100 VINYLZ: #96 - Run Joe 12-inch by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers

(1986, Future Records)
Go-go is a form of music with widespread popularity from the southern part of Maryland all the way down to the northern part of Virginia. At times, something or other will happen to have it hit a peak that spreads it wildly from Philly to Carolina, but that main area with D.C. as the epicenter is it’s homeland. Basically, in case you don’t know, instead of looping break beats like a DJ would do with the rapping musics, go-go has a live band play the loop in smoky drunken manner, with call and response type lyrics, and a tremendously ridiculous percussion section that owes as much to black marching bands and broke ass kids beating on five-gallon buckets as it does to the standard Afro-Spanish jazzy influences you’d expect to read up on in a WaxPoetics article on the subject. Concerts are advertised with large day-glo posters that I used to snag off of abandoned buildings in Shockoe Bottom and cover the walls of my studio room in the shitty Oregon Hill house we lived in when we had our first kid. Lime green and blaze orange backgrounds with black block letters and the faces of Rare Essence or the Junkyard Band or Backyard Band or Northeast Groovers or Chuck Brown staring out.
Chuck Brown has earned the nickname the Godfather of Go-go, and is as famous a D.C. landmark as Ben’s Chili Bowl, guys who used to hang with Rayful Edmonds, or homeless con men with maps waiting for you once you step off the metro at the National Mall. The aforementioned WaxPoetics just had an article on Brown himself, and I learned that he actually spent time living near where I grew up, he in the far end of Charlotte County, Virginia, plus all over southside Virginia he bounced around as a kid. And he maintains his base throughout that region, as he’s usually scheduled to play Brown’s Island free Friday evening shows in Richmond, that standard deal where you can groove and drink overpriced cheap beers using beer tickets, except the Richmond ones tend to have that upwardly mobile black couple demographic covered, which is always fun to soak up. (It’s odd to me how many families like that have weird old sambo advertising art up in their homes, I guess to remember something or other and be thankful, but it’d be kind of like me keeping a framed print of like Junior Samples from Hee Haw in my bathroom… which come to think of it, would be pretty damn pimp.)
Anyway, the past few years I have acquired a decent collection of good to fair go-go singles, mostly happening to catch record stores that have no idea even what the fuck go-go music is. I got a slew of 12-inches, including this one, at a indy record store in Charlottesville in this manner, because the guy just had it all lumped into the soul $1 bin, and when I came up with a stack of T.T.E.D. and Future Records releases, the guy behind the counter (also the owner) was all like, “What is this stuff?” And I had to do the thing where you know what it is but you don’t act like it’s really anything or the fucker would’ve been like, “Okay, let me look these up…” then fucked around in the ebays long enough to charge me five bucks for each shitty, half-scratched 12-inch. And even though “Bustin’ Loose” is probably considered Chuck Brown’s biggest national hit (I remember a black kid telling me in like first grade a joke about how the Incredible Hulk sang “I feel like bustin’ loose! Bustin’ loose!” after busting through a wall, which was hellafied funny when you’re like six seeing who can piss into the urinals the farthest across the room, all geeked up on grape Kool-Aid with like triple the recommended sugar), but “Run Joe” is my favorite go-go single I’ve gotten hold of over the years. Basically, it’s a song (I think it’s actually an older song reworked by Chuck Brown into your standard eight-minute go-go groovefest) about a dude having to bolt out the club because the cops have showed up. It’s also an ironic go-go hit, since Washington D.C. sort of outlawed go-go music at most clubs in the ‘80s because of people getting shot up, although to be fair to go-go music, at that point in D.C.’s history, when crack and crack money were flooding the streets, it was a notoriously insane place and you couldn’t really gather together more than a hundred black people under the age of 25 without expecting somebody to get shot at.
The terrible thing is how screwed music has brainwashed me into loving everything screwed at times, and I had a long kick where I would only buy 12-inch disco singles and play them with the pitch control dragged as slow as it would go. This was when my man Boogie Brown had given me a pair of Numarks to fuck around with, and I was working up some retarded sets. The only two sets I really came up with were a good 25-minute or so redneck hippie funk set, and taking the best breaks from all the immensely shitty disco singles and mixing in some go-go and hard funk shit from the mid-’70s, of course all of it slowed down. I made a couple mixtapes of this, including a spell where the only cassettes I could find were some shitty 60-minute TDKs (I usually only rocked the Maxells - preferably 100-minutes, but of course, I don’t think you have more than one choice most times nowadays for cassettes), and playing “Run Joe”, which usually was towards the front of me making these slowed down disco/go-go mega-mixes, ended up usually running most of the first side of the 60-minute tape, pushing a good 11 minutes when dragged slow. Man, that’s some good shit to get high to. But not crack. Crack doesn’t give you the right mindframe to enjoy that constant go-go percussion, which is probably why there used to be so much violence at go-go shows.