Thursday, December 18, 2008
I was fortunate enough to attend that rarest of rare occurences, a live Suicide show, last Thursday night. It was my second time seeing them, as I also caught their free show at the South Street Seaport last summer; nothing quite as weird as seeing the darkest of bands playing outdoor in the sunshine to a crowd full of drunk yuppies.
This time, they chose the odd venue of Club Europa in Greenpoint, a two-floor club that mostly hosts local acts, not seminal ones that have influenced everything that has come since. It's actually a nice venue, as the upstairs as a nice bar in the back, a stage in the front with plenty of room to either stand or you can grab a seat on the couches that surround the dancefloor. I arrived in time to catch the A.R.E. Weapons setting up, after a typically long wait for the cursed G train. I've seen the A.R.E. Weapons before, but have never really found them to be very compelling. I hear descriptions of noise rock, electro rock, confrontational, etc., but that wasn't what I heard that night. It just sounds like blah glam-y punk or something; the tunes didn't grip me, they definitely didn't venture into noise territory and generally made me wish I had come an hour later.
The main event began around 11:2o, I believe, as Mr. Alan Vega and Mr. Martin Rev walked through the crowd and up onto the stage. By the time they did, the room was packed, a nice surprise considering it was a Thursday night in Greenpoint and it was still pouring rain at showtime. Vega (real name: Alan Bernowitz) wore a black hooded sweatshirt and lit a cigarette about a song in. I know it'll make me sound like a fan boy, but who gives a shit? Dude is just cool personfied, all attitude, sneering, punk despite the fact that he's twice as old as anyone in the room. They opened with two classics, "Ghost Rider" and "Rocket USA," killing it with both, you would have no idea that these two dudes never really play live (I believe that I've caught their last two shows in NYC) Vega's still got that voice, that jittery, paranoid one that sucks you in and demands you listen.
To be honest, this night was all about Martin Rev, as he killed it the entire night. On the new track they introduced, Rev went off on a 4 or 5 minute Korg solo that had Vega sitting down to let the man shine. At times, the sinister shit Rev played completely overwhelmed Vega's vocals, which was a little frustrating as Suicide isn't the same without Vega's crazed Elvis-y vocals. But, honestly, I wouldn't want Rev to be lower in the mix, as that minimal ruckus he raises is perfect,
The band played for a little more than an hour, then walked off the stage and headed back to the dressing room area. They ignored the encore calls, as the lights went up after about 5 minutes. They came, kicked ass and left. I headed out and shockingly the G came for the first time ever just as I was getting to the platform. I like to think that Suicide's music scared the shit out of the MTA and forced them to hook up the exiting fans.
All of these terrible photos were taken by me with the aid of the lovely Miss LS's camera. Let me leave you with a parting shot of the machines that made it all happen. We'll have more Suicide live music coming up, some real goodies people. Yeah yeah yeah!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Suicide, "23 Minutes Over Brussels" (YSI link)
Every so often I like to focus on one particular artist or genre for a bit and that time has come again. I caught one of my favorite bands of all-time, Suicide, last Thursday night at Club Europa in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I'll have more to say on that later, but for now I wanted to start posting up some live Suicide music.
There's no other place to start than the duo's most infamous show, June 16, 1978, live at the Anciennes Belgique, Brussels, Belgium. The band was in Europe opening for a few bands you've probably heard of - The Clash and Elvis Costello. This particular night, they were opening for Elvis Costello & the Attractions and this particular crowd was not happy at having to wait to hear their hero. Suicide opens with "Ghost Rider" and it's all downhill from there. The guys are booed pretty lustily after that one, but little does anyone know that booing is this audience being polite. You get an "Elvis! Elvis!" chant after "Rocket USA," booing and whistling throughout the fourth song, "Dance." By the time they get to "Frankie Teardrop," things are getting ugly. Someone in the audience steals the microphone, forcing the promoter to come out and demand it back or the show will be cancelled. Alan Vega subsequently begins to tell the crowd (or one person in particular) to "fuck off" and as the tape cuts, a full-fledged riot has broken out. Vega gets his nose broken, the club is torn up and the Suicide legend begins. 23 minutes.
This was a bonus track released as a second on the reissue of Suicide's self-titled first album. If you do not own that album, stop whatever you are doing and buy a copy. Then, buy a second copy to give out to a stranger. This is essential music from the studio and the stage, the darkest, most immediate music I've ever heard.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Friendly Fires, "Paris (Aeroplane remix)" (YSI link) 320
"I promise, someday, we're gonna live in Paris." How could I not love this song with a lyric like that and a remix by new disco kings Aeroplane. We're in the midst of horrible rainy/snowy weather here in NYC right now, so it's nice to have this cosmic and sunny remix to remind us that the summer is coming around again. Just listen to those warm keys and handclaps and tell me you don't see yourself on an beach on some isolated island watching the sun rise. Add in re-done vocals by Au Revoir Simone that add an air of the wistful and you have a winner. Things do pick up around the 4 and a half minute mark, as the vocals drop out and the drums kick harder and the synths starting shooting fire. It's much more banger than Balearic, which I ain't mad at.
This one's dedicated to my cosmic girl JH-B, who had a law school exam today. I sent good thoughts and cosmic tunes her way all day!
Everyone is flipping over the Justin Kohncke remix on the B side, making this a real serious 12". Grab your copy at Turntable Lab and also make sure to pick up the original stuff in the form of the Friendly Fire's first self-titled LP. This sort of indie dance stuff is pretty saturated right now, but these UK guys are definitely pushing through the clutter.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Chuck Chillout, KISS FM radio show August 28, 1986 (YSI link)
Here's something fun to kick off the week, as we continue to try to dig into the first decade or so of rap music. A real radio show from the mid-80s NYC! It's a great blast from the past, a chance to hear the earliest days of rap music in its most natural setting, the hour and fifteen minute straight mix. Hard to overstate how important these shows were to the development of hip-hop, as they gave the new genre a sense of importance and permanence, a real outlet that could be heard by anyone with a radio.
Chuck Chillout was one of the biggest names in NYC radio during this time. He should also be familiar to Pound for Pound readers, as he was a member of The B-Boys, who we discussed last week. Dude was a master scratcher, releasing a 3 part solo series, worked with Run-DMC, discovered Black Moon and has been an instrumental force in bringing rap to the world. The show's a lot of fun, as you hear the biggies from the day like Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Boogie Down Productions. Chuck mixes it all impeccably, taking us back to stripped down, sample-heavy days.
All of this got me to thinking about how much I miss having the chance to hear great radio shows. I can remember when I was growing up in Philly, trying to catch Friday night rap show on Power 99 or the college radio stations at Princeton and Drexel that played experimental music. There was something wonderful about those early days, these secret little sessions you could have to discover all of this amazing music that seemed endless. Not sure we have that today, since it's so easy to find out about every band or artist ever with blogs and podcasts and whatnot. Obviously, it's much better now, as we want everyone to be able to hear great music as easily possible, but there's something inside of me that thinks the music was a lot more special when it was harder to find.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Talking Heads, "Heaven" (YSI link)
Talking Heads, "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" (YSI link)
This seems like the logical follow-up to the Greg Wilson edits, going back to the Talking Heads album that that edit came from. Stop Making Sense was the concert film shot in December 1983, directed by Jonathan Demme, that remains one of, if not the, greatest concert film ever shot. I'm partial to The Grateful Dead Movie, but you should definitely add this to your Netflix queue ASAP.
