Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Run D.M.C. 'Walk This Way'

Chart Peak: 8
Charted at No. 37 on 2nd September , had raced to No. 8 for 2 weeks by the end of the month. 'Walk This Way' also featured the group Aerosmith who had the original Seventies American hit.
In fact, the track (and video) only feature Steven Tyler and Joe Perry: apparently the budget didn't run to bringing, er, whoever the other members of Aerosmith were or are. Mind you, in 1986 I wouldn't have been able to name even two members of the group for whom this was the (uncredited) UK singles chart debut. I hadn't even heard of them although they'd had some album success in the 1970s; it seems that the renewed interest from this single spurred them to a bigger comeback and a whole run of big hits in the 80s and 90s, though many of them were ballads and none of them shows up on a main series Now album. Not a great loss, to be honest.

Although we all know that 'Rapper's Delight' had been a Top 10 hit at the back end of 1979, identifiable hip-hop tracks (as distinct from the likes of 'Candy Girl' which have brief rap interludes) are predictably scarce on the early Now albums. Between them the first six volumes had only offered 'White Lines' and, if you're generous, 'Hey You! Rocksteady Crew'; though Now 7 doubled that number with the Real Roxanne and Luvbug Starski's borderline-novelty hit in the middle of Side 4. So 'Walk This Way' still has the feel of a trailblazer, especially coming so early in the running order, just as it was a breakthrough for the genre in America, where it was amazingly the first hip-hop track to make the Top 5. It even outcharted the original there (and here I suppose), helping to make rap music seem more acceptable to a rock audience. Apparently the whole thing was Rick Rubin's idea, based on the fact that he'd heard Run-DMC freestyling over the riff, and you can see why it made sense because, for good or ill, 'Walk This Way' exemplifies a lot of the things that rap and rock have in common: the rebellious image, the emphasis on simple repeatable rhythmic patterns, the macho posturing... it's a stepping stone on the way to some of my favourite rap hits, but also to the awfulness of most rap-metal. In fact, such is its fame as a breakthrough it's hard now to listen to it as a song in its own right, but I can tell it's a job well done.

Also appearing on: Now 39 [vs Jason Nevins]
Available on: It's Like This - The Best Of [Clean]

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