domingo, julho 30, 2006
A brand new Warren G, two Dogg G-funk production, some solid Deep Soul from the Malaco label, vintage Motown, Gumbo Funk, a classic Hiphop sample and 80's Soul [yes, they made Soul music in the 80's].
It’s been really hot over here but finally the weather is cooling down. This change of the physical context for living can be beautifully expressed in music.
By chance I stumbled upon a song from last year’s summer which was one of the summer hits of 2005. Amerie’s One Thing. Really a great funky go-go driven tune with an ear catching urgent vocal [which is makin’ school now – just listen to Beyoncé & Jay-Z recent Déjà Vu] written by Rich Harrison but there was also an alternative version circulating all over the internet that year which sheds a totally different light on the song. The Siik remix from http://siik.org/.
Pure technically it’s more of a mash-up but that’s a form of remix too. It mashed-up together Amerie's acapella floating over ‘Arurian Dance’ by Nujabes from a soundtrack of the Anime series Samurai Champloo. Usually a good mash-up works because they take two, relatively incongruent pieces of music and manages to find a synergy between them; but this remix by Siik sounds as if Amerie was meant to record her song with that musical arrangement. Which is a rare thing. Hearing that remix makes you listen at it as a completely new song.
Siik takes it in an other direction with that sublime guitar melody from Japanese producer Nujabes. They both definitely have that summer vibe. Compared to the weather, the originally version is like the torrid sultry scalpburnin’ weather we had; the remix is like a soft summer’s breeze.
I give you both versions in order to compare and enjoy because the original is also titillating hot, and off course Arurian Dance.
sexta-feira, julho 28, 2006
More classic cuts, some classic Rock this time
- apparently it’s golden oldies time over here –
Big Star is perhaps the most famous obscure band in the world. They're the definition of a Cult band. They had it all but despite critical acclaim they didn’t make it. Distribution problems and just bad luck prevented albums to reach a wide audience.
After their break-up in 1975, Big Star's records went in and (mostly) out of print, yet the band continued to attract new fans, along with legions of musical offspring. One of the big clichés of Rock is that anyone who bought the Velvet Underground's early records went on to form a band, and certainly the same can be said for the Big Star catalogue. A lot of the music on the Indiescene of the 80’s and 90’s and even today was never possible without the music of Big Star or they would have sounded differently.
Before founding the band, Alex Chilton had achieved fame in the late 60’s as the 16-year-old vocalist sounding like an old Blues singer singing ‘The Letter’ with the Box Tops. Basically a puppet for producers, Chilton felt unfulfilled with his minor role and walked away from fame into an uncertain future in
Obviously they loved the Beatles, Byrds and Kinks so they sound like a pop band but there’s a certain dirty, even creepy, edge to it that ads layers of meaning to their music and lyrics. It’s highly tensed or intense music. There’s a certain urge to it. An element of anxiety that gave it a dark undercurrent not usually associated with guitar-pop music, is what their site says. A feeling of imminent collapse… against… an atmosphere of wild spontaneity… which creates… times on the album that the tension is virtually unbearable is what the liner notes of the second album Radio City say. The different dynamics and tempo changes of Daisy Glaze is a fine example of that statement. A lot of critics call it lost innocence [after the Box Tops debacle and the
Apart from that, there are off course the gorgeous melodies and the awesome sound. Especially that of the guitars and the powered interplay which is highly unique and immediately recognisable. I'm not really fond of the songs that show too clearly the influence of The Beatles. My favourite one is O My Soul and it proofs their original approach to Rock and their
After the break up, Chilton and
Big Star reformed a couple of years ago without Chris Bell who died in 1979. I haven’t seen them yet, because I no longer visit the big festivals, but if you can believe the critics, they’re still great.
#1 Record 1972
Sister Lover 1975
Today some classic Electro. Wild robo-funk jams and smooth, soulful serene vocoder melodies and outrageous drum programming. Funk master John Davis - no to be mistaken with the second half of The Folk Implosion, the Classic composer and yes the reborn Christian country rocker with the same name - previously only known to addicted electro collectors, is perhaps the last remaining electro-funk pioneer to be rediscovered. In 1984 he made a couple of legendary party jams which have been said to have inspired artists ranging from Juan Atkins [Detroit’s Cybotron, model 500] to I-F [Dutch electro revivalists].
John Davis was born in Anderson, South Carolina to musical parents, and started playing the guitar when he was seven years old. He went on to learn the bass guitar, drums and keyboards and began his musical career travelling around
John recalls, ‘I had a friend, Manfred Radtke, who had a small studio in
These tracks reminds us of a more electroid Zapp, Prince, Rick James and a more mellower Egyptian Lover. As an experienced producer he worked in the early 80’s with Terry Lewis of The Time [Prince prodigies] and in the 90’s moved to
The bottom-line is that he produced a couple of brilliant, futuristic lost classics which are now for the first time collected on the second release of a new electro/funk label, based in London, called Citinite.
