Thursday, March 25, 2021

"Play That Funky Music" by Roxanne

Song#:  3443
Date:  03/12/1988
Debut:  87
Peak:  63
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Funk Rock

Pop Bits:  Formed in Riverside, California, in 1986, this rock band honed their skills in the clubs around Los Angeles. They hawked their demos around town and Scotti Bros. Records bit and signed the band. They got hooked up with producer/engineer Geoff Workman, who had worked with bands like Journey, The Cars, Toto, and Twisted Sister, and recorded a self-titled debut album. All tracks on the LP were written by the various band members except for this first single. The remake would find its way to the Pop chart, but it only stuck around for a few weeks. The album failed to chart and with that result the band lost their contract and eventually faded away. After nearly a 30-year break, the original four members, Jamie Brown, John Butler, Joe Infante, and David Landry, reunited and began performing again as Roxanne. They also recorded a new album titled Radio Silence, which was released in 2018.

ReduxReview:  Here's another case where the band wrote their own material, yet the first single released was a remake. Whether it was a case of the label not hearing a single in any of the songs the band wrote and pushed for remake to get the band established is unknown, but I'm thinking that was a likely scenario since the song ended up as the last track on the LP - sort of tacked on at the last moment. The ploy sort of worked with the song getting on the Pop chart, but it didn't do well enough to break the band in a significant way. This song was ripe for an update since no act had reached the Pop chart with the classic since it originally came out in 1976. Unfortunately, Roxanne's version just wasn't all that strong They didn't do much with the tune except to just basically cover it. Thousands of bar bands across the country play this song every weekend and frankly, this just sounds like one of those. It was capably done and had good production, but the band barely did anything to distinguish their version from the original. We already had Wild Cherry's classic, why did we need a repeat? It was far from being a bad cover, but it was just basic and ultimately forgettable.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded by the band Wild Cherry. Their 1976 version written by lead singer Rob Parissi was from the band's self-titled debut album. The single would reach #1 on both the Pop and R&B charts. Many artists would cover the song, but Roxanne was the first to reach the Pop chart with a remake. To-date, the only other artist to have a version get on the Pop chart has been rapper Vanilla Ice. When Vanilla Ice got his first record deal with Ichiban Records, he recorded an album titled Hooked and his version of "Play That Funky Music" (a rap track based on/around the song/samples) was released as the first single. It flopped with nearly zero interest from DJs and radio stations. However, one DJ in Georgia flipped over the record and played its b-side "Ice Ice Baby." The song started to catch on and to help it break further, Ice did a video for the tune. The burgeoning popularity of the track led to a deal with the EMI offshoot SBK Records. Ice and the label revamped Hooked and turned it into To the Extreme. SBK then pushed out "Ice Ice Baby." The single and album both shot to #1. "Play That Funky Music" would be the follow-up and it got to #4. Both songs would be the subjects of lawsuits due to the original writers of the music used for the tracks not given credit. Settlements were reached in the cases.



  1. What happened to being able to rate the songs?

    1. It seems like Google has pulled a bunch of gadgets from Blogger, which included the ratings one I used. There is no replacement I can see, so sadly it is gone.