Sunday, December 30, 2012

This Blows

As the Vinyl Vagabonds most written about tune-smith, hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow holds a special place in our record loving hearts.  One thing we have repeatedly mentioned in past write-ups is his lame B-side shenanigans.  They are so off-putting and shockingly bad as to rapidly ruin the groovy vibe that Mr. Blow leads off with.  The frequency of this has led to a near universal fear of all his B-sides.  What follows here is a list of KB's absolute worst tracks, in chronological order.  Other than number eleven, do not let this list deter you from purchasing his albums.  I have no regrets for owning and enjoying them.  Even some of the B-side stuff!  It's just nice to know when to pick up the needle.  

Let the song names speak for themselves and judge away. Should you feel so masochistic that you want to intentionally listen to these tracks you might consider using one as a form of punishment for your housemate who may have her hands full at the time and cannot run to shut off the tune.  It is a highly effective form of torture. HAAHHAHAHHAHHAHA (cackle cackle cackle)!!!  Think of this as a PSA. I've taken the risks here so you don't have to.

Kurtis Blow (self titled)
1. All I Want in this World (is to find that girl) - This song is wrong in every single conceivable way.  Made more disturbing by the fact that the rest of this prescient record is just about perfect. On this particular cluster KB croons in a cheesed out falsetto that all he wants to do is "find that girl".  He then goes on to describe said girl.  A rich one, a poor one, a sly one, etc.  That girl?  Which girl?  He's just named completely opposite traits and oh my god it hurts!  It is mind blowing that somebody didn't grab the man during recording and slap him hard.  Nothing can prepare you for this. 
As a first taste of how bad KB can be it is the most shockingly painful thing ever to hear.

2. Takin' Care of Business - This tune (not in tune actually) is the exception to the last sentence I wrote.  While not quite as painful as the previous track (a fact; nothing is more punishing), it is indeed challenging to get through without going into seizures.  KB seems intent on doing a rock n' roll thing, and approaches it with brio.  Unfortunately he just botches it completely due to his utter lack of strong musical accompaniment, singing voice, and judgment.  I'll say that at least it's an interesting premonition to what Run DMC was able to accomplish with Aerosmith on Walk This Way.  Interesting and awful.

3. Starlife - This one just seems lazy.  It's weak and boring.  Campy and limp.  Disco without the fun and rap swagger without any direction.  It goes nowhere.

4. Rockin' - Another case of Mr. Blow trying to rock out and not having the musical chops to pull it off.  He's amply armed with the charisma and I'll give it to him that he seems determined to make it work.  Sonically it's his least offensive mishap, but that's being nice.  

5. Daydreaming - The VVers were "lucky" enough to get a copy of this one with both sides labeled side B.  F*@#!%*#!  Even if you want to dodge the B-side, you may get it anyways.  "Getting close to you, you're such a sweet sensation...Daydreamin' takes me where I want to be, Daydreamin' lets me have you here with me".  Ok, so he's going there with the balladry and it is what it is.  If you can get with that then it is kind of tolerable at first, with a solid bass beat and drumline.  The instrumentation is Xanadu synths and shimmering crap.  He manages to keep his voice from going sour for most of the way.  It's when he goes for the jugular in his finale of "Day day day day day skidela de da day, oh why why why oh why oooh why why..." scatting with reckless abandon.  It go on like this fer a while I tink, but it hard say 'cause my brian jus been purm damage by listen 2 dis track 'gain. Guh. Me am purty.

6. Baby, You've Got to Go - Another rocker; probably his best.  That isn't saying much.  It's actually more of a blues track and he's managed to get some competent musicianship with him on it.  I would imagine with the aid of a lot of booze or maybe after being hit over the head with something heavy this track might be a great finish to an album.  KB's the problem here.  He just sings like a goofball.  It's a good laugh; he just cannot pull it off as a real song.

Ego Trip
KB looks so happy Falling Back in Love Again.
7. Basketball - It's catchy for sure with a compulsively listenable chorus sung by lady backups.  Unfortunately the main lyrics are about as pedestrian as possible.  Let's try to remember for a second that this is from the guy who wrote The Breaks; arguably the best mainstream early hip-hop hit with serious lyrics.  "Basketball is my favorite sport, I like the way they dribble up and down the court, Just like I'm the King on the microphone, so is Dr. J and Moses Malone, I like slam dunks, take me to the hoop, My favorite play is the alley oop, I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go, Cause it's Basketball, uh, Mister Kurtis Blow".  Case closed.

8. Falling Back in Love Again - Like being stabbed in the eye with something pointy for three days straight.  Oh yeah, and it hurts your ears and soul also.  You will go sterile if you listen to this.  The track that convinced me that KB had been experimenting with some very bad drugs.  Avoid at all costs!

Back side of the sleeve - a good indicator of a what's to
hear on the B-side.
9. Super Sperm/Hello Baby/AJ Meets Davy DMX/Summertime Groove - These mostly instrumental tracks on America are just KB and his DJs goofing off.  The tracks aren't necessarily "bad", but they certainly do not warrant anything other than cutting room experiment status.  Semi-interesting sounds/lyrics with nothing to say in particular.  Gratuitous and pointless; they take up half the album. It's just filler.

10. Don't Cha Feel Like Making Love - The track hasn't even started playing yet and I'm already nervous.  There is no way this is gonna not hurt.  I imagine worst case scenarios and try to remember if I've written my last will and testament yet.  How many people are going to actually read this anyways?  Why am I taking these risks!?!  I have so much to live for!  Ok... calm down; it might not be as bad as I remember.  Hey, it just started... not bad!  Wow!  Total retraction.  Mr. Blow, I am sorry.  This one is awesome!  My bad.  Oh no.  Wait, he's starting to talk sexy and cooing and stuff.  I think I even heard some moaning.  Oh it's a train wreck and I'm right in the middle of the fade out, HELP!!!

Kingdom Blow
Something is not right here.
11. The entirety of the album Kingdom Blow with the exception of I'm Chillin' and the title track (both are pretty dumb, but generally fun enough).  This is where KB pretty much went off the rails.  Strange as it seems, this record features the most guest star heavy hitters, Bob Dylan and George Clinton.  Well it's basically a shit sandwich anyways and we wrote a review of the record because we were so deeply disappointed.  Why Kurtis?  Or to quote him better, "oh why why why oh why oooh why why...?" 

Back By Popular Demand

12. OK, so the VVers never actually listened to anything off of Back By Popular Demand.  We looked at it at a record store recently with the thought to complete our collection.  I personally am so scarred from Kingdom Blow that I immediately refused.  We may never know.  This could be his greatest blow yet.  

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