Sunday, October 17, 2010

Splore doco screening

October 20th - Khuja Lounge, Auckland - 8pm. $5 entry - plus DJ support

 "The final installment of our "ThisCulture" film series brings you a special series of films focusing on New Zealand music produced by the crew from "Film The Music". The feature film is a brand new documentary shot at "Splore 2010". We will also be screening a selection of short documentaries from "Film The Music" and holding a Q&A session with their producer Jennifer Raoult.

"FilmTheMusic is a collaborative project created by two french filmakers and photographers, Jennifer Raoult and Sebastian Grounauer, who share a common passion for music and arts. We love to create unique moments of interaction with each artist consisting in short improvised video sessions, set in unexpected environments, No script, No rehearsal.

This 45min doco is an insight into our shared experiences with some amazing artists including Nickodemus, King Kapisi, Clap Clap Riot, Electric Wire Hustle, The Nukes, Dub FX, Mystro, Gaslamp Killer, Olmecha Supreme…"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Oct 16

Red Astaire - Follow me
George Benson and MAW - The ghetto/El barrio
Primal scream - Higher than the sun
Lightning head - Afro spot
Boozoo bajou - Camioux
Black seeds - Come to me - International observer remix
Suizen - Cartesian space - 4D mix (free download here)
Sister Nancy - Only woman DJ with degree
Roots radics - Lovers mood
Bob Marley - Mr Brown
Lee Scratch Perry - Holy angels
Gaz Rockin Blues - Got to be at the party
Austin Faithfull - I'm in a rocking mood
Roots Manuva and Wrongtom - Butterfly crab walk
Junk - 99c strut
Fitz and the Tantrums - Moneygrabber
Barry White - You're the first, the last, my everything
Aloe Blacc - Green lights
Kid Creole and the coconuts - Aniie I'm not your daddy - Soul mechanik edit
Pigbag - Papa's got a brand new pigbag
Sunlightsquare combo - I believe in miracles
Cookie monster and the girls - C is for cookie (disco mix, sweet version by Roy Thode)
Joi - If I'm lucky, I just might get picked up
Romanowski - Train song  -DJ Sureshot remix
RSD - Corner dub

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jet Jaguar

Jet Jaguar is one of the aliases of Kiwi producer and musician Michael Upton. His site is called, and has a ton of music on it. His music is funky, bleepy downtempo and it's mighty nice. Here's a few slices.

Jet Jaguar vs Phoenix Foundation... listen below.

<a href="">Jet Jaguar Remixes The Phoenix Foundation by Jet Jaguar</a>

Michael says "These are four remixes I worked on at length over 2004. There was talk of a vinyl release, but label-related stuff was label-related stuff. I'm pretty proud of the results, so I thought the least I could do was give them their own little home on the web."

A bit more recent, an album from late last year,  listen below. Title is "My Life In The Bush Out The Back Of My Place." Nice one

<a href="">My Life In The Bush Out The Back Of My Place by Jet Jaguar</a>

And here's a wee exclusive only available as a free download on his site - Trinity Roots - Just like you - Jet Jaguar  remix.

There's a ton more great music to check out on the NonWrestler downloads page, including the Jet Jaguar remix of Awesome Feelings by Disasteradio.  Go have a nosey.

RIP Tony Peake

From Simon Grigg's blog. "A hugely influential figure in not only Christchurch’s but New Zealand’s music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, without whom large parts of the things we celebrate as New Zealand music would look very different. And a mate…..

" I issued one of the first two recordings from his later band, The Newtones, on Class of 81; the slightly twisted psychedelic pop of New Way. They then managed to manipulate the always manipulatable NZ charts and pushed their debut EP, which came in at least three different coloured sleeves, into the singles listings at number 13 in May of that year, causing a fluster at RIANZ central. Another single, My World, followed.

" I used to love his, often extended, visits to Auckland when we would talk music and just talk for hours; and, as much, craved the packages of singles, including my first real exposure to heavy Jamaican dub 12″s, he would send up from his incredible record store at Christchurch University. Taking advantage of an educational loophole in the draconian import laws in Muldoon’s New Zealand, it was for years the best record store in NZ, bar none.

"There is a quite wonderful and evocative piece on Tony’s bands at Mysterex."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Poi poi twist

I went to the book launch for Blue Smoke last night. The evening featured a college jazz band, and speeches, of course. And music.

Author Chris Bourke was introduced by Tim Finn, who talked about some of the magnificent stories that he'd discovered from reading the book. Then Chris spoke, starting by saying "It's my party, so I may cry..."

He talked about some of the people who had helped him with the book, some of whom were there, like one elderly gentleman Chris introduced (I figured out it was Dennis Huggard, after referring to the acknowledgements), who had been collecting press clippings on jazz in New Zealand since he was young teen during the 2nd World War, and had over 9000 manilla folders full of them. Or another chap (Jim Warren, I believe) who had provided him with copies of Playdate magazine, which Chris explained to the young folk in the room, was a magazine published by movie house Kerridge Odeon, and had film reviews with jazz reviews in the back (written by Warren). Chris never saw it in his house, as he said the title Playdate was deemed to close to Playboy!

The venue for the book launch was the Gus Fisher Gallery in Shortland St, which has been home to York St Studios, TVNZ, and before that Radio NZ. Chris talked  about walking down to the launch via Greys Avenue, past the former site of the Picasso (a venue), and other sites where clubs had been. He was particularly glad the launch was happening in that space, as it had been home to Radio 1YA,  a station his mother had performed on with a choir.  He mentioned all the dancehalls that used to be in the main centres, with dances happening 6 nights a week. Even in Taranaki, there were over 200 dancehalls, said Chris, "...and if it wasn't for them, many of us wouldn't be here today."

