BOOK’S JOOK: Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster”

  • 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.

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    As a kid, I was proud to get a copy of the Ohio Players’ album Honey. I was 5 or 6, so to have a cover featuring a cover of a woman in the nude pouring a jar of honey all over her body… let’s just say my parents (or at least my mom) bought it for me, didn’t feel it was offensive, and I played the album all the time. I stared at the album cover.

    All the time.

    However, as I was putting together this week’s Book’s Jook, I thought of this 45 and I wondered what did I get first: the Honey album or this 45? A part of me remembers wanting the 45, going to Music Box Records (one of my favorite childhood record stores) in downtown Honolulu and asking if they had a copy of this record, but whether or not I heard the short version first on the 45 that was 2:55, or the album version that went for 4:45 is a bit of a mystery. I want to say that the 45 must have come first, and when I got the album, I was blown away by the extra two minutes on the album. Okay, maybe not “blown away” with an adult mentality, but more like “wow, this song is cooler because it’s longer here”. Yet I swear I had the Honey album first, which may mean I simply wanted “Lover Rollercoaster” as a 45 just to have “the little record”.

    Regardless, “Love Rollercoaster” is most likely the first Ohio Players song I had heard, although if I had heard “Fire” before, I most likely didn’t remember who performed it, and I’m certain I didn’t hear “Skin Tight” until way later. I may have heard it on the radio, simply loved the feel of it, the groove, the vibe, and the fact the song made me dance. I liked funky, I could not help it. I was one of those kids who heard a story from my auntie who said that there was a woman in the song who they recorded when the band was performing at a carnival. It just so happened that the woman was not tied to the rollercoaster and when the coaster flipped upside down, she fell off and crashed onto the ground, dying. They recorded her fall and decided to honor her by including her in the song. It was “the story”, or at least one of the stories attached to this song and while I heard the scream, I always wondered why would a band like this, who looked cool and happy on their album covers, would do something as morbid as this. These guys could not have done this as an afterthought.
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    It would not be until I was an adult that I learned the true source of the scream in “Love Rollercoaster”: it’s a howl made by keyboardist/vocalist Billy Beck:
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    The man who did some of the band’s sweetest falsettos also did the high pitched scream in “Love Rollercoaster”, so nothing morbid happened to create the howl. This, of course, meant that a love rollercoaster had to mean something else. As a Hawaiian kid, I was fascinated by real rollercoasters but we only had the mini-ones. It wasn’t until I became a teen and my mind became peculiar did I start to understand what their rollercoaster really was. The song was talking about a “rollercoaster…of love”, the woman of attention, and it seemed everyone wanted to ride it. Or her. The song doesn’t have much lyrics to it, maybe there’s twenty words or so, but the guitar helps the song to strut it out, the horn section is gritty, and the drumming and bass playing ties it together while the keyboards/synths make sure you hear everything you’re supposed to hear. It Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner’s ad-libs that helps to drive the song further and deeper into the abyss, so when you hear Beck say he wants to ride, Bonner is singing “why don’t you ride, chil’?”, as if he’s encouraging all riders to strap on tightly and have fun.

    The 45 mix fades out earlier than the album version, so one isn’t able to feel the anticipated action that is to come, which is just the drummer adding a different fill as the band are in anticipating of the ride they’re about to get on. It fades out at the precise moment when the band starts wanting to “get in”, which is unfortunate but as far as 45 versions are concerned, it makes you want to get to the album version even more, to know there’s an extra 60 seconds or so of sexual madness. Regardless, when I hear this song, I hear the feeling of enjoying to dance to the groove of Ohio, knowing where the song will fade, then playing the album version to get a full grip of the ecstasy that happened in the studio, at least in the mind.

    As for the blue 45 listed above, this is the version I received from Music Box Records and for years, I used to think this was the first pressing that Mercury made before they switched to the skyscraper label. After almost 40 years, I discovered the truth today. The blue label was a second pressing made by Mercury in 1976, a year after the original which was released with the skyscraper label, with a B-side (“Who’d See Coo”) different from the original (“It’s All Over”). I would want the blue label in my dream jukebox although since it would be the song that’s played, it wouldn’t matter either way.

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  • COVERED: Ohio Players vs. Proh Mic

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    In 1975, Playboy centerfold Ester Cordet was asked to recreate her centerfold shot for an album cover by the Ohio Players. The original featured her bathing, but this one would be more… sticky. Honey was born.

    35 years later, the Honey cover has been recreated with Cheesecake, one of a number of newalbums released this year by Proh Mic. In the digital era, we don’t have the luxury of having a gatefold, but we can only hope. At least he didn’t call his album Sriracha.

    (Cheesecake is available as a free download from Bandcamp.)

    SOME STUFFS: Junie Morrison jumps into the ocean with BoyInSea

    Legendary funkateer Junie Morrison continues to make music in the 21st century, and now he’s involved in a new project that somehow gets him in touch with his inner “Aqua Boogie”.

    He calls it BoyInSea, which is a play on the world “buoyancy”, as in to keep ones head above water. Morrison calls this a “hard-core, techno-dance styled music collection incorporating major electronica beats and some deep funk grooves.” The first fruit of this musical labor is called “Hey! Hey!”. If you like what you see and hear, you can purchase the MP3 directly from Junie’s online store.

    http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7074335&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1