Monday, June 2, 2014

Beat Street (soundtrack) volume 1

Welcome to another edition of Matinee Monday.

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Beat Street, the 1984 drama that centered on the New York City hip hop culture. It focused on the lives of breakdancing, DJing and graffiti artists. The cast included Rae Dawn Chong, Guy Davis, and Saundra Santiago.

The film itself did not do well (it bought in about $16 million), but it did generate a soundtrack which spent twenty-one weeks on the US Billboard Album chart and peaked at number 14, and went to number 10 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The music was popular enough that a second volume would be released later that year.

Side one begins with "Beat Street Breakdown" by Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious Five. Backed by a steady beat and sharp scratches, the guys rap about the cultural themes of the movie as well as problems facing the world at the time.

Next is "Baptize the Beat" by the System (Mic Murphy, David Frank and Paul Pesco). It is another high energy dance track.

Things slow down with the following gentle ballad. "A Stranger in a Strange World (Love Theme From Beat Street) was performed by Jenny Burton and Patrick Jude.

Afrika Bambaataa, the Soul Sonic Force and Shango wind things back up again with "Frantic Situation".

Side two kicks off with Juicy and "Beat Street Strut". It starts out with a simple beat and builds, layer upon layer, into a full mid-tempo dance delight.

The record and film could not allow just the B-Boys to have all the fun. B-Girls Sharon Green, Lisa Counts and Debbie D. team up on the affirmative-action "Us Girls".

"Into the Night" by Cindy Mizelle is a straight-up mid-tempo R&B dance groove.

Free-style re-mixer Arthur Baker, one of the album's producers, closes things off with the high-energy "Breaker's Revenge".

I was lucky to come across a playlist over on YouTube that included all of these songs. The soundtrack from Beat Street has some decent jams which fell right in line to my listening preferences through out my college clubbing nights during the mid-80's.

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