I have to throw out this backstory first. I think it explains a lot of the appeal that this funk track has. The original composer of “Ai No Corrida” is a guy called Chas (or Chaz) Jankel. Chas was this skinny, geeky English kid who was really into dance music but had nowhere to turn and jumped at the idea of joining a punk band. He joined Ian Dury’s punk band called the Blockheads and together they molded the “Do it Yourself” album. That album had some really cool post-disco tracks like “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and “Dance of the Screamers” which are to this day strange, yet catchy amalgamations of disco, reggae, and punk. Chas thinks: hey I can strike it out on my own. He does and releases this track called “Ai No Corrida” as a single off his self/titled album which becomes a sorta hit…I do mean sorta because although original track is great, the poor man himself is the least marketable R&B artist you’ll ever see (see Youtube video for proof!).
Well, the great twist to this story is that none other than Quincy Jones, who just came off producing Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” with another nerdy English white guy Rodney Temperton who had the same marketing issues as Chas with his own band Heatwave, takes this track under his wing and covers it for his “The Dude” album. In this cover, he is assisted by the supremely talented Brothers Johnson who inject something else: street funk and start pointing to a new direction that R&B would take in the 80s…think Thriller, Cameo or Rick James. Absolute killer of a track for Friday.