face” and simply being blown away. After a couple of years of casually liking disco as a sunny, kitsch reaction to the overbearing, vapid gloom of 90s alternative rock and Britpop, I had started to pick up bits and bobs on vinyl to play around with on my newly-purchased turntables. The track was near the end of a disco compilation on Strut records called Jumpin’, that featured uptempo, funked-fuelled productions by the likes of Patrick Adams and August Darnell. Great tracks for sure but this was something else completely. It was breath-taking.
Here was a track as heavy and funky as anything by Daft Punk but whose bizarre vocal and chattering arrangement marked it as coming resolutely from the left field. It sounded like nothing else I had ever heard, yet felt like a record I had been waiting my whole life to hear. Instantly house music made a lot more sense, and disco became a real proposition, a serious genre that demanded more respect and closer inspection. To anyone who still insists on disco being plastic/shallow/conformist/blah blah blah, simply put this track on and warm yourselves up a nice big cup of STFU.
But there is a lot more to Arthur Russell than just four-to-the-floor avant funk. His music has a genuine other-worldiness that can only be a product of a singular imagination. Where his disco productions were propulsive and off-kilter, his folk and acoustic tracks have a delicate beauty to rival the tenderness of Nick Drake. The minimalist cello-and-vocal compositions on his World Of Echo album may have faint traces of Terry Riley and the Velvet Underground, but they still sound like nothing else. In a world where music seems to be going in ever more decreasing circles, and where careers are getting shorter and shorter, it’s not hard to see why Arthur Russell now commands such serious respect.
But for now here are two of my favourite Arthur Russell songs. Two to show the many sides of this incredible talent—the first is a short ballad, the second a full-blown psychedelic epic—and two to mark the two decades since this extraordinary artist left our sphere:
Last Saturday saw the passing of the legendary French comic book artist Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius. A simply stunning artist, apart from being huge in the world of comics, Moebius’ influence extended to the spheres of science fiction, record sleeves, animation and films. He drew storyboards for both Alien and Tron, created character and set designs for Jodorowsky’s aborted Dune project (among numerous collaborations with the director), and unsuccessfully sued Luc Besson for what he claimed was The Fifth Element‘s infringement of his own work with Jodorowsky on The Incal.
If there is any illustrator working in comics today worthy of inheriting Moebius’ mantle, it’s Scottish artist Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman and Robin, We3, The Authoirty.) Quitely cites Moebius as one of his favourite artists, and his influence in clear in both the crisp line work and the command of form. I asked Frank to share a few words celebrating the work of this great artist and to choose some of his favourite Moebius illustrations:
“Moebius was an inspired artist, whose life’s works have inspired others, artist and non-artists alike. He was uncommonly good at drawing, and he used this skill to share his internal world with others.”
“Everything that makes his designs, comic covers, illustrations and individual drawings and paintings beautiful, striking, well composed and effectively realized, is also employed in his strip-work. The ability to make not just a collection of wonderful images, but to make those images work together in sequence, is a whole other art-form in itself, and Moebius excelled as much in the fluidity of his storytelling as he did in the brilliance of his linework.
There’s real beauty in his work. It’s quite a rare thing for an artist to be able to translate so much of the scale and grandeur and detail of their own imaginings into simple, elegant lines that can be so easily shared with others. There’s an underlying essence that’s apparent to varying degrees in everything that he drew, supporting the assertion that what he drew was coming from his very core.”
“His sheer mastery of his art (and the craft of that art) has really enriched the lives of countless people around the world and across the years, and that same body of work that he’s left behind will continue enriching lives forever.”
You can see some of Frank Quitely’s own art here, and Moebius’ official site (in French) is here. The book The Art Of Moebius also come highly recommended.
Don Cornelius, creator and star of Soul Tain, has been found dead at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. From TMZ:
Law enforcement sources tell us ... Cornelius died from a gunshot wound to the head and officials believe the wound was self-inflicted.