The soundtrack is excellent, a great chance to hear the band playing live and funky. Things start off with just David Byrne singing "Psycho Killer" solo and then another band member comes out with each new song until the whole band is together for "Found A Job." There's a few guest musicians, including Parliament-Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell, but it isn't some Last Waltz-type concert. This is Talking Heads and that is a good thing. These songs come from the 1999 Special Edition release, which gives you the 9 original tracks plus 7 additional tracks that had not been heard before. I've focused on two of the new additions, which blow me away every time I hear them. I always associate the Talking Heads with that skewed funky sound, never really considered Byrne and his singing skills nor that the band can write really beautiful heartfelt songs. Listen to "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" for proof that the man can sing and the band can touch my cold, dead heart. Awesome, love love love that little flute that lets the tune just float above you. "Heaven" is just Byrne and bassist Tina Weymouth; the stripped down look works perfectly for the sincere lyrics.
This is an excellent album straight through, as I haven't even mentioned the classics like "Once In A Lifetime." It's proof that the Talking Heads killed it live as much as they did in the studio. Go here and buy your copy of the Special New Edition, money well-spent.
Friday, December 05, 2008
How can you not help this little guy out?!?
No, this is not a request to help out Mr. Bob Dylan. It's much more important, as a little dog needs the help of the Pound for Pound masses. Little Dylan, pictured above, developed a possible brain infection Wednesday afternoon and his devoted owners, Alana and Dimitry, took him to the ER at the New York Medical Center, where he underwent tests. He's going to make it, which is great news, as the vet was able to figure out that there was nothing wrong neurologically and he is back home where he belongs. There is a chance he will need surgery on his leg down the road, however, but everything's ok now. Check out Alana's blog for the whole story and all of the photos mom has taken of her babies.
However, this is an insanely expensive process, so Dimitry and Alana need our help. Head to the bottom of this post and donate a few dollars through their paypal account. It's tough times out there, but this is a good cause and these are two of the best people I know in NYC. Let's do what we can, as I know there are lots of readers and who doesn't love pets and know what it's like to do whatever we can to help them out. Let's do this people! Get well Dylan! Yeah!
Thursday, December 04, 2008
D.C. LaRue, "DC Le Groove (GW Edit)" (YSI link)
Talking Heads, "Gotta Tape I Wanna Play" (YSI link)
I've been meaning to up some more recent music, but as a sign of where my head is at, the only thing I really felt a NEED to put up right now was these edits of old songs by Greg Wilson. Doh! Give these two edits a listen though and you will lose any doubts or complaints that this shit ain't the truth.
The first one, "DC Le Groove," is completely new to me, a re-edit of D.C. LaRue's "Ca-The-Drals." Unfortunately, I can't really say what Wilson has done to this one or how far he strays from the original, but I will simply that this song in and of itself is amazing, a funkified disco stomper that makes the world seem better. It starts off with bass and guitar, some percussion comes in and things start chugging along. Then, every 30 seconds or so you get a great blast of strings and horn noise, which evaporates quickly, leaving you back with the guitar, bass and drums.
The next one should be instantaneously recognized by Talking Heads fans (who isn't a TH fan?!?) as an edit of "Psycho Killer" from the Stop Making Sense soundtrack. Wilson has created a nice extended drum-heavy opening that makes this one dancefloor-ready. It doesn't sound to my ears like he's done a whole lot to the original, which comes in with David Byrne's "Hi, gotta tape I wanna play you" intro. The original features only Byrne, his guitar and the "tape," i.e. drum machine that provides the beat. Wilson adds more percussion, but mostly let's this amazing song breathe.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Lil' Jazzy Jay and Cool Supreme, "B Boy Style (club vocal)" (YSI link)
Lil' Jazzy Jay and Cool Supreme, "B Boy Style (dub instrumental)" (YSI link)
Yes, yes, more electro rap from the early days! I can't get enough of this stuff right now, so clean and stripped down, love it. Lil' Jazzy Jay & Cool Supreme are everything I love, those flashes that come into the musical world, make a quick mark and disappear forever, a little moment of divine inspiration that makes a small ripple on the music surface that we pick up years later.
The duo was actually producer Rae Cerrano (Cool Supreme) and John Byas (Jazzy Jay) and they dropped this single on Easy Street Records in 1985. This one's so dope, you will immediately be transported back to the 80s, hanging in a park with a boombox, a group of breakers and a large group of friends all dressed in too-short shorts and Kangols. I mean, there's vocoder vocals and nice freestlye female ones! Two for two! You also get some nice synths, a tinkling piano keys, lots of scratches and a cold, hard beat. Add in Jazzy Jay's raps and you have a personal favorite. For those who want to take out the raps, head to the dub instrumental version, which gives you just the female refrain and lots more scratching. Trust me, you need this one. B boys! B girls! Yeah!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Larry Levan, Live At The Paradise Garage Disc 2 (YSI link) tracklisting in comments
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Give thanks! I finally remembered to do a post on the second disc from this recording of Larry Levan spinning at the Paradise Garage. Long-time readers will know that I had planned to do this months ago, but it got lost in the hiatus I took. But, it's here now and you need to download this. People, this is life. This is love. This is sex. This is joy. This is pain. This is heaven's soundtrack, as I hear it. I can't say enough about these two discs. Whenever I am feeling a little down or sad or uninspired, I throw these on the iPod and just let the music take me to a better place. There's no greater compliment I can offer a DJ.
RIP Mr. Levan, the world is lesser without you.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Ashford and Simpson, "Don't Cost You Nothin'" (YSI link)
Ashford and Simpson, "Send It" (YSI link)
Ashford and Simpson, "Bourgie Bourgie" (YSI link)
For those who have had a chance to listen to the first disc of the Larry Levan mix, you couldn't help but have been struck by the opening instrumental song, a beautiful, keys-driven tune that starts things out so perfectly and lushly. That tune comes off of Ashford and Simpson's Set It LP from 1977. Ashford and Simpson were Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who actually originally made their name writing and producing hits for other artists, including Miss Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Chaka Khan. They worked at Motown working with a who's who of that label, but eventually left to make music on their own. Their names
This is their first album, one of many to come. This one is for the lovers in the audience, as Ashford and Simpson sing songs about love and sex in male-female duets. The music is mostly slower, soul-inspired stuff, not necessarily dancefloor burners. This is for those moments with your significent other, lying around the apartment, just hanging out together. In other words, this is grown folks music, not for the kids in their neon outfits partying to the latest electro remix. "Send It" was the only single to make the charts, a nice R&B slow jam featuring a flute, strings and piano that add up to something a little cheesy but still delicious. "Don't Cost You Nothin'" is a personal fav. It's all about this nasty bassline, gives the song a dirty, slinky feel that works perfectly with the back-and-forth male/female vocals. "Bourgie Bourgie" is the highlight, a perfect 6 minute instrumental that makes you feel like you are floating on a cloud.
