Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Mojo Magazine's November issue has a great freebie cover mount CD. Called Experienced, it is 15 tracks inspired by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It's hard to believe it but their stellar debut Are You Experienced? will be FORTY next year. Yes, it was released in 1967, and it's influence can still be found today. This collection has covers, both contemporary and classic, as well as tracks by Hendrix associates and contemporaries. It is a nice and diverse set, as demonstrated by today's tunes - some cheesy eazy listening from the late '60s, some serious riffage from McLaughlin's '70s fusion period and some stone cold acid funk rock from a '70s classic album called Maggot Brain.

1 The Lords Of Altamont - Can You See Me
2 Noel Redding With 3:05 AM - Stone Free
3 The Move - Message From The Country (4:32)
4 Rotary Connection - Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
5 Chris Whitley - Drifting
6 Jamie Cullum - The Wind Cries Mary
7 Lightnin' Rod Featuring Jimi Hendrix - Doriella Du Fontaine
8 John McLaughlin - Don't Let The Dragon Eat Your Mother
9 Santana - La Puesta Del Sol
10 Johnny Winter - Help Me
11 Curtis Mayfield - Freddie's Dead
12 Funkadelic - Super Stupid
13 Bootsy Collins - Psychoticbumpschool
14 Love - Little Wing
15 The Hammersmith Gorillas - Wild Thing (Live)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I am a big fan of the UK duo Bent. Their brand of left field electronica has always struck a chord with me, from their stellar debut Programmed To Love to it's equally great follow up The Everlasting Blink. These two albums are full of lush melodies, quirky arrangements and killer vocal samples from sources as diverse as The Captain & Tenille and Nana Mouskouri. They followed these up with Ariels, where the sounds remained the same but were now accompanied by actual vocals, sung by four different singers, as opposed to samples. I liked the result, but not as much as what had come before. Last month the duo sprang back into action with Intercept!. This time out they've enlisted the pipes of Simon Lord, former lead vocalist of Simian. I was a big fan of the now defunct Simian, so this move works for me. It makes this record sound like the work of a real band, and it's more cohesive overall than Ariels. The result is a record full of the duo's trademark sounds, with some nice post punk edge thrown into the mix, that moves ever so slightly towards the realm of pop. I am digging this album a lot. It kicks off with yet another installment of the long running Exercise series, Exercise 7. A spooky, spaced out intro gives way to big, lush, disco happenings with swelling melodies swirling around the beats. Waiting For You is one of the vocal tracks, and is pretty fierce. Built over growling synths and bass, it adds some delicious, scratchy Afro-pop guitar straight from Talking Heads circa Remain In Light and slowly builds into a real stomper before fading to blissed out synths. Welcome back, Bent!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Feel The Love

Earlier this year Cirque de Soleil was lucky enough to be given the right to score an entire show with the music of The Beatles. It is staged in residency in Las Vegas and is called Love. The deal with the soundtrack is pretty interesting. Sir George Martin (producer of so many of the original recordings) and his son Giles went into the studio with the original tapes and began to tweak and mash elements of old songs to create new ones. The reviews have been largely positive, but I remained skeptical. That is, until I picked up the record this week. It is 26 tracks of music you know but have never heard like this before. Apparently there are are at least 100 Beatles songs represented here, some in tiny fragments, others in close to their entirety. Having the original producer involved is obviously the key, as he knows his way intimately around the source material. The end result is a flowing, 78 minute mash up of old and new, some of it tweaked only a little, some of it tweaked a lot. There is also a 2 disc version, with the second disc being a DVD with a 5.1 surround mix that clocks in a slightly longer 81 minutes. This is the version I bought, and the 5.1 is a real trip. When I played this at work yesterday it generated a lot of interest and also a few of those all important "goosebump" moments. Those occurred mostly upon hearing some of the mashed up tunes - Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing, Within You, Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows. Some of the little snippets mixed into songs are also breathtaking. It is always a revelation to me when I hear familiar music tweaked like this, and this is no exception. If you are a fan of the band I think you will really dig this album. Here is a great example of one of the mash ups, as well as a pretty radical reworking of Lady Madonna.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite/I Want You (She's So Heavy)/Helter Skelter

Lady Madonna

Friday, November 17, 2006

Funky Friday Full Of Soul

I have been on a bit of a a soul/funk/r'n'b binge this week so today's four pack is a good indicator of where I'm at...

