Picks and Pans Review: Go-Go Crankin'
This anthology is a good introduction to go-go, the raucous, good-time music born 15 years ago on the streets of Washington, D.C.'s largely black inner city. Go-go, which found some of its crazy-quilt energy in the funk brews of George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, is essentially a performance phenomenon. Bands like Trouble Funk and I Cee Hott jam in marathon sessions, powered by nonstop drumming and call-and-response chants. But such cuts on this studio album as Movin' and Groovin' by Redds and the Boys and We Need Some Money by Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers have a percussive punch that would make a three-toed sloth get up and jitterbug. Chuck Brown, 49, has been cranking it out for nearly 20 years and in 1979 had the only national hit in the genre, Bustin' Loose. Known locally as the Godfather of Go-Go, Brown is an ex-convict who was forbidden for a time by the terms of his parole (on a felony charge) from playing in bars. Consequently, the kids were the first to pick up on the sound. Onstage, go-go groups incorporate a wide variety of songs from TV shows. That jocularity can be heard in this collection on Somebody's Ringin' That Door Bell by E.U. (Experience Unlimited). The song is a carnival, E.U.'s lead singer, Sugar Bear, rapping impersonations of Wolfman Jack, Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell among others. That's go-go, party music with the spirit to break out nationwide at last. (TTED/Island)
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