Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apache

While researching this entry, I discovered that someone has done a far more comprehensive job covering the song "Apache" than I ever possibly could. My reaction to this? Good! This frees me from having to rehash the history of this piece of music myself, and allows me to just appreciate it for its sheer durability. So I urge you to check out the "Soul Sides" discussion and download the sound files for your edification. The latter has a double urgency because the hosting service for them is being discontinued soon.

Back? Excellent! The only qualifier that I feel I ought to add to that post is that the Ventures aren't really a "surf band". They INFLUENCED surf music - that's undeniable. But they really prefigured the surf genre, and definitely transcended it with their body of work.

Now then, let's look at "Apache". I think it is a testament to the power of music that it has evolved and grown well beyond the original intentions of its composer. I mean, it's one of the building blocks of the rap genre, and there's no way anyone who pushed Jørgen Ingmann's version to near the top of the charts could have seen that development coming.

Let's watch some videos! And let's see how many of these videos are still online in a few weeks, too...



"Apache" by the Shadows (featuring Cliff Richard in a minor role) was the first version released, and a smash in the United Kingdom. It's not hard to understand why it would be a hit; actually, the mystery is how it eluded North American audiences.



The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache" (and indeed, the Incredible Bongo Band itself) is another one that slipped by the general public. Given the still-friendly atmosphere towards instrumentals at the time, it had to be for reasons other than the quality. I mean, listen to it! But it did prove popular in the clubs, and that led to its second life in hip hop.



Oh yes, it was "Apache" by the Sugarhill Gang that fueled my interest in all the various and sundry iterations of "Apache". I doubt it's an actual example of the freestyling that occurred over the Incredible Bongo Band's record, but it does demonstrate how the song could mutate from its origins and still be recognizable.



Another twist on this song came with a disco version of "Apache" by the Tommy Seebach Band in 1977 - prior to the Sugarhill Gang cementing its reputation as a rap cornerstone. I stumbled across this music video without knowing it was something of an Internet meme and found it fascinating in its own hilariously wrong way. That was why I was saddened to learn that the Danish Seebach (an entrant in more than one Eurovision contest) passed away in 2003. Anyone who enjoyed themselves that much would have loved becoming famous all over again.

So that is a look at just a few examples of "Apache", but trust me, there are many more out there in the wild waiting to be discovered. Jump on it!

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