Bugz in the Attic - "Consequences"


Number two on the neo-boogie '06 chart, just below Escort's "Starlight," is "Consequences." Buried in the second half of the new Bugz in the Attic album, it's a little less obvious about where it sits and could've been dreamt up by Norman Jay. There are slight flashes of Evelyn King, D-Train, Skipworth & Turner, Teena Marie, Aurra, first-album Dayton, and about a dozen more tenuous things. Then again, it leans toward latter-day boogie ('84-'85). Not quite sure what to make of the album yet -- I had given up on the thing happening and figured the ship passed around late '04. How could a group of seven producers/instrumentalists (plus collaborators) come up with more than the occasional 12" without wanting to beat the mizells out of each other? (Even the DKD album, involving two Bugz and one Dego, gets messy at points.) Most of it sounds good, if a little too unpredictable, on the first couple listens. If you know their past, or at least where they've come from, its makeup probably won't surprise you much -- chunky rhythms for octopedes, laserbeam synthesizers, playfully sneering Eighties Ladies-meet-Brides of Funkenstein vocal arrangements. The thing that surprises me most is a cover of Yarbrough & Peoples' "Don't Stop the Music," which did win me over after some initial skepticism.

Why this wasn't on Anderson Cooper 360 is beyond me


Former synth pop group/Garage favorite reinvents themselves as a birth control pill. Marketing plans include a commercial featuring one of the best St. Germain tunes of all time.


I look at my lack of postage around here as a sabbatical, but I have forsaken my Motown roots (just when the Tigers are getting good again) and transplanted myself right in the downtown area of Middle America...Lexington, Kentucky.

This really isn't conducive to doing an analysis of a song or era, but rather a catalog of things I have stored during the past 24 days on a scrap piece of paper:

1. R&B radio down here is Nelly. And Sean Paul. Old School is Mary J. Blige.
2. There are stores down here selling obscure singles in good condition for $1. Anyone who should be making a trip on I75 soon should consider stopping by. I'll even buy tacos.
3. People down here enjoy Roger Waters' solo work as much as they enjoy his tenure in Pink Floyd. I appreciate this notion, too.
4. Blogging is woefully sparse.
5. There is one club in the area and it's pretty marginal. The big events for the summer were Terry Mullan's house set and a concert by The Pharcyde. Nothing to scoff at I'm sure, but when one is spoiled by free Sa-Ra concerts and techno nightly in Detroit the transition is quite trying at times.
6. New Urban Tribe doesn't even measure up to the old Urban Tribe
7. There is not an art house cinema theater in every large town in the nation.
8. Lexington has no less than 16 Fazoli locations within its city limits.
9. Shake Shakir and Todd Osborn are two of the most underrated DJs in the nation.
10. No one down here has an appreciation of Starpoint.

Taana Gardner - "Heartbeat"

Escort - "Starlight"


New York's Escort is a seven-member coed group of at least three races. "Starlight" is their first single, a loose and steamy neo-Prelude/Salsoul nugget that was released recently on their own label. Dan Balis, who is on Metro Area 6, is the only name in the lineup I recognize, but that's enough of an indicator as to what Escort are about: straight-up boogie. (I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the rest of the players have been around for years. They're very good.) They've got the organic-synthetic midtempo thing down, with flute, strings, keyboards, and percussion all falling into place above the basic components without hitting overload. There can never be enough stuff like this, and yes, it's refined and chic and t*st*f*l. If I were still in retail, I'd affix a card to its sleeve and write "Skyy2k6" on it. The track ends up somewhere between "First Time Around" and "Here's to You."

Anita Baker - "Sweet Love"


Imagine my disappointment when all these years later I'd misheard a key line in the chorus of Anita Baker's "Sweet Love." She sings, "Hear me calling out your name, I feel no shame/I'm in love, sweet love." I thought it was "I feel the shame." The melodramatic plumminess of Baker's vocal had me convinced that the greatest song she ever performed was a most exquisite rendering of unabashed masochism. Perversity is so much more attractive embedded in a quiet-storm context.


