Nelson George on L.L. Cool J

The inner sleeve to L.L. Cool J’s debut album, Radio is a pitch-perfect analysis of this (then) young man’s budding talents. Presented below, in its well-respected hilarity is the entirety of Nelson George’s take on the young L.L. Cool J. Enjoy.
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A Minimalist Homeboy Who Knows His Beats
You can call it rap, hip hop or street, but it really is a way of hearing music – and partying hard – that expresses the experiences and attitudes of a great many inner city kids. L.L. Cool J is one of the best young talkologists around, because he speaks directly to and about his generation over large beats that recall Run-D.M.C., Trouble Fun, James Brown, and funky little bits of AC/DC and Yes. Born and raised in Queens, New York and first recorded by Rick Rubin’s and Russel Simmons’ then independent Def Jam label, L.L. Cool J made his name with “I Need A Beat.” The groove is metallic and relentless, L.L’s rhymes literate and tough (“There is no category/for this story/it will rock in any territory”), and his delivery full of youthful excitement.
Those same qualities run throughout L.L. Cool J’s debut album. “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” is a b-boy’s explanation of their love affair with portable cassette players, while “El Shabazz” is an a cappella rap as streetcorner-funny as a Richard Pryor monologue. “Rock the Bells” is a smoking hip hop-go go- rock ‘n’ roll jam, and “You’ll Rock” is almost as hot. But L.L. isn’t just hardrock. His sensitive side comes through on the rap ballads, “I Want You” and “I Can Give You More,” both of which really capture the tug of adolescent love. “I Want You” is particularly poignant as L.L. talks about his crush on an older woman who “used to be my baby sitter.” On the funny side L.L. snaps on a big boaster played all too convincingly by his manager ‘Rush” Simmons during “That’s A Lie.” This teenage music is built around beats, but not just any old beats. It is all about a beat with style, with personality, and L.L. Cool J has plenty of both.
Nelson George
author: “Fresh: Hop Hop Don’t Stop”
(Random House)

 

Vive

1985’s Vive Le Rock was Adam Ant’s last album before the English star (and 80’s sex icon) turned his focus to acting (stage, television, and the silver screen). New Wave pop rock lovers wouldn’t get the opportunity to spin another Ant record until 1990’s Manners & Physique, but if you’ve got a hunger for the flamboyant flash of Stuart Leslie Goddard, Vive can be had for under a Lincoln.

Sealed with a Plant

I must have purchased this copy of Robert Plant’s 1985 album, Shaken ‘N’ Stirred quite a few years back, because I just realized this morning that my copy is sealed. Near mint copies go for a whopping $2 online, so we’ll have to open ‘er up and give ‘er a spin sometime soon. Solo Robert Plant from the early 80s is… not great, if my recollection is accurate, but anything he does is still well deserving of a good home.

Tie

3-Way Tie (For Last) was the final album released by San Pedro legends, Minutemen. Frontman D. Boon would tragically lose his life in a car accident almost immediately after 3-Way‘s release. One of this energetic guitarist’s last work of art was the painting used for the cover. A bit sad, all around, and kind of a departure from their previous albums, 3-Way features a handful of covers (CCR, Meat Puppets) that neatly pay tribute to this Southern California band’s early influences. Like with all Minutemen releases, 3-Way Tie (For Last) is essential listening material. RIP D. Boon.

Mechanic Mike

Oh, to be back in 1985, for even an afternoon, when Mike + The Mechanics’ debut dropped. Former Genesis co-founder and bassist Mike Rutherford (THE Mike in this brief tale) formed the band in Dover, England shortly before this album’s release. They (the band) would go on to record 9, radio-friendly pop albums, including 2017’s Let Me Fly. If you don’t remember the sound, but recognize the name, all you need, is a miracle.

Dokken Bay 94

Under Lock and Key, Dokken’s third studio album, is a certified Gold and Platinum heavy metal / big hair 80s rock record. Nifty. It was released in 1985 on Elektra Records and contained two charted singles. Track two’s The Hunter, and track three’s In My Dreams. Back-to-back punch, there. The band would, well, disband in 1989, then returned to the fold after a brief, four year hiatus. Now, you’re (briefly) up to speed on Dokken and their award winning album, Under Lock and Key. Cheers.

Gimme that Burzootie, Baby

burzootieWell, it’s Tuesday, and it has felt like a Friday for the past three weeks. So, among other things much less noteworthy, let’s, at least for a moment, give an awkward nod to MCA & Burzootie (Adam Yauch and Jay Burnett) on their 1985 12″ Drum Machine. Once a sought after trophy in the Beastie Boys display case, and understandably, this borderline schizophrenic three track 12″ is post-post-hardcore, pre-License to Ill MCA, and is more than demanding of this, or any Tuesday night’s delicious spins. Spin with caution, and spin often.

She’s Over It

ItWritten by Ad-Rock and producer Rick “Def Jam” Rubin, the 1985 soundtrack (or “sound track” as it’s listed on the cover) to the smash-bang-hit, She’s On It, is little more than an elaborate, mediocre, wave two Beastie Boys offering. There’s a reason She’s On It never appeared on a proper album, and that’s because it’s shit. I love the Boys Beastie, but I’m sorry. This song is terrible… and the video is even worse. But… this razor-edged opinion in no way prevents me from seeking out this release to round out the collection. 1985 Beastie Boys was a very sad, but ultimately necessary phenomenon… one that would be all but eclipsed with the dawn of a new era (wave three), ushered forth by the impeccable Paul’s Boutique. It’s okay to question your heroes… RIP MCA.