Monday, October 31, 2005

We Have Sound

Tom Vek's excellent debut LP We Have Sound got it's US release last week - it was originally released on Tim Love Lee's hip, indie dance label Tummy Touch in April in the UK. He wrote and played everything on it, and it is a very cool slab of lo-fi, indie rock-meets-new wave-meets-bluesy stompers mixed with a little bit of everyting else. It pretty much defies categorisation. It's really good. I like his voice, I really like his guitar that riffs all over the place, and the elements of '80s pop - the beats, the funky popping bass parts - that he adds make it even more appealing to me. If You Want features the afore mentioned popping bass, tight beats and ghostly synth washes - it reminds me of a scruffier Colder, you know - machine funk with a human touch. If I Had Changed My Mind is the opposite end of Tom's sonic spectrum. It's a bluesy riff rocker with Iggy Pop-like vocals and lots of crusty, fuzzy distorted guitars. Great stuff that I highly recommend - if you like these tunes do the man a favor and buy the CD, out now on Startime International Records.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Funky Friday - The Temptations

And on the fifth day of psych-pop week, thou shalt get funky...

What better way to cap psych-pop week @ SIART than with a couple of tunes from vocal greats The Temptations. A couple of years ago Motown issued a nice 2CD set called Psychedelic Soul. It's a compilation of tracks from their late '60s and early '70s records, when the band's music began to take on a harder edge and their lyrics began to address the Vietnam war and the plight of the black man in America. What you get is lots of songs about peace, love and harmony, and even a bit of hippy dippy sentiment - all without the hippy dippy music. This stuff is hard and musically adventurous, with some of the tracks running as long as 13 minutes. It combined the soul grooves of it's era with hard rock - "acid rock", if you will - sounds. There are some positively shredding guitar solos, and lots of distortion. Producer Norman Whitfield is a whiz at the mix, and the stereo effects are very cool - the amount of stuff buzzing between left and right can be dizzying. The vocals are as distinctive as ever, with each member getting their spot in the song to shine as well as harmonising beautifully. My folks had a few of their albums, and the one that I heard the most was 1970's Psychedelic Shack. This compilation is notable for a few previously unreleased tracks, including an extended version of the stellar title track Psychedelic Shack (Long Version). Over a crushing breakbeat, wah-wah guitar and clavinet collide with the "incense in the air" as the band runs us through the crazy happenings at the shack - "this place will blow your mind". A great, fuzzy party tune, from an album that also spawned the classics War and Friendship Train. 1972's All Directions album brought the hit single Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On, a groovy strut that has a bit of that Earth, Wind and Fire vibe to it - tight rhythms, vocals and big horns. The funky music sho' nuff turns me on!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Psych-Pop Week Day 4 - World Party

Competing for airtime with XTC's Skylarking in 1986 was Karl Wallinger's one man bad World Party, who released their debut album Private Revolution that same year. Fresh from his stint as a band member of celtic rockers The Waterboys, his album exploded with ideas and creativity and experiments that his old band would never have allowed him. It ranged from Dylan-esque folk rockers (including a cover of the man's All I Really Want To Do) to Beatlesque pop to Prince-ly funk jams, all mixed up with a dash of psychedelics. There was a great big hit single, Ship Of Fools. It was one of the most played records on my stereo that year. I loved it's genre mashing, it's "peace, love and harmony" lyrical vibe. It shares that same pastoral, lush feeling as the XTC record, and is quirky in it's own way too. Most of all I loved the song All Come True. It's a lovely mid tempo rocker that rides a big, chunky double bass riff. Throw in some gentle piano, spaced out keys, some Edge-y guitar riffs, some tablas, and a bit of fiddle and I'm drifting off. This tune isn't overtly psychedelic, but it has some very cool little embellishments, particularly the spaced out break in the middle with the historical names floating around in the mix. A lovely tune.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Psych-Pop Week Day 3 - XTC

This week SIART is having psychedelic flashbacks...

