Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Record Store Day this Saturday

Record Store Day is happening again this Saturday. Here's a few shops locally putting on some fun n games...

Conch Records, Auckland
Conch will be celebrating the day with an in-store performance from Karlmarx (Isaac Aesili, ex Solaa, Opensouls). Karlmarx is the artist name for production duo Isaac Aesili (aka Karl) and Mark McNeill. Isaac is based in Auckland and his brother Mark is based in  Christchurch. Karlmarx have enjoyed radio support by Benji B (BBC 1Xtra) and Lefto (Brownswood). The song “Mists“ is featured on the Brownswood comp “Lefto & Simbad present Worldwide Family Vol.1“.
More info... http://www.conch.co.nz/word/?p=6521

Real Groovy Auckland
Real Groovy will be buzzing with DJs playing live their favourite tracks on vinyl including Dai Henwood, Tom Scott (Homebrew), DJ Sir Vere, Tina Turntables, Murray Cammick (Founder of Wildside Records), John Baker (Promoter) Stephen Heard (NZ Musician Magazine, Clap Clap Riot) Death Valley, Nick Bollinger (NZ music author), as well as Heart Attack Alley playing live; Plus giveaways, face painting and exclusive vinyl releases.

Beat Merchants  555 Great North rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland.
DJs (Dubhead, Merge, Tokyo Prose, Dave Seeka and more), live graffiti art and more. 11am til 6pm.

Slow Boat Records Wellington

Instore performances from APRA Silver Scroll and Taite Prize winning singer-songwriter Lawrence Arabia, plus a nifty duo performance from Nina and Matt from local indie faves The Family Cactus more tbc. And an array of exclusive Record Store Day vinyl. http://slowboatrecords.co.nz/

Sadly, Real Groovy Wellington is closing down over the next few months - but fear not, Record Store Day is all go! Their celebration will be of the history and legacy Real Groovy Wellington. They'll be hosting guest musicians (and customers) from 12 noon to play their favourite LPs; there will also be a sausage sizzle and prize packs to give away. Then It's over to the Southern Cross for a Record Store Day celebration night! A massive Music Quiz with a prize to fight for. Live bands and DJs. Special deals on the superb Southern Cross food. And a fun time for all!

8-bit rudeboy

Utterly mad reggae/ska made with gaming consoles. Amusing or painful? You decide.

"This album is a collection of reggae, ska, dub, and everything in between, played on a variety of game consoles. It was organized by Euan Lynn (TraceKaiser) on 8-Bit Collective (www.8bitcollective.com), and features a variety of artists from around the world."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why vinyl records are better

"Why vinyl records are better" from  Rotorua Daily Post, reporting on the record fair there last weekend.

"Craig Roberts bought three records at the Rotorua Record Fair at Ngongotaha Hall yesterday. He said he had recently got back into listening to vinyl, buying a new record player after finding some old LPs he had in the attic.

"I just fancied listening to them again."

He said he liked listening to records because they brought back memories from years ago and he considered the sound quality to be better than CDs, as long as the records weren't scratched."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stac it up

Wahwah 45s have been running a remix competition for one of their artists, Stac. You can download the runners up for free. Go have a listen, below.

High Noon Tea, KiwiFM 10 April 3-5pm

Black seeds - One step at a time - JStar remix
Jahlicious - Minds eye
Unitone hifi  -Hair farmer
Paddy Free - Wairua
Eru Dangerspiel - Coq au vin
Stinky Jim - Triple agent
Electric wire hustle - Perception
Karl Marx project - Mists
Conray - Nice to come home
International observer - War memorial museum peace
Pitch black - Urbanoia
Katchafire - Dub did it - Mr Reliable remix
Fat freddys drop - Big BW - DJ Vadim remix
DLT - Black panthers
Scratch22 - Medicine man
Nathan Haines - Squire for hire
Trinity roots - Just like you - Jet Jaguar remix
Fruity - Sliced and diced
Jefferson Belt - Green termite
Projector - Principle dub
Snypa levi - Inna the dance
Wild Bill Ricketts - Riki

Show repeats on Friday 2-4pm.

Angry monster car

Best bit - triggered by turntables.... It's in Aotea Square now, til Tuesday. Runs 10am til 10pm. Looks way cool after dark too.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 9

African head charge - Mysterious happenings
Dennis Bovell - Rowing (version)
Morgan Heritage feat Shabba Ranks - Dem a brawl
Slim Smith - Conversation
Herbs - French letter - dub version
African head charge - African bredda
King Tubby vs Wu Tang - Dubbing it raw
Junk - 99c strut
The Meters - Tippi toes
Sister sledege - Lost in music
J-Rocc - Too many clowns
East side symphony - Hot pants road
Mo kolours - Biddies
Redds and the boys - Put you right hand in the air....
New order - Confusion
Dennis Coffey feat Mayer Hawthorne - All your goodies are gone
The Supremes - Your wonderful sweet sweet love
Village crusaders - Akiwawa
Shirley Bassey - Light my fire - Kenny Dope remix
Black velvet - An earthquake's coming
Ray Barretto - Pastime paradise
Willie Colon - Che che cole
Barrington Levy - Dances are changing
African head charge - Dobbyn joins the head charge
Ackie - Call me Rambo
Kabanjack - Dub to go - Ancient astronauts remix
J Rocc - Party
Riki Gooch - Bakade Vavoor

Friday, April 08, 2011

Come as you were

Business writer and former Flying Nun muso Nick Smith has written a piece for today's NZ Herald business section, and opinion piece on the death of recorded music.

The article is called "After the soundtrack, the silence." Subheading is "First vinyl and cassettes - now it's music itself that's facing extinction...."

some extracts... "... Long story short: Private equity and transnational banks bid up the price of music conglomerates, loading them with debt at a time when they had lost control of their revenue channels because of illegal downloads. Now they need to create new ways of making money from music or face oblivion. Their predicament has prompted headlines such as the Independent's "Labels face the day recorded music died" [republished by NZ Herald here].

".... An important occasion like a funeral does require a soundtrack. But for me, Nirvana's Nevermind, released in 1991 and the last piece of new vinyl I ever bought, is better listening than any fat lady.

"The song Come As You Are powered through a 1970s amp connecting two monstrous pairs of 1960s English speakers is punching holes in the walls as I type...."

"The reason I stopped buying vinyl is because record companies sold so few LPs they stopped making them...."

When I posted a link to Nick's story on Twitter earlier, it got a pretty negative reaction. The general tone was it was hopeless out of touch.

The music business is still making money, especially  off publishing, where you are dealing with legacy artists for example. As for suggesting "The reason I stopped buying vinyl is because record companies sold so few LPs they stopped making them"... Nick needs to do some research.

The other big story mainstream media like to write about the music industry, apart from "the music industry is dying" is the other chestnut, "Look, vinyl is making a comeback". Some journo writes this story somewhere in the world on average at least once or twice a week.

There is a wealth of artists releasing new music on vinyl. And a ton of legacy artists getting good quality reissues on vinyl. Maybe some nice person could take Nick record shopping.

ADDED one response on Twitter... "royalty income from music in 2010 was at record levels as was amount of music released..." from Simon Grigg.

ADDED Nick's article also includes this quote often attributed to Hunter S Thompson: "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

Dave Roper pointed out to me that it is incorrect (thanks, Dave). Thompson has had numerous variants of that quote attributed to him, with various industries inserted ie radio business, show business etc.

The quote comes from Thompson's book called Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s. It reads...

"The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

Which is more or less true. For the most part, they are dirty little animals with huge brains and no pulse. Every once in a while, they will toss up a token human like Ed Bradley or Edwin Newman or Hughes Rudd... and there are others, no doubt, like Studs Terkel in Chicago and the twisted Rev. Gene Scott, who works like a sleepless ferret in the maniac bowels of Southern California....

But these are only the exceptions that prove the hideous rule. Mainly we are dealing with a profoundly degenerate world, a living web of foulness, greed and treachery... which is also the biggest real business around and impossible to ignore. You can't get away from TV. It is everywhere. The hog is in the tunnel."
Source: Urbanlegends.com

On U

I saw this album on CD in a shop recently, but it had no date on the cover, so wasn't able to tell if it was new or a reissue. Happy to report that I've discovered it's a brand new album from amazing dub outfit African Head Charge, once again teaming up with legendary producer  Adrian Sherwood, the man behind On-U -Sound'. Audio previews below.

It is a UK label with an incredible back catalog of great reggae and dub, going back to the 1980s and 1990s. Think Bim Sherman, Dub Syndicate, Tackhead, New Age Steppers, Gary Clail, Little Annie... so many.... This year is the label's 30th anniversary too.

African Head Charge are responsible for one of my favourite albums ever, In Pursuit of Shashamane Land, from 1993. The new album is called Voodoo of the Godsent... here's the info from On U's website....

"The first release to mark On-U Sound’s 30th anniversary sees African Head Charge return with a brand new album, Voodoo Of The Godsent, out on March 28th.

Formed in the early 80’s by On-U head honcho Adrian Sherwood and percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah, African Head Charge have established a unique reputation over the years for producing exceptionally beautiful and deeply strange music.

