Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Saturday Oct 10
Beat pharmacy - Rooftops
Congos - Mackaback
Fink - Sort of revolution (Sideshow dub)
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Flipside
Baker brothers  -Lady Day and John Coltrane
DJ Day x Miles Bonny - What's life like
Chancha via Curcuito - Bussitpondem feat Jahdan
Toots and the Maytals - 54 46 was my number
Jojo Bennett  -Canteloupe rock
Alton Ellis - You're the one to blame
Major lazer - Can't stop now
Mayer Hawthorne  -The ills
The Pharoahs - Somebody's been sleeping
King Midas Sound - One ting (Dabrye mix)
Lee Scratch Perry - Yellow tongue (Kode9 remix)
Lee Scratch Perry - Lucky charm
Beverley Road allstars - Danger in your eyes
Lightning head - Bokoor sound special
Kormac -Join together
Jean Jacques Perry and Luke Vibert  -Schwing
Yellow magic orchestra - Tong poo (The Orb remix)
Jay Z  at Studio One - Dirt off your shoulder
Betty Harris - Mean man
Lefties soul connection feat Flomega - Have love, will travel
Dixie cups - Iko iko
Johnny Hammond Smith - Tell me what to do
Chico Mann - Sound is everything (Rich Medina mix)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

 Vinyl flashback #1 - P-Money
 I recently had a discussion online with a bunch of Auckland music folk, about record shops we remember going to when we first started buying records. Various names popped up, like Rock N Roll Records, Record Warehouse, Revival Records and others.

It got me thinking, and I decided to start a new series on my blog, talking with local music fans about some of their favorite memories of record shopping, and of fave records and where they found them. First up, I was lucky enough to get P-Money to talk about some of his formative record shopping  experiences. P-Money is currently winging round the UK as part of Zane Lowe's DJ tour and doing very well for himself. Enjoy his vinyl tales. Thanks for your time. Pete!
(P-Money's blogmyspace pages)

What was the first record shop you remember going to?
There was some little store, I must have been about 7 years old, maybe younger, [I went] with my dad - he had a shop in the main street in Papakura and he knew all the shopkeepers in town. We'd go in there to buy whatever was out, I guess, and my parents were buying music. But I remember that Woolworths had records in it, when it was a department store before it was just a supermarket.

But the first one that I frequented to buy my own stuff, was when I was a bit older, probably 12 or 13, and it was one of the Sounds chain, the Papakura store, where I grew up, and then it changed into Truetone. I used to buy records from there. I got this, one, BDP, from there, cos they used to have clearance [bins].

My friend, Toni Cooper, he used to work there, and I think they would order records they knew weren't gonna sell, so they could mark them down and buy them cheap! They had so many copies of this album, and I swear that nobody in town even knew what it was, and they marked it down to three bucks for me. Cos I had no money, I'm like a little kid [then].I used to go in there after school every day and just look at the records, and look thru the clearance bins and whatever was in my range, if it was under five bucks, I'd snap it up.

So they'd mark things down , “Make that three dollars, man, make that seven”, and I was like, ah, I can get that. … I think albums back then were about $15 to $18, maybe $20 for imported things. So three bucks was a score.

The first big store that I remember was Real Groovy. I'd heard about, cos I didn't grow up in the city, so I didn't know about the bigger stores they had in town, all I knew was my little local one. My friend came back from town, and he had, like, an Ice Cube album on vinyl, and the Source magazine. I was like “where did you get these things?” cos they weren't in my local record shop. He was like “Real Groovy” and I had this vision of this magical place that had everything that I wanted.

I finally made the trip, I took the train, 45 minutes on the train, walked all the way uptown from the town station, finally found the place, and it's this massive store, and it's so big, and I just couldn't believe it. And I didn't have much money, and I could only afford one record and it's this one...

Ultimate breaks and beats compilation. This is number nine. Because I had read about this compilation in the Face magazine, cos my art teacher gave it to me in art class, and it had an article on the producers Marley Marl, and Hurby Lovebug – he was producing Salt N Pepa, and I read the article and they mentioned that series of records, and they were saying it's easy to get the breakbeats now because they're all on these complilations. So I knew of it, but I'd never seen it.

I was sifting thru Real Groovy, and I found it, and thought this is the record they're talking about. So I bought it, of course I only had one copy, and took it home and didn't really know what to do with it. Five seconds of the music is really good, and the rest is crap.

