Friday, April 27, 2007

Funky Friday Is Leaky

Dub Pistols - Gansgsters (feat. Terry Hall)
Speakers And Tweeters
Barry Ashworth has decided to drop the big beat thing all together and focus instead on hip hop, dub and disco party grooves. This is a remake of the old Specials classic with none other than the original singer. There are several other covers too - Blondie's Rapture, also with Terry singing, and The Stranglers' Peaches gets a cheeky update.

Von Südenfed - That Sound Wiped
Tromatic Reflexxions
The Fall's Mark E. Smith fronting Mouse On Mars. For real. This is a remake of Wipe That Sound from the duo's 2004 album Radical Connector. The rest of this entertaining LP fluctuates between power elctronics and hard edged electro pop with a couple of mellower interludes, all embellished with Mark E.'s ranting and raving. Good stuff.

Groove Armada - Drop That Thing
Soundboy Rock
These guys have been gone for almost 5 years, so I was interested to hear this. It's a good mix of old school electro, ragga, house and downtempo with a little bit of everything else in between. There are a bunch of guests - Simon Lord (Simian Mobile Disco), Candi Staton, Mutya Buena (ex Sugababe), Tony Allen (Fela Kuti/The Good The Bad & The Queen) and Alan Donohoe (The Rakes). I was unimpressed with 2003's Lovebox, and Soundboy Rock is an improvement - albeit a song or two too long.

DJ Mehdi - Always Be An Angel
DJ Mehdi - Hot-O-Momo
Lucky Boy
A great album on Ed Banger Records from this French whiz has him trying all kinds of stuff, from old school electro to house to party jams to Prince-ly funk. This is a seriously tasty set of electronica that isn't tired and boring and played out.

Björk - Hope
Sound quality is a bit iffy here but the record is a welcome return to more accessible fare, which I personally am glad for.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Favorite New Record This Week

It has only taken him 25 years, but Mitch Easter has finally released a solo album. Dynamico is the first new music from Mitch since his '80s band Let's Active split up in 1989 - eighteen years ago. And I have been waiting for this album all of those 18 years. Mitch is best known as a producer. He helmed the boards for early records by REM, and went on to work with Chris Stamey and Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement and Velvet Crush and any other number of lesser known indie power pop acts. I love him best for Let's Active. The music was inspired by the '60s, with plenty of Beatles and Byrds, but was definitely of the '80s too. I spent many a moment with their 1986 album Big Plans For Everybody, in awe of its clean, crisp psychedelic jangle and its hooks for miles. Dynamico pretty much picks up where he left off all those years ago. This is power pop of the highest quality, with Mitch playing everything on the album. His guitar playing is superb, with great solos scattered everywhere. His wife Shalini Chatterjee sings on five songs, and her harmonies definitely remind me of Faye Hunter and Angie Carlson's vocals from the old Let's Active records. A great return from one of rock music's most underrated talents, and destined to make my best-of-year list for sure.

Break Through
I Want A New Scene

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Music Tuesday - 5:55

Charlotte Gainsbourg's album 5:55 hits US stores today. Released in Europe last August, the US version has two bonus songs and is enhanced with 3 videos. I LOVE this album and have written about it a couple of times - it made my best of 2006 list. Here is a repost of the piece I did last December, with a little bonus action...

Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55 was released at the end of August this year. I scored a copy a couple of months ago, and have not stopped listening to it yet. If I was in the habit of making a year end "best of" list, I reckon this would be a candidate for the top 5, maybe even the top 3. Here's a quick breakdown for you. The music on the album is written and played by Air and produced by Nigel Godrich. The string arrangements are by Beck's dad, David Campbell. The drums are played by Tony Allen, one time drummer for Fela Kuti, now in Damon Albarn's The Good The Bad & The Queen. Lyrics are also collaborative, with Charlotte and the Air boys joined by the witty, sharp pens of Jarvis Cocker and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. The end result is pretty spectacular. The music is Air at their best, lush and moody, a cool blend of electronics and organic instrumentation. There are echoes of her famous dad Serge in some of the bass lines and the strings. She coos in a seductive and breathy style not too terribly far removed from her mum, Jane Birkin, and it fits the songs very well. She also occasionally cops her dad's style of half speaking lyrics. The Operation is one of the few uptempo tracks and features a driving beat, lots of sinewy, intertwining guitar riffs and fab piano. The lyrics are deliciously creepy, mixing love and surgery metaphors. The second single from the album is The Song That We Sing. Full of gorgeous, swelling strings, chunky bass and lush melodies accented by chime-y bells, this tune grabbed me right away. A really gorgeous album.