This is their first release since 2005’s Visions of a Psychedelic Africa and sees Bonjo once again joining forces with long time On-U stable-mates Skip McDonald, Crocodile and the Crispy Horns together with contributions from legendary bassist George Oban, Dancehall pioneer Jazzwad and electronic wizard Adamski. All the elements of a classic Head Charge album; a triumphant mix of dub, psychedelia, trance, afro and tribal rhythms that have given them their own unique place in contemporary music.

Voodoo of the Godsent will be followed in April by the re-release of 3 seminal On-U Sound albums: Creation Rebel’s “Starship Africa”, African Head Charge’s “Off the Beaten Track” and The New Age Steppers’ eponymous first album that was the first ever LP release on the On-U Sound label..."

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Mo Kolours

Free tune from a new EP from Mo Kolours. Tasty, bleepy stuff.

"EP1: Drum Talking will be out in May featuring five tracks of Mo's unique combination of Mauritian sega music, dub, soul, jazz and various electronic styles, plus a heavyweight edit. Biddies is a bumping house-not-house gem propelled by Mo's handclaps, vocal manipulations and chants that draws an invisible line between the work of Theo Parrish and Gonjasufi while staying firmly in its own lane..."

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Riki Gooch on a roll

Last month Riki Gooch dropped a brand new EP, via Bandcamp, called Cave Circles, and this week he's released Cave Circles 2. Dude is a machine! Go grab it.

Scratch 22

Local producer and DJ Scratch 22 has his debut album Distance From View coming out in a few weeks. Here's a way cool preview mix of the album. First single out April 11.

Steel up!

A few weeks back, I did a series of posts of some cool steel drum tunes, like the Nite Blues Steel Band, John Gibbs and Steel funk, and Steel an Skin. Most of these are off obscure albums that are pretty damn hard to find.

So I am delighted to point you in the direction of a brand new compilation that has just come out, on CD and vinyl and is readily accessible to one and all. It's called West Indies Funk, and is the follow up to an earlier compilation called Disc-o-lypso.

West Indies Funk has a great track listing, including one of my fave steel drum covers of all time, I want you Back (original by Jackson 5) done by the Esso Trinidad Steel Band (listen above). Plus steel drum covers of Hot Pants Road, Funky Stuff (original by Kool and the gang) and Syd Jones and the Troubadours doing Cardova by The Meters.

Available at all good records stores, like Conch Records in Ponsonby. Listen to audio samples off the album here at Light in the Attic.

1. Syd Jones and The Troubadours - Cardova
2. The Troubadours - No Names Bar
3. Dutch Rhythm, Steel and Showband - Funky Stuff
4. St. Vincent's Supersound Latinaires Orchestra - Hot Pants I'm Comin
5. The East Side Symphony - Hot Pants Road
6. The Esso Trinidad Steel Band - I Want You Back
7. Willie Dickson and The Playboys - Licking Stick
8. Wendell Stuart and the Downbeaters - My World Is Empty
9. St. Vincent's Supersound Latinaires Orchestra - Roasted Or Frie
10. Dutch Rhythm, Steel and Showband - Down By The River
11. The Guinness Cassanovas - Stormy

I also just discovered that Hugh Borde, the leader of the Esso Trinidad Steel Band (also known as Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band) moved to the US in 1976 and settled in Ypsilanti, Michigan. According to the Recordo Obscura blog, "He still carries on doing shows with the band. Apparently they will be playing The Great Lakes Folk Festival this year (2009) and surely other shows as well."

Monday, April 04, 2011

LCD last show - go watch!

LCD Sound System played their last ever show last night, at Madison Square Gardens, to 20,000 fans. Pitchfork streamed the video of it live, and I'm surprised the NZ internets didnt come crashing down, cos everyone I knew was watching it.

Pitchfork have posted the ENTIRE video on Youtube, with handy time listings for each song. Bless em! Check the rousing version of North American Scum, followed by a hilarious intro to the next song from James Murphy, their splendid cover of Alan Vega's Bye Bye Bayou, which he says is the first and last time they will ever play that song live. "Welcome to our rehearsal".

Here's a great review of the show, hat tip to Owen H for the link

ADDED Troubled Souls Unite has posted all the audio as downloads.

Set 1:
2:10 Dance Yrself Clean (with "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc intro)
12:40 Drunk Girls
17:09 I Can Change
23:45 Time To Get Away
28:16 Get Innocuous!
35:18 Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
41:45 Too Much Love
46:53 All My Friends
55:30 Tired (with "Heart of the Sunrise" by Yes snippet)

Set 2:
45:33 Part One
45:33 Part Two (w/ Reggie Watts)
Sound of Silver
45:33 Part Four
45:33 Part Five (w/ Shit Robot)
45:33 Part Six
Freak Out/Starry Eyes

Set 3:
1:54:39 Us v Them
2:04:00 North American Scum (with Arcade Fire)
2:11:45 Bye Bye Bayou (Alan Vega cover)
2:16:30 You Wanted A Hit
2:24:07 Tribulations
2:29:15 Movement
2:33:48 Yeah (Crass Version)

Set 4:
2:45:30 Someone Great
2:53:06 Losing My Edge (With "Da Funk" by Daft Punk snippet)
3:03:36 Home

Set 5:
3:15:53 All I Want
3:22:18 Jump Into the Fire (Harry Nilsson Cover)
3:30:30 New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down (with "Twin Peaks Theme" by Angelo Badalamenti intro)

beatz n peaces

Found these local beat makers after checking this compilation... from Finest Ego Beatmaker Platform. Check em out.

Ben Jamin''(Soundlcoud)

Ben Jamin" x Y∆HN LøÔK∑ PIc∆RD - Seoul 85 by Ben Jamin''

LA Riot ►♫◄‼▲▼ by Ben Jamin''

Matt Miller (Soundcloud) - check his Rose Royce rework....

The Calm by mattmiller.

Love Dont Live Here by mattmiller.

One of the beatmakers listed on that site up top is local lad and BaseFM DJ Christoph El Turento. Check his new EP out, then give him some money.

Riki Gooch and The Grand Szechuan

Found this on Bandcamp, Riki Gooch (Eru Dangerspiel/Trinity Roots) playing an Eru Dangerspeil tune, Backfoot.

Info on the tune from Bandcamp.... "performed at The Toff in Town, Melbourne. 29th September 2010. Engineered and recorded by Brett Doig (Stereo mix from the desk.... what a legend!!) Playas.... Riki Gooch - Drums /  Adam Page - Tenor Sax / Jon Hunt - Alto Sax / James Brown - Guitar / CJ Rhodes - Bass frequencies." More live goodness from the same sessions over here.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

High Noon Tea playlist, KiwiFM

Broadcast Sunday 3-5pm, and replays Friday 2-4pm, on KiwiFM

Salmonella Dub - Problems - Sonsine remix
Jefferson Belt - Skylurking
Ota - Nuinui
Scratch 22 - For walking faces
Riki Gooch - Bakade varor
Benny tones - Odyssey
Dub terminator - Man like me
Fat Freddys Drop - The raft - Steppers dub
Hikoikoi - Vibraphone
Pitch black - Dub obscura - International observer remix
Zuvuya - Bamboo five
Tubbs - T's groove
Lewis McCallum - Take a step back
Audiosauce - Bee bo
OG - Moving on
Isaac Aesili - Use your mind
Lord echo (aka Mike Fabulous) - Thats right
Felix deluxe - Minstrel river
Shogun orchestra - Jacmel -
Video kid (aka Brett McKenzie) - DJz girlfriend
Lord jackson - Chillem inst
Recloose - Absence of one
Clanky B Tuffins - Visual pollution
Kevvy Kev - Midnight dub

Mayer vs Dennis

Motown guitar legend Dennis Coffey has a new album out April 26, one of the guests on it is Mayer Hawthorne, on the tune All your goodies are gone. Here's Mayer Hawthorne and his band The County (who visited NZ back in Feb and played a killer show at the Splore City festival) playing in Detroit, with Dennis joining them onstage for that song. Shredding.

"The two will unite in Detroit once again on April 16th, which Coffey will be honored with a Distinguished Achievement Award at the Detroit Music Awards."

Coffey also has a seven inch single dropping for Record Store Day, April 16, with a Steinski remix on the flip. More info here.

New Lee Scratch Perry tunes

Pitchfork reports that Lee Scratch Perry has a new album out May 10, produced by Bill Laswell. Sounds interesting. Pitchfork have an mp3 of it here, features TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe...

"On May 10, zonked-out dub eccentric Lee "Scratch" Perry will release his latest album, Rise Again, via legendary NYC-based producer Bill Laswell's (Motörhead, Herbie Hancock) MOD Technologies label. Scratch worked with Laswell on the LP; other contributors on the record include P-Funk's Bernie Worrell, Sly and Robbie's Sly Dunbar, Jahdan Blakkamoore, and TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, who pitches in on "Higher Level".

