Lil’ Louis – “French Kiss”

Important note:
All the French Kiss versions below are the first and original mixes and remixes circa 1989.
It is amazing how French Kiss stood the test of time.  Exactly 21 years ago, around October/November, or let’s just say Fall of 1989, Lil’ Louis came out with this gem.  To my ears, French Kiss was really the first serious progressive/house track (through its rolling, hypnotic bassline) to come out at that time, thus making most other house tracks in the dance and mainstream charts to sound like kindergarten music.  French Kiss took the world by storm with its no-nonsense attitude.  Its incredible breakdown in the middle, as the track slowed down gradually to a complete pause (accompanied by a sustained high-note and a female’s erotic moans, groans and heavy breathing) …. with few seconds of no beats …. and then the beat started to pulse at the lowest BPM, increasing its speed slowly and gradually back to the track’s original fast-paced tempo.  All of that was ground-breaking musically and technologically (as it was really a-first-of-its-kind to be programmed/midi-sequenced at that time when it was hard to do so with midi gear).

  • For those of you interested, the sound of that bassline was a preset called “Solid Bass” from a Yamaha DX-100 synth (pictured above).
  • If you use Native Instruments FM8 software synth, then you can download and unzip the following sys-ex patches of the Yamaha DX-100/27/21.  These synths had identical engines, although each one was different in size. However, they also shared the same exact factory patch/program presets.
  • Download a-z.zip —–and—– DX21.zip
  • Upload the patches to FM8.
  • Look for “Solid Bass” or “Solid Bass 2” patches for that French Kiss bassline sound.

When I first heard the track at Medusa’s club in Chicago, I stopped doing what I was doing ….. stood still in the middle of the dancefloor where the sweetspot was in the stereo-field …… and just listened.  The DJ played the entire 10-minute track.  The only words that came out of my mouth were, “HOLY SHIT!” I said those words three time …. once in the beginning of the track, once in middle/breakdown and then once three-quarters towards the end.

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Original Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Original Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Original Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Backup Your Conversation)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Backup Your Conversation)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Backup Your Conversation) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Passion Radio Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Passion Radio Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Passion Radio Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Album Version)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Album Version)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Album Version) (mp3)

 

Let’s get one fact straight… former Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren was the first to bring vogue-dancing (from the gay underground scene in New York) to the international mainstream music almost two years before Madonna.  McLaren and Bootsy Collins’ Bootzilla Orchestra collaborated together and came up with a track called Deep In Vogue — an ode to the ballroom scene started by young, gay African-Americans and Latinos in New York City featured in the documentary Paris Is Burning. Dedicating the song to all the houses of ballroom and vogueing, the track featured vocals from voguing pioneer and legend Willi Ninja. (Also, click here to view image-results of Willie Nina.) On the production side, additional remixing were done by Mark Moore (of S-Express, watch video of “Theme Of S-Express”) and William Orbit.

Macolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra
- “Deep In Vogue”…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Deep In Vogue
Year: 1988
Label: CBS Records

Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra
- “Deep In Vogue” (mp3)

 

Macolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra – “Deep In Vogue” (Banjie Realness)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Deep In Vogue (Banjie Realness)
Year: 1988
Label: CBS Records

Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra – “Deep In Vogue” (Banjie Realness) (mp3)

 

Music Video: Macolm McLaren – “Deep In Vogue” (Banjie Realness)…

Documentary edit: Paris Is Burning (of Willie Ninja)…

R.I.P. Willie Ninja (Apr.12.1961 – Sep.02.2006)…

In loving memory of Willie Ninja who was a legend and one of the early pioneers of vogue-dancing and posing.

The first video in the playlist below made me very sad with a huge apple in my throat. Every time I’ve been watching it brings tears to my eyes.  Perhaps I should just release it and ball out crying. And I will.  Willi Ninja — he was so beautiful man.  Rest in beautiful peace, Willie, as I’ve learned about your passing.  You were sent away heroically instead of dying like some aging deadbeat in a nursing home.  You danced, you taught, you loved, you lived most truly, and that’s what life is all about.  What a beautiful man you were and still are… .

