Friday, April 02, 2004

The Godfather
The last time James Brown was in town, it was 1977. After a few near misses he finally returned here, to the St James, a suitably funky venue for a very funky guy. After a fine warmup set from longstanding club act Ardijah, Mister Browns current band, the Soul Generals made their entrance, dressed in sharp sky-blue suits. Onstage were two drummers, two bass players, two guitarists, 3 piece horn section, a percussionist and 3 backing singers, introduced by Mister Browns MC Danny Ray as the Bittersweets. Then Danny Ray started the build up for Mister Browns entrance... "Are you ready for the Godfather of soul, Mister Dynamite, the hardest working man in show business?" And so on.

Finally, Mister Brown makes his entrance, casually strolling onstage. What follows is a greatest hits package, which is exactly what you want from a legend like Brown. Even though some of his hits were presented in shortened form, like Please Please Please (including his famous 'stage exit with cape' routine), there was still plenty of funk in evidence. When Brown took things down a notch, like on Its a Man's World, he showed that he still has a hugely soulful voice, giving the song some real grit. He pulled a few dance moves - no splits but hey, the guy's 70! He even threw in a few mic stand tricks, just to show he's still got it.

The crowd was very very white bread - very few kids, very few brown faces. Maybe the high ticket prices put some off going. Still, that didn't make me think twice about buying a ticket.

Some commentators suggested Brown seemed more like a cameo in his own band, letting them take extended solos, and noted that he even passed the mic to one "of his hair-tossing female proteges take centre-stage for an overlong bracket while he conducted the band or held his place behind the keyboards." The cool thing was, even when he wasn't on the mic, he was always in control of the band, via his hand gestures. They followed his lead very closely. And as for the female protege, well she's Ms Tomi Rae, aka the current Mrs James Brown. She is also the woman Brown is currently up on charges for assaulting back in late January. The couple had previously announced their separation, placing an ad in Variety in July 2003 noting it was a "mutual show business decision" to "go their separate ways." The accompanying photo is the couple and their three year old son at DisneyWorld posing with Goofy. Ms Tomi Rae is 33, and looks like a sultry Vamperella character.

Yet there she is on stage, singing a love song to Brown, and clearly they are still a couple; Brown takes her hand and leads her offstage at the end off the show. At a press conference in Melbourne, after his Auckland show, Brown was faced with a question on the domestic violence charge, much to the disapproval of the Brown camp, who had asked for no questions on this (check the mugshot). Brown, who was sitting next to Tomi Rae, asked the journo straight back if she was married.

"You're not? Well then you wouldn't know what I'm talking about anyway," he said. "Ask all the married couples -- they know. You get up on the wrong side of the bed and everything, but we're doing fine." Go figure.

Yes, James Brown the legend came to town. He may not have been like the records of 30 years ago, but back then he had Bootsy Collins, Jabo Starks, Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker playing alongside him - some of the funkiest players on the planet. You got the spectacle, you got the soul, you got the funk - what else is there?

Public Enemy's Chuck D caught James Brown late last year, in Atlanta. "When Mr. Brown took the stage the ATL immediately roared for their Georgia son. The very first cut was 'Make It Funky' signifying that James and the Soul Generals were gonna pull some joints out the bag. Highlights included JB doing two microphone stand tricks that left the crowd stunned as if MIKE JORDAN threw it. Bursts of dance energy came at the crowd and wowed them. At 70 he moved, grooved, and cold sweated us to death... This was JAMES BROWN in his 70s doing it like he did it in the 1970s. No doubt. The double drummers even played high speed funk thru the finale of SEX MACHINE when the venue cut the power, as it's known to do. The point is that it was more turbo energy than cats twice his age using multimedia crutches."
Bummed you missed it?