Sad news indeed - I had only posted on Soul Train here on DM a few weeks ago. Thanks for all the awesomeness, Don! In memory here’s the man himself introducing the legendary Soul Train line dancers to Earth Wind and Fire’s “Mighty Mighty” in 1974:
Legendary funk saxophonist and band leader Jimmy Castor, of The Jimmy Castor Bunch - the sample source for a huge amount of hip-hop records - died today in Las Vegas of causes that are “currently unknown.” Sad news. Castor is best known for the evergreen breakbeat classic “It’s Just Begun,” “Troglodyte (Cave Man),” which was a huge hit for The Jimmy Castor Bunch in 1972 and “The Bertha Butt Boogie.” Here’s an excellent clip of the band performing “It’s Just Begun” live on TV (apparently the show is called Soul School), and tearing the roof off that sucker:
As mainstream radio in the UK gets steadily worse, as exposure opportunities for the genuinely interesting and different quickly disappear, and as lowest common denominator fodder like X Factor begins to limit the power of music in the popular imagination, he is missed now more than ever.
In the absence of one unifying national media platform it’s unlikely that we will ever see his like again, though I feel that through his influence, and the proliferation of music websites and blogs, we are all a bit Peelie now. Proof of the man’s legacy is that the anniversary of his passing has become an annual day of celebration, with gigs, radio shows, record fairs and even specific releases happening in his honor, every 25th of October. And this is a good thing, a very good thing.
So in memoriam, here’s a clip from a 2005 BBC program where various artists and radio djs posthumously rifle through his (typically eclectic) record box:
John Peel’s Record Box
After the jump, John Peel’s ‘Sound of the Suburbs’, Jimi Hendrix playing a Radio 1 jingle for Peel’s show in the late 60s, Peel on the assassination of JFK (which he reported on from Dallas for the Liverpool Echo), and an interview where Peel talks about the influence of punk, how its natural home is in the suburbs, and how scenes get co-opted by a jaded music press…
Soul and pop music lost one of its greatest songwriters on Monday, with the passing of Nicholas Ashford, one half of the duo Ashford and Simpson. Have a quick flick through Ashford and Simpson’s songwriting resumé and you’ll be pretty gobsmacked at some of the tunes they’ve had a hand in - they’re without a doubt one of the best songwriting duos of the modern age, writing huge hits for Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terell, Sylvester, Ray Charles, Marlena Shaw/The 5th Dimension and lots more.
London-based producer and dj Kirk Degiorgio has put together a special Nick Ashford tribute mix, featuring some of the man, and the couple’s greatest work. This is a fitting tribute indeed, and if you were in any doubt as to how good these guys were, wrap your ears around the following. Damn you cancer, but at least we know the man’s legacy will live on for a long time.
Rupert Murdoch’s flagship daily UK tabloid The Sun was this evening hacked by a group claiming to be Lulzsec, who uploaded a fake front page story that Murdoch’s cold, lifeless body had been found in his private glasshouse, after overdosing on palladium. Oh, if only. The website still seems to be down, and we are assuming that service will be back to normal by tomorrow, but by gum this was a good prank!
Lizzy Mercier Descloux was a multi-talented French recording artist who made waves in the New York underground in the 1980s. Perhaps best known for her early 80s no wave-meets-funk output, she found more commercial success later in the decade with a world music inspired sound. The girlfriend and sometime business partner of the entrepreneur Michel Esteban, she was signed to his uber-hip ZE Records, also home to Was (Not Was), Kid Creole & The Coconuts, James White, Suicide and many more. She released three albums and a bunch of singles for the label, before moving on to CBS in 1984.
Unfortunately Lizzy Mercier Descloux passed away in 2004. Since then the re-established ZE Records have been doing a cracking job at re-releasing her older material. Her sound was distinctive - sometimes abrasive, sometimes energetic and always exciting. Now ZE are giving away a twelve track compilation of the best of Descloux’s work called From Heaven With Love, available for the next seven days only from the official ZE website. The only catch is that you sign up to the record label’s mailing list, but really you should consider doing that anyway as their catalog and roster of acts is immense. This is a taster of what is on the comp:
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - “Wawa”
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - “Hard-Boiled Babe” (what a beat!!)
Lizzy Mercier Descloux - “Slipped Disc”
To download the 12 track From Heaven With Love compilation, go here.