Friday, May 05, 2006

Off the Hook

Apropos this afternoon's news of Porter Goss's "unexpected" resignation as Director of the CIA, still unexplained by him or his boss, the 43rd President of the United States, and the "swirling rumours" (as John Roberts of CNN put it) of hookers, suborned Republican Congressmen, dirty defence contractors, the Executive Director of the CIA, a certain Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, plucked out of obscurity into his position by the now departing director, "relaxation" and "poker parties" at the Watergate and other Washington DC hotels, I have to admit that I was momentarily at a loss for words. As I watched the news, and tried to get on with work on this bad-and-buried-news Friday, I wondered whether truth in these times was always stranger than fiction. Thankfully a Kennedy car crash, and recividist rehab, kept things fair and balanced. It is interesting to note the different ways different media outlets report, as well as the order they choose for their coverage. In any case, I'm sure we'll get all the facts in due course; there is no cause for alarm. As is my custom in times of confusion, I turned to music to make sense of things, and was inspired to dig into the crates in search of a theme song for these huhudious happenings. Consider this a musical response to the news...

The song is Off the Hook by R.J.'s Latest Arrival, from their 1988 album, Truly Yours. It's available on vinyl in the UK and CD copies show up every now and then, as nostalgia ebbs and flows.

To put it in context, it's a duet between producer R.J. "The Wiz" Rice and his lead singer, whose name escapes me but whose soulful voice kept English boarding school boys entranced on our dorm room and study dancefloors. For the purposes of transcription, I'll give her the admittedly arbitrary intitials, CIA. The song is basically about The Wiz getting caught out in infidelity and his attempt to stay connected to his current squeeze. His problem is that CIA wants him to stay off the hook and she has disconnected her phone. The Wiz's voice is suitably greasy, sounding like a cross between Roger Troutman's electronic vocoder and Keith Sweat at his whiniest. If the song were written today, she'll probably erase him from the speed-dial or remove him from the buddy list. I suppose one could remix the word hook with hookers but that would be too blatant. I prefer instead the delicious connection of hook to a curious person in this tangled web

A CIA agent nicknamed "Nine fingers" so named because he lost one of his digits while on assignment.
The song is out on the file sharing networks but for the musically curious who need instant gratification, you can sample the mp3 here (I'll take it down after 24 hours or when the copyright or bandwidth police come my way, whichever comes first).

R.J.s Latest Arrival Truly Yours

Off the Hook by R.J.'s Latest Arrival


The Wiz: Had a masterplan and I did not leave a trace. Never really thought it would backfire in my face. Little did I know it was easier said than done. All I tried to do was have a little fun.

CIA: Off the hook (with your love), I'm over you.

The Wiz: Stay with me. Don't leave.

CIA: Off the hook (with your love), I'm over you.

The Wiz: Don't let it end this way, baby.

CIA: I'm over you. I'm trying to get myself together.

The Wiz: Once in a lifetime baby.

CIA: I'm over you.

The Wiz: Why can't you forgive me?

CIA: I just can't forgive you.

The Wiz: You know I tried to be true.

CIA: You lied to me.

The Wiz: Hanging with the guys... Influence on my thoughts. Won't you understand that I only did it once?

CIA: One time was all it took... Can't run no game on me.

The Wiz: I'm not running a game, baby.

CIA: Won't need no second chance.

The Wiz: I don't need no second chance.

CIA: My life has just begun.

The Wiz: It was a once in a lifetime thing.

CIA: Off the hook (with your love). I'm over you.

The Wiz: Stay with me. Don't Leave. Please.

RJ's final pitch: I don't know what you gonna do. But I know what you really need. I'm a man that made just one mistake And I don't want you to leave. I'm not a tramp with the brain insane, the ego-trippin off my name. You ain't off the hook, take a second look.

[phone hangs up]

CIA: No. No. I... I don't need you no more Cause you lied to me.

The Wiz: Stay with me.

CIA: Your masterplan backfired on you.

The Wiz: Please stay.

CIA: You know I'm... I'm over you.

The Wiz: I never meant to hurt you.

CIA: I'm off the hook.

The Wiz: Stay with me.

CIA: I'm off the hook (with your love).
I'm off the hook (with your love).
I'm off the hook (with your love)

The Wiz: I don't really want it to end this way.

CIA: You mean that's it? Well...

Liner Notes


I'll note in passing that R.J's Latest Arrival's most successful album was their 1995 effort entitled Everybody Here Must Party. I don't know if they meant poker parties or simply spending more time with their families.



It featured their earlier 1984 hit single, Shackles, which is one of the best break dance and electric boogie songs. Shackles was their most famous song and was typical of the early hip-hop grooves of the early 80s. Its lyrics harken to clubgoers trying to avoid perp walks:
Shackles on my feet
Our primary objective is keep to the groove.

Musically, Off the Hook is in the same vein as Jerome Prister's Say You'll Be, that is, classic and soulful dance music. The ingredients are drum machines, synthesizers and a woman wailing away to punctuate the points. The song is very danceable and you can imagine the kind of fun workouts one could have in nightclubs or hotel rooms. I also remember it in conjunction with Full Circle's contemporaneous song, Working up a Sweat which I've mentioned before in connection to erustication, which is quite appropriate since we're dealing with CIA connections in this instance.

Porter Goss, I'm off the hook with your love, I'm over you. I suspect you're working up a sweat.

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1 comment:

Veritas said...

you are a brilliant with a sane voice....