Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Dec 24

Gary Byrd - The crown
James Brown - Santa claus goes straight to the ghetto
Tye Tribbett and GA - Mighty
Lee Fields  -You're the kind of girl
Noel Pointer - Living for the city
Lowe1 - Red hot Mittoo
King Tubby - Morpheus special - Kid Loco mix
Dub Asylum - Skatta

Groove armada - Tuning in
Freddie Kruger - Something good
Buju Banton - Champion
Beat conductor - Hottest dub
The Clash - Magnificient dance
Hugh Masekela - Don't go lose it baby
James Brown - Soulful christmas
Nuyorican soul - Black gold of the sun
Curtis Mayfield - If there's a hell below we all going to go - live version
Liam Bailey - When will they learn
The Yoots - Tutira mai
Hallelujah Picassos - Rewind - Roger Perry re-edit
Lightning head - EVA
Spanky Wilson - Sunshine of your love
Sharon Jones - Aint no chimneys in the projects

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to you!

Just want to say thank you for reading my blog during the past year - I appreciate your support, comments and feedback. I know a lot of folk have had a very tough year, so I want to say I hope you have a good holiday break, and see you in the new year! May I recommend swimming in the sea at every opportunity, perfect Kiwi summer activity. Yes, we celebrate Christmas in summer. We're crazy like that.

[The godfather of soul recorded three Christmas albums during his career, and songs off them were compiled in the mid 90s for CD release, which doesn't seem to show up on iTunes.]


I went up to have a chat with Murry Sweetpants on Radio Ponsonby this morning about my new Dub Asylum EP, listen to the interview...

Dub Asylum on the Long Black by Radio Ponsonby

New Dub Asylum EP available on iTunes, Amplifier and Bandcamp, and all good digital stores. Check it out! Limited CD copies at Conch Records, Ponsonby Rd.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nuyorican Soul EPK, from 1997

Nuyorican Soul is an absolutely incredible album, put together by Little Louis Vega and Kenny Dope aka Masters At Work. It features some stellar guests such as Roy Ayers, George Benson, La India, Jocelyn Brown and Tito Puente. It's salsa, latin jazz, funk, hiphop, soul... it's all in there, as Vega says in the clip. Hat tip to Giant Step for posting this.

I had this album on CD for years, from when it first came out in 1997. When I was in Japan in 2001, one of my happiest moments was walking into a record shop in Shibuya and seeing this album sitting on the shelves, as a double vinyl edition. That was a great purchase.

Giant Step have unearthed the EPK (electronic press kit) for the album. Watch it, then go get the album. It's deep. It's a classic.

Wonderful Noise

From Canvas magazine in Weekend Herald, Dec 17 2011 By Alan Perrott. Unfortunately the NZ Herald hardly ever publish stories from Canvas online, so I have scanned this and converted it to text in order to share this cool story. Enjoy.


Every self-respecting music scene should have a home, a place people can point to and say ''that's where it all came from.Christchurch has given us the Dunedin Sound, south Auckland is all about Dawn Raid, Wellington can be blamed for BBQ reggae, Rotorua gushed showbands and Gore has both kinds country and western.

Now we can add Osaka. Because, somehow, this Japanese metropolis is now home to a group of our hippest musicians. It's a connection that has not only springboarded these musicians from bedrooms to the world stage, has spawned a distinct sound that is creating a stir among some of the most influential tastemakers.

And all because a nice young man remembered his manners. As a DJ, radio host and man-about-theWellington-music-scene, Andy Mitchell has always taken it upon himself to promote local artists. If a big-name D.J was in town Mitchell would burn a CD of his favourite artists and hand it over on the night. He has no idea if anyone ever played them - and isn't particularly bothered.

“I look at it more as a kind of koha I guess but obviously it'd be a bonus if they picked up on something and started playing it themselves. I remember hearing that Gilles Peterson had discovered Fat Freddy's Drop and all I could think was that it had been on a CD I'd given to him over two years earlier.''

Then, in 2005, Mitchell and his Japanese wife moved to Osaka. When a chance to visit his local - Especial Records - came up, it seemed natural to take a CD with him. "Well it was my first visit, and, you know, it's like going to a party at someone's house; you've got to take something''.

