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.
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.
In my life, I have loved many songs. It’s a rare occurrence but there are a few which I have loved and not known their names. Worse is when their names have disappeared from my memory causing me great consternation. How do you find them again? They are usually odd or rare tunes and even if you hummed them into a phone or something, the phone would look back at you with a great big blank stare. It would be as confused as the voice recognition prompts on automated telephones that can’t seem to understand my ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and so I’m forced to punch the corresponding buttons. So I have no one to turn to, no humming decoder or Dr. Phil DJ that will identify all the random tunes floating in my head and memory. I just wait and hope that one day the song and I will cross paths again and we’ll join each other in an aural connection, love blooming once again.
To get to my point, Looking From a Hilltop is one of those songs. I first heard it when my brother brought it home from Exodus records after a vulgar shopping spree where he dropped about a two hundred dollars (his whole life savings to that point, he was 13 years old) on imported 12-inch records in his quest to be the best South San Gabriel DJ of the 1980s. I don’t think he was as impressed with the record as much as I was. It was innovative for melding new wave vocals and aesthetics with pop-locking friendly beats. It sounded so fresh and new to my ears, I felt innovative just for listening to it. I borrowed the 12-inch for long periods of time and my brother being a bit proprietary (having spent the money to get it to our house all the way from England) eventually asked for it back. Into the crates it went, lost among the Stacey Q and Tapps records.
Every few years I’d ask my brother for “the record.” Find me the record! By then his collection had grown so large it took up most of the family garage. He would look half-heartedly but never seemed to find it. Crushed and a bit obsessed, I started to think I’d never hear the song again. As time went by, I stopped asking.
Just a few years ago, I decided to look for myself. Facing the stacks of crates holding thousands of albums it dawned on me that I’d forgotten the name and artist of the song! I did remember the bright orange sleeve and the distinctive look of the British vinyl – those details recorded somewhere in my internal jukebox. Even with this information, the search was futile, too many crates filled tight with worn records, their sleeves rolled at the edges from all those DJing nights of frantic thumbing-throughs and scraped by the rough wood as the record was plucked from the crate and thrown onto the spinning turntable. No wonder my brother wasn’t so keen on helping me find it.
So guess what happens next? I’m reading the Secret History of Disco book and he mentions Section 25 and I think to myself “Hmmm, the name sounds awfully familiar…” And so I do a Youtube search and there it is, my song! My love, I’ll never forget you again! But I must be honest, you haven’t aged all that well.
The vinyl as I remember it!
I think this is probably the version popular with the DJ set as it has a very pop-locking feel to it and none of the wimpy girl vocals.
As part of the Secret Disco series of posts, I included a song by the group Exuma. Unfortunately, I didn’t give much information about the track or it’s origins. Exuma is artist who hails from the Caribbean where a kind of music called Junkanoo is popular. On New Year’s Day in the Bahamas Junkanoo festivals are held. They commemorate one of the two days when Caribbean slaves were given “free days” (days when they were at liberty to sing, dance and entertain themselves without being at the beck and call of slavemasters.) The other day is December 26. Every year there are big street parties, festivals and parades to mark the occasion. The music is incredible. I’m including a couple of clips here so that you can get a sense of the festivities.
This clip is special to me because I’ve actually been on this street when I visited Nassau at age 17. It’s where I found an awesome music store and bought handfuls of cassette tapes that I still listen to till this day.