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

Friday, September 09, 2011

Uncanny Alliance: Friday Trashback 3

Yeah, yeah — I've been woeful at keeping up with the Friday Trashback series here on Chart Rigger. But that all changes today! First off, if you've been wandering through life fully unaware of the sheer awesomeness of Uncanny Alliance, then go grab the skillet off the stove and bash yourself on the head a few times. And then read on!

I've often felt this Queens, New York duo was like a far sassier version of Deee-Lite. I've even likened them to friends as a '90s version of Sly & The Family Stone. (The mention of that one piqued my mom's curiosity during my last visit to Pennsylvania — she's now a total Uncanny Alliance stan.)

Vocalist E.V. Mystique (her name alone should indicate the sheer class of this act) and producer Brinsley Evans met, according to legend, at New York's Paradise Garage. The pair unleashed the original version of their single "I Got My Education" on clubland in 1992.

"I Got My Education"

The song was heavily pilfered by others, causing Uncanny Alliance to issue their finger-wavin' Bootleggers Response mix of "I Got My Education." However, they eventually landed a label deal with A&M, which led to "I Got My Education" being remixed, and the "bitch got nowhere to live" refrain was replaced with the more politically correct line "Miss Thing got nowhere to live."

The pair's one and only LP The Groove Won't Bite was released in October 1994, and it yielded the singles "I'm Beautiful Dammitt!" (which was covered by Bette Midler three years later), "Everybody Up" and "Happy Day."

Spin's review of the album at the time noted the following:
"Combining funk arrangements, house beats, disco energy, schoolyard chants, pop urgency and hip hop's respect for the spoken word, this boy-girl knows how to deliver a consciousness-expanding punchline as well as induce mass booty movement. Like Deee-Lite and RuPaul, Uncanny Alliance radiates perky New Age positivity, but not at the expense of a nasty groove."
I first got my hands on the album eight years after its release, when I found it for $1.95 in an under-the-counter bargain bin at Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. Moogaboo happened to be visiting at the time (Halloween 2002), and I think we jammed to "I Got My Education" and "I'm Beautiful Dammitt!" a few times in my car, then I filed the CD away a short while later.

"I'm Beautiful Dammitt!"

Fast forward to this past January, when I was finishing up the project of uploading all of my CDs onto iTunes then adding to my new iPod Classic. I got to the U's, and there was Uncanny Alliance's The Groove Won't Bite, which I finally played the whole way through for the first time ever — over eight years after I first bought it, and 16 years after its release.

As you can probably tell from the fact that I've typed this much on the band, I couldn't get over how rad the album was. I have no idea how Arrested Development made it, but Uncanny Alliance were somehow overlooked by the mainstream. Sure, The Groove Won't Bite sounds more than a little dated now. But it hasn't left my car since January, mostly due to the infectious hooks and, as Spin alluded to, intelligent, comical lyrics that serve as a commentary on urban living.

My faves, aside from the big singles: "The Groove Won't Bite," "Release" and "Diggin' For A Brand New Hole."

Strangely, after 1994, Uncanny Alliance pretty much disappeared off the face of the planet. You can find Brinsley on Facebook. But, sadly, E.V. Mystique is one diva who's gone completely AWOL.

In a way, I kind of like that they only ever released one album. (It rarely shows up on eBay, though there are currently three copies up for grabs at Discogs.com.) Combined with the fact that they slipped through the cracks just before we began to figure out how to track down anyone and everyone online, Uncanny Alliance are sort of like a rare pop unicorn. 

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home