The musical dress code for the next seven days at VEOBA is red patent leather, tight and up close, all day and all night. It’s Axl Foley in a renegade convertible driving top-down, cruising along a turd stained Hollywood Boulevard; not giving a fuck about anybody or anything except the fact that he’s gonna catch that dirty ratbag Maitland and make him pay (make him pay BIG time) for murdering Mikey. This is Eddie Murphy back when hadn’t a clue he’d be more known for Norbit than his celebrated SNL stint. Back when he was more concerned with keeping things Delirious and Raw and not hellbent on making moviegoers regret paying for, and subsequently sitting through, all 109 minutes of The Klumps.
Yep, pre-shemale jerkoff Murphy was once the toast of Tinsel Town and wielded the variety of power usually only reserved for princes and heirs to the throne of Zamunda. Yet with undeniably power, as a reckless 2010 Yeezy has since displayed, comes irrefutable responsibility. Murphy could do whatever the hell he wanted to back in the eighties. In midst of his Beverly Hills Cop heyday, Murphy heedlessly decided it was primetime for a melodious cross-over. Naturally he was going to record a synth-pop album. And of course he bound to enlist Rick James as a producer, and of course How Could It Be was destined to reach #26 on the Billboard 200. Because the year was 1985, Judge Reinhold was still getting quality roles and Murphy was going to fucking “Party All The Time.”
THURSDAY: And So It Begins.
Ever since I somehow got roped into not one, but two reluctant viewings of Meet Dave (don’t ask), I’ve completely written off Eddie Murphy the funny man. Daddy Day Care, the aforementioned Norbit, they’ve all been metaphorical nails in Murphy’s very literal comedic career coffin for me. As a child I was a fanatic and in my late teens I downgraded myself to a fan. But whatever belly laughs produced back when I used to spend Saturday nights down in the rec room, secretly watching Eddie Murphy Raw at 3am with the sound low as to remain undetected while dad was busy upstairs replicating the ice cube scene from 9 1/2 weeks with mi madre, were completely uprooted when Murphy donned the spacesuit/ship for the debacle that was 2008‘s horrid family comedy, Meet Dave. And now? I actually somewhat loath Eddie Murphy. So to be entirely frank, this weeklong How Could It Be session was quite the arduous step to take after years of dated punchlines and recent letdowns.
How Could It Be was released by CBS Records to overwhelmingly negative reviews. Mostly produced by Aquil Fudge (the exceptions being Rick James on “Party All The Time” and Stevie Wonder’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”), the album contains glistening synths over typical 80s funk. Piled atop one another like plywood floorboards with Murphy’s struggling vocals acting as a soft and thin throw rug, one that doesn’t quite cover up the content’s obvious flaws.
For reals though, the notion of listening to this LP constantly over the next six days is not a welcomed one. If given the choice, I think I’d rather listen to an endless loop of the noise my roommate’s piss makes when he forcefully urinates directly into the goddamn toilet water.
Friday: In Which Eddie Tackles Racism
Racial discrimination, bigotry, and even non-denominational religious beliefs are both acknowledge and addressed in Murphy’s civil and honey dripping ballad “My God is Color Blind.” Delivered by an often nomadic vocal range, Murphy throttles racism directly yet delicately, grabbing civil injustice firmly by the subject’s timeless and strained nut sack. Twisted and turned, his thin and flaky voice doesn’t spare the niceties of a subject that, albeit wrong, lesser people would have tiptoed around. Nope. Not Eddie. Not the big E. He loves all of God’s children. Cue the chorus (and celestial choirs), “My God is color blind. Blue, Black or White you can be a friend on mine. Never judge another man by his race or creed. We are all different colors, but if I cut you you’ll bleed.” Very solemn and very serious words from the man who supplied the voice for Donkey. Proof that EVERYONE has to do their part. Also, it was pretty nice of Eddie to give a shout out to Martin Fugate (of the Kentucky Blue Fugates, naturally).
Saturday: If You’re Not European, Euro Definitely Pooping
I spent a few days out in Brooklyn over the weekend. Inge, a Dutch friend and PR superstar who’s been living in the states for about a decade, invited me for a weekend of rest and relaxation. Escaping Manhattan, I made her listen to the album at least three times all the way through. Then asked her what she thought of Eddie Murphy afterwards.
Inge: “I think he was this cute little boy, but then he got full of himself. So he just wanted to be this cute little boy and now he got stuck in that role. And now he’s doing films like Big Mama’s House. Where he plays every character. That’s him right?”
Me: “That’s Martin Lawrence.”
Inge: “Oh, well him as well. But I still remember Eddie as this “fucking this, fucking that” guy. Where he treats woman rough, but it’s okay cause he says women like it.”
Me: “Well, what do you think about the album?”
Inge: “You know, my overall thought, was that it’s so timid. It’s not his style. It’s a smooth Eddie, instead of the rebellious or rumbustious Eddie that I grew up with.”
Me: “Would you ever play this album?”
