Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 24

IQU - Witchcraft
Troublefunk - Drop the bomb
Tom Tom Club - Genius of love - long version
Jean Carn - Free love - Victor Rosado re-edit
Rose Royce - Make me feel like dancing
Chakachas - Jungle fever - Greg Wilson edit (soundcloud)
Ikebe shakedown - Tunjunga
Buddy Miles - Them changes
Ray Baretto - Acid
Bronx river parkway - Nora se va
J-Star - Fishfinger tentacle dub (soundcloud)
Hallelujah Picassos - Peanut butter (bandcamp)
Norma White and Brentford disco set - I want your love
Dub specialist - Kampala
Althea and Donna - Uptown top ranking
Mere Mortalz feat U Brown - Dis a boom
Herbs - French letter - dub version (Youtube)
Mighty diamonds - Right time
VV Brown - Crying blood - Andrew Weatherall dub 
Lee Scratch Perry  - Jungle youth - Congo Natty remix
Prince - Housequake

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beaten Generation

Hostage to the beat - front cover. Published by Tandem Press
By Robyn Pett, Pavement magazine, Aug/Sept 1995 issue. 

History never repeats, but it may come back to haunt you. In his follow-up to When the Rock Got Rolling, his tribute to Wellington's rock scene in the 60s, author Roger Watkins pays homage to the movers and shakers in the Auckland music scene during the 50s and 60s, an era as wild as it was weird.

A history lecturer at Welllngton's Victoria University and a musician during Auckland's rock 'n' roll years, Watkins new book, Hostage to the Beat: The Auckland Scene 1955-1970, is an alphabetically ordered retrospective that begins with The Acton and ends with The Zodiacs There are also dozens of other imaginatively named outlets like Feet Beats, Velvet Bubble, The Fair Sect, Hi-Revving Tongues, The Steam Packets and, best yet, The Four Fours.

The writing and attention to detail make it clear that Watkins is passionate about the music of his day. He's also pissed off it's been universally forgotten.

"Fundamentally, I'm really cheesed off that that period of our social history has become invisible," he chides. "I mean, so many contemporary musicians have no idea who Larry's Rebels or The Underdogs were. Or even who Johnny Devlin was. He was New Zealand's first rock and roll rebel, he was New Zealand's Elvis. And no one even knows about him. It's a real shame.”

Peter Posa and friend. Porbably something to do with his album called White Rabbit

It's Watkins' opinion that musicians today have nothing on their 60s counterparts. For a start, they have no political or social motivations to spur them on. In Auckland in the 60s shock value counted enormously. It was an age of unspeakable matricide and the incomprehensible notion that teenagers had sex.

Thanks to limitations in technology, it was also a time when talent counted as much as image, maybe even more. "The technology and the equipment didn't exist in those days," explains Watkins.

"Technology these days allows people that might not necessarily have the natural, raw talent as musicians, to create music.” Gaining precious airplay on radio and television is another burden contemporary bands have to contend with. But before the advent of music videos and Casey Kasem's Top 40, things were different.

If you were in a band the DJ was your friend, Somebody who had your best interests at heart. Somebody like Paul Holmes, perhaps, who fronted a rock show called Gruntmachine.

"Radio was a completely different beat," raps Watkins. "A lot of those jocks in the 60s saw the bands live, compered their shows, knew the bands personally. Nowadays radio is all programmed by computer, there isn't even anyone there. So it's much harder to get airplay. I think the bands now have it much harder. The 60s were a much more personable time. It was a people's time."

The Brew, left to right - Doug Jerebine. Bob Gillet, Tom Ferguson, Yuk Harrison, Trixie Willoughby

It was, argues Watkins, the definitive era in rock and roll throughout the world. "The 60s was a renaissance. Everything changed in the 60s. In New Zealand there was a staggering amount of recording done and there were a phenomenal number of bands.

“The music still stacks up today. It was loads better than anything that was coming in from elsewhere. The funny thing is that New Zealand music from that period is now in demand by collectors in Scandinavia and Germany. They recognise the vitality that was lacking In the British and American recordings But no one in New Zealand even knows this stuff exists.''

Republished here for archival purposes only - non-commercial use.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Temptations vs Universal

The Temptations are suing Universal Music Group (read more). "The group is filing against UMG over a number of royalty concerns, and part of a growing class action lawsuit sparked by Eminem's publishing group, F.B.T. Productions... Together, the major labels license 80 percent of the music downloads sold by music download providers to end users in the US.

Not only is it the issue of digital download royalties at stake but also revenue from streaming services.

