There were a lot of moving tributes to Paul “Trouble” Anderson after his death in late 2018. None was more pertinent than what John Morales wrote. In a series of social media posts, he essentially called out the bitter irony of a culture that ignores the living and saves its praise for the dead, as he felt happened to Paul Trouble Anderson over his last years.
I’ve been told there’s even a closet industry of PR professionals who craft custom tweets for celebrities to post after one of their comrades dies, to ensure their tweets wind up widely quoted and posted on media sites. Yeah, that’s right: this sick culture’s attention whoring has gotten so bad that we have people trying to upstage other people’s obituaries.
I don’t think things have gotten that depraved in dance music (yet), but the phenomenon John observed of mostly ignoring artists when they’re alive in favor of the hot new thing and then praising them after they’re gone is prevalent as hell. It isn’t any different now than when Frankie Knuckles said it – to “give me flowers when I’m alive ’cause I can’t enjoy them when I’m under the ground” – but then we’ve seen it done with Frankie after his death, too. Plenty of latter-day “Chicago stars” who barely knew Frankie have essentially turned him into a “brand.” It’s appalling to see a person you knew as a person, a live human being, transformed into an affinity symbol for branding by marketing-savvy DJs. So let’s not give our part of the industry a pass on matters of depravity, either.
So it was beautiful when I heard this project announced by BBE, and I’ve followed it closely up until its release. Because it’s important. Paul Trouble Anderson was important, and as John argued as “an outsider watching this life play out, Paul did not get the respect or accolades he justly deserved until now.” And it goes without saying that “Happy Day” more than lives up to the hype of memorializing, celebrating and paying it back for everything Paul Trouble Anderson gave to the world.
There is a certain symmetry to the source material as well, which originated in Britain. “Oh Happy Day” was a gospel phenomenon when it crossed over to the US pop charts in 1969, but Edwin Hawkins’ arrangement drew upon a hymn originally written in the early 1700s by English Nonconformist minister Philip Doddridge. I’m sure it sounded nothing like this (or the Edwin Hawkins’ arrangement for that matter), but we praise God in the voice that He gave us. Paul Trouble Anderson’s “voice” here is the late John Redmond, who carries the verses above drum programming from Booker T and lifts them up to meet the sky. This is such a wonderful recording.
Some record retailers reported going out of stock on the vinyl of “Happy Day” almost immediately (Juno still has copies at the time of writing). I hope it was bought by people who are playing it rather than speculators hoarding the last (to date) record by a great man. It deserves to be played, played often and played loudly. Surely we could at least grant him that.
Photo by scottmillerphotography.co.uk
Paul Trouble Anderson ft. John Redmond: Happy Day / BBE
A1. Paul Trouble Anderson ft. John Redmond: “Happy Day” (Classic main mix) (8:41)
B1. Paul Trouble Anderson ft. John Redmond: “Happy Day” (Classic dub mix) (6:37)