Thursday, January 10, 2013

10 January 2012 - Happy Mondays - Step On / Tokoloshe Man

In the early 90's, right about the time that all that "alternative" music was starting to get popular.... or maybe a little before that time.... the college music scene was defined by their styles and their cities.  Lots of people know about the Seattle grunge scene, thanks to Nirvana and Soundgarden (who don't get enough credit for that), or the pop-rock Boston scene.

Manchester, England was known for their trip-hop music scene, where big beats and samples were combined with light guitar- and keyboard-based pop-rock.  It was a fun sound, and one of the pioneers of this scene was the Happy Mondays.  This song, released in 1990, was their biggest hit.  What a lot of people don't know is that it was a cover of a song by John Kongos, originally titled "He's Gonna Step On You Again".

This version goes so far as to sample the original.  Which is fitting.  The Guinness Book of World Records cites the original version of this song as the first to use a sample.

The song was originally recorded for the Elektra Records 40th anniversary tribute album "Rubaiyat", on which new Elektra artists (Happy Mondays) covered old Elektra artists (Kongos).  They were so pleased with the output, they decided to keep it for themselves and release it as a single.

The Happy Mondays not only still did a song for "Rubaiyat"; they still did a John Kongos cover. I'm a bigger fan of the original version of "Tokoloshe Man" than I am of "Step On" - I don't think the keyboards add as much here - but it's still a good, fun version of the song.

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