There’s a constant digging around here, an archaeological scraping and raiding of tombs, done purely for the purpose of highlighting the marginalised and forgotten, the nearly weres and never would bes that the decades have been less than kind to. Not for nothing is the tagline above ‘Outdated Music For Outdated People‘. You’ll be well aware of that if you’re a regular.
Sometimes, an old track comes flying back into the conscience, usually, although, as in this case, not always, on the back of radio play or an old film and you think, why continue to unearth the underheard when bangers – yes, bangers! – such as this exist.
Such is the case with Yarbrough & Peoples’ Don’t Stop The Music.
Yarbrough & Peoples – Don’t Stop The Music (12″ mix)
From straight outta nowhere this afternoon, the track’s programmed electro bassline body popped its way into my head, slinky and sinuous, the half cousin of – sorry for this – Level 42’s Lessons In Love, but ten times as funky and a hundred times more listenable, despite the lack of human touch. It’s 43 years old and lost none of its mid-paced, head-nodding grooveability. Keyboards sizzle and fizz, hi hats hiss and clavinets play a top line that Stevie Wonder himself might’ve considered being on the verge of dangerously funky. Has Fatboy Slim sampled it yet? I can only assume he has – those keyboards have a total S.O.S. Band feel to them, and he’s sampled them, as well you know, although a quick Google proves inconclusive.
I can sing the refrain if y’like; monotoned white man doo-wop, flat and out of tune but entirely soulful and heartfelt. Dawn’t yew stap it, dawn’t yew stap, stap tha moozic. Even to rhythmically-challenged Ayrshiremen of a certain age, the track has an unputdownable swagger.
Formed in Dallas from the same musical sphere that birthed the Gap Band – the Fatboy sampled them too, Calvin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples found ubiquity with the track, its comically sped-up backing vocals and gospelish refrain sending it to number one on the Billboard R&B chart for over a month. Remember when there were multiple charts? Remember charts at all? The duo’s story is one of church choirs and pick-up bands until one night in 1977 when Peoples joined Yarbrough’s band on stage for a number and the stars aligned to cast their magic.
Yarbrough & Peoples would continue as a duo for far longer than they were welcome, with ever-decreasing returns and increasingly shallow chart positions, but that’s almost irrelevant considering how timeless, how great their big hit single was. If you’re not still playing the track a week after you’ve read this, questions will be asked.