Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Two vinyl junkies walk into a bar...
"Professor, writer, record collector, DJ and proprietor of the always-wonderful blog Soul Sides (and, ahem, Stop Smiling contributor), Oliver Wang, sat down for an enlightening chat with Chairman Mao, co-founder of ego trip magazine, legendary record collector and music scholar in his own right.

From the sousaphone to racism to The Beatles to the new ego trip show, Miss Rap Supreme, the interview is not only a humorous look into the mind of one of hip-hop’s most impressive voices, but sums up much of how many of us aging hip-hop fans feel these days. (Bonus - check out two of the other ego trip collective, Brent Rolling and Gabriel Alvarez, on the Sound of Young America podcast here)." Hat tip to Stop Smiling Mag. Nicked the title from them too.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lay it down
Al Green's new album (out May 25) is produced by Questlove Thompson of The Roots and James Poyser. Check this clip...

"The Lay It Down album is ... set to feature apperances by Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, Corrine Bailey Rae and The Dap Kings horn section." Hat tip to In The Crowd.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Was listening to Gilles Peterson's radio show online (available for 7 days after on demand), and he dropped a Medeski Martin Wood tune, very nice, then he mentioned that you could download it from their site, MMW.net (cos he's good like that, is Gillles). Seems they've got big schemes for the coming year...

"Medeski Martin & Wood are planning 3 tours, plus 3 albums in 2008. Each tour and subsequent album will consist of all NEW MUSIC. The plan: Write > Tour > Record > Repeat. Bucking the traditional process of recording an album, THEN touring after its release. On Feb. 14, MMW will get together for 5 days to write new material for their Northeast tour, Feb. 19 - 29."

They also are running their own musicians (northern) summer camp in August. What cool cats.

O-Dub has written the liner notes for a new Charles Wright and 103rd St Band reissue,
called Live at the Haunted House - May 18, 1968 - read all about it here, and there's some audio goodness to listen to as well. Link.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Paul Simon - Disgraceland
Jambase via Stereogum ran an interview with Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, recounting his band's horrible experience with Paul Simon on the Graceland album. Seems Simon basically stole one of their songs, and took the credit. When they called him on it, he responded by saying "Sue me. You'll see what happens".

snip... "We go into the studio, and he had quite literally nothing. I mean, he had no ideas, no concepts, and said, "Well, let's just jam." We said, "We don't really do that." ... Not by accident, not even at soundcheck. We would always just play a song.

... Paul was a very strange guy. Paul's engineer was even stranger than Paul, and he just seemed to have no clue -- no focus, no design, no real nothing. He had just done a few of the African songs that hadn't become songs yet. Those were literally jams. Or what the world came to know and I don't think really got exposed enough, is that those are actually songs by a lot of those artists that he just approved of. So that's kind of what he was doing. It was very patrician, material sort of viewpoint. Like, because I'm gonna put my stamp on it, they're now my songs. But that's literally how he approached this stuff."

Dude couldn't even pronounce Zydeco properly, after recording with some zydeco musicians. Kept calling it zy decko. Read the whole piece, especially for the labels' motivations to persuade Los Lobos to do it - "It's for the family..." Hat tip to WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 12
Jackson sisters - I believe in miracles (re-edit)
Menahan St Band - Track 9
James Brown - Don't tell it
Romanowski - Rom jack steady
Jimmy Riley and Taurus Riley - Pull up selector
The Lions - Flugin' at Dave
Augustus Pablo -Dub organiser
Al Green - Thought it out (off the new album produced by Questlove Thompson of The Roots, out May)
Fatback band - Wicky wacky
Zapp - More bounce to the ounce
Lack of Afro - The outsider
Eric Lau - Let it out
Groove armada - Tuning in (dub)
Belleruche - Drum at dusk
Dubmatix - Champion sound
Manuu Dibango - Afro soul (Robn Mello remix)
Antibalas - Che che cole makossa
BT Express - Express (Kenny Dope remix)
James Brown and the JBs - 40th anniversary mix
Estelle - The magnificent
Little Dragon - Test
Peiro Umiliani - Mah na mah na (Karminsky Experience remix)
Jingo - Fever
Albarosie - Kingston town (Roma-an melodica mix)
Super Cat - Ghetto red hot (hiphop mix)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wax Poetics is the coolest magazine in the world

