13 February 2012

Crystal Grass - Crystal World

Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1975

Sometimes records which can only technically be described as flops have a peculiar form of ubiquity minor hit singles would kill for. Take this particular funk and disco example - back in its day it was a club dancefloor favourite, being played at both discotheques and Northern Soul nights (although it was a reluctant presence at the latter if rumour is to be believed, spun only by DJs who were worried they'd be missing out on a crossover hit). Played to the death as a hypnotic mover, it may not have worried the Sunday chart rundown, but it certainly lives on in the minds of many clubbers.

Its cult status and popularity ensured that it remained lodged in the brain of all artists and DJs with a respect for the history of Dance music, and that a huge whopping sample from it eventually crash-landed into the middle of "Theme From S'Express" to become one of the track's most recognisable hooks shouldn't have been a surprise. There again, it always was a bloody obvious choice - for as much as this filled floors in Blackpool, it also had a peculiar, exotic groove which made it sound vaguely psychedelic, and thus ripe for late eighties Rave plundering. S'Express in particular made a virtue out of everything which was simultaneously wiggy and clubby, and the record could only have been a shoe-in for Mark Moore's sound.

Crystal Grass also covered Jorge Ben Jor's "Taj Mahal", and it's likely to have been this discoified version of the Brazilian pop track which caused Rod Stewart's drunken ears to start flapping - for the chorus eventually "accidentally" found its way into "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", with much litigation following. Crystal Grass's place in the pop firmament is therefore assured without even having one hit single to their names.

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