He also talked about people he'd met along the way, who were no longer with us, like Prince Tui Teka. He also made mention of his former flatmate, Ian Morris, and told a few stories about him.

Then the formal part of the evening wrapped up with Simon Lynch taking over the keyboard and leading everyone in singing Blue Smoke, followed by Tom Sharplin taking the mic and singing Hoki Mai. A rousing singalong for a great book. And then people carried on....

Review of Blue Smoke by Graham Reid (NZ Herald/Elsewhere).
Blue Smoke, available online from Mighty Ape ($49.99)

Chris Bourke, at Blue Smoke book launch. Love the shirt!

The opening blurb in the book quotes a song lyric... "It's a Maori melody, come along and twist with me, Poi poi and twist the night away..."

Chirs talks in the book about various local spinoffs of the hit song The Twist (which NZ band the Keil Isles had a big hit with here, as radio decreed Chubby Checker's original was too noisy to play), and mentions one of the best was Rim D Paul and the Quin Tikis doing a song called Poi Poi Twist, which features that lyric.

I've got a version of that song by the Maori Hi Five (done on the HMV label, with Hippy Hippy Shake on the flip - this went to #4 on the Swedish charts in 1962, apparently), another showband of the same era. I've digitised the crackly old 45, and here it is below. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trevor Reekie interviewed

"Its a kind of like the Simpsons making a snuff movie - you wonder why you're doing it sometimes." Trevor Reekie, on what it's like running a record label, 1998 interview.

Here's the illustrious Mr Reekie, interviewed from BFM's Seeded programme. Listen here. Trevor discovered and signed acts like Shihad, Bic Runga, Strawpeople, Greg Johnson and Pluto to name a few, to his Pagan Records label. He's a bloody talented chap and has been involved in more hit records than you've had hot breakfasts. Go and have a listen.

Their blurb: "Trevor Reekie was once described as “one of the NZ recording industry’s most important figures”, something he would no doubt dispute, despite the truth of it. The varied accomplishments of this all-rounder began in the 1970s. After he worked for the monumentally-important independent label Stiff Records in London, he brought knowledge and experience back to NZ and applied it to a series of independents: Stunn, Reaction, Pagan, and Antenna.

As a producer, he worked on records by artists including the Mockers and Danse Macabre; and as a multi-instrumentalist musician, was part of Car Crash Set, The Greg Johnson Band, and A Trip To The Moon.

In the last decade, Trevor has been “a music guy” at Radio New Zealand, hosting the in-depth music insider series Access All Areas, greatly contributing to maintaining all forms of popular music as "worthwhile culture...".

For more on Pagan Records amazing catalogue, read Simon Grigg's discography here, with additional notes from Trevor. 

Blue smoke

Chris Bourke's latest book is called Blue Smoke: The lost dawn of New Zealand music 1918-1964, and it hits the shops this week.  I've seen an advance copy and it looks like a fantastic read. Graham Reid reviewed it in the Weekend Herald (and on his blog, Elsewhere).

As Graham says, "Bourke has given us back an important part of our musical and social history, the soundtrack of which was in danger of being lost or barely audible.... Blue Smoke is a beautifully presented book which is reference text, bedside-table read and coffee table page-turner in one." 

 From Graham's review of Blue Smoke (via

".... As a writer he has a light and sometimes wry touch, he is generous and sympathetic to his subjects, and lets humour speak for itself while weaving though the facts.

“Hello My Dearie is an unlikely way to start a revolution,” he writes. “This light-hearted 1918 song, among others, launched New Zealand's first radio programme on 17 November 1921; it would bring the world into people's homes, and a world of music”.

Bourke had a challenge not faced by writers on more recent music: His subject was mostly live music, not recorded, and to his credit he captures telling detail to create the sense of being there when, for example, Anita Osborn in Christchurch in 1944 -- after being encouraged to sing one night in a dancehall – was instantly in demand.

“On Fridays, Osborn would get her hair set and bleached blonde – 'for a singer it had to be blonde' – and on Saturdays she would be back at the hairdressers to get her hair combed up again. Wartime clothing shortages meant it was difficult to get the material needed for a selection of especially made gowns, so her sisters helped by pooling their coupons.”

Whether it be recreating the atmosphere in the many sophisticated ballrooms in Auckland in the 30s (and some of the more sleazy ones later on) or taking the reader to a dance in a rural hall, Bourke is a reliable guide. The days of jazz and swing bands, men in bow-ties and woman in elegant gowns, sounds much more exciting than we have been lead to believe.

But Blue Smoke also includes other aspect of our history.

This is the author on the departure of the 28 Maori Battalion in May 1940: “The troop train bypassed Wellington railway station and went straight onto the wharf, with its windows shuttered. Families were cordoned off at Aotea Quay, and they were unable to watch or speak to the soldiers as they moved from the train onto the Aquitania during the night. Before dawn, women from Ngati Poneke were taken by bus onto the wharf; some in the crowd booed, but their turn would come.”

He then quotes Mihi Edwards of Ngati Poneke: “The Maori Battalion's last contact with its own people was the sight of the crowd allowed onto the wharf at the last moment, and the sound of the Ngati Poneke girls singing farewell songs as the distance widened between the ship and the shore.”

At such times – and they are on almost every one of these 400 pages – Blue Smoke resonates as a social history as much as that of music and entertainers.

While the nascent “jazz” and swing bands provide the atmosphere in the days before rock'n'roll, it is Maori artists – solo, in various bands from jazz to country, or in showbands – who are the spine of this book. Maori songs, and many with Maori references in the title (Dear Old Maoriland, Maori Eyes, Kia Ngawari and Beneath the Maori Moon in the 20s), run like a refrain throughout.
Ana Hato and Deane Waretini in the 20s; The Tahiwis who recorded in te reo in Australia in the 30s; the Ratana brass bands; Ruru Kariatiana and 19-year old singer Pixie Williams (in her hockey uniform) recording Blue Smoke in October 1949, the first locally written, recorded and released New Zealand song . . .

