Friday, July 30, 2004

Funky Friday - Julia & Co.

Back in the early '80s when I was in college in London I hung with the soul boys and listened to a lot of acid jazz and disco. We were all hyped up when Julia & Co released Breakin' Down (Sugar Samba) in 1983 - it was a very fresh sounding tune. The song is some seriously funky soul/disco number with a huge poppin' bass line, big jumping jive horns and Julia's sassy vocal delivery telling us we "had to get up and down". I have no idea who they were - all searches of the internet have led to nothing, and I never heard anything by them after this song came out. All I know is that this tune is still funkier than ever, so turn it up and shake your groove thing!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Futureheads Rock My World!

If you were to say to me, "Michael, what's your fave tune right now?", I would answer Decent Days And Nights by The Future Heads. Two minutes and 31 seconds of pure rifftastic power pop - imagine The Jam mashed up with XTC with a singer who sounds kind of like Gryff from the Super Furries, and a guitar riff as memorable as The Knack's My Sharona. It's an insanely catchy tune with some lovely harmonising, and I listen to it 3 or 4 times in a row. This is from their self titled debut LP out now in the UK and Europe - check out Future where you can stream the whole album.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Radio 4 - Party Crashers

Radio 4's new single is out today. Party Crashers is a lot dancier than anything the guys have done before - it has a very Madchester kind of vibe to it. A lot of folks are not feeling the dancier new stuff - I'm not sure about it yet. One of the remixes on the single is by Headman, and it is bit more of a rougher take on the tune. It's still very much electro dance music, but it's not as smooth as the original, and doesn't include as much of the tinkly piano bit that might irk some listeners. So without further ado, enjoy Party Crashers (Headmans Voc Remix).

Monday, July 26, 2004

Kissing With Confidence - Will Powers

In the early '80s noted rock photographer Lynn Goldsmith decided to try her hand at recording music. Under the AKA Will Powers she assembled a crack team of musicicans including Nile Rodgers, Todd Rundgren, Tom Bailey, Steve Winwood, Sting and Carly Simon. They recorded an LP of synthy tunes over which Lynn recited all manner of psycho babble and motivational self improvement speeches, her voice heavily altered to sound somewhat male-like. The single Kissing With Confidence was (and is) goofy novelty hit - it's all about how to improve your love life by improving your kissing technique, but it's very breezy, and Carly's vocals are nice, as are the gospel-ly back up vocals. Another "straight from the '80s crate" gem.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Digging In The Crate Part 2

This week's tunes are pulled from my old crate of early '80s 45s -

Bill Nelson played guitar in '70s rock band Be Bop Deluxe. Upon going solo he began to experiment with electronics, and Do You Dream In Colour? from 1980 was my first exposure to the man. A hissing dum machine beat, twangy guitars and some cool sax all combine for a tasty new wave treat with a very catchy chorus. Also of note is the fact that it was produced by noted Brit studio ace John Leckie who went on to help produce many of Bill's other solo records as well as some by Stone Roses, Verve, and XTC. This track still sounds pretty good today.

Famous Names released Holiday Romance in 1980. This is classic new wave stuff - another big twangy riff, a touch of keyboards, some female counterpoint vocals to the herky-jerky male vocals. This band came out of the ashes of post punkers Writz, and some of that post punk is still evident here. I thought this could have been a hit, but it wasn't and I never heard of them again.

B Movie's Nowhere Girl from 1982 is the single that almost broke the band into the charts. I first heard of them on 1981's SomeBizarre Album compilation, which also had the first vinyl releases from Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The The and Blancmange. Sadly they never quite hit the heights of some of those other acts, and IMO Nowhere Girl was their best shot - a memorable synth line, some nice guitars and a very catchy chorus - imagine a mix of The Stills' moody rock mixed with Depeche Modes poppiness and you have an idea of what this is all about.

Killing Joke's Tension from 1981 is actually the b-side to Follow The Leader. I love the a side but this tune is also big - a pounding tribal drum beat, a big meaty bass riff and shredding guitar riffs with Jaz shouting over the top about the tension building. The mix of beats, funky bass and punk rage always gets to me - as a 16 year old I was amazed at this energy, and it still sounds vibrant and unique today.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Now That I've Found The Original...

Earlier in the week I posted Third World's sweet cover of Now That We Found Love. In looking for background info on it I became aware that it was originally an O'Jays tune, so I set out to find a copy of the original. Mission accomplished - here is the O'Jays with Now That We Found Love. Where Third World made it into a disco riddim anthem, the original is the sound of Motown, and features the great vocal interplay these guys were known for.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Bees are back...

Their new LP Free The Bees is the business. Focusing on the cream of '60s rock styles they've made an album of memorable tunes from which I give you The Russian. It's a wickedly skanking-like-a-rudeboy instrumental that starts out fast-ish, gets dubbed out in the middle, and then returns to it's skanking form only with a big horn section added. Crucial.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Bonus action!