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 2

Stevie Wonder - Masterblaster/Jammin - Radikal roots edit
Sound dimension - Drum song
Big Youth - Jim Screechy - Smith and Mighty remix
Scientist vs King Midas Sound - U dub pt 2
Invisible Spike - Spike's groove
Pepperpots - Real tru love
Charles Bradley - Golden rule
Wabine - Sail on
Atlantic Starr - Freak-a-ristic
Super cat - Dolly my baby - Bad Boy extended mix
The Meters - Look-a-py-py
Patti LaBelle - Most likely you go your way...
Sulata - Never
Mr Scruff - Get a move on
Lefties soul connection - Chop it
Fred Wesley and the JBs - You can Watergate but gimme some bucks and I'll be straight
Mr Chop - Shut em down
Souleance - La romance
Ohio players - Walt's first trip
Aloe Blacc - You make me smile
Sun Ra - Where pathways meet
Born Jamericans - Boom shak atak
Sizzla - Police oppression
Chalice riddim - version
Nando Fresh - High grade (Chalice riddim)
Joint force - AK2000

Friday, April 01, 2011

Real Groovy Welli closing

Following news that Real Groovy Christchurch wouldn't be reopening after the latest earthquake come the sad news that Real Groovy Wellington will be closing down May 31 (see stuff.co.nz).

Owner Mark Thomas says its due to a decline in business caused by the economic recession, rising fuel prices, big chain retailers able to sell at cut prices, file sharing, and competition from online retailers and auctions sites.

"This has been an incredibly stressful and sad time for my family and myself, but it needs to be done," he said. 12 Staff will lose their jobs. although he hopes to open a smaller store and employ some of them there.

The Real Groovy stores in Christchurch and Welllingon were independently owned, following the collapse of the Real Groovy chain in 2008 when the stores were placed in recievership.

I am the operator

Kraftwerk live. From 1997. Via Dangerous Minds....

1. [00:00 05:56] “Numbers”
2. [05:56 03:39] “Computer World”
3. [09:35 07:53] “Radio Activity”
4. [17:28 09:41] “Trans-Europe Express”
5. [27:09 11:21] “Pocket Calculator”
6. [38:30 05:30] “The Robots”
7. [43:00 04:32] “The Robots II”

Kraftwerk - Live PA, Tribal Gathering, Luton, UK: Essential Mix - BBC Radio 1 1997-05-24 by +dB

No time for dreaming

Single off the brand new album No Time For Dreaming from Charles Bradley and the Menahan St Band, out now on Dunham/Daptone.

The whole album is searingly good soul. Go hunt it out.

Dunham Records was started by in 2005 by Thomas Brenneck, who plays in The Dapkings, behind Ms Sharon Jones. He also plays in the Menahan St Band, who put out the first single on Dunham, a tune called Make the road by walking.

It was sampled by Jay -Z ("Roc Boys") which enabled Brenneck to set up his own recording studio.

Herbs w Freddys

Heard a rumour this morning via Facebook, Fat Freddys Drop to collaborate with Herbs on some new recordings? Could be kinda cool. Anyone know any more about this?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Soviet funk

Because everyone needs some Russian rare groove, right? Hat tip to Bluevibestudio for the links.

Check out Soviet Groove blog and some Ukranian groove, below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Real gone

Amplifier reports that Real Groovy Christchurch won't be reopening after the latest quake, sad news. They had moved to their current premises after the September quake.

"It is with great sadness that we announce that Real Groovy Christchurch will not be re-opening. The building - which we only moved to in October, following the September earthquake - is to be demolished and it is very unlikely that it will reopen. It is also unlikely that any of the stock or fittings will be able to be retrieved before the demolition - and, given the difficulty of finding vacant premises, we regret that we have no option but to close.

"It has been a rollercoaster ride since September 4th and, as we all put everything into the new store, we are devastated that it was all in vain. We give our heartfelt thanks to all those customers and supporters of the store, without whom we could not have recovered from the first setback. For those of you with outstanding vouchers and credit notes, we are working on ways of helping you and will make an announcement in due course."

ADDED I asked Ed Muzik in Chch on the status of the city's other record shops... "Penny Lane is open, at least the Sydenham store is. They have a branch in town which is within the cordon zone. Galaxy in cordon zone, as it Radar."

UPDATED: Real Groovy Christchurch owner Paul Huggins relocated the store to Wellington, opening a new shop in September 2011 as Rough Peel Music. Located at 140 Vivian St - read more about it on the Wellingtonista.


Found a few Deepgrooves videos, courtesy of Rob Mayes who has digitised, restored and posted them on Youtube. Rob has also been hard at work restoring and uploading videos from his label, Failsafe, including videos from YFC, Throw, Birdnest Roys, Cicada, Pop Mechanix, Malchicks and more. Failsafe channel here...

Here's Grace, and Sulata...

Beat rhythm

Beat Rhythm Fashion put out one of my favourite nz singles ever - Turn of the century. They only released three singles during their brief existence in the early 80s, but they are absolute gems.

Rob Mayes at Failsafe Records pulled together a great reissue of their output a few years back, plus managed to add some previously unreleased live recordings in the mix. He's also digitised some of their old videos too. Nice work!

Get Beat Rhythm Fashion - Bring real freedom CD from Failsafe, SmokeCDs, or Amplifier (CD/digital)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vinyl is making a comeback #252

"She has a job, college plans, but also a peculiar passion for a16-year-old: She's a vinyl junkie. That's right, analog. And none of that hipster new stuff ..." Teenager Sarah McCarthy got given a stereo by her grandfather, after discovering a stash of old vinyl in his basement.

"This girl's in love with vinyl, and she's not the only member of Generation Digital with an ear for analog.

"My dad always had these old records in the garage and I never got to use them until just recently, when my uncle let me have his old record player," said 14-year-old Nick Spates, a Los Angeles eighth grader who plays guitar and piano.

What'd he find in his dad's two milk crates? A lot of George Clinton - "He's a genius. I swear," declared Nick..."

From "Vinyl makes a comeback, again." From theday.com. Originally from Associated Press, it got picked up locally by Bay of Plenty Times with photo of Sarah, the teen vinyl fan. "Vinyl revival led by teens with old souls".

I've been tracking the vinyl revival story for a few years now (thanks to Google News alerts), it seems to come up somewhere in the world every two or three months. Until recently. This year, I see this story popping up two or three times a week. Something is up. And it aint just vinyl sales going up...


Hat tip to Stinky Jim for this, discovered Sonora via his excellent blog Stink Inc. Tunes galore! Straight outta San Antonio, Texas.Go get em...

Curro Fuentes - Santa Marta (sonora mix) by SONORA

Frente Cumbiero - Pitchito (sonora remix) by SONORA

Sonora - Ojos Verdes by SONORA

Kinky electric noise

Some mad cumbia bizznizz from Miami's K.E.N. Also go check out their remix of NZ's own Unitone Hifi, and the K.E.N. Soundcloud page. Both free downloads.

Kinky Electric Noise - Pimpin' Riddim ft. Vybz Kartel by Kinky Electric Noise

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Herbs vs Raggamuffin

In early December last year, several key local staff left the organisation behind the Raggamuffin Festival, held in Rotorua, in conjunction with Australian promoters. The event still went ahead and attracted a crowd estimated at 30,000.

Late last week, someone anonymously posted this message on my previous post...

23 March 2011:
Court liquidation: Andrew McManus Presents (NZ) wound up on Herbs’ petition
Defendant: Andrew McManus Presents (NZ) Co Ltd
Directors: Andrew McManus, Gold Coast
Applicant: John Karaka, Joseph Lundon, Morehu Watene, Gordon Joll, Toni Fonoti & Thomas Nepia (trading as a partnership performing as the band, Herbs)
Liquidators: Official Assignee
Other details: Mr McManus was a director of Impact Talent Ltd (removed from register 2009). He set up the International Touring Co in Australia in 1995, selling it to Abigroup Ltd in 2000, then established Andrew McManus Presents Pty Ltd in 2001.

ADDED I just checked the Raggamuffin Festival website, can't see any sign of Herbs having played at the event, not listed in the lineup...  According to this story from the NZ Herald, Herbs were due to reunite for the 2010 Raggamuffin Festival. Did that happen?

Updated July 25, 2011: According to the Companies Office registrar, Andrew McManus NZ is in liquidation - Andrew Mcmanus was the sole shareholder.  According to the insolvency document posted on the Companies Office site, the petitioning creditor was Dilworth Karaka of Herbs.

The lineup that was due to appear at Raggamuffin in 2010 was calling itself Pacific Herbs, featuring former Herbs members Tony Fonoti, Spencer Fusimalohi and Carl Perkins.

The 2012 Raggamuffin Festival has just been announced, their website lists the event as being staged by McManus Entertainment, which does not show up as being registered in  NZ via the Companies Office.  It appears to be Australian-based.

There's also a company called Raggamuffin Festival Limited which was incorporated on the 5th of April 2011by Leesa Tilley, who quit working for Raggamuffin/Mcmanus in December last year.

Mystery wax

One of the one dollar 12" singles I picked up at the Record Collectors Fair was a white label tune. No info, nothing, just the label name, Unit 7 (pictured above). Was a bit of a gamble, but hey, it was only a buck.