XTC released their eighth album, Skylarking, in 1986. They were fresh off of recording their gonzo-Nuggets-psych-rock classic 25 O'Clock as The Dukes Of Stratosfear. Their choice of producer was '70s spacepop prog rocker Todd Rundgren. The resulting album was a big change of sonic pace for the band. It largely eschewed the loud and fast angular riffing the band was best known for, and instead was lush and pastoral. Still full of the quirks of Andy and Colin's songs, but couched in such velvety smooth surroundings, with strings and nature sounds and all manner of studio trickery. This is easily the most "produced" album of the band's career, and because of that some people don't like it. Me, I'd rank it as a tie for first, or second best overall. It is an album of much psychedelic beauty - there's something going on in every nook and cranny on these songs. I will spare you the details, but I experienced this album several times in an altered state (ah, wanton youth), and was mind boggled by it's earthy richness. The album's opening two songs are pure sonic bliss for me, starting with the warm, summery buzzing of Andy Partridge's Summer's Cauldron. It begins with crickets and birds before woozy keyboards and a gentle beat kicks in. The song is a veritable hymn to the beauty of nature and warm summer days - "trees are dancing drunk with nectar". In my opinion it's one of his best tunes, and it never fails to makes me feel all warm and gooey. It segues ever so smoothly into Colin Moulding's Grass, a song filled with delicious double entendres - it's sexy and drug addled all at once, and so fantastically orchestrated. It all fades out with the same chirping birds and crickets that began it all. A couple of delightfully psychedelic baroque pop gems.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Psych-Pop Week Day 2 - Eno & Byrne

This week SIART is having psychedelic flashbacks...

In between recording sessions for the Talking Heads albums Fear Of Music & Remain In Light, producer Brian Eno and Head singer/songwriter David Byrne found the time to record an album of music that remains unique to this day - 1981's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. It was a collection of "cut and paste" tracks, featuring various found sound recordings that the two tweaked and shaped over assorted grooves. I had just discovered the Talking Heads, and so I was intrigued by what I might find. It was unlike anything I had heard. Over fractured, repetitive grooves the two of them threw actual recordings of exorcisms (The Jezebel Spirit), preachers ranting and mystical Middle Eastern chanting and wailing. Musically it was just as adventurous, crossing rock with Afro pop with avant garde artiness and mixing pop, funk and Afro rhythms. It's remarkable to think, in this age of sampling technology on every computer, that this was all done on tape - literally cut and paste. Because the album was so ahead of it's time it still holds up amazingly well. It is also a heady, psychedelic experience. There are two songs on it that source Arabic music, in particular the vocals of Lebanese mountain singer Dunya Yusin, and they are my personal favorites on the record. Regiment is one hell of a funky ride, with the loose shuffle of Heads drummer Chris Frantz' beats and the popping riffs of bassist Busta Jones pinning down a buzzing, smoky melody - Yusin's wail transports me to some mystical place every time I hear it. The Carrier is even more mysterious and deep, a shifting, drone-y percussive piece of ambience. Once again Yusin's voice is the focal point, and it's a moving, melancholic performance. Beautiful, mysterious and psychedelic. A perfect blend.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Psych-Pop Week Day 1 - Jerry Garcia

This week SIART is having psychedelic flashbacks. What better place to start than with...