Bill Withers - Use Me
A great clavinet driven hook, Bill's honey voice and the overall funky vibe of this makes it a favorite of mine.

Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band - Kiburi (Pt.1)
I just picked up this reissue of an early '70s obscurity. It is essentially the roots of hip hop breaks and beats, all on one LP. The version of Apache which Grandmaster Flash first used 25 years ago is here. The beat that the Beasties and Massive Atack sampled is here. Musically it is often cheesy, with lounge-y elements and lots of "acid rock" guitar, and of course loads of bongo. It is also often fantastic, and as on this track, very funky. A little piece of musical history.

Anthony Hamilton - Sista Big Bones
I saw the video for this a few weeks ago and it made a big impression on me. I picked up his latest album Ain't Nobody Worryin', which features the song. A come on to a "big girl" - played in the video by comic Mo'Nique - it's sultry and warm and soulful. I love the piano rolls and Anthony's croon reminds me a bit of Lou Rawls. A very nice LP of old school soul.

Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady
I scored a used copy of the 2CD The Definitive Soul Collection last weekend. It is 30 of Aretha's best from the early years. It is, as she says in the song "a funky and lowdown feeling". A crucially funky track. You cannot resist Aretha.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

EP Roundup

Klaxons - The Bouncer
Xan Valley EP
The latest British sensation. Feel these guys shout at you over a loud, raucous and breakneck paced track. Mega riff skronkage. "Your name's not down, you're not coming in!!"

Fields - Brittlesticks
7 From The Village EP
Imagine Arcade Fire with the shoegaze button turned up to 11. Add some nice electronics, some indie strum and loads of melody and presto! A great 7 track EP.

The Slits - Number One Enemy
Revenge Of The Killer Slits EP
They're baaaaaaack. Well, at least a couple of 'em. Ari Up and Tessa Pollitt round up former Sex Pistol drummer Paul Cook and former Antperson/guitarist Marco Pirroni and it's 1977 all over again. A stonkin' bit of punk rock.

Dean & Britta - Colours
Words You Used To Say EP
Dean & Britta return with some more gentle indie meanderings. If you know their background - Galaxie 500, Luna and some solo outings - you kow what you're getting. This is a cover of an old Donovan tune.

The Rosewood Thieves - Back Home To Harlem
From The Decker House EP
This is some classic Americana - a bit of Dylan, some Spoon, the influence of the Beatles and Johnny Cash and vintage r'n'b. It's all here on this nice and warm six song set.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Funky Friday Four Pack

A classic slice of 1997 neo-soul courtesy of Masters At Work aka Nuyorican Soul. Featuring jazz guys like George Benson and Roy Ayers and vocals from Jocelyn Brown and India, it hops from jazz to disco to Latin to hip hop. It's a fantastic album, and Runaway is a classy disco epic with full blown arrangements.

I downloaded Amerie's Take Control a few weeks ago and am smitten by it. Written and produced by Cee-Lo, it's a kiler funk throwback - delicious guitar, Cee-Lo's backing vocals, tight horns and BAM! Beyoncé wishes she had this tune.

I was playing the excellent Ze Records compilation Mutant Disco at work today and found myself really enjoying
Material and Nona Hendryx's Bustin' Out. I particularly enjoy the bass on this muscular disco rock track, and Nona's vocals are fierce as always. A chunky funker.

When you see the words DFA Remix you know what's coming - thumping beats, lots of scuzz, and radical reworkings of songs. Their remix of Justin Timberlake's My Love (DFA Remix) is all of that. Gone is the Euro techno flavor of the original - in fact, all that remains of the original is the vocals. I really dig this, especially the spaced out fuzz jam towards the end.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Random Music Post

I am in touch with my inner android today. As I was grabbing CDs to take to work this morning I flitted over John Foxx's Metamatic and those Ultravox reissues and settled on Gary Numan. The day began with 1978's Tubeway Army. Here is a powerful trio - Gary, bassist Paul Gardiner and drummer Jess Lidyard - who harness the energy of punk rock and tart it up with ominous synths. Gary's drone was unique and his lyrics were about isolation and sex and schizophrenia and technology. Listen To The Sirens opens the album with muscular riffs and futurist ideas. Every Day I Die is an atmospheric ode to masturbation. The seeds had been planted for an interesting musical adventure. I then moved on to 1979's The Pleasure Principle...

