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.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Milton Nascimento, "Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser" (YSI link)
Lõ Borges, "O Trem Azul" (YSI link)
Alaide Costa and Milton Nascimento, "Me Deixa Em Paz" (YSI link)
Milton Nascimento e Beto Guedes, "Nada Serà Como Antes" (YSI link)
I spent the weekend back home in Philadelphia, which ironically gave me the chance to dig into my CD collection that has remained at the original Pound for Pound HQ, i.e. my parent's house. It was quite an archeological dig; I got to upload some great jazz music, Raddest find: Miles Davis' Complete Live At The Plugged Nickel boxed set. Most embarrassing find: I own more than one moe. CD!? Jam band memories came flooding back
One of the gems I got to upload and enjoy again was this one by Milton Nascimento, Clube Da Esquina. This album and the movement of the same name are pivotal in the development of Brazilian music, leading the way for traditional Brazilian sounds to engage with the modern rock music that was happening in the UK and US and jazz and whatever else they heard at the time. The story for Nascimento and the clube da esquina (club on the corner) members begins in 1963, when Nascimento and friend Tres Pontas moved to the same boarding house as the Borges brothers. Add in a few other local friends and they formed a band called The Beavers. Nascimento was always the focal point, as he made his own solo music and would eventually bring the group together to record this album for EMI in 1973.
You will immediately notice that the music has a beauty that you don't find very often. Despite the modern influences, there's really no discordant notes at all. You get a lot of upbeat, jangly pop, a smattering of slow ballads, all with gorgeous vocals sung mostly by Nascimento and Lõ Borges. You can definitely hear The Beatles influence, with the electric guitars and pop sensibility, but there's no denying that this is Brazilian music at heart with its percussion and samba-like rhythms. The songs above should give you a good idea of what you can hear on the 21 tracks on the album.
I'm sure you can tell that I think this is some amazing music. While it's out of our normal posting range here, it's definitely at the heart of what I like to listen to: great, soulful music. Buy a copy today, check the amazing reviews there if you doubt me. An essential purchase and a great way to jump into the Brazilian waters and discover the incredible music of that country. Yeah!
[I'd like to thank Milton for making this album, as its calming sounds were the perfect soundtrack to me having to wait two hours to catch one of the Chinatown buses to NYC last night. I mean, people were fighting, screaming the F word, there was no line whatsoever to get on, just a bum rush when a new bus pulled up. The whole time I was in a total zen state, imagining that the bus was taking me to Rio, where I would end up on the beach with a girl in a thong, playing soccer and discussing urban development and the favelas with said girl. Thank you Milton, thank you.]