Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dios (Malos)

Dios (Malos) used to be called dios. A year or so ago they were contacted by lawyers in the employ of diminutive metal god Ronnie James Dio. Apparently the metal imp thought that the band dios could be easily confused with himself and sued them to stop using the name. They complied by adding (Malos). Their latest album is a self titled affair that picks up where their last one left off. These guys write Californian (they're from Hawthorne, CA) slacker rock in the vein of Grandaddy or Neil Young. They also like to throw in the occasional Beatles reference, and are aces at the stoner rock anthem. Grrrl is pure '70s pop radio gold - a strummy riff, sunny vocals and melodies - it's a short burst of shiny pop perfection. I Want It All is shimmery, sad guy rock. These dudes have a real knack for melody, and this one is no exception. I love the drum sound on it - so big. I also really like the handclappy break halfway through. A lovely, rootsy album full of memorable tunes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Black Acetate

John Cale turned 63 this year. The Welsh art rocker, former Velvet Underground member and sometime Eno collaborator released one of his hardest hitting records ever to celebrate. Black Acetate jettisons most of the hip electronics that were all over his last LP, Hobosapien (produced by Nick Franglen from Lemon Jelly). This record is all about power trio rock, with a bit of electro embellishment added for occasional effect. It's powerful stuff, loud and aggressive and riff-tastic. Turn The Lights On means business from the get go - big snarling riff, John's booming baritone, that fierce squalling solo. It's heavy stuff for such an old geezer. Hush is more experimental like some of the material from the last album. It's sparse, squlechy art funk - a basic beat, wah wah guitars, lots of vocal interplay and effects. A loud and in my face album that is one of my fave rock records of the year.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Spoon vs. John McEntire

Spoon's latest single is Sister Jack, a track from their recent LP Gimme Fiction. The "b-side" (it is a CD single) has the previously unreleased Sunday Morning Wednesday Night, the video for the title track, and a John McEntire remix of another track from the LP, I Turn My Camera On. In it's original form it's a super sparse slow jam - vaguely funky and minimal. McEntire applies his sonic magic, beefing up the beats, adding watery effects and punching up the vocals. The end result is almost gangsta in it's feel - sounds crazy, eh? Spoon have always had a heavily danceable appeal to their music, so it's cool to hear that played up. Here's I Turn My Camera On (John McEntire Remix).

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Special Request - Doot Doot

NickFRESH just found this old post from October, and commented on how much he needed this tune. I am happy to oblige...

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Freur predated Prince in one special way - the use of a glyph as their name. Look at the cover above - the circle with the zig zaggy line coming off it is the band's name. It was a silly gimmick, and one their label knew would make it hard to sell records, so they asked them to change it. Instead, the band then came up with a way to pronounce the glyph - Freur. Freur are also notable because it's the earliest recordings of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, who of course went on to become Underworld, the titans of '90s electronica. The music here is a mix of prog rock and synth-pop. It seems like a deadly combination, but somehow on the tune Doot Doot (12" Version) it works for me. The vocals are classic Karl Hyde - the cadence, the way he sings words - it's all there. The song was a minor hit in the British charts, and I've always loved it's oddness. It still sounds pretty good today, although the drums at the end are a bit dodgy in that gated, '80s syn-drummy way. Its a nice bit of psychedelic pop that slowly builds from trippy, cricket chirping mellowness to full on, blip laden proggy pounding. The band failed to have any kind of real success, split up, and Karl and Rick went on the form version 1.0 of Underworld. The rest is history.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Funky Friday's The One For You

I'm short on time today so it's a quickie post. D Train's debut single, 1981's You're The One For Me, is today's funky flashback, a classic slice of electro disco. It features some absolutely fab synth squiggling, booming production and slick arrangements by Hubert Eaves III. Over this big electro-disco track you get the deep gospel voice of James "D Train" Williams. And a catchier than shit chorus. This is the tasty 12" remix - I'm not sure who did this mix as the mp3 wasn't properly tagged. Both François Kevorkian and Paul Hardcastle did remixes, so it could be either - it sounds closer to Hardcastle's style to me. I especially like the breakdown - key solo, vocal riffing, then the track builds up again. James' vocals after the break are great - full of life and funk. A stompingly good tune to send you on your merry weekend way.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My '80s Remastered - Touch

