Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Henry... Have a Cookie.

Chris 'The Glove' Taylor - Itchiban Scratch

I don't think there has ever been a series of albums that have introduced me to as much incredible music as Morgan Khan's Street Sounds Electro compilations - the first 10 volumes in particular, even though the series would run to 22 in total. From volume 11 onwards they were billed as Hip Hop/Electro and it wasn't quite the same, despite the track quality still being high. My initial exposure to many of the stone cold classics of the genre's prolific mid-80s period came through these compilations. The first time I heard the extraordinarily weird but very, very good ‘Itchiban Scratch’ by Chris ‘The Glove’ Taylor was on ‘Electro 7’, which was released in 1985 and featured one of my favourite generic covers from the series. With appearances from Roxanne Shanté, Knights of the Turntables and the Egyptian Lover, and over on Side B, ‘Itchiban Scratch’, sandwiched between two rather traditional old school rap songs in the shape of the Fearless Four’s ‘Dedication’ and the B-Boys’ ‘Stick Up Kid’, which made The Glove’s track seem even more out-there and odd. Released on Dave Storrs’ Electrobeat Records in 1984, ‘Itchiban Scratch’ is an experimental instrumental track in which The Glove cuts and scratches up a bizarre selection of vocal samples over a sparse, futuristic electro backbeat from Dave ‘The Alien Wizard’ Storrs himself. Legend has it that The Glove turned up at the studio where the track was to be recorded and randomly selected the records he cut up from a pile he found lying around. Hence you get Japanese phrases, an eerie recital of ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ by a children’s group, someone clearing their throat, hysterical cartoon laughter, gongs, horn stabs and god knows what else chucked in the mix. Despite the randomness, it somehow all comes together, resulting in a crazy and original piece of music. The bass line is sensational too! Towards the end of the track the 303 kicks in and it becomes proto-acid techno, demonstrating how far ahead of his time Storrs was as a producer.

Chris 'The Glove' Taylor, Dave Storrs & Ice-T - Reckless

Chris ‘The Glove’ Taylor is perhaps best known for his appearance in the original ‘Breakdance’ movie, as Ice-T’s scratch DJ in the scenes at the Radiotron. I made the mistake of watching the film again recently, and my childhood memories of a cutting-edge portayal of the breakdancing scene were replaced with the reality of a hilariously camp 'dance' movie, ruined by dreadful acting and a risible plot. The only redeeming feature (aside from Turbo's broom dance to Kraftwerk's 'Tour De France'!) were the battle scenes, where Ice and The Glove provided the soundtrack for a dance battle between the rival crews. Even though Ozone (I’d been labouring under the misapprehension that Ozone was cool for over 20 years) looks like a complete tool in his fedora hat, the rival crew Electro Rock are amazing dancers, and Ice-T's staccato raps and The Glove's scratching (in studded leather gloves!) add a rough authenticity to the scene (the track is the awesome 'Tibetan Jam', not featured on the soundtrack but released on 12" by Polydor). A live version of 'Reckless' (posted above in its edited version) is the song that is playing during the second battle scene, and it's another outstanding Dave Storrs production. However, I've posted the link below to the first scene as it is much better, and doesn't feature Kelly's (the female lead) cringingly awful gymnastics / breakdance hybrid.

Buy the repressing of 'Itchiban Scratch' from Flexx in Belgium
Chris 'The Glove' Taylor at West Coast Pioneers website
Interview with Dave Storrs at the same website
Search eBay for 'Electro 7'
Full Street Sounds discography
Search eBay for the Breakdance soundtrack
Website for 'Breakdance: The Movie' here