Summer is out of control

Summer settles upon us, and various members of the moistworks team retire to the sleepy banks of Guymard Lake, north of the Delaware River Gap, west of the fading Victorian sprawl of Walkill, a Dutch word meaning, I think, "Mom's got a crystal meth lab in the basement."

So it seemed an unlikely week for me to make perhaps the greatest musical discovery of my life. But it was, and it is, when I stumbled across the mp3 vault.

A site all things Newcleus, maintained, in part, by founding member Cozmo D.

The treasures unearthed here cannot be underestimated. It's like if you found a tomb that held the 10 Commandments, Noah's Ark, and the mummified remains of a previously unrecorded ancestor, and the mummy was shaped just like this. Or for you Dylan fans, if you found a box of never-before-heard bootlegs and at the bottom of the box was a DVD and you put it on and it's a Dylan sex tape, and on the tape he's having sex with you.

I'm sure I speak for us all when I say that "Jam On Revenge" is the greatest song in existence.

And from a standpoint of urban music pre-history, Newcleus (and its electro rap brothers) sit at a vital, if tragic, split in the evolutionary tree. Newcleus was like the great Homo Ergaster: at the top of the food chain, at the cutting edge of the species. Everything was great, they had the big brains and new skills and the latest tools, including a Tascam Portastudio and the Sequential Circuits Pro One. But they were simply too special for this world, too blessed for a single species, and nature intervened, splitting them in two - techno and dance music going one way, rap the other, while the once great electroman retreated to a cold, futureless shadow to live out its days.

The Jam On It 4-Track reference tape is the actual original master that was tailored down to become the studio release we all know and love. Without the Wikki-Wikki vocals, and with extended synth parts, this version is almost mournful. The gang sound like they just came back from burying someone.

The last couple minutes send shivers down my spine. With that picked-guitar riff. It truly belongs on the soundtrack to a really special episode of Miami Vice. Crockett haunted by the death of his informant, or when they finally took down Calderone.

The "Jam-On's Revenge" demo is neonatal Newcleus. Compared to the album release, this is practically DJ Screw-slow. From the Jam On Productions site:

When Cozmo was shopping the Newcleus project (then called Positive Messenger), all of the material had a New Wave, Jazz, or Electro feel to it. However, since he had room at the end of 1 side of the tape, he threw on this song which he had only done as a joke. Little did he know that it was this funny little novelty song that would set off his professional career as an artist.

Originally named "Jam-On's Revenge" and done as a Western spoof with a John Wayne imitation lead (even before Rappin' Duke's "Da Hah, Da Hah"), Cozmo would play it to much laughs at parties he spinned at. Producer Joe Webb however, told Cozmo to drop the Duke imitation because "John Wayne is an American hero", so Cozmo flipped it into an outer space theme instead... Newcleus has been from outer space ever since.

The "Electro Rock Ballad" Automan tells the poignant, all too familiar, story of the star-crossed affair between a woman and a robot man. Please listen to the lyrics. It's OK if you want to cry. A robot would trade all the circuits in the world just to cry, just one time. Sociologists may one day point to the cautionary woman-falls-for-robot-man tale as the 1980s' sole contribution to our society.

The met one day in a summer storm

The melodrama had begun

Her senses told her that it was wrong

But the damage had been done

She was a young lady of 23

A woman in the prime of life

He was a child of technology

I'm a metal maaa-aaan

I'm made of wries, wires, wires

There aint no way I could ever love you

He wasn't programmed to understand

But the most intriguing lyric is:

Though technically he was a man

Love wasn't in his capacity

What is this supposed to mean, "Though technically he was a man"?

Does it mean he had a penis?

When I get to this part of the song, I can imagine Cozmo D. has just finished bedding a groupie, and as soon as he's done he gets up to go, and she says "Baby you going? Why don't you stay and just hold me tonight?" and Cozmo D. puts on his robot voice "I am not programmed to feel. What is 'holding'? It does not compute." And then robo-walks out the door. It's the oldest trick in the book.

The old school gem "It's All About You" was the B-side to the groups first single "Why It Gotta Happen To Me." Says Cozmo D.:

It contains a shameful sample of Sly & The Family Stone's "Sing A Simple Song" that we never cleared or paid for. Clearing was kind of a foreign concept back then. Sorry Sly!

Newcleus Video Treasures:

The original Jam On It video HERE

Is there anything more adorable than a half-dozen small black breakdancing Ace Frehleys?