Jerry Garcia was best known & loved as the lead singer and guitarist of hippy rockers The Grateful Dead. When I first moved back to the US in 1985 I was pretty much unaware of the band - they were not as big a draw in the UK. In 1986 I got a job as a canvasser for Greenpeace, and I met a whole new crowd of people - the "Deadheads". The incredibly loyal fanbase of the band was a trip to behold - such dedication and devotion. Some of them rabidly so, even to the point of being unwilling to give other music a chance. I wondered what could inspire it all, so I tried to join in. I went to a bunch of shows, was force fed bootlegs by some of my friends, and even bought a few used LPs. In the end I will admit to being a minor fan. I enjoy some of their music, but personally couldn't justify spending my money on seeing the band over and over again - out of 5 or 6 shows I think I got one good one. I went to see Garcia's solo band once, and found it a much more enjoyable experience than the Dead. They were a lot less jam band-y, and a lot funkier. I only own one Jarry Garcia album, 1972's Garcia, a fine record. It's got several tunes that are Dead classics - Deal, Sugaree and The Wheel were all staples of the band's shows. The Wheel starts of with a bit of jarring, discordant jangle before floating off into clouds of steel guitar, all soft and billowy. The guitar is reminiscent of Pink Floyd, albeit a more countrified version. I really like the shuffling, shifting drumbeats on the track that keep it all together. A very tasty bit of psychedelic country rock.

I promise that the rest of the week will not be as hippy-dippy as this...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Funky Friday's Seventies Soul

Bill Withers has one of those voices that is unmistakable - you hear it and you know it's him. He released his debut LP Just As I Am in 1971, and it was a hit right away due to it's leading single Ain't No Sunshine, an absolute classic of a song. Here was a singer combining elements of folk and r'n'b, showing such sensitivity and telling such great stories - gritty realism mixed with such melancholy. The album, produced by the already legendary Booker T. Jones, has just been remastered and reissued. It doesn't have bonus tracks, but it is a DualDisc, so you can pop it in your DVD player and enjoy a short documentary about the making of the album, as well as a couple of great live performances and a 5.1 surround mix of the record. Needless to say it's the shit - 12 great tracks with no filler - with 2 covers (Everybody's Talkin' & Let It Be, both very unique takes) and 10 originals that are just plain brilliant. The band is incredibly tight - Jim Keltner and Al Jackson (The M.G.s) on drums, Stephen Stills on guitar and Booker T. on keys and guitar too. The album opens with Harlem, gorgeously breezy and strummy soul with some hot strings. The tune starts softly and builds into a big, orchestrated stomper that tells a simple story about life in the mythical hood that is Harlem. The record goes on to Ain't No Sunshine and Grandma's Hands (sample spotters will recognise the opening riff, used by Dr. Dre on Blackstreet's No Diggity) and the aforementioned covers before wrapping up with the tragic tale of love gone wrong that is Better Off Dead - "she's better off without me and I'm better off dead." If you've never heard it before, the end of the song will get you. A truly great album and a classic of it's era.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '80s - Dub Stylee

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Black Uhuru's 1984 album Anthem won the band the first ever reggae Grammy award. The trio of Puma Jones, Duckie Simpson and Michael Rose were again backed up by the premier reggae rhythm section of Sly and Robbie. The album was much more of a commercial entity than the few that had preceded it. It was the band's attempt to cross over into the world of mainsteam success, so they added electro and r'n'b elements to their already heady dub brew. Lyrically the trio were as sharp as ever, bringing to life the struggles of the poor, and the injustices handed out by "the man". It's nice to note that even though they were obviously trying to reach a larger audience they were unwilling to soften their hardline stance. One of the standout tracks for me was the single What Is Life? (12" Remix) . For the 12" remix they procured the services of dance legend François Kevorkian, who worked in tandem with the song's co-producer Paul "Groucho" Smykle. They stretch out the tune, adding a lovely spaced out keyboard groove in the middle, and slightly punching up the dancefloor appeal. The sax is great on this. A lovely tune.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The Rakes. Great. Just what we need. Another post-punk-pop band of British heritage. Four wiry guys making angular, wiry rock. Well actually, as it turns out, yes, we do need more. Their debut Retreat EP got it's US release last week on hip indie label Dim Mak - the band's album Capture/Release is already out in Europe. Produced by the audio guru of the scene Paul Epworth (Futureheads, Maximo Park, Bloc Party - he's AKA Phones, remixer du jour), the EP is a corker. Retreat is brilliantly catchy stuff with great lyrics detailing a life of continual over indulgence - go out, get pissed, do something stupid, go home and crash, wake up and start all over again. Something we can all relate to to a certain degree. An excellent nugget of sharp, shouty, handclappy goodness. Also very cool is Epworth's remix of it, Retreat (Phones Remix). He applies his magic touch and a rockin' disco anthem is born.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Return The Gift