Earlier in the week I did a Eurythmics post that covered their debut LP Sweet Dreams. I also picked up a copy of it's follow up, Touch. it's another album full of gorgeous hits like Here Comes The Rain Again and Who's That Girl?. It's got it's quirks - the calypso funk of Right By Your Side, and it has it's emotionally big moments too - No Fear, No Hate, No Pain. While I love this record, I don't think it has aged as well sonically as Sweet Dreams - there are a few of those more dated sounding productions, although the remastering goes some way towards fixing that. There are seven extra tracks on this, including the previously unreleased take on the David Bowie/John Lennon nugget Fame. While it's not exactly a classic take, it's still interesting to hear. I like the burbly rhythms, and the rest of it is really all about Annie's voice. Another recommended remaster.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Roots Home Grown!

Philly crew The Roots have been dropping knowledge on the masses for over a decade now, combining the awesomeness of the live, band driven groove with the thought provoking raps of Black Thought. Their records have had their classic moments, and their live show is the stuff of hip hop legend. Last week saw the release of Home Grown! The Beginners Guide To Understanding The Roots. Curated by drummer extraordinaire Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, there are two seperate CDs (Vols. 1 & 2). The material comes from ?uestlove's archives, and features exclusive remixes, never before released tracks and lots of liner notes from the mighty stick man. It's a heady brew of beats and pieces from this experienced crew, and I still haven't fully digested it all. I love these guys - have all the records, seen 'em live. These two discs are a lot of fun. Today I give you one of my all time favorite Roots tunes, taken from Vol.1, and one that features the fabulous vibes playing of the legendary Roy Ayers - Hometro/Proceed 2 (Featuring Roy Ayers). It's one hell of a fat ass groove - tight drums, big thick bass lines, and those velvety smooth vibes slay me every time. This version was originally on the Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool compilation from 1994, and is a remake of a track that appeared on 1993's Do You Want More?!!!??!. Classic smokin' grooves.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Brasilian Post Punk '82-'88

As Mercenarias came to my attention earlier this year when several of their tracks appeared on a couple of cool compilations I had picked up - Nao Wave & The Sexual Life Of The Savages. Both featured Brasilian bands from the early to late '80s who took the post punk blueprint laid out by the Brits and Americans and added the flavor of Brazil - the language and the rhythms. As Mercenarias are an all girl group, playing punk-funk. Yes, they are still together after 25 years. Their music is tight, edgy, and danceable. It's everything that I could ask for in a post punk record. And their sounds fits in with today's scene very nicely. Soul Jazz records has released a compilation of the band's finest moments entitled Brasilian Post Punk 1982-88 - O Começo Do Fim Do Mundo. If you buy the vinyl you get a cool 7" of demos. The album kicks off with the springy, scratchy groove of Me Perco, and the later years are represented by the mellow-ish Lembranças with it's lovely guitars. Rumor has it that they will be touring Europe at the end of the year with a new lineup featuring two of the original girls plus a couple of new guys. Sounds like a pretty great show.

