Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ROCK Sex: "Scorpio" - Dennis Coffey > Grandmaster Flash > Public Enemy> Moby



ROCK Sex is back to show how songs link together.

Today's topic is the FunkRock classic "Scorpio".

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What may have kicked it off is this song by Lalo Schifrin for the DIRTY HARRY (1971) soundtrack. The villain 'Scorpio' was a clear swipe of the notorious serial killer, Zodiac, who terrorized San Francisco in this period. Schifrin's score merges some Funk moments with some musique concrete firmly in the style of Ennio Morricone's thriller scores, even down to the wordless female vocal emulating his muse Edda Dell Orso.

(This song was later sampled by N.W.A.'s "Approach To Danger" and General Electric's "Facing That Void".)

LALO SCHIFRIN -"Scorpio's Theme" (1971)



At the same time, Dennis Coffey broke out with his FunkRock monster, "Scorpio", which may've been as much about Astrology as anything. Dennis had been laying down the Funk and Rock for all of Motown's psychedelic era hits, and this lit him in his own spotlight.

Dennis' song is firmly in the 'Cop Rock' style of the hip film scores from the time, merging Rock riffs, Funky rhythms, and conga percussion into a imagined car chase of the mind.

DENNIS COFFEY & The Detroit Guitar Band -"Scorpio" (1971)



The first act to respond to his killer groove was himself! This is basically a sequel theme to a movie that didn't exist.

DENNIS COFFEY & The Detroit Guitar Band -"Son Of Scorpio" (1972)



Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio" was one of the secret weapons in AFRIKA BAMBAATAA's arsenal of groovy breaks in the dawn of HipHop. As if the scratch guitar and horn blasts weren't enough, it had that ferocious drum and bass throwdown in the middle for two minutes. A new generation soon heard it spliced into club mixes everywhere they danced.


Vibing off that but going the Kraftwerk route with their own jam, here's the original HipHop cutmaster and crew to spin some ElectroFunk.

GRANDMASTER FLASH & The Furious Five -"Scorpio" (1982)



The unparalleled architects of sample assault, Public Enemy, use Coffey's beat almost subliminally in this classic...

PUBLIC ENEMY -"Night Of The Living Baseheads" (1988)



With bass chops from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, here's Marvin Young with one of the biggest breakthroughs into the mainstream that Rap had ever had.

YOUNG MC -"Bust A Move" (1989)



Much more explicitly, here's Coffey's song as the basis of one of LL's standards...

LL COOL J -"Jingling Baby" (1990)



Taking an almost Ambient approach is this take on Coffey by Moby.

MOBY -"Mobility" (1990)



Though not as widely sliced as the evergreen Beat "Apache", this groove continues to be re-dug: West Coast All-Stars' "We're All In The Same Gang", Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth's ("Keep It Flowing"), and The Fugees' "The Score", among others.

Now if someone would just make a movie...




© Tym Stevens



See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist


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