Working behind the counter was Kenji Sakajiri. After the pair bonded over a few shared favourites, Sakajiri played Mitchell's offering and became hooked on the Fat Freddy's Drop track, Hope. ''That was the trigger for me getting in touch with this 'pure' music from New Zealand," Sakajiri says from Japan. "I was really sure that those guys could add some fresh breeze to the boredom of the current music scene."

After organising the group's first Japanese vinyl release, Sakajiri was enthused enough to launch his own label, Wonderful Noise. Record culture is possibly stronger in Japan than anywhere else, so for a small label to be noticed it needs a new sound, and Sakajiri had this new music coming out of New Zealand in mind for his.

His timing was excellent, as at the same time a disparate bunch of musicians in Auckland and Wellington were busily experimenting with sounds. Most were in established groups and assumed there was no chance their solo tinkerings would ever make headway in a country dominated by rock pop and reggae.

Julien Dyne was among them. A former member of the Opensouls, Dyne was most recently seen onstage at the NZ Music Awards sitting behind the sunglasses and drum kit with Ladi6. That's his nightly day job, otherwise he's at home in Mt Roskill playing with his music toys.

As with his labelmates, the results are a bit electronic, a bit jazz, a bit soul, a bit funk and, vocally, a lot Antipodean. It remains a style in search of a pigeonhole, although someone has jokingly suggested retro-futurism.

Anyway, through Mitchell's evangelism, Sakajiri got to hear a few tracks from the 32-year-old's first album, and was impressed. "I believe my ears, '' he says. "I was sure Japanese listeners would love this kind of music. Of course, the idea of this music coming from New Zealand is important, but the distance thing doesn't matter to me so much as it being unique and cool, everybody has been surprised by it.

“Japanese people rarely have a chance to see or hear music from New Zealand,so they are quite curious and, thanks to the releases we have put out, I think my customers now recognise these artists and are surprised at the quality. It's a bit tricky to explain, but I think they see the soulful elements as being different from what is coming out of Europe, America and Japan."

''It's gone way beyond those firstimpressions now '' says Dyne. ''It's become a friendship, he's a mate, and he's enabled me to tour to Japan twice - I'm going back again in March - and build a fan base. That's something else, going to play in a place like that after handing made my music in my bedroom. Especially as it would never have happened here.

There's a bit of indifference to this style of music in New Zealand and Australia, so when you just know you don't quite fit you have to lock for other avenues. "And he [Sakajiri] puts his music out on vinyl which to me is like a validation really because anyone can finish a song and put it on Bandcamp. I'm not sure why, but putting something out on vinyl seems to show a real commitment to your art, I feel like it has more permanence, more validity."

Their relationship has led to Dyne acting in a recruitment role, and as a result Wonderful Noise now boasts 11 New Zealand acts who make up about three quarters of their total roster. They include notables such asWellington's Lord Echo (aka Mike Fabulous from the Black Seeds), undergrounddarlings Electric Wire Hustle and Pacific heights, as well as Auckland's Isaac Aesili, producer Frank Booker, and, if the rumours are accurate, @peace, a new combo featuring members of Homebrew and Nothing to Nobody.

And the music is now flowing both ways. Partly in an effort to meet his artists, Sakajiri and another highly rated Japanese producer, Grooveman Spot, made a rare appearance outside Japan to play here earlier this month. It was only Sakajiri's second performance outside of Asia.

All the same, it is faintly ridiculous that musicians from this country have to send their music 9000 km away and then wait for whatever hard copies are left once the Japanese market has a go at them. Even then, they are only available from one store, Ponsonby's Conch [Records].

Which may seem small potatoes. But such a view misses the credibility to be gained from a label with a good reputation. A lot of important ears are pricked to what Wonderful Noise offers, and Sakajiri's New Zealanders are being played in the biggest clubs in the world by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Benji B and DJ Day.

Such promotion has given artists like Electric Wire Hustle the opportunity to shift overseas with a trail blazed ahead. Which is exactly what Isaac Aesili is hoping for as well. Known mostly as the trumpeter for Opensouls, Tornadoes, Eru Dangerspiel, Solaa and Recloose live, he's now looking to tour the Asia and Pacific region under his own name.

“It's amazing how these opportunities have come about, but with Kenji's help all these musical artists have been brought together into a sort of micro-industry'' he says. "Which is kind of funny because we've got a Japanese guy making something really worthwhile with music that doesn't really have an audience here … but it feels like the idea of exporting our our underground music has actually become viable.''

