Friday, April 07, 2006

Welcome to Jamdown.
Man, I've seen some killer shows at the St James. Sly and Robbie with Mykal Rose, James Brown, The Roots, Parliament-Funkadelic and now I get to see Damian 'Junior Gong'’ Marley, offspring of Bob, and the man responsible for the biggest reggae song of 2005 right around the planet, Welcome to Jamrock.

You can thank the folks of the East Coast Roots and Blues Festival over in Australia for the stellar run of international acts coming our way over the next few weeks -– Sigur Ros, Skatalites, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Jamie Cullum, Public Enemy (cancelled), all sorts. Still a trip to Oz and you get all of those acts plus Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings AND Amadou and Mariam (and hats off to Cornerstone Roots and Batucada Sound Machine for getting on the bill). Me, I'm just happy a large pot of money fell out of the sky on Monday and suddenly I had the bucks to go and see Damian Marley, cos last week I had given up on scraping the dosh together.

I arrive and manage to catch the closing number of Katchafire. There was a bunch of conflicting information on who was supporting Damien Marley prior to the gig Anika Moa and band said the morning's paper and the gig posters, but the ticket said Katchafire. Marley's band then set up and arrived shortly after 9.30, and warmed up with a quick blast of Bob Marley instrumentals. Great, they're getting that out of the way,I thought. Wrong (more on that later). If I'’d arrived a bit earlier I might have caught one of Katchafire'’s 500+ Bob Marley covers, which would have allowed to opportunity for cheeky putdowns, but no.

Damian Marley bounces onstage and launches into his first tune, dreadlocks down to his waist, in a dark blue military suit. HeÂ's a little ball of energy, with his singjay-style vocal delivery. He proves himself to be a fine performer, talking with the crowd, introducing the songs, smiling at the applause, the warmth of the welcome. Mid-set he launched into a few of his dad's tunes, War, We don't need no more trouble, and a very muscular version of Could you be loved. Then the guitarist starts picking out the guitar line from Exodus, and Damian launches into his tune Move, which lifts the melody of Exodus for the chorus, then bounces into a fierce dancehall rhythm for the verse. Killer. And the audience can sing along to the chorus, so that'’s handy.

Special mention to the two female backing singers, dressed in tan army jackets, singing and swinging inna mean fashion, all attitude, no platitude. Damn! His band are tight, and he really does employ someone to walk round the stage waving a flag with Rastafarian colours for the entire set. Dread with serious arm muscles.

He finished the set, walked off, but came back for obligatory encore (still hadn'’t played Jamrock, so where was he going, aye?), and asked how many of you are Bob Marley fans, raise your hand? Well he asked, and I do like a few of his pop's tunes, so why not? Then we get another Bob medley, which draws out a big crowd singalong.

There is this strange expectation that if you say you like reggae, you must like Bob Marley, and if you don't you can't be a true reggae fan. That'’s like saying in order to say you like hiphop, you must like the most well-known artist in that genre - say, Eminem, or 50 cent. Or saying you like rock, so you must own lots of Elvis Presley, right? A lot of the crowd around me stood still for a lot of the set, waiting for the songs they knew, which I'm guessing were the singles, or his dad's tunes. Mind you, the kids down front jumped up and down most of the night, so don'’t get the wrong impression. Much dancing was had by many, even those upstairs

He may live in his father's shadow, but when he sings his father's songs, he doesn't have the voice to carry them off -– to his credit, he has his own voice, ably demonstrated on the closing tunes of the evening, Road to Zion, and Welcome to Jamrock. Exit Junior Gong, show over. Damian Marley killed it. Respect.

Extra credit: If you want to know what you missed, check the live video footage from 2004 at his website. Interview in the SMH... "You have to have something going for you when you're the offspring of Bob Marley and Miss World. Meet Damian Marley." Link and Damian Marley videos, interviews to watch on Youtube).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

London calling, Mr Strummer
"Anti-terrorism detectives escorted a man from a plane after a taxi driver had earlier become suspicious when he started singing along to a track by punk band The Clash, police said on Wednesday. Detectives halted the London-bound flight at Durham Tees Valley Airport and Harraj Mann, 24, was taken off. The taxi driver had become worried on the way to the airport because Mann had been singing along to The Clash's 1979 anthem "London Calling," which features the lyrics "Now war is declared -- and battle come down" while other lines warn of a "meltdown expected". via Boingboing.