Willi Ninja (April 12, 1961  September 2, 2006) was an American dancer and choreographer best known for his appearance in the documentary film Paris is Burning. Ninja, who was gay, was a fixture of ball culture at Harlem’s drag balls who took inspiration from sources as far-flung as Fred Astaire and the world of haute couture to develop a unique style of dance and movement. He caught the attention of Paris is Burning director Jennie Livingston, who featured Ninja prominently in the film. The film, a critical and box office success, served as a springboard for Ninja. He parlayed his appearance into performances with a number of dance troupes and choreography gigs. His style served as an inspiration to Madonna, who immortalized it in her 1990 hit song and music video “Vogue.” He also starred in the earlier music video for Malcolm McLaren’s Deep In Vogue.

Mercy Street is one of the most beautiful, original and highly intelligent and emotional songs ever composed and produced. It still gives me the goose-bumps every time I listen to it, and I’ve been playing it endlessly for the last 26 years. I listen to Mercy Street when I’m hurting and in search of healing; when I’m at peace and in solitude; and when I’m meditating and mind-traveling. The song never seems to wear out on me but rather continually evolve to something bigger and much richer for me to appreciate even more over time as it goes by.  Mercy Street is the song I want to be played at my funeral.

The only versions of Mercy Street which I love and respect are two of them: LP version and the William Orbit mix which is featured in a 1992 CD-single of Blood Of Eden by Peter Gabriel. Please take the time to read the lyrics and the meaning of the song below. I’ve provided a video of Peter Gabriel talking about what inspired him to write and dedicate his song to Anne Sexton who wrote a poem and play called 45 Mercy Street.

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (LP Version)…

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: Mercy Street (LP Version)
Year: 1986
Label: Real World Records / Real World Music

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (LP Version) (mp3)

 

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (William Orbit Mix)…

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: Mercy Street (William Orbit Mix)
Year: 1992
Label: Real World Records / Real World Music

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (William Orbit Mix) (mp3)

 

Mercy Street Lyrics…

Looking down on empty streets, all she can see
Are the dreams all made solid
Are the dreams all made real

All of the buildings, all of those cars
Were once just a dream
In somebody’s head

She pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam
She pictures a soul
With no leak at the seam

Lets take the boat out
Wait until darkness
Let’s take the boat out
Wait until darkness comes

Nowhere in the corridors of pale green and grey
Nowhere in the suburbs
In the cold light of day

There in the midst of it so alive and alone
Words support like bone

Dreaming of mercy st.
Wear your inside out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms again

Dreaming of mercy st.
Swear they moved that sign
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms

Pulling out the papers from the drawers that slide smooth
Tugging at the darkness, word upon word
Confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box
To the priest-he’s the doctor
He can handle the shocks
Dreaming of the tenderness-the tremble in the hips
Of kissing Mary’s lips

Dreaming of mercy st.
Wear your insides out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms again

Dreaming of mercy st.
Swear they moved that sign
Looking for mercy
In your daddy’s arms

Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy
Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy

Anne, with her father is out in the boat
Riding the water
Riding the waves on the sea

The Meaning Of The Lyrics & Anne Sexton’s Poem 45 Mercy Street

Peter Gabriel was inspired by Anne Sexton’s poem 45 Mercy Street which led him to write/compose his song Mercy Street, dedicating his song to her. Gabriel could relate to Sexton as a deep thinker with a troubling depression who searches for meaning through her art.

Anne Sexton, a poet, committed suicide in 1974 after a life marred by mental illness. The first couple of verses in the song play on the difficulty she had differentiating between her successful creative life as a poet and her failings in her “real” life as a daughter/mother/wife. Years after leaving the home where she lived with her father, one day she decided to go back and look for the place on 45 Mercy Street. But when she walked there, she wasn’t able to find the house nor recognize the neighborhood what she once knew.  It has all been changed over time. so in essence, this is what the song Mercy Street is all about … Anne’s searching of her home and past.

According to the uncredited sources on the internet:

As a poet, Anne, in effect, had a “leak at the seam,” her inward thoughts and feelings that got expressed through her poetry. Many poets have commented on the pain that comes through revealing one’s inner self.

