BREAKDANCE / BREAKDANCE 2: Original Motion Picture Soundtracks

Released in 1984, the movie Breakdance, or Breakin’, as it was named in the USA, celebrated the rise of “b-boy” culture, based around breakdancing and hip-hop. The film was a huge box office hit in the USA, grossing over $6 million on its opening weekend. The soundtrack, originally on Polydor Records, proved equally influential and successful, helping to spread the word about the development of black urban dance throughout the world. The album went on to sell over a million copies, such was its success that a sequel, Breakdance 2 Electric Boogaloo, followed, with another impressive soundtrack.

Back when this movie and soundtrack came out, I was completely involved in the synthpop scene from the UK and heard some electro that had the same sound and feel, and I was kind of interested in the music at least. I never was into the dancing at all, especially since some girls that I was talking to in a park were also being checked out by break dancers and after I got their phone numbers, the breakers came up to me and threatened me with a baseball bat. Not really going to instil any kind of love for breakdancing. Anyways, the music that I heard was “Cut It” by Re-Flex, who I was already a big fan of, and “Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us” by Ollie and Jerry. I really enjoyed the music and ended up getting the soundtrack and thoroughly enjoying it. Of course, this also is where Ice-T got his start, with the poppy “Reckless” by Chris “The Glove” Taylor and David Storrs with rap By Ice-T. A big difference from where he eventually went with his music. With a lot of great songs, this was something that I really enjoyed and still do, regardless of the changes that happened in music since this was released. Now you know that the second one couldn’t be as good…right? Well, it’s almost as good, so there. My favourite song is “Din Daa Daa” by George Kranz, a fantastic electro track that I searched out the 12″ single for and scored. The songs didn’t get the blood pumping as much as on the first album, but they still sound great and I listen to them as much as the first album. Of course the term ” Part 2, Electric Bugaloo” is what I use whenever a part two is mentioned in conversation. The sound is flawless on this collection and the booklet has a ton of interesting information in it.

If you liked the movies or owned the soundtracks, this is a definite purchase, even if you are just curious, you need to get this set and get some lino or cardboard and start spinning on your head. Another very cool album from my youth that I thought I would never see or own.

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BETTY BOO: Boomania

BETTY-BOO

Betty Boo’s original breakthrough came with the release of “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” as The Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo on Rhythm King in 1989. Her debut album Boomania followed in 1990 peaking at # 4 in the UK album charts and achieved platinum status of 300,000 sales. This Deluxe Edition includes the twelve original album tracks, plus fourteen bonus tracks, it has been remastered using original master tapes, and the sixteen page full color booklet features an expanded design of the original artwork, extensive sleeve notes written by Michael Silvester and a full UK discography featuring Betty Boo’s front cover images.

I had originally heard the Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo, and was intrigued when the news of her own album was first put out. I had been into house for a while and was looking forward to her album. The good news was that it was every bit as good as her song with the Beatmasters and actually improved on the sound by being even more infectious and attention grabbing than before. Of course you get the hits “Hey DJ / I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing),” “Doin’ The Do,” “Where Are You Baby?,” and “24 Hours,” but the crazy amount of remixes makes this a treasure trove for those that wore them out back in the day, or couldn’t find/afford them all. The mix of pop, rap, and dance/house kind of dates the music, but if you were there, it sounds glorious to your ears still. It just shows how the charts actually had a mix of music back then, as well as happy music mixed in with the dour sounds of grunge, or what the media was improperly calling punk back then. The songs and the videos had a sense of sixties kitsch to them, and the hooks were huge, so big that just the titles on here alone will make the song creep into your head again and get stuck all day. The remastered sound is cleaner and clearer, adding to the sounds and effects on the album, and giving it a touch more depth.

The great mix of styles, the hook laden tracks, and the pure fun of this album will make you smile and dance a hole into your carpet. It brings back the fun and the excitement of youth, not just your own, but youth in general, hearing the songs again, or for the first time for the curious. This truly is a treasure trove and will be getting lots of plays around my house.

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BETTY BOO: Grrr!

This is the long-awaited reissue of Betty Boo’s second album Grrr!, a whole twenty-four years after its original release. This Deluxe Edition includes the ten original songs, plus twenty bonus tracks all sourced from the original master tapes. The CD booklet features the original album front cover plus extensive sleeve notes and a UK discography. Betty Boo’s original breakthrough came with the release of “Hey DJ/I Can’t Dance (To That Music You’re Playing)” as The Beatmasters featuring Betty Boo (real name Alison Clarkson) on Rhythm King in 1989. Her debut album Boomania followed in 1990 peaking at #4 in the UK album charts and achieved platinum status of 300,000 sales.

This second album had a more mixed bag of sounds than her first album, more jazzy and of course the rap and house music that she’s known for. “I’m On My Way” is a peppy little dance song that includes a jazz horn section that turns into The Beatles’ “Lady Madonna.” The actual horn section on the original version, led by Ronnie Scott is playing on this track. The next song “Thing Goin’ On,’ has a jazzy backing, and her rap flowing effortlessly. “Hangover” which was another single, is a mid-tempo, hip-hop shuffler that is built around an orchestral sound that sounds like it could have come right out of a spaghetti western. The album also has the catchy “Wish You Were Here,” and “Gave You The Boo,” to keep the dancing and party going. The remixes are a real treat on here with “Hangover” including the album and 12″versions plus the Streets Ahead remixes – Saturday Night & Sunday Morning. The Sunday Morning remix was previously unavailable in the UK. “Thing Goin’ On” includes the album version, the radio remix, club mix and the Underground mix by US DJ/Producer MK (Marc Kinchen). Three of these mixes were previously unavailable in the UK. “Catch Me” includes the album and David Morales’ 12″ version, also the original version and the London Underground mix feature. Three of these mixes were previously unavailable in the UK. The remastering of this album makes it sound fuller, more clear and crisp than before.

An underrated and lost album that although isn’t as immediate as her first album, is still worth looking for and exploring. The songs are fun and make for a great listen, grab this one and re-live the early 90s.

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FINAL TRIGGER: Skrap Metal Vol. II: CD

After releasing their debut album in 2009, this Toronto, Ontario band, creators of what they call Skrap-Metal, combining high-energy metal with a hip-hop feel, come back to release their new album. Their newest release is seven hard-hitting songs that definitely have a strong groove and the heaviness of metal.

This album is one killer song after another with shouted vocals, terrific guitar playing, thundering drums, rumbling bass, cool DJ effects and a ton of hooks to keep you replaying this over and over again. The band is out to rock your ass off and succeeds with getting your head banging, and getting you up and dancing around. The rapping isn’t on every track and the DJ scratching isn’t obvious all of the time, but they do give the songs a little different feel, kind of how the dreaded nu metal and rap metal tried, but failed so well at combining it with heavy metal, these guys get it right. The songs that stuck out for me were “Face It”, “Knock Somebody Out”, and “Just A Freak”.

Take a listen to their mix of genres and see if it’s your thing, I liked it, but if you are a metal purist, it may be a little much for you. Just throw it on at a party, let the drinks and any other substances that you’re enjoying take over and let the grooves hit you.

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