Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Run-D.M.C - "King of Rock" from the album King of Rock

For some time now, I've played with the idea of running a little slogan across the top or across the bottom of the main page here at La Historia.

"Proudly Rockist Since December 2008" is what it would say. 'Coz rockist is what I am, baby, and I am truly unashamed.

It goes way back, too. Not that I've still got any of this memorabilia, but let's harken back to the first rock concert I ever attended, back in November of 1979. Kansas, with Sniff 'N' the Tears at the late and lamented Hollywood Sportatorium. Long time readers will I'm sure be able to guess who I was there to see.

Anyway, this being my first rock show and not knowing any better, I bought one of those cheap Pakistani polyester T-shirts outside the glorious walls, and then was disappointed to find an *official* memorabilia table inside the Sport. I stepped up to the table anyway, and though I couldn't afford another, better, T-shirt, there was this bumper sticker I liked.

"Disco Sucks. Rock 'N' Roll Still # 1."

Sold. After the concert, after the acoustic guitar solo, after the lasers, after the tentative tokes, after I'd come home for the evening, smelling of smoke or not, I carefully affixed that sticker to my bedroom door. Sometimes I think that sticker so boldly placed was more or less an announcement to my parents that I intended to become a pothead, but either way, what can't be denied is that in that sticker you will find my rockist roots.

I've read often since then that the Disco Sucks Army for which I was such a proud footsoldier was formed from the forces of racism and homophobia. And, you know what? Steve Dahl's testimony notwithstanding, there might be something to that.

But all it felt like at the time, not yet a year past my Bar Mitzvah, with an unsteady grasp of style, a fear of girls, and a bad habit of picking my nose when nervous, was that I really, really needed to move away from this dork thing if I could.

That, and the metronome bassdrum thing, this Push push in the Bush thing, wasn't it all kind of, I dunno, moronic? Listen: I wasn't gonna find fraternity around the disco floor with these flashily-dressed assholes when I was into Tolkien and couldn't even match my clothes some days; fraternity could only be found, it seemed, in rock and roll.

Fast forward, through a lot of high school dopesmoke (and a closet full of concert jerseys) to 1985. If rap and I have have long since had an unamicable breakup, 1985 was before the divorce. I had seen the video for Run-DMC's "King of Rock" I guess late night on MTV or something, and I thought it was very righteous indeed.

Of course, what made "King of Rock" comprehensible to me was that it had guitars. Not Yngwie Malmsteen guitars, maybe, but yes, definitely: the solid crunch I have always looked for. I never would have thought to say something like this then, but the guitars in "King of Rock" were to those in mid '80's heavy metal as Miles' Birth of the Cool was to bop. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say the guitars were "laid-back," but this wasn't head-banging music, it was head-nodding music. And I was down with that.

The video sought to portray Darryl McDaniel and Joe Simmons as if they were the instantaneous leading edge of a wavefront that stretched back past the Beatles and Little Richard to Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and then beyond. When Larry Bud Melman let the two into his Rock and Roll Museum, he was saying, these guys are rock, these guys belong. I, for one, was buying it whole hog.

I bought each of the crew's first four albums and saw them on the Together Forever tour with the Beastie Boys at the Miami Baseball Stadium in August 1987. I read Spin magazine, who at this time were incorporating more and more of the hip hop into what had been a primarily indie mission statement. And then I got into hip hop artists who used the guitar a little less than Run DMC had. I bought records by LL Cool J and by Eric B & Rakim. And Public Enemy blew me away so much with their Slayer samples and their Anthrax collaborations that I even even forgave them for Professor Griff's antisemitic remarks.

By 1988, Sonic Youth had been my favorite band for a couple years, and can't say 1988 was a bad year for SY, either, as Daydream Nation would one day spawn an anniversary tour. But Tougher Than Leather might have been my second-favorite from that year. As late s 20 years ago, rap was solidly in my ears and on my lists.

What the fuck could have gone wrong?

To Be Continued, as I work this shit out.

Run-D.M.C. - King of Rock - 2 - King of Rock.mp3

File under: Old School Rap

This file was removed July 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

1 comment:

tad said...

R: Awaiting Part 2. Love the autobiographical stuff, of course, & would love 2 hear more about the dork U was. Ah, nostalgia....
As 4 Disco sucking, ummm... yes, but. Donna Summer did some good stuff ("I Love You," "Heaven Knows"), & the Bee Gees, & some of it sounds a LOT better now just cos it was 30 yrs ago & we're no longer up 2 R asses in it. (I accidentally heard Lipps Inc.'s "Funky Town" awhile back & actually thot it was kinda cute, & I fucking HATED it back in the day....) There's a lotta current dance music that grabs me w/ its sweep & swoop & drive, & I can't dance.
Rap, er, um, OK. Summa Eminem's stuff is pretty funny, but I don't Blieve him when he tries 2 B sincere. Does Afro Man's hilarious "Because I Got High" count as Rap? The Beastie Boys were pretty funny, & forceful 2. Public Enemy was pretty scary 4 a white wimp like me. I dunno, I'm sure no Xpert. Looking 4ward 2 the education.... -- TAD.