The Bridge: Sampler’s Delight

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S1: Hey, everybody, this is Chris Melaniphy, host of Hit Parade, Slate’s podcast of pop chart history. Welcome to The Bridge. That’s the bridge of Duran Duran, the reflects the single version remixed by Chics Nile Rodgers in 1980 for their first ever American number one hit in its original album incarnation. The Reflex didn’t really have a bridge, just a repeat of the song’s main hook. Rogers essentially created a bridge where none existed, making the track more exciting, more danceable and getting Duran Duran song to the top of the Hot 100. It was a showcase for how Nile’s production style had evolved since the late 70s heyday of chic. And these mini episodes Bridge are full length monthly episodes.

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S2: Give us a chance to expand on those episode topics and enjoy some hit parade trivia. Happy New Year to all this month. Before we bring on our guests, I’m going to invite producer Asha Soldier On to go through some of our listener mail. Hey, Asha.

S3: Hey, Chris. Happy New Year. Happy New Year. Happy first episode of Twenty Twenty One.

S2: I do hope folks have enjoyed the two hours of Shiek that I threw their way this month. Our longest episode ever.

S3: From what I can tell, listeners have not only loved but reveled in the extra minutes of hit parade because even though it was the longest episode ever, it seems to me that you’re getting the highest volume in recent memory of praise. And that’s why I wanted to go through some comments from Slate plus members.

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S4: The first one actually comes from Twitter. It’s from Sophie Brookover. And she says Chris Melaniphy is multiyear project of celebrating Desco for its insistence on joy and space for BIPAC and LGBTQI AA plus people. And that commands respect for its musical excellence is one of my all time favorite examples of playing the long game. Next tweet, the latest episode of Hit Parade, which among other things, makes a detailed and undeniable case for properly inducting Chic into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a two hour opus of musical and cultural history that’s worth every minute you spend with it. Good times indeed.

S5: I just want to say a huge thank you to Sophie for those very kind words. As I said to her on Twitter, I deeply appreciated how she understood the sort of long arc of hit parade. I’m drawing connections between multiple episodes dating all the way back to, you know, our Donna Summer episode, which was in the show’s first year or BJ’s episode from a year after that, talking about the continuum of, you know, disco era artists and how they interact with the larger trend of rock and roll, hip hop. And also, I just want to shout out Sophie and her partner on her podcast, Too Bossy Dames. Margaret Willison, some of you may know Margaret Willison from pop culture Happy Hour. They are enormously proud fans. They’ve been too kind shouting out the show all over the place. And I just deeply appreciate their fandom. And thank you both so much for being such loyal listeners.

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S4: Another comment I wanted to read, this one’s a question actually came from our Slate Plus Members Facebook group. It’s from Jacob, Morocco. And Jacob asks, if I’m not mistaken, isn’t that Mekka playing the solo on I’m Coming Out?

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S6: And he is absolutely correct. That’s a great piece of trivia.

S5: In I’m coming out by Diana Ross on the Diana album produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, there is not only a brass solo, here’s the really fun detail. It’s a trombone solo, which is extraordinarily rare on a pop record. Right. How many records have we heard with a sax solo? Even the trumpet is, you know, reasonably frequent, but almost never hear the trombone on a big pop record. And reportedly, you know, MECO and I’ll talk about him in a second, I was told by Nile Rodgers, I want you to play the trombone, because that’s the last thing people will expect on a record like this.

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S7: And it totally works. It’s just this delightful interlude in the middle of this disco pop record. And MECO is his nickname, his full name is Domenico Manado. He is the man behind the disco cover of the Star Wars theme from 1977, a number one hit on the Hot 100. Its full title is Star Wars theme slash Cantina Band, because he meshes together the main titles of Star Wars with not tune, they’re playing in the Cantina band scene. And you know, a new hope. The Seventy-Seven movie Mitko is this kind of Zelig figure of late 70s, early 80s pop. He keeps reappearing in all sorts of places. He never has a hit as big as his Star Wars theme again, but he kind of recovers. He comes back during the stars on 45 era and scores a hit during that era as well. And yeah, he was just a strange journeyman musician who shows up on this Diana Ross hit and plays this fantastic trombone solo.

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S8: So that’s a fantastic detail from that listener. I appreciate that some.

S4: And the last note I wanted to read comes from Doug Mitchell. Doug says, I am, as always, in awe of the work that Chris Malathy and team brings to each installment of Hit Parade. So I was thrilled to see a two plus hour episode show up in my feed recently. And as always, it did not disappoint. I love how Chris reveals the connection between the moments in pop music history. Even if wow shots fired Doug, even if he didn’t find a connection between Shiekh and Kylie Minogue. Honestly, hit parade alone is worth the price of a slate plus membership.

