Michaelwclark.com

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Some say life is the dream and the afterlife is the awakening

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1975

Bowie and Cher, 1975 via Wikipedia

It’s 1975 and I’m a whopping 13 years old. A young teen and everything is changing. New school. New emotions. New interests. Looking over the charts for this year I’m torn between David Bowie’s “Fame” and Van McCoy’s “The Hustle.”

I admire Bowie. To me, he’s like the Sibelius of pop music. If you don’t know who Sibelius is, shame on you! (I’m just as much into classical as I am into pop).

Bowie has hits but also innovative, fringe stuff. Most millennials probably don’t realize just how influential he was.

Since his saddening death, I think his image is suffering from oversaturation. But I know he’s great. I’ll have to get one of his songs on this list, somewhere.

Today I’m choosing Van McCoy’s “Do the Hustle” for my fav song of 1975.

Suddenly we had a new thing on the block. Actually, around the world. And I’m not talking Daft Punk. No, I’m talking about…

Disco!

Bowie did disco songs too but his, I think, synthesized the original form with other jangly bits. A lot of Bowie’s work is like that. He takes all these different elements, throws them into the blender of his musical soul, and a real smoothie comes out.

“The Hustle” by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony is the real deal. The airy flute (or whatever that is) and 70s strings bring out the best of the USA. This is happy, optimistic, and dancin’ Americana as no other nation can do it. I almost feel like an American listening to this song!

You can also hear elements of smooth jazz, likewise taking shape with John Klemmer’s Touch. Smooth jazz would become even more commercially successful with George Benson and Chuck Mangione, a few years later.

People either mocked or loved disco in the 70s. Disco has aged well. Looking back, it’s obviously a precursor to EDM. Several EDM hits are just remixes of Donna Summer and other stars like her.

Long Live Old Skool!

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 


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Shape Dance – A very 90s “Popcorn”

A few years ago I picked up a dollar store CD called Shape Rave, volume 4 (Pikosso records, Berlin 1996). I just got around to listening to it tonight and discovered a nice remix of an old radio hit from my childhood, “Popcorn.”

The pan flute sound is a bit passé (technology has given us a much broader palette today). But as a novice bedroom producer, I can really appreciate the programming, the texture of the underlying sequenced sounds, and the fantastic swing. “Swing” is a feature used in sequencers where the 2nd, 3rd and 4th beats are delayed a bit behind the first beat. It makes it sound less robotic and when done right, gives it, well, swing… 🙂

I like the old-style graphics that the uploader put with the tune. I think it’s the same remix that is on my CD (there are several remixes). Back when the first “Popcorn” came out, that tape deck would have been really high tech.


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June

So ends a pretty terrible month in the news. I started this at the beginning of the month. At some point I realized that it was mirroring the tragic headlines that dominated a good part of June.


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Beatniks

The original title for this was “Echoes from the Cave.” That’s an idea – I guess a bit of a cliché – that I’ve wanted to use for a short story, novel, or maybe a song.

Well, time has passed and that seems a bit passé.. at least for me. So I decided to call this “Beatniks,” mostly because of the jangley, slightly futuristic beats behind the voices. And I’m listening to a lot of primitive, beatnik jazz these days.

“Beatniks” is dedicated to Prince, who passed on around the time I began this.


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Sheer Distraction

The story behind this tune is that I was desperately ill through the winter months. It took a long time to recover. When I finally felt things were turning around, I sat by my computer and came up with a basic bassline. I sent that to Lee Neale who sent back this amazing melody with lyrics. It blows me away how talented Lee is.

Because his work is of such high caliber, it really pushed me to do my best. I wanted a minimalist sound that wouldn’t overtake Lee’s vocal track. But I didn’t want it too simple.

I hope you enjoy!


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Alpha Omega

When David Bowie’s last lp Blackstar came out, I remember thinking that I’d get around to listening to it. After a couple of days I thought, Oh, I really should give it a listen. After all, Bowie has been one of my favs since my childhood and early teens. His music resonated through many of my changes.

As a kid I drummed to Pinups. As a teen I grooved to ChangesOneBowie, Ziggy StardustStationToStation and Scary Monsters. And a young man I explored everything else he had to offer, from Low to Another Face. And even though I felt Blackstar would be a dark and jagged lp, I knew I’d have to hear it. It’s just like that with Bowie. Even if you didn’t slice with some of his material – I wasn’t wild about most of The Next Day – you still had to see what the ol’ Jean Genie was up to.

The Collection (David Bowie album)

The Collection (via Wikipedia)

So all this was going through my head when I began working on this tune. After a quick listen to Blackstar, I went downstairs and learned of the sad news that was breaking across the TV screen.

David Bowie has died at age 69.

Returning to Alpha Omega, I gave it an extra dirty mix. Rough, distorted guitars. Not much light. All very heavy. I never knew nor met Bowie. But I was hurting.

After some time I started feeling better and lightened up the mix. I considered dropping the fuzz guitar but decided it had to stay. If this was turning into some kind of nod to Bowie, it definitely needed fuzz guitar.

Anyhow, ’nuff said. Here’s what I wrote at SoundCloud:

This is dedicated to David Bowie. Some call him the Picasso of pop. But I prefer to think of him as the Sibelius of pop. He’s both, actually. And a whole lot more.