Tuesday, January 04, 2005

via Coolfer: "The SF Chronicle's Aidin Vaziri is not only a music critic, he's also quite a comedian. Today he has clips from some of the interviews from the past year. Here's a segment from a Q&A he did with Ralph Hutter of Kraftwerk:

Q: Didn't you almost die on a bicycle?
A: No. It was just a very normal fall and a couple days in the hospital. It was nothing to worry about.
Q: Nothing to worry about? You were in a coma.
A: That's how it goes. I just forgot my helmet.

Cream of the crop
via the Guardian's Online team... "With the web still expanding, we have taken the opportunity to ask Online's readers, contributors, and some of the Guardian's journalists to suggest the 100 most useful sites." Heaps of useful stuff.
The Guardian also reports on local press in the tsunami-affected regions "News sites in the worst-hit countries of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand do all they can to keep up with the unfolding horror and a chaotic relief operation.
A photo gallery on the Phuket Gazette chronicles the enormous task of cleaning up the beachfront at this popular tourist destination.
The paper says: "Most big trash has now been removed, the beachfront street lights are back (but not all the electricity actually), the water is partly back (beachfront shops of course, the rest of Patong always had water and electricity) ... Traffic has been reopened. Few tourists are back on the beach and it gives us hope ... If you want to help Phuket and people living here, come back for holidays!"

Monday, January 03, 2005

Martha Stewart loses design contest in jail. Ha ha.

from Newsday: "We Americans like to think of ourselves as a generous people, but among the world's richest nations ours ranks dead last in terms of development aid as a percentage of gross national product. Still, Americans have an inflated idea of government foreign aid spending. In survey after survey, the median estimate is that foreign aid eats up 20 percent of the federal budget. The real number is about 1 percent, including both military and humanitarian aid."

Or as Stinkzone puts it, "Damn generous Europeans". His reasoning on US aid? "...we help poor countries by invading them and getting rid of stingy leaders and help open them up to foreign business aid. In short, we help countries by helping them to help themselves help us."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Blogs in the mainstream media end of year wrapup nonsense... David Slack from Public Address gets profiled in the Herald's 2004 for NZers feature. Graham Reid writes up Blogs as one of the Herald's "entertainment events and phenomena of the year in 10 easy steps" (scroll down). Check Graham's xmas post on local musician Bill Sevisi. Ever heard of him? You should have.

"Bill is a local legend whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago at his modest home in Mt Albert. There, in a small room off the garage, Bill has created his distinctive Hawaiian-Pacific music, all coloured by the sound of shimmering steel guitar.
Bill is about 80 now and despite a Queen's Service Medal in 95 and a few other awards he still hasn't been given the popular acclaim he surely deserves.
The music he has created warms your heart and these past few days as drizzle and high winds sank most people's summer holidays Bill's music speaks of impossibly romantic nights beneath palm trees by a silent, moon-kissed shoreline...."

Graham also wrote a delightful piece on another local music ensemble, the Ramblers, who, like Sevisi, have had very little aclaim, despite releasing 7 albums. They played before Dave Dobbyn and Brooke Fraser down the line recently. "By night these guys are roadies and lighting crew, the oil which greases the rock'n'roll machine. But every once in a while they get together and play as the Ramblers. The idea of them forming a band came from promoter Brent Eccles, a former Kiwi known mostly for his career as the drummer in Australian hard rock bands the Angels, Midnight Oil and Pseudo Echo." Thanks to Graham's excellent investigative skills, surely their time has come?

ADDED: Ah, lists... Best of 2004 songs/albums from Sasha Frere Jones; 2004 list with extensive notes from Michaelangelo Matos.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Check out this new MP3 blog, old local kiwi sounds. Could be onto something...
"An mp3-blog companion piece to thebigcity.co.nz - an archive of New Zealand music that attempts to reach the outskirts of obscurity." See http://thebigcity.blogspot.com/

"You heard of Nat King Cole? Well I'm his half brother, Charcoal." Prince Tui Teka.
I picked up a flyer for Te Papa's first online exhibition, on Maori Showbands, at maorishowbands.co.nz (requires Flash plugin). Well worth a look. Billy T James and Prince Tui Teka got their start in showbands.