Monday, November 21, 2005

My '80s Remastered - Sweet Dreams

Last week saw RCA release the Eurythmics back catalogue in expanded remastered format. Dave Stewart helmed the remasters. They are available as single discs, or all bundled together in a box. Each album has extra tracks - b-sides, remixes, live recordings and previoulsy unreleased songs. Thee remasters are, as I've grown fond of saying, "the shit". I picked up the first 2 albums, Sweet Dreams and Touch, and plan on getting a few more as well. Sweet Dreams has really benefitted from the remastering - it sounds so much beefier, and the details are more pronounced. This was their big breakthrough album, and it covers a lot of ground. It's been a real blast rediscovering this record over the last week. I was afraid that it might sound a bit dated, but to my surprise it has aged pretty well. The thing with this duo is that they aren't jusy synthpop, although synthpop is a big part of the equation. There is Euro flavor, horns, a touch of art rock, and a hefty dose of experimentation. And that voice. Unique, and with such range, capable of going from angelic, operatic heights to down and dirty gruffness in a blink of an eye. I am still amazed at how beautiful her voice is. Combined with the quirky instrumentation of Dave Stewart, it all added up to something very cool and different, and it's still that way. From the opening salvo of Love Is A Stranger to album closer This City Never Sleeps there isn't a dud on it. It's class from start to finish. Instead of the big hits I'm sharing a personal fave track, This Is The House. It's got a persistent beat, a hugely funky bass riff, horns, lyrics in Spanish, blippy synths and scratchy guitars. Basically, a little bit of everything, perfectly balanced - it's all good. The bonus material is interesting - a couple of b-sides, a Giorgio Moroder remix of Love Is A Stranger, a Coldcut remix of Sweet Dreams, and a previously unreleased version of Lou Reed's Satellite Of Love. It's fascinating stuff, and if you are a fan you will really dig these!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sweet 7"s of the '80s - Shake Shake!

Occasionally I am willing to take a special request. Kenny asked if I would repost some tracks that I originally wrote about in March of this year (under the title "An '80s Obscurity"). I've never come across anybody who has ever heard of Shake Shake!, and since the mp3s were still on my computer, here you go!

Shake Shake! were pretty much a one off. As far as I can tell they put out only one single, 1981's Shake Shake!, released on Tot Taylor's ultra hip early '80s indie label The Compact Organization - home to swanky looking and sounding popsters like Mari Wilson. Google has very little info to offer on them. A group of musicians and studio engineers who previously had worked on Swedish singer Virna Lindt's Attention Stockholm single, they included multi-instrumentalists Jo Dworniak and Duncan Bridgeman. There is a lot more info available on these two as they have continued to be involved in music over the years. Their next project was I-Level, a Britfunk trio (who will be the subject of tomorrow's Funky Friday post), and they also worked as session musicians - they appear on John Foxx's The Garden LP. Duncan continues to record, most recently under the name 1 Giant Leap, who in 2001 released an LP of world music mixed with electronica and lot's of high profile guest vocalists - folks like Michael Stipe, Babaa Maal, Asha Bhosle, Neneh Cherry and Michael Franti. But I digress - the two songs recorded as Shake Shake! are B-52's inspired, sorta funky new wave - the sleeve touts the music as "new songs for a new route" and also informs us that "Shake Shake! play funktional music for every function". Shake Shake! is gloriously herky-jerky in it's rhythms, and features fun female-male vocal interplay spouting lyrics about getting down to the beat. I love the sparseness - drums, bass, keys and the vocals all nicely balanced. Flip it over to the B-side and you get Yellow Ditty, a lurching post-punk dub thing. This track actually kind of reminds me of the music of M (Pop Muzik) - slightly wacky, definitely danceable oddball new wave.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Funky Friday's '80s Triple Play

I'm closing out "sweet 7's" week with some eighties soul stuff...

Gwen Guthrie - Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent
This is a tough as nails single from 1986. Take a fab disco diva voice, let NYC disco legend Larry Levan handle the production, and voila! - a stone cold classic with lyrics that cut against the grain. No "I love my man" shit here - it's realist vibe says "no romance without finance". Gwen is fierce on this electro disco classic 7" - "you've got to have a J.O.B. if you want to be with me". To which I say "yes, m'aam!"

Dennis Edwards - Don't Look Any Further
This 1984 single from this former Temptations singer features some great co-vocals from '80s r'n'b singer Siedah Garrett, as well as a very memorable groove. Samples of this song have been used by a bunch of folks, including Eric B & Rakim and Tupac. The bass line is classic, the key riff is ultra catchy, and the result is a smooth as butter slice of '80s soul that still sounds great to my ears today. Sweet.

