Sharron and Harrell Lucky: Pease Porridge Hot
From Rhythm and Rhyme (Melody House, 197?). Also on Pease Porridge Hot EP.
Shraron and Harrell Lucky: Hands Clasp
From Swing to Fitness (Melody House, 197?)
Francois Rauber: Exercice De Quadrupedie
From Rhythmix (Unidisc, 197?)
Janet Pidoux: Isolations: Épaules
From La Classe De Jazz (Arion, 1970)
To kick off part 2 of my look at dance instruction records, I start with a look at Melody House, which brought together two sub-genres – dance instruction and children’s records. Melody House – run by the wife/husband team of Sharron and Harrell Lucky – were hardly the only children’s record label to have fitness and dance lessons but they’ve become the best known in digger circles, partially on the strength of “Pease Porridge Hot” (hello, De La!), partially because Stonesthrow comped four of the best songs off the various Melody House albums (and they had dozens) onto an EP.
These songs really work best as novelty tunes…it’s not like someone really is going to spin “Hands Clasp” (which is off of one of the better Melody House titles) at the club but it is pretty fun to hear a kid’s dance record with all the funky breakbeats that the Melody House albums boast. Unfortunately, none of the albums I own by them credit who the drummer is – could be Harrell since he tends to get credit for the musical score – but whoever it was definitely had a taste for polyrhythm.
I swing over to France for the last pair. The Rhythmix album is another children’s dance album, this one directed (musically) by Francois Rauber. In the process of translating the French for me, my wife noticed that the album was supposed to come with an instructional booklet and indeed, looking inside, there was one which describes and diagrams the various dances. The way “Exercice De Quadrupedie” is supposed to work is that you squat on your hands and tippy toes, then gradually walk your hands forward, stretching out your back until you run out of room. Then, in a single leap, you bring your toes back up front. Repeat. I’m not sure if the rhythm of the song really makes such a great match with the movement but personally, I just like listening to this groove, whether I’m exercising my quadrupedie properly or not.
Lastly, we arrive at Janet Pidoux, from what my wife was able to translate for me, was an American jazz dance instruction (who trained with Luigi) and then moved over to Paris to teach. Surprisingly, you can still find this album on CD which likely speaks highly for Pidoux’s mastery (or else this album has some huge fans). If you like the organ/soul/jazz sound of this one song, you’d like the album as a whole since it’s all just a single keyboard and drummer joining forces. I would never have guessed it was a dance album by the sound of the various tracks. It’s more in line with something I’d expect from, say, Daniel Janin. Super-slick and funky (and “Épaules” isn’t even my favorite track off the LP).