Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hungry Beat!'s Favorite Tracks - Lizzy Mercier Descloux - "Fire"

We figured it was about time over here at Hungry Beat! HQ to put our Youtube search obsession to good use by finding videos made for some of our absolute favorite songs to play at Hungry Beat!, and telling you a little bit about why we enjoy playing them so much.

Lizzy Mercier Descloux is the Kevin Bacon of Hungry Beat. Just one peek at her biography and you can see how much she overlaps with our whole playlist.

The story starts like so many music stories from the mid 1970s. Descloux was a Paris art school refugee energized by the DIY punk ethos. She founded a record store and a magazine with her boyfriend Michel Esteban. They published some Patti Smith poetry and moved to New York, where Smith introduced Esteban to "Horses" producer John Cale, who in turn introduced Esteban to Village Voice writer Michael Zilkha.

Zilkha and Esteban combined their last names and formed ZE Records. ZE's diverse lineup released some of the most exciting music of that era, some of it experimental, much of it danceable: Descloux , Contortions, Suicide, Material, Paradise Garage mainstays Was (Not Was) and Kid Creole, and the Cale-produced Marie et Les Garcons. The ZE roster also included the Waitresses, whose debut album contains their big hit "I Know What Boys Like" as well as the Hungry Beat staple "It's My Car."

ZE counted among its distributors Buddah Records, which had in its stable countless bubblegum guilty pleasures, many Northern Soul stalwarts such as Curtis Mayfield, the Five Stairsteps, Barbara Mason, and Melba Moore, and the disco group Chic, who are lovingly referenced by Hungry Beat heroes Orange Juice on "Rip It Up."

"Fire" was the lead single from Lizzy Mercier Descloux's 1979 debut LP on ZE Records, "Press Color." She's a gifted interpreter, turning Arthur Brown's sinister psychedelic hit into an uptempo stomper. "Press Color" also contains the equally danceable "Wawa" (shades of ESG) and nods to composer Lalo Schifrin, many years before his name came up in rare-groove circles again thanks to a Portishead sample.

The version of "Fire" you hear at Hungry Beat is a shorter 45 edit.

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