Evelyn King - I'm In Love
The title track from her 1981 LP, this album saw the disco diva hook up with one time member of B.T. Express, Kashif. He wrote and produced this tasty tune, which rides a giant electro bass line. It's a very groovy, midtempo disco track with that balances electro and organic instruments and combines it all with Evelyn's distinctive, husky voice. Kashif's thick, funky electro grooves that you hear were sought out by all kinds of musicians of the era, and he would go on to cut records with Aretha, Whitney, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Melba Moore among others.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sweet 7"s of the '80s - Listen To The Radio

Tom Robinson began his career in the '70s s part of the acoustic trio Café Society. Their debut album was produced by Ray Davies from the Kinks. According to Tom's bio it only sold about 600 copies. He was also an openly gay man - not a common thing at the time - and his experiences living in London's gay community informed his music. Inspired by having seen the Sex Pistols, he left Café Society and formed the Tom Robinson Band. They were homo-political pub-slash-proto-punk rockers, and they scored an early hit with the tune 2-4-6-8 Motorway. However, it was a tune from it's follow-up EP that gave him his most notorious moment - the live version of the song Glad To Be Gay was banned by the BBC. The ensuing album was big but the TRB fell apart. In the early '80s Tom moved on to front the hotly hyped Sector 27. They recorded one critically lauded album with Steve Lillywhite and then they too fell apart. In 1983 he returned to the British charts with a mellow ballad called War Baby - a great tune with a smokin' sax solo. I thought about posting that one, but instead decided to share the follow-up, a song that he co-wrote with Peter Gabriel called Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics). A moderately funky slow jam, it rides a chunky groove, features soulful back ups and lots of great horn parts (love the Guy Barker trumpet solo) as well as Tom's gruff, melancholic voice. A nice little piece of '80s obscurity.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sweet 7"s of the '80s - 3 From New Musik

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New Musik were a late '70s / early '80s new wave band, the brainchild of producer/singer/songwriter Tony Mansfield. It was the kind of British power pop that Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Squeeze were doing, but with the added gleam of the shiny synthesizer's array of new sounds. I loved their songs, and I was sure that the average Joe would eat them up and propel them into the charts. Sad to say that didn't really happen. Their debut single Straight Lines reached the lower '50s, while the biggest hit they had was with their second single Living By Numbers - it got to number 13 on the British charts. I love the intro on this tune - that strummy riff, the hand claps, the dreamy keys. It's a lovely little slab of melancholic pop. The song of theirs I like the most? Easy - Sanctuary - I love the melody, the trippy sucking sound on some of the vocals, the cool new wave key parts. The highest it got in the charts? Number 31. IMO, they were a band that deserved much greater success than they ever had. Tony Mansfield went on to do a lot of production work for bands. Naked Eyes, After The Fire, A-ha, the B-52's, Vicious Pink and a host of others all benefitted from the modern shine he gave them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sweet 7"s of the '80s - Souvenir

Yowsa! The day from hell conspired against a timely post today. The theme this week is all 7" single action all the time - "classic 7"s", if you will.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark released the single Souvenir in 1981. Taken from the third (and breakthrough and often referred to as their "classic") album Architecture And Morality, it is a moody little ballad sung by "the other one" in the band, Paul Humphreys. It was a noticeable departure in sound for the duo. Gone are the rudimentary synths and drum programs, and in it's place are lush atmospherics and a drop dead gorgeous melody - so sweet and hooky. Paul's similarly softer voice compliments the tune's mood, the public dug it and it was a big chart hit. The single is particularly cool because the b-side songs are both really good too. Motion And Heart (Amazon Version) is a swanky, swinging re-recording of a song from their previous album Organisation, again reflecting a less metallic electronica. Sacred Heart is bit more experimental, mostly instrumental and spaced out electro - nice and blippy and floaty. All of these tunes are included on the 2003 remastered and expanded version of Architecture And Morality, as well as an extended version of Souvenir and a few other bits and bobs. A great 7".