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You probably already know that the original line-up of Gang Of Four have reunited. They played a few gigs in the UK last year and the buzz was good so they parlayed it into a world tour. They also went into the studio and re-recorded a bunch of their old songs. Return The Gift is the result. It's available in two flavors - the single disc with the re-recorded songs and a two disc version with a second disc of remixes by a whole slew of current acts. Here's the deal as I see it. It seems to me a fairly redundant move to go back and re-record your old songs, especially when the originals are held in such high regard by so many people. I mean really, what's the point? Are the versions going to be radically different? Of course, being a huge fan of the band and of the art of the remix, I knew I'd have to get the double disc set. I've listened to the first disc once - not enough to give you a good opinion, although first impressions left me feeling "a bit meh". It seemed like there wasn't a hell of a big difference. The remixes? I've played that disc ALOT. It's great. I enjoy all of the mixes on it - special mentions to Go Home Productions, Phones, Ladytron and The Others. My absolute fave is the Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) remix of I Love A Man In A Uniform. I have to say I also like the re-recorded version of the song off of disc 1. It is a much tighter, louder take, although it lacks the lovely, soulful female backing vocals of the original. The remix rectifies that by inserting the ever awesome vocals of Karen O into the mix in their place. Nick scuffs up the track a bit, and to these ears, it's magic. Maybe one day I'll get around to listening to the rest of disc one, but for now I can't stop playing the remixes.
I Love A Man In A Uniform

I Love A Man In A Uniform (Yeah Yeah Yeahs Remix)

Monday, October 17, 2005

My '80s Remastered - Crash

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The year is 1986. I have recently moved from London to Minneapolis after six years of going to school in the UK. I try to get "a real job" but have no luck and end up working in a record shop in the mall downtown. It's not a cool record shop - it was the corporate chain store, pushing the big label product. Anyway, one day I'm at work, which is right next door to a dry cleaners. I look out into the mall, and I see Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley walk past my store and go into the dry cleaners. OH MY GOD. It's the two chicks from the Human League. Like 15 feet away from me. In Minneapolis. I have just lived in the UK for six years, worshipped this band, and never once got close to them, and here are the two girls. This led me to find out that the band was in fact in town, staying at the hotel that sat atop the mall I worked in, recording a new album with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Wow, I thought, what a concept. The masters of the "Minnneapolis sound" producing the Sheffield electro poppers. Over the next few weeks I saw the girls a few more times. Then one evening I was alone in the store, working the closing shift. I looked up to see a customer walk in to the store. It was Phil Oakey. I couldn't believe it. He was in the store for a while, and eventually came to the counter with a stack of 12"s. I couldn't tell you what he bought. I was completely unable to pluck up the courage to say a damn thing to him (or to the girls) other than polite customer service chit chat. Why? Because I was just a shy music geek. It was a wasted opportunity that I regret to this day, though it does make for a fun story.

The resulting record was the so-so Crash which just got the remastered reissue treatment - the 3 extra tracks are remixes of the singles. It's a handful of songs with Jam & Lewis at the controls and the rest more typical League fare, although not of the quality of Dare. I really like the big hit singles though. It's such an odd collision of musical worlds, hearing Phil crooning and the girls cooing over the kind of modern American r'n'b track that Janet Jackson and the SOS Band were releasing. The intro to Human (Extended Version) is pure Jam & Lewis balladry, with it's percussive intro and the big keyboard run. It's a lovely song that had a very aquatic looking video that I felt matched the tune perfectly. It was also the band's biggest hit since Don't You Want Me. Love Is All That Matters (Extended Version) is an uptempo, funky jam - again it's classic Jam & Lewis. All in all a brave attempt to mess with the formula that ultimately, in my opinion, fails. Oh well, I still bought the damn reissue, didn't I?

