First Hit #1: June 20, 1981
Being a DJ isn’t that easy, something you realize after seeing a bad DJ or two. You’ve got to maintain a jumping atmosphere, but also give little moments to allow people little breaks to get drinks and make the club some money. You’ve got to supply a good time through providing a kicking soundtrack.
A good DJ might do something like Stars on 45, a medley of big hits that flows together and doesn’t really stop. Lots of fun and familiarity, but it keeps moving and has a bit of a consistent beat. Lots of DJs still do this, and the entire practice of sampling is one of the foundations of hip hop. Stars on 45 is one of those early efforts in sampling, just a big mash of popular songs – mostly Beatles, but you’ve also got Sugar Sugar in there – and it was born out of a scene that was distributing bootlegs of similar mash ups that local DJs were producing. The idea of the song is still something being produced, albeit with more sophistication as technology and techniques have improved, though I don’t think the song’s commercial release would be even possible today. Clearing just one Beatles sample is going to be expensive enough, let alone all the Beatles.
It’s not the most sophisticated mix, to be honest, the songs just kind of collide into each other with the vain hope that the hand clapping beat would provide a bit of continuity. It is a bit of an attempt to capture on record what DJs were doing in clubs around the world, but without the brush of creativity and, if I’m honest, the various social lubricants that are active in a good club. Listening to it mid-day in the winter, all I can think of is that I’d greatly prefer just listening to the Beatles instead.
The scene it’s trying to represent is vital, the band it’s trying to represent is vital, but Stars on 45 is significantly less than the sum of its parts, and as a result inconsequential.