Friday, November 11, 2005

Funky Friday's Classic 12" - Body Rock

Today I'm giving you some old school hip hop. OK, it's from 1998 so it's only seven years old, but it is from a mini golden age of hip hop that was spawned by the mid to late '90s indie rap power label Rawkus Records. Mos Def. Talib Kweli. Hi Tek. Pharoahe Monch. The Lyricist Lounge compilations. All of this talent came out of the label. It was almost a second coming of the "Native Tongues" - positive, funky, playful. In 2001 Rawkus sold out to MCA Records, and the ideals of the original label slowly faded away. But for a while there it was where it was at. Witness the freshness of 1998's Body Rock, a collaboration by Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip and West Cost rapper Tash. Over a supremely tight beat - feel that snare shot - producer Shawn J. Period lays a deep bass line and some seriously jazzy guitar licks - soft, George Benson style riffs. The rappers rip up the mike with all manner of humorous pop culture references and party lines. It's the shit, and another fine classic 12" performance.

[Mos Def]
Aight, uhh, alright y'all slow down I'm tryin ta
Aight, yo I I only took a little bit of Spanish you gotta
Aight I hear what you're sayin but yo, aight okay
Alright okay, alright okay okay
Alright okay, I'm feelin you, okay
Alright okay, alright okay okay
Alright okay, I'm feelin you yo
All my people in Brooklyn and you know we're hot, I say
We don't stop, the Body Rock
All my people in Queens and the land in between say we
Don't stop, the Body Rock
Shaolin and L-I say you know we're fly, say we
Don't stop, the Body Rock
From the East to the West son we take it to the chest say we
Don't stop, the Body Rock

Check me out y'all
I'm in the lab with Ab, I got the band they're fat
My man T-A-S-H take it to your breastplate
It's the Mighty Mos Def, complete the trilogy
Just shot myself a dime, see are you feelin me?
Son I'm wicked and nice when I'm on facility
Let me take a sec to review what I wrote.. *paper rustling*
.. "Mos Def and I sound par fresh" OK it's dope
let's record this ('cord this) they gonna want dis (want dis)
And all area crew is gonna flaunt this *clapping*
And when we step to the plate Pah it's flawless
My man T-A-S-H with styles glory great
Great, great great, great great uh uhh uh uhh uh uhh uh

Up next we got CaTash with that West coast rhymin
Bombin niggaz with the style that's dangerous as mountain climbin (ahhhh!)
Cause the Alkie words I'm spittin be twistin while you listenin
Plus I'm in this motherfucker with the Likwit coalition
Gotta leave you in position, twist it backwards like dough go
While you starin down my throat like, "Is he drunk or is he sober?"
WHO KNOWS, all I know is Tash got flows
and got the technique to get the ladies out of they clothes
I been overly exposed to the forty-oh's and chickens
So I'ma keep it pumpin til the beat stop kickin
or til the plot thickens, cause this is how we do
CaTashTrophe, Mos Def, and the brother man QUE!!!!

What's up Tash, hey yo, Tip can't call it
Sure as Mos is Def and you Alkaholik
I'ma be surfin at, thing that's worth dealin
Hypodermically, shoot up your feelin
Figuratively, speakin of course now
old and greedyness, seekin it's course now
what we gonna do, eradicate them
Shoot them from the jam, they fear disease

[Mos Def]
Tash Love... are you ready to rock the mic?
Q-Tip... are you ready to rock the mic!
Mos Def... are you ready to rock the mic?
We got the universal style that you got to like!
And ain't nobody steppin up when we got the mic
So turn the A.C. up cause it's hot tonight!
And til the bright early morn' we be rockin you all
Don't stop, the Body Rock!