"... Just last week, Spotify investor Sean Parker admitted that artists are frequently not getting paid a portion of upfront advances by their labels. Well, count the Temptations as Exhibit A: the group really has no idea what Spotify is paying UMG, or how much they should be getting paid.

[from the legal filing] "Some music streaming providers have paid large upfront fees to labels, such as UMG, to acquire rights to large catalogs of music. Due to non-disclosure agreements signed between music streaming providers and labels, artists (such as the plaintiffs and the class action herein) are not provided with any details about these payments, and there is little transparancy about how - and if - that money makes its way to artists. On information and belief, UMG does not provide appropriate royalty payments to its artists from the licensing income it receives from music streaming providers."

Mixtapes r us

From the weekend's Sunday Star Times, article on how the web's changing entertainment...
Living the iLife, by Elle Hunt.

excerpt: "... The brainchild of broadcaster James Coleman, lets you discover and share music. It's an extension of that same sense of High Fidelity-type community, but its reach is hugely greater. The premise behind Mixtape ("Browse. Create. You") is nothing new.

Sites such as iTunes' Ping, Rara, Spotify and Audioboo perform much the same function, effectively letting you turn your mobile devices into personal radios, either free and perhaps with advertising, or paid for by subscriptions. 

The difference is that Mixtape was made here, and it attracted public funding. Coleman's proposal received support from NZ On Air to the tune of more than $330,000. And it means TV3 personality Jaquie Brown can load a 12-song "dance mix to play when you are naked and alone, thinking about being a pop star" for all to enjoy.

"It's about extending our services," says NZOA chief executive Jane Wrightson, a self- confessed "non-digital native" who nonetheless raves about how the Apple iPad has revolutionised NZ On Air board meetings. "We were looking for original ideas for new content or services that had potential to find a decent audience."

Read the full article: Living the iLife

Ranking Casbah

The Clash with Ranking Roger on vocals - Rock The Casbah. What a dope version!

Ranking Roger pops up in the comments on this clip, talking about how this version came about.

"I recorded this for the Clash in London around 82-3 when the Clash and the Beat toured quite a bit in the U.S.A together. I also did a toast/rap over Red angel dragnet which I have not heard since. I did it as a one take in the studio.

"The Clash split up shortly afterwards so it was never released. What you guys are hearing here was just a rough mix for us to go away and listen to. It was never finished. Mick Jones was with me and a couple of engineers. We took the original 24 track and took the lead vox out. Anyway,it was not allowed to be let out to anyone,althouh i gave the late John Peel a copy of it (R.I.P.)"

Ranking Roger later worked with Mick Jones in Big Audio Dynamite - read more on that here.

LISTEN: The Clash with Ranking Roger - 'Armagideon Time' live, Santa Barbara 1982

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Splore boxed

Amazing visuals from Mike Hodgson (Pitch Black) at Splore.... hats off to all involved in this. Some very nice Len Lye-inspired moments, done by Greg Wood on 16mm film.

Stenchmeister speaks

The Listener, March 24, 2012, review by Jim Pinckney (Stinky Jim)

Stinky Jim contributed to the digital booklet liner notes for Rewind The Hateman, the best of collection from Hallelujah Picassos, released in October last year (buy it here on CD/digital). If you haven't seen that, here's what he wrote. Thanks, Jim.

"Gotta to be honest, it's hazy….. good hazy though - Picassos’ gigs, and in fact a fair chunk of time spent with the band (DJing, loafing, shuffling at gigs, call it what you will etc etc), was just like that back then - and you wouldn't have it any other way. So 20 odd years later (and the years were even more refreshingly odd back then, it should be said) and here's some random thoughts on one of the randomest bands Auckland, hell ….New Zealand, maybe even the Southern Hemisphere has ever thrown up (pun fully intended).

They blurred lines, constantly.... on all fronts. Sometimes it may not have been deliberate, most times it was. As a fully operational and downright rockulating live band they engaged with technology and the use of the mixing desk as an instrument, in a way that was infinitely far more effective, genuine and successful than the vast majority of their dilettantish so-called contemporaries.

When they covered a song it was delivered like a lovingly given shiner. Most times their covers sounded like originals, and conversely some of their originals came across like covers. Them kind of grey areas are sadly all but gone in today's overly sanitised, depressingly genrified, and stomach churningly commodified, conservative music scene.

We really don't need any f#cking reunion tour (from anyone at all any more... thanks) to remind us, but a few bands with the awareness, adventurousness and downright danger of the Picassos certainly wouldn't go amiss in Kommander Key's blighted millionaire’s playground right now.