Need some more Human League? Check out the "Futuristic Sounds" page at Blind Youth. They have a bunch of great pre-Virgin Records recordings that Martyn Ware provided them with. There are also some remixes available at Secrets Online (scroll down the page a bit) and at The Pansentient LEAGUE site.
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If you're in the UK or Europe, you've already got yours, lucky buggers. Tomorrow I get mine. It's been a long wait.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Funky Friday Hitting You With The Mad Electronics

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Jackson And His Computer Band
TV Dogs (Cathodica's Letter)

The always great audio blog 20 Jazz Funk Greats turned me onto Jackson And His Computer Band. Over the last month he's posted a couple of the tunes from this Frenchman's latest album Smash. He's on Warp so you know it's sure to be interesting, and it is. French fried funk of the crispy, clicky, glitchy variety, it bounces all over the electronic map. It's a heady brew of samples, noises, beats and assorted audio oddities, from downtempo to minimal house. Some of it might be a bit much for the casual listener, but there are some very nice moments, including TV Dogs (Cathodica's Letter). Featuring a rap from leftfield hip hopper Mike Ladd (The Infesticons/The Majesticons), it's a hard assed P-funk-meets-Boards Of Canada bounce with all manner of squelchy electro noises and big orchestral samples - guaranteed to get your head nodding once you get past the arty intro. A very cool mix of hip hop and experimental electronics.

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Dr. Mabuse (12" Version)

Another classic 12" of the '80s. Released on THE label of the day, ZTT. Epic Teutonic electro pop of the highest order, this was their debut single. Dr. Mabuse was a fictional character who was made famous by noted German film director Fritz Lang in a series of movies that first appeared in the 1920s. He represented a cold intellect whose one and only aim was destruction of the state. Your typical pop song territory, right? I loved the sound of this track - the hammers, the beats, the chugging bass, the huge delivery of Claudia Brucken, the massive array of synthesizers and drum machines. It was arty and chic, pompous and cold. It utilised all of ZTT's resources, namely Sarm West studios and it's array of Fairlight technology and all of the best studio talent Trevor Horn could round up. It was all embellished with the obscure ramblings of journo Paul Morley. Art pop of the highest quality ensued. I even got the chance to see them live in London at the time, and it was brilliant. Though it may not be their best tune (Jewel/Duel or P Machinery would probably be my top contenders) it is still a classic debut.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Todd Zilla

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Grandaddy have a new EP out called Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla. Singer-songwriter Jason Lytle saw the name on a vanity license plate and an EP was born. Playing everything but the drums, he's crafted a set of lo-fi tracks that are pretty typical Granddady fare - dreamy, wistful odes that leave you with a sense of alienation and melancholy, and a couple of rockers that do the same. There's something about this band that moves me, with it's Neil Young-y country rock music filtered through robotic machines and vintage synths and it's lyrics that can go from inane to sublime in a sentence. Even though this is just a stop gap release until the next full length album I find much to enjoy. Florida is a raging rocker, louder and harder than you're used to hearing from these guys. The best tune on it is Pull The Curtains, which kicks off the record. It starts with a mellow acoustic strum and then it bursts into a new wave rocker, all chunky guitar riffs and buzzing synths straight off of a Cars album. It also features one helluva great syndrum roll that punctuates the song every so often. Sweet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Handful Of Covers - John Lennon

