[47] Afrika Bambaataa – Planet Rock

28 Feb

Tom Moon led me on a merry dance with this single – a Hip Hop classic I had somehow managed to avoid until now – which left me grooving and scrambling to follow the apparent progression from Kraftwerk, through SoulSonic Force, to the Beastie Boys.

Planet Rock

Planet Rock











The liquid, artificial drum sound that opens and anchors this 1982 hit has never been a favorite of mine.  Neither has the call and response rapping that makes up the balance of the vocals here.  Yet here the varied and interesting soundscape interspersing the vocals, nailed down by the purposeful, energetic and fascinating drum programming, attracts and then demands attention throughout the 5 minutes 20 seconds of the original 45rpm record.

The structure, and to an extent the melody, of “Planet Rock” is apparently inspired by a pair of songs by German Electropop band, Kraftwerk – “Trans-Europa Express” and “Numbers”.  After hearing “Planet Rock” for the first time, I quickly queued up the earlier tracks.

While there are thematic and musical similarities, Bambaataa and The SoulSonic Force use the now primitive but at the time revolutionary Roland technology to create a sound that is so much more warm and human than the intentionally sterile Kraftwerk pieces.

And since I was poking around in anyway, I latched onto a recurring lyric in “Planet Rock” and played the Beastie Boys “Sure Shot”.

There is no indication that “Sure Shot” owes any direct debt to the earlier song, but it was an interesting moment, transitioning from a sound I was unfamiliar with but enjoying, through a sound I knew better and had never connected with, and landing on a later sound that I know and love.

This has been a bonus effect of my seemingly ridiculous endeavor – instead of constraining my listening, I have found the list of 1000 to be a jumping off point, often for parts unknown, to sometimes unexpected places.

I somehow think Bambaataa and co. would appreciate this sentiment, this exploration and experimentation.

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 47. 4%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 47. 9%)
Recommend? Yes. (38 of 47. 81%)

Next Week: The Band – The Band


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