And beyond to Ray Paparoa (Pukekohe's Elvis) and Johnny Cooper, the Maori Cowboy, recording our first rock'n'roll song, a cover of Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock.

And Bourke is inclusive.

Country music has rarely been hip or fashionable, but it has always been popular, if beyond the interest of most broadcasters. Yet Bourke explores this long strand through characters like Fred Mayfield's Cowboy Band who filled Auckland's Majestic Theatre in the late 20s, Pete Kloss in the late 30s (“New Zealand's yodelling cowboy”) and the irrepressible Tex Morton (songs, hypnotism and target shooting in the same show) who in the late 30s was selling more records than any other international artist in Australia and New Zealand, and more than all Australian artists combined.

Such facts – which can pull you up – are woven through this extraordinary narrative which comes with a visual treasury of evocative period photographs, concert posters, reproductions of labels from the middle of old 78 and 45 discs, and album covers.

Blue Smoke is a beautifully presented book which is reference text, bedside-table read and coffee table page-turner in one. Chris Bourke has given us back an important part of our musical and social history, the soundtrack of which was in danger of being lost or barely audible.

A remarkable achievement and a marvelous book which sings and swings off every page.

RIP Solomon Burke

The legendary soul singer (and mortician) passed away on Sunday, at Schiphol Airport in in Amsterdam, aged 70.

From the New York Times obituary...

"... Drawing on gospel, country and gritty rhythm and blues in songs like “Cry to Me” (1962), “You Can Make It if You Try” (1963) and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” (1964), Mr. Burke developed a vocal style that was nuanced yet forceful. Steeped in church traditions from a young age, he could make a sermon out of any situation, as in “The Price” from 1964, a catalog of the wages of a bad romance. (“You cost me my mother/The love of my father/Sister/My brother too.”)

In a genre known for outsize personalities and flamboyant showmanship, Mr. Burke stood out for his sheer boldness and eccentricity. A radio D.J. crowned him the King of Rock and Soul in 1964, and Mr. Burke took the coronation to heart. For the rest of his career, he often performed in full royal habit — crown, scepter and robe — and sat on a golden throne onstage. Wide-shaped in his youth, he grew into Henry VIII-like corpulence, and in his later years had to be wheeled to his throne.

An ordained minister, licensed mortician, resourceful entrepreneur and champion raconteur, Mr. Burke inspired almost as much amazement with his offstage persona as he did with his music. A biography on his website says that he had 21 children, 90 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. “I got lost on one of the Bible verses that said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’ ” he once said. “I didn’t read no further.”

His career revival began in the 1980s, helped by Hollywood: “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” was featured in “The Blues Brothers” in 1980, and in 1987 “Cry to Me” had a prominent role in “Dirty Dancing.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2002 he released “Don’t Give Up on Me” (Fat Possum/Anti-), with songs by Brian Wilson, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and others written for Mr. Burke.

He never stopped touring or making records. His most recent album, “Nothing’s Impossible” — his first and last collaboration with the celebrated producer Willie Mitchell, who died in January — was released on the E1 label in April. On Sunday he had flown to Amsterdam to perform a sold-out concert there with a Dutch band, De Dijk."

Monday, October 11, 2010

TMD Crew fundraiser

This looks like a very cool event.  TMD are some of the finest graff artists in Aotearoa - get along and support em!

 "Come join New Zealand’s most internationally renown crew TMD, as they exhibit new works in an epic one off show, fundraising to attend Primary Flight 2010 in Miami.  Thirteen breathtaking works will be on display, each 2.4m x 2.4m and range from aerosol art to large print photographs. All works will be available for sale for one night only – so don’t miss your chance!

Featured artists: Askew, Dskyes, Phat1, Lady Diva, Vans the Omega, Oche, Saves aka Dyle52, Pest5, Deus, Ryze, Has, Berst, Kost and Rimoni.

Bringing a unique twist to the event is the inclusion of the Auckland Youth Orchestra who will be providing entertainment on the night. There will also be domestic air-fare giveaways provided by Grabaseat, drawn from those that purchase works on the night!  Dress up for the occasion, this is guaranteed to be like no other graffiti art event staged in New Zealand to date.

The show will open at 7pm with the works unveiled at 9pm.  All sales go towards getting TMD to Primary Flight.  Tickets $25.00 (incl. booking fee) and are available from iTICKET and Conch Records.

Thursday, 21st October 2010
Shed 6, Upper Deck, 90 Wellesley St, Auckland City
Starts 7pm – Work unveiled at 9pm

Unitone Hifi chicha bizznizz

Spied this over at Stinky Jims Stink Inc blog - a wicked remix of his band Unitone Hifi, from Kinky Electric Noise. Grab it quick.

Unitone HiFi - Hang On (Kinky Electric Noise Chicha Remix) by Kinky Electric Noise

Fly Lo

Flying Lotus interview... shot at his appearance at Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival

Flying Lotus @ North Coast Music Festival from Cam Be on Vimeo.

Adrock interview

Via Crate Kings... "Propellerhead's interview with Adrock of the Beastie Boys. He tells the story of buying his first drum machine, a Roland TR-808, with $250 [it was a toss up between a Rickenbaker guitar like Paul Weller for the Jam, or the drum machine...], discovering LL Cool J, creating pause tapes, the rise of the Beastie Boys, and being sued by The Jimmy Castor Bunch for their use of “Hey Leroy”."

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ian Morris farewelled

From Hawkes Bay Today, an editorial "It's a poorer place without Ian Morris". Read it here.

