Saturday, July 11, 2009

Who Is Torche?

Well, first of all, I can tell you who Torche is not. He's not the third MC on "Bird's Eye View" on the True Sound Sampler EP like I reported way back in my video on that record over a year ago (and I've recently added an annotation to that video correcting that). SupHerb recently contacted me and corrected me that it was in fact him on that record. And if you're not sure why I take his recollection over Danny Halloway's, who told me it was Torche in the first place... well, if you listen closely, you can actually hear someone in the background say SupHerb's name right before his verse (but Danny's info was still very enlightening, and I thank him for taking the time to answer my questions). So, that wasn't Torche.

But Torche (a.k.a. Gumby) was from around that area and time, who did introduce those guys (Meen Green to Vooodu & Bird, the other artists on "Bird's Eye View"). I believe this is his only record: "The Distance," which came out on Wild West Records (which SupHerb was also on) in 1991. It's more of a positive message (of the"you can do it if you try" variety) song, so he doesn't really get to show off his skills, so it's a little hard to judge him just based off this one record. It's not bad, though. The instrumental, produced by Stevo, is essentially lifted wholly from 3rd Bass's "Words of Wisdom," but with a little Jungle Brothers percussion mixed in. The hook is sung by Melody, who's sort of in that house/techno diva kinda mode, intoning, "If you can go the distance and bring a rhyme to rhythm , there'll be no resistance; just bring a rhyme to rhythm." She gets a big showcase moment on the breakdown.

Then you've got the Wild West Version. It's essentially the same as the Radio Edit, though they add some serious sleigh bells to the beat. But otherwise it's the same until you get to the breakdown. Instead of letting Melody flex, Wild West label mates B.O.X. and The First Brigade (even though I don't think either actually wound up putting out any records on Wild West) drop guest verses. B.O.X. sounds pretty good and First Brigade have some fun interplay.

Finally there's the Jungle Mix, which drops the whole "Words of Wisdom" sample set and instead brings in more elements from "Sounds of the Jungle." It's ok; but the original instrumental is better. And fortunately, that's the instrumental version they opted to include.

So, that's who Torche is, I guess. It's a kind of fun, bit of rare west coast history. But I wish we could've heard another, less pop-oriented record from him that tested his skills a bit more.

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