No clue what we're going to be getting into this week coming up, so check in again soon and see what I'm feeling.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Larry Levan, Live At The Paradise Garage Disc 1 (YSI link)
Wow, I killed Thanksgiving dinner, may have even eaten the plate in my gorging. Anyway, today is the day we give thanks for all that we have in life. I wanted to give thanks to all of my great readers, as you are the loves of my e-life. There's been an upswing in comments recently, which makes me so happy. I put comments right behind pastrami on rye on my top things in the world list, both of which are right behind sex and boobs.
I also want to give thanks for disco for saving my life. I can't think of more perfect musical statement of joy and giving thanks than this DJ set by Larry Levan at the legendary Paradise Garage. Throw this one on at some point this weekend and think of all the people you love, all of the great things in your life and all that is still to come. This is the soundtrack to those thoughts.
I've upped Disc 1 today for those who are newer readers. I promise to upload Disc 2 on Monday, as I had intended to do months ago. Celebrate! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
B Beat Girls, "Hearts A Hurricane (Vocal)" (YSI link)
B Beat Girls, "Hearts A Hurricane (Dub)" (YSI link)
During the break, I've begun to dip my toe back into the hip-hop waters, although I still can't say I'm hearing much new stuff that interests me (get at me and let me know what I'm missing currently). However, my love for the early days has only gotten deeper, as I'm becoming obsessed with those late 70s/early 80s tunes when rap came into being. What's most exciting about is to hear the days when rap was so open to dance and electronic music, where it was trying to find its legs.
This B Beat Girls track, "Hearts A Hurricane," is a great example of this period, with the girls rapping over a classic electro instrumental complete with weirdo synths that give it that necessary futuristic sound. I really like the raps on this one, but it's the sung refrain that I love. Gives it a bit of a freestyle feel and makes things much catchier than you would expect. As always, you get the dub for those who favor less vocals. Yeah!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Massimo Barsotti, "Whole Lotta Love" (YSI link)
Massimo Barsotti, "W.L.L. (Another Version)" (YSI link)
Italo! Yeah! We're staying in Europe for some more disco goodies, finally digging into the Italo disco crates to see how the Italian twist on the disco sound. This one is pretty crazy (in a good way), as Massimo Barsotti does an Italo cover of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." Weirdly, thanks to AB, I have started listening to Zeppelin again and been loving hearing some of their classic tunes again ("Tangerine" is my personal fav). However, a disco cover of one of their songs? Yes, please. Pound for Pound dream shit.
Barsotti is another artist who came out of the ether, dropped two singles in the early 80s and then disappeared again. I believe that's the extent of his output, although please let me know if he changed to an alias or what. Anyway, this one has all the markings of a burning Italo track - sleazy vocals, synths!!!, barebones drum machines. While Robert Plant sounds like a dude who really needs to get laid, Barsotti sounds like that dude who got laid the night before, plans to get laid again that night and every night for the foreseeable future. So calm and sleezed up, love love love it. I picture him walking into the club, possibly in Miami Vice Don Johnson white jacket with sleeves rolled up, saying hi to some friends, when he sees a gorgeous brunette on the dancefloor. The song takes place from this moment on, as he takes to the dancefloor and puts his spell on this woman. Her name is Monica, but the vision gets a little cloudy at this point.
FYI, the instrumental is even sicker, with an extra minute and a half of synth magic. There's also the occasional vocal moment, but this one's definitely for those not loving the vocals. Oh, and remember to add my blog in the upper right hand corner, 20 followers and counting! Yeah!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Cerrone, "Je Suis Music" (YSI link) 320
Cerrone, "Rocket In The Pocket" (YSI link) 320
Okay, I've got the computer back from the shop, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I am now living in a post-Obama, post-Phillies World Series Champions world. The time off has perhaps left many afraid that this blog would lose its way, no longer confident of its direction or what to post. Au contraire, these recent developments have only confirmed what I have always known - disco will save the world. Is it a coincidence that all of these great events happened once Pound for Pound made a disco turn? The answer is a resound "No!"
Let's jump right back into the deep end, heading to Europe to listen to one of its disco masters, Cerrone. Born Jean-Marc Cerrone in Paris, Cerrone would be one of the first to adopt the disco sound on the Continent. Dude was making music early, already signed to Barclay at aged 20. His late 70s, early 80s work has had a profound impact on all of the later French dance music like Daft Punk, who sampled the man.
Cerrone IV - The Golden Touch is one of those classic LPs, dropping on the Malligator label in 1978. Man, this one is so necessary, you will immediately imagine yourself in steamy, sweaty club, around 1 am, huge crowd dancing, music swirling all around you, balloons falling from the ceiling, nothing left to do but smile smile smile, yes yes yes. "Je Suis Music" is the highlight of the A side, an excellent slow-burning vocal track that is completely irresistible. A big, rubbery bass and solid beat holds it down, while the various horns and percussion take things to the next level of jublilation. I really love the vocals on this one; it's thing I miss most with all of the great recent cosmic and new disco stuff. "We all feel the pain, is it necessary?/ When we feel the pain better to stick together/Music is the way to relieve the pressure/Music all the way, do you get the message?" Love it. "
"Rocket In The Pocket" is about as subtle as the title, a nice rocking disco track. This one features some serious electric guitar jams, bordering on the cheese. I kinda like it, but I've never been a big fan of taking the guitar seriously (suck on that, rock critics!) You also get more female vocals, a heavier beat, less up-front horns and bass and even a rattler sound. Yeah! This one walks the line between real and cheese, rock and disco and it works for my ears nicely.
We're back people, all sucker blogs are warned.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Dances With White Girls, Burning Bridges and Making Paper (YSI link)
Yes, yes, we've been gone for much too long. Unfortunately, my computer has been in the shop for the past 3+ weeks, leaving me completely out of commission, out of music and out of luck. All of that is about to change, so be on the lookout for regular posting shortly.
In the meantime, I had to get word out about this special event in NYC tonight. Friend of the blog and one of Pound for Pound's favorite DJs Dances With White Girls, a.k.a. Frog, a.k.a. The Man Who What makes tonight's party at Bar 13 so special? It's celebrating the much-anticipated release of DWWG's first EP, New Crack Swing, the latest release on The Rapture's Throne of Blood Records and the record that will set the blogs on fire for the rest of 2008. Frog is taking over the Girls & Boys party tonight at Bar 13 (35 E. 13th Street), a full-on Union Square takeover. Thug house for the masses. He's joined by Andy Pry, Daisy O'Dell and a special guest, who I imagine may have some connection to the label. Head over to the Boys and Girls Myspace page for more info including RSVP link. For the record, there are already close to 1500 people interested in this one on going.com. I will be one of those people, you should too.
