I’ll often scour Google for any 99th Floor Elevators activity so imagine my surprise to stumble on a new ‘Hooked’ mashup (let’s forget the one with Michael Jackson that sounds like two blokes falling down the stairs!). This one welds together Bronski Beat’s ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’ with the Steve Thomas Tripoli Trax remix of ‘Hooked’ (from 2000).
It actually blends pretty good, with not too many grating audio clashes and the onus is on the Bronski’s vocal with Thomas’s chunky remix pushing up from the rear. Not a classic but done pretty well. Oh, this all comes courtesy of the DefPunk crew from Germany who proudly claim “We don’t Twitter. We don’t myspace. We just YouTube and SoundCloud!”
To be quite honest I haven’t had as much time as I would’ve liked to listen to Spotify and explore all its features, but I got a quick reminder on how cool it really was when I got into a bit of a mini-discussion on my Buzzsonic Twitter profile recently about the awesome soundtrack that enhances the stunningly brilliant Nicolas Winding Refn helmed, Ryan Gosling starrer, ‘Drive’.
I did mention in an earlier Tweet, that the soundtrack could have been written in the 80s by Giorgio Moroder for a Michael Mann film. Now Moroder was very much an influence on the music of the 99th Floor Elevators, starting with the game-changing ‘I Feel Love’ of course.
So, I went about creating a Giorgio Moroder Spotify playlist of tracks by the great man himself and tracks influenced by him too. I even managed to squeeze in Richard Colman’s ‘Moroder-esque’ version of ‘Hooked’ which fits in brilliantly.
The only frustrating thing was I couldn’t find ‘When I Need You’ by the late great Donna Summer (the ‘Once Upon a Time’ album was missing, strangely enough). But how much more fun it was than listening to iTunes 90 second clips or going on a bewildering web search to find just about everything Moroder has done.
People have often asked, where on earth did you dig up that bloody 99th Floor Elevators name then? In truth I was having a rather drunken browse through the record collectors emporium in Croydon that was the legendary Beanos.
Alongside the pioneering Euro dance mecca, Trax Records in London’s Soho, they were the two best record shops on the planet for me at the time. Anyway, I was thumbing through the ‘Garage Punk’ vinyl section and came across “The Psychedelic Sounds Of..the 13th Floor Elevators”. The sixties acid influenced design of the sleeve interested me as did stories I’d heard of Roky Erickson.
Originally based in Austin, Texas, the 13th Floor Elevators played frequently throughout the state and in the San Francisco area at clubs such as Filmore West and the Avalon. Young musicians like Jerry Garcia and Grace Slick watched them play. Janis Joplin, another Texan, jammed with the group twice and considered joining the group but ended up fronting Big Brother & the Holding Company.
After a second album, ‘Easter Everywhere’ and a few drug busts, the band lost direction. Roky was arrested in 1969 with about six joints on Mount Bonnell in Austin. It was his second arrest for pot. Rather than serving a short term in prison, he pled insanity and was sentenced to the Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Austin.
While in Rusk, Roky started a band with fellow inmates (The Missing Links) wrote nearly 100 songs, befriended Jimmy Wolcott (an Elevators fan who had murdered his family while high from sniffing glue) and was subjected to electroshock and liquid thorazine treatments. Roky was finally released three years later. He now lives in a federally subsidized house in Del Valle, a tiny suburb southeast of Austin. Apparently he keeps several TVs and radios going at any given time, presumably to drown out his internal noise. He takes no medication, although he is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.
I always found the whole story of Roky fascinating, though out of my circle of friends nobody had heard of the 13th Floor Elevators (or their ‘big US hit’, ‘Your Gonna Miss Me’) so I was freely able to manufacture a different story of where the 99th Floor Elevators name had originated from. The most widely spread rumour was that I’d gone on a trip to New York and had got stuck in the elevator on the 99th floor. When ‘Hooked’ was in the UK top 30 even BBC Radio 1 fell for that one.
If you’re looking at firing up your own website you’ll be needing a unique URL and you’ll probably find that getting hold of the desired .com or .co.uk is getting harder as millions of best monikers have already been snapped up.
If you want to be a little more exclusive and are willing to spend a bit more for the domain name registration (a .com typically will cost less than $10 a year) there’s a few lesser known domain name extensions worth looking at.
Easily the best for dance music is the little known .dj extension (which works exactly the same as a .com) which is the country code for the East African country of Djibouti. Register at the official site and pay no more than $50 (or 40 Euros) a year.
Alternatively, for around £68 a year you can have a .cd (from the Congo) and for new Podcasters, or net radio stations, consider getting a .fm (from the tiny country of Micronesia), though at $95 a year they’re not cheap !
Way back in 1995 the original version of ‘Hooked’ (the ‘Bouncy Shakedown’ to be precise) appeared on legendary rave promoter Fantazia’s triple CD compilation, ‘The House Collection Vol 2’. The album had three discs, one each, mixed by Boy George, Tony De Vit and Jon of the Pleased Wimmin. The cover of the CD featured ‘glamour’ model (and minor UK celeb) Joanne Guest and I remember Fantazia running a competition at the time of the album’s launch to win a night out with Jo.
Anyway, I was reminded of this album, firstly because it was a bit of a landmark for the 99th Floor Elevators, being the first compilation appearance and secondly because I stumbled across a blog post that claimed that the disco break in ‘Hooked’ (mentioned coincidentally in an earlier post here) sounded like “I’m going to grill Norman Wisdom, right now”.
Of course, I was outraged (cough), as any fool knows it actually says quite clearly, “Feel that funky groove right now”. Well then, imagine my shock when I discover the blighters are actually right on the nail with this one!
That Gary Toms Empire sample will never sound the same again.
Who, I hear you ask? Well, some background info for sample spotters! When I was in the studio recording ‘Hooked’ (all those years ago), one of the tracks I took in to sample was ‘On The Cut’ from the 1988 debut album, ‘Into
The Dragon’ by UK sample pioneers, Bomb The Bass.
The disco loop in ‘Hooked’, “feel that funky groove right now…” is the sample in question. Bomb The Bass actually lifted the loop from the 1975 track ‘Feel That Funky Groove’ by the Gary Toms Empire.
Gary Toms and his “Empire” of musicians were one of disco music’s early success stories. One of the earliest groups to record “disco-only” records, their first Pickwick Records/P.I.P release “7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (Blow Your Whistle)” sold 40,000 copies in NY within the first week of sale. “Feel That Funky Groove” appeared on the same album but never appeared as a single.
You can hear the sample from the original source here and if your curious to hear more from one of the unheralded disco pioneers check out the 2003 compilation (on Canadian label Unidisc) ‘7654321 Blow Your Whistle: Best Of Gary Toms Empire’. Amazon usually has copies.
Moving on from the first national pop hit, ‘Hooked’ we struggled to come up with a follow up that PWL were happy with, then we finally finished ‘I’ll Be There’ which actually crawled onto the BBC Radio 1 playlist.
Anyway, recently I was browsing through some news archives and stumbled across a piece from the mid 90s in the Independent about how the Beatles had been ‘banned’ from the BBC Radio 1 playlist.
Their John Lennon penned single, ‘Real Love’ , only the second Fab Four single since their split in 1970, despite entering the midweek charts in the top ten, had been left off the playlist to make way for “less established chart names” such as Goldie, Gat Decor and the 99th Floor Elevators.
Paul McCartney went on to say “The Beatles don’t need our new single to be a hit. Its not as if our careers depended on it” Too true of course but still a grin of self satisfaction that something you wrote had a hand in ‘banishing’ the Beatles from the national radio playlist!