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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Talkin' Funny And Lookin' Funny

Mentioning Brian Eno and David Byrne's 1981 album My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts earlier this week sent me back to it once again, a record that still sounds fresh and contemporary despite being four decades old. Byrne and Eno's use of found voices and rhythms prefigured a lot of what would become standard later on in the decade and after. On Help Me Somebody they took a sample of the Reverend Paul Morton and laid him over some busy, funky percussion. Morton is all fire and brimstone while the guitar riff chatters away- 'you make yourself look bad/ help me somebody/ take a good look at yourself/  and see if you're the kind of person God wants you to be'. An African highlife guitar riff comes in. Ghostly noises echo around, like a short wave radio between stations. The combined effect is like standing and waiting to cross the road at a junction with three different buskers playing within earshot, a street preacher venting forth and the traffic flying past noisily- but in a way that makes you want to stop and dance and lose yourself rather than cross the road and get to wherever it is you are going

As the song gathers pace the Rev. Morton carries on , swallowed up at times by the incessant rhythms and looping melodies, 'There's no escape from Him/ He's so high you can't get over Him/ He's so low you can't get under Him/ He's so wide you can't get around Him/ If you make your bed in Heaven He's there/ If you make your bed in Hell He's there/ He's everywhere/ Help me somebody'. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes Adam, a brilliant, ground breaking and kaleidoscopic record. I'm guessing George Clinton was also listening to the Reverend Morton when he co-opted the funk of Jesus for the funk of The Mothership with 'One Nation Under A Groove', 'So wide you can't get around it, So low you can't get under it, So high you can't get over it'. Hallelujah!