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February 12, 2007

As dangerous as a midnight coffee

Posted by dogpossum on February 12, 2007 10:28 AM in the category clicky and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music

Glen's started a meme over here, and it's one that actually caught my eye.

I meme when I'm trying to be cool, but I think this one is actually quite me.

I am starting up a meme. It is called the “As dangerous as a midnight coffee” meme.

Blurb: Five songs for going nuts when IT HAS TO BE DONE. This isn’t the Nike Just Do It song list of inspiration. It is a savage beast that attacks your weaknesses, and gives you the perspective of sickness, thus forcing you to be stronger. The songs have to currently be on a portable music playing device that you listen to at midnight brewing a coffee and getting ready to attack IT (or comparable scenario).

I do own an ipod (well, The Squeeze owns an ipod, and I see it as my Sistahly duty to appropriate it and use it for previewing old skewl jass for DJing on the bus... well I did, when I was catching the bus. I also used to use it for 'read-a-long' sessions with Gunther Schuller (I've just been humming and ahing over his books on abebooks, btw: I need them. I do. I really do)), but I think this meme really lends itself to the 'hypothetical set list'.

Midnight Coffee - hm. I'm thinking of late night after parties, when the crowd are warmed up from the first gig, but you've just changed venues, so you have to get them really cooking again.

So, to rework the meme-theme, here are five songs that (I'd hope) would work together to GET IT DONE. In other words, five songs that would hopefully drive a crowd of dancers into a frenzy.
Now, five songs really isn't very much for crowd frenzying, so let's assume I've spent about five songs getting them warmed up.

...actually, I'm going to do two lists. One will be a chronological list of five songs, in the order I'd play to get the crowd nuts. The other list will be five seriously hardcore-kick your muthafucking arse hardcore YAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! dancing songs that I would never play all in a row. Not if I wanted to have the floor even partly full.

1. 'Blues In Hoss' Flat' Count Basie 142bpm 195? Big Band Renaissance Disc 1 3:13
Because Basie is the only way to kick a bunch of dancers into a frenzy... well, not really, but it's a nice place to start.
I'm imagining I'm working with the Melbourne crowd at CBD rather than at MLX or another big exchange. Because exchanges are a different kettle of fish.
This song rocks because it's hi-fi, it's late Basie, it has some pretty major brass and people know it and love it. It's also a very manageable 142bpm - a nice warm-up tempo.


...look, this isn't going to work. Five songs isn't long enough for me to guarantee mass insanity. I ain't that good, and I need to see the floor to judge my choices.

Instead, I'm just going to go list five arse kicker songs. The sorts of songs that make me crazy. That I've made dancers crazy with (with which I've made... whatever). And they'll probably be my current favourites.

1. 'Back Room Romp' Duke Ellington and his Orchestra 155 2000 Ken Burns Jazz: Duke Ellington 2:49
Man, I can't believe I only have one version of this song! It's the best. This is a great warm-up track.

... wait, I'm doing it again! I just can't list five big songs without working up to them!

Ok, now I'm just going to do hardcore, arse kicky songs that I might play at an afterparty. Maybe not all in a row, because the dancers would die. But definitely within one set. Between about 2 and 3 perhaps - when people have all arrived, had a slurpy or their second (or third) Red Bull and something to eat and have the energy to burn. Let's also say that the room is pretty warm (but not hot - just not chilly), and it's pretty crowded. But not so crowded you can't really swing out like a fool.

I'll try again.

1. 'Jumpin' At The Woodside' Count Basie 237bpm 1938 Ken Burns Jazz Series: Count Basie
The 1930s versions are best. This is one kick your arse song. You can tell Basie got his start with a bit of stride piano with that stomping intro. The tempo is hot (but doable), there are lots of nice layers building up the energy.

Actually, I'm into this now. Now I'm just going to list hardcore songs that I love that would kick your arse if you danced to them all in a row.

2. 'Lafayette' Benny Moten's Kansas City Orchestra with Count Basie 285bpm 1932 Kansas City Powerhouse 2:48

My comments for this one read "difficult but good fast dancing; ok quality". It comes in shouting and then pounds away at 285bpm. I've never danced to it, I'm not sure you could, but it's a cracking song. I like the stompy base. Basie of course began with Moten's band - this is hot Kansas city action (those Kansas doods were wilder and rougher).

3. 'Hotter Than Hell' Fletcher Henderson 275bpm 1934 Tidal Wave 2:58

This is one frickin' fast song. But it really rocks. Henderson is the king of hot, arse-kicking music for lindy hopping.

...I'm getting really excited listening to this stuff. It's going to be impossible to settle down and work after this.

4.'Blues In The Groove' Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra 205bpm 1939 Lunceford Special 1939-40 2:35

Not everyone's pick of the Lunceford action (I know I was torn between this and 'Lunceford Special' or 'Blue Blazes'), but this one, while it doesn't have that pounding, driving structure is one of those songs that you can't help but dance to - it makes you jump up and jiggle around. So it's a 'get it done song' because it'll get you dancing, despite yourself. And that's a DJ's job - getting people dancing despite themselves.

5. 'Rigamarole' Willie Bryant And His Orchestra 240bpm Willie Bryant 1935-1936 2:35

This one doesn't actually sound all that fast, but it really builds you up and makes you crazy. It says DANCE MUTHAHFUCKAH! So people generally do. Mostly like crazy fools. It has shouting in it as well, which always helps. I often play the Mora's Modern Rhythmists version for dancers because the quality is better, but the MMR version doesn't have the same punch as Bryant's.

That's it, then.
There are about a million other songs I could have listed - we're all about hard fast, getting-you-moving music here in the swinguverse - but these are five of my favourites.
I know some people'd be suprised to see no 'Ride Red Ride' in there, or 'Man from Mars' (or Chick Webb at all) or 'Sugar Foot Stomp' in some incarnation. I'm also a bit sorry not to have any really hot Ellington action there something like 'Jubilee Stomp', a 1928 Ellington track that clocks in at 265bpm (I have it on The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: Complete RCA Victor Recordings (disc 01)) would have been a sensible addition. But I could have gone on forever. I could have done a top 5 Basie arse kicking songs. Or a top 5 old skewl. And I didn't even touch the dixie or 'charleston' music.

Anyone got 5 other good, arse kicking, 'get it done', 'dangerous as midnight coffee' music?

Posted by dogpossum on February 12, 2007 10:28 AM in the category clicky and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music