Also, Simon Grigg remembers Ian's work as a studio engineer and producer, for the likes of Hello Sailor (that's his production on Gutter Black), DD Smash, Greg Johnson, The Warratahs, Pop Mechanix, Southside of Bombay, Screaming Meemees and more.

"...An Ian Morris production was noticeably and identifiably an “Ian Morris” record. They had a sound and it was a sound that worked. For me, he produced the only album by The Screaming Meemees. The sessions were uproarious – rather out of control and bourbon soaked. It was at these that he met Kim, his wife.

I talked to him several times over the years about remixing these, as recently as a few months ago – it was his idea, as he felt the album was unfinished and didn’t want to leave it that way, although I guess that’s the way it will now stay.

However, when we remastered Paradise for digital release late last year, the remasterer, Alan Jansson, no studio slouch himself, was blown away by the audio depth and quality of the recording (also a tribute to the original engineer, Steve Kennedy) of the original which still sounds as vaguely ahead of its time as it did when released..."

Ian's own website has some great writing on his studio work, including the tale of two snaredrums (Gutter black/Game of Love). What a loss.

Everyday sunshine

Fishbone were a huge influence on my old band, Hallelujah Picassos. Our former manager Lisa hipped me to this film, a documentary on the band. Fishbone formed in1979 when the members were in junior high school in South Central Los Angeles. From the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Fishbone might be the only African American punk band you could name. It has always stayed a bit underground, but that's the way the band members want to play it. They broke stereotypes, exerted wide influence, yet refused to play by recording labels' rules and paid a heavy price for it. There was also a bit of self-destruction as well.

"In the '80s, there was this kind of Hollywood scene of people that were huge fans of Fishbone," said San Francisco documentarian Chris Metzler, whose film "Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone," makes its Bay Area premiere this month at the Mill Valley Film Festival and DocFest in San Francisco.

"John Cusack, Tim Robbins, Chris Rock, David Arquette. We found out that Laurence Fishburne was the closest to the band. He'd let them crash at his place in LA or New York. The way he knew of the band is he was a bouncer in this club in Hollywood, and heard Fishbone onstage and was like, 'Who are these brothers?'

Among the down periods was in 1993, when founding member Norwood Fisher tried to help a band member succumbing to mental illness, and ended up being tried on kidnapping charges. Another original member, Angelo Moore, was forced to move in with his mother.
So did the band like the film?

"They came and saw it at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where we debuted" in June, Metzler said. "I think seeing it in front of the audience, seeing people laughing, being emotionally wrenched at the end of the film - Norwood likes the movie, but Angelo loves the movie. He's just like, 'That's my life! That's what it is.' This is the trials and travails of trying to be an aging punk rocker into your 40s."

Mike Park has seen Fishbone 173 times.  He talks about the first time he saw them and the impact it had on him here.

Who is Mr Brown?

He's Len Brown - the mayor of the new supercity. Is Mr Brown controlled by remote, asks Bob....

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Oct 9

Oluko Umo - Praise Jah
Milton Hamilton - We have all the time
Keith Mansfield - Crash course
DJ Spinna - Dilla is the G.O.A.T
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings  - Better things
Temptations - Plastic man
Jackie Mittoo - Totally together
Black seeds - Make a move - Downtown Brown remix
Chaka Demus and Pliers - Murder she wrote
Mos dub - History town
Johnny Osbourne - Budy bye - Kenny Dope remix
War - Me and baby brother
Scritti politti - Absolute - Version
Tex Pistol - Game of love
Gladys Knight - It's better than good time - Walter Gibbons mix
Sylvia - Sweet stuff
Hypnotic brass ensemble - Alyo
DJ Vadim - Hidden treasure
Noel Ellis - Stop your fighting
Hollie Smith - Hiding - Dub Asylum remix
Manasseh - Dubbing the gorgon
Gregory Peck - Pocoman jam
Foxy Brown - Fast car
Rhombus feat Rodney P - The bubble - Dub terminator mix
Oogun - Fuss n fight
Shaggy feat Barrington Levy - Broadway
Guinness Steel City Symphony Band - Sir duke
Eru Dangerspiel - Chilli moules
Richie Phoe - Eyes on the prize dub

Friday, October 08, 2010

RIP Ian Morris (Th Dudes, Tex Pistol)

I heard this late last night via Twitter and hoped it wasn't true. Sadly, it is. NZ Herald story here. Much love to his family and friends at this sad time.

UPDATE: Statement from Peter Urlich (Via NZH)

"At this moment I'm waiting to wake from a terrible dream. I have just lost my oldest and dearest friend, Ian Morris.

The cruel fact is that only in these moments, do you truly realise how important a mate like that is. If I were a house, one side of me has just collapsed.

Ian was one of the foundations of me. He possessed a talent that I was in awe of; he had a staggering intelligence that had few equals; his mind was scalpel sharp but his heart was soft; and we shared a sense of humour that I thought we would trade until we were wizened old men. (I recognise these attributes also in David Joseph Dobbyn).

The two of them found each other in Form 1, Sacred Heart College, 1968 - a pair of slightly nervous freshmen, who only had music to fight off the bullies. And I found them at the same time.

Thank God! I cannot begin to accurately describe what those two men mean to me. And now one of them has gone. Ian, I loved the way you played guitar, I loved the way you played with my boys Joe and Stan: I loved your immaculate taste in music.

I cherished that we were so in tune that we didn't need words.

Thank you for all of your wisdom. I can't remember when you were actually wrong. Thank you for your the fact that you would have forgiven me anything. That goes for me too.

And thank you so much for choosing me to be your lead singer."

UPDATE 2: Morris had two number one chart hits as Tex Pistol - the tune above, and Nobody Else, on Trevor Reekie's label Pagan Records.  These release notes are from Simon Grigg's extensive discography of the Pagan catalogue, with notes by Trevor.