But then I learnt about breakbeats thru finding the record, that what flicked the switch for me, like, "right, so there's random songs that have really cool parts that you can sample and loop up and make hiphop songs", which just opened my brain up again. Like, okay, now maybe I can find these on any record, I don't have to buy the compilation, I can find the originals.

I went back numerous times after that, of course,.. I'd rock up to the second hand desk and just talk with those guys, and every now and then I'd bring in promos that I got sent I didn't want any more and trade them and pick up a bunch of records. There was definitely a rapport, but I had that more with my local store. Especially growing up, all thru my teens, I'd be there every day after school. They didn't have a huge vinyl selection, but I'd order in things that I knew about, and they'd get me my twelve inches and double copies of things that I needed to DJ with.

My friend Kersham, our whole friendship was based around that record store. He used to work there and I would see him every day. To me, as a kid, he had this huge knowledge of music, which I didn't have that, and I learnt from him, and I learnt from Toni – he gave me the first Public Enemy album, Bumrush The Show. They're like my favourite group of all time. Toni said to me you can borrow this – this is mine, but take it home and have a listen to it, I think you'll really like it”. I was blown away. I was like “wow!”, and from then I was sold on them.

I ended up working in the store for a while as well, for school holidays. I would do stuff like wash the windows, just so they could give me like a free album and stuff. Its funny how it all connects, cos it was Peter Farnon - he started Beat Merchants – he was general manager of Trutone and he came to visit the Papakura store, when I was cleaning the windows, and so he gave me the records, and couple of years later when he opened Beat Merchants, I was a regular customer there. That was another store that I frequented a lot.

With Groovy it was like, cool this is an outlet where I can get the information that I need, not just the music, but the added benefit of being able to get all these records and put the pieces of the puzzle together, and they had books and magazines as well.

What about when you started getting some overseas trips and hitting up record stores?

Beat Street in Brooklyn was like Mecca. I couldn't believe it when I first walked in there. The space was not that big, like Groovy, much much smaller, but just dense with stock, so many records. And I'd never seen so many copies of each release, whether it was the latest thing or a reissue, like an old EPMD 12 inch, they've got 20 copies, sitting there, so people can come in and just pick up doubles, whereas here, you;d be lucky to find one, let alone two.

The price used to trip me out. When I went, they were averaging about $5 US for a 12 inch. So I could get two, for less than the price of buying one here - $25 for one 12 inch single. So would just go mad. And i was coming back with like a crate of records, maybe 80 records. That's 23 kilos of extra baggage. You have to pay for it!

I was doing all kinds of tricks, I had a back pack full of maybe 30, 40 records, I could fit as many in there without it looking like I had this really heavy thing on my back, so I'm trying to stand up real straight, like its not straining, me, and then I've got plastic shopping bags either aside, with another 20 records in each one, so I'm physically carrying about 20 kilos on me, plus I got the 20 kilos in my luggage, and you just do whatever you can to get it home without paying excess baggage.

Beat Street had a DJ in the store too, who would be playing all the latest stuff. So instead of having to go and ask to hear a record, hes already playing it. And then you're hearing thing s you might not have picked up off the shelf. Its a really great environment. You rub shoulders with other DJs and music fans, which is a huge thing I miss, and I think .

That's the biggest downside - I'm not so sentimental about physical vinyl, but the community aspect of DJs and music fans all convening at one spot, cos they know all the new records have just dropped, and they're all discussing the recent finds, what they're looking forward to, and a real face to face human interaction and getting a vibe for records and it made certain songs more special amongst communities, or in my experience, where as now you can still discuss things with a much broader group of people online, it is the same kind of thing, but you re not actually in the presence of those people.

That's one of the greatest things about record stores – I used to love going there when I had no money, to hang out with the clerks selling the records, or the other guys who were buying things. I'd be in the record store 3,4, 5 hours just to socialise. And I'm listening to every record in the store getting vast knowledge of music, and I'm putting stuff aside when I have some money, and that's just gone. Its completely gone. So I am sentimental about that, the experience.

It used to be a hangout, especially Best Merchants in the city, for me, and my scene, around like, 99 to 2002. That was a really good time for hiphop music in general, with good record coming out, cool indie labels like Rawkus and similar, were consistently dropping good records.