Best known for it's mega hit single Cars, this album fully embraces the synthesizer and dumps the Tubeway Army name. Sure, it still rocks, but the synth rules. Instrumental opener Airlane is a chugging epic, all soaring synths and a melody reminiscent of Gary's electro-rock peers Ultravox. It's followed by Metal, where the synths and science fiction continue to dominate. These tracks still sound good to me, despite the fact that they are nearly 30 years old!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post Punk Nuggets

Today's tunes are taken from a couple of recent purchases, both compilations of music from the late '70s and early '80s.

7" Up! - Singles Only! UK 78-82 is out on Crippled Dick Hot Wax, and is a great collection of British obscurities. There are some well known names like Monochrome Set, Thomas Leer and Glaxo Babies. There are some unknowns too - I Jog & The Tracksuits, Gerry & The Holograms and They Must Be Russians' Don't Try To Cure Yourself, a ditty about venereal disease. Brian Brain's Jive Jive is a quirky new wave tune with a bouncy bass line and loads of scratchy guitar. This is one of the first bands drummer Martin Atkins was in - he went on to drum for PIL v1.0, as well as Killing Joke and Pigface.
Weekend were made up of singer Alison Statton, fresh out of indie cult heroes Young Marble Giants, and jazz instrumentalists Larry Stabbins and Simon Booth. They recorded one album before splitting, with the guys going on to form Working Week after this project ended. To my mind the resulting sound of Weekend was a jazzier, bossa nova infused Young Marble Giants. Drumbeat For Baby is a lovely bit of pop with jazzy overtones and some smokin' sax.

New York Noise Vol.3 - Music From The NY Underground 1979-1984 comes from killer UK archive label Soul Jazz and continues the tradition of excellence of the first two volumes. This one is compiled by electronic musician Stuart Argabright who recorded with NYC electro minimalists Ike Yard, then as Dominatrix, as well as Death Comet Crew and Black Rain. Where the first two volumes have had a rockist bent, this one clearly favors the electronic experimentalists of the scene like Dark Days, Implog and Suicide's Martin Rev. There is also rock skronk, courtesy of UT and James Blood Ulmer, and the Judy Nylon cover of Jailhouse Rock is great - dubbed out slow mo with delightfully off key vocals. Sticking with the electronic mood of the set I'm sharing a couple of the compiler Stuart Argabright's works. Ike Yard's Loss is skeletal electro, with minimal touches of keyboards and FX and that spooky white boy drone. Dominatrix were a far more commercial undertaking who achieved notoriety with their classic 12" The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight. City That Never Sleeps is leftfield breakdancing music that conjures up riding a grafitti covered subway train through NYC.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day 2006

Today is midterm election day in the US. This video accurately sums up my views on the state of this nation. It really is time for some change, and I will be watching the returns tonight, anxious to see how many of my fellow Americans agree.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Funky Friday On The Euro Tip

A funky Friday four pack of treats full of European flavor...

The Knife - You Take My Breath Away (Mylo Remix)
Mute Records reissued the the first two albums by The Knife this week. Deep Cuts is expanded with six extra tracks and a DVD with 7 videos on it. This Mylo remix is one of the bonus tracks, and is tasty, bumping electro disco.

Lily Allen - Smile
I took advantage of my record store's 20% off sale and picked up an import copy of this album this week. I love it's mix of pop, hip hop and reggae, combined with Lily's sassy delivery. The songs are catchy and sharp and funny. This track is such a sweet kiss off tune, with it's sunny, reggae vibe and killer chorus.

Teddy Bears - Black Belt
These Swedes deliver a crazy brew of electronics, rock, disco, reggae and psychedelia, to name but a few of the record's flavors. Guest vocalists abound too, wiht Neneh Cherry, Iggy Pop, Mad Cobra, Elephant Man and Ebbot Lundberg (Soundtrack Of Our Lives) all making appearances. This tune is a disco instrumental that combines DFA thump with '70s Moog power.

Lady Sovereign - 9 To 5
The opening track from the biggest midget in the game's debut LP is a woozy sing song with great horns and some pretty fat beats. The rest of the album is fun, mixing grime and hip hop and pop and even a bit of punk riffing, but I think Lily Allen will have greater staying power in the long run. Still, an amusing listen.