Video clip from Current TV - "It's our way of saying thank you..." Editor Andre Torres.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Flight of the Conchords are gonna get even bigger this year - here's a US magazine cover with them on, for Bust mag ("Men we love") and a hilarious vid of their photo shoot for Maxim mag. Link.

Wayne "Frosty Freeze" Frost (Rock Steady Crew), RIP
"Wayne "Frosty Freeze" Frost, a hip-hop pioneer whose acrobatic performance with the legendary Rock Steady Crew in the 1983 movie "Flashdance" helped set off a worldwide breakdancing (B-BOYING!) craze, has died. He was 44.

Wayne "Frosty Freeze" Frost died Thursday at Mount Sinai Medical Center after a long illness, said Jorge "Fabel" Pabon, a senior vice president of the crew where Frost and other so-called b-boys (for beat or break boys) made their name performing complicated and daring dance routines.

"He was one of most charismatic b-boys that ever lived," said Benson Lee, director of the new documentary film "Planet B-Boy"...

Wayne "Frosty Freeze" Frost was known for his energetic style, intricate choreography and fearless moves including back flips and head spins. One was even dubbed the "Suicide."

Frosty Freeze got his start in 1978 with the Bronx-based Rock City Crew. In 1981, he became part of the legendary (hey you the) Rock Steady Crew, joining such acclaimed breakdancers [B-BOYS!] as Ken Swift and Crazy Legs.

Wayne "Frosty Freeze" Frost toured the world with the Rock Steady Crew and many other pinoeering hip-hop artists.

Frosty Freeze's appearance with Rock Steady Crew in "Flashdance" spread the breakdance [B-Boy!] phenomenon globally, said Joseph Schloss, a visiting scholar in the music department at New York University. "He was one of the first B-boys that most people ever saw," Schloss said."

(Via JSmooth quoting the LA Times, who insist on calling it breakdancing, hence the BBoy references in brackets)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 5
Mighty Mo - Next message
Komac - Scratch marchin'
Scientist - Dub 16
In crowd -Mango walk
Horace Andy - Prophecy dubwise
Muhsinah - Construction
Ray Barretto - Acid
Ponco Sanchez - Watermelon man (Dan the Automator remix)
Roy Ayers - Red black and green
The Lions - Hot no ho
Lightning head - Abysinnia rising
Lack of Afro - Pure filth
Manzel - Evil, wicked and nasty
Rufus Thomas - Memphis train
Alton Ellis - Dance crasher
Derrick Morgan - Forward march
Joe Gibbs - Angola crisis
MArk Ronson - No one knows
The unstoppable S Robinson and his Marvelaires - Waiting for the juice
J Rocc - Supersound
Mr Scruff - Get a move on
Benga - B4 the dual
Nick Holder - Natty dread dub
Les Gammas - Servus Mr Bond remix
Bad Brains - Leaving Babylon
Junior Murvin - Cool out son
Restless soul - Turn me out version
Erykah Badu -Honey (Moody Boyz remix)
Belleruche - Drums at dusk

Friday, April 04, 2008

Give it up or turn it loose
"When James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006, he left behind a fortune worth tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of dollars. The problem is, he also left behind: Fourteen children (pending DNS tests); Sixteen grandchildren (and counting); Eight mothers of his children (that’s a low estimate); Several mistresses (the man was a rock star); Thirty lawyers; A former manager; An aging dancer; A longtime valet; And a sister who’s not really a sister but calls herself the Godsister of Soul anyway. All of whom want a piece of his legacy. And when the dust clears, there might be nothing left of the (supremely talented, extremely careless, and massively troubled) Godfather of Soul."