Despite all the rumblings, Maori Television has made its entrance into the world, and its pretty darn cool. Try and catch Mitre 10 DIY Marae if you can, Tuesday nights at 7pm. It takes the original shows gimmicky approach - find a DIY disaster and save the poor family involved - and applies it to a different Marae each week. Oddly enough, the outcome is something far removed from the original. Sure, it has the same elements, gardening, landscaping, painting, but it also has the kids cleaning and repainting the old weatherbeaten carved panels. Its like a tele-gimmick reinvented with cultural values. At the start of the show the old Kuia of the Marae are shipped off to the Marae down the road while the DIY team get stuck in. They fix the Marae's kitchen, relocate the chiller, no mean feat as its a monster, off an old truck; and create an awesome entry way to the Marae, a fence of punga that curls at the end like a punga frond. One of the old guys from the Marae said that the DIY team got done in 4 days what they had been trying to do for 30 years. He said there was some Koro and Kuia who he wished could've been there to see it. He said you can hear them , not turning in their graves, they are dancing!
While the Kuia were at the next Marae, they brought in a hair and makeup stylist, to get them makeovers. One of them comes out after having her hair done, and the others go, oh, you look beautiful. And she replies, now all I want is some teeth!
When the Kuia return to the Marae to see the DIY teams handiwork, it starts raining. The Kuia see their Marae, they cry. Its quite moving. And all this from a clever rejig of a worn out concept. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Tread softly.
Yesterday I bought a copy of a book by Michael King to send to my Mum for her birthday. Today I read that Michael King and his wife Maria Jungowska died in a car crash yesterday. My thoughts are with his family. Its such sad news.

Monday, March 29, 2004


Kevin Eastman is the publisher of Heavy Metal magazine - he wrote this on their website, about Martin Emond.

"I dare to call Martin Emond a friend of mine.
I first met him in the early 90's when he brought me the concept of the "White Trash" graphic novel to me through "Tundra UK, and Dave Elliot. Dave had the insight to see Martins work was of the "Best of the Best" and needed to be out there for all of us to embrace. At that time, agreed 100%,funded the project soup to nuts, and have never looked back.
"Marty Fuck" as he liked to be called by his friends, moved to Los Angeles three years ago, and worked out of a studio in the back of "MeltDown Comics" on Sunset Blvd, due to the genius insite of my pal Gastone, the owner of the shop, who loved Marty's talents times ten.
Once week I'd make my trip there for my comic fix, and was always thrilled to go hang out with Marty in his back room studio, and see the latest work of brillance he was chest deep in.
He always had 20 things going on at once, and all of them in true Marty style--all amazing. Marty recently began to work with another close friend of mine, Brice, (The artist who did all of my tattoo's) to start a career in Tattoo's and one of the first he did was on Brice. Brice was the one who called me today (Monday) to tell me Marty had passed away.
Sad, yes I am, pissed, yes I am--Marty was simply one of the most beautiful fucking humans I ever met. Honest, genuine, original, true blue, sincere, a guy that was always quick with a smile and a laugh, and always said what he meant, and meant what he said.
To me the person far out weights the insane talent he had, and if he couldn't even draw a stick figure, you and I, would have loved to have been around him just the same.
Marty, you know how much we already miss you. I hate you for not giving me more time to hang with you, I hate myself for not making more time to hang with you.
Christ--I wish I could turn back the hands of time. You promised to tattoo me, I want that time with you--I can't believe I'm writing this--I miss you, I love you, I am so sad that I can't see you again.

I've scanned the flyer from Martins memorial service, and posted it here. NOTE; images are quite big, so this page may be slow to load.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Wednesday, 1.04PM
Listening to Russell Brown on BFM, hosting the Wire. He's on the phone to Judith Tizard. She's just admitted that she has just got an iPod. Russell asks her whats on it - has she copied some of her cds onto it, even though its illegal? No, she hasn't even got it out of the box yet.

Russell tells her that he has it on good authority that several of the heads of the major record companies here own iPods,namely Michael Glading (head of Sony) and Adam Holt, (head of Universal). He asks what does she think they might have on their iPods? She replies that maybe they have recorded their kids singing, and downloaded that from their computers - surely they wouldn't be breaking the law by copying music? Especially as they are making such a fuss about proposed law changes to allow format shifting.
If the RIAA in the US goes after filesharers, maybe RIANZ should go after iPod users. Remember "Home taping is killing music"?