And on a similar retro tip, here's a nice post on the Gun Club (scroll down - audio included)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wandering Eyeballs
A few weeks back I wrote a huge piece on Fat Freddy's Drop, and never got around to posting it. I let it sit for a week, went back and re-read it, and it was a bunch of overblown fluff - MSM-bashing is so passe, I've been told. (For newcomers, I've blogged previously on FFD, most notably over here. I also followed FFD's chart progress semi-regularly last year, comparing their progress with Shihad, who released their last album the same week as FFD -Shihad dropped off the charts 14 weeks after release.) There were a few relevant facts that were worth noting about FFD, so I've culled em out and present them to you below.

1. FFD have managed to claim number one on the album charts for a total of 10 weeks. "They're now the local group with the longest running number 1 album in our chart history" says Chartbitz, written by the highly knowledgable Andrew Miller at The only other local group that comes close is Crowded House with 8 weeks at number one, and let's face it, the rest of the world thinks they're Australian. They have been in the album charts for 48 weeks, and are aiming for a year.

2. More from Chartbitz... "Peter Baker from the group's distributor Rhythmethod is very pleased with the set's success and sees it building further yet. He says it appears that every third copy being bought is going offshore thanks to tourists buying copies to take home with them." (An aside: the next local album coming out thru Rhythmethod is Kaleidoscope by the Open Souls, which drops here April 10. I'm guessing their album will have more staying power than The Bleeders, who released their debut April 3. Like FFD, the Open Souls have got vinyl out in Europe.)

3. FFD's album is now 6X platinum - that means they've sold 90,000 albums (platinum = 15,000 copies sold). By the end of last year they had sold 60,000 with no single or video. Since releasing Wandering Eye as a radio-edit/CD single/video, they've sold another 30,000 albums. Bic Runga's latest is 3x platinum, and the latest discs from Eminem, Coldplay and Black eyed peas are 4x platinum.

4. They have released three essential vinyl releases in the last 12 months. Flashback (Jazzanova remix), Wandering eye (Submariner remix and DJ Fitchie dub instrumental) and Roady (Nextmen remix).

5. 2005 was labelled the year of Fat Freddy's Drop (sales, awards, international recognition). It seems likely that 2006 will be their year too - can you name a NZ band with a forthcoming album that will do as well as them? Be interested to hear your thoughts.

from elsewhere...
Noted academic/BaseFM DJ Nabeel Zuberi has a new blog called Topical Ointment, have a lookee.

Elmore Leonard's got a blog, here's his ten rules of writing.

New Radiohead covers album due out on Rapster/BBE, features RJD2, Cinematic Orchestra, Mark Ronson, Bilal. Check Mr Ronson's tune here.
There's another reggae-flavoured Radiohead covers album coming too, from the clowns who gave us Pink Floyd done reggae-style; Dub Side of the Moon. Now, that's crap you do not need.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Saturday April 1st
Fat Freddy's Drop -Wandering eye (DJ Fitchie re-rub)
Horace Andy – Problems
Slim Smith – Conversation
Scientist –Sunshine version
Sergio Mendes feat Mr Vegas – Bananeira
Skull snaps – It's a new day
Elephantman – Chapter a day
Pointer sisters -Yes I can can
The Jam – Start
Coldcut feat Roots Manuva – True skool
Jackie Mittoo – Earthquake
Dod G – Babylon dub
Quantic soul orchestra – Get a move on
Soul position – The extra mile
Errol T - Different dagger
King Tubby – King at the controls
Cornerstone roots - Forward dub
Charlie Palmieri – Cab driver
Clarence reid – Nobody but you babe
Nate Dogg feat Eve – Get up (Upstate remix)
Open souls -What you do?
Top cat – Remix the style
Pinchers – Bandolero
Damien Marley – Move
Aretha Franklin – Rocksteady
Steel image - Sunshine of your love
Leroy Sibbles - Groove me
Byron Lee - Frankenstein
Motiv/Shout – 7" special (aka reggae anthem)
Lion rock – Rude boy rock
Nightmares on wax – Damn
Lowman – Pharrel vs Hutch (get it here)