PAG 1013Tex Pistol - Ballad of Buckskin Bob / I Don’t Know What Came Over Me / Winter (June 86) Ian Morris. Chris Bourke sold me on Tex. I knew he was gonna do us good but it wasn’t gonna be this one but we managed to get Winter into a film.

PAG 1030Tex Pistol - The Game of Love / Boot Hill drag (87) The old Mindbenders hit. Our first number one single and radio lapped it up.

PAG 1038Tex Pistol - Nobody Else / Wilf (May 88) I convinced Ian Morris to make this recording he’d done with Rikki to be part of Tex Pistol. Then we found Paul Middleditch, a 20 year old genius video maker to make what is still a fantastic video. Went to number one. By this time I’d bought the label from the receivers.

PAG 1048 Tex Pistol and Rikki Morris - Come Back Louise / Notting Hill Shuffle (89) By this time the tall poppy thing was clobbering us big time.

Hollie Smith remix

Ms Hollie Smith has a remix competition on at the moment, and I've cooked up a Dub Asylum remix for it, all reggae-styles. Have a listen, and if you like it, please vote for it. Thanks

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Eat more bran

Screamin Jay Hawkins and Serge Gainsbourg, piano duel. Watch Jay howl and moan as Serge grins his head off, trying not to laugh.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Flying Nun flashback

Spotted via Dubber... Flying Nun have just released their first new vinyl release in over 15 years this week  -Form, the latest album from Die Die Die. Read about the process of getting vinyl out back in the day here, on Flying Nun's blog.

Monday, October 04, 2010

NZ Music Awards get Sweetman'd

Music reviewer and blogger Simon Sweetman wrote a piece today on the NZ Music Awards and his disgust for it. It's worth noting that he was also a judge this year (and yet he claims he isn't part of the music industry - go figure). There were several points he makes in the piece which are factually incorrect - I did try to post them as comments on his blog but they didn't get published, as is their choice.

Sweetman has a go at the Critics Choice Prize, saying "the winner was supposed to be a band that did not have an album out at the time of judging. Two of the three finalists released their albums within weeks of the judging..." Wrong. This award was for bands who did not have an album out during the eligibility period  -June 1 2009 to May 31 2010, not at the time of judging (see NZMA eligibilty criteria).

He also says "There were also meant to be two showcase gigs - one in Wellington and one in Christchurch. A chance to take a part of the awards show on the road, to take it out of Auckland; in the end these shows never happened." Why was that? Because there was an earthquake in Christchurch which made them no longer viable. Left that bit out, aye Simon?

Best part - he slags off Dane Rumble, Gin, Ladyhawke, then highlights his critical darlings, the Phoenix Foundation - but fails to mention they have the most nominations of any act at this years awards.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Real Groove is goneburgers

Friday saw the demise of Real Groove magazine, as its publishers, Tangible Media, said they were merging it into the weekly free magazine, Groove Guide. Longtime contributor Gary Steel wrote a piece on it at, called Real Gone.

Steel says that "it changed markedly with each successive editor. Both [former editors] John Dix and Nick Bollinger reflected Real Groovy’s roots-music bias, but it grew bigger, got a cover price, got glossier and larger in format, and eventually attempted to become a general culture bible in addition to a music magazine. It had elements of Mojo and Uncut, but reflected its smaller demographic by trying valiantly to be all things to all people."

I totally agree with him that the columns were "the real guts of Real Groove ...  it did have a bunch of specialists in different genres writing with passion and knowledge in a section of columns, and ... I think this section was really the best part of the magazine, and the one that will be most missed." I loved reading what columnists like Kerry Buchanan, Troy Ferguson, and Stinky Jim had to say every month. Fantastically opinionated writing from such hugely knowledgeable folk was a delight. 

Former editor Duncan Greive weighs in over at  He notes that the magazine departs on its 18th birthday,with the final issue, with Leonard Cohen on the cover, hitting newstands now. Oddly enough the magazine has had a redesign, and looks a lot like Rolling Stone and Uncut. It's a strange look to go out on, but I suspect the staff probably didn't know it was the mag's swansong when they were putting it together.

Duncan talks about the magazine's circulation, and its perception in the marketplace among punters. He talks about battling the effects of the internet, and ad sales declining.

"... The final issue, with Leonard Cohen on the cover, is a pretty impressive way to bow out. It looks fantastic, design-wise, and seems to have settled into a groove (argh) which might have actually worked, had it been allowed to continue. A local answer to Uncut et al might have worked (though as others have pointed out, those publications’ ad pages are thin and unglamourous), with an equal engagement with the past and the future, targeting the people who still spend money on music.

" That was always Tangible’s plan for the publication, one which I definitely didn’t engage with beyond bowing to the suggestion that U2 grace the cover (then immaturely struggling to restrain my glee when it tanked at the news-stand). Given six more months to truly define the role and get the market to buy in maybe the story ends very differently .... But the demise itself was never in question, in my opinion, no matter what well-intentioned sales people, editors, publishers and more tried to do. It was the date which remained in play until now. Whether magazines can continue to limp on until some new technology or system makes them viable is an open question."

UPDATE Wednesday 6 Oct: More Real Groove tributes from former writers Joe Nunweek and Dan Trevarthen. also carried a story about Real Groove's closure, based on some wildly  inaccurate information which I understand was a press release provided by Tangible Media. "When Tangible Media purchased the Groove titles after Real Groovy went into liquidation in 2008, the magazine couldn’t continue to be propped up by the music store."

Former General Manager at Real Groovy, Steve Richards, bought Real Groove off Real Groovy way before the liquidation and started up Groove Media as their publisher, and was successfully running nthe mags without being propped up by the stores., which were clearly doing badly then. I remember when  Real Groovy went into liquidation thinking that at least Real Groove would survive the fallout, as it was no longer part of the shops.

