Oakland Stroke – Tower of Power (1974, Warner Brothers Records)
You should perhaps all consider yourselves lucky, because this week, we get to Oakland, which is just a short hop over the Bay Bridge from last week’s destination San Francisco. Oakland is the home of the Athletics, more commonly known as A’s. They also have one of the best logos in the Major League. But as good as the logo is, that is not the reason we can consider ourselves lucky. Before I tell you that, I should perhaps discuss briefly the A’s pedigree in baseball.
Like their neighbours over in San Francisco, the Athletics have not always been in California. They started off life in Philadelphia and they won five World Series’ before 1930. In the 50’s the franchise moved to Kansas City before finally relocating in the Bay area in the late sixties. Between 1972 and 1974, Oakland were pretty much unbeatable, strolling to three consecutive World Series in that time. Three in a row is pretty unheard of in baseball and I don’t think its happened since then.
Their last World Series Championship was back in 1989, when they steamrolled their neighbour the Giants and saw someone hang a massive banner on a bridge leading into San Francisco (not that one) which read “Welcome to Loserville”. That is quality sledging.
So why are we lucky? Because folks, the lord of hip hop, the don of the rap game, the head honcho of phat beats and blunted joints, Mr Stanley Burrell was born and raised in Oakland. In fact, bringing it back to baseball, Burrell’s first job was at the Athletics Stadium where he would sell stray baseballs for cash. Who is Stanley Burrell you ask…?
MC Hammer, fools, MC Hammer and don’t pretend you don’t love this record.
U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer (1990, Capitol Records)
But we can’t stop there, because it’s not just Hammer who originates from Oakland (although that would be enough). A good few years before Hammer rose to fame, probably whilst he was still ‘dancing’ in the car park for nickels, a bunch of sisters were hitting the mainstream.
Fairytale – The Pointer Sisters (1974, Blue Thumb Records) – which is yet another record that I missed off the One Word Title Countdown.
Another act from Oakland who probably didn’t get anywhere near the praise that they deserved was Diigital Underground, an act who I first heard courtesy of a free cassette with Select Magazine. They didn’t have a great deal of success in the UK, with ‘Same Song’ being their biggest hit, although I suspect that was more to do with it featuring Tupac Shakur than any redeeming musical brilliance.
Same Song – Digital Underground featuring Tupac Shakur (1990, Tommy Boy Records)
Which brings us to this weeks new band, who have been rescued from the wobbly table in the corner of obscurity and catapulted onto the sturdy table of success in the middle of the room with a rosette and certificate attached to them for good measure. This week I have selected Art Moore, a band who have had the excellent Line of Best Fit foaming at the mouth recently. Art Moore are a three piece who use subtle electronic elements and strong creative narratives in their music. There is something very Concrete-ish about their sound and they are pretty good as it happens.
A Different Life – Art Moore (2022, ANTI Records)
Next week we are in the creativity free hellhole that is Los Angeles.