Song Of The Day 9/30/2014: Desmond Child & Rouge - "Westside Pow Wow"



Before They Were Famous - Producers Edition: Technically, Desmond Child is not that much of a producer. He's had a few instances of knob-twiddling for Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell II and a lot of people who were on American Idol, but his calling card in This Business Of Music is much more associated with his skills as a behind-the-scenes songwriter. Lots of latter-day hits by Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, KISS, The Scorpions, Ratt. Basically, if there was ever a '90s song by one of your favorite '70s or '80s hard rock bands that made you furious, there's at least a decent chance Desmond Child had a hand in bringing it to life.

Before all that sweet commoditization, however, Child led a not-execrable pop act in the 1970's. Well, I'm not going to execrate them, anyway. You may wish to do so. I won't stand in your way. DC&R were a deathly serious act who attempted to inject lyrical imagery even more awkward than Billy Joel's into thumping pop-rock anthems guaranteed to engage your pinions. It landed them on the soundtrack to The Warriors, a film I have never seen, but from what I understand is just as hip and contemporary as Desmond Child & Rouge.

At first I was going to go with DC&R's only classifiable hit "Our Love Is Insane," a pretty good disco-rock hybrid which eked out a meaningful existence at #50 on the pop charts. But then I came across "Westside Pow Wow" (not "Pow Pow" as the YouTube user calls it). This was the lead-off track from their self-titled debut, a loose concept album about the illicit joys and teeming terror of the urban streets of New York. Boy, oh boy, does this album exist or what?

The cinematic details are gargantuan and preposterously forthright. For example, the Partition Of Sound guitar-and-conga introduction. That riff makes me want to jet-ski something fierce. The lyrics, too: "Put the Spinners' greatest hits on the 8-track!" "Chino Jr.'s got the reefer... the smoke goes up like signals in the last rays of the sun!" Calling marijuana "reefer" is deliciously outdated in itself, but then they extend the simile! Magnificent. Just magnificent. Plus the phrase "pow wow" ranks somewhere between "soiree" and "clambake" as the hokiest word that describes a gathering, and it's the title of the song. And suddenly the pathway from this to "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" becomes ever clearer.
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