R.I.P. Richard Griffey (Solar Records)

Photo: LA Times (taken in 1973)
"Richard Griffey, the founder of the Los Angeles-based R&B record label Solar (Sound Of Los Angeles Records), died at the age of 71 of complications from quadruple-bypass heart surgery that he underwent last year (read more about Griffey’s life in The LA Times' obituary).

"From 1977 when Griffey founded the label, which stands for Sounds of Los Angeles Records, through its peak in the 1980s, the label quickly earned its moniker, “the Motown of the '80s,” for its stable of artists.

"Acts like the Whispers, Shalamar (featuring Jody Watley and Howard Hewett), Klymaxx, Midnight Star and the Deele (featuring Antonio "L.A." Reid and Babyface Edmonds) all have Griffey’s imprint on them. His hits are inescapable, with classics including “Fantastic Voyage,” “And the Beat Goes On,” “Rock Steady” and “Tender Lover.” The string of success led to Griffey being pegged "the most promising new black music executive," which The Times reported in 1980.

The R&B, funk and soul jams his acts crafted laid the foundation for the early-1990s G-funk West Coast flavor of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Warren G, among others. Edmonds said it was all part of Griffey’s genius." LA Time Pop and Hiss blog

Griffey got his start in the music business as a nightclub owner and promoter. He became the talent co-ordinator on the tv show Soul Train, working with host and producer Don Cornelius. His last ten years were spent mostly in Africa, where he went to promote music but stayed because he "was touched by the poverty and felt that he could make a difference," his daughter said.

Diplo profiled

Nice little mini-documentary on DJ/producer Diplo from film maker Wing-Yee Wu... (hat tip to Duncan Blair for the link)...

Fave quote: "as a producer I still don't have a lot of confidence but I think that grows... you can grow up as a producer a lot more than you can as a dj, that's a logical progression"

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Oct 2

Chaka Khan - Love of a lifetime - extended dance mix
Chairmen of the board - Life and death - Danny Krivit edit
Gwen Guthrie - Padlock - Larry Levan mix
Galaxy - Visions of tomorrow
Jackie Mittoo - Grand funk
The Topics - Louie louie
Major Lazer - Can't stop now
MIA - It takes a muscle
Western roots  - Bogus buddy
Sounds unlimited - Roadrunner
Nambo and Ian Hird - Universal horns
Lee Scratch Perry - Used to drive a tractor in Negrille
Muhsinah feat 00Genesis - Always
Mr Chop - Shut em down
Lee Fields and the expressions - Ladies
Roy Ayers - Love will bring us together
Jody Watley  -Saturday night experience
Kinny and Horne - Why me
Mario's tuna - Waste of money
Rosalia De Sousa - Maria Moita
Rebel MC - Wickedest sound - Don Gorgon mix
Ragga twins - Love talk
Rockers delight - Moments in dub
Thievery Corporation - 38 45 (a thievery number)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Buju Banton - mistrial declared

From the BBC, "A US judge has declared a mistrial for reggae star Buju Banton, accused last year of conspiring to buy cocaine from an undercover police officer.

"Jurors in the US state of Florida were unable to reach a verdict. The four-time Grammy nominee may be re-tried in December. A defence lawyer asked he be freed on a bond.... Banton has been jailed since 10 December [last year]."

His arrest and trial have been widely reported in Jamaica - his family talk on the trial here.

Two iPads and a DJ mixer

Rana Sobhany is one of the speakers at Web 2.0 conference on in New York this week - she talks about developing music apps for the iPad. She started developing this idea since April this year.
 Demo of the gear starts at 4.11 into the video.

She says shes hacked it together based on Ableton Live software, and uses an app called Looptastic. Warning - her demo uses cheesy techno (she describes it as eclectrobreakstep). It's an interesting concept, but it's not exactly Serato on iPad. The use of Ableton on iPad suggests it could be something a group like locals Pitch Black (who use Ableton in a live setting) could really have some fun with. (Wired magazine article on  Rana)

Another session at Web 2.0 that sounds like it would've been fun was Why Everything Sounds Better Auto-Tuned, Despite Auto-Tune's Alleged Death (link), presented by the Gregory Brothers, the folk behind autotune the news, and the Double Rainbow song.

"Jay Z declared the death of  autotune, and we're here to give it a proper funeral..."

And look - here it is.... awesome youtubeness...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Awards season

In this month's Metro magazine, Gary Steel has critiqued the NZ Music Awards, and picked at the bones - he's is a former judge of said awards. Hussein Moses at The Corner blog talks about his comments here, and has a pdf of the article too if you want to read it  (as Metro no longer has a website - that's the progessive thinking of old media for you).

Hussein says... "... as Steel tries to get across in his column, let’s not forget about the independent labels and artists which are the backbone of our industry. Border, Arch Hill, Muzai and countless others release superb music every year and will continue to as long as they can."

The need for some kind of recognition of the incredibly strong indie sector we have at present seems to be coming thru from a lot of quarters - maybe it's time to revive an indie awards show, similar to the B-Net awards? The indie labels have a very strong organisation in Independent Music New Zealand, who could pull it together. If it's anything like the B-Net Awards, it would be a bloody great night.

The B-Nets started out in 1998 at the Mandalay (remember the Male/Female Fox award?), and originally sprang into existence because the NZ Music Awards were so endlessly crap. They’ve kind of outlived their purpose, as many of the acts it used to highlight like Fat Freddys, SJD, Mint Chicks, Phoenix Foundation or Shapeshifter, now get recognised by the NZMA’s, which is a sign of the Music Awards evolving. The B-Nets stopped in 2007.

Steels' argument for overlooked acts highlights critically acclaimed artist SJD, and Steel claims that as long as the the music awards judging team is "loaded with radio jocks and industry honchos" with little passion for music or limited knowledge,  SJD "will continue to be roundly ignored".