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S3: Chris, got to ask you, can you can you materialize a Kylie Minogue connection now that we’re here?

S2: Now that we’re here? Doug and I actually interacted about this on the Slate plus Facebook feed. He’s absolutely right that there is a connection between Nile Rodgers and Kylie Minogue. It’s pretty late in their history, so it’s not. Back in the 80s, Nile Rodgers did not produce Kylie Minogue when she first broke on the charts in the 80s in the stock and Watermann years when she was having all those UK hits, they had a hit on the club charts in 2015.

S7: It’s it’s not even a record that either one of them is the lead artist on. It’s by an Australian sort of deejay duo who call themselves a Nervo.

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S6: The records called the other boys, it’s a number one club hit in the fall of 2015, it’s credited to Nervo featuring Kylie Minogue, Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters and Nile Rodgers. The only reason I didn’t mention it in the episode is because it kind of comes after that amazing year he has in 2013, where he scores that latter day hit with Daft Punk, get lucky and then wins all those Grammys. You know, we were kind of near the end of the episode, but Doug is absolutely right that there is a crossover between Kylie Minogue and Michael Rogers, always impressed by how detail oriented your listeners are.

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S3: So thank you, Doug, Jacob and Sophie, for writing in.

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S4: If you are a slate plus member and you want to be in a Facebook group and you’re not, you can just look up Slate plus members and request access.

S2: Please come join us because every month in the Slate plus Facebook group we do I do a and ask me anything or am a thread in which folks ask me questions about the most recent episode of Hit Parade, but frankly it gets pretty freeform. People ask me all sorts of chart related questions. They ask me questions about why is the song number one. So join us on Slate. Plus it’s a good time.

S3: Great. I think that covers it. Thank you so much for writing in Slate plus listeners. It’s really a pleasure to hear from you. And it really, I don’t know, it makes the work we do that much more gratifying to know that you’re listening to it with such care. Indeed.

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S5: And now I’m delighted to present my guest for this bridge episode, Mosse Reeves is a West Coast based journalist who’s chronicled the cultural impact of hip hop and R and B for more than two decades, his work has appeared in Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NPR Music, Billboard, The A.V. Club and Spin, as well as his own website, Critical Minded. Just last week mostly published the Pitchfork article, Sample Snitching How Online Fan Chatter Can Create Legal Trouble for Rap Producers. And last month on his website, he offered the 50 best rap singles of 1980, the year that led off with the historically vital chic, biting Sugarhill Gang single Rapper’s Delight, mostly reeves’. Welcome to the bridge. Thank you. Yeah, I know. It’s a pleasure to have you. So I would love to touch on the parallel histories of rap and disco because this is a much debated topic. How much rap borrowed from disco grew up alongside disco, but there’s no question that certain baselines like Chic’s Good Times were used for rap records. So maybe if you can give me a sense of how typical that was for the period when rap was just coming up at the end of the 70s, I think you have to look at the public perception of disco.

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S9: On the one hand, yeah, people who love disco is music and as an art form, and they see disco as an amalgamation of different musical trends to the 70s. And then you have the people that only see, I guess, a lot of the more debauchery, aspects of disco culture. When you look at rap and how rappers perceive disco, at least after the early 80s, they’re looking more at disco in terms of the Studio 54 access aspect. That’s why you have people like Public Enemy saying that hip hop isn’t about disco. I never loved disco. I guess from a music historian’s standpoint, it’s clear.

S10: That hip hop early hip hop to life from disco. If you look at a lot of the mixes that have appeared on YouTube, a lot of those mixes include disco songs.

S11: If you listen to Grandmaster Flash, is the adventures of Grandmaster Flash on Two Wheels still at the very end? We must say disco.

S9: It is very clear that it’s part of disco culture in a sense, however, you have to look at the roots of where rap music and death comedy albums, you know, deejay patter on radio stations. Oh, yes. Oh, a lot of the rap or AP Innaloo. Did you hear that? Isaac Hayes and Bobby Womack albums. Good point. It’s a much richer show and just.

