‘Play At Your Own Risk’


Recorded during the same sessions as ‘Planet Rock’, ‘Play At Your Own Risk’ is an inspired and hugely creative expansion of the basic ‘Planet Rock’ backing. Arthur Baker recruited an out-of-contract vocal group called The Ambitions, from his hometown, Boston, to provide vocals for the track, but insisted they change their name to Planet Patrol to better reflect the emerging futuristic sound made possible by the Roland TR-808 and the E-mu Emulator.

Baker’s production collaborator on this track (and many others) was John Robie, a keyboard programmer from New York. The Emulator was the first affordable sampling machine and it enabled Baker and Robie to experiment with different sounds and arrangements. As they didn’t have access to much else in the way of electronic equipment (in fact, their Emulator was borrowed from Man Parrish) they had to make the most of what they could get their hands on, but very few electro productions have since matched this track’s inventiveness.

Also involved in the production was François Kevorkian; he provided a more percussive mix but Baker wasn’t so keen on it and the mix wasn’t used, but Kevorkian’s influence can be heard on the instrumental version. John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez played at New York’s FunHouse on Saturday nights and the instrumental version fitted in well with his Latin-influenced percussive set. ‘Play At Your Own Risk’ was a huge hit amongst the club’s Italian, Latin and black crowd, six months before the record was finally pressed and released in 1982 on Tommy Boy.

Man Parrish and Raul Rodriguez shared the same studio space with Baker and Robie and towards the end of the track you can hear the “dog barks” which also appeared on ‘Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don’t Stop)’.

Posted by Manny Z

Related Entries:
John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez
Man Parrish


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