Breakin’ In Space #10: The Micronawts – (I Can Do It… You Can Do It) Letzmurph Acrossdasurf
As well as outer space, members of the old-school electro fraternity had a baffling obsession with The Smurfs. Even as a kid I never got that. The Smurfs weren't really on my radar, except on summer holidays in France when they seemed to be absolutely everywhere. They were the promo tie-in of choice for all European food manufacturers and my holiday scrapbooks would be littered with images of the lil' blue dudes – pictured on ice lolly and chewing gum wrappers, stickers from packets of processed cheese, labels from soft drink bottles…
The craze for Smurfs in electro was started by Tyrone Brunson. After playing in a few funk groups in Washington DC, in 1982, he released 'The Smurf', an electro instrumental track with a killer bassline that became a club favourite in NYC, especially with the breakdancers, and reached #52 in the UK charts. It also popped up on the first 'Crucial Electro' album released on Street Sounds in 1984.
However, the Smurfs' legal team were none to happy with Brunson’s appropriation of their copyright, so rather than risk the wrath of Gargamel, the string of copycat singles that followed in the wake of ‘The Smurf’ all had interesting variations on the spelling – Smerf, Smirf, Smurph, Smerph etc. My personal favourite in the oeuvre was ‘(I Can Do It… You Can Do It) Letzmurph Acrossdasurf’ by The Micronawts, the second 12" release on Aaron Fuchs’ seminal New York label Tuff City. On the original issue it was called ‘Smurph Across the Surf’, but the spelling was corrupted even more on the subsequent pressing.
It was written by Barry Michael Cooper, who would go on to achieve fame as the screenwriter of New Jack City (which starred Ice-T – anyone who watches Jimmy Fallon might have seen Ice doing his impression of a Smurf during his appearance on the chat show back in July). This primitive electro track is really notable for being mixed by Afrika Bambaataa, credited on the flip as "The Peacemaker" for the role he played in bringing together warring gangs in NYC in the late 1970s. It's a curious track but very influential – the cartoon voices would later be all the rage on the electro scene. I can’t find that version on YouTube anywhere, so the instrumental will have to do. It’s still a cracker and I love the simple, childlike melody.