S8: Oh, that’s a great point. You know, and I think a lot of us, because Rapper’s Delight is the first rap single to hit the charts, folks tend to sort of mark that is ground zero for hip hop. But of course, it predates that. And, you know, Nile Rodgers jokes, and I think he’s kidding that he helped invent rap when he talks about, you know, the Sugarhill Gang and, you know, raps a few bars on stage of Rapper’s Delight in the middle of good times. So you have written extensively about sampling and obviously it’s essential to rap history. How do you frame the story dating all the way back to those early days, the turntablism of the 70s going into the 80s when actual samples became the lingua franca of hip hop?

S10: First of all, just to backtrack, there’s two types of. The first is that the elbow where you’re directly sampling from a recording. And then a second is an interpolated show where you week playing like a previously recorded act. Oh, the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight was in interpolated all give to the hip hip hop.

S12: You don’t stop the rocket to the Bam man.

S13: You say just to get to the rhythm of the beginning, it was meant to recreate some of the things where the detainee would be screaming all night. And then a sometime during the night, this crew of emcees would jump up and look while, oh, that’s what that’s what the Sugarhill Gang recording was trying to do. But I don’t think there was a conscious sense of stepping back and it was just basically trying to recreate the vibe of the party.

S8: So one of your articles that I mentioned in the intro was you were talking about the best rap records of 1980, which again, is not ground zero. Exactly. But it’s kind of a watershed, right? Because after Rapper’s Delight, you sort of have this tsunami of rap records coming out. What did Delite have to do with that wave and what was the template of hip hop at that very early moment?

S10: If you talk about the originators, you’re talking about the scene with Rihanna, with the you know, like with the legends that Jason. Yes, disagreements about the physical bodies, but what should be held to life as it is spread all across the country, all across the world, really, because you have kids coming out of Canada, you have to have like these cheesy disco rap records coming out of Europe, like even rap records coming out of Jamaica. There’s like a whole generation of people that are inspired by this world record that shows the possibilities of rapping in 1980. Less is less about pointing out 50 great records, because to be honest, a lot of those records aren’t great. But if you’re just pointing out this is where it became a mess.

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S2: Do you have favorites among that first wave of 1980 records, among the, you know, sort of cheesy ones?

S10: Oh, yeah. I mean, they tried to say they were a group out of Brooklyn.

S13: They’re probably best known for Khubani, like how you like now and you’re like a little bit of success. And it was a part of that. And they have a record called the new rap language gives people the opportunity to see what society and at the end you will it be nobody gets you when they go through, you know, quick even now, like it’s a pretty amazing record, like the Beat, which is produced by Pumpkin’s, who is considered one of the first great rap producers to do it. Like it’s it’s like, you know, they’re like really fast. Like you kind of kind of pretty faces a lot of the best thing that you heard in the early 90s. It’s a really great record. I would highly recommend that anyone who’s skeptical of rap listen to.

S8: So the other article of yours that I cited when we brought you in was the evolution of sampling. Can you walk us through how perceptions and legal ramifications changed through the 80s into the 90s, leading up to things like the Biz Markie decision in 1991?

S10: We were talking at the beginning about Rapper’s Delight. No Rodgers hair, is it? And it’s like, wait, this is my record. So so Susan, he tried to sue Sylvia Roberts and then she agrees to put him in a song where the credits. And that’s kind of where things stand for the next year. It’s basically a catch me, if you can type of situation, if it’s a big enough backyard or if it’s coming out on a major label, then they’re going to give some writing and publishing credit to the person that they’re interpolating. If it’s not a big enough or people just think they can get away with it, then there’s not going to be any kind of credit. What happens? What’s the turning point? Is the total lawsuit against daylight’s. All you need is clear.

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S14: Or to as many powers and they threaten to sue. Oh, and he gets a fair amount of press. They talked about it on MTV and daylight’s. Oh, settled the lawsuit. Oh, it’s kind of like a warning shot in terms of what happened. But it’s not a game changer. That’s what I still haven’t said.

S10: This is the second major lawsuit is when to, like, prove there’s a parody pretty woman on there, how nasty they want to be.

S13: Abam. I was walking down the street, so Roy Orbison publishing company goes to them, the lawsuit goes all the way to the Supreme Court and to when it’s kind of a victory in terms of being able to make parody and freedom of expression.

S10: As I know, Elena Kagan, who now sits on the Supreme Court, she was part of Two Lives Crews original legal team. Oh, that’s amazing. I didn’t know that. That’s a great detail. Yeah.

S13: Oh, after that happens comes the Gilbert and Sullivan lawsuit where Pat Mackey determined county alone again. Naturally, I need a haircut.

S15: I’m alone again, naturally.