Got it home, had a listen, googled the main lyric from the chorus - "Can't get over you". Turns out it's the debut solo single by Shara Nelson, from 1986, 5 years before she sung on Unfinished Symphony by Massive Attack. Score! (I digitised the vinyl, listen below)

Can't get over you was produced by Lindel Lewis, a UK reggae producer who has worked with a huge list of reggae artists, and who left school at 17 to join his dad's steelband, The Nite Blues Steel Band (who I posted a song by earlier this week!) Read his extensive bio on his Myspace page.

I also discovered that Shara's previous release was as part of a group called The Circuit, who released a single on legendary UK reggae label On-U-Sound Records in 1983.

Walk around the Record collectors fair...

Scored eight 12"s for $5, including Shriekback, Atlantic Starr, Galaxy and Phil Fearon, and Chas Jankel. Not a bad afternoon's digging.

Lafayette afrorock

The Lafayette Afro Rock Band started out in New York in 1970, and moved to Paris in 71. They eventually hooked up with French producer Pierre Jaubert.

They are probably most well known from those who have sampled their work (Biz Markie, LL Cool J, Naughty by Nature, Digital Underground, De La Soul, Black Moon, Montell Jordan, Public Enemy, Masters at Work, Wreckx-n-Effect, Heavy D & the Boyz, Jay-Z and more). They were also DJ staples with the early hiphop DJs like Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa.

Pierre Jaubert was interviewed in Wax Poetics magazine in 2004, but not much is known about him. NZ journalist Martyn Pepperell interviewed him around the time Strut Records reissued their compilation Darkest Light, in 2009.

He posted up the transcript of the interview this week. It's a pretty astonishing read. Turns out Jaubert had a hand in discovering Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Here's the story of how he started the Lafayette Afro Rock Band.

"I started making jazz. I did Alan Silva, all those guys. You know? You ask me how did I find [The Lafayette Afro-Rock Band]. I had a studio where I didn’t record too much, and I had another studio in Paris in. So I did some recordings there of course, everyone would go there. My friend who had a studio, he had a studio on the other side of Paris, but he didn’t do jazz. He called me once and he said, “Look, I have these guys from New York. He wanted me to record them. He said, “Please take these guys. I don’t want to see them again. They want money for their music, please take care of that; bye bye.

So, here came Frankie [Abel] and Donny [Donable] and the rest of [The] Lafayette [Afro-Rock Band. I told the guys, “Okay, we can try something, and of course I recorded a few records with them. First I recorded with them as a group named Ice. It all started with Bobby Boyd as The Bobby Boyd Congress, and when Bobby Boyd went back to the [United] States, they made their own group named Ice.

I made two or three albums with Ice, but nobody could sell it. You know? I liked the music fine, but commercially you could not put it out there. I was speaking with a friend, Manu Dibango. He was at my place and we were kicking and he said, “You should do more with Ice. Get them singing and get a hit song. No covers.” So, okay, I did that. I did the next album, and then I needed a new name. You know? I could not call it Ice, because first legally you cannot register the name Ice.  There are many names like this that you cannot record under or register commercially. 

That is why you have so many variations. Ice Cube, Ice T, everybody is using ice. I thought, I’ll make a name that is easy to register to record under. In France we use complicated names, so The Lafayette Afro-Rock band, that name was kind of complicated. So I invented that and registered the name immediately. It was a group that did not exist. So when you ask me how you found [The] Lafayette [Afro-Rock Band]? There was no such group as [The] Lafayette Afro-Rock Band. I had to invent them.”  

Dozens of people, musicians, would play, you know? Manu Dibango! Willie Mabon. [The] Lafayette [Afro-Rock Band] was a garbage can. Everybody would come there and play with Frank Abel. Of course Frank would be there. So [The] Lafayette [Afro-Rock Band] was made up of guest people, guest musicians, and I owned the name. so [The] Lafayette [Afro Rock Band], that’s my group. I didn’t have any stupid people to deal with. That is the story my dear friend. It was very practical..."

Read the full interview here, at Martyn's blog. Thanks for posting it!

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 26

Derrick Morgan - I'm the ruler
Havana boys  -Paul's dub
Frankie Paul - Pass the tu sheng peng
Dread squad and Tenor Fly - Sweet thing
Elizabeth Archer and the Equators - Feel like making love
Amadou and Mariam - Senegal fast food
Bonobo - Eyes down
P-bass expressway - Easy ride - Downtown Brown remix
Bill Withers - Can we pretend
Esther Phillips - Use me
Rose Royce - You can't please everybody
Ananda Shankar - Dancing drums
The Meters - Tippi toes
Nite blues steel band - Mongoose
Lynn Taitt - Steppin up
Eli Goularte - Meu samba - Nicola Conte remix
Sleepwalker - Brotherhood - Mitsu the beats remix
Sharon Jones - I got the feeling
Chairmen of the board - Life and death - Danny Krivit edit
One essence - Blackness of darkness
Ray Barretto - Mercy mercy baby
Luciano - Life - Da Lata remix
Charles Bradley - No time for dreaming
The Delegates - Pygmy pt 2
Allan Toussaint - Tequila
Candi Staton - Do your duty - Pepe Braddock remix
Little dragon - Constant surprises
Dubkasm  - No retreat - extreme shift mix

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday afternoon dub

Found this via Your Heart Out blog. Absolutely gorgeous, very mad dub version of Feel Like Making Love. Heavy, heavy sounds. By Elizabeth Archer and the Equators. Story below from Your Heart Out's post...

"... the strange story of Lightning Records ... completely defies the prevailing narrative about small labels in the late '70s. It was not a media insider's plaything. It was a genuine small business, and openly opportunistic.

"It had a bizarrely mixed catalogue (novelty numbers, football anthems, punk cash-ins) but it also picked up on and made available widely some of the greatest reggae records ever, and through a WEA distribution deal had some massive hits, including Dennis Brown's Money In My Pocket and Althea & Donna's Uptown Top Ranking. ... The only other place I have seen Elizabeth's name is as a backing singer on Prince Far I's Cry Tuff Chapter 3, along with Ari Up and Viv Goldman."

Sinatra, Satchmo and death metal

Nutty. Spotted via Dangerous Minds. Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra sing death metal.

Nite blues

From an album by Nite Blues Steel Band, called Steel band music of the Caribbean (1980). Album also features a cool cover of TSOP.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

US visa problems

It's not just Fat Freddy's Drop who are facing major hurdles with getting work visas for the US (see earlier post on this).

They recently had to cancel their planned US tour, including their appearance at the prestigious Coachella Festival, in part due to the high costs around getting a work visa for the US.

The Guardian reports that British musicians are having similar problems.  See "Behind the music: the red tape that stops UK bands playing SXSW"... more than 140 UK acts performed at this year's SXSW music and media conference in Austin, Texas, one of the most highly regarded events in the US music industry calendar. But some of the acts scheduled to perform at the festival were forced to withdraw due to complicated and prohibitive visa procedures.

School kids sing with Little Dragon

PS 22 Chorus x Litle Dragon, spotted via Prefix mag. Coolest videos you will see all day. Just lovely. And check out the Q&A with the kids asking Little Dragon about their fame. "How many fans do you have?"

You need more records!

The Auckland Record Collectors Fair will be held this Saturday, 26th of March at The Freemans Bay Hall, corner Wellington and Hepburn Streets in Freemans Bay, Auckland. Doors open at 10am, runs til 3pm. $4 entry – cash only, no EFTPOS. Always some goodies worth digging for. Get along.

The Dead Kenny G's

This morning thanks to the internets, I came across one of the best band names I've heard in a long time -  the Dead Kenny G's (via @Roir). I mentioned it on Twitter, and Dubdotcom sent me a link to their awesome cover of Fela Kuti's Zombie. Which sounds like this...

Afro punk reggae dub

Steel an' Skin got a reissue a few years back on the Honest Jons label. Found this tasty edit of two of their tunes, prefer the Afro punk reggae dub tune to the vocal.

This came out on 12 inch vinyl, off an album reissue on CD. From the Honest Jons site...

"Great, great rewind from Afro-Caribbean London, 1979. The 20th Century Steel Band compounds intricate Afro-Trini rhythms with reggae and dub, funk, disco and soul, not to mention the eco-operatics. Bonus tracks on the CD — plus Steve Shaw's 1979 Arts Council film of the group on the DVD."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More steel funk

Here's the tune that gave the compilation I posted yesterday its name... By John Gibbs and the US Steel Orchestra (or Unlimited Sounds of Steel Orchestra). Off the album Steel Funk from 1977, which also features a dope version of Shaft, done steel drums style. I was given a copy of this magnificent record a  few years back my a couple of very cool people who knew how much I love steel drums. Thanks Jeff and Lisa!

Augustus rock

I'm working on a new Dub Asylum EP, all melodica business. Here's a sneak preview... Let me know what you think!