- Surprise surprise! John Davis is also the real voice behind Milli Vanilli but don’t let that scare you off -
some other lalala later on because of complaints. I will make a elaborate compilation of early electronic music some day which will feature a selection of John Davis' music. Maybe I will switch over to a podcast system. I don't know yet.
quarta-feira, julho 26, 2006
The Wailing Souls are undoubtedly one of the finest exponents of vocal harmony singing to have come out of
terça-feira, julho 25, 2006
The sensual, honeyed vocals of Wayne Wonder have made him a consistent hit maker with both extraordinary songs for lovers and the streets since the late 80’s.
Up until that moment in 2003 when his carrier exploded with the global #1 hit No Letting Go was Wayne Wonder only known to dancehall lovers.
From the moment he started recording music in the 80’s, first with the late King Tubby himself and later on with his childhood friend Dave Kelly at Penthouse Recordings, he caught attention with his richer, more soulful vocal approach to Reggae rhythm tracks than many of his contemporaries.
At Penthouse Records, which label is synonymous with Dancehall Reggae hits of the late 80's/early 90's and after that on the Madhouse and Xtra Large labels and his own Singso label, he created a steady stream of successful tunes for himself and others. He has co-written hits for artists like Buju Banton.
In 2002, he earned the first #1 hit of his career with No Letting Go based on hypnotic Diwali rhythm track from Steve ‘Lenky’ Marsden. In 2003 the song and album No Holding Back were re-released on the Major label Atlantic Records and the rest is history.The follow-up single and video was the equally good Bounce Along from the same album.
Beat guru extraordinaire Shawn Lee is the man behind The Ape Breaks and Planet of the Breaks series which were sampled by everyone from Guru to The Gorillaz. As a multi-instrumentalist and singer he has played and recorded with a diverse range of artists including Coldcut, Leeann Rhimes, Martina Mcbride, UNKLE, Tony Joe White, Chateau flight, The Dust Brothers, St. Etienne, Jeff Buckley, Bomb the Bass, The Spice Girls, and Natasha Atlas not to mention solo records for the Talkin’ Loud and Wall of Sound labels.
Taking inspiration from classic library records he made 2 albums worth of mood setting tracks that work great as an album to listen too, as a DJ tool, a production tool for sampling, or music for beds in advertising or film. My favorite tracks from the first studio sessions Music and Rhythm are El Duce and East West although the rest is just as groovy.
Library records were often recorded by top session musicians and featured tracks capturing a variety of moods - from the frantic bongo-driven chase scene to the string-laden back-drop for a tender love scene - the music featured was aimed largely at TV, film and radio producers. Many of these obscure records are highly collectible for the single one or two tracks that the best LP’s featured - often times selling for hundreds of dollars for an amazing breakbeat or a great funk track.
you can learn more about the amazing Mr. Lee at www.shawnlee.net
segunda-feira, julho 24, 2006
Prince has almost as many unreleased albums as released ones. The most interesting ones were made around the time of Sign 'O' the Times. Around 1986 he was fooling around in his studio and produced the now classic Housequake. He was so thrilled with the result that he produced an entire album worth of material with a sped up vocal that sounded like a female voice. He even invented a character to go with it, Camille [named after the French hermaphrodite] and planned to release it under that name. But he didn’t. Instead he started an ambitious 3 LP project called Crystal Ball which was later cut down to the double record Sign 'O' the Times. Many of these lost tracks reappeared later on on bootlegs [the famous outtakes] and semiofficial records like the Black Album but most of them made it to Sign 'O' the Times because he was very pleased with the Camille material and rightfully so. For me the prizewinner is If I Was Your Girlfriend which is also one of my all-time favourites. It’s the sound and atmosphere, the theme and lyrics but most of all the vocals. The version here is the original Camille version right from the Master copy. Thanx to http://www.rawlikesashimi.blogspot.com/ you can find the entire album at http://rapidshare.de/files/22477119/Camille.zip.html
010 Prince –If I Was Your Girlfriend
domingo, julho 23, 2006
Sébastien Tellier's last real album Politics came out in 2004. Whenever someone says that an album sounds Zappaesque it tickles my fancy. So I bought the album and it was a pleasant surprise in many ways. The tracks that refer to Zappa are great and circulate somewhere around Apostrophe (‘) and Over-Nite Sensation but on that album there was also one really outstanding track which was something totally different. That track was La Ritournelle and ever since its release, it started a life of its own with many remixes and even different video versions. It turns up on one compilation album after the other and it stills gets re-released.