There were a lot of DJs that were involved in scratching and the turntablist thing was going on, and the store was like a hub. You had Sirvere [Phil Bell] ordering all the latest stuff, making sure we're as up to date as possible , even tho we're this far from where the records are being made. I've still got tons of friends from those years.

I love the convenience of being able to get online and at the very least being able to stream any song I can think of, even if I cant find the file to download. I'm talking about rare things that you think nobody else knew about, and you can find it on youtube!

The other store I really used to like -cos I used to think of Real Groovy as your mainstream, obvious, record store – if you wanted to dig for records, you could go there and find cool stuff, but everyone else is there too, and not so far off the beaten track was the Record Exchange on K Rd. For some reason, to me that felt like thats where you go if you really know whats up, for digging for records. I really enjoyed that place when it was open, when it was in St Kevins Arcade, and then it moved to 123 K Rd.

I remember the first time I discovered that place; it was upstairs there. It was a reasonably small room, and no-one had told me about it -I just saw this sign on the street and wandered up there, this dusty-as place, and it kind of felt – and I might be wrong and forgive me if I got the wrong impression - but I kind of felt a little bit of snobbishness from the staff there, kinda looking down their nose, like you don't know anything about music”, which was definitely common amongst many record stores.

Some staff were great, very open about their knowledge of music, others were like “This is just for me, you have to earn my respect in order for me to share my information”. It was all part of the fun really. But I felt a little bit intimidated in there, I didn't know enough about music, but I liked what I was seeing when I was digging thru their records.

I discovered my love for Isaac Hayes there. The To Be Continued album, I found that in there. All I knew of Isaac Hayes at that point was the Shaft soundtrack. But that record just looked really interesting, the cover, his face. I just thought it looked really cool. So I bought the record, took a chance on it, bought it home, and I heard Ikes Mood, on side two – it's an amazing record, for a start – and it's got the little piano breakdown which has been used countless times in hiphop songs, but I didn't know it was from there.

So it was like “Wow, I found this break that other people have used”, so I went back to get every Isaac Hayes album I could find. Cos I loved the music -let alone the novelty of someone had sampled it – but the music itself really spoke to me.

Record Exchange was the spot – they had a good selection of Isaac albums at the time, so I cleaned them out. And then a couple of years later, they had reissues in Beat Merchants, for like $40, $50, and I was like, I picked all these up for under 8 bucks, sweet! It's all timing with records too.

Now, go read PART TWO.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

New post over at Dust and Grooves
This time they visit a record collector by the name of DJ Shame, in Worchester, MA. Check that photo! Click here.

Career retrospective from Ethiopian Jazz musician Mulatu Astatke
"On the heels of his extremely successful Inspiration Information collaboration with The Heliocentrics, Mulatu Astatke teams up with Strut once again for the first complete overview of his career, including many rare sides which have never before been compiled for worldwide release."

If you haven't checked out the Mulatu/Heliocentrics album, do so at once, Easily one of the finest albums I've heard this year, and it will be on a lot of Best Of lists at the end of the year (ie 12 weeks from now!)

"Vibraphone and keyboard player, master arranger and bandleader, Mulatu Astatke is one of the all time greats of Ethiopian music, and the creator of his own original music form, Ethio jazz. Through the acclaimed Ethiopiques album series and through featuring on the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers, his music has belatedly reached a global audience and a new, younger generation of fans.

In November of last year, he recorded an inspired new album with London psych-jazz band The Heliocentrics for Strut’s Inspiration Information studio collaboration series. Now, Strut are proud to present, for the first time anywhere, the definitive Mulatu career retrospective covering his landmark ‘60s and ‘70s recordings."

1. ASIYO BELEMA (feat. Frank Holder)
2. MASCARAM SETABA (with Ethiopian Quintet)
3. I FARAM GAMI FARAM (with Ethiopian Quintet)
4. SOUL POWER (with Ethiopian Quintet)
5. GIRL FROM ADDIS ABABA (with Ethiopian Quintet)
6. SHAGU (Mulatu Astatke Quartet)
17. LANCHI BIYE with Tilahoun Gessesse
18. FIKRATCHIN with Menelik Wossenatchew
19. EBO LALA with Seifu Yohannes
20. WUBIT with Muluken Melesse
21. KASALEFKUT HULU with Tilahoun Gessesse
Out October 27 .