For those not in NYC tonight, I've included Frog's latest mix, which should both enjoy top listening status and convince you to purchase the EP. You hear me? Purchase the EP! We'll have more to say on this man and his music, but this is an adequate intro. Yes yes, good good.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Williams, "Love On A Real Train (Williams Odyssey mix)" (YSI link)
Williams, "Love On A Real Train (Version By Studio)" (YSI link)
I spent the night working on a cosmic mix. Two points: 1) Happy birthday to JH-B, the recipient of said mix! A Cosmic Birthday, yeah! 2) I'm in a cosmic state of mind. So, here's a phenomenal track from early this year, Williams' "Love On A Real Train," released on Love Triangle Music. While that label specializes in tech-house, this one fits in so nicely with the new disco scene that has developed over the past 5 years or so, that space-y, stretched out music that is the best thing going today imo.
I spent part of last night hearing some great NYC DJs like Mr. James Friedman, Ms. Louisahhh!!!, Mr. Cocco and Ms. Jess Jubilee spin tech-electro-house all night at The Delancey until the speakers couldn't take it. Fun night and great tunes, but it only served to reinforce that my head is just in a different place now. All I wanted was a nice, slow-burning song to come out of the ether, something that slowly fucked with my ears rather than having them bombarded. These two remixes for "Love On A Real Train" fit that bill, unfolding slowly but surely for those who have patience. Williams redid his own song with his Odyssey mix and he's done well again. This one raises the pressure, while keeping the sounds the same. It makes for a more dancefloor ready song and yet somehow it doesn't feel rushed either. Sweden's Studio turn in a sick remix, adding in some rad flamenco-y guitar action that makes me feel like I am on some Spanish beach waiting for the sun to go down. There's also a way funkier bass here that gives things a little more oomph. Awesome.
Sit back, put your headphones on and enjoy. Also, don't forget to add yourself as a fan of Pound for Pound. Click the link in the upper right hand corner and show your love. Thanks! Yeah!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Inner City Express, "Dance and Shake Your Tambourine (Beedle's Heavy Disco edit)" (YSI link)
Disco edits! Yeah! We did a post last week on "Dance and Shake Your Tambourine," the tune covered by the Universal Robot Band. The original by Inner City Express is hard to come by, but thankfully the master Ashley Beedle decided to drop an edit for the world to experience the original.
Beedle is one of those dudes who always has his hand in great music without becoming an ubiquitous figure. He was a part of the rave-y X-Press 2, made amazing house music with Rob Mello and Josh Howard as Black Science Orchestra and jazzy downbeat music in the Ballistic Brothers project. Dudes has even started three labels over the past decade plus - Afroart, Soundboy Entertainment and Ill Sun. Through it all, he has maintained an interest and love of disco, which has become much more clear recently with his amazing Heavy Disco edits.
This 12" is just pure bliss on a slab of vinyl. I want everyone to download these ASAP, put them on your iTunes or iPod, take 20 minutes out of your work day and revel in the beautiful sounds. I can guarantee you that Monday will seem a lot better and you will look forward to the week ahead and to falling in love and Obama being President. Let the horns and strings and guitars take you away from everything, as this is LIFE MUSIC people. Beedle has put his foot to the pedal on "Dance and Shake Your Tambourine," keeping it a burner right through. He's thankfully kept things mostly the same, including that little kazoo sound. There's a sick drum breakdown, those airy vocals and "oohs" and just the right amount of synths. All I can really say is wow. Grab a copy now.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Phreek, "Weekend (long version)" (YSI link)
Phreek, "Weekend (short version)" (YSI link)
Phreek, "Weekend (extended version)" (YSI link)
I got free guacamole from the Chipotle lady tonight, who I think may have been flirting with me, and now it's Friday afternoon and the weekend is here and it's just the perfect time for some classic disco.
Oh boy, you need this one in your life. I guarantee that Phreek's "Weekend" will be in the main rotation for a long time regardless of the day. It's one of those songs that will immediately lift your spirits as soon as you hear it, from those first rubbery bass notes and beautiful keys. This one was written and produced by the amazing Leroy Burgess and Patrick Adams, you can hear his touch with the all the little details, like the cowbells, gorgeous strings and shakers. It's all so well composed, all of these little pieces fitting into a magnificent big picture. The lyrics and vocals might even be better, as Christie Shire kills it on that front.
For everyone getting ready to head out, this one's for you. "It's party time, it's party time tonight." Enjoy, be safe, dance your asses off, fall in love.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Cabaret Voltaire, "Do The Mussolini (Headkick!)" (YSI link)
Cabaret Voltaire, "Nag Nag Nag" (YSI link)
Cabaret Voltaire, "Obsession" (YSI link)
Cabaret Voltaire, "Loosen The Clamp" (YSI link)
[Ed. note: Sorry for the m4a files. I uploaded this CD a long time ago and didn't realize I had done so in this format. I don't have access to the CD at the moment, but hopefully once I get back to Philly, I'll be able to give everyone a HQ mp3. In the meantime, this should give you a taste of CV.]
It wasn't all disco and cocaine back in the late 70s. There was also a parallel electronic music scene that took its inspiration from the avant garde and punk than soul and funk. Cabaret Voltaire are one of the best examples of this dark dance music. A trio consisting of Richard H. Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson that formed in the early 70s, the band was supremely influential in developing the industrial sound. They themselves were influenced by the work of Beats like William S. Burroughs and Bryon Grisin, who experimented with the cut-up technique in which they would cut up their work into pieces and reorder them at random.
Enough background, let's get to the music. These songs come from the 2001 compilation, The Original Sound Of Sheffield '78/'82, on Mute Records that collected some of the band's best songs from the period of 1978-1982, the period when things first got rolling for the group. This early period features some of the bleakest, darkest music ever, a whole disc of feedback, distortion, manipulated sounds, tribal drum machine noises. There's definitely a pulse and rhythm here, somtimes buried under the static, this ain't bleeps and noises; check out the final song, "Loosen The Clamp," you will clearly hear that these guys were responding to the dance music coming out at the time. This isn't oontz-oontz dance music, but it's there, stripped to the bone. The funky bass, the mechanical, almost tribal drums and space-y keys create a hypnotic track that would influence lots of our favorite music still to come.
The earlier songs like the awesomely titled "Do The Mussolini (Headkick!)" come more out of the punk ether, with the main comparison that comes to my mind is the electro-punk sounds of Suicide. "Nag Nag Nag" is similar, starting off in feedback and never giving your eardrums much of break from there on out. There's some distorted vocals, a massive rhythm section that would make a rock band proud and that layer of feedback that drifts over the whole thing. Awesome stuff.
Obviously, I highly recommend picking up this CD from the excellent Forced Exposure, a great introduction to the group. We'll take a look at part of the look back which covers 1983-1987 and hopefully a lot more down the road, as we're gonna focus a lot more on this darker side of the dance music world. Oh, and I am going to be a little more active with my myspace page, so add me if you'd like some extra goodies. Yes? Yes!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Bionic Butterfly, "Chains" (YSI link)
Bionic Butterfly, "Cream (Always Rises To The Top)" (YSI link)
Bionic Butterfly, "Fess Up To The Boogie" (YSI link)
Let's kick the week off with some great disco tunes and some of Larry Levan's favorites from the year 1979. Bionic Butterfly either have the worst name ever or the greatest, I have not made up my mind. I do know that in their short career, they dropped three LPs including this amazing one, Hot Butterfly. This is just joyous disco music that you need in your life. Yes? Yes!