O-Dub has an interesting take on news reports on the tsunami disaster...
"... I find it typical - and annoying - that some U.S. media outlets are doing what you might call National Death Rolls - last night, read in several places notes like, "3 Americans confirmed dead." That'd be 3 out of (at the time) 20,000 dead. Is national origin really that important at that point? Sports Illustrated relayed a ridiculous story about "swimsuit model surives tsunami." Seriously, they need to get out of here with that b.s."

Got any good new years resolutions? I'm working on some today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"Check Hugh Macleod's "How to Be Creative" project. Hugh draws cartoons on the backs of business cards and works in advertising; his How to Be Creative is a meditation on creativity, individualism and commercialism, and it's full of pithy, clear, no-nonsense advice.
Now Hugh has expanded the piece into a short book, which is online in its entirety. He's found an agent and the agent is shopping the book - I'd certainly buy a copy! " - Cory Doctorow, Boingboing.

"Creativity is all about distruption. The people who tell you that creativity is pain-free are liars. The people who tell you they've got a plan are liars. There is no plan. There's just you, God and the need to invent. And this uncertain world is what most of us now find ourselves entering, willingly or otherwise.
Creativity equals chaos. Chaos equals creativity. Embrace it or die. I've already done so. I know all about it. It almost cost me my liver but like I said, education is expensive.
The Creative Age is upon us. The Chaotic Age is upon us. We are scared. Damn right, we should be scared. But out of the terror comes the amazing opportunities for us to expand both on the material and spiritual level. The fewer safety nets there are to save us, the less choice we have to be anything other than ourselves, the less choice we have besides doing what is meaningful to us. And finding ourselves, doing what matters, becoming the person we were born to be, this is what God put on this earth to do.
We live in amazing and interesting times. If we're lucky, while on this earth we can do a damn good job proving it." Hugh Macleod. More here.
via boingboing.net

Beer and Rap says "Fuck Your Early 90's HipHop Mix. Hey shitbags those early 90's hiphop mixes that you think are so fucking original well guess what? They fucking aren't. No one wants to hear you mix a bunch of fucking reissues that you bought 3 years ago. People have been making early 90's mixes since the goddamn early 90's.

Stinkzone drops his top 40 hiphop albums for 2004, and top 50 songs, plus audio mix to check out.

Oh, did you read the story in the Herald about a crash between a Mr Whippy truck and a car near Te Puke? The road was covered on chocolate sauce, about 30 sq m. The Fire Service had trouble removing it from the road surface as the sauce hardened. Gotta love slow news days, of which there are many between xmas and new years.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Out, like bellbottom trousers.
So, Simon's got one, Stinky Jim dropped his in the Listener, Stylus mag has got theirs up, and I'm gonna do mine. Best Music of 2004. Why the hell not? I came across an old issue of Q Magazine with their Best 50 Albums of 2003 at the weekend and I owned a grand total of one of them (The Roots - Prenology), which is to say, I don't pay a hell of a lot of attention to white rock music these days. Maybe I should.
UPDATE more lists; Gilles Petersons Worldwide radio show faves here (scroll down). Dubber's 'It's a Jazz Thing' radio show best of 2004 over here. Nelson George weighs in with his faves for 2004 here. The NZ Herald's Best Albums of 2004 were in saturday's paper, but they're not online. Suckville.

In No Particular Order...

Tha Feelstyle - Break it to pieces (FMR)
Studio One Funk, Studio One Disco Mix, Studio One Classics (Soul Jazz)
Kanye West -College Dropout (Rocafella)
Sharkey feat Jean Grae - Summer in the city (Babygrande)
Butch Cassidy Sound System - Rudi EP Feat Cissy Strut, Hear what I say EP (Fenetik)
Romanowski -Steady Rocking EP (Future Primitive Sound)
Nas/Olu Dara - Bridging the gap (Columbia)
Overproof Sound System - Nothing to Proove EP (Different Drummer)
Diplo - Diplo rhythm (Big Dada)
Kelis - Trick me (Star Trak)
De la soul - Grind date (Sanctuary)
RJD2 - Since we last spoke (Def Jux)
Jay Z - 99 Problems (Rocafella) Question: now why does Jay Z feel the need to drop a crappy rock collabo with Linkin Park when he has already made the best rock tune of the year with Rick Rubin? Who knows.
Roots of Dancehall compilation (Auralux)
The Roots - Tipping Point (Universal)
Murs - Bad man (Def Jux)
The Clash - London Calling reissue (Sony)
And some other obscure vinyl that I forgot.
Oh yeah, Sesame St Fever - found it at the Grey Lynn Park Festival for a fiver. Muppets go disco. Choice! Any suggestions for your faves of 2004, anything I mighta overlooked, fire em in the comments. Share the information!
And that's me for the next little while. Hope you have a splendid xmas and a chilled out new years, and be good to each other.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A few years back I was reading the message boards over at British DJ Norman Jay's site. One cratedigger asked why it was so hard to track down disco records from the late 70s, why were they so rare. Norman Jay responded by talking about the Disco Demolition Rally organised by a radio station DJ named Steve Dahl 25 years ago. Jay was visiting family in the US regularly during the 70s and 80s, experiencing the rise of disco and hiphop first hand. He also saw the underlying racism behind the anti-disco sentiment.

