Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On a Clear Day

Song: On a Clear Day
Artist: P.M. Dawn
Album: Of the Heart, of the Soul, and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience

It was in the 90’s that Hip-Hop became a major commercial force in pop music and set the stage for it’s overpowering the top 40 into the new millennium. Unfortunately, the majority of this was of the MC Hammer variety, or one-off hit singles like “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect or “Gotta Man” by Positive K. But in the early 90’s there were pop hits from truly innovative and creative groups within hip hop. Arrested Development managed to take their Afro-centric throw-back soul to the top of the charts with “Tennessee” and “Mr. Wendel” and P.M. Dawn managed to have several hits with their more spiritual minded brand of hip hop.

P.M. Dawn was comprised of brothers (as in siblings) Prince Be (Attrell Cordes) and DJ Minute Mix (Jarrett Cordes.) Their debut record, “Of the Heart, of the Soul, and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience” was an instant hit thanks to the Spandau Ballet sampling smash “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss.” They also scored several hits from their follow up; “The Bliss Album?” Unfortunately, though critically triumphed, their next two records; 1995’s “Jesus Wept,” and 1998’s “Dear Christian, I’m So Very Sorry For Bringing You Here. Love, Dad” failed to hold any hits for the group. This no doubt was due to the rise of Gangster Rap which began to saturate the pop market as the decade closed out. Which is very unfortunate… not just for P.M. Dawn, but for the state of hip hop in general. Thankfully groups like Outkast and now Kanye West are bringing a different aspect and view to the genre.

I am not sure why but I didn’t get any of P.M. Dawn’s subsequent records… crazy because I absolutely LOVE “Of the Heart…” it was one of my favorite records while I was in high school and as I listened to it today I was pleasantly surprised by how current it sounds. Most hip-hop (and disco, techno, electro, etc.) ages pretty quickly, and while a good pop song is a good pop song, dated songs lapse over into a certain kitschy enjoyability and lose their rawness. But, P.M. Dawn certainly created a master work that brought 70’s soul into a new millennium and painted a portrait of a spiritual, poetic pulse within African-American culture that has rarely been seen before or since.

While I am still a fan of “Set Adrift” I want to highlight an album track, “On a Clear Day” which is my favorite on the record. The entire album is just one great song after another and highly recommended. I actually see myself getting on Amazon and looking for some used copies of their subsequent records soon as re-listening to this after so many years was so unexpectedly enjoyable.


The video for the song you all know, Set Adrift on Memory Bliss:

1 comment:

Lizzy said...

I love pm dawn! I thought I was the only one - I have this cd (which I stole from my sister). Thanks for reminding me to dig it up!