Welcome to My First Record, in which we ask kindie artists to write about a formative musical experience. This edition is brought to you by Mike Flannery of the Flannery Brothers, whose records we love (really love). Take it away, Mike!
The year was 1992, which puts me at around 14 years old. The song, “Connected,” by the Stereo MCs was on rotation nonstop that summer, and it was all hook — a great pop song. I remember driving in the car with one of my parents to the Monmouth Mall. It was hot out and I had the window down. I remember asking for the tape at the counter of the record store and the grungy guy who helped me find it smirking at me. I even remember using my thumbnail to rub the shrink wrap off, and of course blasting the song at top volume all the way home.
Needless to say, it was by no means the first song I ever sought out. Our father had been dubbing cassettes of his record collection for us for years, and by then I’d already gotten pretty good at programming MIDI and had a slew of four-track recordings under my belt, including an amazingly embarrassing prepubescent version of “Wild Horses.” So, even though I already probably had a pretty sizable CD collection considering that Ten, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Rust In Peace, Flood, Shake Your Money Maker, Rhythm of the Saints, Empire, and Facelift all came out in 1990 (I’d like to say that my 1990 collection included Fear of a Black Planet and AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, but that stuff didn’t hit my radar until college), this song has significance for me because it was probably the tape that started my career in music.
With this one song I was introduced to looping, samples, scratching, reverse cymbals, drops, delays, genre-meshing, a complete lack of traditional song structure, the running man — It felt somehow meaningful to me — deep. Oh man, and then the backup singer takes over the hook just before the song fades and the flute starts vamping on a new riff, it’s like they switch it up just before the song’s over specifically so you’ll rewind the tape and listen to it again: “I wanna do it again, I wanna do it again!”
Stereo MCs ‘connected’ me to the idea that I could do all of this myself. It was all machine-made samples and loops, and it made me want to crack that code — thanks Stereo MCs, wherever you are!