Augustus rock by dubasylum

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

RIP Loleatta Holloway

"Longtime manager Ron Richardson has reported that disco & house legend Loleatta Holloway passed away this evening after slipping into a coma. No further details are known at present. She was 64 years old." From Loudersoft.

General public

Chris Dempsey (Waitemata local board, Auckland Council) has posted this on Public Address...

Wearing my elected rep hat...

Mr Brown asked the following question:
"What powers does [Rob] Shields have, what policy was he acting under, what are the damn rules anyway?"

I asked officers and got the following reply from Mr Sheilds:

"Council contractors mistakenly painted over an aerosol art work on a wall in Poynton Tce after a complaint about it by a member of the public.

The authority of the property and business owners was not sought by council officers for the removal. Council is taking full responsibility to rectify the situation and install a new artwork as soon as possible. The relevant stakeholders including the property and business owners, the Karangahape Road Business association, and the original artist are being consulted during this process.

This incident is the first of its kind that we are aware of and has provided us with the opportunity to work more closely with business and property owners and our anti-graffiti volunteers to ensure murals painted with permission are not removed by council contractors."

What officers don't know is that I know the name of the member of public.

I'm aware that the reply doesn't actually address the questions ask. I'll try again."

So, the Mayor said the Poynton tce mural was removed at the request of an anti-graffiti Council volunteer. But Rob Shields says it was a complaint from a member of the public that led to its removal. Two different stories.

UPDATE: Russell Brown has told me via Twitter that the Mayor's statement is the correct one.

UPDATE TWO: Russell Brown posted this:
via the Mayor’s press officer...
"Tony Crampton is an Auckland Council officer and performs as part of his job graffiti education and volunteer project duties. He is not the Individual that Len referred to as an anti-graffiti volunteer and Chris referred to as a member of the public. Unpaid members of the public work in partnership with council as part of the council’s anti-graffiti programmes across Auckland."

Record store day is coming

Coming to a record store near you, on April 16th. Auckland has events at Real Groovy and Conch Records. And Frank Kozik has come up with this wee chap, called RPM... and then there's the exclusive Dennis Coffey seven inch single coming out on Record Store Day with a Steinski remix on it....

Steel Funk

Steel Funk is a mean compilation of some fine funky steel drum action. Aquarium Drunkard blog has a few tunes over here to catch. Cissy Strut (nice warmup for the Funky Meters gig on April 15) and Funky Stuff. Go get em.

full track listing... just to make ya jealous... I've got this comp and the second volume of it too.

Side A
01 - The Dutch Rhythm and Steel Band
02 - Sapodilla Punch - Hold on i'm coming
03 - Trinidad & Tobago Steel all stars - Do your thing
04 - Trinidad Steel drummers - Cissy Strut
05 - Original Tropicana Steel Band - Funky abbey road
06 - Carl Mc Knights Sweat and Steel Drum Band - Aint no sunshine

Side B
01 - Original Tropicana Steel Band - Calypso rock
02 - Earl Rodney - Midnight Man
03 - 20 th Century Steel Band - Heaven and Hell is on earth
04 - Nite Blues Steel Band - T.S.O.P
05 - Carl McKnights Sweat and Steel Drum Band - The Devils out tonight

Welli gets the cleanup

Following on from Len Brown's accidental blanking of the Poynton Terrace mural, I've heard of similar rumblings on Wellington. Anyone in Welli seen the outcome of this clean up? Please let me know via the comments.

Official press release, via Scoop.co.nz (hat tip to Component)

'Spruce up' blitz for Cuba Mall

Wellington City Council workers will be in Cuba Mall from 7am to 2pm today (March 21) helping to 'spruce up' and remove graffiti in the mall and the Left Bank.

Council CitiOperations Manager Mike Mendonca says with increasing amounts of graffiti in the area and a record number of visitors expected for Rugby World Cup 2011 a blitz on graffiti is well overdue.

"Our crews will do more than their usual cleaning on targeted areas. They will be blasting away dirt, removing graffiti and stickers, touching up paint and improving the look of gardens and street furniture. The main clean up will be today but we will be finishing things up throughout the week.

"Council crews usually only work in public spaces, but the spruce-up will also see us working with private building owners."

With support from the Police, the Council staff will also be giving out clean-up kits to retailers containing graffiti remover, sponges and brushes and an information brochure with tips on how to continue to keep their premises clean.

"We want to encourage retailers to keep their premises clean on an on-going basis after we leave and keep it looking great and feeling safe for both residents and visitors."

Mr Mendonca says agreement has also been reached with property owners to block a private accessway from the Left Bank to Ghuznee Street. This is expected to reduce opportunities for further vandalism in the area."

Meanwhile in Melbourne...
Graffiti vandal's 'art' on show at Cat Food Press, East Brunswick (hat tip to Nigel for this)
"This loser is all that's wrong with this country. Work hard, get attacked. Be a criminal loser and you are an internet superstar..."

Monday, March 21, 2011

High Noon Tea playlist, KiwiFM

High Noon Tea is a NZ reggae and downtempo show I do on KiwiFM every Sunday from 3-5pm, repeated Friday 2-4pm. I also record a version of it for Air NZ's inflight audio, so check that out next time you're jetting off overseas. Here's what the radio show sounds like...

Cornerstone roots - Forward the sax
Fat Freddys Drop - Hope  -Sonsine remix
Jahlicious - Panicked
Pitch black - Unadrumma - Sunshine sound system remix
Sound foundation - Lethal dub
Ladi 6  -Burn with me
T-Son - March of the troglodytes
Shogun orchestra - Legane
Aquaboogie - Brown lawn
Onelung - Mystery cake love
Salmonella dub - Problems - Zion train remix
International observer - Vale
Karl Marx project - Mists
Recloose - Still beyond me
Illphonics - Deeper
Tubbs - Useless
Murk108 - The soldier
Stinky Jim - Triple agent
Scratch 22 - Medicine man
Plastic junk - Man from Atlantis
Wild Bill Ricketts - Loo loo

UPDATED: I was replaced as show host in June 2011, although the KiwiFM website still lists me as host.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Toy Selectah

Free tune of the new ep from Toy Selectah called Mex Machine, on the Mad Decent label.

"Toy Selectah's "Half-Colombian Half-Mexican Bandit" has been on our radar for a minute because of its innovative bi-visualed music video. The track pays tribute to his roots—from his national connections to his come up in rap music. You can grab it on his new EP Mex Machine, out now from Mad Decent. It features collabs with Mumdance and Isa GT."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 19

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Bitch dub
Prince Fari  - Mozabites
Noel Ellis - Dance with me
Dennis Bovell - Rowing version
John Holt & the Paragons - I've got to get away
Barrington Levy - It's not easy
45nm - Rider
Overproof sound system - Kingstep - Unitone hifi remix
Tenor fly - Mind weh yu seh
Kenny Dope and Madd racket - Supa
Maceo and the macks - Soul power 74
Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd st rhythm band - 65 bars and a tatse of soul, Girl from Ipanema
Colman Bros - She who dares lounge mix
Fulgeance - Sour socca
El hijo de la cumbia - El ghetto va a mover
El michels affair - Detriot twice
Betty Davis - Stars starve, you know
Philadelphia allstars - Lets clean up the ghetto - Danny Krivit edit
Cloud one - Atmosphere strut remix 1979
Scratch 22 - For walking faces
Lewis McCallum - First date
Lord Echo - Thinking of you
Footsie - Cuss cuss Footsie dub

Friday, March 18, 2011

So fresh, so clean.

Following the controversy surrounding the painting over of artist Askew’s mural on Poynton Tce by Auckland Council contractors, TVNZ show Media7 decided to take a look at the issue. They opened with a prerecorded interview with Askew about his legal mural and what happened with it being painted out and the aftermath. (Watch it here)

The opening piece with Askew included shots from a NZ Herald video with Rob Shields, Auckland Council's graffiti prevention officer... he describes tagging as low level urban terrorism....

The next part was a studio interview with Mayor Len Brown. Len discussed what had happened, admitted the Council was at fault and wanted to put things right.

Len talked about wanting to make sure Council followed due process, and that ultimately it was the owners decision about what goes on their wall.

Russell asks Len what is the role of these people (graffiti prevention staff Rob Shields, Tony Crampton) and do they get to decide what art is? Len says that “when you get people out in the workplace who are passionate about their job, and Rob certainly is, you’re going to make the odd mistake, and he sure did on this occasion”.

Russell – “Has he acknowledged that to you, that he made a mistake, even in getting involved?”

Len: “Look, Russ, this is a new job. I’m trying to get to meet 8 and a half thousand employees, as well as 1.4 million people, so I haven’t had the hook up with him on this issue as yet”. Len kept returning to saying it's up to the owners what they do with their wall, and "we have to follow due process".

So, Len admits that he had not talked to Rob Shields about what Shields told the owners. So how can Len claim to follow due process if he doesn’t even know what happened with his own staff?

Russell asks Len several times during the interview why Rob Shields got involved talking to the owners about the replacement mural, and Len never directly answers the question.

Rusell – ‘I wonder if this hasn’t exposed a wider issue. You’ve set yourself up as the hiphop mayor…’

Len laughs and says ‘I didn’t set myself up as the hiphop mayor..’