On 12 July 1979, 90,000 angry people converged on a baseball game in Chicago to burn disco records. What began as an effort to sell seats at a White Sox/Detroit Tigers double-header turned into a mass anti-disco movement that would later be credited as the official “day that disco died.”

Two Chicago radio DJs [Steve Dahl and Garry Meier] came up with the idea of having people bring unwanted disco records to the stadium. The spurned records would be burned between doubleheader games with the White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Lead by the chant, “Disco Sucks!”, most of the records weren’t burned, but sailed through the stands during the game - nearly inciting a riot. Some fans started their own fires and mini-riots. There was so much commotion that the ballplayers couldn’t even finish the last game of the doubleheader; the White Sox forfeited.

Dave Haslam: "The 'Disco Sucks' campaign was a white, macho reaction against gay liberation and black pride more than a musical reaction against drum machines. In England, in the same year as the 'Disco Sucks' demo in America, The Young Nationalist - a British National Party publication - told its readers: 'Disco and its melting pot pseudo-philosophy must be fought or Britain's streets will be full of black-worshipping soul boys." (from Jahsonic)

More links... Disco music was gay music; Press coverage from the event; photos

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Daily Telegraphs music critics have put together a list of the 50 best cover versions ever, (tip of the hat the the lads at The Joint for this) and most of them are utter drivel. I've been putting together a compilation CD of my favorite covers, and sure, they're pretty eclectic, but they've got a whole lot more soul than this boring, white trash pop shite. Here's their top ten...

1 ‘All Along the Watchtower’ Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1968 (orig. Bob Dylan, 1967)
2 ‘You Were Always On My Mind’ Pet Shop Boys, 1987 (orig. Elvis Presley, 1972 - after Brenda Lee, 1971)
3 ‘My Way’ Sid Vicious, 1979 (orig. Frank Sinatra, 1969 - after Paul Anka, 1969)
4 ‘Hallelujah’ Jeff Buckley, 1993 (orig. Leonard Cohen, 1984)
5 ‘Respect’ Aretha Franklin, 1967 (orig. Otis Redding, 1965)
6 ‘Tainted Love’ Soft Cell, 1981 (orig. Gloria Jones, 1964)
7 ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ The Byrds, 1965 (orig. Bob Dylan, 1964)
8 ‘Twist and Shout’ The Beatles, 1963 (orig. the Isley Brothers, 1960)
9 ‘Comfortably Numb’ Scissor Sisters, 2004 (orig. Pink Floyd, 1979)
10 ‘Mr Bojangles’ Nina Simone, 1971 (orig. Jerry Jeff Walker, 1967)

So, you heard Spanky Wilson's version of Sunshine of your Love? Genius. Or what about about Jackie Wilson's version of Light my Fire? O-Dub put together a killer mixtape of his fave covers, over here (pictured above).Must score a copy soon...
So, what's your favorite cover version? Hit me up in comments - no cheese, just the good ish, please.
You can find the original story at the Daily Telegraph, but the site requires registration.

UPDATE: discovered via random Googling... Copy, Right? - an MP3 blog dedicated to cover versions, and the Covers Project- endless lists of covers.

Seen on Queen St yesterday.. girl in a red tshirt with the following slogan... "Save Santa the trip. Be naughty." Peter Jackson is in Auckland this week shooting scenes for King Kong at the Civic Theatre. I walk past this building every day on the way to work. Sighted yesterday morning; a bunch of extras dressed in tuxedos and bowties for the gents, flash 1930s dresses for the ladies. About a dozen large trucks were parked on the surrounding streets, but no sighting of Peter Jackson.
Still, check out the official website for some great behind the scenes production footage. Last week they had a group of international journalists on set, see day 53 production diary. the press interviewing Adrian Brody is hilarious - one journo asks Brody if he finds Kong painless,which Brody says yes, then the journo confesses he meant does Brody find Kong [the story of] timeless!

