Favorite Video(s) of the Day: Ahmed & Mehmet

Reyhan – Ahmed

So the second part of my Chalga series was gonna be on Reyhan, beautiful, beautiful Reyhan…The chola looking Gypsy/Roma singer from Bulgaria who sings in Turkish, the language of Muslim Roma in that country. Sadly, she died in 2005, in the prime of her super-stardom, the victim of a tragic auto accident. Men still weep for her on Youtube.
It’s taken me forever to write my post on Reyhan because I felt it deserved something extra special, it might be done one day…

Reyhan in her younger days

Selda – Mehmet Emmi

We all love Selda, the queen of Anatolian Rock!

Secret Disco: Hi-NRG

Trans X-Living on Video

Stop-Wake Up

Lime-Babe Were Gonna Love Tonight

Considering the term “Chicano Oldies” is accepted and in popular use, I’d like to create a genre called “Chicano Disco.” Some favorite examples above.

In Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco, author Peter Shapiro explains how the influence of the European musicians’ love for synthesized music fundamentally changed the essence of dance music. Whereas disco used to be based on funk, live beats and real drummers bands like Kraftwerk showed there was another way to create a rhythm. The synthesizer with it’s fake handclaps, hi-hats and bass drums helped create a whole new genre of disco music: Hi-NRG.

Hi-NRG had a huge following amongst Mexicans and Chicanos in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s. It was the musical fuel for an amazing DIY scene of DJs, backyard parties and dance clubs that ruled over large sections of the city. It’s a movement that isn’t well known outside Chicano circles in Los Angeles, back then most people could not care less what was going on in our communities.

I wasn’t part of this scene but my brother was a DJ and a member of Boyz in Kontrol, one of the hundreds, if not thousands of party crews that existed at the time. The crews were responsible for organizing parties, dance contests, DJ battles and cruising (cars) spots. While punk may get a lot of credit for being a DIY scene, the disco scene of 1980s rivaled punk in it’s “let’s organize ourselves” philosophy. Unlike punk it wasn’t a political choice, the self organization was done out of sheer necessity. Our neighborhoods offered very few forms of entertainment or diversions for youth.

Towards the late 1980s, the backyard parties started attracting the attention of the authorities, and by using the excuse of minor incidents of violence, these authorities begin to systematically shutdown and target the parties. Some involved with the scene said this heavy handedness by LAPD and the sheriffs department helped to create the revival of cholos and gangs on the Eastside. During the height of the disco scene, to be a gangster or cholo was the epitome of being uncool. Kids would snicker at the site of old veteranos riding on the bus with baggy pants like some anachronistic figure of the past. The disco scene had Latino kids going from neighborhood to other neighborhoods across the city to attend parties and to battle each other on the dance floor. The rivalries that existed and any tension were quickly diffused through dancing and partying. The violence that occasionally happened at these parties was mostly due to fights over girls/boys and the usual love dramas.

When the authorities started cracking down on the party crews and cruising, the essentially were forcing teenagers with lots of energy to stay home. And who was waiting for them? The old gangs who provided them with diversionary outlets. Many of us saw this process play out in front of our eyes. I’m not saying this was the only catalyst for the upsurge in gangs but it was a significant one and gives us a few clues to how we can deal with our current gang problem. The more you try and control youth, the greater the eruption of chaos. Young people need something to do, they have a lot of energy and excitement for their new world that cannot be bottled up and funneled into a path that adults approve of. Let the kids party!

Hi-NRG is still popular among successive generations of backyard partygoers. Go to any baptism, quinceañera, wedding or birthday party on the Eastside or in the San Gabriel Valley and there will be at least one DJ set devoted to the pantheon of Chicano Disco aka Hi NRG.

Please see Pachuco 3000’s post: 30 Years of DJ Culture from East Los Angeles for further reading.