SJD has won two Tui awards (in 2005), and been nominated for best male solo act. He's not in the running this year, I guess because he hasn't put out an album recently. Steel also points at the Naked and Famous as being proudly indie, but distributed by  a major label, Universal. The last three SJD albums were also distributed by Universal (as were Naked And Famous's earlier EP releases).

One of the things I like about the NZ Music Awards, it gets people talking about our music.  We're a passionate lot and that's a good thing. Now, lets bring back the B-Nets!

Rock Hall of Fame nominees

Pretty amusing list of names... First-time nominees include Bon Jovi, Donovan, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Alice Cooper and Neil Diamond. Darlene Love, LL Cool J, Donna Summer and the Beastie Boys have been nominated before. Other previous nominees include the J Geils Band; Chuck Willis; Chic and Joe Tex.

Artists must have had their first release 25 years ago. Tom Waits has been eligible since 1998 as has Neil Diamond; Dr John, since 1993. Chic have been nominated 5 times prior to this year. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roar power

The Big Day Out lineup was announced this morning at 8am. Local media seem to have been under an NDA (non disclosure agreement) until that time, even though the BDO official website posted the lineup at 2am NZT (breaking their own NDA). The original media launch was scheduled for 7pm last night. Apparently this is the last time the BDO organisers will do the launch this way - I hope they do it next year with a dance party in the Supertop at 2am. That would be fun for the media, aye? Anyways, my two predictions were right on - Tool and Grinderman. So much for the rumoured Soundgarden/Stone Temple Pilots grunge revival. Or maybe that's in the 2nd announcement.

The lineup includes MIA, LCD Sound System (one of the best live acts I've ever seen, based on their 2008 BDO appearance), Grinderman, Deftones, The Black Keys, Lupe Fiasco, Bookashade DJs, Die Antwoord, Crysal Castles, and more. It's also slightly nostalgic, with the likes of Tool, Rammstein, Primal Scream (playing Screamadelica) and of course Iggy and the Stooges, with James Williamson on guitar, in for the late, great Ron Asheton. They are currently playing the Raw Power album, and it sounds like this. Fucken rock n roll excitement, kids.

BDO Auckland, January 21, 2011. Tickets on sale October 8.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Keep it acapella

Live, acapella version of Momma hold my hand, by Aloe Blacc. Incredible.

Album version of Momma hold my hand is below (nice fan video), off Good Things. Out now on Stonesthrow, produced by Truth and Soul crew (El Michels Affair etc). The album is super soulful. Don't sleep on it.

Look, it's the vinyl revival! (Story #281)

Photo: Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

It's that time again - another fabulous story about the rise of vinyl sales. Computerworld US does a bunch of number crunching, over here - "Forget digital tunes; analog music on the upswing".

"As surprising as it may sound, LP sales are up again this year, and 2009 had the highest number of LP sales ever since we started tracking them," said David Bakula, senior vice president of analytics at Nielsen Entertainment." Unfortunately the article fails to mention exactly when they did start tracking vinyl sales.

And as a bonus, here's the New York Times on record collectors at the recent Brooklyn Flea record fair, like "Bill Yawien, a 55-year-old from Sheepshead Bay whose recent move from a house to a condo forced him into the kind of difficult life decision Manhattan Mini Storage was created to facilitate. “It was time to whittle it down a little,” Mr. Yawien remarked to some browsers perusing his trove of ancient discs. “I kept about 4,000 records."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Salsa Explosion

Salsa Explosion: The New York Salsa Revolution is a compilation of some of the finest tunes from legendary label Fania Records. If you want a taster, try this free download...

Louie Ramirez- "Ahora Es El Tiempo" (mediafire) (soundcloud)

"Salsa Explosion, provides an essential introduction to the classic Fania sound through some of the label’s major artists including Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria, Willie Colon, Hector Lavoe, Ray Barretto and the Daddy of the Fania family, Johnny Pacheco.

From: Salsa Explosion: The New York Salsa Revolution 1969 - 1979 (out Sept 28th, Strut)

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Sept 25

Chuck Womack and the sweet souls -Ham hocks and beans - Quantic remix
Tubbs - Five day night - Fat Freddys rework
Timmy Thomas - Why can't we live together -Shoes edit
Wajeed - Jeedo suave
Romanowski - Romjack steady
Dub Spencer and Trance Hill - Enter the sandman
Lovejoys - It aint easy
Manasseh - I-wah
Roots radics -Babylon wrong
Phyllis Dillon - Woman of the ghetto
Derrick Morgan - I'm the ruler
Big youth - Jim screechy - Smith and Mighty remix
Philadelphia allstars - Let's clean up the ghetto - Danny Krivit edit
Sleepwalker - Brotherhood - Mitsu the Beats remix
Aloe Blacc - Loving you is killing me
Budos Band - Golden dunes
Outlines - Waiting in line inst
Charles Wright and Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band - Girl from Ipanema, Express yourself, Must be your thing
(off the 5 album boxset from Rhno, only $19.99. Grab it! Every home should have one.)
Tokyo ska paradise orchestra - The Big Man still standing - Winston Hazel and Marc Woolford remix
Mad lion - Girlzzz
Dillinger - Cokane in my brain 12" mix
Lee Scratch Perry - Fire power
Keith Hudson - Troubles

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

America’s 10 greatest indie record stores

Via Flavorpill. Read it here...

" A few weeks ago, we published our list of the country’s top 10 bookstores, a response to those who browse but don’t buy and those who would abandon paperbacks and hardcovers for the realm of eBooks. It generated so much discussion it inspired us to put together another roundup of shops for culture vultures: America’s best independent music stores.

