Thursday, May 01, 2008

Do the Robot!

The Malibus - The Robot

Tomorrow your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul is going to be participating in a fashion show for the firm's Staff Appreciation Week. In rehearsal this morning, as I walked the runway to a version of the Manu Dibango classic "Soul Makossa," I threw in the Robot just for kicks, which inspired me to do today's post.

The exact origins of the Robot dance aren't exactly clear, although the L.A. dance crew the Lockers helped give it an initial push, followed by Michael Jackson, whose use of the dance in the Jackson Five's performances of "Dancing Machine" was electrifying. As far as I know, none of the "Robot" records which came out in connection with the dance were hits, but quite a few great records were indeed made, including Rufus Thomas' "Funky Robot," Dave "Baby" Cortez's sing-song "Funky Robot" ("robot, robot, do the funky robot - here ... we ... GO!") and today's selection.

I don't know anything about the Malibus, but I believe that their Duke 45 "The Robot," from approximately 1970, may be one of the first "Robot" records to be made. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know. The song really doesn't address how the dance is done (but none of the three I mentioned really do), but there's a nice groove at play and the group brings a cheerful vocal, replete with some "robot" sound effects in the song's breakdown. I must give a shout-out to the Electro-Phonic Brian Phillips, who introduced me to this fine groover at a "Rhythm & Booze" last year!

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