The New Dance Show: A Very Special BAFTV


It goes without saying that if you were from Detroit, you knew about The Scene or The New Dance Show. Airing on WGPR throughout the 70s well into the 90s, TS/TNDS were two of Detroit's most important and original dance music programs. Yes, there were others that came before (Swingin' Time, Teen Town etc.) in the 60s, but none managed to capture the raw energy that Nat Morris/RJ Watkins managed to during this magical period. It also was a bonafide phenomenon. From a recent passage in Gordon Castelnero's excellent book TV Land Detroit, Detroit DJ Scott Gordon (the guy who, in my opinion, schooled a young Richie Rich Hawtin on the decks) sums it up very accurately:

"It had a lot of impact on me as far as being a deejay and being exposed to music I wouldn't ordinarily be exposed to...and incorporating that into my own shows at the weekend teen clubs I was playing for. All these very lily white kids from neighborhoods like Waterford and these far outlying suburbs at the time loved the sutff that they had never heard before. Alot of subcultured white kids were affected by The Scene, and I was one of them."

Below is an excerpt of an on-location shoot of the New Dance Show at Detroit's Cooley High, and the play list is Grade A all the way through. Following that, another excerpt of an on shoot location from 1992 and 1989, respectively.

And of course, this post that's been making the rounds like wildfire.. a clip from 1982 featuring another one of Detroit's finest, A Number of Names' single "Sharevari".

The BEST part could very well be the commercials from that era:

And finally, if i haven't worn your attention span down enough...a dance line

Thanks to the generosity of a few kind souls these videos and more have been making the rounds on YouTube, and have been a kind comfort in the midst of a rather brittle and cold winter.

Al Green - "Your Love Is Like The Morning Sun"


I wrote about this great obscure Al Green album track today; here's another, to which I alluded but failed to provide the space. "Your Love Is Like The Morning Sun" may be the quiestest song Green ever recorded. His voice a horny murmur still a-quiver after a night of revelatory coitus, Green forces Al Jackson to eschew the heavy bottom for which he was deservedly famous in favor of steady rim tapping, counting the minutes until Al's revved up all over again. "...Morning Sun" has the sound and feel of a hymn, a lubricious update of the St. Francis serenity prayer; the celestial becomes the carnal, signified by Green's taking the line "No one can take your place" down the scales, one note at a time, from the empyrean to the bedroom. One of my all-time favorite moments of self-referentiality occurs in the last forty seconds: Green stringing together the titles of "Tired of Being Alone," "I'm Still in Love With You," and "Let's Stay Together." Needless to say, it's more moving than Sting's similar attempts in the early nineties.

Harvey Mason - "Spell"


It is doubtful this will be the hottest thing you encounter during our suspect Detroit '76-'84 survey, but if you have a sweet spot for sub-EWF MOR R&B from the early '80s (100% guilty here), you ought to find a copy of Harvey Mason's MVP. Session demon Mason is not from Detroit (he's from Atlantic City, to be precise), but Deon Estus -- who is featured throughout the album and happens to be responsible for many of the via-search hits we get -- is from the city. He's present on bass and vocals throughout MVP, and "Spell" is one of the songs he had a hand in writing. As far as mellow twilight numbers made for slowly rocking back and forth go, it's real nice. We'll talk about Estus again when we reach Brainstorm. (We will stop short of Wham!)

"Spell" is track 02 of Detroit 1976-1984. It was released on an Arista LP in 1981 (or maybe it was 1980). Download it and then purchase it.

Different 10 of '06


Okay, I'll bite. There's a part of me that wants year-end mini-polls for every genre, anyway (a la Nashville Scene's Country Music Critics Poll).

And we're sticking to R&B, right, no hip hop? Okay.

01 Ciara - "Promise"
02 Kirk Franklin - "Looking for You"
03 Beyoncé - "Ring the Alarm"
04 Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. - "My Love"
05 Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z - "Deja Vu"
06 Prince - "Black Sweat"
07 Justin Timberlake - "SexyBack"
08 Mary J. Blige - "Be Without You"
09 Mariah Carey - "Fly Like A Bird"
10 Ne-Yo - "When You're Mad"

Also: Christina Aguilera - "Ain't No Other Man," Chris Brown - "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)," Jamie Foxx featuring Twista - "DJ Play A Love Song," Anthony Hamilton - "Can't Let Go," Janet featuring Nelly - "Call On Me," Ne-Yo - "So Sick," Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell - "Wanna Love You Girl"

-Omarion's "Ice Box" and Fantasia's "Hood Boy" are on my '07 list (the same way that MJB's on my '06).
-I know "Wanna Love You Girl" came out in, what, 1994? (Sure seems that way.) But it's on an '06 album - and made an impact on me in '06 - so here it is.
-I didn't include "Promiscuous," but did include "SexyBack." It's a matter of degrees, I guess.