Check out "Cream (Always Rises To The Top)" and experience the magnificence of this music. That bass is so big and so deep, it will make you funky and cool by osmosis. This one's got some great vocals, including a goody sounding guy talking about private parts at one point. "Chains" is my favorite, an uplifting rager that goes from 0-60 in one second. This one's ready to go right from the starter's gun. It's got another massive bassline, some horn bursts, great lyrics about going for love, drums right up front and lots of soaring vocals. Awesome stuff. "Fess Up To The Boogie" gets the award for best song title, another great track, similar vibe and structure as the other two. When you do it so well, why fuck around with experiments? They do add in a really deep horn, perhaps a tuba or bass saxophone? Whatever it is, it's nice and gives a great low end to the tune.
Okay, much more to come. Disco! Yeah!
Monday, October 13, 2008
This one's a special one. Maestro is a film by Josell Ramos that chronicles the early days of disco and dance music in New York City. It takes a look back at the underground scene that gave birth to disco and house music, chronicling legends like Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Frankie Knuckles and Tom Moulton and legendary places like Paradise Garage, The Gallery and The Loft. It's an amazing document, a chance to go back to the beginning of dance music and hear the stories from the people who were there. Ramos talks with Siano, Mancuso, Knuckles, dancers from back in the day, club staff, lighting men, sound engineers and others. Add in some great archival footage from the various clubs and you've got yourself a history lesson kids should be learning in school. It will show you just how important this music and scene was in the lives of so many people, who were able to find themselves and be themselves in an environment that strived to bring people together.
Here's the video for part 1 (there are 9 total parts) and anyone who reads the blog should consider this essential viewing:
It got me to thinking about the dance culture that existed back then, in the late 70s and 80s in New York City, and what things are like in the NYC of today. I try to avoid nostalgia, as it's such a corrosive and pointless emotion, usually based on rose-tinted glasses that never quite tell the whole story. But, it's hard not to feel like NYC today is missing something, something big. I'm not sure if it's the cabaret laws that have shut down so many clubs, if it's the yuppification of Manhattan, if it's the fact that gay culture doesn't have to be underground anymore, if it's the fault of bloggers like me who talk about everything and prevent any underground from really developing, if it's the insane cost of living or a combination of all of those factors. Whatever it is, I feel like club life in NYC is at a nadir, more about being seen or making money than telling a story or celebrating music. Am I being too pessimistic? Am I missing something? Leave some comments and let me know your thoughts, as I want to be so wrong.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Time for a little self-congratulations here at Pound for Pound. Sometime in the last month or so, we blew past the 1,000,000 visitor mark! Like whoa! Kinda amazing, right? I want to thank everyone who has ever stopped by here and read my ramblings and downloaded my personal take on dance music over the past three decades. I love all of you and look forward to doing this for another million people, as we continue to spread the word about the joys of disco, 808s and big boobs. You are the wind beneath my wings. [P.S. We also got a link on the weekly GBH newsletter for the Mock and Toof Hot Chip remix! Yeah!]
Can I ask a favor? Can you take a second and become a follower of this blog? In the upper right hand corner, you should see a link that says Follow This Blog. Click and add Pound for Pound and you will make me happy and you will join a pretty elite group of the raddest people on Earth. I would love to show what kind of audience we have here, show just how deep this shit goes.
Pound for Pound is an army! Strength in numbers! Yeah!
Friday, October 10, 2008
DJ Harvey, BBC Radio One Essential Mix December 26, 1999 Part 1 (Filemojo link)
DJ Harvey, BBC Radio One Essential Mix December 26, 1999 Part 2 (Filemojo link)
tracklisting in comments
I'm liking the idea of throwing up some long mixes on Friday, give everyone some nice listening for the weekends. We haven't done an Essential Mix in awhile, way past time to throw up one of these. We're going way back for this one, to a different century in fact. Hopefully some readers remember those glorious 90s, when the biggest issue our country faced was a blowjob and . House music entered its peak years then, as it absorbed the blueprint and expanded on it in every major city on Earth.
One of the world's great DJs, DJ Harvey, closed out the decade with a 2 hour mixing looking back at the best of house music for the preceding 10 years. I actually know Harvey mainly through his Sarcastic Disco party and various disco-y edits over the years. Clearly though, the guy is just as well-versed with house music. You get big names like Moodyman and Orbital, lesser-known-but-no-less rad artists like The Basement Boys and 4 To The Bar, plus some disco goodies here and there. Harvey's mix makes the connection between those two genres nicely, covering much of the developments along those lines in the 90s as disco stopped being such a dirty word and more artists started to be openly influenced by the sound.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Universal Robot Band, "Thyme" (YSI link)
Universal Robot Band, "Disco Boogie Woman" (YSI link)
Universal Robot Band, "Space Disco" (YSI link)
Okay, I got all that white boy blues out of my system, time to get back to the dancefloor. Not just any dancefloor, but a weirdo, space-y one in the late 70s, our favorite time. Universal Robot Band aren't just one of the best named bands ever, they also put out some rad disco music for a short stretch of two years. They began as a rock band called Pipeline, became the URB in 1976 and would drop two LPs and a handful of singles before taking on the Kleer name.
I mean, this is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. Week's been shitty, weather's getting colder, essays won't write themselves, I ain't gonna be eating for 24 hours. Throw on any song from this LP, Dance and Shake Your Tambourine, and all of that will melt away a few notes in. The titles alone convey what a beautiful world the Universal Robot Band conjure up - "Making Love," "Doesn't It Feel Good," "Love and Understanding" and "Sunshine". I love it! Yeah! Pessimism and darkness be gone!
This LP is a classic piece of soulful funk, complete with duets, space out jams and obviously some hot tambourine action. While I love the lyrics and vocals, the real heat here is the music, which was written and produced by the legendary trio of Greg Carmichael, Patrick Adams and Leroy Burgess. It's everything you could want - danceable, stretched out, grooving. Check the unstoppable "Disco Boogie Woman," which features great horn work, a tight rhythm section and precise writing. Or "Space Disco," a nearly 12-minute freakout, where the female vocalists intone that "We are going to spaaaacee" and the band tries to get us there. There's so much great stuff I had a hard time picking a few songs to upload.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Disco saved my life, let it save yours. It's what the world needs now. We'll back at sundown tomorrow, with a full belly of bagels. Be rad until then everyone.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Beirut, "Nantes" (YSI link)
I had a seriously shitty, emotional night last night and this was the only song I wanted to hear. I've listened to it close to 50 times on the L ride over and back and walking around and whatnot tonight and I needed to post this up late night to clear out of some of the bad vibes for sleep. It's Beirut's "Nantes" and I consider it to be the best song of the last 25 years, in the non-Dylan, non-dance category. It makes me want to cry, it makes me feel like I have cried, it makes me want to be in love and care for someone, it makes me be all of the things that I can't do in real life. The gorgeous strings, the clattering drums, the trombone deep down. Most of all, it's Condon's mournful vocals and lyrics, singing of lost loves returning or is it a love passing on into the past?
Well it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile.
