Darcy Clay’s star had burnt out long before I arrived in New Zealand. Like most immigrants who arrived here in the twenty first century, I know Jesus I Was Evil from its token inclusion on the Nature’s Best collection. I missed the bus (and the buzz) when he was alive.
I therefore know very little about Clay. There isn’t much to know anyway – six songs on this 1997 EP (recently re-released to celebrate bFM’s 45th birthday), a slot supporting Blur in the same year, and a bullet to the head shortly after (the night before he was due to play at a suicide awareness concert).
I really didn’t know what to expect from the rest of the EP. Would it be as lo-fi and catchy as Jesus I Was Evil? The answer is a resounding yes – even Clay’s cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene manages to sound like it was recorded on the fly. He might have his detractors for not being able to play a barre chord on the guitar, but man he can play a groove on the bass.
If anything, he’s like New Zealand’s Beck Hansen; maybe not as musically talented, but with just as much ‘fuck you’ attitude as the Sex Pistols.
I presume I have an original pressing of this record – it looks really old, and I’m guessing it wouldn’t have had that many reprints – and the one thing that always gets me is how thick the cardboard of the sleeve is. You could use it to prop up a car while you change a tyre, it’s that thick. I wonder if there’s a reason for it, or if the record company simply got hold of some industrial strength cardboard by mistake. Perhaps it’s to soak up all the sweat from the insides of discotheques when DJs were playing the record.
This is album number two for Harry Wayne Casey and his band. It has two of their biggest hits in That’s The Way (I Like It) and Get Down Tonight. Strangely, Boogie Shoes, also on this record, wasn’t released as a single but is perhaps more well known for its inclusion on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (and subsequently every other film and television soundtrack where there is a short, two minute scene set in a discotheque, or with a hot girl on roller-skates).
It’s easy to write K.C. & The Sunshine Band off as a disposable relic of the disco era, but their roots are in the funk years of the early 1970s. They’re just a bit more accessible than the heavy superbad funk of James Brown or Funkadelic. In fact, if anything they’re just a funk band with a white guy as a band leader. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does hark back to the musical equivalent of the basketball maxim, ‘White Men Can’t Jump. We all know white men can funk – just listen to the Average White Band’s Pick Up The Pieces. Funky honkies are few and far between though – for every Beck Hansen, there are a thousand Kurt Cobains.