Category Archives: world music classics

Isaac Hayes (1942 -2008)


Isaac Hayes died a couple of hours ago. He was 65. His best known work was the soundtrack for the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft.

I give you his a cult disco track “I Can’t Turn Around” (1975, above), which led 10 years later to “Love Can’t Turn Around[1], something between a cover and a rip off of the original, but an altogether better track.

Hayes recorded the track for his Chocolate Chip album and it saw him embracing the disco sound with the title track and lead single. This would be Hayes’ last album to chart top 40 for many years.


“Love Can’t Turn Around” is WMC #64.

Here are two more of his cult favorites:


Isaac Hayes – Breakthrough


Isaac Hayes – Pursuit of The Pimpmobile

“Fellow Americans, we begin bombing in five minutes.”


24 years ago today, towards the end of the cold war, someone smuggled a recording of a voice test by then president Ronald Reagan to the outside world.

The soundbite is now commonly referred to as Reagan’s “We begin bombing in five minutes” joke[1] and ran like this:

My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.

On hearing the news, a leading Parisian newspaper expressed its dismay, and stated that only trained psychologists could know whether Reagan’s remarks were “a statement of repressed desire or the exorcism of a dreaded phantom.”


Reagan’s gaffe was sampled soon afterwards, most notably in 1984 on the appropriately titledWorld Destruction[2] by Time Zone (Laswell, Bambaataa and Lydon) and by Bonzo Goes to Washington, a one-off studio project that released “5 Minutes”[3] (“chopped and channeled by Arthur Russel) in the same year. I have no audio for the latter.

For the vinyl vultures, “World Destruction” is on Celluloid Records, “5 minutes” on Sleeping Bag Records, both cult labels.

“World Destruction” is WMC # 63. Enjoy.

For the record: Reagan was a funny president[4], although he did come over as a religious lunatic when you hear him on his 1984 presidential campaign where he comments on armageddon and mutual assured destruction:

“the biblical prophecies of what would portend the coming of Armageddon and so forth, and the fact that a number of theologians for the last decade or more have believed that this was true, that the prophecies are coming together that portend that.” … “no one knows whether those prophecies mean that Armageddon is a thousand years away or day after tomorrow. So I have never seriously warned and said we must plan according to Armageddon.”

Introducing “Uncertain Times”


Cristo Redentor” by Donald Byrd

The omnologist anglophone blog Uncertain Times[3] brings American voice actor and spoken word artist Ken Nordine[4] to my attention[5], from there it is a small step to American Space Age musician Fred Katz (one-time soundtrack maker for Roger Corman[6]) and American sound artist and humorist Henry Jacobs[7]. From there we go to Donald Byrd‘s interpretation of Duke Pearson‘s “Cristo Redentor[8] via Harvey Mandel‘s 1968 version[9].

John J. McNulty, the author of “Uncertain Times”, calls himself an omnologist; omnology is a neologism by Howard Bloom, which he defines as:

If one omnologist is able to perceive the relationship between pop songs, ancient Egyptian graffiti, Shirley MacLaine‘s mysticism, neurobiology, and the origins of the cosmos, so be it. If another uses mathematics to probe traffic patterns, the behavior of insect colonies, and the manner in which galaxies cluster in swarms, wonderful. And if another uses introspection to uncover hidden passions and relate them to research in chemistry, anthropology, psychology, history, and the arts, she, too, has a treasured place on the wild frontiers of scientific truth-the terra incognita in the heartland of omnology. —Howard Bloom[10]

In this sense, omnology is very much related to my adagium on connections:

“Wanting connections, we found connections — always, everywhere, and between everything.” Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum.

Think intertextuality, interconnectedness, nexus, six degrees of separation and my favourite metaphor: the rhizome.

Cristo Redentor” is WMC #62.

Vertere and WMC #59, 60 and 61

Don’t Turn Around” (1970) by Black Ivory.