Favorite Song(s) of the Day: Dead Lazers and Disco Dancers

O.Children – Dead Disco Dancer

O.Children is this decade’s version of Joy Division and Bauhaus which is not to say they touch these bands in terms of musical sacredness but more that they are derivative of the gothic post-punk genre of those times. Unfortunately, they have a commonality with many current bands by being over produced and over styled. Despite these criticisms, Tobi O’Kandi’s voice is gorgeous, much richer and fuller than Ian Curtis (if you will permit me the comparison). I also have a special fondness for Tobi O’Kandi because he was previously in a band called Bono Must Die. The band was eventually compelled to change their name by the forces behind the letter U and the number 2.

Kap Bambino – Dead Lazers

Wow, Kap Bambino sure changed their look from a few years ago when I first came across them through the French electro post-happy hardcore music scene and they were all dayglo and shiny. I guess the dark times have returned to Europe too and everyone’s angry again, finally! Or perhaps, bands like Atari Teenage Riot have influenced the new crop of 20teens electro crashers. I predict ATR will be the band to emulate in this upcoming new decade.
Now is definitely the time to fight.
(By the way, doesn’t it sound like she’s singing “dead lizards in the night”?)

Favorite Song of the Day: Our Darkness

Anne Clark – Our Darkness (Original Version)

Many folks consider this song to be an early precursor to house, the thumping steady beat in the background was unusual for the early 80s. Unlike other songs of the dark wave genre, there is a lot of anger in this song – a relentless release of feelings that struck me the first time I heard it. It’s very manifesto-like.

A remixed house version can be found on the Felix Da Housecat album A Bugged Out Mix by Felix da Housecat.

Anne Clark website.

These days I only have time for music, my only interest seems to be music. The times feel rather dark. Most of my posts for the near future will be music related. Come back in a month for other topics.

Secret Disco: Girl You Need a Change of Mind

Eddie Kendricks – Girl You Need a Change of Mind

Lots of end of the year posts coming up soon. I don’t know about you but 2010 just kinda snuck up on me. I’m still surprised when people keep mentioning the “end of the decade.” Ooops, can we rewind a bit? I’m not quite ready for the new times, on the other hand, I’m so happy to say goodbye to the miserable decade behind us. My apologies to the youth who called the aughts their heyday. May you soon know a new world of pleasure and joy! Afterall, the new world is there in our hearts.

I’ll start the joy fest early with this little gem of a jam I’ve been listening to non-stop for the past few days. Another Secret Disco find. It’s the break that I love. The energy of the song slowly building up with the introduction of a earthy bassline, the tempo begins to gather steam, the falsetto gets more plaintive, the beat harder and finally releasing into a hands-in-the-air anthemic break punctuated with syncopated horns and a little bongo solo. It’s the kinda sound that inspired House music.

Here’s hoping your New Year’s Eve is filled with all kinds of boogie!

Favorite Song(s) of the Day: Tunes of Tengri

Huun Hur Tu-Tuvan Internationale

If the Exuma song was dripping with magic, this Altai shaman song by Huun Hur Tu is drenched with it.

I’ve always had a fondness for throat singing but my curiosity never took me beyond the popular albums from Mongolia. In between disco, I’ve been listening to music from Central Asia songs made by Uyghurs, music from Xianjiang and Altai and few other Asian-Turkish influenced genres from the region. There is so much more to listen to but for now, I will leave you with these clips.

Huun Huur Tu-Dangyna

Nomads sharing music? I can hear lots of Romani style in this song.

Tengri is revered as the creator of the universe and the spirit the sky in many parts of Central Asia.

Secret Disco: Roller Boogie

Bisquit-Roller Boogie

I tried my best to resist the lure of this video which I was first introduced to through artist Porous Walker‘s Facebook page.
What is it exactly that I find so lovable about this song? Is it the synthy Hi-NRG beats, the hypnotic vocoder robot vocals, the infectious chord changes, the catchy chorus backed by samba shakers, the requisite hand claps, the unrelenting bass line, the melodic alarm clock beeps taken from a children’s cartoon all topped by a perfectly timed cowbell pop? Or is it the video itself with the Chrissy Snow dancers, so vapid and rhythmless (you can see them counting beats in their head) following a choreography that means absolutely nothing to them cause all they are smiling about is the cocaine they were promised after the video shoot? Did Cicciolina find her inspiration here? Xuxa?
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