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10 Seconds: Damon Locks

Chicago-based Damon Locks is a pentathlete of the arts, and if you're at all hip to his Black Monument Ensemble project, then you know something about his collage-like deployment of discerningly chosen audio samples. Ideal ingredients to cook up a 10 Seconds spread.

"There are many things that didn’t make the list. Things that came up after I made it, like the first ten seconds of Bad Brains' Re-ignition, or Joe Strummer yelling, “Ok! Ok! Don’t push us when we’re hot!” inside of The Clash’s take on Willie Williams’, Armagideon Time. I just had to run with what came to mind because in truth this list would never be completed.

Thank you for this challenge. I enjoy new ways of thinking about music and these parameters really made me think about how and why things affect me. It gave me a moment to reflect on my own musical building blocks. I hope others enjoy these songs as much as I do." - Damon Locks

1. Eddie Gale - A Song of Will (1'55" - 2'05")

From Eddie Gale - Black Rhythm Happening (1969)

"The pregnant pause between one of the most beautiful melodies ever, transitioning to a wonderfully boisterous instrumental retort, is outstanding in this forever inspiring song! "

2. Made For TV - So Afraid Of The Russians (2'45" - 2'55")

From Made For TV - So Afraid Of The Russians/Unknown Soldier (1983) 7"

"The groove to this song is pure perfection. The theme and music couldn’t be more 80s if it wanted to be. The transition from the repeated “Spies everywhere…” into the telephone soliloquy is a chef’s kiss of wonderfulness. I am excited that this post might introduce folks to the rare Washington DC group that was able to craft the ultimate Cold War era song produced by John Cale."

3. Public Enemy - Night Of The Living Baseheads (1'00" - 1'10")

From Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988)

“Everybody knows this jam and everyone knows this is the coolest transition of all time!"

4. Gene Chandler - Rainbow 65 (4'34" - 4'44")

From Gene Chandler - Live On Stage In '65 (1965)

"I wish I could do more than 10 seconds with this one. Gene Chandler has the audience in the palm of his hands. The audience is hanging on every word. He drops into a repeated “Baby, baby, baby…” and the audience joins in out of emotional desperation. This whole vamp until the final burst of the main melody is something to behold."

5. Billy Stewart - Summertime (2'06" - 2'16")

From Billy Stewart - Summertime (1965)

"Chicago’s own Billy Stewart does his take on the classic from Porgy and Bess, Summertime, and adds a non-language vocal hook that stamps a signature on the tune that makes the song, this version undeniably his own."

6. E.U. - Da' Butt (6'09" - 6'19")

From E.U. – Da Butt (1988) 7"

"This song will forever have a place in my heart. Being that I am from the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, Go-Go hits a sweet spot. This song fits comfortably on any dance floor. This edit is my preferred version because it gives you all of the moments in a tight package. Highlighted here, this song has the best closing lines of any song."

7. Steoples - Courting Sunshine (2'43" - 2'53")

From Steoples - Six Rocks (2017)

"This is an amazing song with an amazing groove. So layered and beautiful. The verses and choruses are so satisfying. There are other pieces of voice that begin to show up and take on minor but important roles in the song like the female voice that occasionally says, “I love you.” or what sounds like a child’s voice saying, “Fade away. Fade away. Fade away. I make you fade away.” These touches add so much to the song forcing us as listeners to fuse these things to the narrative of the song giving the true meaning of the song an elusiveness that makes it beautifully enigmatic."

8. Ben LaMar Gay - Oh Great Be The Lake (2'27" - 2'37")

From Ben LaMar Gay - Open Arms to Open Us (2021)

"This section of the song introduces the refrain, “Learn how to swim.” and is joined by ethereal backing vocals. It is the ingredient that makes this poetic meditation on the lake on our shores here in Chicago into something that stretches back to the ancestors, beckoning Black people to reengage with something that has always been theirs. At least that is how it feels to me."

One more...

9. Makaya McCraven - Above and Beyond (1'32" - 1'42")

From Makaya McCraven - Highly Rare (2017)

"Every time this change happens in the song, I am so happy."


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