Jack McDuff: The Electric Surfboard
From Gin and Orange (Cadet, 1969)
I’m not going to tackle another theme session like Beat Week right now – sorry folks, you’ll just have to deal with one-off goodness.
What exactly is an electric surfboard? As it turns out – it’s a cocktail (I don’t drink so I don’t know these things) that includes whiskey, curacao and grenadine. As to why this might need a theme, I’m not sure but considering that this song appears on an album called Gin and Orange perhaps we can assume that organ-master Jack McDuff was friendly on the bar scene, if you know what I mean. The song originally appeared as “The Theme From Electric Surfboard” on McDuff’s Blue Note-release, Down Home Style (also from 1969) but that version was always kind of snoozy to me. I think the version that appears on Gin and Orange is so much better: slower but more distinctive and that main horn hook is far better accentuated and left out there to linger. As a ballad, there is something casually cool about the song’s feel which makes sense considering how tropical the drink its named after is.
Clearly, others have been a fan too, taking their draught from the song in the form of sampling it. Enter Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “One In a Million,” taken from the soundtrack of Poetic Justice. I love this song – wish it had been on a better soundtrack but as a gem amongst the rubble, it shines all the more. I guess Rhino must have agreed since they included it on their Good Life anthology. I like how CL pens words to follow the main melody of the McDuff’s original: “one in a million/funk for you, baby/one in a million/listen, it drives you wild…”