And on the whole Judy Bailey payrise BS - do the freaking math and shut the hell up! Paul Holmes leaves - saving of $730,000 a year salary. Alison Mau leaves - saving of say $200,00 salary. Ms Bailey gets an extra $400,000, and TVNZ still come out ahead by half a million. It aint some John Hawkesby $7 million payout. Helen Clark is just pissed that she aint pulling that kinda dosh. Hah!

Monday, December 13, 2004


"Sage Francis is a rapper out of Providence, RI and half of Non-Prophets (the other half is DJ Joe Beats). Sage made a reputation for himself by consistently winning poetry slams and freestyling competitions, and has built something of a cult following. His style is always personal and often highly political, but refreshingly free of preachiness. With his new Fuck Clear Channel Tour, Sage is pushing music industry politics to the forefront." Read the interview here at Downhill Battle.

Sage Francis is playing in Wellington December 16 at Indigo and Auckland December 17 at Rising Sun. Here's his opinion on downloading music...
"Downloading has not had a negative effect on my music. It has had an incalculable positive effect. That being said, I hope people spread the good word and buy an official copy if they enjoy what they hear. We even included the lyrics and booklet on the inside. Oh, and a urine sample." Very funny. From an interview with Music-News.com.

There's a bunch of other interviews over at his official site's messageboards including two Francis labelled as "Two god awful New Zealand interviews". One of the local interviewers takes exception to Francis... "remember that bad New Zealand interview? Look what he did" posts Francis. Its 14 pages of dissing, death threats and crap on the PE messageboards. Utter tripe.

So how many MC's duck like this?
Haven't heard much from Scribe's camp in the media on the ugly assault that happened to BFM's Phil Armstrong at Scribe's management co. Xmas party, but I've heard the person responsible was Scribe's associate and labelmate PNC - have you heard anything? There was even a rumour over at the NZMusic.com boards that Scribe was in jail - totally untrue, but as one clever poster noted - "Scribe is in jail, he got caught with P money".

Friday, December 10, 2004

In September this year, legendary remixer/producer Tom Moulton was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, along with the likes of Barry White, Donna Summer, David Mancuso, Larry Levan, and Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. If you've ever possessed any 12 vinyl singles (and I'm assuming that you're a music junkie if you got here, right?), you owe this man a vote of thanks. He invented the 12" single. No kidding.

from an interview with Moulton at disco-disco.com...
His idea to make songs longer led to the invention of the 12" single that disco was built on. "When I first started I took my records to Media Sound to master. And I came in with a new Trammps record on a Friday, so I said "Dominic, I really got to get some test pressings of this." Dom said; "Well, I don't have time and I'm going away." I said; "Oh my God, I can't believe this... I really got to get these, I really got to get some acetates cut of this." So, I said; "What about your assistant there?." He says; "Oh, you mean the Puerto Rican sweeper!." I was SO offended by that, so I went over to the guy and I said; "Hi, I'm Tom Moulton" and he goes "I know who you are." And I said; "Well, what's your name?." He says; "José." I said; "José, do you know how to use this?," he goes "Sure!." And I said; "Well, can you cut me some acetates?." "Oh, I think so." I said; "Well, let's do it!."

So, you know, he did everything I wanted... I told him I wanted this, I wanted more bottom or I wanted more top - whatever! And he did exactly what I wanted to do. And I said; "This guy's amazing!." So, from that day on he was the guy who mastered all my records. I took it back to Atlantic and I said; "I want it to say "A Tom Moulton Mix" but I also want it to say mastered by José Rodriguez." They went; "Oh, we don't do that!" and I said; "Well, you gonna do it now." So I started putting his name on everything and everybody was like absolutely stunned."

Tom continues; "So, one day I went in there to José and I had "I'll Be Holding On" by Al Downing and I said; "José, I really need some acetates." And he said; "Tom, I don't have any more 7" blanks. All I have is the 10" blanks." I said; "Well, if that's the only thing you've got, what difference does it make?." So he cut one, I said; "It looks so ridiculous, this little tiny band on this huge thing. What happens if we just make it bigger?." He says; "You mean, like spread the grooves?" and I said; "Yeah!." He says; "Then I've got to raise the level." I said; "Well, go ahead - raise the level." And so he cut it at +6. Oh, when I heard it I almost died. I said; "Oh my God, It's so much louder and listen to it. Oh! I like that - why don't we cut a few more?."

