Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to find and write about a physical piece of music (CD, album or cassette) they had no prior knowledge of. You can find out how it all unfolded by browsing our music section.
I was initially afraid of the risk involved with buying an unknown record. Like most college kids, I am very concerned about where I spend my money. I did not want to regret purchasing an album I hated, even if it was cheap.
I usually turn to the internet to purchase any albums I want on plastic because my small town is devoid of any legitimate record shops. The only options available locally are overpriced antique stores and the chain resellers.
I stepped into 2nd & Charles on a muggy afternoon, after a long rainy day at my nine to five. I was stressed and extremely out of place in my professional clothing among the various families and teens browsing the shelves. I made a beeline for the vinyl section and was hoping to find what I needed and get out of there as soon as possible.
My biggest concerns were price and my ability to enjoy what I was investing money in. I was looking for an upbeat record. A record that would be undoubtedly fun and brighten up my gloomy day.
Ask and you shall receive. Within in five minutes I had found it. There was no other choice but to purchase the London Boys’ The Twelve Commandments of Dance.
Among the myriad of Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond records that I had to flip past, the energy of this record made it stand out immediately. The eye catching electric and bold pink, purple, orange and teal immediately made me excited. In the center was a picture of the flyest two dancing dudes I had ever seen. Just from the cover art you could tell these guys knew how to party back in the day.
After checking for scratches, I paid my three dollars and raced home in anticipation of whether or not the London Boys were a good choice.
I soon learned that The Twelve Commandments of Dance preach love, global unity and peace to the sound of electric keys.
The record began turning and the slight crackle of surface noise gave way to the dramatic “Requiem.” I was shocked to hear the song open with an organ pulled straight from a Dracula movie. The synths were soon incorporated, giving off the dance party vibes I had assumed the band had.
These two boys are from London, but they searched around the world for influence on this album. “Kibaley (My Ma-Mama Say)” features multiple pan flute sections and tribal bongos. “Chinese Radio” sounds like a galactic version of “Kung Fu Fighting” with random bits of hip hop incorporated. Both tracks add a foreign spin the traditional 80s dance sound, creating new subgenres. They return to their roots with “London Nights,” a song that could get anyone up and dancing at the club with its’ commitment to a disco-inspired European pop.
The artists view their music as more than just a fun time, but also a place to share a message of love. In the dark and echoing “Harlem Desire,” they call for “Just one night of peaceful sleep // And no more fighting in the streets.” Their lyrics are heavily influenced by a message centered around ending violence and focusing on enjoying life.
The Spanish inspired “El Matinero” and the quirky final track ‘The Midi Dance” attempt to create a dancing trend by commanding listeners to “Do the matinero” and chanting “Let’s do the midi dance.”
The Twelve Commandments of Dance is quintessential 80s music that you will have a good time listening to no matter what. The energy that is in each song would make any late night dance club floor fill with people.
The London Boys push boundaries with foreign influences while also staying true to the best musical elements of their era. This record not something you have never heard before, but it does not need to be. Every song on this album is an earworm that will get caught in your head for days.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.