Cause I'm next to flex, and I'm technically advanced
to turn you on like cybersex, so in less than two sec's
I blind MC's like Thomas Dolby with the Science that'll leave
they braincells fryin slowly (FIRE!) so slowly I flow and
express written consent, from the undergroundin niggaz
Coast II Coast I represent cause gettin bent, I do
but I'm doper than sherm plus the way I put it down
could burn the perm off Big Worm, so peace and pipe this greeting
of the Last Action Hero that be freezin rappers dead in they tracks
like Sub Zero (Zero), cause Rico ain't no joke
I eat your flows and yo' beat up rappers even feel my presence
when I'm home with my feet up

[Mos Def]
for what you skied up or treed up
Relax and pull a seat up, make your landlord turn the heat up
Got the opposition shook like Tiger Woods about to tee up
So niggaz no competition with the clear Mos Definition
MC's screamin now for years can't rhyme without they mom's permission
You just a young'un comin out, gettin gassed to run your mouth
Wildin on the Runabout, Baby Pah you comin out
Barkin that you want a bout but son you know the comeabout
when Mos Def blow up and, you don't, nuttin
Don't you know nuttin? My crew go huntin
We keep it on the norm then we transform som'in
And while, we do it, you bounce to it
The cops wanna stop the Body Rock but don't do it

DY-NO-MITE!!! Like Jimmy J.J.
Swap down pen-ny, somewhere in L.A. (A)
Now we got to bond like Voltron (tron)
Tash you the bomb, Mos you the won ton (ton)
Q will pick the lead, I must drop on thee (thee)
A-B-S, I bust down, facility (ty)
T-R-A-C-T is the MC (cee)
It's the LL, inside the place to be (be)

[Mos Def]
Tash Love... are you ready to rock the mic?
Q-Tip... are you ready to rock the mic!
Mos Def... are you ready to rock the mic?
We got the universal brothers that you got to like!
Now ain't nobody steppin up when we got the mic
So turn your A.C. up cause it's hot tonight!
And til the bright early morn' we'll be rockin you all
Don't stop, the Body Rock!

All my people out in Queens that know you're hot, you say
Don't stop, the Body Rock!
All my people out in Brooklyn and you know we're hot, say
Don't stop, the Body Rock!
Shaolin to L-I and you know we're fly, said
Don't stop, the Body Rock!
All the people on the Greens and the land in between said
Don't stop, the Body Rock!

... no stoppin
... no stoppin
Out in Jersey ... no stoppin
Philadelp-i-I ... no stoppin
Chi Town gettin down ... the playgrounds
Detroit you say ... no stoppin
In Cali ... no stoppin
And the great V-A ... no stoppin
Cause in the Brooklyn town ... no stoppin
And the Boogie Down ... no stoppin
L-I and Queens ... no stoppin
And you see Medina Greens ... no stoppin
You know we, Lyricist Lounge ... no stoppin
And my man Abstract ... no stoppin
Cause see we never the wack ... no stoppin
Don't stop, the Body Rock
D-dah, don't stop

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '90s - Fluke

Fluke were a dreamy pop act that first appeared on the scene on 1989. Over the next few years they adapted their sound and included elements of acid and prog house, trip hop and techno rock. They were able to cash in on the "electronica" movement of the mid '90s, particularly with their '97 LP Risotto and it's big hit single Atom Bomb. At that time I also picked up the 12" for Absurd - it has a smokin' Mighty Dub Katz remix of the title track that I used to love mix with - very big-beaty and chunky. My fave track on it though is the Global Communication remix of an older single from 1993, Slid. Tom Middleton & Mark Pritchard's take on Slid (The Hypogasmic Mix) is a sublimely chilled piece of pillow-y house music that kicks off with a simple metronomic click, and then gradually adds layer after layer of smooth, soft synth washes and sequences and "wah wah wah" vocals. It's a lovely, "drifting off into space" kind of a track, and it really stands apart from all of the big beat stuff that it shares vinyl space with. As a result it has aged a lot better!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '90s - Radio Babylon

Meat Beat Manifesto's single Helter Skelter was released in the US in May of 1990. It featured Helter Skelter as the A-side, and it's B-side was Radio Babylon. Helter Skelter had a clattering breakbeat, dub and industrial elements, odd vocal snippets - "it's in my brain" & "this is it!" - and was pretty much the pinnacle of their output to this point. It was a perfect distillation of all that they had tried, and saw them perfect the trademark Meat Beat sounds - rumbling bass, submarine pings, that sort of thing. As much as I love Helter Skelter, it is Radio Babylon that hits me the hardest. Made up of a bunch of the parts of it's A-side, it was a spacier mix that boasted more roots reggae appeal. From it's opening beeps, "Babylons" and menacing bassline and the crucial "burning with ecstasy" blurb it rumbles on to shred your speaker cones with vital energy and "riddims full of culture, y'all". In the end it remains, IMO, one of electronic dance music's greatest moments.
Section 25 Redux