But the 32-year-old says he has got more than a potential career from the experience. "It's a real connection. Kenji's a bro officially. You can hang out with him and call him bro or cuz, so it's much more than business, it's a cultural exchange that has longevity. It's so out of left-field that this could have happened - I mean he's gone so far out of his way to tap into this scene, but it is still amazing that it took someone from Japan to connect all these local musos. Wonderful Noise will always be the reference point for what was happening on the scene at this time."

Check Wonderful Noise releases currently available via

Ten years of Daptone

Directed by Matt Rogers. Celebrating 10 years of Soul! Daptone Records Co-owners Gabe Roth and Neil Sugarman tell the story of how the "House of Soul" came about, and what makes Daptone stand out from the rest. Check out the photos of Sharon Jones wiring up the studio electricals.

ADDED: The Atlantic: In a Big Year for New Soul, a Small But Influential Label Turns 10

snip: "... Terry Currier, manager of Music Millennium in Portland, Oregon, the longest running independent record store in the Pacific Northwest, says the success of Daptone has had a significant impact on the music industry. "The soul revival has been really exciting; a lot of new bands have been given a chance like, Black Joe Lewis, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and Daptone was the catalyst for spreading this style of music to a wider audience," he says.

"Not only are new bands playing '60s-era soul, but there are a lot of reissue labels like Light in the Attic Records and archival label Numero opening their vaults to release things that have never been out before or have been out of print, and there is now a big interest, especially among younger people who maybe have never listened to this music before."

"....Roth's recording process has become mythic. He uses analog equipment, including a reel-to-reel recorder. While he's been called a mad genius, Roth sees his approach as simple. "I'm always presented as some sort of analog champion," says Roth. "But that's not really the case. I don't use computers because it's not the process I enjoy. I enjoy having to commit to sounds in the studio and not having an undo button. It's about the process and not the technology."

Roth is very particular about sound and knows exactly what microphones he's using and where they're placed. "I don't listen to what experts tell you to listen to—I actually listen to sounds," Roth says. In recording he might use Radio Shack mikes, or the common SM57 or even a $10,000 condenser mic. He's not concerned with what's a good mic or a bad one; he's only interested in what works for the music. This signature sound is the defining characteristic of Daptone..."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't stop the music

Simon Grigg drops his list of records he liked in 2011...

"... Almost no records make every list. In 1979 when I was a kid, Talking Head’s Fear of Music, Gang of 4’s Entertainment, Armed Forces, London Calling, Setting Sons and about a dozen other albums made every single end of year summation.

That was it unless you niched yourself in jazz, classical or country.

No longer – there are literally hundreds of records that are now amongst the best of 2011, and that’s a mighty thing. No longer are a few scribes and a few content-creating corporations defining what we like or should like. There is no need to feel insecure because you simply don’t get the widely touted top album. Or know who they are.

Now you make your own list and the rest be damned."

So... here goes. This is the album list - there's a ton of music I got this year that was digital singles and random stuff. I kinda stopped paying attention to albums.

Charles Bradley - No time for dreaming. Gorgeous soul album that manages to be utterly contemporary in its subject matter. Bradley is playing live in Oz in March, I hope some clever promoter brings him over here. He would kill it.

African Head Charge - Voodoo of the Godsent. AHC reunite with Adrian Sherwood for a cracking good album, with a Dave Dobbyn reference thrown in.

Lee Scratch Perry - Nu sound and version.
Mr Perry remixed by contemporary dance producers - Kode9, Congo Natty, Moody boyz. Mala etc. Like AFC, another new release from On U Sound, celebrating 30 years of shaking bassbins across the globe. Long may they continue.

Ikebe shakedown - Tasty self titled debut from Brooklyn afro funk ensemble.

After Hours collection - so much great Northern Soul. 3 CDs of gems

Mr Chop - Switched on - modern moog funk. Dirty filthy grooves. Covers of the JBs, Can, Jimmy Smith and more.

The Yoots - Sing along with the Yoots. Absolutely charming record, reworking well-known Maori tunes as ska and calypso grooves. Not hard to see why this was named as Amplifier's joint Album Of The Year. As Amplifier says "I started smiling when I first heard Sing Along With the Yoots, and now, if I'm feeling a bit blue, or the stresses of running a music retailer in a declining market get to me, I put this album on and for nearly 44 minutes the rest of the world doesn't exist."