S13: It’s not the same as the to lie to parody because, well, if you like to watch vocally parroting Pretty Woman, Markee is using like original samples as well. Oh, Gilbreth OSullivan Markit Freewinds at two hundred fifty thousand dollar decision. And actually I was reading up on this by Oliver Wang’s article for hour, I guess like they tried to charge him criminally as well.

S8: It’s kind of crazy, which is crazy.

S10: Yeah, that makes a chilling effect on the dabbling in hip hop. And after that lawsuit, producers just start digging deeper and deeper because they’re no longer going to popular artists like Gilbert and Sullivan and they’re going to like, you know, deep. So they go into private press records. It kind of becomes this competition to figure out like how where you get and it becomes a crate digging exercise where basically people are like looking for just the deepest possible beats.

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S2: So I was really intrigued by your Pitchfork article about so-called sample snitching. You know, I know that I personally have gotten a ton of mileage out of who sample dotcom. Are users of that site hurting the music?

S10: In effect, most no notice there are major labels have to clear the set. Was there this whole ecosystem of artists that have nothing to do with the major label system, they kind of put that out. Bandcamp, they might drop a check as though they might drop a track on a YouTube like all of those people are taking about clearing a sample. They’re just like putting it. They’re just making check and then putting it wherever they can put it out in hopes of getting cloud to sample. It doesn’t just look at the major label artist like let’s say you try to get 100. Mm hmm. If somebody were going to say, hey, I know that Apple was using this track, they just got that news in that person might not have the resources to clear this depot. That’s where the snitching part of it. And it’s not me saying that you shouldn’t use who said what? I mean, I users both. Oh, it’s a great idea. Yeah. I mean, I think everybody uses it at this point. It’s just that whatever you do that there’s consequences.

S2: Well, mostly this has been very interesting. I really appreciate you joining us. You write all over the place. So is Twitter the best place to keep up with your work? And is there anything you want to let folks know about?

S10: Yeah, I mean, look me up on Twitter and if you want to visit critical, mind if that’s OK? Right.

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S2: All right. Well, no, Reeves, I can’t thank you enough. Thanks for being on the bridge. Now comes the time and hit Parade The Bridge where we do some trivia. And joining me from San Leandro, California, is Joellen Hydrofoil. And are you there?

S16: I’m here. So nice to be here.

S2: It’s so nice to meet you. Happy New Year. I understand that you have been doing some family trivia quizzes lately.

S16: Yes, we do a regular family Sunday afternoons and with trivia quiz and there’s always a name that tune around.

S2: So let’s do some trivia before we begin. Of course, I’d like to thank you for being a slate plus member. As everybody knows, we only open our trivia rounds to Slate plus members. So if you would like to be a trivia contestant, visit Slate dot com hit parade sign up. That’s Slate Dotcom hit parade sign up. So, of course, Strollin, you know how this works. We’re going to ask you three questions. The first is a callback to our most recent episode of Hit Parade, and the next two are a preview of our next episode. Are you ready for some trivia? I’m ready. All right. Rock and roll. Here we go. Question one. Last episode, I listed an array of 80s artists whose hits were produced by Chics Nile Rodgers or Bernard Edwards.

S8: Which of these hit makers was not one of them? A, Duran Duran, B, Madonna, C, Robert Palmer or D, Stevie Nicks?

S16: I’m sorry to say that this one is too easy because even if we knew nothing about the last episode, we would know that one of those things does not belong with the others. And it’s a woman who is near and dear to my heart. The answer is D Stevie Nicks.

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S11: That is absolutely correct. While the Fleetwood Mac member collaborated on her solo work with Tom Petty and Prince, she never worked with Nile Rogers or Bernard Edwards. All right. You swept through that like it was nothing. Are you ready for the preview trivia?

S2: I am, but I’m a little nervous question, too. What was hard rock band.

S8: S first ever number one LP on Billboard’s album chart, A Highway to Hell Be Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, see back in black or D. For those about to rock, we salute you.

S16: This is a musical blind spot for me. I know that my husband would get this straight away. He regularly sings dirty deeds done dirt cheap, just like as a mosquito in my ear. And I have no idea what the timeline or the performance of any AC DC is just in his honor. I’ll go with B dirty deeds done dirty.

S2: I’m sorry. The correct answer was D for those about to rock, we salute.

S6: We know they are better known for songs on those three earlier albums. It wasn’t until late 1981 that six years of touring and power anthems finally brought them to the top of the album chart.

S2: All right. That was a fair guess. Let’s do one more. Here comes question three.