Yesterday's Section 25 post had me telling you about how I had really wanted to share the B-side mix of the single Looking From A Hilltop. However, I was foiled by a huge scratch at the beginning of the track, so settled on recording the A-side version instead. Well, due to the greatness of this here interweb thingy, my mate across the pond Phillip has "hooked me up". There was an e-mail in my inbox from him this morning, and contained within it was an mp3 rip of the B-side mix, taken from the digitally remastered 1998 reissue of From The Hip. So now I'm happy to say you can hear the tune I intended you to hear in the first place. Enjoy the deliciously huge, pounding electro grooves of Looking From A Hilltop Megamix, and when the percussive, trippy, backtracked breaks in the middle hit you, you'll know why I love this version so much!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '80s - Looking From A Hilltop

Section 25 were one of the lesser known acts on legendary Mancunian label Factory Records. Formed in Blackpool in 1978 and named after a health provision code, they began as an indie rock trio, their earliest FAC records produced by Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton, then Martin Hannett. Over the course of the early '80s they added a couple of lovely ladies to help with vocals and synths, added lots of drum machines, and went on to write an early page in the book of what would soon be known as acid house. Their 1984 LP From The Hip was produced by Bernard Sumner and included the giant electro-pop anthem that is Looking From A Hilltop. I had wanted to give you the B-side version of this tune, which is a largely instrumental remix that is flat out HUGE, but the vinyl has developed a nasty scratch that makes it pretty much unplayable. The A side is still pretty good tho' - a pounding, Kraftwerk-ian beat, massed banks of swirling synths and sequencers, topped off with mournful vocals. I love the beats on this - they just keep growing as the tune goes on. Apparently the band is still active - they have a website ( and there is even talk of new music.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '80s - Set The Tone

Set The Tone were a short lived (and pretty much unknown - googling will give you almost nothing) early '80s band that featured Kenny Hyslop, drummer for The Skids and then for the Simple Minds. They released a couple of singles and an LP - really more of an EP, as it only has 6 songs on it, before disbanding. They were a hard edged dance act that mixed tough beats with dubbed out punk funk. I can't remember if I heard them on the radio or had just read about them when I picked up their first single, 1982's Dance Sucker, appearing here in it's 12"-full-on-Francois Kevorkian-remixed glory. I fell in love with the song instantly, with it's hard assed groove, huge spongy synth bass and scratchy guitars. I also liked the aggressive vocals, all shouty and loud. It was so much thicker and beefier sounding than so many of the other things on the radio at the time, largely due to the ace production of Island Records' house whiz Steven Stanley. Of course it failed to make a dent in the charts - pah! I say. I stand by it today as a fierce call to get your ass on the floor and dance, and in light of the resurgence of all things post-punk and funk, it stills sounds pretty good.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Funky Friday's Hot (Remix) Action

juan maclean goldfrapp

A couple of cool singles from The Juan MacLean and Goldfrapp hit record shelves this week. The Goldfrapp EP is called Number 1, features 2 versions of the title track, two other songs and a Tiefschwarz remix of Ooh La La. The CD single also has the video for the title track. I love this band, and like this EP a lot. I do have to admit that I'm a bit pissed off at their label, Mute Records, tho'. The album is out in Europe now, but it's US release has been pushed back to March of next year - what's the point of that? Dumbass corporate suits. That having been said, enjoy the Franco-disco-fied version of Number 1 (Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Remix) - a very groovy, space-y take that strips the song of it's glammy stomp and replaces it with a disco one instead. I like the bit in the middle too, where it goes all slow for a minute.