So it was by accident, that's how it was created. But for the next song we cut, we went for the 12" format instead of the 10" and the song was "So Much For Love" by Moment of Truth." That was the birth of the 12" single."

Tom expounded on the virtues of the 12" further by stating: "Because 45's were geared for radio, they were all 'middle', and you couldn't cut a lot of bass onto the record. A lot of records didn't have the fidelity and sounded terrible. But you were playing them for the songs, not the fidelity."

Moulton's big break came when he was asked to mix a single for BT Express...
"In 1974, a former model called Tom Moulton produced the first commercially successful disco remix when he doubled the length of BT Express's Do It 'Till You're Satisfied. The band loathed it until it became a massive crossover hit, at which point they brazenly claimed that it was their idea all along." [from the Guardian; "Change the record"]

Moulton describes it like this: "The band hated it," he says. "But it reached #-1 and they were on 'Soul Train.' Don Cornelius was interviewing them and asked about the length: 'Oh yeah we recorded it that way' they said. I was so fucking mad!" The song crossed over to a number 2 Pop hit on Billboard's Hot 100. The band played for the King of Thailand while touring Asia, and were invited to perform at the Whitehouse for Jimmy Carter.

Q: Have you got any special memories you can tell about when mixing a specific record? Like something that happened when you mixed it or some idea you got or something like that?
A:"Alright - "Dr. Love" [First Choice]. You know that song?!"
Q: Yep! It's one of my favorites actually.
A: "Ok, well. I actually had a mild heart attack that night."
Q: OH!
A:"I was so frustrated because the rhythm, the tempo kept changing. And all I know is I wanted to get back to the part to create a break that had that "di-di-di-di-de, di-di-di-di-de", you know like that, with the stings. I mean, that absolutely drove me crazy. And the drum pattern kept changing. So I had to speed it up, slow it down. Well, I got so frustrated. I raised my arms and saying; "Jesus Christ, can't these guys play in tempo for anything?!" And I got these electric shocks up my arms.

And I sat down and I calmly said; "OK, let's try to do this again." And I sat down and I really got scared because I could sense something that was wrong. I mean, there like - my breathing was off and I could hardly talk. But anyway I said; "OK, Let's do this." So I, we kept doing it piece by piece and I kept speeding up the multitrack machine or slowing it down. And it was driving me crazy. And finally it was done and I said "Can somebody call me a cab or drive me to the Hospital?" So they drove me to the Hospital and I went to the emergency room, this was like 4:30 in the morning.

They said "What's the matter" and I said "Well, I've had these electric shocks in my arms and bla bla bla bla bla". I got to see the doctor and the doctor goes "Oh my, your heart is beating sporadically." He said "When did this happen?" and I said "About 12 o'clock!" He said "12 O'CLOCK! It's 4:30!" and he said "Where are you coming from?" and I said "It's like 3 blocks away." He goes "You're an Asshole!"

That's what the doctor called me. He said "What could be more important than staying alive?" and I go "Well, I was mixing this record..." he goes "What's mixing a record?" and I was trying to explain to him and I said "Well, I mean, I know something was seriously wrong but I didn't wanna die not finishing this song." He thought that was the most ridiculous thing he ever heard of!"

More Moulton background here, here and here. There's a great interview with Moulton at djhistory.com (with the authors of the excellent book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life).
Like I said, if you own any 12 singles, then respect is due. Final word to Mr Moulton: "People have said, 'You make disco records,' and I said: 'Wrong. I make records you can dance to.' I wouldn't know how to make a record just for discos."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Worst stock photo ever? (via Getty Images) Tip of the hat to jamjar for this outstanding image.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Radar went to Pahrump, Nevada during the final days of the US elections last month. Pahrump, a small town 60 miles from Las Vegas, is known for its liberal citizens, and its whorehouses. "He meets the hosts of 'Out There TV' - a hot bed of UFO's, Government mind control and sex slaves." Watch his report on Eating Media Lunch, TV2 9.30 PM tonight (Tues). Highly recommended.