Thursday, August 04, 2005

Kind of Watching it TV: Beat Street

Of course you remember Beat Street. The 1984 release was certainly seminal in its time, attempting to capture the pulse of early '80s New York, D.J.'ing and breakdancing. Unfortunately all of that was also under the banner of a corny, melodramatic movie.

The lead character here, JD, played by Guy Davis certainly wasn't full of fire here. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of a less charismatic proponent of this electro-beat, studio dog, art is life stuff. Thankfully Rae Dawn Chong was cast as his love interest. Chemistry? Zero. Chong didn't bring her C game here and was better in that vulgar and brash Mick Jagger "Just Another Night" video.

Director Stan Lathan's heavy hand didn't let up here. Everything is gritty, often monochromatic, very drab stuff. In short, it's crappy. For music fans, the hilarious moment was when Davis was clearly lip-synching a track from Grandmaster Flash. Replete with his jerky moments and placard like presence. Then something odd happened. The genuine Melle Mel showed up and rapped the very same song in the same voice, his voice. Yeah, like we didn't notice that one. Mixmaster Harry Belfonte produced this film...

This is the original Beat Street artwork...

Notes: The soundtrack is still kicking around on places like eBay. Don't expect a reissue, this kind of is played out to the point where revisionist history isn't in the foreseeable future. Atlantic was the original label that put out the Beat Street I and II soundtrack. Away from the mid-point rap and a lot of BS is Cindy Mizelle's great track, "This Could Be The Night."

Notes II: Around the same time, Sugarhill (on the decline BTW) released two greatest hits compilations, Street Beat Volume I and I, both were record sets. Street Beat I is especially good--and not affiliated with Beat Street I, II or Rae Dawn Chong.

Although I did indeed anticipate a "beat street" resurgence, my plans for a "legit" compilation, "Beat Street Street Beat Beat" was squashed before it even started.
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