Funky Friday: The Boom Box

f529127648656d777d2142f425d79b35I’d seen them all over the place. Earth, Wind & Fire were in advertisements for ones by Panasonic. Older guys had theirs and were parading up and down streets all over the country, and yes, even in the tiny small town where I grew up. They were the must-have piece of audio equipment of the younger set back in the late 70s-early 80s.

The Boom Box.

Mind you, I got one. Actually, I went through several. Once I started making my own money at a summer job that I truly despised, I bought my own “D” battery chewing, bass-pumping, dual-speakered and cassette decked monsters and paraded down the street just like all the other “cool” kids. But the first one I got, my mother bought it for me. Let me just say that it was lacking in a certain eye catching design.

Definitely NOT what I had in mind. (Not the actual model, but similar).

Still, it was the first one I had, so it had to do. I can’t tell you how sad I was, tiptoeing around those small town streets with my meticulously crafted radio mixtapes. But I wouldn’t let mom know how disappointed I was. How could I? So I plotted while working that summer job. I knew that if I made enough money, I could go into a store and get the one that I wanted. Finally, that day arrived. Money in hand, I went in the store and picked out something like I had seen in the EWF ad.

Not the actual model, but pretty close.

Below is a mix of tunes that you would have found me playing no matter what boom box I had. You’ll find some early hip-hop, some SOLAR records funk, and some of the discofied funk records that were very popular around the time I had one of these things. By way of brief introductions:

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, “Freedom”: Their first “hit” record on Sugarhill Records. One of my cousins (not the one with the record collection) loved this so much, he played it non-stop. You’ll notice that a lot of early rap records had a funky R&B base underneath.

Mass Production, “Firecracker”: Aww, yeah. This may have been one of the first jams that the old boom box blasted (well as much as it could have, anyway). This Norfolk, Virginia band had a few R&B hits, but this was their biggest.

Gap Band, “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)”: I lived for the opening of the engine revving up, and so did the boom box. Incidentally, Charlie Wilson, the lead singer of the group, is still performing and recording today.

The Brothers Johnson, “Stomp”: From the house of Quincy Jones and his sophisti-funk, one of the last great tunes he produced for the Brothers Johnson. Louis Johnson again stars on the bass.

Lakeside, “Pull My Strings”: From Solar Records came this monster funk slice from Lakeside. This was before “Fantastic Voyage” put them on the map for good.

Dynasty, “Do Me Right”: Solar Records house producer Leon Sylvers III had a band he played in as well. That band, Dynasty, cut a few hits for the label, but it wasn’t as big an act as label mates Shalamar, the Whispers or Lakeside, but they did produce one top ten hit. This isn’t it.

Secret Weapon, “Must Be The Music”: Prelude Records was home to a lot of disco smashes in the 1970s; when the 80s came into vogue, they transitioned to funky danceable numbers. This was one of the more memorable ones from that era, and it even features a small rap in the middle.

Change, “A Lover’s Holiday”: From the “if we can’t be Chic, we can sound a little like them” department: the first hit record for the studio-created band that continued music-making in the Chic style once disco became a bad word.

Kurtis Blow, “The Breaks”: Bookending my list of boom box favorites, this was the first rap record on a major label (Blow recorded for Mercury Records) to make the top ten of the R&B chart, getting as high as #4 in 1980. Much like the early rap records of its day, the music is clearly R&B, with Blow rhyming over the beat.

I hope you enjoy the boom box memories I’ve shared, along with these nine funky tracks. Feel free to share any boom box memories you might have! I hope you have a great Friday, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.

38 Replies to “Funky Friday: The Boom Box”

  1. Stomp! That song has been in my music library ever since I was able to record cassette tapes from the radio! And I remember when the dual cassette boom boxes came out, how we could mix our own tape as we were so hi-tech then!! We were living large! Great memories T!! Thanks for the flashback! Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved Stomp & Strawberry Letter 23. What is funny is Grandmaster Flash’s song sounds just like the remake of Apache! Listening to the Gap Band, I couldn’t help but hear You Dropped a Bomb on Me.
    That boombox was stylin’, T. Wayne. I had a big ass one too but never carried it around, lol. I wasn’t that cool or coordinated.
    Thanks for the trip back in time. Always a pleasure!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey Tracy,I heard the sound of your boombox and came running over here – I aint missing no party. Before I get to the BUSINESS of the day, I can appreciate your story and the graduation from one piece of equipment to the other. Sound is really important if you are serious in this BUSINESS. Loved all the MUSIC. The Brothers Johnson and Change take me way back. Now we JUST CANNOT waste such good music on a Friday night ( for me anyway) So don’t mind me if I start dancing and throwing my cassettes into your boombox. Now to the BUSINESS!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s what I’m talking about! The Ollie & Jerry song certainly was played on a boom box in my day! Glad you liked those songs I chose too. I had some others, but I wanted to save them for another post I have in mind.