Even as four individuals (and yeah.. I know.. there was more later, but no disrespect intended - the original four person iPicasso Classic line-up is the one that I refer to) they shouldn't have fitted together, yet... like all the wrongest right things, and many of the best…they just did.. gloriously.

Live they were a force of nature, some might say not always necessarily a force for good… but sod the sad sacks - they were never to be underestimated. Their releases weren’t so far away from exceptional radio shows or masterful mixtapes, some might say that you need to know the rules to ignore them but that doesn’t apply when you’re making it up as you go along.

They were, and remain, a bright splash of colour amongst a predominantly dreary monochrome music scene - for sure they didn’t do it entirely alone (potty mouth Hornblow, LVDA et al ...take a bow) but Bob, Harold, Peter and Johnny you cop the broader than Broadway biggest salute, Picasso core for life!

Kim Dotcom asset seizure ruled invalid

In case you missed this, "According to a Friday opinion by New Zealand's highest court, a simple procedural error could force the feds to return all of Kim Dotcom's seized belongings. 

"That is, roughly $200 million worth of luxury automobiles, overpriced furniture, and life-sized giraffe sculptures. Justice Judith Potter ruled the restraining order to be "null and void" and having "no legal effect," based on apparently sloppy paperwork. The development was first reported by the New Zealand Herald.... 

 "... The Herald reports that police commissioner Peter Marshall and advisors at the Crown Law Office have admitted making a 'procedural error' in its massive raid, and subsequently attempted to file the right paperwork - that is, after the raid had already occurred. That was approved, and the courts could cut the feds some slack and let the raid stand. Otherwise, Dotcom gets his stuff back, and MegaUpload lawyers could be preparing a dogfight over this..." Via Digital Music News.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Home, land and sea

Home, land and sea: Situating music in Aotearoa New Zealand is a recently published (2011) collection of academic writings on our music. It's edited by Glenda Keam and Tony Mitchell, and covers hiphop, reggae, Polynesian  and Maori music, sounds from the Mainland, and there's a chapter titled "DIY or DIT: Tales of making music in the capital" which starts off by quoting extensively from several pointed comments off a Simon Sweetman 2009 blog post where he rubbishes Fat Freddys Drop. Sweetman referenced in academic journals - there you go.

There's also a reference to AK79 that mistakenly credits it to Simon Grigg's Propeller label - it came out on Bryan Staff's Ripper Records. Grigg was involved in the 1993 CD release of AK79, released by Propeller/Flying Nun (p122  - sorry, Tony Mitchell. You also misspelled Propeller as Propellor. And the release date in the discography for that chapter says 2003).

Don McGlashan says in the afterword "The essays in this book all ask the question; Does New Zealand music sound like it comes from New Zealand, and if so, what does it sound like?"

In the chapter called 'Oh, reggae but different!' The localisation of roots reggae in Aotearoa, written by Jennifer Cattermole, there's a great quote from Herbs' member  the late Charlie Tumahai... it talks to the notion of the existence of Pacific reggae, and what that means...

"What I was playing was West Indian style reggae, roots reggae. It wasn't until I put one against the other - playing Herbs, then Marley, Herbs, then Black Slate, then it struck me... the key to it for me was Herbs have more of a roll. The roots reggae is more of a staccato style; they leave holes, take things away. It's very heavy. Whereas the Herbs rhythm is more of a rolling thing, quite smooth. It came home to me when the Wailers walked into one of our rehearsals, and they clicked. They said 'Oh, reggae, but different!'I said yeah - it took me a while too."

Offical blurb: "Home, Land and Sea presents twenty different viewpoints on music in Aotearoa,New Zealand. A selection of experts examine the vast range of music production in this country and relate it to what it might say about our homeland, our diverse population, our landscape and our identities.

The collection surveys traditional and popular music created by Maori and Pacific Islanders, distinctively Polynesian brands of reggae and hip hop, the music of migrants from such areas as Latin America, China, Japan and Greece, the electronic and instrumental music traditions made more local by Douglas Lilburn, the internationally recognised 'Dunedin sound' of the Flying Nun label, and the eccentric electroacoustic of 'outsider' musicians, revealing an ever-increasing diversity of music in New Zealand.

Home, Land and Sea is the first comprehensive academic study incorporating contemporary popular, experimental and art music practices in New Zealand. Written for a tertiary audience it will be of relevance to scholars of a variety of disciplines including music; media and communications; cultural studies; sociology; anthropology and geography."