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The latest issue of Q Magazine is a tribute to John Lennon, who would have been 65 this year. The cover mounted CD is also a Lennon tribute - 14 of his songs covered by a who's who of Brit rock, 10 of them *exclusive to the compilation. There are two different covers of the mag available, and two different versions of the CD. I got the one with Badly Drawn Boy instead of Elbow. It's a mixed bag of mostly good stuff - I'm not too sure how I feel about Maddy's Imagine, and the Sugababes' Come Together leaves me unmoved. The rest, as you can see, is mostly rockist fare. Oasis are loud and noisy, Paul Weller is tasty and Badly Drawn Boy is OK. My faves are by the hot and hyped new-comers, Hal & The Subways and a recent-comer, Maximo Park. The Maximo boys take what is a sad and slow song and make it their own - a speedy 1:13 of their taut, angular melancholia. I really like it. I have always liked You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, and the Subways are pretty reverent to the original - it's an acoustic, strummmy version with a gorgeous guitar solo. Hal I've read about but never heard. Their version of Mindgames is a very Flaming Lips-y treatment of the song, albeit a slicker version. It's got a funky disco bass line and some nice sweeping synths. A pretty rather than gritty approach. Not a bad comp for the price of the magazine.

Madonna - Imagine (live) *
Oasis - I Am The Walrus (live)
Paul Weller - Instant Karma (We All Shine On)
Feeder - Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) *
Sugarbabes - Come Together *
The Vines - I'm Only Sleeping
Joseph Arthur - Look At Me *
Maximo Park - Isolation *
The Subways - You've Got To Hide Your Love Away *
Hal - Mindgames *
Willy Mason - Nobody Told Me *
Stereophonics - Don't Let Me Down
Kubb - Mother *
Elbow - Working Class Hero * (on #1)
Badly Drawn Boy - Merry Xmas (War Is Over) * (on #2)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Remain In Light

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The first time I heard the Talking Heads was in 1980. The single getting airplay on the radio was the seminal track Once In A Lifetime, and my listening habits were changed forever. I went on to work my way retroactively to the earlier records, and kept up with the band all the way through their final LP, 1988's Naked. But I digress. Once In A Lifetime was this magical thing that sounded unlike anything else. Complex afropop rhythms collided with funk and disco beats. David Byrne's classic vocal performance was so unique, so oddly compelling, so freaking weird. I learned that this, of course, was nothing new - this being their fourth album. I couldn't get enough of the song. I bought the album and was confronted with such an artfully concocted brew of dance music, rock, and strange, spaced out atmospheres. And oh! those guitars - itchy rhythms, chicken scratch riffs - "tikka tikka tikk" answered with "tukka tukka tukk", panning around the headphones. The band is hotter than shit. The four Heads are aided and abetted by Brian Eno's endlessly creative ideas about sound and production in the studio, the sultry vocals of Nona Hendryx and the "herd of rampaging elephants" guitar stylings of Adrian Belew. Side A is all about the dance rhythms and percussion and taut, edgy funk. It is, IMO, one of the greatest album sides ever, perfect from start to finish, like side A of Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen or the Pretenders' debut. Side B is moody and downtempo and kind of creepy, where Eno's sonic wizardry is put to very good use - good stuff, but not as good as side A. Last week brought the moment I have been waiting for for about a decade - the release of the entire back catalogue in remastered and expanded form. You know what the first of the 8 CDs to get played was. It sounded fabulous. And when the first of the four previously unreleased tunes played I was mesmerized. They are all unfinished outtakes, but there's no mistaking the sound and the feel. It's fascinating to hear. Fela's Riff (Unfinished Outtake) is a Philip Glass like repetiton of riffing, layers of guitar fighting for space, some scratchy, some snaky and sinewy. I love the guitar at the beginning - it sounds like a keyboard at first, then explodes into an extended solo. Right Start (Unfinished Outtake) is an early version of Once In A Lifetime. There are no vocals, just lots and lots of guitars working on perfecting those riffs that became so familiar. It's ultra sparse but so damn groovy. The flip sides of these reissues contain 5.1 surround sound mixes of the album as well as videos and live perfromances, and it has been a real blast watching this stuff. This album in particular has the touring version of this band, augmented by Bernie Worrell and Steve Scales, cranking out some of the songs on a German pop music TV show. They sound remarkably tight. Very cool. Now all we need is reissues of the Tom Tom Club's first couple of albums, and a remastered and expanded version of the Brian Eno and David Byrne collaboration My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts - another seminal recording of the '80s.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Funky Friday Says "Just Say Sire!"