Grace Jones - Hurricane dub. Splendid reworking of her most recent album, 2008's Hurricane. Sounds very reminiscent of her work with Sly n Robbie.

Where's the nearest record store? There's an app for that

The Vinyl District is a GPS-based record store locator app for iPhone and Android, and it's free. Currently US-centric, let's hope that evolves.

"Have a 5 hour layover in an unfamiliar city? Hit the “All Stores” icon for directions to the nearest indie shop and while away your time between flights digging through the crates. You can also check in and share your finds on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

Know of a store that’s just opened or just closed or just moved? Add or update that store’s status to the app..."

Bastard Jazz

"Tummy Touch Records Meet Bastard Jazz: A Brooklyn record label sound clash from two cult labels celebrating milestone birthdays this year - for free !

Bastard Jazz (who turned 10 this year) and Tummy Touch (celebrating their 15th) have each pitted five of their best bands against five of the other's hottest remixers to bring you this exclusive new compilation. Featuring music and remixes from Captain Planet, Tim Love Lee, DJ DRM, Los Chicharrons, Jugoe, Bing Ji Ling, The Bandana Splits and others..."

Truth and soul reggae

Absolutely gorgeous tune from the UK's Liam Bailey with NYC's Truth and Soul.

"Four years ago, Liam Bailey visited NYC from his hometown of Nottingham, England to write and record songs with Truth & Soul (Jeff Silverman & Leon Michels), that could help secure him the ever elusive major label deal. Shortly after the group met, an instant chemistry led to a series of reggae and soul songs that have been long-time favorites at T&S headquarters. Among those first couple songs are the roots reggae gems, "When Will They Learn".

Liam Bailey Official site / Facebook

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mega what?

Torrentfreak is reporting the latest development in the Megaupload vs Universal saga. The video is now back online (see below), but Torrentfreak quotes court documents that say   “The UMG-YouTube agreement grants UMG rights to effect the removal of user-posted videos through YouTube’s Content Management System (‘CMS’), based on a number of contractually specified criteria that are not limited to the infringements of copyrights owned or controlled by UMG,” the record label states in its filing.

Torrentfreak says "What that means, in case the preceding paragraph wasn’t clear enough, is that UMG has a private outside-the-DMCA agreement with YouTube that it can take down other people’s content from YouTube even when it doesn’t infringe their copyrights."

ADDED the founder of Megaupload is a man named Kim Dotcom, who was busted for computer hacking in his native Germany in 1997. These days he lives in New Zealand, and had originally planned to use Gin Wigmore for the Megaupload Song, but her manager and label (Universal) nixed that idea after the recording session took place (at Neil Finn's Roundhead studios).

Gin was replaced by Macy Gray. The video has now had over 2.4 million views, which suggests that Gin may have missed out on some valuable international exposure, alongside the likes of Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, Will.I.Am of Black  Eyed Peas. Read an interview with Kim Dotcom here.

ADDED: NY Times Media Decoder blog on the Youtube/Universal stoush is worth a read:
A YouTube takedown raises questions over media influence

ADDED: CMU: Universal has no special takedown privileges says YouTube.

CMU also reports that the original takedown notice from Universal was done as they claimed they were acting "against the song on behalf of one of its artists, Gin Wigmore, who said she was featured in the promo video without her permission." Except she isn't in it, according to Kim Dotcom.

ADDED Jan 20 2011 Megaupload has been shut down by US Federal prosecutors, who have charged its founder and others with violating piracy laws. Via NY Times

AP reports that founder Kim Dotcom and three others has been arrested in New Zealand at the request of US authorities. "The Justice Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large ... The Hong Kong-based company listed [hiphop producer] Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Alicia Keys in 2010, as its CEO."

ADDED Jan 27 MTV reports Kim Dotcom is releasing an album, produced by Printz Board.

ADDED Feb 8: Video - TV3's Campbell Live goes inside Kim Dotcoms's mansion with his bodyguard, sees  panic room where he was Dotcom was hiding

ADDED Feb 11 - Printz Board - BEP and Kim Dotcom's producer (Megaupload Song) - talks to GeorgeFMs Nick D about the case. He's been hanging with PNC and Vince Harder while in NZ.

ADDED Feb 22: Kim Dotcom has been granted bail after new evidence came to light.

