As we prepare for another Project MUM party (August 29, 2009) under the Mcgrath O’Brien bridge in Somerville, I have been digging through my piles of electrofunk, beantownboogie, discobreaks and other appropriately future themed music. Once again, I gravitate back to this foundational Boston electrofunk classic, Computer Rock Control from (Maurice) Starr’s Computer Band.
Not only do I love the idea of a “Computer Band”, but the title itself seems so forward thinking. Back in 1983 Maurice was already creating the kind of computer fueled dance funk that was sweeping the hip-hop underground along with the recently released “Planet Rock”. In fact, Back in the day, Boston was a hotbed of these electro-sounds. Looking at the credits for Planet Rock the producer was none other than our own Arthur Baker. Not only that, Boston-based “Planet Patrol” (formerly “The Energetics”) recorded a follow up hit “Play At Your Own Risk” on the same backing tracks that were used for “Planet Rock”.
Here’s Arthur Baker’s own description of the recording process from Sound on Sound. “In fact, we realised we might get sued by Kraftwerk if we used the ‘Trans-Europe Express’ melody, so John performed a different string melody just in case — it was on one of the tracks on the same tape — and that was what we ended up using for ‘Play At Your Own Risk’.” I mixed the two on my Beantown Boogie mix, if you want to hear it there. Or simple youtube it and you are sure to find.
Not taking away from the genius spark provided by Bam in all things electrofunk, just sayin that the Bean was right in there at the ground floor c/o folks like Arthur Baker, Maurice Starr, Michael Jonzun, Planet Patrol and the flows of people and styles moving back and forth between Boston and NYC in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Tracks like “Computer Rock Control” and Dwayne Omarr’s “This Party’s Jam Packed” document Boston’s place in the early electro-sound that was to serve as the foundation for so many styles to come.
I’ll be tracing some of these early Boston electro-links in subsequent posts leading up to the MUM party in August. For now, enjoy some electrofunk from Boston back in the day!
Freakazoids…robots…please report to the dance floor.