Play My Organ Solo

Money Mark 02

I don’t really feel like a man

I feel alone playing on a keyboard

Going to play my organ solo

… and he does.  Welcome to Money Mark Cry.  As has been long-established I am/was a sucker for all things Beastie Boy-related, so when their keyboardist Money Mark started releasing his cool, cheesy pop/lounge/70’s cop movie/70’s porno movie soundtracky type stuff on the uber-cool Mo’ Wax label in 1995, I was in there.  When it turned out that they were beautifully designed objects in their own right with thick natural card covers, cool graphics and a front-opening sleeve*, well ladies and gentlemen I literally {CENSORED FOR DECENCY’s SAKE} all over {CENSORED} police saw the funny side of it, {CENSORED}!

Front-loading, whatever next?
Front-loading, whatever next?

‘Cry’ is a brilliant, brilliant exercise in dejected cool, sophistication.  The playing, as only to be expected, is right on the, umm, money, Mr Mark soloing beautifully over what sounds like a Bontempi organ’s standard ‘funky cocktail jazz cheese porno beat’ setting.  His downbeat vocals meshing perfectly with the beatdown lyrics.  All in all it is a perfect fusion of subject, mood and form.  It’s some pretty chic shit right there, if you ever heard this in a bar you’d know you were in the coolest place imaginable, probably wearing a safari suit somewhere tropical and being all noble about a chick.

Money Mark 04

In fact so good is ‘Cry’ that the second track on the 12″ is, umm, ‘Cry’ but this time allegedly live at 50 bucks, okay so there’s a little crowd noise but it sounds suspiciously like a slightly wilder demo version of the track, at the end they very cleverly work the applause into the run out groove, so if you leave it on you get an infinitely happy crowd.  You don’t get that level of detail on Satan’s silver discs.  The B-sides? ‘Never Stop’ ain’t great, it just feels like he hit ‘record’ and played around for three pointless minutes with some asinine lyrics, his playing is great of course, but write us a song next time please.  ‘Invitation’ is immediately much, much better, a sassy funky original in the mold of Beastie Boys ‘In 3’s’ played entirely on keys, but hey if a man can’t copy his own work then what’s the world coming to?

Money Mark 01

I never got around to buying the LP proper, Mark’s Keyboard Repair, but I did stumble across and buy the 10″ Third Version EP in April ’96, which is a bit of a misleading title for 10 tracks.  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it’s full of cool, cheesy pop/lounge/70’s cop movie/70’s porno movie soundtracky type stuff.  Now, I bought this because I really liked his sound, but with the exception of the poppier ‘Sometimes You Gotta Make It Alone (1996 Version)’, that’s all he has to offer here rather than songs, or real tunes.  Don’t get me wrong there are some good grooves to be had in the likes of ‘Mark’s Keyboard Repair’ and ‘Hard Ass’; ‘Slow Flames’ is pure instrumental brilliance, but the second side had me reaching for the tone arm in a welter of forgettable cuts.  None of this deterred me from buying a Money Mark 7″ called Legitimate Pop Songs, recorded live at Rough Trade Records, which was just unlistenable.  Ah well, it looks good at least.

Baby bear, mummy bear and daddy bear
Baby bear, mummy bear and daddy bear

Mark Ramos Nishita has been present on some of my favourite cuts of all-time and will always be my #1 Detroit born keyboard player of Japanese-Hawaiian-Chicano extraction, but personally I’d really recommend listening to ‘Cry’ over and over again, but only the truly, or soon to be, committed need to delve too much further in.

321 Down.

*sort of like one of those ladies’ bra things, probably.

9 thoughts on “Play My Organ Solo

  1. Good stuff.

    Completely(but not totally) off subject, did you ever see the clip of Elvis Costello and the Beastie Boys performing “Radio” on SNL? If not, you should. It really is a must,

      1. Yeah this isn’t the kind of music I would play frequently unless I was trying to impress somebody, but I sure do like that packaging. Good score on you. I find the music a tad off-putting.

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