Lil Donny Rumsfeld is a Joker....
"....After the president returned to the White House on Sept. 11, he and his top advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings about how to respond and retaliate. As Clarke writes in his book, he expected the administration to focus its military response on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He says he was surprised that the talk quickly turned to Iraq.
"Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said to Stahl. "And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.
And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq. I said, 'Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with it.
"Initially, I thought when he said, 'There aren't enough targets in-- in Afghanistan,' I thought he was joking..."
Richard Clarke, former White House terrorism adviser, on CBS 60 Minutes.

But wait, there's more!!!
"WASHINGTON - The credibility of President George Bush and his platform of fighting terrorism was again undermined yesterday when a commission probing the September 11 attacks confirmed claims by a former White House anti-terrorism aide [Richard Clarke] that warnings he gave in early 2001 regarding al Qaeda were ignored..." from NZ Herald.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Rest in peace, Martin F Emond.

More here. Original Google cache story here

Update: from Illicit (thanks drift); A memorial ceremony will be held at on Sunday March 28 at 4.44PM at Alleluya Cafe, St Kevins Arcade, K Rd Auckland. All welcome.
"The Illicit Family mourns the loss of our brother/son and best friend Martin "Fuckin" Emond, AKA Mickey Martin, AKA Switch Blade. Who passed away in Los Angeles on Sunday the 14th of March 2004. An inspiration to so many, words cannot express our grief, we love you and we'll see you again on the other side."

NZ Herald obituary here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Seen the new Channel 4 promo?
Check this link....
Copped this from Dubber over at the Wireless - he says "If you scroll down on that page, you'll notice that there's a webcounter. Fairly hefty numbers too. Since Channel 4 are not actually promoting this, just storing it on an unlinked page on their website, it's actually completely viral.
In other words, you've just been part of a marketing campaign distributed at no cost to Channel 4 - and they're counting the impressions."
WARNING - promo contains excessive and unabated swearing. Don't watch it if you don't like rude words.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Gabba gabba hey
She's crossing the road; a young Asian woman, hand in hand with her boyfriend, both dressed fairly conservatively, smart casual, both mid 20s. Shes wearing a jeans, a pink jacket, and a black tshirt; written on it in red stencilled letters is the slogan


Sighted in central Auckland, 5.50pm, sunday evening. True story.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Hey, stupid.
TV3 News last night had a news item from the US, with a reporter sitting down with a bedroom musician showing said dumbass reporter a mashup. The tone of the piece was 'lets make this so simple an idiot could understand it', 'cept the reporter ended up sounding like an idiot. 'This is a Mash. Up." Dumbass reporter guy noted that with the widespread availability of easily accessible computer software, anyone can do it, and shock horror, not pay any attention to copyright. What he failed to mention was that people who do mashups generally don't try and release them officially, or make money off them. Thats why they are also known as bootlegs. It aint legal, but its a hell of a lot of fun.
It also made brief mention of the Grey Album, while skipping over the copyright issues raised by the album. It was like watching a teenager trying to explain hiphop to their granddad. Painful.

Heres a profile of some of the remix albums based on the Black Album.

Silver, Brown, Gray: Jay-Z Every Which Way
By JON PARELES, New York Times (requires registration)

Jay-Z didn't just announce his retirement from hip-hop with "The Black Album." He also left a going-away present by making available the unaccompanied raps from all 14 of the album's songs. While other rappers regularly include a cappella raps on their singles, Jay-Z challenged would-be producers to remake the entire album, and they have taken him up on it. More than a dozen versions are just an Internet search away on sites like

