BOOK’S JOOK: Andre Cymone’s “The Dance Electric”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

     photo AndreCymoneTDE_label_zps816cdfc1.jpg
    When “The Dance Electric” was released, I had already been a Prince fan for six years, of interest since Prince wrote the song. Prince was slowly winding down with what he presented with Purple Rain and was already getting into an Around The World In A Day mind state, so when this came out in early 1985, it really came out of the blue. I knew Andre Cymone was a part of Prince’s live band on his earlier albums and left a few years before this, and I had heard some of his solo material before, but this sounded nothing like what he had come out with before. To be honest, it didn’t sound anything like what Prince had come out with before either. To my ears it was harder, funkier, and sexier, and for this overeager 14 year old, I had no true concept of what a sexier song could be like, despite hearing music by Prince, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Barry White, Earth Wind & Fire and so many others, but no one was doing what this song had done. It’s a bit like Art Of Noise throwing around electronic music with drum sounds from different sources, I had no idea what they were doing or why it sounded that way, but I couldn’t stop listening. The same could be said for “The Dance Electric”.

    What made me get into the song was the fantastic music video that was shown on Black Entertainment Television’s Video Soul and Video Vibrations. They were always supportive of anything that had the Minneapolis sound, so this was presented to the people by default. The video was some kind of pre-apocalyptic tale about going to a club where only the sexy people could be, although people seemed to judge themselves by how sexy they are. Some of them may have been greedy or deceitful, but the dance kept on going. Even when the world (or their world) was about to end, the centered dance kept on going, sexiness uninterrupted. Who didn’t want to find a partner to get involved in that?

    WE…
    LOVE…
    ALL…
    ENEMIES.

    I had felt “The Dance Electric” was the sexiest video I had ever seen in my young love, sexier than Rod Stewart’s “Tonight I’m Yours” or anything that was on the airwaves pre-1985. Two years later, when a certain movie was released and became an international success, I still felt “The Dance Electric” was the real Dirty Dancing. I’m sure by today’s standards, the video would be fairly tame and yet despite occasional off-tempo steps, it was the kind of seduction that you could only see on some foreign film that you could only watch on Cinemax After Hours or something. All of that appealed to me, and that only made me love the song even more.

    As for the song, Prince’s guitar work throughout is solid and has a number of peaks and valleys that help carry the music towards its destination. The background vocals from Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman carry in the tradition of how Prince would arrange every vocal in the song as if it could be a possible lead vocal. There were so many statements made in the song that it lead to great quotes that hold up every much today:
    never mind your hatred, try a brand new style
    when your youth is gone, when it comes to dawn, the light of truth will shine and you will fall”
    look, our world is falling, a rhythm-less house of blinded prophecy

    As for the Prince-isms in the song, where does one begin? In the Prince song “God” (the B-side to “Purple Rain”), he did say “wake up children, dance the dance electric” so perhaps he was dropping a hint of what he had created. While I never had the 45, I knew of the single version through the edit used in the video, but on the 12″ version, Cymone also said “we got 14 years”, which made be go “oh, it’ll be 1999”. This means we’re going to have to party before we get there. Being a 14 year old, I wasn’t about to party any time soon (nor was I a party-type guy) so how to party and with whom, I had no idea and had no sense of doing anything that felt good. It just seemed that Cymone was throwing out codes, with Prince laying some extra information along the way, with the voices/spirits of Melvoin and Coleman guiding the listener through the underground tunnels. Eventually, we were all going to get there, somehow.

    It’s a song that made us (or at least me) think, and I could only imagine what this song must have been like in the right clubs. Were people getting heated in a sexual manner as the video showed, or did the song not get much dance floor action because it wasn’t a massive hit? While the version the 45rpm single was four minutes, the 12″ version was 5 1/2 minutes and known as the “long version”. There have been demo versions circulating for years amongst diehard Prince collectors but in 2012, an acetate surfaced which featured the longest mix of “The Dance Electric” known: 12 minutes. It was a mix with Cymone’s lead vocals, none of Prince’s vocals like existing demo versions, and his guitar work was intact, this was real. To think that this was a mix made for possible release but either he, Cymone, or Columbia Records rejected it and it remained untouched by anyone, it didn’t surface on any imported 12″ singles either. It eventually surfaced on a deluxe edition of Cymone’s A.C. album that was released last year. To fans of Cymone throughout his career, this remains one of the best songs he has done. For Prince fans, this was just another part of his endless dimensions. It remains one of the best songs of the 1980’s, which is often identified with other songs but for me, the 80’s would have been nothing without “The Dance Electric”.

    (SIDE NOTE: One of the dancers in the video reminded me of a girl I liked in middle and high school, so there was that too. Respect to Lori S.)

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  • 0 thoughts on “BOOK’S JOOK: Andre Cymone’s “The Dance Electric”

      • Actually I have omitted a few B-sides in this column here:
        M|A|R|R|S’ “Pump Up The Volume”
        Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster”
        America’s “A Horse With No Name”
        Black Crowes’ “Remedy”
        Heatwave’s “The Groove Line”

        There were some B-sides where I didn’t care for, or in the case of “The Dance Electric”, I had the 12″, never the 45, and at the time I thought “Red Light” was just “eh”, although 29 years later, maybe I need to rethink. Otherwise, Aerosmith’s “Last Child” and Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies” had worthy B-sides and were mentioned. Of course, that does mean that valuable real estate lies within my dream jukebox, but I’m okay with that. Otherwise, the jukebox would just have nothing but “oldies but goodies” 45. Thank you for your comment, Herc.

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