Click here to read an extended excerpt from the article by Sean Flynn, the full version of which can be found in the April 2008 issue of GQ magazine. (Hat tip to Different Kitchen)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Heart Sneakers
Further evidence that my kicks obsession is going to pay off one day... "Got a passion for buying sneakers? It could be a good sign, with a poll finding that people who buy three pairs of sneakers or more a year are far more likely to be a leadership type that other people." From Reuters.

Speaking of obsessions, I signed up for Emusic.com yesterday, and have discovered digital crack. Got legal downloads from Horace Andy to Little Dragon to Loose Joints to Cymande to Benga to Peanutbutter Wolf to Hot 8 brass band to Sugar Minott to Sun Ra. So easy, so good. Like I need another way to access more music.... sigh...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Womad 2008 - random notes... [belated]

Arrive Friday afternoon, check out the Govett Brewster Gallery for my Len Lye fix. Hang with my NP rellies and give Friday night a miss - hear later that Sharon Jones joined Mavis Staples for one song on Staples' Friday set. Damn.

Arrive Saturday arvo on the festival site, after a pleasant stroll thru Pukekura Park. Check out Kora, grooving and moving. They sounded great, apart from a brief lapse into Eurotrash techno - their influences may be broad, but do they have to explore every single one? Still, the crowd loved em, and they looked like they were having a great time onstage.

Hung round after Kora played, had dinner (butter chicken and naan) while watching a kapa haka group, with Mt Taranaki in the distance. Nice.

Watched the Dapkings set up and soundcheck, while on the grass in front of the stage Zac Condon and Beirut try and get to grips with playing cricket. The overarm bowling thing got em, kept bowling like it was baseball.

The Dapkings hit the stage at 7pm, all snappy suits and funky grooves. MC and guitarist Binky Griptite warms up the crowd, welcoming us to this special Womad edition of the Daptone Super Soul Revue. After a few tunes, he bids us to welcome Ms Sharon Jones to the stage, and this little ball of dynamite blasts into view and tears the stage apart for the next 45 minutes. No gaps between songs, just the band leader (and bass player) Bosco Mann calling the changes (found out later they never use a setlist - damn they tight) .

Then Ms Jones and the band exit. The crowd goes nuts, then Binky Griptite comes back out, holding a glass of red wine, dead casual, and asks the crowd if they want some more? The response is yes please. "Do you want some more?" Yes! "So, are you telling me, we could have a crowd-control situation of you don't get some more?" YES!!!! So the band and Ms Jones return to the stage and rip thru a few more numbers before departing. Sharon sings about all the difficulties she has faced as a singer, from people in the music industry telling her she was too short, too fat, too black, too old. And how she stuck with it, and look at her now. The crowd loved her to bits. And the response to their show on Sunday night was no different.

Sharon Jones and Bosco Mann (Gabriel Roth) took part in an event they had on a small stage set up with lounge chairs, called Artists In Conversation, an interview-format session with different performers. Sharon talked about how she was a prison guard at Rikers Island before joining up with the Dapkings. She was playing in a wedding band, and Bosco was DJing at a wedding she was playing at. He played the instrumental flipside of a single he had, and Sharon sung along, and no-one could believe she wasn't lipsyncing. Later, Bosco was doing some recording on a tune and they needed three backing vocalists, and the sax player he was working with suggested his girlfriend, which was Sharon. She came in and said well, I can sing all three parts, so why don't you just pay me instead?

The interview was conducted by the very able Nick Bollinger (Listener /National Radio - pictured above, on the left), and near the end they opened it up to questions from the audience. I got in a question to Bosco, asking about whats involved in producing vinyl. He talked a little about mastering and so forth, then got onto the pressing plant they use, which is United Record Pressing in Nashville. He's had a tour of it, when they've been down that way playing. He said it's like something straight out of the 70s, especially the offices. There's an apartment above the offices, which was built to accommodate the like of Motown's Berry Gordy when he'd come to do business with the plant, as none of the motels in Nashville would let him stay. (Photos here)

Bosco also mentioned the printing shop down the street, that prints their record labels. "They don't print flyers, stickers, posters - just record labels". He said that you phone up the owner, and say "Hey how's it going?" and he has a standard response - "Printing em square, cutting em round".