Set Yourself On Fire is one of the bonus tracks from the US version. It features lyrics by Jarvis Cocker, a piano arpeggio riff that drives the song, and sonically it fits in nicely with the rest of the record.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Funky Friday Has Stax Appeal

The Bar-Kays - Soul Finger

Booker T. & The MGs - Soul Limbo

Rufus Thomas - Do The Funky Chicken

Jean Knight - Mr. Big Stuff

The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There

A couple of weeks ago I picked this up for $15.99. It is a 2 disc set of classic Stax Records material from the '60s & '70s, all remastered and packaged with a cool booklet (lots of photos and stories) in a hardboard box. That nifty graphic of fingers snapping on the cover is a lenticular - you move the box, the fingers really snap. Coolness. And the music is smoking. 50 tracks in all, and not a dull moment to be had. There is sultry soul, swampy blues funk, good time party music and everything in between. It is fantastic of course, and filled with more classics than you can shake a stick at. I still can't believe how cheap it was. Highly recommended. Here's the full line-up...

1. GEE WHIZ (LOOK AT HIS EYES) - Carla Thomas
2. LAST NIGHT - The Mar-Keys
4. GREEN ONIONS - Booker T. & The MGs
5. WALKING THE DOG - Rufus Thomas
7. CANDY - The Astors
8. RESPECT - Otis Redding
10. I WANT SOMEONE - The Mad Lads
11. HOLD ON I'M COMIN' - Sam & Dave
12. LET ME BE GOOD TO YOU - Carla Thomas
14. KNOCK ON WOOD - Eddie Floyd
15. B-A-B-Y - Carla Thomas
16. TRAMP - Otis & Carla
17. SOUL FINGER - The Bar-Keys
18. BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN - Albert King
19. SOUL MAN - Sam & Dave
20. (SITTIN' ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY - Otis Redding
21. I GOT A SURE THING - Ollie & The Nightingales
22. SOUL LIMBO - Booker T. & The MGs
24. WHAT A MAN - Linda Lyndell
25. PRIVATE NUMBER - William Bell & Judy Clay
26. WHO'S MAKING LOVE - Johnnie Taylor
27. I FORGOT TO BE YOUR LOVER - William Bell
28. I LIKE WHAT YOU'RE DOING (TO ME) - Carla Thomas
Disc: 2
1. TIME IS TIGHT - Booker T. & The MGs
2. SO I CAN LOVE YOU - The Emotions
3. WALK ON BY - Isaac Hayes
4. DO THE FUNKY CHICKEN - Rufus Thomas
6. MR. BIG STUFF - Jean Knight
9. RESPECT YOURSELF - The Staple Singers
10. THEME FROM SHAFT - Isaac Hayes
11. SON OF SHAFT - The Bar-Kays
13. I'VE BEEN LONELY FOR SO LONG - Frederick Knight
14. HEARSAY - Soul Children
15. IN THE RAIN - The Dramatics
16. I'LL TAKE YOU THERE - The Staple Singers
19. IF YOU'RE READY (COME GO WITH ME) - The Staple Singers
20. CHEAPER TO KEEP HER - Johnnie Taylo
21. I'LL BE THE OTHER WOMAN - Soul Children
22. WOMAN TO WOMAN - Shirley Brown

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Next Tuesday brings the release of Patti Smith's new album Twelve, a collection of twelve cover songs by some of her "inspirations". I've been listening to an advance copy of it for a couple of weeks now. It is an interesting project, with her regular band (Lenny Kaye on guitar, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Tony Shanahan on bass and keyboards) being augemented by some high profile guests - Italian cellist Giovanni Sollima, playwright Sam Shepard on banjo, '60s Greenwich Village folk artists John Cohen (banjo) and Peter Stampfel (fiddle), RHCP bassist Flea, guitarist Tom Verlaine, Rich Robinson (Black Crowes) on slide guitar and dulcimer and hip-hop producer Luis Resto (Eminem) on keyboards. Patti's kids Jackson and Jesse contribute guitar and vocals. The list of artists covered is both obvious and surprising. Her '60s icons are all here - Hendrix, The Doors, The Beatles and the Stones, Dylan, Neil Young and Jefferson Airplane. These to me are the obvious choices and are the tracks that I think work best. Where it gets a bit surreal is in the remaining four picks - Stevie Wonder, Nirvana, Paul Simon and Tears For Fears. Stevie's Pastime Paradise is interesting - many will only know it as sample source material for Coolio's '90s hit Gangsta's Paradise. Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit is rendered as a bluegrass ballad with some of Patti's poetry added, and I actually like how it turns out. Paul Simon's Boy In The Bubble was originally jaunty Afro pop, and this version doesn't capture the vibe for me. Ditto Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE this song. When I first heard about Patti doing this I was psyched to hear it. She and the band pretty much play it straight, and it will never match the glory of the TFF original that way. So, if you stick to the '60s you'll probably enjoy this. Here are her takes on Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane...