The other day, while I was explaining my interest in etymology (recently rekindled by buying and reading Giambattista Vico‘s The New Science) and the way I bring it to my students, I took the word vertere as an example. From vertere is derived transverse, diverse, perverse, universe, subversion, etc…

I studied Latin for four years in high school, but the above example is the way I would have liked to have studied Latin, with relevancy to current living languages. Start with the prefixes and suffixes and then the verbs.

Prompted by the word “turn” (as in vertere) I make Black Ivory‘s (one of Patrick Adams‘s earliest productions with vocals by Leroy Burgess) “Don’t Turn Around” World Music Classic # 59. All good things come in three, so I give you two more tracks (WMC #60 and 61) from the same period by Skull Snaps, “My Hangup Is You[1] and the super-breaky “It’s a New Day[2].

More Jahsonic YouTube faves are here[3].

Also, while researching these tunes, I found Wanda Robinson‘s [4], a WMC in the making?.

Disney’s self-disneyfication

Does he not remind you of The Tramp?

WALL-E[1] is an American satire of polluted environments, human obesity, and retail corporate domination.

In a future world, people have been Cocacolonized, Disneyficated, McDonaldized and Walmarted. Robots come to their help. Reverse dystopia comes to mind.

The film is very benevolent, it’s Disney after all. But it’s a treat, a real treat. Watch out for the 2001 allusion. Also, hints of Silent Running[2].

Plants in space.

WALL-E is World Cinema Classic #55, Silent Running #56

Staying with corporate domination and consumerism, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction[3] (Devo‘s version here, slightly more danceable) is World Music Classic # 58.

Elsewhere #11

  • Revolt of the Mannequins (original French: “La Révolte des Mannequins”) is a new production by Royal de Luxe, and follows their famous “Sultan’s Elephant” show that was performed in several cities worldwide from 2005 to 2007. In the Revolt of the Mannequins, 13 shop fronts in the city center are transformed into theater stages, where the mannequins perform a 10-day play. Every night, the Royal de Luxe team changes the positions of the mannequins, making the story jump to the next episode. 10 days, and 10 episodes per shop front, lead up to the final Revolt. The show took place in Nantes from October 1st to February 10 2008 and plays in Antwerp on the Meir as De opstand van de Paspoppen for Zva from July 11 to July 20.

Everything feels fucked up. The environment, the economy, war, terrorism, …

It is time for WMC #54


You Can’t Always Get What You Want“by Soulwax

I may have dismissed Philip Sherburne‘s piece on the current state of beats too quickly in my recent comment.[1]

The piece came my way via Simon Reynolds[2] a couple of days back:

Philip Sherburne addresses the malaise in electronic dance culture (i didn’t know the economic side of it had gotten that parlous) and convenes a kind of brain trust to come up with remedies.” —Simon Reynolds

And thus starts Sherburne’s piece:

Everything feels fucked up. The environment, the economy, war, terrorism, …” Philip Sherburne [3]

Regarding the economic side Sherburne says:

“Still, dance music is suffering from some very real maladies, many of them economic. Record sales are declining– labels that once could confidently move 1,000 copies of a 12″ single now struggle to sell 250– and legal downloads, while presumably growing, aren’t taking up the slack.”

As I said in my comment I find it hard to imagine that beats are going out of fashion.

Witness these beats set to The Stones‘s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want[4] remix[5] by Belgian dance-punkers Soulwax. Listen for the choral arrangements by Jack Nitzsche.

Regarding beats going out of fashion from a theoretical point of view.

The beat is a celebration of dance, dance is a celebration of hedonism. Hedonism flourishes in economic booms. Today is an era of poverty. Beats do not fit in poverty. Perhaps. But. Counter example one: the beats of Lindy Hop during Depression America. So evidence inconclusive, but if I had to investigate I would follow the economic boom/malaise route.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in its original Stones version is WMC #54

The Prince copyright controversy and WMC #54

At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep” but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance. Thom Yorke of Radiohead, upon hearing about the removal of the video, asked Prince to unblock the song stating “Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our … song.” –The Prince (TAFKAP) and copyright controversy.

