Gotta have music at the party. At some point, the conversation will turn to something like “Whoa, sounds like your mom is some sick bitch. Guess that’s where you got it, huh?” But a crippling silence will not ensue, cuz some trusty soul will grab the auditory crutch for a sudden subject change: “What is that interesting music you’re playing?” Better not be the Beatles or Motown, you boring idiot.

Instrumental bebop is good for a small party. It’s perky and smart, and there are no words to compete with the company. Piano especially: Bud Powell, or related pre-bop overachievers like Art Tatum, maybe Errol Garner. Keeps the energy up. For larger symposiums of drunken, slobbering bozos (your friends), who the hell cares? It’s just gotta be loud and fast. I was once complimented on a party compilation I’d made, and all I’d done was pick the fastest cuts I could think of. No Ramones albums allowed, though — how lazy can you get?

It’s a fallacy that cheerful music is always appropriate for a party. If you have a lot of pals who are suicidally depressed (and you do), play loud mournful music for ’em. Q: What kind of people know how to party like duckfuckers? A: People whose lives are absolute shit. So ancient music from Northern Africa, where there’s been nothing but war and grinding poverty for 5,000 years, boogies like Cain. Anything with ghaitas on it is great, and Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka rule — ask Brian Jones, who celebrated himself to death listening to it. Just as effective is Jamaican dub, which is the sound of colonial slavery and the sound of irresistible bootyshake combined. You say we’ve got that on our own soil in the form of John Lee Hooker? Damn straight; bring him on!

Okay, now it’s 1 a.m. Just as important as making your guests happy is making them miserable enough to get their bleary, babbling faces out of your house so you can crash. And it’s easy: All you’ll need is one album by noise-jazz great Albert Ayler, whose waves of squalling sax interspersed with twisted nursery rhymes almost nobody can stand. Don’t invite me, though, because the Ayler treatment won’t work: I’ll still be pissing on your rose bed at dawn. And when I finally leave, I’ll steal the CD.

Songs To Get the Party Started

“You Dropped a Bomb on Me”: Gap Band

“Party Train”: Gap Band

“Atomic Dog”: George Clinton

“White Lines”: Grandmaster Flash

“The Message”: Grandmaster Flash

“Rappers Delight”: Sugar Hill Gang

“Me, Myself and I”: De La Soul

“Paid in Full”: Eric B & Rakim

“Treat ’em Right”: Chubb Rock

“Treat Her Right”: Roy Head

“A Love Bizarre”: Sheila E.

“I Feel for You”: Chaka Khan

—John Payne

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