And I'll gamble away my fright.
And I'll gamble away my time.
And in a year, a year or so
this will slip into the sea
Well, it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile
Nobody raise their voices
Just another night in Nantes
Nobody raise their voices
Just another night in Nantes
Go out and buy the LP, Flying Club Cup, as it deserves your money simply for putting this song into the world. Oh, and do you know how rad we are? Even sad, we still keep the French theme going, as this is Condon's homage to France and its music. Yeah!
Monday, October 06, 2008
Jamie Jupitor, "Computer Power" (YSI link)
Jamie Jupitor, "Computer Power (instrumental)" (YSI link)
No better way to start the week than with a classic slab of West Coast electro, so let's get to work. Jamie Jupitor is one of those aliases that comes out of the ether to drop one track and then returns back to outer space, Jupiter apparently, his job done, minds blown, electro victorious. The story behind Jupitor is a tough one to follow. This is lone 12" was written, produced and arranged by The Egyptian Lover, in the ensuing two decades, he has decided to clean up the spelling of his last name, becoming Jamie Jupiter and touring with EL. This one was released in 1984 on Egyptian Empire Records, and would amazingly be the only release by Jupitor, outside of a few remixes.
We shouldn't complain, as we are lucky to have "Computer Power" as dude probably couldn't top thi. It captures that perfect futuristic sound that bubbled up in the early 80s, where computers and machines took the lead. As Jupitor says here, "Computers are the future world, we program for the boys and girls, there's nothing we don't understand, we're smarter than the normal man...Computer power!" What intrigues me most about this music is how uplifting technology seemed in those early days; despite the coldness of the drums and minimalism of it all, there's an uplifting melody and a real attempt to avoid the feeling that technology would turn us all into automatons and make the world into a scene from Metropolis. The instrumental on the flip side might be even better, letting you hear the music without the vocodered voice or Jupitor.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, BBC Radio One Essential Mix May 6, 2007 (Filemojo link)
T.G.I.F. In celebration of the weekend, here's one of the best mixes I've heard in a minute, one that I've put up before (I believe) but deserves another listen. For those that don't know, Hans-Peter Lindstrom and Prins Thomas (real name: Thomas Moen Hermansen) are the Norwegian dons who have been responsible for the space-disco, cosmic stuff that, imo, is the best and most interesting stuff today.
This mix is so perfect for a late night chill out or a walk around your city or a day lying the park. It should make you want to grow a beard and listen to weirdo music, just like the boys and me. You get essential spaced-out house and new disco tracks, from the best labels like DFA, Full Pupp, Smalltown Supersound, Eskimo and Wurst. There's white labels galore that should every DJ and nerd drooling. Take two hours this weekend while you are studying or doing nothing and let this one unspool in your head. Yes!
Run-DMC, "Peter Piper" (YSI link)
Run-DMC, "You Be Illin'" (YSI link)
Run-DMC, "Lord of Lyrics (demo)" (YSI link)
I'm feeling a little emotional today after some nice Rosh Hashanah moments. It's fitting today that I finally return to one of, if not the, most important LP of my life, Run-DMC's Raising Hell. It was the first tape I bought, my first foray out of the world of 45s and into the new technological edge. I was about 8 years old and really had no idea what I was getting into; a friend's older brother was listening to it all the time and talking about it and since I thought he was cool, I felt like it was the right call. Oh, was it ever! It put me on the path to a lifelong love of music and rap and everything. Thanks Brian Park, wherever you are!
Those opening lines of "Peter Piper" where Run and DMC trade rhymes brings tears to my eyes, takes me back to when I was 8 years old and forced my parents to take me to Sam Goody's to buy this tape. I have been listening to a lot recently and it has lot none of its power or excellence. What strikes me most is how much that early rap was creating its own world through words. Run and DMC spit so many words here and not in that awful Twista way, but in a literate way that just sounds like two guys who have so much to say. I miss that spirit today, that joy at rapping and being heard. Songs like "My Adidas" and "It's Tricky" are amazing, songs that are a part of my DNA now. There's such a swagger to each song, that King of Rock style, the adidas tracksuits, the gold chains, the poses. However, take note current rappers, these guys were as hard as fuck yet didn't need to beat the shit out of women nor kill people to get that attitude across.
The music is just as good, as this album saw Run-DMC adding so much to the rap sound and not just with "Walk This Way" with Aerosmith. Check "Is It Live" for a great congo-y beat. Or listen for all of the scratches and riffs, the introduction of rock samples like "My Sharona" on "It's Tricky," the various layers that took rap out of its minimal stage. It's not surprising that this album would take rap to the next level of popularity, as it is a huge sonic leap. Rick Rubin and Jam Master Jay were the architects on this one, changing the world and my life in 1986.
Buy your copy now, if you don't already own it. This is an essential, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200 album. You need it in your life. You need
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Hot Chip, "Hold On (Switch LDN remix)" (YSI link)
Hot Chip, "Hold On (Mock N Toof remix)" (YSI link)
Hot Chip, "Touch Too Much (Ewan Pearson remix)" (YSI link)
While we're going to be doing less and less of the current stuff, I wanted to make everyone knew that I'm just losing my edge. I haven't lost it yet. Here's a few new remixes from the recent Hot Chip 12" Hold On/Touch Too Much Remixes, another single from the Made In The Dark album.
They've brought in everyone's favorite producer/remixer, Dave Taylor a.k.a. Switch, the house music dude who has been dropping some of the most interesting music of the past few years. He dropped 2 remixes for this, LDN and LA versions that showcase that Switch unpredictability. I don't know of any other artist now who is able to keep you on the edge of your seat in dance music like he does. He's able to draw on various styles, from house to dancehall to bassline to minimal, all in the space of a single track. The LDN remix above is a great example of how he fucks with the dancefloor, stuttering and stopping his way along, making you feel like a huge bassline is coming in which never does. He
The other two remixes are even better. Mock N Toof deserve a much bigger audience and hopefully a few more big-name remixes will do the trick. Their remix is so much more where my head is at, a nice, long extended mix that takes its time on the disco-y house track. You get some great percussion, cool keys, It's a subtle boogie, but it's a good one. Ewan Pearson has been doing this shit for a long time and he still has it. He takes on another song from the album, "Touch Too Much," keeping it much more of a song than the other ones. You get all of the vocals, Pearson has just stripped the song down (until the last few minutes, when it turns into laser tag) and added some beautiful keys and slinky drums that slowly build and build over 9 minutes to a great ending. Really nice stuff
If you haven't already done so, make sure to grab a copy of Made In The Dark, another solid release by one of my favorite bands around. Turntable Lab has the Deluxe Edition, which gets you a live DVD for your money.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Metal Urbain, "Ghetto" (YSI link)
Metal Urbain, "Anarchie Au Palace" (YSI link)
Metal Urbain, "Tango Sudiste" (YSI link)
Paris and punk? No joke, it wasn't all berets and crepes over there in the late 70s. Okay, there wasn't much of a punk scene, nothing close to what happened in the UK and US. Metal Urbain was the big fish in that small pond, a group that had a profound impact on the ensuing So Young But So Cold bands we discussed last week and who deserve a bigger place in the history of post-punk and bringing electronics to that genre.