I got so carried away with Aussie enthusiasm this weekend I forgot I told someone I'd be putting up the rather excellent Playgroup remix of Chicks On Speed's cover of Tom Tom Club's classic Wordy Rappinghood. Trevor Jackson strips the tune down, adds a funky new bass line and makes it all sound a bit less twee than it normally does. Shake yer booty.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Aussie Invasion

Gerling and Cut Copy are two of my new favorites, and both hail from the land down under.

Gerling have been around since 1992, and Bad Blood!!! is their 3rd album, but only the first to get a US release. A cool mix of power pop, punk, krautrock and electronica/sampling and beats, they have created a record that jumps all over the place. Get Activated is the more rockin' side of the band - it's a got a bit of the Vines / Jet thing going on - a nice swampy blues-y riff, with screamingly good vocals - dude really does a good scream. Newwave Machine is the post punk disco party side of the band. A bumping beat and funky bass line, lot's of filtered guitar and vocals - still screaming of course, and goofy lyrics about the new wave machine killing itself and spilling blood all over your Gucci hat - all very fun.

Cut Copy have been active since 2001. Originally just Dan Whitford and his guitar and machines, they've now expanded into a four piece touring band. Their debut LP is called Bright Like Neon Love and is another great mash up of styles - filtered French disco produced by Phillipe Zdar from Cassius (the album was also record in Paris), gloomy new wave rock and lush 70's AOR pop all collide. When you open the album sleeve the first two pages are covered with cartoon depictions of some of their inspirations - The KLF, Ray Parker Jr.(!), Giorgio Moroder, GBV, Chic, Fleetwood Mac and ELO are all there. Time Stands Still is a synth pop tune built over the beat from an old Human League record (I think it's The Sound Of The Crowd) - it's got a lovely melody, nice bass and guitars and dreamy plaintive vocals. Bright Neon Payphone represents the rock side of the band - it opens with a bass riff very reminiscent of Devo's Mongoloid and goes on to be the kind of mid tempo electro-rock New Order played in their earliest years - a big tune!

I like to listen to a bit of reggae once in a while, so this week's flashback track comes from late '70s reggae stars Third World. Their 1978 cover of The O'Jays' Now That We Found Love is a great disco-riddim tune - uptempo, funky ass bass line and lot's of nice vocal harmonising. This tune never fails to get my ass grooving!

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Charlatans have a new album out (Up At The Lake) and Feel The Pressure is one of the standout tunes - nice guitar riff, Tim's falsetto, and a groovy disco beat. I love it when the Charlatans get funky.

Interpol's Evil is another standout tune, from the forthcoming Antics - another big bass / guitar riff, very minimal until the chorus kicks in and it's pure Interpol. I'm very excited about this new record - no sophomore slump!

Faultline's Biting Tongues is one of the new songs from the reissue of Your Love Means Everything - it appears here in remix form, done by up and comer Brits Hot Chip. It's slowed down dancehall with a big rubber band-y sproinging bass line and a bit of toasting. Look for a cool remix of this done by The Bug which is a lot more ragga and harder edged.

This week's flashback is a two pack of tunes from Ride . I was a big fan of these boys - a great combination of shoegazing hugeness and Byrdsy melodies and harmonies. I saw 'em live a couple of times and they were always great. The discs I bought in the early '90s are woefully low in volume so I picked up their greatest hits comp from 2002 called OX4 (and ordered the box of all of the records remastered). I couldn't decide between these two songs so I give you both - Taste is a big rock tune with enormous guitar sound, the Byrds comparison applies here - so dreamy and sunny. Vapour Trail is more like what MBV or Lush were doing - midtempo, a bit gloomier, although once again it's a perfect riff, and the addition of strings is glorious - they carry the tune towards the end. Great driving music on a sunny day!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Giogio Moroder & The Munich Machine

Giorgio Moroder rose to prominence in the '70s with his unique electronic style. He scored movie soudtracks and had pop chart success with a variety of stars - Donna Summer, David Bowie, Phil Oakey, Blondie and Berlin all had hits with his music. These are three of my favorite examples of his great style...

Chase is the main theme from the movie 1978 soundtrack Midnight Express. 8 minutes of throbbing, pulsing synths - a very memorable instrumental tune from a horrifying movie about prisons and drug smuggling in Turkey. A few years earlier he had helped make Donna Summer a star with I Feel Love, and Winter Melody is from her 1976 LP Four Seasons Of Love. A lovely ballad, it's a much more organic sounding song than much of what he did with Donna - lot's of strings and horns and a live band. Japan had approached him about doing some production for them and he told David Sylvian that he wanted them to record a song he had written. After a bit of re-recording and re-writing with the band they came up with Life In Tokyo which was a turning point in the band's style - from glam rock to the smoother, synth laced music that brought them their biggest hits.. The man is still working today, and his influence on modern dance music can't be denied. Brilliant.

One new track this week from UK trio Keane. They are another oddly configured band - singer, drummer and a guy who plays piano, keys and bass. Bend And Break is a soaring, anthemic tune that starts out with a piano riff like U2's Unforgettable Fire. There's a bit of Coldplay's melodic touch, and the vocals remind me of a bit of Matt Bellamy of Muse and even a bit like Freddie Mercury. Good stuff.