The boat references allude to her final book of poetry, “The Awful Rowing Toward God,” about our inevitable journey toward death and the afterlife. “Tak[ing] the boat out” refers to her intention to accelerate her own demise. (She killed herself just after finishing the book.)

Corridors of pale green [aka 'hospital green'] and gray” could refer to her stays in mental institutions during her manic episodes (which alternated with her stints of “ordinary life” in the suburbs of Boston).

Wear your inside out” again refers to the way a poet exposes his soul to the world. That which, for most people, remains private and unknown is shown to all. The “daddy” allusions again seem to refer to God, in whose arms she might find that elusive mercy (so difficult to attain in this life, hence the reference to the moved street sign.

All of the confession allusions have double meaning, as much of Anne’s life was spent “confessing” her innermost feelings to psychiatrists ((whereas in the song, the “warm velvet box” might also refer to the psychiatrists and mind doctors)) as well as revealing them to the public through her poetry. The shocks can doubly refer to shock therapy administered by psychiatrists as well as the shocking things a priest might hear in confession. Per Wikipedia, Sexton was the epitome of a “confessional poet.”

Live Performace of Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street”…

Live Performance of Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (1988)…

Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio…

The pictures you see below are Peter Gabriel’s own Real World Studio where he recorded Mercy Street as well as the most of his previous albums, soundtracks and productions of other artists signed on his label Real World Music/Records.

The Latin Rascals - Beyond The Future

The Latin Rascals…

Artist: The Latin Rascals
Title: Beyond The Future
Year: 1986
Label: Sutra Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

The Latin Rascals – “Beyond The Future” (mp3)

 

More About The Latin Rascals…

I find The Lastin Rascals to be class-act with stellar production and rich sound, standing on their own plateau. Just take a listen to their remix production on the following blogs which I’ve posted here previously:

According to Music Guide and The Latin RascalsMySpace page:

Producers/DJs Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran — collectively known as the Latin Rascals — got their start as movers and shakers on the budding early-’80s New York City club scene, hosting an influential continuous-mix show on local dance radio. The duo went on to mastermind a number of Latin freestyle dance tracks, including work for TKA and The Cover Girls, among others. In 1999, the collection Mixmasters Vol. 1 was released, featuring reworkings of various Latin Rascals mixes by an array of DJs.

According to Answers.com about Albert Cabrera:

Better known as one half of The Latin Rascals, Albert Cabrera, along with partner Tony Moran, helped create the mid-’80s, edit heavy genre of dance music known as freestyle. Working as DJs in the early ’80s, the duo realized that after the disco backlash dance music wasn’t the most popular of genres. Still, they were working in the U.S. capital of club culture, New York, and after much hustling they were able to score a high profile gig as mix masters on WKTU’s popular “lunch time mix” program. It was there that they unleashed their bedroom edits, songs by acts like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones that had been re-mixed and lengthened. Cabrera and Moran were then tapped by Fever records to produce The Cover Girls and the resulting single, “Show Me,” became a club hit. For the next few years the duo had a good little run, releasing their own dance singles, as well as re-mixing many a popular rap, rock, and R&B act. Their success was based largely on re-tooling other artists’ hits, though, and eventually the public’s interest in this format diminished and the duo parted ways.

The following FAQ about The Latin Rascals is cited from the Freestyle Dance Party site:

How did they meet?

Albert Cabrera was selling tapes of music he liked for $10, and walked into Dowtown Records, where Tony Moran just so happened to be working. Cabrera played some of his mastermixes for Moran, and on one occasion, Carlos deJesus was there.

Who was Carlos deJesus?

Carlos deJesus was a radio personality on WKTU. He overheard one of Cabrera’s mixes and asked him for a copy. The problem was, all of Cabrera’s mixes were on cassette, while the station needed them on reel to reel.

Well, guess who had a reel to reel?  Who?

Tony Moran, of course, and he let Albert Cabrera borrow his, for which he gave him due credit.

How did they get their start?

They shook up the New York club scene in the early 1980s by hosting an influential continuous-mix show on a local dance radio station, WKTU. They would take other artists’ already popular songs and splice them together. They later moved to Kiss-FM.

Then what happened?

Arthur Baker contacted them.

Where have I heard his name before?