Inge: “I would never play this album. Except for “Party All The Time.” That song gives me the spirit of the weekend and that anything’s possible! I think it’s the Moroder synth.”
I did not listen to any music today as I did not want to listen to Eddie Murphy sing. Instead, my daily and quite mandatory 6 hour interweb marathon was soundtracked by the DVD title screen of Seinfeld’s second season. Slappin’ da bass and all. Cause just like Das Racist, Michael Richards makes my fucking mind melt.
Monday: A Sole Positive Shines Through
Okay enough dismissive negativity. Perhaps it’s time for a little positive feedback. If How Could It Be produced one salvageable nugget of 1985 pop Valveeta, it was Murphy’s narrative take on girls who like to live fast and slut hard. The Rick James produced single “Party All The Time” detailed out one man’s tale of true grit and hardship against all spousal odds. Wikipedia describes the track’s concept fairly well (to say the least):
“The song tells a harrowing tale from the perspective of a heartbroken lover, portrayed in the first-person by Eddie Murphy. He begins by questioning, perhaps rhetorically, why the female he is currently participating in a relationship with would want to cause him emotional pain. The narrator goes on to list expensive and fancy items he’s purchased for her, including, but not limited to: champagne, roses, and diamond rings.”
What astonishes me most, besides the fact that the narrator was getting completely dogged even after buying homegirl diamond rings (I mean, diamond rings! Are you shitting me?!) is the idea that this song deserved such a long-winded Wiki entry in the first place. Either someone’s definitely on E. Murphy’s stalker shortlist or the actor’s got some eager beaver on payroll painstakingly trying to reverse his image, one bloated Wikipedia entry at a time. Although I’d be willing to bet a noon-time special at the fast food joint of your choosing (I hear Chipotle is nice), the SNL-alumni does it himself. Glass of Chardonnay-nay in one hand, a Virginia Slim in the other, and a Friday night spent editing Wikipedia. Like a boss. The entry continues:
“Later on, the narrator points out that he’s acted as a voyeur and observed said female whilst she was present at an unknown nightclub. She was seen, presumably by the narrator, providing her telephone number to virtually every male patron of the club that she came in verbal contact with. We are then informed that the narrator’s female companion never arrives at their place of residence in the evening. Her absence is believed to be caused by infidelity presumably with one or many of the men she became acquainted with earlier that evening.”
The Wiki entry finishes its verbose elucidation with a money shot matter-of-fact. An unemotional desire with an abundance of emotional implications that has successfully plagued significant others, both male and female, for centuries:
“The narrator then goes on to wish that his female companion would instead have sexual intercourse with him, instead of the many other men she has been copulating with.”
Heard that brother man Eddie. Heard that. Cue ebony meet ivory fist bump.
TUESDAY: Super Freaky Tuesday
If one looks closely at the album art, you can actually see evidence of Rick James’ production assistance. Literally. Coke fingerprints from the “Super Freak” are everywhere.
WEDNESDAY: And On The Seventh Day I Shall Rejoice
There’s a Medieval Times right outside of Chicago. I used to go there often as a young child between years 1991-1994. (It was the go-to destination for suburban white kids and their birthday parties after all.) I’d eat the tiny chicken with my tiny greasy hands then use those tiny greasy hands to cheer on the dastardly Green Knight (he always was/is the baddest of bad boyz). However, in addition to the scripted horse and pony show, Medieval Times usually utilized the available space in the castle’s foyer to erect a family-friendly dungeon. A fabricated imprisonment that housed various replications dedicated to medieval torture techniques. The Rack, breast rippers (a device that looks as painful as it sounds), and various head crushers (compresses skull, shatters mouth, squeezes out the eyes, etc etc) were always well-represented. Family fun for sure, but also visually fascinating stuff. Although I’m quite certain, had it not been for various requirements installed as curating guidelines, to the left of the guillotine and next to those little wrought iron penis cages (the ones constructed with half inch spikes meant to penetrate Medieval hard-ons), would be a dusty copy of How Could It Be. Because really, seven days spent with this record is seven days too many. Complete and utter torture. Call me William Wallace ‘cause I need “Freeeeeeeedom!”
Unfortunately for Eddie and the attentive yet tasteless ears of the American public, How Could It Be was a quasi-commercial success. With propulsion generated by “Party All The Time” (#2 on Billboard Hot 100), Murphy’s debut musical album would end up charting at #26 which, at least back in the freewheeling eighties, guaranteed him a sophomore album (and apparently a third as well). And while his subsequent releases, So Happy and 1993’s Love’s Alright, never quite converted Murphy into the bonafide pop star he so desperately sought to be, he still got Rick James and blind boy Stevie Wonder to help produce his panned musical entrance. And as we all know, Rick James is, one helluva drug. Kudos Murphy.
How Could It Be. More like How Could It Be Worse?
Answer: Easy. It could’ve had a running time of 36 minutes instead of just 35.
To read HEAVEmedia’s Wes Soltis’ Seven Day Listen of Rick Moranis, head over to VEOBA.