Top 10 Reasons Vinyl Records are Better Than MP3 Downloads
from Vinyl records vs. MP3s? I own them both. Why are album versions of records better than their MP3 counterparts? The digital Black Flag vs. the original SST Black Flag recordings? Naked Raygun on your iPod shouldn’t sound much different than the vinyl record of the same album, right? Can you find Big Black on MP3? Here’s a a little list:

10. You can’t accidentally delete a vinyl record. However, your cat may urinate on it. That won’t affect playback…unless you have friends over.

9. You don’t get the nice big cover art off an MP3 download. This doesn’t matter much for modern releases, but for those old, elaborate LP releases or soundtracks to sexy Italian horror and “sexual awakening” movies, big covers are nice. Especially for those Piero Umiliani soundtracks. There’s nothing more fun than a cheesy sexy 60s era album cover, is there?

8. Nobody tries to sue you for making a CD-R burn of some old dusty record in your collection. They’d love to try, but the RIAA would get laughed out of court faster than Rod Blagojevich proclaiming his innocence. Nice try.

7. Unlike an MP3, you can shatter a vinyl record and use the pieces to gash somebody in face when they make fun of your pants.

6. In Shaun Of The Dead, the heroes tried to kill zombies using 12-inch singles. Try doing that with an iPod and you’ll join the ranks of the undead faster than a screaming teenage girl in a filmy white nightgown.

5. George Carlin comedy albums just plain SOUND BETTER on vinyl.

4. You can actually clean a record album with soap and water. You can clean an iPod by…BUYING A NEW ONE.

3. Stores with high theft issues should stock vinyl. You can hide an MP3 player in any body cavity. An album tends to stick out of the most obvious places. Painful, too.

2. Vinyl records are better than MP3s because you can play them backwards and get the messages Satan wants you to hear. Try doing THAT with a downloaded version of Ashford & Simpson’s “Solid as a Rock”.

1. When you get bored, you can safely microwave an LP, put it on the turntable and play it for laughs. Put an MP3 player in the microwave and it will explode. Need we say more?

Monday, October 05, 2009

DJs that sell their records after converting them to MP3 are breaching copyright law?
Earlier today, one of the local hiphop folk I follow popped up on Twitter with this interesting wee question... "Do DJ's that sell their records after converting them to MP3 realise they are breaching copyright laws?" (from Sen Thong aka Khmer1 - thanks for bringing this up!)

I did a quick Google search  (and asked on Twitter) and uncovered section 81a of the current copyright law (as passed in late 2008), which says that you can copy say, vinyl to MP3  but "You must retain ownership of both the sound recording and any copy". This also applies to you if you sell off your CDs after digitising them for your iPod.

Prior to this becoming law in October 2008, it was illegal in NZ to copy your cds/vinyl to MP3.

Now, here's the interesting part  - "the copy is used only for that owner’s personal use or the personal use of a member of the household in which the owner lives or both".

So, say you're a club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and then sold it, and are playing in a club one Saturday night, are you breaking the law?

Sure, you're no different from the iPod-toting hordes who bought the Apple device, digitised their CDs then sold them at Real Groovy (I asked on Twitter if any of the folk following me had digitised their CDs then sold them - they had mostly kept them as a backup, although a few regretted just how much space their music collections consumed). But as a DJ, you're not using those MP3s for personal use only.  Does APRA/RIANZ PPNZ performance fees from venues cover this?

Curious to find out more on this one. Any music lawyers care to weigh in?

ADDED Have put in requests for information on this to APRA and RIANZ/PPNZ.  Stay tuned. It may take a while to get a response as the NZ Music Awards are on this week.

UPDATE 1: This response is from Mark Roach, General Manager Licensing, at Phonographic Performances New Zealand (PPNZ). Thanks for the prompt reply, Mark.

"PPNZ has always taken the approach that DJs format shifting for the purposes of effciency and backing up large music collections, especially vinyl, is a legitimate part of being a DJ and does not require licensing.

Premises should have a PPNZ Public Performance Licence which would cover them for the playing of all music on their premises, i.e. whether by a DJ, by the premises’ own background music system or other. This licence is the responsibility of the premises – not the DJ. If DJs have any concerns about a particular premises, they are always welcome to check the premises status with our licensing reps ( or 0800 88 PPNZ).

