Lost but not least! Eddie Cheba – Lookin’ Good (Shake Your Body) (Tree Line)
Summer 79. doin’ a tour as a club promoter for labels such as WMOT and Fantasy, I landed for a few days in Brittany, and more precisely in Saint-Malo. This is how I discovered Radio One which one could get on FM from there. Back to Paris a few weeks later, no need telling you how tune in to it would be a way different story. As too far to catch it on FM, meanwhile switching to the medium waves happened to be so capricious.
Nevertheless I finally managed to get it on a Saturday night and catch Al Matthews delivering his weekly Discovatin’ show…
The reception happened to be brief and more or less distorted. But what a blast I had. The man successively playing GQ‘s ‘Standing Ovation’ and Frank Hooker & The Positive People ‘Rock Me’. And also Eddie Cheba‘s ‘Lookin’ Good’ before I sadly lost the connection.
Lookin’ good (and soundin’ great) is definitely how I felt when discovering the latter. And what an instantly overwhelming jam this was. Blending a dynamic Rap with uplifting vocal parts over a horn and string-led killer Disco/Funk groove! I never understood how the man, despite such an obvious talent, never managed to deliver a follow-up to it…
Born Edward Sturgis in Harlem, NY, Eddie Cheba (also spelt Cheeba) stands as a pivotal figure in the history of contemporary music. The man gained an early reputation as a Disco DJ in the Big Apple area clubs. Taking influence from long time friend and eventually rival DJ Hollywood, Cheba started crafting his own crowd motivation raps. Before even Hip-Hop saw the light, he established a unique style blending raps along with Disco vibes.
Seen by many back then as the #1 club DJ in the mid-70’s, he would perform with an entire crew and show. The Cheeba Crew included 7 female dancers and his DJ, Easy Gee. Like many of his alter egos, Eddie Cheba‘s style and rhymes would be duplicated on the early Rap records. With the pioneers receiving no credit nor royalties for their material.
Knowing this, no wonder why Eddie Cheba never got a higher status. This added to the (key) fact that his live sets never translated to record. Some would acknowledge his quintessential contribution though. Like Public Enemy‘s Chuck D when he says “Cheba was as important to Hip-Hop/Rap as Ike Turner was to Rock & Roll…” . Or Kurtis Blow stating that “he was a master of the crowd response.”
Further on, Eddie Cheba only released one piece of wax – ‘Lookin’ Good’ – on Tree Line back in 1979. Quite illustrative of what his talent was about…