“Brother Louie” by Stories (1974)

“Brother Louie”’s current cultural recognition as the theme song to a TV show created by and starring a now-disgraced comedian that I used to majorly crush on and am now incredibly conflicted about has not tarnished the song’s quality one bit.

This funky, falsetto-led song (a cover of a song by British band Hot Chocolate of “You Sexy Thing” and “Every 1′s a Winner” fame) hit the top of the charts despite (or maybe because of?) its hot-button lyric about interracial dating. I wasn’t alive when “Brother Louie” was a hit, but forty five years later, interracial dating is still a big deal in some parts. So I can only imagine what kind of furor the song caused upon its release and subsequent march up radio playlists and Billboard charts.

Controversial content alone does not a good song make, however. Sometimes it helps, but pushing provocative buttons isn’t always a successful creative pursuit.  “Brother Louie” is a crackin’ song with an immediately memorable chorus.

Anyone else notice how much The Stones’ “Miss You” sounds like “Brother Louie”? Worth mentioning; it’s another song dominated by falsetto vocals. And Mick Jagger certainly was down with the swirl…

Four star song between “Brooklyn’s Finest” and “Brother Louie”“Brother” (Mac DeMarco, 2014)

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Brooklyn Zoo” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1995): ODB/Osiris/Ol’ Dirt Dawg, Big Baby Jesus/Russell Jones/Ason Unique was a piece of work, to be sure. Hell, he mentions being in Bellevue Hospital’s infamous “G Building” (where they keep mentally unstable patients) less than a minute into his first official single. As off-kilter as he was, though, “Brooklyn Zoo” is a piece of genius. It’s a perfect match of artist and music. The jagged piano-based background is looped in a way that sounds like it’s drunk and about to spill into the gutter at any second. Dirty attacks the track like a rabid dog, dropping off threats (he’s gonna spray you with Lysol!), wisecracks (“introducing…yo, fuck that nigga’s name!”) and random asides.

Come to think of it, “Brooklyn Zoo” might actually be my favorite solo Wu track ever. It’s practically undeniable. Unless mentally unstable yet amazingly technically proficient (and wildly entertaining) rappers aren’t your thing.

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