#472 – E.U. – Da Butt
(7-inch single, 1988) (Discogs tracklisting)
– “I’m here with film director Spike Lee. Spike, why did you decide to make your film, School Daze?”
– “I’m glad you asked that question. I created School Daze so I could create a dance.”
– “And do tell, what dance is that?”
– “What dance is it? The name of the dance is called The Butt. The Butt. Playback!”
In the UK, Washington D.C. go-go music – a percussion-heavy, jam-based derivative of funk – enjoyed a window of fashionability that lasted almost exactly two years. It broke through in early 1985 with Little Benny & The Masters’ “Who Comes To Boogie”, ushering in a spate of reissues from bands such as Trouble Funk, who became the scene’s de facto leaders. But by early 1987, the genre’s limited supply of records had all been compiled and played to death, and with nothing much hitting the new release racks, interest waned as sharply as it had begun.
None of this passing UK interest had been matched in the States, where go-go remained confined to its home neighbourhoods in D.C. But the genre had a spark of life left in it yet.
In 1988, E.U. (Experience Unlimited), whose “E.U. Freeze” had been one of the bigger go-go tracks in the UK, were given a track co-written by Marcus Miller (best known for his work with Luther Vandross) and Mark Stevens, the brother of Chaka Khan. Miller also produced the track, aided by Robert Clivilles and David Cole, later of C&C Music factory. Thanks to its placement on Spike Lee’s School Daze soundtrack, “Da Butt” went Top 40 on the Billboard chart, and reached Number One on the US R&B chart, giving go-go its biggest hit by far (albeit posthumously, in jaded UK fashionista terms).
Despite the presence of so many collaborators from the mainstream R&B industry, who hadn’t previously been linked to the scene, “Da Butt” sounds more or less authentic. The key elements are present and correct – that percussion sound, call-and-response chants, a live feel – and the track hasn’t been over-produced (as long as you steer clear of its gimmicky “B Boy Dub” on the flip side). It’s no classic, but it’s no disgrace either.