(First off, apologies for not having an installment of Book’s Jook last week. Sometimes I’m doing a lot of writing for the site that at times I will space off, but that’s rare. Last week, I was doing a website transfer and that was a hassle I had to deal with, so I can at least use that as an excuse. Nonetheless, the column returns.)
Technically, this is a record that isn’t necessary to place in my dream jukebox, which may lead some to ask “so why are you putting it in there?” I guess for me, “Beat Box” is such an essential part of my life that it really isn’t a must, but then again, it is that essential to me. A perfect (im)balance) for a perfect song? In fact, the song was originally co-published by Perfect Songs Ltd., so I know what I’m talking about, right? Anyway…
I had already been a fan of “Beat Box” for almost a year before I got this 45. I had the Into Battle cassette in Honolulu, which I had to have after hearing the song for the video on MTV. I watched and was mesmerized. No, I was pretty much numb in “uh bubba duh?” mode, not sure what I was listening to but knowing this was a revolution that was to come. In my mind, this was a sound (or a type of sound) I wanted to hear in music, and a good amount of pop and synth pop were close to what I heard in “Beat Box”. I had been a huge fan of Kraftwerk’s Computer World album but this seemed higher than that. It went beyond the groove of what those Germans were doing, and yet I could not understand what I was really listening to. The music of Jonathan Jeczalik, Anne Dudley, and Gary Langan, the production of Trevor Horn, and the verbal texts of Paul Morley would soon become an important part of not only my musical listening, but an influence to the music I wanted to produce, even though in 1983-1984 I didn’t have the means to get into a recording studio nor have the tools to make anything similar. Importantly, it was Morley’s liner notes on Art Of Noise’s and other Zang Tuum Tumb (ZTT) records that made a huge impression on me towards what to write and the rules that were meant to be broken.
Nonetheless, the “Beat Box” 45. I had received this from a neighborhood kid, in the neighborhood I had just moved in after my family and I departed from Honolulu. He was the kid who loved rap music and was a breakdancer and popper. Back then, it was a chance to know what music we listened to, and I had found out from another neighbor that the breakdancing kid had “Beat Box”. Even as a new resident of the neighborhood, my new friends had known I was a fan of Art Of Noise, so I wanted to see this record. White label with a partial black circle on the left side, fair and simple. The 45 had an edit that was used in the video, so you don’t hear the car ignition in the second half of the song, but what is heard is still awesome genius.
What was a trip for me was flipping the record over and hearing “Moment In Love”, where Horn simply went to the multi-track, created an all new mix of the song, made adjustments to the arrangement and it allowed fans to hear the sampled strings and vocals in an all new way. The drums were slightly different too. I hadn’t heard “Moment In Love” on my cassette as Island Records removed it from the tape pressings, but existed on the record. It was on both the vinyl and cassette pressings in UK, so that was a nice joy.
Having “Beat Box” on a 45 where the song quality is slightly grittier is nice, for having it played out of a booming jukebox would be quite cool. I would end up playing the 45 until the record turned to dust.