Russell ‘Well you allowed yourself to be…’

Len, ‘aw, look at me…do I really look like the hiphop mayor?’

Len, every time you jumped onstage with Savage before you became Auckland Mayor, we thought the same thing.

Len is big on being anti graffiti, it was a pitch that served him well as Mayor of Manukau city, and it’s an issue that many people feel strongly about. So when he talks about the Poynton Tce mural as ultimately being up to the owners to decide, what he is saying is this: property owners pay rates. Artists don’t. Property owners have money. Artists don’t. Property owners vote. Artists don’t.

Feeling disenfranchised yet?

All through the interview. Len addresses his interviewer Russell Brown, as Russ. He does this because he knows it makes him seem friendlier to viewers, never mind he doesn’t know Russell from a bar of soap. And while Russell mentions Askew by name several times, the Mayor chooses not to. He refers to ‘the young fella’ ‘the person’ or ‘that guy’. He chooses not to use his artist handle Askew, because Len knows that using his name gives him legitimacy. And making graffiti artists legitimate is not an election platform. Demonising taggers is though.

But where does that lead? The Council’s own report on graffiti spends only 3 of its 28 pages on education,. The rest of it is devoted to eradication. The education aspect is played down, as the report says it is very costly.

So, today’s teenagers running round with a spraycan in their hands are criminals and vandals, because trying to educate them instead is seen as not cost effective in the short term.

And let’s face it. Len Brown is only interested in the short term. Because he wants to get re-elected. In the long term, criminalising a generation of teen taggers from poor backgrounds will overcrowd our jails in 10-15 years time. But that doesn’t bother Len Brown, because by then he will have another cushy job. His empathy with the poor doesn’t extend to spending money on their plight.


Scratch 22. Photo: Sam Nixon

Local producer and DJ Scratch 22 has his debut album on the way, Distance from view, out next month on Round Trip Mars. First single Medicine Man will be out April 11. He's produced music for the Unscene, Tourettes, and done remixes for Mint Chicks, Electric Wire Hustle, and I've had the pleasure of working with him on a Dub Asylum tune too, called Ba Ba Boom.

To get you primed for his album, here's a couple of his fine funky tunes. Free download too (and if you haven't checked out  the Round Trip Mars label compilation Invaderism, go have a listen, that's free too). And a couple of his remixes below to listen to.

Death is the Dancer by Scratch22

Shivani Strut - Scratch 22 by Round Trip Mars

Electric Wire Hustle - Again (Scratch 22 Remix) by Scratch22

IMAYB - Scratch 22 x Mint Chicks by Scratch22


Photo credit: Greedmont Park

I wrote about Spree Wilson late last year, but if ya missed that, here's his story.

Spree Wilson started out making music in Atlanta as an intern for Dallas Austin, and then hit out for New York. He lived in the train station when he got there, then after a few weeks a friend hooked him up with Q-Tip, and he was on his way. This is his new single, definite Atlanta flavour via Outkast. Free download too. If radio get this, it will be huge. Catchy as hell.

Spree's debut album The Never Ending Now," due out April 5.

Everything I Own by spreewilson

DC day

New video from Oddisee - "The video was shot in Washington, DC by Zack Schamberg. We just wanted it to have a "day in the life" kind of feel. Chat over breakfast, go digging & hit a few museums. I honestly do that all the time."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Colourblind - The Auckland Dance Scene in 1993

Following article was written by Andrew Schmidt, originally published in Metro in 1993, and online by Schmidt on his Mysterex blog in June 2008 - blog has now been deleted. I heard about this from Jonathan of Point That Thing, who says Andrew is planning a new blog but with a different focus. And the definitive book on NZ punk/post-punk.... I referenced some of this post in one of my earlier articles on Deepgrooves, here.

"This story landed on my desk after Warwick Roger noticed a change in Auckland street fashion. “Guys with their caps on backwards,” he said, in that arid way of his, half mocking, half curious. He'd originally assigned it to Carroll Du Chateau, as a tease no doubt, but had sensibly changed his mind.

I was not enthused. This wasn’t my patch. I knew, like, nothing about street wear or even the music that gave birth and momentum to it. And you can tell at times in the investigation-into-an-emerging-musical-subculture the piece turned into. It’s one of my favourite stories none the less.

I had no contacts in those worlds. It was all cold calling. Which was a good thing as outsider preconceptions are more easily swept aside than community bias. Turned out the closer I got the more I recognized anyway. Interviewing 3 The Hard Way in a down market rental in Avondale, the boys draped over cheap furniture, playing me their latest recording, the future number one Hip Hop Holiday, was a scene out of any emerging music community. Just the the details and time were different.

I also got to meet Simon Grigg for the first time. Simon was courteous and helpful as he counted a table full of gold coin in his High Street office, but his partners in the nightclub had a bone to pick with Metro which had slagged them off in the naughty Felicity Ferrit column. After they burst through the door and fronted me about it, I laughed, and denied everything (the truth as I’d only just arrived in Auckland and had little interest in city gossip).

Next through the door was Paul Rose returning some walkie talkies used on election day. Paul had managed The 3Ds and ran the small but perfectly formed Furtive Records imprint in the early to mid 1980s releasing classic records by Tall Dwarfs, The Newmatics, The Skeptics, and The Prime Movers. He’d been part of Richard Prebble’s defeated Labour campaign in Auckland Central. Prebble having been replaced by the Alliance’s Sandra Lee. I was living on Waiheke Island at that point and the place was levitating with joy over Lee’s victory. Which I didn’t mention. These were confusing times for the left.

3 The Hard Way - Hip Hop Holiday (1994)

“You see I grew up in a brown neighbourhood,
I learnt a few lessons like a white brother should,
about the struggle that goes on and on and on,
because all hatred’s wrong.”

“Colourblind” — Matty J and the Soul Syndicate.

Matty J’s the guy in the blue denim dungarees behind the counter of Truetone Records in the Manukau City Centre rapping quietly with two beanie-wearing South Auckland homeboys about the latest dance sounds. The guy with the solid gold earring and the merest hint of a beard. He’s four days away from the release of his new swingbeat single “Colourblind”, a soulful dance track that draws on his experience of growing up in South Auckland and his love of black dance music.

“Colourblind” is part of an explosion of Auckland dance and groove music edging its way onto the city’s more progressive radio stations and record shops, a local musical flowering of the large Auckland dance subculture, which draws its inspiration and style from black urban dance music and its identity from the culture of the performer.

Dance culture didn’t spring up overnight, nor is it limited solely to young Maori or Polynesians from South Auddand. You’ll find just as many white, middle-class, inner-city types getting down with it, and smaller scenes have developed in parts of Auckland like Avondale where rap/hip hop outfit 3 The Hard Way hold sway. It’s a youth subculture that’s pulling racial barriers down, not by assimilation, but by respect for the uniqueness of different cultural groups.

Matty J Ruys grew up white in a brown neighbourhood. When his parents arrived from Holland in the late 1970s they settled in Bader Drive, a state house street in Mangere. The young Matty attended school with the sons and daughters of two earlier waves of urban immigrants: Maori drawn to the city in the 1950s, attracted by work at the Southdown and Westfield freezing works and in the developing industrial areas of South Auckland, and Pacific Island families seeking employment in the booming 1960s and early 1970s. His ears pricked early to the wealth of black American sounds finding favour among the kids of South Auckland, and Stevie Wonder and The Jackson Five were early favourites.

Shortly after Matty’s ninth birthday the Ruys shifted to Otangarei, a mainly Maori suburb of Whangarei where one day, while crossing his primary school field, he was set upon by a gang of Maori youths and severely beaten. The attack left him suffering almost daily from epilepsy for seven years, but it didn’t make him a bigot and his respect for Maori culture remained high. And you’d still find him and his mates, with their squares of vinyl down, practicing their break dance moves to the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” and Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Girls”. In tune with the times he appropriated a street name from a fave Herbie Hancock tune, “Rocket”.

When he graduated from Tikipunga High School he was presented with a special award for the school’s best Maori/ Pakeha.

After school, Matty moved into mime and acting and changed location to Tauranga where he appeared in stage musicals, including one more in tune with his roots. Fight The Power was a hip hop musical which played to large crowds throughout New Zealand.

Matty’s big break, however, came from the most unlikely of places —a Valentine’s Day special edition of Blind Date on which he sang the questions to the woman contestants. He was spotted by the Straw People’s Mark Tierney and subsequently sang backing and lead vocals on the 1993 World Service album.

More vocal work followed with Annie Crummer, Hinewehi Mohi, Moana And The Moahunters and House Party. Matty had also linked with former Coconut Rough and Street Talk keyboard player and composer Stuart Pearce to begin his own project, Matty J and the Soul Syndicate.

He finally returned to South Auckland in 1992 and secured a job at Truetone Records where he put his enthusiasm and knowledge of dance music to good use, importing the latest dance discs from overseas.

