Friday, December 26, 2008

2008: Final Vinyl

One thing I learned from traveling abroad is that some of the music is better “over there.” Nowadays, you can have the same experience if you listen to radio stations that stream online, but in 1979, no one had invented the internet.

So, to get you through to the Great Vinyl Countdown, here are two pieces I picked up in Mexico. In 1979, I went to Mexico for a four-week language course and a four-week homestay in Colima, the lovely capital of Colima, on the Pacific coast. My trip came on scholarship, thanks to the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, which rewarded my Spanish skills as measured by their National Spanish Exam.

During the summer of 1979, two songs dominated the discos. One was, to my dismay, the second-wave Mexican surge of a spring, 1979 US hit: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. While I almost did not survive that second bombardment, the other phenomenon rocked my world: “Disco Samba” by Two Man Sound.

Two Man Sound was the brainchild of two Belgians, Lou Depryck and Sylvain Vanholmen. They took snippets of famous Samba tunes, including several by Jorge Ben, and turned them into a precursor to Stars on 45 that was as huge a hit in Mexico as Stars was in the USA in 1981. Two Man Sound managed to make the US disco chart as well, but I don’t have details.

All I know about this recording is that, no matter the type of party at which I play it, it draws everyone to the dance floor. Do come back to read the rest of the post when you’re done dancing.

Fast forward to 1980: I made enough friends in Colima that I was able to return the next summer without having to stay in a hotel. That year, the disco was playing a couple of songs I found intriguing. The Disco Era was over, and when people danced now, they sort of hopped up and down in place, because the beats were too fast for real dancing. The two big tunes were “Rock Lobster” by the B-52’s and “Rockabilly Rebel” by Matchbox.

Once I started looking for CDs of Matchbox material, the matter was confused by the appearance of a band called Matchbox 20, but it didn’t matter. Matchbox, a British act given to Buddy Holly covers, almost certainly failed to earn a US release for its wares. The UK and Mexican releases were on Magnet Records.

Matchbox consists of Graham Fenton (vocals), Steve Bloomfield (lead guitar, vocals), Gordon Scott (guitar), Fred Poke (bass) and Jimmy Redhead (drums). Some of the songs give Bloomfield writing credit, but I can’t confirm who wrote “Rockabilly Rebel,” because my LP is in a box in storage. This lineup is back together after some years apart, and they are playing all over Europe. Check them out.

Here’s a video version of “Disco Samba” that seems to have an overwhelming percussive element added. What the video has going for it is some stunning scenery, as well as some evidently Brazilian girls dancing in very short skirts.



And here’s Matchbox in a vintage lip-synch of “Rockabilly Rebel.” The video is truncated, unfortunately.



Finally, the stereo tracks on vinyl.

Wednesday, I’ll bring you the Great Vinyl Countdown of the ten most popular tracks from Blog Year 2008. See you then!

Two Man Sound, Disco Samba

Matchbox, Rockabilly Rebel

1 comment:

Yah Shure said...

Woo, hoo! "Rockabilly Rebel" was probably my favorite song from 1980. I heard the record often in St. Cloud that summer on WWTC, a low-budget AM oldies station from Minneapolis. Even through the static of too many miles, Matchbox had my toes a-tappin'.

Steve Bloomfield was the song's author. Sire Records issued both the single (Sire 49217) and Matchbox's 'Rockabilly Rebel' LP in the U.S.