Saturday, 30 May 2015

Oliver: Sam Dees' Beauty and the Beat - Child of the Streets [Peel Session]; Shut Up and Dance - Autobiography of a Crackhead (14 December 1991)

Sam Dees minus Beauty and the Beat in 1975.

Shut Up and Dance gets its hands dirty.

These two "interesting contrasts" as Peel described them were played back to back on the 14/12/91 show and are presented together here for the same reason.
While their methods of delivery are very different, the two tracks share the same theme: urban deprivation and its effect on the individual.  But whereas Dees is singing about someone growing up and learning the seamy side of life courtesy of their "pusher man" father, prostitute mother, slutty sister and heroin addict brother ("it's mother like daughter, father like son"); for Shut Up and Dance, the rot has already set in as the titular crackhead goes about their business.  There's not much hope here.  Dees lays out the situation and ponders where the child will sleep tonight, but offers no solutions or hope that the child won't wind up like the rest of the family.
Shut Up and Dance's crackhead knows he's in a bad place ("I steal from you/my brothers too/I lost my morals/ and my brain is chewed"), knows that he's ill ("I look at my body/my face is
shrinking/What's that smell/I must be stinking") and being driven to some desperate dealings ("I'm the guy who nicked your car stereo") but ultimately, the fix is all that matters here.

They're both fine songs, though the beats and poetry of Shut Up and Dance cut through more memorably.  The verse about how the crack addiction started is particularly affecting.

Sam Dees will crop up again soon as one of his other Peel Session tracks also made my list of selections from this show, but it's a long way away from the desperation conjured up in Child of the Streets.

Videos courtesy of Nicholas Reboux (Dees) and Bluefrog73 (SUAD)

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