S8: How many studio albums did Van Halen take to number one on the Billboard album chart with David Lee Roth as their front man, A three, B, five, C zero or D two?

S16: I’ve been listening to Van Halen recently after the tragic loss of Eddie, and I still feel as if I’m unprepared to answer this question. I suspect it’s not I know it’s not five. I suspect it’s either zero or two. If I were guessing out of the blue, I would have said one, I’m going to go with zero.

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S7: And you are correct, the correct answer is zero. From 1978 through 1984, when they were led by David Lee Roth, Van Halen charted six LPs, none of which topped the album chart, including 1980 for his album 1984, which peaked at number two during the decade that they were led by Sammy Hagar. All four of Van Halen albums hit Number One, the only Van Halen album featuring vocals by Roth ever to top the album chart was a 1996 greatest hits disc. Well, all right.

S2: Two out of three, really not bad at all, Joel. And I hope you’re feeling good. I’m pleased you picked up on the trick in that third question. So nice job. And now I understand you have a trivia question for me.

S16: I sure do. And this one harkens back to the earliest music of my childhood from before I was born. But it’s the music that I grew up listening to because my parents were big fans. And the second episode of your hit parade podcast, I grew up with a big array of Beatles albums, but my father’s mother is English and so he had a bunch of English LP’s and it took me a long time to figure out why the track listings didn’t always match. Yep, which leads me to this question. It’s no secret that the Beatles were hitmakers on both sides of the Atlantic, but you might be surprised to learn that their chart performance in the US sometimes varied dramatically from their performance in their home country. This is partly due to differences in which songs were released as singles in each country. Which of the following are the only two Beatles songs that hit number one on the Billboard charts in the US and were never released as singles in the UK?

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S17: A Love Me do, and for me to be eight days a week and the long and winding road see Penny Lane and Yesterday or D Day Tripper and Lady Madonna. Can you repeat be for me for a second. It’s eight days a week and the long and winding road.

S2: Something tells me that’s the correct answer because eight days a week was on the fourth album, the fourth UK album, Beatles for Sale. And The Beatles had a policy, particularly in Britain, of not issuing singles that are pulled from albums. They would leave them on the album. And I’m pretty sure The Long and Winding Road was only a US single as well. So I’m going to go with B.

S18: You’re good. The answer is B Love Me Do was a number one hit in both countries for me to you. Daytripper and Lady Madonna were number one hits in the UK, but not in the U.S. Penny Lane was that number one single in the US, but not in the UK. Yesterday was a number one US hit single on 65, but was an album cut for help. But it was released as a single on Parlophone in 1976, backed by I Should’ve Known Better after the Beatles contract with EMI retired and only peaked at number eight on the US and the UK singles. That’s fantastic.

S2: And before we get away from Penny Lane, you know that Penny Lane’s chart performance in the UK is quite possibly the most infamous chart shortcoming in history. It peaked at number two in 1967. I believe the East Side in Britain was considered Strawberry Fields forever and it peaked at number two behind and Engelbert Humperdinck single, I believe. And the British will never let that lie. Anytime you bring up chart data with my British friends, they will always bring up. Do you know that Strawberry Fields Forever peaked at number two with Penny Lane behind Engelbert Humperdinck? It’s it’s crazy. I think the song was released me. There’s no accounting for taste in any case, Joal. And that was a delightful question. I always love a good Beatles question. Thank you so much. And I hope you’re holding your head up high because two out of three at Babylon. I’m pleased. Thanks so much. So as those last two questions indicate, our next hit parade is going to be an interesting hodgepodge for my fellow Charcot’s, many of you enjoyed my episode last year offering rules for what qualifies as a one hit wonder.

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S6: In this episode, I’m going even a little deeper on defining a rule that I made up myself. The AC DC rule is a term that I have used in my writing for years to describe the odd phenomenon of latter day opis that chart higher than their better known predecessors. We’re talking about the oddity of Van Halen scoring No No. One albums with David Lee Roth and all of its number one albums with Sammy Hagar, or the fact that a less remembered album by AC DC called For Those About to salute. You went to number one and Back in Black. Their all time bestseller by a long shot did not. This will be a fun episode for trivia fans. I’ll reveal some surprises about a range of artists whose biggest opening or sometimes only chart topping album is not their best known LP, from Jethro Tull to Pat Benatar to Justin Timberlake. And I’ll explain why I named the rules specifically after AC DC in the first place. It will hopefully shake you all night long.

S2: This episode of Hit Parade, the bridge was produced by Ushe Solutia, and I’m Chris Melaniphy. Keep on marching on the one.