Anarchy In Paris! is a compilation from Acute Records that covers most of their releases and a handful of unreleased numbers too. Released in 2003, it gives a great overview of the band's small recorded output and shows how far ahead of the curve they were than all of the other punk bands with their use of drum machines and synthesizers. Long-time readers will know that I have never really gotten into punk, but these guys have just enough of a skewed approach to make it work. I'm not totally certain why I don't like punk; the best guess I have is that I just don't like music that has an explicit political message. It's ironic, as I consider myself a political and engaged person, but there's something that leaves me cold when I hear angry, political music. Or maybe it's just the predictability of the punk I've heard, that same, loud and fast aesthetic that does nothing for me. Actually, I guess I do know why. Yeah!
The songs above should give everyone a chance to hear how Metal Urbain took the punk template and put their own spin on it. First off, there's the drums, which give the music an immediately cold and clinical sound that fights with the passionate vocals and guitars. There's also a willingness to experiment with duration and tempo, as you will hear 4+ minute songs, guitar drones and noise. "Ghetto" is my personal favorite, a jagged electronic punk freakout. Good stuff.
Grab your copy here, if you like the sound of the tracks above. I recommend it highly, a really unique sound that sits at the precipice of the punk and all that followed. Politics, drum machines, synths, loud guitars! Yeah! Fuck influence, this is just good music.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Ed Banger (DJ Mehdi, Feadz and Pedro Winter, Menage a Trois Mixmag mix (YSI link) tracklisting in comments
Let's make it a Ed Banger vs Kitsune day here. The other big-name Paris label, Ed Banger Records, put together a mix for Mixmag magazine called Menage-a-Trois, a guide to 2008 according to the cover. When I think of menage-a-trois, the names Pedro Winter, DJ Mehdi and Feadz are no Christy Marks, Karina Hart and Merilyn, i.e. they're not at the top of the list. Ah, but my dude fear was easily overcome with the notion of those three combining to put out a mix.
It's a nice mix that should comes a surprise for those expecting nothing but choppy, massive electro-ed bangers; in fact, there's definite hip-hop and house elements throughout, which is what I've always heard when I've had a chance to catch Medhi, Busy and Feadz spin. For me, it makes the mix immensely more enjoyable to hear a mix of styles and sounds; it takes three excellent DJs to make that melange work seamlessly and the Ed Banger bols do that here. I should make clear that you aren't going to be hearing any Project Pat or Too $hort on here, as it's very much got its feet in the current electro/dance scene; It's a fun listen and will give you a much better sense of what's happening currently than you will get here, as I feel like my mind is stuck in the late 70s more and more.
Who doesn't love free mixes? Republicans, that's who. Are you a Republican? I didn't think, so get to downloadin'! Yeah!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Pin Me Down, "Cryptic" (YSI link)
On Board, "Friendly Fires" (YSI link)
Before you even say it, yes, I know that this has been out for way more than a minute and that this sort of belated posting may get my mp3 blog card revoked. I am defying the system tonight, consequences be damned.
I mentioned that Ed Banger has been at the forefront of the Paris dance music rebirth over the past few years. That shortchanges another pivotal label that has made the rock kids dance and the dance kids rock, Kitsune. The fashion house has been slowly but surely releasing some of the best music of the past few years, introducing us to bands like Digitalism and Simian Mobile Disco. Their Kitsune Maison compilations are essential documents of the dance music scene, bringing together a mix of the best 12" releases and unreleased tracks.
The fifth edition is out, the Golden Edition; sadly this one doesn't reach the levels of the earlier editions, as it lacks the standout, killer tracks, little filler vibe of the first three editions. The album's highlights for me surprisingly come from the indie side of the ledger, which have a lean, dance-y feel that works perfectly. Pin Me Down's "Cryptic" reminds me of a female-fronted Bloc Party, which is a compliment for the record. It's got a great, simple refrain that The highlight for me is Friendly Fires "On Board" which I love love love. It's got the rare quality for this genre of not rushing things, slowing down even for an awesome, handclap breakdown. I had no idea who this band was, which is why compilations like this are so rad and so necessary. Other highlights come from the Fairy Lights mix of Late of the Pier, the Gentlemen Drivers Rave mix for The Teenagers' "Homecoming" and Autokratz's "Pardon Garcon."
Like I said, this one isn't on par with the best of the series. I love the mix of indie and dance music and their hybrids, this one just didn't have the same quality of songs. However, your mileage could easily vary, so grab a copy and support one of the best labels extant. If you don't already own the first four volumes, I'd recommend putting those on the top of the list.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Metal Urbain, "Paris Maquis" (YSI link)
Metal Urbain, "Clé de Contact" (YSI link)
Let's stay in Paris (oh, if only that were literal) for the rest of this week. Cool? Good. I wanted to turn to another one of those bands that has the dreaded label of 'influential,' Metal Urbain. Paris isn't exactly known as a punk epicenter, but there was a tiny scene there during that punk period of the late 70s. The big fish in that small pond was Metal Urbain, a band that didn't get a whole lot of attention but was way ahead of the curve in terms of predicting the electro punk sound with synths and electronics that would start to happen in the 80s.
We're going to do a little retrospective over the next few days of the band's small output (what I have of it), I want to start out short and sweet. Paris Maquis is their second release and it was a landmark at that, the first 7" on Rough Trade Records, released in 1977. It's not as interesting as their later ones, when the electronic element comes to the forefront more. This is punk music, loud, fast and pissed off. However, you'll also notice the drum machine in use, giving it a nice mechanical vibe that works against the furious vocals of Clode Panik. I will talk a lot more about the music and band in future posts, just want to get the ball rolling.
Also, in honor of that "Fasciste!," I wanted to get the word out about the latest atrocity and attack on women's rights in the form of a new proposal by the Health and Human Services that allows any health care employee to refuse to provide a treatment they object to, from abortion to contraception to anything else. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cecile Rodgers have a nice op-ed today in the Times about this (thanks JH-B!) that spells it all out. This amazing post at Daily Kos by Elise goes into much greater detail and explains the ways that you can voice your protest on this proposal. If that's too much reading, just go and sign the petitions at Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and NARAL. Let's do this people! Pro-choice! Yeah! All you fascists bound to lose!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Mr Oizo, "Minuteman's Pulse" (YSI link)
DJ Mehdi, "Pocket Piano" (YSI link)
Let's stay in Paris but turn our attention to the present in the City Of Lights. The one label that's synonymous with all the rebirth of electronic music there is Ed Banger, a label that has consistently put out some of the best music over the past few years. I've been on the bandwagon since early on (shout out to Project Matt and Lauren Flax for bringing the label to NYC a long time ago before everyone and their mother got into these guys) and it's been exciting to watch them assume global dominance in such a short time.
