Song Of The Day 8/16/2015: KC & the Sunshine Band – “I Get Lifted”

Ultimate Breaks & Beats – Ultimate Breaks & Beats is, with apologies to the hard-working folks at K-Tel and Ronco, the most influential compilation series in music history. Yes, even more than those crinkly NOW releases. UBB is pretty much the bedrock on which the golden age of hip hop, and therefore all pop music afterward, is constructed. It’s 25 volumes of songs from the late ’60s through the mid ’80s, about 175 songs total, that featured drum breaks, the unit of currency that fueled DJ’s, breakdancers and record producers from the late ’70s onward. Every DJ in the world has heard about the UBB. Most MC’s have as well, and it’s hard to think a currently active record producer or engineer has gone through an entire career without coming across it once. Medium’s music subsidiary blog Cuepoint published a nice oral history on the UBB series a few months ago which there’ll be a quiz on later.

UBB was the brain child of a middle-aged record collector and part-time chauffeur named Lenny Roberts, who witnessed (first-hand, one would presume) the breakbeat technique developed by DJ Kool Herc, a person I suspect most of you should be thanking in your evening prayers for something. Herc sequestered the drum breaks from records he played at his shows since those parts seemed to drive the crowds crazy. Roberts and DJ Lou Flores (aka Breakbeat Lou) teamed up to put out compilations of primarily rare or out-of-print records that featured hot drum breaks – first under the title Octopus Breaks, then more officially (and legally) as Ultimate Breaks & Beats between 1986 and 1991 on Street Beat Records.

What came out of those releases is almost incalculable in terms of the direction of pop culture, and I thought I’d stagger subtopics this week with seven songs from the UBB series that I've taken a shine to. The first is arguably my favorite track from KC & the Sunshine Band, who I’ve long since stopped apologizing for liking: a minimalist force of groove called “I Get Lifted,” also a hit for TK Records associate George McCrae. ’Cause it’s Sunday and you’re just running off to church. To be continued.

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