Tuesday, 8 February 2011

65: Bob & Earl, “Harlem Shuffle” (no.7, 1969)

(And yes, that is where House of Pain’s “Jump Around” gets its horns from.) Originally recorded in 1963, reputedly George Harrison’s favourite song, and later subject to a fairly useless Rolling Stones cover. Little discussed in any serious analysis of the song’s merits is how rubbish “Harlem Shuffle” is as instruction for a dance: “You move it to the left, and you go for yourself/You move it to the right, if it takes all night/Now take it kinda slow, with a whole lot of soul”. Given that we’re allowed to “take all night” to move to the right, urging us to then take it “kinda slow” suggests we might well end up doing the Lard-Ass Shuffle, or the Pensioner Shuffle. (Maybe that’s why it took six years to catch on commercially: the first wave of listeners had only just completed the moves in ‘69.)

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