...Danger Mouse was by no means the only one to mesh familiar licks with Jay-Z's rhymes.
Here's an assessment, roughly in descending order, of "Black Album" remixes:
DANGER MOUSE PRESENTS "The Grey Album" (file-sharing sites): Recognizable samples and clever juxtapositions start most songs: "Mother Nature's Son" behind the voice of Jay-Z's mother on "Dec. 4." But the pace accelerates through each track, slicing the Beatles ever more microscopically to envelop Jay-Z in a swirl of voices from the past (mostly Paul McCartney) and a rhythmic barrage.
BAZOOKA JOE PRESENTS "The Silver Album (Jay-Z vs. RJD2)" ( The underground hip-hop producer RJD2 didn't actually produce "The Silver Album." But he approved these remixes, which appropriate the burly tracks RJD2 originally produced for Massive Attack, Aceyalone, Cannibal Ox and El-P, built from live-band samples of 1960's soul, 1970's funk, rock and even a snippet of chamber music. Samples of samples: recycling perfected.
PAUL NICE VS. JAY-Z "The Unofficial Black Album Remix" ( Paul Nice has produced the Beastie Boys, and has also put out his own collections of sampled beats for his fellow disc jockeys to reassemble. He keeps the tracks lean and swaggering, turning vintage sounds into streamlined funk.
CHEAP COLOGNE "The Double Black Album" ( An inevitable combination: Jay-Z meets Metallica's black album, the 1991 "Metallica." Metallica's somber power chords and brooding slow arpeggios underline what Jay-Z calls "my pain and my struggle." The Metallica riffs turn Jay-Z into a rocker with a perpetual chip on his shoulder.
MC SCOTTD "The Black Album Hot Buttered Soul Remixes" (file-sharing sites): Here's a producer who doesn't take Jay-Z quite as seriously as the rapper takes himself. In "Encore," where Jay-Z demands applause, the track has Bjork going "Shhh!" MC ScottD is also fond of the wah-wah guitars of blaxploitation soundtracks and of airy Indian vocals, and he turns "Moment of Clarity," Jay-Z's reconciliation with his father, into a confessional ballad.
J-HEN "The Black Album Encore'd" (file-sharing sites): Like a lot of other hip-hop producers, J-Hen knows his 1970's soul; his take on "Encore" revives Sly Stone's "If You Want Me to Stay." But J-Hen has a way of destabilizing the old funk: placing Jay-Z's rhymes against the beat, adding a skewed drumbeat, inserting skips and hesitations, borrowing unlikely samples like a bit of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells." He raises the tension by shaking Jay-Z's foundation.
ILLMIND "The Black and Tan Album" ( Sparse is the aesthetic for ILLmind's remixes, which set out to do more with less: techno boops, ticking drums, laid-back bass lines, three or four notes from a guitar or keyboard. ILLmind's minimalism makes Jay-Z sound almost nonchalant.
J-STEW Fifteen songs ( J-Stew, a producer from Austin, Tex., aspires to the abstract funk of Timbaland crossed with the stereo ricochets of clubland. He places Jay-Z amid electronic pulses, stuttering drums and brittle dissonances that sometimes challenge Jay-Z to talk his way out of the ruckus.
KNO VS. HOV "The White Albulum" ( Kno, the producer for the CunninLynguists, searches far afield for his samples, borrowing from the Alan Parsons Project and the Brazilian group Os Mutantes. Often using samples with their pitch shifted upwards, he makes the tracks ripple around Jay-Z's voice, lighter than air and slightly vertiginous.
THE BLACK JAYS "The Black Jays Album" ( The Blackjays production team of Kardinal Offishall and Solitair links minimalism to reggae. Its electronic vamps slink along, almost conspiratorially, as if trouble lurks just beyond the clean-lined perimeter.
KEV BROWN "The Brown Album" ( Kev Brown's productions send Jay-Z to a cushy lounge, where electric pianos twinkle and tempos take their time. At times it sounds as if Jay-Z has already retired.
`THE JAY-Z CONSTRUCTION SET' ( Finally, a Jay-Z meta-mix: eight remix albums (including Kno, ILLmind, Danger Mouse, the Blackjays and Kev Brown) downloaded from the Internet, along with Jay-Z's a cappella raps, MP3 files of "The Black Album" and do-it-yourself remix software. It's the makings of countless more mutations.

And the world keeps turning...
George Michael has announced he is to quit the music business.