RELATED:  Bail updates on Kim Dotcom

RIP Ralph MacDonald

Grammy-winning artist wrote ‘Where Is the Love’ and ‘Just the Two of Us’ passes aged 67.
From NY Daily News.

"Born in Harlem on March 15, 1944, MacDonald was a working musician as well as a writer and producer. Until health problems sidelined him a year and a half ago, he continued to tour regularly as a member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.

The son of legendary Trinidadian calypso performer MacBeth the Great, MacDonald began performing as a small boy when his father would have him dance on the drums.

At 17, he landed a job in Harry Belafonte’s steel band, where he remained for the next decade. After telling Belafonte that the singer needed more authentic calypso music, he wrote an album of songs that Belafonte recorded as “Calypso Carnival” in 1966.

Soon afterwards, MacDonald launched his own publishing company, Antisia Music, with his friends Bill Salter and William Eaton.

They gave the company two years to establish itself, and MacDonald later recalled that the time had almost expired when he started working with Roberta Flack. He pitched her a song he had written with Salter, “Where Is The Love,” and her recording with Donny Hathaway became a multi-million-seller.

Through Antisia and as an acclaimed percussionist, MacDonald worked with a who’s who of artists, including Amy Winehouse, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Bette Midler, Diana Ross and Grover Washington Jr., for whom he wrote the hit “Mr. Magic.”

ADDED Soulsides has a great post paying tribute to MacDonald, highlighting some of the songs he helped craft...

It's here!

My brand new Dub Asylum digital EP is out today! Available on iTunes, Amplifier and Bandcamp, and all good digital stores. Have a listen below, and grab it! Cheers.

Chin chillaz

Out today, on Babysteps Music, run by the Morningsteppa (happy birthday, bro!) You can catch Morningsteppa back on KFM this arvo, 12-2pm, dropping freshness and beats.

"Almost a decade after releasing quite an influential mini album (called "Peas in Basmati“) on infamous Vienna imprint DOPE NOIR, owned by legendary downtempo popster WALDECK, comes the long overdue 'Paws' EP from Northern Gemany's CHIN CHILLAZ. On this release Fe Wolter (aka PFL released on ROCKERS HIFI's imprint Different Drummer) and George Solar (Rubbasol, Solar Moon) put forward 4 tracks picking up where they left off in a 'slo mo' type style."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spinna vs MdCL

A huge swag of MdCL productions and remixes, check this out...

"The Best of Mark de Clive-Lowe mixed by the legendary DJ Spinna includes 34 tracks of MdCL productions, remixes and collaborations with Kenny Dope (Masters At Work), DJ Spinna, Phil Asher (Restless Soul), Zed Bias and more. The mix takes you on a journey covering an array of genres including downtempo, soul, breaks, and house. Mark de Clive-Lowe's ninth solo album, 'Renegades' is out now on Tru Thoughts Records."

R.I.P Cesaria Evora

Cesaria Evora has passed away in her native Cape Verde, aged 70. 

From The Guardian... "The singer Cesária Évora, who has died aged 70 after a long period of ill-health, rose from absolute poverty on the Cape Verde archipelago to achieve worldwide fame in her later years. She put the islands – off the coast of west Africa – on the world music map by performing their distinctive morna ballads with a serene mix of sweetness and melancholy.

When she first came to European attention in 1988, Évora appeared an unlikely candidate for international stardom, yet within five years she was selling hundreds of thousands of CDs, with concert audiences to match. Grammy nominations, critical adulation and the praise of famous singers quickly surrounded the chain-smoking, barefoot grandmother, yet Évora remained remarkably blasé about her newfound celebrity.

She was, she always emphasised, a good singer, and thus it was natural that people would enjoy hearing her. That she had had to endure decades of obscurity was, she would add, frustrating. Eschewing false humility and proud of her heritage, Évora knew her own standing among the world's greatest vocalists..

...Though success brought Évora considerable wealth, she remained a barefoot, chain-smoking stoic who shrugged off fame's affectations and retained Sao Vicente as her home. Even after her health began to decline in 2005, she continued to work hard. Three years later, a minor stroke before a Melbourne concert caused the tour to be curtailed. In 2010, a heart attack after a Paris concert necessitated open-heart surgery, and last September she retired from performing."

Evora was scheduled to appear at Womad in New Plymouth in 2008, but, as mentioned above, a minor stroke in Melbourne caused her to cancel, with Neil Finn stepping in to fill her slot.