This morning, a friend of mine posted this video:
Honestly, I really didn’t know what to say. Or to think. I did some research and found this:
I had originally thought of posting this as one of those “if you can’t say something nice” posts that periodically appear on RTH. But then in my research, I came across some surprising information. Take note:
- Their first album includes “progressive rock musical compositions” a la Soft Machine and The Mothers of Invention.
- One source described them as “a carefully prepared and finished music with complex arrangements and a sophistication, all of which likens them to Traffic.”
- Their “electro funk” is cited as an inspiration to Detroit electronica.
- The translation of their French wikipedia site includes some ridiculous and hilarious renderings of the original text.
Is this band another sentimental favorite of Mr. Mod or our other readers who have lived abroad? Are some Martin Circus tracks, especially “Disco Party,” also inspirations to the post-punk sound of the likes of Gang of Four? Please, Rock Town Hall, tell me more!
“Drague Party” could easily also appear in the previous Power and Glory post with the harkening back to the sound of the 50’s. Also, bonus points for facsimile of the Rock Iwo Jima at the end of the song.
That’s some goofy video, and don’t let anybody tell you that they didn’t have a showman’s instinct. However, Martin Circus’ legacy is not the French Rock stuff, but the disco. His track “Disco Circus” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpnGQP6qHrs) is a massively influential song that has been recut and sampled so many ways that I can confidently state that every single identifiable element of it has been reused or reconfigured elsewhere, multiple times, regardless of length or significance.
For something that hints at a connection with post-punk (though both were 1979), check this re-edit of the track that emphasizes the elements differently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlvCLXCtpao …though in the original’s intro you can hear more of a fragmented bassline that I would associate with Gang of Four.
This version kinda begins like PiL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsJvVEh4WM4
I wouldn’t call any of this “electro funk,” though (technically, Detroit did not create “electro”-anything as a genre, but Techno and Techno-Bass). The influence is mostly in house and early techno, and interpreting this reuse through the lens of folk music is important in breaking out of a “lazy, uncreative” sense of sampling.
It’s one band you can’t pin down with several personnel changes through the years resulting in different phases of the group. The earlier stuff being the most interesting and hardest to find. The mid 70’s pre disco stuff being absolutely hilarious with their Beach Boys and P&G interpretations. And onward..well if you like disco.
My possible alternates for Team France next time we do a World Cup, but not really my “tasse de thé”
Most excellent commentary; thank you for the information! I read that Hercules and Love Affair count MC as an influence.
Also, what are some other songs or artists that use samples from it? Maybe I’ve been listening and never made the connection. It’s the first I had ever heard of MC.
By the way, I’ve yet to get down with these clips other than an initial “spin,” but that YouTube still is one of the most disturbing images I’ve seen in these hallowed halls in some time. We may have to capture that and add it to the rotating banner images.
ladymiss, I do not recall exposure to this band during my year abroad. I was initially hoping this might be a post on Swedish (?) band Whale, whose “Hobo Humping Slobo Babe” still brings on the sentimental and slightly patronizing (to non-native English-speaking Euro rockers) warm and fuzzies.
Todd Terry’s “Circus” repeats the the break 3/4 of the way through “Disco Circus” more or less, but switches to a different sample around 1:50:
Another sample being used by someone else:
The high-pitched scatting section at the end is also used. It’s really hard to decompose a song into those that have sampled it. Recognizing samples is much easier. Some little piece flies by and you’re like “hey, that was from $some_track.”
Wow, if we ever run a Last Man Standing on bands with two or more lefthanded guitarists we’ll have at least one entry! I’ve finally had some time to, uh, digest this stuff. Hearing “Surf City” in French was NOT my idea of a good time – and the band had to get in the way of the cheerleaders.
The second song was more successful, starting out like it was going to be a cover of Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child” and then getting really good for a stretch while the woman did the “Groove Is in the Heart” dance. Then the band shows up in Zappa-esque clown mode, which cracked me up. I see the band’s only got one lefty guitarist at this point. I dig this song. It’s totally ridiculous and hippified, but the sax player’s got to put some long pants on. Come on, man.
Thanks are in order, as well, to eh, who showed a new side of himself. I’m not sure I’m happy to know this side, but Mad Props for letting his freak flag fly:) That “Disco Circus” song was actually as bad as the title and album cover suggested it might be. More power, however, to the artists who sampled that song and made something a little more interesting out of it!
Now let me get back to contemplating if there’s any album cover more troubling than Disco Circus: fucking S&M clowns…
I would expect a French rock act to replace a Rock Iwo Jima with a Rock Maginot Line, and the way they collapse to the ground is perhaps a reference to the effectiveness of the Maginot Line in WWII.
I just watched these. Regarding the second video: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I prefer the female’s dancing over the lead singer’s “horse back riding” dance. Or is that the Funky Chicken?
Whose pinky was the original pinky in Pinky Rock? Chuck Berry? Every time someone rocks out with the pinky, in my world they’re “sampling” Chuck Berry by invoking his influence. Homage. 🙂
I don’t think “Zappa-esque” is really able to escape the chicken-egg problem there, though. This would have been prime satire-era for him and I could imagine a pitch-perfect cover of the entire video at some Paris show in 1980.
I think Berry is the Founding Father of Pinky Rock. I know blues guys did it first, but Berry made it essential to rock ‘n roll. No one can do that without invoking Berry’s pinky.
French people must be weird?
The MC singer’s look reminds me of Klinger in that episode of MASH where he was trying to go AWOL using a hang glider and everyone was describing him as a big bird with fuzzy pink feet.