electric six picture

#TBT | Electric Six, “Danger! High Voltage”

The worst damage you can possibly do to a great chorus is to wrap it in tepid verses. Dick Valentine understands this, but of course anyone who adopts the stage name Dick Valentine understands this. That’s the secret of “Danger! High Voltage” – there are no verses, only an opening and closing salvo bookending a chaotic mix of choruses and solos.

Electric Six takes their metaphors literally – if yelling “danger danger! high voltage!” was too subtle for anyone, it’s underscored by a cheap crackling electric arc sound effect. The line “fire in the disco!” is paired with a close up painting of a burning disco ball in the video. The only thing that’s not straightforward is the second vocalist – years of thin denials haven’t kept anyone from assuming it’s Jack White. While the video substitutes a woman in his role, the swapped lines in the song make it clear there are no girls in the picture, just two guys who are really excited about each other.

After the first chorus a sax kicks in but quickly makes way for a a couple of guitars (it comes back for a victory lap later). Electric Six’s model here is clear: they’re channeling Eliminator-era ZZ Top, a cocky blues rock act so far through the looking glass they’d become a lockstep disco band. The song was released in 2002, at the same time DFA was exploring a more tasteful form of dance rock revivalism, but Electric Six didn’t care about long intros or slow builds. The best pop songs have a ruthless efficiency to them, and “Danger! High Voltage” wastes no time.

Nothing could be done to improve this song in any way; it’s perfect.