Tuesday, May 30, 2023

"Electric Boogie" by Marcia Griffiths

Song#:  4135
Date:  12/09/1989
Debut:  90
Peak:  51
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Reggae

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Jamaican singer Marcia Griffiths had already been a star for over twenty years. After basically being discovered in the early 60s singing at a friend's party, Griffiths became a singer for the influential ska band Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. A solo career would follow and in 1968 she had her first hit "Feel Like Jumping." Not long after that, Griffiths would team up professionally and personally with reggae singer/songwriter Bob Andy. As Bob and Marcia, the pair would record a couple of albums in the early 70s and score a major #5 UK hit in 1970 with their version of Nina Simone's "Young, Gifted and Black." After the duo parted ways, Griffith would become a member of Bob Marley's backing vocal group the I Three's. She would continue working with Marley until his death in '81. Along the way Griffiths would maintain her solo career recording several albums. In '83, she would record a cover version of a song called "Electric Boogie" that would become popular in Jamaica. By a stroke of luck, six years later the tune experienced a revival. It became popular enough that a new remix of the track was done and issued out by Island Records. Thanks in part to a popular dance (see below), the single started to sell and it would eventually make the US Pop chart where it stalled just a notch shy of the halfway point. It also got on the R&B chart at #83. With the song a hit, an album was quickly assembled and pushed out. Carousel would arrive in '90, but it would not chart. Griffiths would continue to record solo albums and work with other artists, but for many around the world she will mainly be recognized for "Electric Boogie" and its associated dance.

ReduxReview:  While it may not be as popular now, back in the day there wasn't a prom, wedding reception, or event with a DJ where this was not played. Folks would crowd the dance floor and the Electric Slide would commence. It was an fairly easy line dance to learn so it often got everyone participating including some of the most stubborn "I don't dance" kind of people. I remember doing it a few times, but these days I don't remember one step of it. There are times when a song behind a dance craze is really annoying, but this is one that stands on its own. It's a fun, engaging tune that can be easily listened to without having to dance. The remix is a lot slicker than Griffiths' previous '83 version and that definitely helped its mainstream chances.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a cover of a song originally written and recorded by reggae star Bunny Wailer (step-brother to the legendary Bob Marley and original member of The Wailers). By most accounts, Wailer wrote the song in 1976 and recorded a demo. It seems a single of the song was issued out later in 1980 under his name. Then in '83, Griffiths would record the song with Wailer producing, arranging, and singing background vocals. It was a popular tune at the time, but then later in '89 a DJ in Washington, D.C., started to spin the tune and it unexpectedly gained an audience. A new remix of the song would be created and become a minor hit. But what took the song to a whole new level was an associated dance that was developed back when Bunny Wailer wrote the tune. Choreography/performer Ric Silver heard the demo and created a line dance that was known as The Electric. The original 22-step dance would become popular with variations popping up. One of those variations, the 18-step Electric Slide, would receive renewed interest when Griffiths' song regained popularity and it soon started to find its way into mainstream culture. It would become a staple at parties, receptions, events, bars, etc., for years after. For the 2023 Super Bowl, a new remix of Griffiths' hit song was done by reggae rapper/singer Shaggy and used in a Jeep commercial. In the spot, CGI animals perform the Electric Slide.


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