Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five | The Message – 1982

There is a secret in the message, underneath the joy.

My daughter wants a boom box, I didn’t know that they still exist.

This review was inspired by the death this past week, of Gil Scott-Heron the grandfather of rap. He was the direct link between beat poets like Jack Kerouac and modern rap and hip hop. The first step on that link past Gil Scott-Heron is GrandMaster Flash. He is probably best known for the track ‘The Revolution will not be Televised’. I will do a review of a Gil Scott-Heron album in the coming weeks, maybe the album ‘Reflection’ for 1981.

In 1982 my father and mother had separated. In poverty and partially by some weak filial drive, I moved back into a small house in Castle Hill, with my mother and brother. Returning home after living away seems to be a blow to independence and self-confidence.

I was living up the Windsor Rd and working as a landscape gardener. I always wanted to be a portrait gardener, but with landscape I could do it lying down.

Two years later, 1984, I was still in Castle Hill and a landscape gardener. For my birthday that year I was given a video cassette of a duo called ‘Los Trios Ringbarkus’. These dudes were a comedy group from Melbourne who embraced chaos. I saw them perform whenever they were in Sydney. I saw them end a show with a chainsaw, running through the audience, destroying the stage and stage props.

I took Pam N to see Los Trios Ringbarkus at the Footbridge Theatre. I continued to fall off my seat with laughter. Barely a dry seat in the house, never a good look on a date.

An example of what made me laugh is them eating crackers. They also released a rap music video called cooking in the kitchen in ’84. Inspired by The Message and included the lyric:

Don’t push me, cause I’m close to the stove

I had never heard this album until a couple of weeks ago, only singles from Grand Master Flash. And apart from a couple of songs I’d heard of Flash from the 1981 Blondie song ‘Rapture’.  Flash and the FF’s music was a nice contrast to most hip hop I’d heard before or since. Their was a lightness and joy to Grand Master Flash’s music. Hip hop was never my music, not the music that connected most easily with me. Just some things were fun and will continue to be. Jay Z is so talented and serious and intense, fantastic listening, but not something I want to revisit often.

They were the opening act for The Clash on a 1981 tour. While not a mix made in heaven at least it wasn’t Hendrix opening for the Monkees.

This album debut album is a surprise and worth playing again and again. It is fun and funky, full of party and love songs. And you’ve got to love a band that uses it’s lyrics to introduce the band members. Well, maybe not all bands that do that, not the approiately name ‘The Floaters‘ on Float On who not only introduced themselves with the lyrics, they also told you what their star sign was.

Float, float on
Float on, float on
Float, float, float on
Float on, float on

Aquarius and my name is Ralph
Now I like a woman who loves her freedom
And I like a woman who can hold her own
And if you fit that description, baby, come with me

On the other hand, the lyrics on The Message are much more mature and considered:

If you love your mother,
if you really really really love your mother
Jump, jump, jump, jump, jump, jump

The music is much sweeter than I had imagined, occasionally slipping in too much sugar. The track ‘It’s a Shame’ is a tribute to Stevie Wonder that would make Nestle Confectionery proud. The use of the Tom Tom Club samples fit brilliantly, the use of samples through the album is always seamless. Musically, the bass playing of Doug Wimbish stands out, almost as much as his name. Flash does some scratching breaks, scratch, scratch, scratch. I wonder what he would be like playing a washboard backing Rolf Harris.

It’s worth checking out the pants on the album cover. This is a good view of the early 80’s fashion. Flash went on to create his own clothing line – G.Phyre.

The secret with The Message is a very well known a secret. Grand Master Flash didn’t play on the track ‘The Message’, it was all Melle Mel. Melle Mel went on to change his name to Grand Master Melle Mel and release the song ‘White Lines – Don’t Do it’ under the name Grand Master + Melle Mel and the Furious Five.

The group splintered. The end.

Track listing

“She’s Fresh”
Milton Edwards, Bobbie Knight
“It’s Nasty”
Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth (Tom Tom Club)
Guy Todd Williams, K. Wiggins, Eddie Morris, Nathaniel Glover, Melvin Glover
“It’s a Shame (Mt. Airy Groove)”
Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright, Lee Garrett, Curtis Daniel Harmon, James Lloyd
Gary Henry, Eddie Morris, Melvin Glover, Guy Williams, Nathaniel Glover, Robert Keith Wiggins
“You Are”
Gary Henry, Eddie Morris, Melvin Glover, Guy Williams, Nathaniel Glover, Robert Keith Wiggins
“The Message”
Clifton Chase, Edward Fletcher, Melvin Glover, Sylvia Robinson
This entry was posted in 1982. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five | The Message – 1982

  1. Pingback: A life in albums | michaelsprott

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