A recent video version in Quick time is here but it’s a cut down version.
The original full version is on his site under the music & video section right here.
If you wonder what Ritournelle means you can read what J.J. Rousseau has to say about it in Diderot’s encyclopédie right here.
RITOURNELLE, s.f. en Musique, est un morceau de symphonie, assez court, qui se met en maniere de prélude, à la tête d'un air, dont ordinairement elle annonce le chant, ou à la fin, & alors elle imite la fin du même chant, ou dans le milieu du chant, pour reposer la voix, pour ajouter à l'expression, ou simplement pour embellir la piece. Dans les partitions ou recueils de musique italienne, les ritournelles sont souvent désignées par les mots si suona, qui signifient que l'instrument qui accompagne, doit répéter ce que la voix a chanté. Voyez REPETITION. Ritournelle vient de l'italien, & signifie proprement petit retour, ritornello. (S)
[Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des métiers de Diderot et d'Alembert (1751-1776)].
There’s also a more up to date version of it. The great French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who died in 1995, developed a new concept for the term as a constantly repeating melody in relation to the act of de-territorialisation. I’m not going to try to explain it right here but just think of a child that sings or hums a little tune to fall sleep because it' afraid in the dark. there's off course plenty more of it on the net.
So maybe the track is a tribute to Deleuze. My view on it quite similar. The music evokes the feeling of a kind of dreamlike state of being you don’t want to end. But you know that situation has to end sometime. Imaging you’re just falling in love and your love get’s answered. You feel on top of the world and you just don’t want to get off it. You repeat or reconstruct that feeling over and over again, kind of mantra-like, to keep it with you, but deep down you know it has to stop somewhere. If not in a fight or an argument, a more moderate normal relationship or finally death itself. I was really impressed how he can make the music tell this story.
sábado, julho 22, 2006
Brasioe is more than just carnivaoe, caipirinha’s, capoeirha, futíbol, samba, bossa and all the other stereotypes which blend nicely into a great summer’s party back at your place. As stereotypes do, these archetypes of the brazilian way intend to mask and show their essence at the same time. They’re all powerful cultural icons which lead a live of their own by now, but they take strong root in brazilian life. Still today. They’re not just fashionable for summer but meaningful expressions of what it means to be brazilian or what it means to be part of a nation with just a small number of extremely wealthy people living together but apart from large numbers of have-nots, to live in an nation which gave us one of the most magnificent architectural styles and visions of modern life but doesn’t manage to home large quantities of it’s population properly, to live in a city like Rio which is one of the largest cities on the planet but who’s history is written everyday at the beach and in the sea.
The merry view on brasil still lasts and seems to be indestructible and doesn’t need expensive publicity campaigns. Brasil, it seems, sells itself. It’s a total brand on it’s own or is it just a product of our dreams?
There’s a flipside to all of this. Apart from the happy joie de vivre there’s also a lot of tristeza. There’s a lot of crime, corruption, poverty and violence and it’s part of everyday life. Movies like Cidade de Deus aren’t cooked up fantasies but many people’s reality. For an outsider everything looks pretty save if you stick to the beaten tracks but for the same outsider are no-go areas really no areas to go if you plan to come back.
A friend of mine lived in brasil for two years. He got well adapted to the way of life but still got shocked when he found out that the reaction of the elderly of the village, when someone he knew well got shot, was that it was a shame that it took place on main street, at broad daylight and not in the forest at night. It was bad for commerce and a damn shame. A human life isn’t worth shit apparently.
All this aspects are sides of the same coin. You can’t keep them apart because they belong together. The way people live up to get lost in carnival, the way they celebrate life trough music and dance and dream nostalgically for better or of once good times is probably an answer to the hard facts of life.
This stress of city life makes up a very vibrant and dynamic society. Everything has a certain urge to it. A certain edge, a certain need for things to happen. Preferably right now, while it’s still possible. Which is different from the way we live here in Europe.
One of the wonders of brazilian music is the way all of this comes together naturally in the rhythms, voices and melodies. They’ve got a word for it, Saudade, which is difficult to translate [so they say]. It expresses vitality, the urge to live, the need for chance, remorse and desperation, hope and sadness. All in one. The paradoxes keep on. It’s highly modern and ancient, tribal and trendy or sophisticated. It’s a fairly young hybrid but with very strong roots. It mixes African, Portuguese and other European roots with indigenous sounds, rhythms and instruments. Samba is a great vehicle, a constant flexible flow or flows that absorbed all styles and influences and gave back original points of view that triggered now evolutions and changes of style [antropofagus]. It’s truly one of the main branches on the Afro-American tree next to the Afro-Cuban and the Blues.
