Skull Snaps – Skull Snaps (Aztec Music)


2006 was a year with some very good records, but not many “important” ones (are The Hold Steady and The Decemberists really the best we can do???). It’s kind of a bummer, but it also presents an opportunity to ignore new music and dig deep into the past for some undiscovered gems. One of those undiscovered gems is the re-release of The Skull Snaps’ 1973 debut album on Australian label Aztec Music. Most people have never heard of The Skull Snaps, but they’ve probably heard them at some point because the opening drum break of “It’s A New Day” has been sampled in countless rap songs. The group, from New York, recorded just one album and some stray singles, before folding in the mid-1970s. It’s a shame they didn’t stick around longer, as their lone album (with a later single tacked on for good measure) is an excellent piece of early-1970s soul/R&B/funk, recalling The Temptations, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, The Dramatics and Marvin Gaye. The subject matter is typical of the day: love (“Didn’t I Do It To You”), black unity (“It’s A New Day”), anti-dope (“My Hang Up Is You”), and the obligatory ode to pimping (“I’m Your Pimp”). These lyrics are delivered via excellent harmonies from the three singers and stellar production from Ed Stasium (who would go on to produce The Ramones, The Talking Heads, and Mick Jagger among others) which often features layered strings and harps. Perhaps the Beastie Boys went a bit far when they said “If I check my pulse/It beats Skull Snaps” on “Unite”, but they definitely get the head-bobbing and the ass shaking. Essential underground funk.

 

Tracklisting:

 

1. My Hang Up Is You
2. Having You Around
3. Didn’T I Do It To You
4. All Of A Sudden
5. It’S A New Day
6. I’M Your Pimp
7. I Turn My Back On Love
8. Trespassing
9. I’M Falling Out Of Love
10. Al’S Razor Blade (Bonus Track)
11. Ain’T That Loving You (Bonus Track)