Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: Brooklyn Express
I was recently asked to contribute a mix to ‘Brother Joseph’s Sonic Treasures’ online radio extravaganza as a tribute to Andrew Weatherall. Jo was a mate of the Guv’s who continues the show in his spirit, always coming with a story and a vital dose of eclecticism.
It took me into the depths of the record collection I started some 53 years ago, and which numbered over 30,000 when I last counted about 20 years back. Hoisting out ‘Burning Hot’, an obscure 1980s New York gem by Brooklyn Express, prompted the idea to spotlight some of the nuggets lurking in my ludicrous filing system.
This particular item instantly reawakened an obsession I had with NYC-based Yugoslavian producer Began Cekic’s extremely underground BC imprint and its One Way offshoot. Maybe they were a bit dodgy in the way they blatantly raided popular disco hits, but they were groundbreaking in terms of pushing the electronic boat out so far your Y-fronts were waving on a distant shore.
One reason for including ‘Burning Hot’ in my Weatherall tribute was its similarity to the “drug chug” that characterised the Guv’s DJ sets in recent years. Hovering at around 120 bpm, its incessant throb is splattered with toupee-whisking electronic shenanigans.
There are several mixes. The one Jo used nicked Kraftwerk’s ‘Trans-Europe Express’, but my favourite is on one of two 12-inches I picked up in New York in 1983. It comes courtesy of Tee Scott, one of the city’s most overlooked DJs who commanded enough awe from Larry Levan to spin at Paradise Garage.
Running at over 15 minutes, it flows like radioactive hippo semen through flickering wah-wah, spaced keyboards, ever-chanting female disco choir, melon-twisting sequences collecting jagged synth riffs then tossing them away, at one point hooking up Grace Jones’ ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’. I once played it at 4am to a beyond-wrecked gaggle of post-Scream gig cavorters who sandblasted their cerebral underwear with euphoria at this prolonged strand of blissed-out hallucino-groove heaven.
Who were the musicians in this Brooklyn Express? My old friend Jay Burnett recognises the keyboard player from Planet Patrol sessions he engineered, and apparently the codpiece-shredding bassist was in Cameo. They made other 12-inches and a couple of albums that can be found on Discogs. Having just scored two records I didn’t have, I can see this new idea being financially fatal!