RIP Spalding Gray.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Banks, out.
Our local boyracer Mayor John Banks has managed to get the ratepayers of Auckland to cough up an interest-free loan of $3.5 million to fund V8 street car races around central Auckland, shutting down Hobson St, Victoria St West, Beaumont St, and Fanshawe St (including motorway on and off ramps there) for five days. Brian Rudman's excellent reporting on the latest Banks flight of fancy is here.
Rudman asks "What has Mayor John Banks got to hide over the V8 street races he wants to inflict on downtown Auckland? Not only are he and his allies refusing to share details with ratepayers, but they are intent on stifling debate among elected councilors.
At last Thursday's confidential meeting of Auckland city's recreation and events committee, attempts to quiz race promoters and council officials for further details were shut down by committee chairman Scottie Milne.
There to babysit Mr Milne was self-confessed former boy-racer Mr Banks - who rarely attends committee meetings - and Deputy Mayor David Hay.
The flavour of the meeting can be gauged by the mayor's quip when councilor Richard Northey sought elaboration about economic and social impacts - "You're never going to agree, Richard, so stop wasting our time with your question."
Questions on economic impacts and whether affected community boards had been consulted - they were not - were ruled out of order."
Rudman quotes Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, "who said after last Tuesday's gridlock that "today's events added millions to this year's costs [for business]. It is unacceptable ... " That followed one truck breaking down. We are talking five days plus of total street closure here."
Banks seems to be suffering from that peculiar affliction that attacks Auckland Mayors; the burning need to leave a visible imprint of their brief time as head of our city - think
Mills and Britomart, Fletcher and the rejigged Britomart, Tizard and Aotea Centre...

UPDATE I wrote a letter to the Herald about this, and it got published, wonders of wonders, but they did edit out the juicier stuff, like where I talked about John Banks and his monkeyboy David Hay. The Herald doesn't use the term monkeyboy, apparently. Shame.

The NZ Herald flogged Shayne Carter's article from Mysterex magazine and published it on Saturday - its a great read, Carter writing about his high school band Bored Games....

"At the tail end of the 70s the Enemy played our school dance. Chris Knox was the evilest person I'd seen. I was dreading he might come off the stage and tap me on the shoulder. I thought I was punk but inside I was cowering. Thank God they only lasted two songs before school principal Dave Rathbone kicked them off.

This same Dave Rathbone walked out two years running on Bored Games' performances at the Kaikorai Valley High School talent quest. Something about it being too loud.

The first quest was our debut, 1979: I Wanna Be Your Dog and some originals like I. H. For Me (about mentally disabled workshops), Frustration (about frustration) and 15 cos all the punk bands had at least one song with numbers in it and that's what we were. ("I might not be a kid and I might not be a man, but I'm not the little fool that you think that I am, I'm 15 ... ")

We formed a small core at school amid a sea of Kiss-emblazoned satchels and fledgling Marley-ites. KVHS drew on the working-class suburbs of West Dunedin and I came from the worst of all, Brockville. All Mark 3 Zephyrs, solo mums and their snotty-nosed kids and the smell of stew at four o'clock wafting across the neighbourhood. A lower socio-economic area according to our form teacher..."

For the unedited version, buy Mysterex magaizne from Real Groovy (Akl) Slowboat (Wgtn) Galaxy (Chch) Records Records (Dun). Yeah, the Herald used it by permission.

Going bush
I played out at Splore at the weekend, at Waharau Regional Park. It's a stunning venue for a gig, and only an hour out of Auckland. I played early saturday afternoon, under the trees in the Oceania Grove. My hearty congratulations to the organisers on a great event. Here's a review.

Australia was founded by a bunch of criminals says rap artist....
from Rappers Necro & Khia have been banned from being purchased by anyone under the age of 18 in Australia. The Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) introduced a 4 level censorship guideline 3 years ago. "There really isn't anyone as explicit as me on any level," Necro told "It's not a big deal. My records are still in all the stores. Australia was founded by a bunch of criminals, so who knows what's up with them."

And this story just to hand...
Man Arrested for Assaulting Cookie Monster