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Even if you're only half the music geek I am, chances are you probably own a record that was released by Seymour Stein's Sire Records. Formed in the late '60s, it steadily grew into a powerhouse supporter of everything that wasn't mainstream, a very "indie" label despite it's major label support. Just take a look at the almighty huge tracklisting that is laid out before you down below. It's a wildly eclectic, always different, pioneering, humorous and massive collection - a "whos who" of the music that I grew up listening to, that shaped who I am as a music junkie today. It spans the spectrum from punk to art rock to disco to folk and jazz and everything in between. I grew up looking at that "big S in a circle" logo spinning around and around in the center my turntable, and what was on was usually my very favorite record of the moment. The label is celebrating 40 years of music this year, and this recently released 3CD/1DVD set offers up proof of it's power in helping to shape so much of music history. The video disc is a real blast, and features a few things I had never seen. It's a must have set. Since it's funky Friday I am obliged to give tunes that will have you shaking you groove thang. Kid Creole's Endicott is a sly put down of the hard working husband who is faithful and honest, set to a sharp as ever big band flavored funk groove. Telex's Moskow Disko is a stone cold electro classic with it's memorable train whistle and vocodered vocals. Laid Back's White Horse is bound to be the funkiest anti-drug song ever, and is also equally memorable for it's synths and somewhat clunky beats. You gotta love that "beep bop boop bap beep" computer synth action.

KISS ME - Tin Tin
OH L'AMOUR - Erasure
SITUATION (remix) - Yaz
THAT SUMMER FEELING - Jonathan Richman
YOUNG AT HEART - The Bluebells
IM NIN'ALU - Ofra Haza
ENDICOTT - Kid Creole & The Coconuts
LOVE AND MERCY - Brian Wilson
EACH AND EVERY ONE - Everything But The Girl
ALL THE WAY - Little Jimmy Scott
CRAZY - Seal

TEENAGE KICKS - The Undertones
I MELT WITH YOU - Modern English
(I'M) STRANDED - The Saints
CA PLANE POUR MOI - Plastic Bertrand
TOP OF THE POPS - The Rezillos
COME TOGETHER (7" Version) - Primal Scream
BEAT DIS - Bomb The Bass
THE KILLING MOON - Echo & The Bunnymen
NEVER NEVER - The Assembly
OBLIVIOUS - Aztec Camera
INSIDE OUT - The Mighty Lemon Drops
SOON - My Bloody Valentine

ALEX CHILTON - The Replacements
COME ON LET'S GO - The Paley Brothers and Ramones
THE WAGON - Dinosaur Jr.
BLANK GENERATION - Richard Hell & The Voidoids
I WANT THAT MAN - Deborah Harry
WORLD CLASS FAD - Paul Westerberg
SHAKE SOME ACTION - The Flamin' Groovies
BOY - Book Of Love

LET'S GO TO BED - The Cure
BRASS IN POCKET - The Pretenders
THE CUTTER - Echo & The Bunnymen
BASTARDS OF YOUNG - The Replacements
ONCE IN A LIFETIME - Talking Heads
REACH - Martini Ranch
ONE WEEK - Barenaked Ladies
COME TO DADDY - Aphex Twin

What's your favorite Sire record?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Old School Electronics

It's another classic 12"s of the '80s post today with two very different approaches to electronic music.

