Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kurtis Blow's German Period part 2

Kurtis Blow's "Chillin' At the Spot" (see: this post on his previous venture outta Deutschland) wasn't actually his last record. He did one more 12" in Germany, "Freak Rock Till the Breakadawn" on ZYX Music, a prolific label that put out a lot of releases by a wide variety of artists over the years. There's no date listed anywhere on it, but by comparing the catalog numbers, this would've had to've come out in either 1994 or 1995. Interestingly, he also claims it's both years at different points in the song... so I'd assume it was started in '94, then finished and released in '95.

You've got four mixes of the same song, and they start right out with the best, definitive version (IMHO, of course), the "Headbang Mixtension." Now "Headbang" might be overstating matters - but it does feature a liberal dose of electric rock guitaring. It's not quite as good as his earlier "Street Rock" (yeah, the one with Bob Dylan), but if you liked that song, you'll like this one, too. Kurtis Blow does a lot of quick, short rhyming wordplay and keeps up fine with a fast paced track. He's not quite the lyricist to make Kool G. Rap start looking for a new career, but he represents himself fairly well in what's clearly meant to showcase his "skills" to the new, 90's hip-hop audience: "Spit it/ Get wit it/ I let the rhyme flow/ Though/ I'm getting psycho/ On the micro/ I'm K. Blow/ For the nine-fo'/ The old school/ Super cool / Cat/ From way back/ The microphone maniac," etc. Sure, Kurtis Blow's always a little corny, but he's got a nice flow over a well-produced track - the guitars, a lot of scratching, fast drums with a catchy old school hook. You'll have to be a pretty surly, stick-in-the-mud Grumpy Gus not to enjoy this one.

The "88"th MXX" is kind of disappointing. It removes a lot of the guitars and stuff... I guess in an attempt to appeal to the narrow-minded purists who'd equate guitars with selling out pop music, but really all this leaves you with is what feels like an unfinished song. And the "Radio Edit," predictably, is just a shorter version of the main mix (that is to say: the "Headbang Mixtension"), tightened up for a radio set. It's fine for what it is (and with that version clocking in at over seven minutes, I can see why there'd be a call for this version), but if you like this song enough to put the 12" on your table at home, you'll surely want to stick with the full version.

But the "Guitar Mix" is the interesting one. It doesn't feature any extra guitar playing, as the name suggests... or feature just the guitars without the vocals or anything like that. No, this mix is essentially the same, instrumentally, as the "Headbang Mixtension." What's different is that Kurtis Blow has replaced himself with another, uncredited rapper! Kurtis Blow's voice is only heard on the hook in this mix. The new guy is ok... kind of generic (and no, he doesn't have a German accent) in a "studio musician" sounding kind of way, but he doesn't embarrass himself or anything. He's ok. Why Kurtis Blow would make a non-Kurtis Blow version, though, is beyond me. I'd really be interested to find out who this guy is... it sounds like he says at one point, "my name is Carl J and I'm twenty-five," but I'm not sure. And we may never find out, because as any US MC who's gone over there to record will tell you: "what happens in Germany, stays in Germany."

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