When I was a seventh grader, nothing more propelled me more immediately into bump-doin’ action–even if I didn’t have a partner–than a KC and the Sunshine Band hit. In true teen fashion, I was deeply, often instinctively attracted to any phenomenon I knew would drive adult nuts, but also: I LOVED THIS BAND’S MUSIC. The band’s songs were insanely repetitious, at that, repetitious of hormonally relevant but vacuous lyrics, and repeated by a singer and band of no special gifts other than unquenchable party cheer and simple funkiness–was a band, though, ever more perfectly named? But the instant “That’s the Way I Like It” (or “Get Down Tonight,” with its squiggly guitar opening that scratched every adolescent’s deep itch) exploded from the radio speaker, I (and pretty much every kid within earshot) would twitch into our hip-bone-bruising version of boogie–and adolescents do have them some hip-bone. I can still remember a junior high dance that left me and my good friend Laurie with massive bruises that I was perversely proud of. And, though I was way into black radio pop at the time, I was certainly delighted upon seeing KC (Harry Wayne Casey to his mom) on TV for the first time: he was a white guy, and he had my haircut!
It’s no surprise that, when I finally settled on a partner for life (twenty-eight years ago this coming May 8th), she’d have the mark of the Sunshine Beast stamped on her sacroiliac. She’s not been a teen for a long ol’ time, but I know if I stealthily load KC and The Sunshine Band’s Greatest Hits into the CD changer, no matter where she is in the house, she will bump into action. Yesterday, noticing that she was industriously occupied somewhere else in the house, I knew it was time for a KC Sunshine Energy Surge. I pushed play, waited about five minutes–and, as if on cue, here she came, bopping into the living room and giving me a mischievously frustrated look that said, “You know I can’t help it when this stuff is in the air!” We’re too old to be bruising each other on purpose, but–unquenchable party cheer? BRING IT ON!
Also, a word for this new item from the indefatigable Christopher Kirkley at Sahel Sounds. I’ve not heard any music from the label that I didn’t at least like (I have a weakness for the music of Northern Africa, I admit), but this isn’t (just) music. Well, it’s isn’t just music as most people define it: among the most musical ambient noises of this field recording are, as Kirkley describes them “the sound of desert oases, late night radio broadcasts, village calls to prayer, and riverboats drifting down the Niger river.”
One of my favorite new records (it’s actually digital or cassette only) of the year.
Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way–Lordy, she’s missed. But, by God, she left a mark…and her music can inspire you to levels of determination within shouting distance of her own as we came to know them, and that’s considerable.
Junior Kimbrough: Most Things Haven’t Worked Out–Lordy, he’s missed. But, by God, he left a mark…and his music can turn a Sunshiney day into a dark cave corridor.