Friday, March 12, 2010

ROCK Sex: 'Think About the Good Things!'

ROCK Sex follows a train of thought.

"It takes two to make a thing go right/ It takes two to make it out of sight!" This is a relay where one song ends up very different on the other end, splicing with others through various styles.

"Think" was first done by THE "5" ROYALES in 1957. (The "5" was a joke about how there were actually six of them.) Typically, this Rock'n'Roll band was catagorized/segregrated as R'n'B because they were all black, but Lowman Pauling's feiry guitar leads tell the real tale. Just check out songs like "Say It", "Slummer The Slum", and "Messin Up". Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MGs did, and he credits Pauling as the main man who inspired him to take up guitar.

THE "5" ROYALES -"Think" (1957)

Another label mate of The Royales at King Records was the young JAMES BROWN. James' remake of the song completely transformed it, revving the tempo and intensifying the shuffle into a precision tap workout. This rhythmic lockstep of syncopation became the first blueprint of the Funk to come later on.

JB -"Think" (1960)

James' version is so definitive, it is routinely thought of as his song.

In the mid 60's, MARVIN GAYE had a run of classic duets such as "It Takes Two", with KIM WESTON. Soon after, he made the best duets ever with Tammi Terrell, who was a former protege of James Brown.

MG & KIM WESTON -"It Takes Two" (1966)

Never one to be left out of the action, James re-remade "Think" as a duet with new ingenue VICKI ANDERSON in this slinky revamp. Notice how Vicki's tough repeats of the title will anticipate the next song.

JB & VICKI ANDERSON -"Think" (1967)

Then things start to intersect. James' new diva, LYN COLLINS The Female Preacher, made a different song called "Think (About It)". It takes the sentiment of the original "Think" and puts a female empowerment upgrade on it, while calling out Marvin & Kim's "It Takes Two" in the bridge.

After the 30 second intro, you'll recognize it immediately as one of the most sampled songs in HipHop history.

LYN COLLINS -"Think (About It)" (1972)

The first Rapper to sample it was Roxanne Shante, but this song a few months later stole the show on that. ROB BASE & DJ E Z ROCK used whole sections of it in one of the biggest breakthrough Rap hits ever.

ROB BASE & DJ E Z ROCK -"It Takes Two" (1988)

MTV was, as was their custom, skittish about Rap music in the 80's. It barely played any black acts at all in its first two years, despite angry pressure from artists like David Bowie. They finally caved in when the monster successes of Michael Jackson and Prince forced their hand. Though hit singles by RUN-DMC and The Beastie Boys brought Rap into the radio mainstream, more political acts like Public Enemy still scared the video network. It was the parallel outbreak of HipHop acts with intensely dancable tracks based on samples that turned the tide, such as MC Hammer, Tone Loc, and Young MC. Bending to the changing wind, in 1989 MTV alotted 30 minutes to "Yo! MTV Raps", using Rob Base's song as the theme. It became the biggest hit show they had ever had.

Rap became a dominant part of the mainstream for the next two decades. Nowadays every dance-pop hit by anyone is a child of that breakthrough. But as usual, synthesis and mutation is the creative path that got us here. It transcends all imposed barriers.

Think about that.

(Rock Sex, baby!)

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