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Freur predated Prince in one special way - the use of a glyph as their name. Look at the cover above, and the circle with a squiggly line coming off it is the band's name. It's a silly gimmick that their label knew would make it hard for them to sell records, so they asked them to change it. The band then came up with a way to pronounce the glyph, Freur. This band is also notable due to it being the earliest works of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith who went on to become Underworld, the giants of electronics we know and love so well. The music here is a mix of prog and synthpop, and in retrospect, the vocals are pure Underworld. The song was a minor hit, but I've always loved it's oddness. It still sounds pretty good today, apart from the drums at the end which are a bit dodgy in that syn-drummy way. A nice bit of psychedelic pop that slowly builds from trippy mellowness to full on blip laden pounding.
Doot Doot (12" Version) (1983)

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The Blue Nile first came to my attention with their second single, 1984's Tinseltown In The Rain (12" Version). Over a driving, uptempo disco beat the band layered some funky bass, a scratchy guitar riff, lots of piano and keys, threw in a boatload of atmospherics and big strings, and topped it all off with the major croon of singer Paul Buchanan. His voice reminded me of the singers of the 50's, people like Sinatra, and to hear it over such modern, swoony music was a thrill. This song has aged remarkably well in my opinion, and it's combination of icy funkiness and human warmth and sensitivity still gives me a little bit of gooseflesh today. It reminds me a lot of the kind of weird, experimental art disco that Arthur Russell did - modern music with a quirky almost classical approach. I continued to buy the band's output over the years, but nothing ever matched the greatness of this song for me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '80s - Is it Love?

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Today's song is dedicated to Johnny over at Lost In The '80s, because I know he will be feeling this one...

By the time Gang Of Four released the single Is it Love? in 1983 they had lost two of their original members, added a new girl in bassist Sara Lee, and crossed the pond to North America to record their album Hard. It was produced by Ron Albert and his brother Howard - these guys had done albums by the Allman Brothers, Derek & The Dominos' Layla, the Rolling Stones and Crosby, Stills & Nash, so you knew things weren't going to be the same. The hardcore fans were not happy, because the new record went even further towards slick disco than it's predecessor, Songs Of The Free. I loved the record. Still do. Just listen to Is it Love? (Extended Dance Mix). From it's opening soulful refrain to the first swoosh of the beat and bass, the fat scaratchy guitar riff and those swelling strings it's pure funk-punk genious. Sara's bass is just about as thick as it gets, funky and popping. I love the guitar tracks on this too, so gritty and hard, couched in this soft velvety groove. It's glorious stuff.

New Music Tuesday
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It is a banner day for new music. The arrival of the Talking Heads Brick is the big story of the day for me. It's a beauteous box set (white plastic with song titles embossed all over it) with all 8 of the studio albums given the full remastering by Jerry Harrison. They all feature previously unreleased songs, and they are all DualDiscs - flip 'em over in your DVD player and its 5.1 surround mixes of the album plus bonus live performances and videos and stuff. IT IS SO BIG!!! I played Remain In Light, and got goosebumps from hearing the previously unreleased tracks. I also listened to I Zimbra from Fear Of Music and was blown away at how good the remaster sounds. This is going to keep me occupied for weeks!
Also out today - Metric's Live It Out, Franz Ferdinand's You Could Have It So Much Better, Broken Social Scene's self titled, Liz Phair's Somebody's Miracle, Ladytron's Witching Hour and, from the venerable DFA, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom's The Days Of Mars. I've got some serious listening to do!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Classic 12"s of the '80s - Gloomy Monday

Bauhaus - She's In Parties (Extended Mix) (1983)
The goth-fathers deliver with a crazy dub-reggae-goth-rock hybrid, full of spaced out atmospherics and a lovely bit of harmonium.

Jesus & Mary Chain - April Skies (Long Version) (1987)
Brilliantly moody surf rock with giant shredding guitars. Not really goth, but akin. What a hugely catchy tune.

Sorry for no big write-ups - I'm pressed for time today. Just slap on your black eyeliner and get your goth on with these two slabs of gloominess that bookend the eighties.