" Although, in general, they seem to be doing much better than their chain competitors in this era of declining CD sales and renewed interest in vinyl records, legendary outlets still go out of business all the time — like, most recently, beloved NY and LA hip-hop destination Fat Beats.

" This list isn’t just our opinion: It’s the result of recommendations from Flavorpill staff and readers (who weighed in via Facebook). Add to our celebration of indie music stores around the country by leaving your picks in the comments."

Push your barrow

Portishead's Geoff Barrow has a new album out December 7, via Invada/Stonesthrow. It's a collaboration between Barrow's 3 piece band Beak and a singer named Anika.  It's labelled as "political, trashy, dub, punk, funk..."

"Political Journalist isn't a credential we usually have in musician's bios, but this is exactly what Anika was doing while living between Berlin and Bristol earlier this year when she met Geoff Barrow. The producer was looking for a new singer to work with his band Beak>, and it was immediately clear they shared the same musical vision, including a love of punk, dub and 60s girl groups."

Read more about it on the Stonesthrow site, and go there to download an MP3 of the tune below.

Anika - Yang Yang by stonesthrow

The Warehouse drive a hard bargain

I bought some DVDs at The Warehouse at the weekend, and the cashier made me open the cases and check the DVDs for scratches, as she told me they no longer give refunds for them. I thought this was a bit odd, but it got even odder when she gave me the till docket. On it was printed the message that The Warehouse no longer give refunds or exchanges on DVDs/CDs because of the Copyright Act. No mention of exchanges if the disc was faulty.

It seems from the docket that they are trying to opt out of their obligations to consumers under the Consumer Guarantee Act. I asked on Twitter if anyone knew if this was legal, and got several opinions which suggest this approach by The Warehouse is clearly wrong. Lawyer Rick Shera (@lawgeeknz) told me that "Consumer Guarantees Act will override Copyright Act but TW may be responding to licensing terms by Big Music". The folks at Ampilfier sent me this, which "outlines what's not covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act"

I phoned up The Warehouse to ask them about how this worked, and were they using the Copyright act over the CGA. The person I spoke with directed me to their Returns policy online, which says...

 "Restrictions and exceptions resulting from New Zealand Copyright laws and health and safety issues mean a refund or exchange is only available for the following products if that product is defective:

Music CDs / DVDs / PC Software / Gaming Console Software / Underwear / Earrings

If a product is deemed unsatisfactory, we can offer to exchange it for another one (ie: a different colour or size) or another product for the same value."

Does anyone know exactly HOW NZ copyright laws affect this?

UPDATE 1 (Wednesday 22nd, 10.20am): I emailed The Warehouse last night, asking several questions about the above, after checking the till docket.

I asked...

"1 Why are your staff being instructed to inform customers they will not get a refund, and being made to check the discs? Clearly, if the faulty is on the disc manufacture, that wont be visible til you watch it.

2. What part/s of NZ copyright laws are you referring to in your returns policy and on your till dockets? I see on the back of the docket is a generic message regarding refunds, which alludes to Copyright infringement product as being excluded from refunds. What does this mean?

3. Will you please look at changing your till dockets to read "As a result of copyright laws, product such as CDs, DVD/VCR, gaming software , PC software are NOT refundable or exchangable unless defective?" (last two words added)."

The Warehouse replied to my email at 10am this morning - with a blank email. I'm hoping their next response is more detailed.

UPDATE II (Wednesday 22nd, 9.50 pm):
I got an email back from The Warehouse this afternoon - excerpted below.

They say that "The cashier has asked you to check the disk prior to purchase to make sure you are happy that disk is not damaged/scratched or the incorrect disk and it is not so The Warehouse will not return due to a manufacturing fault on the disks .

"The Warehouse will not refund or replace DVD’s or CD’s IF customers change their minds as this is a breach of the copyright act as customers had in the past, purchased disks, burnt copies and then returned for a refund and due to Copyright laws, we are legally not able to refund or replace disks that are not faulty where a customer has just bought back when the disk is in fact not faulty and any return of DVD’s or Cd’s is at the store managers discretion.

"On the docket, we are not trying to opt out of the Consumers Guarantee act and as stated on the docket :

Restrictions and Exceptions:
Any product covered by warranty
Hygiene product
Copyright infringement product
Unless faulty or defective."

They also pointed to their returns policy on their website, adding that "these products are still guaranteed under the Consumer Guarantees Act."

"The returns policy clearly does state that we will not refund a DVD or a CD UNLESS it is defective or faulty and this is in accordance with the Consumers Guarantee Act.

"Please note that you can contact any of our store managers in regards to a faulty product for a repair (if under warranty) replacement or refund.

"Our team members are not instructed to inform customers will not get a refund if a DVD or CD is defective. This was one team member who obviously communicated to you in a way that was not in accordance to The Warehouse policy on returns and if you care to advise which store you purchased your disks from and the team members name, we can address this with the manager of that store.

"You are not made to check the disks but it is a courtesy we do expect our team members to do in order for the customer to see if there is any damage externally to the disks and to make sure it is the disk the customer is wishing to purchase and the wrong disk is not in the case.

"In regards to the New Zealand Copyright laws, please find attached a copy of the Copyright laws in New Zealand [it was a 5 page introduction to copyright from the Copyright Council of NZ, dated Jan 2009] and as per that introduction to Copyright laws the following is an excerpt from there:-

"Owners of copyright in films, sound recordings, and communication works have the exclusive right to:
• copy their material;
• issue copies to the public for the first time, by sale or otherwise;
• in the case of sound recordings and films, rent copies to the public;
• play or show their material in public; and
• communicate their material to the public.

"This means the owner of the Copyright has exclusive right to copy their material and as such customers who purchase disks with the sole reason to copy that work are in breach of the Copyright laws.

"I have passed on your feedback in regards to the docket wording to the relevant department."