He has mana among the area’s young brown population, but it’s not instant mana. “When you meet new people, it’s ‘who are you?, ‘who do you think you are?’, ‘where do you come from?” he says. “The respect comes from living out here and being a part of the life. You get no respect unless you have an understanding of the people and where they come from. You’ve got to listen, not just talk, and have a love for the culture, food and the people.”

Dance music in South Auckland attracts a young crowd and draws heavily on American rap for its sound, style, attitude and role models. The words and sounds of the urban American black under-class speak directly to the kids. Black American-dominated sports, especially basketball, are also popular.

They have a lot in common dark skins, low socio-economic status, aging near-identikit housing, young populations at risk from crime and unemployment, and societies dominated by a white ruling class. That the cool SA sounds are black and the clothing of its adherents an imitation of black American street wear says more about recognition of the similarity than slavish imitation. Among the area’s Samoan teenagers there is an additional stream of influence from American Samoa and the substantial Samoan expatriate population in California.

There’s also a downside. South Auckland youth gangs have adopted LA gang monikers like the Crips, Bloods and Ghetto Boys. Matty j describes South Auckland as “a smaller, less-populated South Central”, the mainly black area of Los Angeles torn by gang violence and drugs — but also home to some hot - rap acts.

In spite of its popularity, there are few places in South Auckland for contemporary dance music fans to get together, and as a consequence the movement is mainly underground with enterprising fans hiring local halls and booking DJs and live rap acts like Radio Backstab and the Pacifican Descendants.

Nightclubs generally don’t cut it, but The Duke of Wellington Tavern in Mount Wellington and the New Soul Cafe in the Mid City complex off Queen Street are favoured out-of-area hang-outs.

It’s not the music that instantly hits, however, it’s the dress. Around the corner from Truetone Records is Blitz, South Auckland’s major street wear outlet. The clothes there aren’t cheap— it can cost up to $800 for a complete outfit. Throw in a Discman or Walkman and the price tag for cool surpasses a grand. But price doesn’t deter. Fans will do without, scrimp and save to buy the latest Starter jacket, Vans, Airwalk and Fila trainers, 26 Red, Split, Mooks, Mossimo or Stussy shirts or vests and Workshop or Levis jeans.

Then there are the ever-present NBA caps, a colourful pork pie hat and coloured granny glasses or shades made popular by black groups like De La Soul and Arrested Development.

The clothes are so highly prized, some fans will just take them from others, and assaults for street wear aren’t unknown.

Behind the Blitz counter Eddie Wright is looking sharp in the latest street wear and rapping keenly about acid jazz — the danceable jazz/funk hybrid that has quickly gained favour among one section of the city’s dance community. With his little beard and bead-adorned Split shirt, he looks like a modern version of a 1950s beat bard.

Blitz has been open for a year, and despite the recession, trade has been good. Most of the brands popular with the dance culture are from overseas, aided by tariff-free importing which has made offshore fashion quickly and more cheaply available. Two local brands, however— Workshop and Zeal — are deemed to be worthy of inclusion in any cool wardrobe.

Established two years ago, Zeal tapped directly into New Zealand and worldwide youth culture for clothing ideas. That’s not just dance culture, but surfing, skating and snow boarding. The label also looks back at styles from the 196Os and 1970s, with the new range of 50s-styled casino shirts harking back to the smooth styles made popular by Italian doo wop groups and teen idols like Dion. For young women the Zeal Babe label currently includes neon 1970s-look flares and laceside hip pants. By taking the best bits from older youth cultures and leaving out the embarrassing excesses, Zeal has lines which look neat in the 1990s and surprisingly undated. With popular clothes lines in the youth market changing as quickly as fave dance songs, Zeal has fresh designs in the shops every12 weeks.

New off the racks this season is Rave wear, the “Manchester look” popularised by that city’s white dance bands New Order, the now- defunct Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses, and a line of clothing influenced by the worldwide economic recession.

Recessionary clothing became popular as more and more young people joined dole queues or went to tertiary training. In both cases they had less money in their pockets and the age-old op-shopping ritual be- came less a giggle and more a necessity, but the desire to look good didn’t dim. Suddenly old styles and fashions became popular again as adventurous but poor dressers hit the streets. Cue platform shoes, clogs and flares, the former lepers of fashion history, now feature on a trendy stepper near you.

The pinched economic times also prompted a demand for cheap, hard-wearing clothing that looked good, and that’s when clothing companies like Zeal stepped in to manufacture items like denim railway shunters’ jackets and wide-leg jeans. Now, having reaching a sales peak in New Zealand, what one of the partners describes as “a commercial cottage industry” is expanding into Australia.

Tapping the same market, but the musical vein, is Auckland dance music label Deepgrooves which recently set up a Sydney branch to break its roster of acts in Australia.

Label boss Kane Massey is one of a number of young Aucklanders revitalising local music by dipping into the city’s well of brown talent. He joins longtime black music fan Murray Cammick’s Southside Records, home to Maori chart act Moana And The Moahunters; newcomer Tangata Records which includes Emma Paki and Gifted And Brown among its acts; and Pagan Records which has dance mistress Merenia on board. Even Flying Nun Records, one of the last New Zealand bastions of three chord pop and white guitar noise rock, has the very danceable Headless Chickens.

Deepgrooves releases cover the whole dance music spectrum from the High Street hip hop of Urban Disturbance and old school rap of The Hard Way through the acid jazz of Cause Celebre regulars Freebass to the jaunty reggae of the Mighty Asterix and Jules Issa.

3 The Hard Way are a young street smart hip hop crew from Avondale. As their first release tells it, they’re “straight from the old school” of rap.

TTHW’s members have spent time in early Auckland rappers Total Effect, BB3 and Chaingang, but it’s 3 The Hard Way now and the sounds and name fit just so. They’re West Auckland homeboys, they grew up there, and that experience is in the music — the early chaotic days listening to older brothers’ reggae, George Clinton hard funk and early rap, cobbling together equipment from old Technics stereos, learning their sounds from DJ friends Nick Roy and John Petueli.

“The words are about what we’ve been through,” says rapper Boy C (Chris Maiai). “About how hard it was to get into the music. ‘When we first started we didn’t know anyone,” adds DJ Mike Mix (Mike Patton).

First up from 3 The Hard Way is “Hip Hop Holiday”, a song based around a sample of 1OCC’s “Dreadlock Holiday”. The sounds are hard, thanks to some assured DJing from Mike Mix and DJ Damage (Lance Manuel), but not so hard that a chart hit is out of the question. That’s fine with the band, they haven’t compromised the music they want to make, and they want as many people to hear the music as possible. Next up is a hip hop version of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers To Cross”, to be followed by a song for their kids — Boy C and DJ Damage both have young sons.

It’s taken 3 The Hard Way a while to get into the studio, so now they’re not wasting any time. New Zealand On Air has proved that its ears aren’t too far from the street and has stumped up two recording grants and a video grant. And what 3 The Hard Way learn about recording, playing live and putting out records will stay in West Auckland. Part of the plan is to record and encourage other local outfits still struggling away in garages, moulding their sounds.

Talking to these three it’s easy to know why dance music is the street buzz of the moment. Like the best new movements it’s grown out of an underground scene and is propelled by young people jacked up on the sounds, but singing and rapping about their environments to an audience that can relate directly to those concerns and experiences. To borrow a phrase from black soul label Motown, it’s the sound of young brown Auckland, and it’s a new voice that’s seldom been heard here. With the swelling young Maori and Polynesian population rising in the city, there’ll be plenty of ears keen to hear songs that reflect their worlds.

Chances are those same ears will be tuned to Mai FM or bFM’s specialist dance music shows. Despite some criticism that it’s too conservative and lacks an ear for harder dance sounds, the Ngati Whatua-owned Mai FM is a vibrant addition to the city’s otherwise ossified airwaves. It’s up, comfortable with its format, and spot on with its audience.

Mai sales and marketing manager Vivien Bridgwater says the station is listened to by one third of Auckland teenagers under 19, with young Maori and Polynesians most strongly featured. It’s an audience long ignored by most Auckland radio stations. “Radio Hauraki knew it had a large Maori listenership because of the number of calls it got from South Auckland,” she explains. Good for the ratings no doubt, but hardly pleasing to advertisers looking for listeners with loose bucks in their pockets.

Mai FM, however, draws its listeners from a wider group — young urban dwellers, many of whom lack their parents’ weighty antipathy toward things Maori.

Meanwhile, up the hill and over Albert Park, bFM is still bursting from the airwaves with fresh sounds, some of the most inventive ads on air and that peculiar arrogance of young people still two steps away from the full-time work force with half a degree in their back pocket.

Programme director Graeme Hill puts the station’s dance content to the left of Mai’s, with harder-edged acts like Cypress Hill, Ice T and Body Count featuring. Local dance acts feature liberally in both the general playlist and on Freak The Sheep — the station’s well regarded New Zealand music show which combines up-to-date releases with information and interviews.

The student station’s most popular specialist show is Beats Per Minute, a Thursday night dance music slot hosted by nightclub owner Simon Grigg. Back on back with BPM is the Techno show, showcasing sounds from European dancefloors, and Planet writer Stinky Jim chips in with his Stinkygrooves two-hour slot crammed with current ragga and reggae sounds.