Look around on YouTube, how many TAFKAP clips do you find? That’s right, none. TAFKAP is convinced that if you want to be entertained by him, you have to pay him. He is right of course, even if it does not make him very likable.

Why is he right?

Companies such as YouTube (a Google owned company) are making millions of dollars on the backs of “minor” artists (the long tail) who do not have the funds to employ an army of lawyers to police YouTube in search of their content.

These minor artists should be paid for their work. Tafkap may set a precedent for this to happen.

Take an artist such as Loleatta Holloway[1] (who may be a bad example since she didn’t actually write many compositions herself, but it will do for the sake of the argument). About 124 clips with her voice are featured on YouTube, providing thousands of pageviews for YouTube. Pageviews generate ad revenue. Does Loleatta get paid? No. Does she gain in extra record sales? No, record sales are virtually non-existent since the advent of the internet, everyone downloads1.

The solution?

Micropayments, subscription based YouTubes (one for the the big four, the major record companies who control 70% of the world music market; one for all the independents who control the other 30%); and YouTube setting up a fund for the artists who are missing out on revenue right now.

P.S. It may sound contradictory (especially in regard to my post on The Cult of the Amateur [2], but I enjoy YouTube and its ability to bring unknown artists to my attention immensely, it’s just that I would not mind paying an annual fee to be able to discover them (and not pay to view the majors’ work). I wouldn’t even subscribe to TAFKAP, for that matter, he’s become to MSM to me.

As a bonus, and to extend the contradiction, it’s time for WMC #54.


“Cry to Me” (1975) by Loleatta Holloway.

1) For the record, I never download. I did it for a period of a month back in 2003/2004, lost the 200 songs I had gathered (I hadn’t burned them on cd, in fact I’ve yet to burn my first cd) and have not repeated the experience since I find YouTube satisfactory.

World music classics #51, 52 and 53

[FR] [DE] [UK]

Ethiopiques is a series of compact discs featuring Ethiopian and Eritrean singers and musicians, best-known for its musical compositions “Erè Mèla Mèla”[1] by Mahmoud Ahmed; and “Yegelle Tezeta”[2] and “Yékèrmo Sèw”[3] by Mulatu Astatke. The music was internationally popularized by Jim Jarmusch when he used a number of songs by Astatke from Ethiopiques Volume 4 (see top) in his film Broken Flowers[4].

“Yegelle Tezeta” is the grooviest track of the three, one most likely to elicit a dance floor response.

Click the numbers to hear the songs/see the trailer.



Dipsetmuthafucka dances to Astatke

Also, Jahsonic fave Dipsetmuthafucka used a Astatke for a clip he did in Brussels (40 km away from where I live).

And speaking of Brussels, cinephiles, get thee post haste to the Écran Total festival playing all summer at the Cinéma Arenberg.

Sonny Okosuns (1947 – 2008)

Sonny Okosuns (1947May 24 2008) was a Nigerian singer and musician.

He is known for his contributions to the Sun City album and for his African reggae

Okosuns first came to international attention with the 1977 composition “Fire in Soweto[1]“.

Please listen to “Tire Ni Oluwa”[2], which is a groovier track.

Speaking of African reggae, Nina Hagen released a single of that name in 1979, of which a twelve inch mix was also released. This is the seven inch or album version:


African Reggae” (1979) Nina Hagen

From her album Unbehagen

“African Reggae” is WMC #50, this nobrow track appeals to both the punk and the black music crowd and would not be out of place in the German opera category, although probably only for its formal qualities, i.e. the voice of Hagen. The B-side to “African Reggae” was Lucky Number, originally recorded by Lene Lovich [3], Hagen covered the song the following year[4]. Hagen’s version was spunkier.