      Your songs definitely will keep the party goin’! I hope your Friday was great and you have a great weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Damn about our timezones, it interrupted the party mood you got me into. But, yes all those songs were pumping. I once had something which was an excuse for boombox, and always being the DJ in the house, took it with me on a hike up the mountains with some friends. After a long day of walking, and us chilling around the fire, I took out my boombox for the night to begin. Of course some neighbours came and shouted at us for not respecting the peace and quiet of nature. I have a feeling we continued the party anyway but of course being much older an wiser now, I’ve learnt to respect the silence of nature. I need to think back to what was playing then – in the early to mid 80s. Ah! I sigh when I think of our youth!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ahhhh the boombox!! good memories … I didn’t have one sadly … my mother owned one … also lacking in ‘eye appeal’, but she was a christian, and all ‘worldly music’ was not to played on it … except Simon and Garfunkel, her fav 😉 … UNTIL she left the house.
    Cassette in, radio on, … .record at will!! LOL.
    Kurtis Blow … loved it … but perusing chevvy8’s playlist there .. . ‘There’s no stopping Us’, was one of my favs … actually i loved the movie (being a dancer 😉 ) … and Montell! Well, loves me some Montell too 🙂
    Great post … lots of good memories … thankyou friend!! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Was a big fan of Breakin’…Breakin’ 2, not so much. As I mentioned to Chevvy, that Ollie & Jerry song was played quite a bit on the boombox; it was one of those songs that we all tried our breakdance moves to. Some were better than others at that though 🙂

      You’re very welcome for the trip back in time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG, that gigantic boom box made me LOL. I remember back when everyone had one. One of my coworkers at a long-ago job admitted that in high school, she used to blast hers from the backseat of her Chevy Pile-O-Rust because the stereo was broken. There was something wrong with the doors too, she said they had to get in and out through the hatchback. Have a great one, TWayne. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I ain’t got no bells to ring….”

    Oh you knew it was coming! LOL!!!

    So many favorites on here that I don’t know where to start.
    As a young lady, I never had the size, wherewithal or inclination to walk around with a huge boom box. That really was a guy thing, but I always loved hanging with my male cousins who carried those jokers around.

    So, YAAASSS, I loved this post.
    But when you pulled out my “Do Me Right” by Dynasty, you know I almost croaked.

    Expect to see something on my blog tomorrow to celebrate “My Jams” 1st birthday!

    My cousins Bruce and Squirt used to rock this joint:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would expect no less than you bringing that line from “Pull My Strings.” You know how much we both love that jam!

      Yes, carrying a boom box was mostly a guy thing, but if you had the right music playing, the girls would come around. Funny, that still works today too 🙂

      Can’t wait to see what you have planned for your “My Jams” Anniversary. Really looking forward to it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad to see you throwing it in with Oneway Lady G. As you say, it was more a guy thing. I had a brother and his friends to keep me up to speed. I get the feeling we’re tresspassing when no one’s home here.😀

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes…I was out but I just came back in. As for the two of you trespassing-not a problem. I love watching the two of you interact. It’s entertaining. And of course, the two sisters of the blog definitely know how to keep any kind of party going!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the boombox memories. I remember in high school when I got my first boombox. It wasn’t quite as good as the second picture you displayed probably closer to the first one. But it had a nice big speaker and I thought I was just the worlds biggest badass.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great stuff! My first was a single cassette that I would spend hours listening to the radio hoping to catch my favorite songs. We got the D.C. Stations 100.3 and 93.9 is what I listened to then, the first time I heard Roxanne Roxanne made me wait hours on end to record that. I was 14 at the time with none of my own money and those cheap crappy ‘certron’ blank cassettes. One of which I still have, I’ve since put it on my computer so I wouldn’t lose it! Eventually move up to a Montgomery ward dual cassette with hydraulic eject, moving up! After I started working I got one with lights in the speakers, man I thought I was something then. Great topics, so nice to read other people’s stories about that time. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Wow, you must have been from the area to hear 100.3 and 93.9 being mentioned! I remember those stations. KYS is still around, but of course sounds nothing like it did back then. 100.3 now is a totally different station than the WOOK that it used to be.

      Oh, the hydraulic eject was the coolest…just waiting ever so slowly for that door to open! Auto-reverse was another game changer too.

      Thanks for commenting!


      1. Yeah, grew up in Charles town, wv. Moved away in 88 but been in the area since 2000. How about when wpgc 95.5 came out. Man, Saturday nights they used to have some good mixes on there! I rarely listen to any radio anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The only radio that I listen to now is eithe Sirius XM or Pandora (if you want to call that radio). Yeah, when 95.5 came out they started out hot, but I think now they sound pretty much like all the others.


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