They are back again in a big way with the release of the Ed Rec Volume 3 compilation, featuring new and unreleased tracks from the label's stable of producers. You know the big names - Justice, Busy P, Uffie - they're all represented here. But, it's that second level, imo, that makes the label so special, those unassuming names that consistently put out interesting tracks. Guys like Mr Oizo and DJ Mehdi don't get the recognition that the others get, mainly because they haven't dropped an anthem like the more famous indie dance acts have. I don't think the two tracks above are going to change that, but they are still rad as hell and show subtle tweaks to the Ed Banger sound. Mr Oizo drops a chopped-up tune, "Minuteman's Palace," with awesome horn melody, a female computer voice, lasers and stuterring drums. He's bringing back that futuristic vision for electro, I do say. Mehdi goes in the complete opposite direction on "Pocket Piano" with a nice, disco-y track that lets things develop. The congos and pianos are not what you expect on this compilation, which is a good thing; even better, it doesn't have a "look at me, I'm doing something different" vibe either. There's also big tracks by Justice, a heavy metal banger by SebastiAn, a great Uffie song that doesn't sound like what you'd expect and a lot more.
Grab your copy today at Turntable Lab, a great chance for everyone who doesn't buy vinyl to show some support to a great label. We'll come back to France soon, but next up we go back to the old New York. Tune in and turn out.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
J.J. Burnel, "Euroman" (YSI link)
Kas Product, "So Young But So Cold" (YSI link)
I believe that Volga Select and Tigersushi presented this CD, So Young But So Cold: French Underground Music 1979-1982, solely for me. First, the title is B-A-N-A-N-A-S. It's not just that the title, minus the French underground part, is going to be the name of Chapter 7 of my autobiography, chronicling my 20-28 years. [Incidentally, Chapter 8 is called The Best of Times and chronicles my marriage to Christy Marks, ascension to the role of today's Jane Jacobs and jut general radness of my thirties.] It's also that it's about being cold and detached and distant, which is so me. It's also the fact that it's about the French, my national obsession (shout outs to Eric Cantona, Emanuel Levinas and of course, my father). Plus it focuses on that Pound for Pound golden period, the late 70s, early 80s, when new wave, no wave, disco, electro and hip-hop all came together and melded and reformed and melted faces.
Seriously though, this is one of the best compilations I've heard in a long time. It's everything a compilation should be, a chronicle of an forgotten period of music that deserves to be remembered. It's not surprising that Volga Select was behind this, as it features the amazing death disco man, Ivan Smagghe, as one-half of the duo; the dude has an ear for the dark side of the underground (cf. Death Disco). He was joined by Volga Select partner, a.k.a. Mark Collin, in compiling the music on the disc, This one takes a look at the underground of French music for a three-year stretch that isn't associated as much of a golden period in that country's musical history. The music here covers varied ground, from more new-wave-y stuff to disco-not-disco tracks to experimental stuff; the common theme is the coldness of the music, dominated by machines like the synth and drum machines; one wonders if the government gave out drum machines and synthesizers to every child in the country. Better health care and free Rolands, people! Vive la France! Anyway, the title of the album fits perfectly, as these young groups all seem to have sucked the joy out of the disco that came before (and I mean that as the highest compliment). They've turned in machine music and complimented with detached vocals sung with no divaness at all.
I've chosen a couple of my favorites that should give you a sense of the music on So Young But So Cold. "Euroman" by JJ Bernel is probably my favorite, a minimal, slow-building track that would have fit well with the whole NYC scene of this same period. There's static-y drums, strummed guitar chords, a deep, dubby bass and the whisper-y French vocals of Bernel (I assume). It sounds like the thing could explode at any moment, but it never does. It stays nice and calm, never getting carried away. Awesome. I also went with the title song by Kas Product, "So Young But So Cold." This one's got a electro punk vibe, with some wicked synths, drum machine devastation and intensity. Mona and Spatz Soyoc ironically may have the least cold song on here, as the vocals get belted out with punk abandon. I really could have chosen any of the 16 tracks, as they all work for me, not a letdown on the whole disc. My only disappointment with the CD is the lack of quality liner notes; it would have been nice to have a little more historical information about this period in France, the story on these bands, whether there was a scene or if these bands worked in isolation, what happened to them, etc.
As you can tell, I recommend this as highly as possible, an essential purchase for anyone who likes the music and attitude that lies behind this blog. Grab your copy at Forced Exposure of the repressed version before it goes out of print again and you have to scour ebay or beg your friend for a copy. So Young! So Cold! Yeah!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
DJ Assault, MrMuthaFukka excerpt (YSI link)
I realize that this week has been a nice chance to establish what this blog's all about, what sort of music everyone can expect down the road. Pound for Pound For Dummies, what have you. For the perfect follow-up to our look at Chicago ghettohouse, we head to Detroit (shout out to JH-B and my bol Hank Greenberg) and the world of ghettotech. While he's not the only dude working in this genre (and his tracks probably aren't even the best), DJ Assault has to be one of the main people responsible for bringing it out of Detroit to the rest of the world.
MrMuthaFukka is the perfect intro, a CD devoted to the best of the Assault Rifle Records label that Assault and Mr. 'De founded. It's a decent mix, covers lots of the most famous tracks to come out. The ending is a disappointment, as Assault turns things over to a new female vocalist signing who she sings over jungle beats (No, I'm not kidding). From there, it only gets worse, as there's another breakbeat-y speed rap track, nearly 4 minutes of Assault talking dirty in a whisper-y voice that will have you cringing or vomiting and some terrible rap songs. The rest of the CD is a nice intro to the Assault mixtape, with lots of stark, filthy funk tunes, classics like "Ass N Titties," "Asses Jigglin" and "Hoez Get Naked," pointless interludes and Assault's g-d awful rapping.
I've taken a good stretch from an otherwise average mix to give everyone a taste of ghettotech and its mix sound, which have surprisingly varied sounds. Check out Assault's own site to buy more of his stuff, including the 12" singles that everyone needs in their life.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
DJ Milton, "Scream" (YSI link)
DJ Milton, "House Clap" (YSI link)
DJ Milton, "Saturn" (YSI link)
I kinda like this first week of resumed posts being a overall look at what we do here and the music you can expect, i.e. Pound for Pound music. Long-time readers will know that there might be no important stuff than the Dance Mania label for me here. Dance Mania is one of the labels that helped shape house music since the mid 1980s, started right in the genre's birthplace, Chicago, Illinois by Jesse Saunders. It is responsible for lots of seminal tracks, including Housemaster Boyz and the Rude Boyz of House's "House Nation" and Lil Louis' "Video Clash."
These tracks are not on that level, but they are nice examples of that mid90s DM sound. Here's some standard DM stuff from the mid-90s, as the acid washed away and the ghetto sound emerged. DJ Milton fits the anonymous dance music producer profile to a tee, releasing more than 25 records in a 4 year period and then disappearing (as far as I am aware). Most of them were on Dance Mania, this Scream EP was the first, in 1994. It's what you expect: raw, dirty and jacked." These three tracks are the A-side, the lesser of the two imo. "Scream" is furious as fuck, a raging drum machine track complete with porno screams that give it that nastiness one associates with ghettohouse. The other two are strictly instrumentals, drums galore that might work great with an acapella over them. Just sayin'. Check "House Clap" for a nice acid moment around the 2 minute mark.
Yeah! Dance Mania! House music! Yeah!