The Juan MacLean single is for one of the standout tracks from the debut album, Give Me Every Little Thing. The remixes are handled by X-Press 2, Cajmere, Eric B. and my fave mix is Give Me Every Little Thing (Putsch '79 Remix), which brings even more '80s electro flavor to the tune. It kicks off with a Linn drum beat straight out of 1982, and from there it's '80s synth squiggle heaven.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Nine Horses

Nine Horses is a one-off collaboration involving David Sylvian, his brother (and former Japan drummer) Steve Jansen and electronic experimentalist Burnt Friedman. It also features contributions from Ryuichi Sakamoto and Stina Nordenstam. The resulting album is a beautiful set of tracks that are some of the most commercially accessible music Sylvian has done in a while - since at least the first couple of solo LPs. Don't think for a second that I mean it has the chart busting appeal of the old Japan hits, although this is the closest he's been in years. This is still very artful stuff, but there are more traditionally structured songs on here, with beats and hooks, and even a few slightly rockist (!) moments. Lyrically Sylvian surveys both personal (the end of his marriage) and political relationships (the world post 9/11) and their ups and downs. It's a nice blend of David's mournful croon, Jansen's shifting rhythms and Burnt's electronics. Serotonin is a shuffling, burbling art funk tune that sounds very much to me like what Japan would sound like today if they were still recording - think Art Of Parties and you're not too far removed. It's a lovely record. It's interesting to me that some twenty five years on from when I first encountered David Sylvian, his work is still capable of moving me. It's great to see such creative longevity.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cabin In The Sky

The first incarnation of Tuxedomoon occurred in 1977 in San Francisco. Self described as an "eclectic international post punk new wave music group", the band created a unique interpretation of those styles by adding in art rock (emphasis on art), jazz and classical influences. In the early '80s the band relocated to Europe, where the music they created felt more at home. The four principles still live all over the map - Mexico, the US, Greece and Belgium - and this brings a very distinctive international flavor to their recently released album, Cabin In The Sky. The album features input from a bunch of current scenesters - DJ Hell, John McEntire, Tarwater and Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague, Ollano, Volga Select) all help out in various ways. The resulting record is a slick mish mash of post-punk and jazz and Italian film noir and dance beats. Luther Blisset - (interesting Wikipedia listing for Luther Blisset) - rides minimal house-y beats, adds layers of buzzing guitars, piano vamping, sawing synths, incredibly crazed horn skronk and a bunch of other cool shit, then tops it of with Steve Brown's Bowie-esque vocals. It's a fascinating brew from a record that's caught me by surprise.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I ♥ NY Punk!

November's issue of Brit rock mag Mojo came with a great free CD entitled I ♥ NY Punk! . The issue takes an in depth look at the fertile musical breeding grounds that was NYC in the late '70s, particularly focusing on The Ramones. The accompanying CD is a veritable who's-who of the scene, and is also pretty wide in scope. It starts with glam punkers like the New York Dolls and runs from a bit of new wave right up to the post-punk scene. Being (overly?) fond of that particular style of the genre you must know that the tunes I offer will be of that ilk, and you are correct. Enjoy the chunky, driving punk funk rhythms of the Bush Tetras' Cowboys In Africa, and the laid back, seedy, smack addled jazz skronk of James Chance & The Distortions' King Heroin - notable for featuring the horn talents of the Bowie brothers who later went on to form Defunkt. A fine compilation.

1 New York Dolls - Trash
2 Wayne County & The Electric Chairs - Fuck Off
3 Blondie - Rip Her To Shreds
4 Mink DeVille - She's So Tough
5 Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Going Going Gone
6 The Real Kids - All Kindsa Girls
7 Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Chinese Rocks
8 Bush Tetras - Cowboys In Africa
9 Destroy All Monsters - Bored
10 Suicide - Keep Your Dreams (Live)
11 The Dictators - The Next Big Thing
12 Television - See No Evil
13 Bad Brains - Sailin' On
14 The Stimulators - Loud And Fast Rules
15 James Chance & The Distortions - King Heroin