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grandmaster flash and the furious five

grandmaster flash and the furious five - GRANDMASTER CUTS...

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1 GRANDMASTER CUTS FASTER: THE STORY OF GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE By Chuck Miller Originally published in Goldmine, 1997. "Flash comes out first complete with rousing introduction, takes off a black cape and -- plays records. He goes to the double turntables at the back of the stage and cuts and blends bits of "Good Times" and "Another One Bites The Dust" -- not just the usual segues but real tight-to-the-beat mixes and tricks like holding the edge of the record so the beat clicks back on itself: the vinyl "talks" rap-style ... The Furious Five -- the MC's, the rappers -- come out one by one in glitzy black and white outfits, talking fast, faster, fastest. They had this choreography that reminded me of the old Temptations -- classic but knife-sharp -- and they were in constant motion even when they broke out of the routines. They would hold their mikestands out over the crowd to get the response: 'Say hooo!' 'Hooo!' 'Somebody scream!'" (Vince Aletti, "Golden Voices and Hearts of Steel," The Village Voice , May 6, 1981). They entertained crowds for free, five rappers and a sixth man who used phonograph turntables as musical instruments. The Clash wanted them to be their opening act. Blondie performed a #1 song about their parties. Duran Duran covered their songs. For 20 years, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five brought hip-hop from the parks of 137th Street and Gunhill Road to radio stations across the world. Grandmaster Flash, the disc jockey who created the group, could trace his involvement with music to the early 1960's, when a young Joseph Saddler constantly raided his father's prized record collection. "My father was big on jazz, he had a lot of jazz 78's and the big LP's," said Flash in an interview. "When he came home from work, he would say, 'Son, do not go in that closet over there, because that's where my records are. If you do, I'm gonna give you a beating.' I think him telling me that made me wonder what's in that closet, and why does he keep telling me not to go in there?" So when his father went to work, young Saddler went to the record closet. Using a chair from the kitchen so that he could reach the closet doorknob, the boy pulled out his father's prized discs and played them on the family phonograph. And then, with the sounds of jazz and bebop blaring throughout the house, Saddler danced in the middle of the living room, oblivious to the eventual spanking he would receive that night. "My mother would say to me, 'You know your father's going to kill you if he catches you.' I thought I could still go in his closet and bother his records, and I tried to put them back before he got home. But he always knew categorically where his stuff was. At the time, I even accidentally dropped a few of his 78's. If you drop them one time, they're in pieces. Boy did I get it then. Even though I got a beating, if my booty were healed, I'd go back into the closet again." But it wasn't just the lush sounds of his father's prized jazz records that captured Saddler's attention. "He had this stereo in the living room, and what was most intriguing was when you turned it on, it had this little red light in the bottom center of it, a power light. That light used to
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