dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ride On Time

Somehow, some way...Chart Rigger is two years old today.

I don't really have anything poignant or witty to say about the occasion, but I think this story kind of sums up the Chart Rigger philosophy...

Over the Christmas break, I was back in Western Pennsylvania at the house I grew up in, visiting my parents. I usually trek back there twice a year, and on the past two or three trips, I'd been looking high and low in my old closet for a box of CDs I knew I still had stashed somewhere -- the ones that sadly got left behind when I made the move to California in 1999. My Dad managed to locate a box in the attic that was like a time capsule of the years 1994, 1995 and 1996, full of Christmas cards from practically every person on my dorm room floor in '94, college class notebooks, comic books and -- Yee-haw! -- the missing CDs.

I brought three of them back with me when I returned to L.A., the first of which being the single for the ravey 1990 cover of "Strawberry Fields Forever" by Candy Flip. [Video] I remember hearing this song that summer, when I was 16, and completely, well, flipping for it! Incidentally, the cute singer, Danny Spencer, has gone on to be one half of Soul Mekanik, who most recently produced "Rudebox" and three other songs off Robbie Williams' latest album.

The second one was the single for the 1994 Wet Wet Wet cover of "Love Is All Around," which was a massive hit in England and a minor one in the States thanks to its inclusion on the Four Weddings And A Funeral soundtrack. Not sure why I brought this one. Chalk it up to nostalgia.

But by far, the third disc I rescued from exile is the one that deserves to be remastered, reissued and bought by every fan of pop on the planet -- Black Box's Dreamland, the best set of Italian house floorfillers ever.

I'd gotten my driver's license in the summer of 1990, and my parents were just starting to let me drive the car by myself when "Everybody Everybody" [Video] became a Top 10 hit that fall. I used to cruise around the chilly, rural outskirts of my suburban hometown with friends playing it at full volume on the radio. Their next single, "I Don't Know Anybody Else" [Video] was my favorite, so naturally it only went to #23 on the singles chart. Then "Strike It Up" [Video] went on to became a classic anthem, influencing a whole decade of dance/rap tunes by folks like Real McCoy, DJ Bobo and La Bouche.

It was really exciting to hear these European house songs on American radio, played in between trash by Bon Jovi and M.C. Hammer. Feeling like I was the only kid on the planet who liked this stuff, I was just thankful for whatever miracle occasionally caused artists like Black Box to cross over here.

16 years later, on Sunday, I drove around listening to Dreamland -- which has completely stood the test of time -- and realized that's what I was gonna write about on this site's two year anniversary. After all, Chart Rigger wasn't created to be an in-the-know news site. It's not about gossip, nor is it an MP3 blog. It's simply about music, old or new, that's probably not getting written about too much in Rolling Stone or played on MTV.

It's a marker, a confessional recording, a hastily-scrawled diary entry about that song we all end up playing a dozen times in a row within the confines of our bedroom. It might be one you haven't heard since you were struggling with the gravity of being an adolescent in a small town, but hopefully it's one that made you feel.

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  • At 2:37 AM, Blogger HotstuffFiles said…

    Well at this time in the morning, all I can say is Happy Birthday.


  • At 3:04 AM, Anonymous brian said…

    At the time the early to mid 90's did't seem to me like a big time for dance music but thinking back there was Black Box, Cathy Dennis, Real Mccoy, Culture beat, la Bouche, Amber and Crorona all hitting the US top 40. Kinda makes you nostalgic.

  • At 11:19 AM, Blogger Poster Girl said…

    Happy birthday! May we have many years of bantering and glorious pictures ahead of us.

  • At 11:42 AM, Anonymous On And On And Orangutan said…

    That was seriously a lovely post, here's to many more years of rigging the charts!

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger mobius said…

    Happy Birthday ChartRigger!

    Can I just say that I'm in dire need of some new Cracker and Miss Pussy pics?

  • At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Happy Birthday!!! After reading your post, I had to play MY copy of "Strawberry Fields" by Candy Flip. It's playing as I write this. Thanks for reminding me of this great version. (I like the regular version better than the "Raspberry Ripple Remix"!)

  • At 7:54 PM, Blogger xolondon said…

    I messed up the last post!


    Oh loved this post!

    It takes ME back to the 90's and driving around listening to "Expression" by S&P and that cover of "I'm Free" by ? and "I Don't Know Why I Love You" by House Of Love.

    I had a heap of a car (a 78 Cutlass) that I drove around with leg bent so my foot was on the seat. A little too casual!

    The blog may be 2 years old but you've been analyzing music for a LONG time and could teach a class on it!

  • At 5:49 AM, Blogger Robpop said…

    Happy birthday. Lets go to Miami and get drink. We'll skinny dip, romance springbreak bois and appear on Guys Gone Wild.

  • At 10:44 AM, Blogger J'ason D'luv said…

    Thanks, Hotstuff! Poster Girl and Orangutan, there's lots of good stuff in store for this year alone...

    Brian, don't forget Lisa Stansfield, Captain Hollywood Project & Rozalla!

    Mobius, your request has been duly noted.

    Anonymous, that's the perfect song to read that post to! It's what I played while copy-editing it... And wasn't Danny Spencer so cute? He was only 20 in that video. Ah, fleeting youth... Incidentally, I read that "Candy Flip" was a raver term for doing LSD and ecstasy. As for the remixes, I much preferred the regular version, though the "DMC 12" UK Mix" had that Madchester-y instrumental at the end that went into a medley with "Hey Jude."

    XO, aww, thanks. I don't know about teaching a class, but you may see some declassified D'luv "archives" here soon.

    RobPop, Miami? How tacky. Let's go to Maui instead!Meanwhile, the last spring break I did was ten years ago. Maybe I can get a senior citizen discount on airfare?

  • At 10:52 AM, Blogger Paul said…

    was i'm free by either john inman or the soup dragons xo? Anyway je t'adore le rigger de chart and can't wait to give you a gentle (or rough - your preference!) birthday spanking when we finally meet up!

  • At 11:27 AM, Blogger Robpop said…

    Tacky? This is not a band thing.

  • At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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