Well, he was the producer of “Planet Rock” and “I.O.U.” amongst many other hits. Arthur Baker gave the Latin Rascals their first editing job on the song “Breaker’s Revenge.” Soon, Aldo Marin from Cutting Records hired the duo to edit “B-Boy’s Break Dance” for which they were paid, to the surprise of the duo, who only wanted the experience and opportunity.

Then what happened?

Arthur Baker was so pleased with the results that he sent more remixing and editing work their way, including work on recordings by Hall and Oates, Diana Ross, and Brenda K. Starr.

Soon the Latin Rascals were a big hit on the dance floor. The Latin Rascals are often credited with making hits out of early freestyle artists TKA, Safire and the Cover Girls. Riding on the crest of their success as producers, Cabrera and Moran released their own material as the Latin Rascals.

But did they still produce for others?

Oh yes. In fact, Show Me was Tony Moran’s first top 40 gold record and really started the Freestyle movement in music. Many of that genre’s biggest stars, from TKA, Safire, and Lisette Melendez, all benefited from the talented duo.

What music did they make for themselves?

They made two instrumental albums, Macho Mozart and Bach To The Future, making classical music rather dance-able. Even “Arabian Knights” was originally an instrumental, but it did so well that the Latin Rascals decided to improve upon it by laying down a vocal track headed by Tony.

What was the effect of that?

Well, fans ate it up. That record put the duo in demand for shows nationwide, where the crowds would sing along to the words.

Wasn’t one of them married to someone else in freestyle?

That’s right! Albert Cabrera married Safire, who was greatly successful with “Boy I’ve Been Told.” Unfortunately, their synchronized success was also the undoing of the marriage, due to conflicting schedules and outside influences.

Well, I guess Albert still had Tony.

Yeah, but that professional pairing ended by growing apart. Tony was more into singing while Albert was into freestyle. Still, the breakup of Latin Rascals was amicable and each partner remains grateful to the other.

Then what happened?

Albert Cabrera wanted to keep making freestyle music but, by this time, its popularity had fallen just as disco had years before. He tried to update freestyle by blending it with the trendy trip-hop genre in his album Trip Hop Dance 2000. It featured the voices of Judy Torres, Corina, Lil’ Suzy, Joey Kidd, Sam Savon and Brenda K. Starr, while Tony Moran came back in to re-record an updated version of “Arabian Knights.”

Since then, what has Cabrera been doing?

He went to school for 5 years and began producing bass music, as he saw it as the closest to freestyle. He re-teamed with freestyle legend “Little” Louie Vega, creating “Rascal Dubs” in house music. He’s also been working with artists as musically diverse as KC and the Sunshine Band, David Morales, Mariah Carey, and Tori Amos.

CyberPeople 02

I want to thank and give credit to Beat Electric blog from which I’ve borrowed/cited the following information (as well as for the provision of the track):

Driving drums with a lot of reverb, check; electronic toms, check; simple well executed melody, check; incredible vocoded vocals, check. This is an italo electro track that does everything that Chris Menace and Fred Falke want to do, but did it in 1985. Produced by Italian dudes A. Zanni (who was also in Faxe) and S. Cundari (who produced Hipnosis, Koto, and a Ken Laszlo track which was previously posted here). This must have blown people’s minds when it came out. …

…Get a sped up version at The Red Room here.

Cyber People – “Void Vision” (Slow Version)…

Artist: Cyber People
Title: Void Vision (Slow Version)
Year: 1985
Label: Blanco Y Negro
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Cyber People – “Void Vision” (Slow Version) (mp3)

 

Tommy Musto - CT Satin - Friend

Tommy Musto :: C. T. Satin – “I Found A Friend”…

Artist: C. T. Satin [Tommy Musto]
Title: I Found A Friend
Year: 1987
Label: Underworld
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

C. T. Satin [Tommy Musto] – “I Found A Friend” (mp3)

 

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Will Downing - A Love Supreme

Will Downing – “A Love Supreme” (Jazz In The House Mix)…

Artist: Will Downing
Title: A Love Supreme (Jazz In The House Mix) [ Produced by Arthur Baker ]
Year: 1988
Label: 4th & Broadway
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Will Downing – “A Love Supreme” (Jazz In The House Mix) (mp3)

 

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