Johnnie Taylor - "Disco Lady"


Has ever a filthier song been such a #1 (R&B and pop) smash? (I'm not considering Chuck Berry's sadly pathetic "My Ding-a-Ling," a novelty song if ever there was.)

Shake it up, shake it down
Move it in, move it around, disco lady
Move it in, move it out, move it in, 'round about, disco lady
Shake it up, shake it down
Move it in, move it around, disco lady

Well, hey sexy lady
Said I like the way you do your thang
Lord have mercy girl
You dance so fine and you're right on time
Girl you oughta be on T.V., on Soul Train
When you get the groove there ain't no stoppin'
Just can't help it, but I'm finger poppin'

Shake it up, shake it down, move it in, move it around, disco lady
Move it in, move it 'round, move it in, 'round about, disco lady

Shake it baby shake it, baby shake your thang
Shake it baby shake it, baby shake your thang
You've got me groovin'
I feel like movin'
You've got me movin'
Can't sit still I'm groovin' (I like that funky stuff)

Shake it up, shake it down, move it in, move it around, disco lady
Move it in, move it out
Shove it in 'round about, disco lady

Hey, sexy lady
Girl, you drive me crazy
You dance so fine and you're right on time
Girl, you driving me out of my mind, yeah
If it wasn't for the girl sittin' next to me
I'd jump right up and outta my seat you see
You got me hyp-no-tized, so mes-mer-ized
Girl you're movin' me
Girl you're groovin' me

Shake it up, shake it down
Move it in, move it round, disco lady, yeah
Move it in, move it out, shove it in 'round about, disco lady
Hey, you got me so set here in this discotheque
Girl, you're movin' me
Girl, you're groovin' me

I particularly note the lyric "shove it in", which seems pretty clear to me.

Yes, I know that "Disco Lady" simultaneously made Taylor's career - not only did the song top the charts, but its attendant album, his Columbia debut Eargasm, went #1 R&B/#5 pop - and undid it, as it ripped him from the Stax/blues cradle in which he'd come up. I'm sad for that, but nonetheless happy that he cut "Disco Lady." To my ears, this song drips with soul; sure, it's disco(ish), but is still firmly in and from the southern soul tradition. No matter what your musical persuasion, "Disco Lady" is a superb single.

Natural Selection - "Do Anything"


Simply one of my favorite singles of the '90s: a huge hit, stopped from hitting number-one in the fall of 1991 -- in one of those poignant ironies without which life is just another average episode of "Frasier" -- by a killer track sung and composed by the albatross Natural Selection could never escape (the track is "Cream"; the rest is up to you, apostate). "Do Anything" is one of the better Prince rips ever recorded, at a time when homages were no longer commercially desirable (or necessary?). Hot synth-guitar, silvery falsettos, and Madonna backup singer Nikki Harris' cooed encouragements. Of course Natural Selection could only do it once.

Howard Johnson - "Knees"


Am I crazy in thinking this song should've been all over radio in 1985? My theory is that the programmers heard the worst English accent ever attempted by a Floridian (Howard's no Darryl Jenks, but he shouldn't've felt the need to resort to such tricks to lure the females) and promptly frisbee'd the 12" before the first verse. Or maybe they made it all the way to "While I’m down there, what do you want me to do?" and tensed up. You'd think they would've at least given A&M and Jam & Lewis the benefit of the doubt. But they didn't, so "Knees" went absolutely nowhere, even though it's clearly dynamite. The album it's from is rather good, with one other production from Jam & Lewis, a couple from Monte Moir, a few from Vincent Brantley and Rick Timas (New Edition, Klymaxx, Detroyt), and one from Jermaine Jackson (a ballad flimsy enough to dissolve on contact). [Right-click image to download.]

Here's something new (albeit mostly old… so far).