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Saturday, October 06, 2007

New Hairstyle, Same Rick

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Rick James "Rick's Raga" (The Flag, 1986)

Rick James "Funk In Amerika/Silly Little Man" (The Flag, 1986)

In Rick James' 2001 interview with the Onion's A.V. Club, I count four different occasions where he references his love for as well as ability to play Indian music:

"I have a very fine love for classical music, I have a love for Indian music, sitar. I went to India, lived, and studied. I studied sitar in the early '70s. I lived in Sweden and London. So I'm very familiar with Europe and its ways, very familiar with the European culture in Paris, and the French, and the English, and the Danes and whatnot, and Indian culture."

You would think then we would hear more of this influence that solely on a thirty second track from 1986's The Flag entitled "Rick's Raga" ("Om Raga" is listed on the record's label). By this time, Rick's career had really slowed to a halt. He wasn't getting the radio play he used to (at least his new material wasn't) and his music was suffering due to his increasing drug abuse problems. If Glow had been a step forward, The Flag was a huge step backwards commercially. But at the same time, his inability to rely on his usual punk-funk formulas had freed him up in a way. The Flag contains a "message song" of sorts, "Funk In Amerika", that showed that even Rick was feeling the effects of the Cold War. The track "Silly Little Man" was dedicated to Ronald Raygun and Makhail Gorbachev. Apparently it's easier to come up with a pun on Reagan's name than it is Gorbachev. But Gorbachev did have that birthmark on his head though, Man, did Cracked magazine get a lot of mileage out of that one!

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