Cut to High Street, Friday night. Seeing and being seen. That’s the scene outside The Box and Cause Celebre. Out to the right of the entrance, a young guy is leaning casually against a bank window, dangling a cigarette from a teenage hand, checking the hang of a new Split top beneath a low-slung glitz bead necklace, glancing down at his new Timberland boots partly exposed under baggy wide-leg jeans, then coolly up again at a group of young women huddled together with a casual familiarity.

Closer to the door an older fat guy with a mo, curly hair and a plunging open-neck shirt is arguing with the bouncer as a group of his fashion-victim friends mutter encouragement and look nervously around. “Does it make you look tough to talk like that,” the bouncer says calmly, not looking to budge, reassured by the milling presence of dozens of young rappers, ravers and dance- culture debris in that last descending stretch of the street between Freyberg Place and De Bretts.

The doorman’s there to ensure only the people who fit get into the club. It’s a modern variant of the old club “mix”, only it’s an “attitude standard” he’s enforcing, not the abhorrent racial mix which some Auckland nightclubs have used to keep Pacific Islanders and Maori out and white paranoia in their clubs at a minimum. Half the club’s dancers know each other says Box and Cause Celebre part-owner Simon Grigg, and he wants to keep an atmosphere with no fighting or harassment of women.

A graduate of the Auckland school of punk rock (late 70s/early 80s version), Grigg managed early~80s chart-toppers the Screaming Mee Mees and Blam Blam Blam and, through his indie record label Propeller Records, released 50 discs, some of them seminal. He folded Propeller Records in 1983 and, like many young New Zealanders of his generation, suddenly found the Shaky Isles too small and headed for London.

His music tastes were also changing —he’d had a secondary diet of funk via one-time flatmate and Rip It Up editor Murray Cammick, and reggae and Parliament from his punk days — but two factors sealed the new obsession: the raw vital early rap coming out of New York on the Sugarhill and Joy labels, and the emerging club culture in London. With now-legendary clubs like the Wagg Club, Club For Heroes and the Mudd Club among the 30 good clubs pumping out dance music in London, Grigg found himself impressed by the innovative underground dance culture in the city.

“People like to dance, they like to have a good time,” says Grigg. “And there’s so much music coming out, it’s exciting to listen to and you always want something else.”

When Grigg returned to Auckland in 1985 he set up the Stimulant Records label with dance club supremo’s Mark Phillips and Peter Urlich to release Black dance music. Stimulant’s first single “Say I’m Your Number 1” by Princess hit number two on the New Zealand charts.

Next, Grigg quickly moved into running dance clubs with business partner Tom Sampson: first the Asylum Club in Mt Eden Road’s Galaxy Ballroom, followed by the Playground below Urlich and Phillip’s Brat Club in Nelson Street.

The next move was to High Street and the Siren in the former yuppie hang-out Club Mirage, and then, in 1988, Grigg and Sampson bought the club and renamed it Cause Celebre and featured a quiet jazz atmosphere and young acid jazz outfits like Nathan Haines’ Freebass. Celebre’s alter ego, full-on dance club The Box, followed in 1990 when Grigg and Sampson bought the old RSA basement next door.

Staying popular among the dance crowd involves more than just playing music in a club. The sounds need to be current, they change at a frenzied pace, what’s in one month can be history the next.

Gerhardt Pierard, DJ at Cause Celebre, caught the dance club bug in Palmerston North where he hosted popular nightspots the Buffalo Bar and Fez Club, playing a mixture of post-punk, rap, hip hop and funk. Stints at Urlich/ Phillips and Grigg/ Sampson clubs followed before he too shuffled off to England and Europe where he made a comfortable living playing up to five London clubs a night and select bashes for the London film community for the New Zealand-run Urban Dance Culture, until returning to New Zealand in 1991.

For Pierard the key to being a good DJ is knowing the audience, being able to read the crowd and not being afraid to play new songs. Having a new record that goes off, rather than just playing the “hits”, is where the thrill comes from on his side of the turntable. Nocturnal by both profession and inclination, he’s still looking frazzled at 2pm the next day, but that’s nine hours before The Box and Cause Celebre open. The clubs wind down at 6am, shortly before the morning sun nudges its way into the new day. Then it’s off down the street to the 24-hour cafe for a coffee and toasted sandwich, and home to sleep as the city wakes and shakes itself.

Most Fridays and Saturdays, 1000 late-night party people pass through The Box and Cause Celebre, fuelled, insists Grigg, by little more than their love of dance and a bottle of beer. Unlike overseas dance cultures, there’s little evidence that Auckland’s relies on psychedelic uppers like ecstasy and acid for its spirit or energy.

The dance club set are mainly older and perhaps more sophisticated than their South Auckland dance culture counterparts. Mosthave good jobs and work in the inner city, often in retail or the hospitality trade. They’re likely to shop at High Street’s hip clothes shops like Ember, World and Workshop, and hang out at its cafes, making the fashion district an enclave of cosmopolitanism alive both day and night with nattily dressed young people, the smell of coffee and the sound of voices.

Cut to seen-it-all-before cynic. But it’s all just another fad in the city of fads and fashions, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no.

Strip away the clothes, the music and the attitude for a minute. What you have left is another generation searching for an identity out of the shadow of school and family, in those confusing years between school and adult responsibilities. In some ways rap, house or techno could just as easily be beat, punk or disco, but to dismiss it as just another fad is to miss the point.

Music subcultures articulate in dress, music and attitude the tenor of their times, although not that many young people think of it in that way. They’re simply looking for somewhere to belong, to celebrate the naivety and enthusiasm of youth.

Subcultures are often complex and can touch profoundly some people’s lives. They embrace all the things of life. They spawn their own media like Planet and Stamp, their own gathering places like the High Street cafes, shops and dance clubs, and their own values, icons and attitudes. Even when the music is gone and many who lived the life have swung away towards careers and family, the values, attitudes and relationships formed will still colour their lives.

And it’s in what was learned that the lasting value remains. The racial diversity and tolerance of the city’s dance scene in no way reflects Auckland society as a whole, but it’s a positive model of what Auckland should and could be — a Pacific city with a distinct style.

It’ll take some adjusting to, New Zealanders know so little of the people they share a country with, but as Matty J says, it’s time to stop talking and start listening.

The shakers in the local dance scene are young outfits like 3 The Hard Way and people like the frenetic Kane Massey, a Samoan/German who runs a magazine, two record companies and has so many new ideas sliding off the end of his tongue you wonder where he gets the energy.

The media like Planet and Stamp embrace Maori and Pacific Island influences in an unpatronising way by using models of all colours and running stories adult achievers both brown and white, written and photographed by talented young people both brown and white.

And the soundtrack? Well, it’s likely to have changed by the time this story is read, but expect to hear more New Zealand acts on the charts, singing and celebrating the Pacific nation they live in. Noble naive songs like Matty J’s “Colourblind”.

“I ain’t no try hard this is the real me,
doing what I cart to spread some racial unity.
We may not look the same, not on the outside,
but skin should never be an image we hide behind.”

Posted by Andrew Schmidt at 1:17 PM


P-MONEY said...

wow dude, this one really took me back. Thanks for posting it. I was 15 in 1993 and still living with my parents in Papakura. I would save my pocket money to take the bus or train to the city and walk around high st. or put some clothes on lay-by at Blitz in manukau, haha. It was so exciting for me then...you really took me back with this one. thank you. 7 July 2008 10:10 PM 
Andrew said...

You're welcome. Thanks for the great music. 8 July 2008 2:50 PM

Simon said...

Shit, I'd forgotten all about that story. It reads quite well after all these years..ta Andrew,,love your work.

Simon 9 July 2008 1:55 AM 
Andrew said...

Thanks Simon.

It's funny. P Money describes a later version of what was going on in my head when I wrote that story, only my friends and I were coming in from Paeroa and Hamilton (having left Papakura by then), and it was the early 1980s. We took our clues from the stories and ads (very important) in Rip It Up and haunted record shops such as the Record Warehouse in Durham Lane and Rock n Roll Records down the long hallway with Kerry B behind the counter.Bought our black strides from Bluebeat behind the Civic. 9 July 2008 12:58 PM 

Simon said...

Rock n Roll Records down the long hallway with Kerry B behind the counter.

Owned by a lovely woman called Jan..wherever she may be now. It's first shop was up in Symonds St near the Kiwi Tavern and it moved to next door to where Real Groovy is now (they were in Mt Eden Rd) with Simon Mark Brown (later Bongos) and Kerry. I still have dozens of records I bought from them..they used to save me all the 60s EPs.

More trivia..Bluebeat was originally owned by one of the girls who was later in the Idle Idols..Leone Batchelor. She went out with, and moved to Australia with Mike Caen from Street Talk (I went to school with Mike) and was the sister of Johnny Batchelor from Johnny & The Hookers. One of my girlfriends (Linda Niccol, now a screenwriter in Wellington) worked there for a while. 10 July 2008 2:40 AM