Saturday, 1 August 2009

1987 Steve 'Silk' Hurley: Jack Your Body

Now here's something that's going to cleave opinion, 'Jack Your Body' is a slice of pure Chicago House that would have sounded as alien to those not in the know as Little Richard must have to Perry Como fans in the 1950's. The shock of the new can often be unnerving, particularly if you don't 'get it', and House marked a generational gap between those that understood (generally the under twenty fives) and the rest of us.

Sure, it's dance music, but so is Madonna and it's far removed from the verse - chorus - verse structure and plumbline straight backbeat of her output. Or most other dance music from disco on to be honest. A common complaint was 'There's no tune or lyrics', but House made a virtue of doing away with tradition and replacing it with fast, erratic beats based around kick drum fills and dropout sequences courtesy of sequencers and drum machines that human hands would struggle to reproduce. It's a sound to feel and experience as much as listen to.

'Jack Your Body' is an early but typical example of the genre. Taking in isolation, it's a fish out of water, a single piece of a jigsaw that sits in splendid isolation amongst Bon Jovi, Elkie Brooks or the Gap Band in the January 1987 top twenty. Heard as part of a DJ set in a packed club then it's a revelation, a dense mix of rhythm and counter rhythm that lets you take your pick as to which one your body wanted to follow.

It's somehow prescient that something so achingly 'now' should depose something so obviously 'then' at number one, but I've no doubt that haters of house/dance music will be quick to point out that it isn't something that generally gets heavy rotation as a 'golden oldie' and that a re-issue or chart re-entry on it's thirtieth anniversary is unlikely. But I think they'd be being a bit petty. Certainly it's not a track for everybody, but 'Jack Your Body' was a pointer to the future, a map to the second summer of love and, as a certain Mr Dylan once sang, 'Don't criticise what you can't understand'.

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