The only proviso we have is that DJs are only using music for their own DJ sets, i.e. if they are servicing their music collections to premises for use as a regular background music system, or to other DJs as a business service then they would require licensing as a music service provider.

I’m not sure the same rule applies with AMCOS (who look after the reproduction of musical works) but they can better advise you this themselves.

One small correction to the blog also – licensing of sound recording copyrights is the domain of PPNZ, not RIANZ (the two organisations are not the same thing)."

UPDATE 2: This response from Rebekah Nolan at AMCOS/APRA...

"Any copying of music over and above the personal use is not covered by the [Copyright] Act and needs to be licensed...

... there are two copyrights that need to be licensed: the underlying musical work (or "publishing" rights); and the sound recording (or "master" rights). APRA|AMCOS represents songwriters and composers so we can issue licences for the publishing rights, whereas PPNZ can issue licences for sound recordings.

APRA|AMCOS has a Casual Blanket Licence for compiling and supplying audio recordings for the purpose of providing a background music service. If you are transferring music from one source (e.g. vinyl, CD or digital download to a hardrive or mp3 player) then you will need this licence.

If you are simply playing existing CDs/vinyl on a turntable, or your downloads are going directly to the hardrive or mp3 player that you use for gigs, then you won't need this licence as there is no actual format shift involved."

UPDATE 3: So the answer to the question "you're a club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and are playing in a club one Saturday night (public use as opposed to personal use), are you breaking the law?" No, as long as the venue has paid its relevant performance licences to APRA/AMCOS and PPNZ.

As for my original question (in full) "you're club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and then sold it, and are playing in a club one Saturday night, are you breaking the law?" The copyright law is pretty clear on that. "You must retain ownership of both the sound recording and any copy". Boom.

UPDATE 4: Okay, I've crossed out the first part of update 3, as it's been pointed out to me that it's incorrect. I'm still seeking further clarification on the answer in full from AMCOS/APRA.

So to the question "you're a club DJ, and you've digitised your vinyl and are playing in a club one Saturday night (public use as opposed to personal use), are you breaking the law?"

There's a few parts to this. The performance rights are covered by performance licences paid by the venue to APRA (songwriting rights) and PPNZ (sound recording rights).

On the copying for public performance, Im still awaiting clarification. But, it appears that AMCOS/APRA require you (the DJ) to pay a licence if you want to transfer your vinyl to MP3 and play it in public.

More soon.

UPDATE 5: I've got further clarification from APRA/AMCOS on this. AMCOS/APRA do require you (the DJ) to pay a licence if you want to transfer your vinyl to MP3 and play it in public.

From APRA/AMCOS: "A DJ who digitises their vinyl to mp3, then goes and DJs at a bar or club, needs to get a licence to do so, as they have made a reproduction of the works from one format to another and are then using that system in a commercial venture (not just for personal use).
If they are currently playing in a club using mp3s digitised from their own vinyl without a licence, they are in breach of copyright. APRA/AMCOS follow up and have the authority to issue infringement notices, and educate.
If you are copying music from any format to any other system or format for commercial or business purposes, then you do need a licence for the reproduction of that music. This includes DJs copying their vinyl to use as mp3s."

This position is in distinct contrast to PPNZ's more pragmatic take , which is that "PPNZ has always taken the approach that DJs format shifting for the purposes of effciency and backing up large music collections, especially vinyl, is a legitimate part of being a DJ and does not require licensing."

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Quick hits
1. Spotted via Real Groove on Twitter:  It's not file sharers killing music it's majors illegally selling mp3s. eg: Edwyn Collins. Read it here
2. If you're from NZ and are new to Twitter, Real Groove have out together  a list of some of the folks from the NZ music scene who are using Twitter.  Check it here.
Journalist Bill Bennett has compiled a similar list of NZ magazines and media people on Twitter, over here.
3. DJ Ian Head drops his October 2009 mix entitled Good ‘Ol Soul (For Carlos), which is dedicated to Carlos Alvarez. (Via Crate Kings)
4. Stay tuned for a new feature coming on my blog, early next week. It's all about record fans and their favourite record stores. First up: one of our top hiphop DJs.
5. I know it aint music-related, but I dig this: Sesame St does Mad Men.