And good Lord, my list feels dull. So major-label, so radio-ready. But this is what I liked in the past year, so it is what it is.

10 of '06


Like last year's list, albeit with a higher percentage of album tracks and no talk:

01. Mary J. Blige - "Take Me as I Am"
02. Alice Smith - "Love Endeavor (Maurice Fulton Remix)"
03. Ciara - "Promise"
04. Bugz in the Attic - "Consequences"
05. Cassie - "Me and U"
06. Omarion - "Ice Box"
07. Shareefa - "Phony"
08. Christina Aguilera - "Ain't No Other Man"
09. Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"
10. Prince - "Black Sweat"

Others: Amerie's "Take Control," Avant's "Exclusive," Beyoncé's "Green Light," Yummy Bingham's "Is It Good to You," Monica Blaire's "Get Back," Cassie's "Long Way 2 Go," Raheem DeVaughn's "You," "Diddy"'s "After Love," "Diddy"'s "Last Night," Escort's "Starlight," J Dilla's "Dime Piece," Jagged Edge's "Watch You," Donell Jones' "Spend the Night," Kelis' "Bossy," LeToya's "Torn," Monica's "A Dozen Roses (You Remind Me)," Georgia Anne Muldrow's "Lovelight," Ne-Yo's "It Just Ain't Right," Robin Thicke's "Wanna Love You Girl."

RJ's Latest Arrival - "Body Snatcher"


Guess how many singles this Detroit/Southfield group placed on the R&B chart? If you're thinking one -- specifically "Shackles," a fairly well-known spring/summer 1984 hit that's something like a Whodini/Cameo mutant on a relatively tight budget -- you'd be off by sixteen. Led by RJ "The Wiz" Rice, RJ's Latest Arrival was around for well over a decade. They were on a different label with every other release until settling with EMI in the mid '80s, and they seemed to switch up featured vocalists and/or equipment frequently enough to keep people guessing. "Body Snatcher," their fourth single, is swift grade-A boogie. Its best part is either the transition from the intro or the extended breakdown. Freaks should've covered it on The Man Who Lived Underground.

The track was mixed by the late Duane "In the Mix" Bradley, an extremely well-regarded DJ, one-third of the Detroit Wasmopolitan Mixing Squad, and a familiar name if you own lots of Inner City singles. He was as crucial to Detroit as anyone else involved in the '70s and '80s, the Electrifying Mojo included. More from him and his Wasmopolitan partners later. Rice did some outside work with the Bar-Kays and Taja Savelle; with Eddie "Flashin'" Fowlkes, he remixed Pet Shop Boys' "Where the Streets Have No Name." Most importantly, he runs a studio and label. If someone were to write a book on Detroit hip-hop, a whole chapter would have to be devoted to his efforts.

"Body Snatcher" is track 01 of Detroit 1976-1984. It was released on a Sutra 12" in 1981. Download it and then purchase it.



One way to condense a nine-and-a-half song: cut out the middle.

This, btw, has been my YouTube holy grail for as long as the site's been up. I'd have posted it a lot earlier but was preoccupied; I also just finally got a new laptop of my own.

Detroit 1976-1984


As Rob and I were whipping up new ways to mention Ray Parker Jr. on Back and Forth, we got sidetracked and came up with 40-50 obscure-to-somewhat-popular club-friendly tracks released from 1976 through 1984 that have some form of Detroit connection. We intend to upload and talk about each one. (With a little luck, we'll make it to the middle.) Most of the selections aren't too well known, yet they're not all scarce. Odds are more likely they either narrowly escaped infamy or never stood a chance outside the region. There are quite a few instances, regardless of familiarity, where the Detroit connection isn't all that apparent.

Why 1976 through 1984? Many Motown/Northern soul/soul freaks have no interest in anything informed by disco, while the starting point for most Detroit techno heads is the day in 1985 when Model 500's "No UFOs" was pressed -- with A Number of Names, Cybotron, and Channel One viewed more like warning shots. These two loud factions leave a significant gap in Detroit music history, one that hasn't been discussed nearly as much as its surrounding years. (In Detroit sports history, 1976-1984 is called the Gary Danielson Era.) While the songs we'll cover do have something in common with one another, and they're often intertwined personnel-wise, the sum doesn't resemble a scene or a neatly-bound era. We will nonetheless connect some dots and pull up songs you'll hopefully enjoy, whether you've forgotten about them or never knew of their existence.

"We Called Him Mr. Brown."


"[W]hen you think of it, none of the other icons in black music were as inventive as James Brown, except maybe Ray Charles. And even Ray Charles was basically just taking gospel and Nat King Cole and kind of putting them together in a new way. He hadn't really invented something new. James Brown invented something new." Alan Leeds talks to Steve Perry about the greatest musician of all time.