Bosco's enthusiasm for vinyl was evident in the way he talked about getting home with a new record, putting it on the turntable, then listening to the first side - he likes to listen to it 5 or 6 times before turning it over and listening to the second side. He said that albums used to be about 20 minutes a side, but now, you have artists filling up 80 minutes on a CD with nonsense like comedy skits, which he suggested was not really their area of expertise (or word to that effect).

Mid-conversation, Bosco stopped for a moment and sniffed the air, as some smell wafted by. "What's that, some food?" said Sharon. "No, I think it's something else," said Bosco, grinning (it was herb). "And thats another thing, you can't roll a joint on an MP3".

He also noted that the whole downloading/MP3/iPod culture seemed to be about quantity - "So, you've got 80,000 songs on your watch - so what?"

(And I got my latest Dapkings album signed, and got a photo of me with the lovely Ms Jones - ADDED below. And I bought the t-shirt).

Also saw Mavis Staples, Tibetan throat singers, Neil Finn, Beirut ("This is the first time we've ever played in front of a moat!"), Terem Quartet, some crazy gypsies, Cambodian guitar god Master Kong Nay & Ouch Savy, SJD, so much more. Very inspiring weekend. And scored four stellar vintage shirts from the Pio Pio opshop - $5 fill a bag. Awesome.



Further reading - NZHerald's Steven Shaw Sharon Jones steals the show, Full Womad report. NZH's Alan Perrott - See Womad and dye.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I saw a great documentary at the Film Festival last year, called Helvetica, which, as you can guess form the title, is all about said typeface. Helvetica celebrated its 50th birthday last year too. You can catch fresh screenings of Helvetica at the World Cinema Showcase which starts this week (check the schedule here). Go see it!

That is all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 22
Grover Washington Jr - Knucklehead
Restless soul - Turn me out dub
Overproof sound system - The model
Lightning head - Area boy
Roots Radics - A friend in need
The Lions - Giving up food for Jah
The Lions - Jungle struttin
Mystic moods - Cosmic sea
The Clash - Rude can't fail
Skatalites - Beardsman ska
Matumbi - Reggae stuff
Cocoa tea - Barak Obama
Beat conductor - Carribean path
Phil Cohran - Loud mouth
Kora - Culture
Portishead - Magic doors
Carlos Nino - Find a way
Herbie Mann - Muscle shoals nitty gritty
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - How do i let a good man down?
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - How long do I have to wait for you? (Ticklah remix)
Nicole Willis vs the Dynamics -Feeling free
Mikey Dread - Signal one
Komac - Harry's record machine
Dengue fever - Mr Orange
Mighty Mo - The next message

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 8
Phil Cohran - Frankiphone blues
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Brass in Africa
Modern sound quintet - Sugar daddy
Herbie Hancock - Palm grease
Ocote soul sounds - Look sharp
Dub Setsuko - Groovy, man, groovy
St Etienne - Only love can break your heart
Hopeton Lewis - Express yourself
Ken Boothe - Arte bella
Top cat - Request the style
The Lions - Jungle struttin
Restless soul - Turn me out
Erykah Badu - Telephone
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - Something's changed
Reuben Bell - Superjock
Don Covay - Sookie sookie
Kingites - Whistling in the dark
Muhsinah - Construction
Phil Cohran - Malcolm X
Meters - People say
Mike Nock Underground - Space bugaloo
Mavis Staples - Eyes on the prize
Jackie Mittoo - Chicken and booze
Horace Andy - Rock to sleep
Roots combination - Horny dub
Erykah Badu - Twinkle
Lightning head - Area boy
Carlos Nino - Find a way