Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Debt to Gregory Isaacs

I'm forever indebted to Gregory Isaacs. During my tenure in fetid dorm rooms and scruffy bachelor pads, Isaacs' distinctive whine regularly served as a bridge between the sexes.

As a lifelong music geek, the music played at my social functions was even more important than the drinks I served. I had other guys make liquor runs so I could obsess over playlists. The challenge was finding the proper balance of music that both guys and gals could appreciate.

My male friends and I typically wanted testosterone-fueled noise. Left to our own devices, we'd happily listen to nothing but George Clinton, the Clash, Husker Du, Iron Maiden and Ornette Coleman. The young women we knew, however, weren't down with that nonsense. They preferred the likes of Atlantic Starr, Journey, Lionel Richie and Luther Vandross. No offense, ladies, but guys just don't want to hear that stuff on a party night.

Simultaneously sweet and tough, the Cool Ruler regularly came to the rescue. After "Night Nurse" hit in 1982, it seemed like everybody I knew was into Isaacs. His brilliant "Slave Master" provided a perfect transition between Mutabaruka and Run-D.M.C. on a mixtape. "No Speech", my favorite Isaacs song, fit in nicely between Prince and the Talking Heads.

Without Gregory, those wild nights would have had far lonelier results. I have no doubt that his music will continue to serve a similar function around the globe.

Isaacs died yesterday.

Show of the year? Maybe. Here's my review of Janelle Monae and Of Montreal at Liberty Hall.

Here's a promotional video for Ron Ron's next project. (Link via Demencha.)

Kansas City Click: Everette DeVan's weekly gig at the Phoenix resumes on Tuesday.

James Christos performs on the Riot Room's patio on Wednesday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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