- à suivre -
The pictures are from a great brazilian photographer called Alexander órion http://www.alexandreorion.com/_orion.htm
Not to many words today, only music. Weather Report is known as being one of the leading fusion bands of the 70’s. Maybe less known is that they were also really funky. I will give more proof of that later on.
008 Weather Report - Mysterious Traveller - Nubian Sundance (short version)
Someone corrected me on this. Mysterious traveller is not with Jaco Pastorius but with Alphonso Johnson on Bass. Thanx Jacek.
After the split up of the famous no wave band The Pop Group, a couple of members formed Pigbag. Their best known song and only hit single, I guess, was a great dance track which refers to James Brown’s milestone Papa’s got a brand new bag. I give you an alternative 12” version which I like better than the original 7”.
009 Pigbag - Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag 12” (mix) 1982
There’s also a nice fansite of Pigbag with some music of another split up band called Instinct.
terça-feira, julho 11, 2006
I have to start somewhere so I might as well start right here!
I originally intended to post a lot of black or black related music. Soul, funk, fusion, rare grooves, dub, reggae, dancehall, … but up until now it seems that I only got my act together concerning other types of music. They’re a little bit more orderly packed while the motherload of black music in my collection is just one big mess.
Nevertheless I’m starting right here and now with something that’s not too obscure but that doesn’t mean that it's no good. Beverley Knight is about my age but boy, that’s about as much as we have in common. I can’t sing and I’m not half as good lookin’ [even though it’s an older picture].
Anyway, she’s Jamaican, grew up singing gospel and made a fame for herself singing R&B with the dark brown colour of her voice. My favourite tune is Greatest Day in the classic mix.
001 Greatest Day (Classic mix)
Next. The meaning of the Name.
This should have been the first post up this alley, but I couldn’t find the original version of a certain song right away [remember the mess] so it’s the second one.
Black Gold of the Sun is a great anthem and a cool name. Around the time that many rap and hip-hop artist were starting to pay respect to their roots and idols [~ Guru’s Jazzmatazz] a tribute album was released called Nuyorican Soul.
Nuyorican Soul is an alias for good old Masters at Work or MAW. They gathered around them a variety of old Latin and Soul legends (Ayers, Benson, Palmieri, Salsoul Orchestra, ...) to make a great double album back in 1996. The opener of that album is Black Gold of the Sun sung by Jocelyn Brown. A soul diva with whom they collaborate frequently [more later]. The original version of the song is by The Rotary Connection with the famous Minnie Riperton [even more later on].
002 I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun - Rotary Connection feat. Minnie Riperton
003 I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun - Nuyorican Soul feat. Jocelyn Brown
More from the Barrio and some Smooth Jazz
While picking up Black Gold from the Nuyorican Soul album I stumbled on an old favourite of mine, Nautilus from the Jazz pianist and bandleader Bob James. MAW reworked it and rebaptised it as Mawtilus.
Bob James is best know as the Godfather of Smooth Jazz. He became famous as writer of the theme song of the sitcom Taxi but he will be remember best for a series of classic albums with a couple of killer tracks he produced in the 70’s. In my opinion the term Smooth Jazz is not a appropriate branding. It’s a moniker which suggest that it sounds slick in stead of seductive which most of it is. It’s pretty hot and broad ranging stuff. It’s a highly customised blend of jazz, funk, pop and classical music. A real crossover if you have to brand it something.
The first one is ballad featuring a young Patti Autin. The others are very scenic instrumentals. I always think of them as soundtracks to a still unmade movie.
004 Nuyorican Soul – Mawtilus
005 Bob James feat. Patti Autin – I Feel a Song in my Heart – [Two 1975]
006 Bob James – Night Crawler – [Heads 1977]
007 Bob James – Westchester Lady – [three 1976]
sexta-feira, julho 07, 2006
The fist post is an obscure Italo disco track van 1982 by Miss Vivien Vee and produced by Claudio Simonetti [from 70’s group Goblin and many horror picture soundtracks after that]. It’s not awesome but alright. I like italot.
The second one is and track from 1981 by the Yellow Magic Orchestra. YMO is one of the many founding fathers of electronic popmusic. Cue is one of their best early tracks. YMO does no longer exist but former member Ruichi Sakamoto is still doing great makin’ records, collaborating [listen to the sad old men post from David Sylvian] and makin’ soundtracks. He even found some time to play in a movie alongside David Bowie.
The last post is from The Talking Heads. Remain in Light is still one the best albums from the 80’s. Cross-eyed and Painless is the central piece of the funk loaded first half of the record.
There's a video of it on Youtube. Nice storydancing.