Are You Experienced?
White Rabbit

Friday, April 13, 2007

Funky Friday Playlist

Here is a random selection of funkiness, mostly influenced by what I listened to this week...

TTC - Une Bande De Mecs Sympa
36 15
French hip hoppers with mad flow and bumping electro beats.

Gus Gus - David
These guys are on the verge of following up this 2002 LP. Jockohomo recently posted a couple of new tracks that made me dig this out. I love this song. It's a sexy ("I still have last night in my body, I wish you were with me.") anthem.

Rose Royce - Car Wash
Car Wash soundtrack
Thank you Greg for sending me an mp3 of this disco classic - one of the great hand clapping songs of our time. A great tune.

Timbaland - Give It To Me (feat. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake)
Shock Value
From the so-so new album that has a few real gems on it. This track has the killer hook and the beats you need. The collabos with the rockers are a bit meh - overall I like about half of the album.

Alex Gopher - Tryin'
You My Baby & I
We are going on 8 years now since this came out and we still don't have a follow up. There is a promo from last year called Alex Gopher, but it hasn't been released to the general public yet as far as I know. Anyway, this album is sweet, a mix of experimental electronics, party tunes and downtempo. This is a nice bit of lush disco/house.

Trentmøller - Rykketid
Last Resort
This is a kickin' bit of electro/tech house, taken from the second disc of the limited edition 2CD version of this album. The second CD is a compilation of all of the vinyl singles Anders Trentmøller had released to the point of this album. I posted some of this a while back...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Handful Of Covers

I have been somewhat sceptical of Mark Ronson in the past. I'm not sure why, but there you go. He has changed my opinion of him over the last year with his production work on Lily Allen's debut (great!) and his production work on Amy Winehouse's Back To Black (greater!). Next week brings the UK release (I couldn't confirm a US date) of his second LP Version. It is a set of covers, a few instrumentals, lots of horns and some notable guest vocalists. After spending a couple of days with this I have to say I like it. It is funky, warm and fun. You might argue with some of the song choices but overall it makes for a very entertaining listen. You might also be surprised at how well some of these tunes transition to this old school funk style. Today I offer Amy Winehouse covering the Zutons and a punk-funk take on the Jam...

1. God Put A Smile On Your Face (Feat. Daptone Horns) (Coldplay)
2. Oh My God (Feat. Lily Allen) (Kaiser Chiefs)
3. Stop Me (Feat. Daniel Merriweather) (The Smiths)
4. Toxic (Feat. Tiggers) (Britney Spears)
5. Valerie (feat. Amy Winehouse) (The Zutons)
6. Apply Some Pressure (Feat. Paul Smith of Maxïmo Park ) (Maxïmo Park)
7. Inversion
8. Pretty Green (feat. Santo Gold) (The Jam)
9. Just (Feat. Alex Greenwald of Phantom Planet) (Radiohead)
10. Amy (Feat. Kenna) (Ryan Adams)
11. The Only One I Know (Feat. Robbie Williams) (The Charlatans)
12. Diversion
13. L.S.F (Feat. Kasabian) (Kasabian)
14. Outversion

More Mark Ronson on the Hype Machine...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Alanis Like You've Never Seen Before

I am not a fan of Alanis Morissette - her music, that is. I respect her as an artist, and she gets kudos for being out there, and for her honesty and all that crap. But it is this video that my friend Greg steered me to that has earned her even more of my respect. It is a brilliantly funny piece of pop culture-slash-social commentary. OK, its Alanis' very Alanis-like rendition of the Black Eyed Peas' inane hit My Humps. Yes, you read that right, My Humps. Brilliant.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An Eighties Obscurity

Fashiøn - Move On (12" Version)
From their second LP Fabrique, released in 1982. Fashiøn were a British band who had a slick look and an even slicker sound. They were British white boys playing the funk, a blend of electro, disco, jazz, new wave and some r'n'b all given a glossy, club friendly sheen by producer Zeus B. Held. All style and no substance is a pretty accurate description for these guys, but for a while there I enjoyed them anyway. Eventually I sold all my Fashiøn records, and of course have regretted it ever since. I came across this 12" in a used bin a while ago and picked it up. It is definitely of its era, but holds up better than some of its peers.