Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Sharon Jones and Dapkings album streaming at NPR
Go have a listen, it's wicked modern soul. It's out April 6, on CD and LP. And while you're there, NPR have a recent live show from Ms Sharon Jones and her Dapkings, taken from SXSW for download here. Check the Dapkings super soul revue from Daptone Records.

Monday, March 29, 2010

DJ Kentaro at the Turnaround - DAMN!
I had the pleasure of catching DJ Kentaro at the Turnaround last Friday night, after seeing him the previous week at the Tiger Translate event which was incredible - hats off to everyone involved in that mean night. Kentaro's set at the Turnaround ws more of a club set, starting off hiphop, then  going reggae, and off into some mad house bizznizz, then back to dubstep and some jungle. Watching him cut and scratch house tunes was  pretty mad - not a genre I really pay much attention to, but he did some mighty clever stuff with it. And then he went back to the reggae styles and dropped Budy Bye form Johnny Osbourne, which tore the place up. Much respect to Kentaro.

Anyways, this video is a bunch of photos I shot with my iPhone, using a camera app called Hipstermatic, which emulates an instamatic-type look. The music is Dk Kentaro's remix of Kunte Kinte by the Revolutionaries. Enjoy.

Mulatu - new album on the way
Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke's first official solo release in over 20 years, called Mulatu Steps Ahead, is coming out March 30. "The tracks were recorded with members of Either/Orchestra in Boston, with contributions by traditional Ethiopian musicians in Addis, members of The Heliocentrics and some of the UK’s leading jazz and African players during the final sessions in London in November 2009."

Here's a clip of Mulatu talking about the new album (14 mins).

"Also, make sure to check out Mulatu's full orchestra Los Angeles performance on Mochilla's Timeless DVD box set, which is also out March 30th on Mochilla.  The limited edition 3-disc box set includes Astatke's full set featuring jazz legends Bennie Maupin, Azar Lawrence & Phil Ranelin, as well as discs featuring a performance by Arthur Verocai, and "Suite For Ma Dukes," an orchestral interpretation of J Dilla's work.  See below for a clip featuring footage from Mulatu Astatke's disc.

And thanks to the kind folk at Strut... in case you missed it, download "Green Africa" from the album below:
Mulatu Astatke- "Green Africa" (mediafire) (zshare)
Over 80 versions of Mas Que Nada
Lounge, Brazilian, disco, drum n bass... you name it. Get your fill over here.  Jorge Ben, the song's composer, is playing in Auckland soon too (May 22 at Powerstation).  Versionsgalore blog (hat tip to Crighton)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

To have and to hold: trailer

To Have & To Hold - Taster Tape from Jony Lyle on Vimeo.

From Crate Kings: "Director Jony Lyle gives a quick teaser of his upcoming film entitled To Have & To Hold, which Lyle describes as “a ‘musicmentory’ to celebrate the age of vinyl records.

The film promises enough archive footage, records rooms, music collections, pressing plants, and rare vinyl to satisfy even the most die hard physical music addicts.  In addition to its irresistible collectible eye candy, To Have & To Hold, which is scheduled for a 2010 release, features interviews with such notable vinyl aficionados as Questlove, Chuck D, Bobbito Garcia, DJ Amir, Bruce Lundvall, Christian Marclay, and Paul Mawhinney."

RIP Bobby Espinosa (of LA group El Chicano)
Saw this over at Soulsides. Bit late, but here it is...
Felix Contreras has a great memorial piece up at NPR about him.
Here's a 2009 interview with him by Jesus Velo of Los Illegals.

I first came across El Chicano when I found their first album Viva Tirado in Real Groovy. I picked it up cos the music was cool jazzy East LA 70s funk, and cos the liners notes were fantastic, including mentioning such important details as "The album was recorded afterhours in the lounge of the Kabuki Sukiyaki Restaurant, 3840 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, because that is what El Chicano wanted and because Moss is too good to be true". And one of the engineers was a Kiwi. The album has some great covers too, like Canteloupe Island, and a dynamite version of the Doors - Light my fire, which is 25 seconds long.

El Chicano - Viva Tirado live, 1971.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ba Ba Boom, supercheap
My Dub Asylum single Ba Ba Boom is on special at the moment over at Mighty Ape, usually $23, now only $15!  Go grab it  - it's bloody good. Audio preview on Dub Asylum Myspace.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hypnotic Womad
NZ Musician's Trevor Reekie has written a great review of some of the acts from the recent Womad Msuic Festival in New Plymouth. He talked to the likes of Nortec Collective, Calexico and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble about their business model, how they survive off their music. Best snippet: Hypnotic Brass have sold a staggering 800,000 albums. Holy crap.
Read the article here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The T.A.M.I Show
The first time I saw this incredible show was on VHS video release back in the early 90s. It's a TV show of a live concert in Santa Monica from 1964, with a killer lineup of live performers - Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Chuck Berry, and best of all, you get to watch the Rolling Stones flail around as they have to come onstage and play right after James Brown. Suckers. Now the show has just come out on DVD, and it's a must-see. Strangely, tho, I recall seeing Bo Diddley on the VHS video, but I think that was the T.A.M.I./TNT Show, combining a few different shows.

There's a write-up about it here on the LA Times...

"There's a story that Keith Richards once said 'Following James Brown was the biggest mistake of our lives,' " pop music historian and documentary filmmaker David Leaf said. "Maybe, waiting in the wings for the audience to recover, the Rolling Stones felt it was a bad idea at the moment. But watching the footage today, the Stones' performance is first-rate rock 'n' roll. It's just not epic in the way Brown's is. Really, nobody could follow James Brown."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Go you good thing
This week sees Kiwi artists at number ones on both the singles and album charts - Hollie Smith htis the top of the album chart on first week of release, and J Williams and Scribe continues their run atop the singles chart.

According to Paul Kennedy, dual Kiwi number ones have happened on 29 occasions in the last 8 years. Last time was April 2007, with Hayley Westenra and Atlas. Only Scribe and Ben Lummis have topped both charts simultaneously, in that time.

Corrugated cardboard record player
Hat tip to Suyin for sending me this... "A record player created from a piece of corrugated cardboard that folds into an envelope. Once assembled, a record can be spun on the player with a pencil. The vibrations go trough the needle and are amplified in the cardboard material. The players were sent out to creative directors across North America as a creative demonstration of GGRP’s sound engineering capabilities. Agency: Grey Vancouver, Canada." From Direct Daily. Click on pic below to enlarge it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shane McGowan, Nick Cave, Johnny Depp cover I Put A Spell On You
Also features Mick Jones (Clash), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Chrissie Hynde and version of the Screaming Jay Hawkins classic. Wonder if you can buy it from way down here in NZ?

"So moved by the plight of the people of Haiti, Shane and his long term girlfriend, writer Victoria Clarke made calls to friends and associates from which began the process of recording a track from which ALL proceeds go to Concern, a charity who have provided assistance to some of the poorest countries in the world including Haiti, even before the earthquake struck. Some of the stars on the record include - Nick Cave / Bobby Gillespie / Glen Matlock / Johnny Depp / Chrissie Hynde / Paloma Faith / Eliza Doolittle."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat 20 March
War - Me and baby brother
Soul Investigators w Myron and E - Its a shame
Sunlightsquare latin combo - I believe in miracles (inst)
La Belle - What can I do for you?
3 Titans - Life of a scholar
Chic - Good times
Los superiores - Descarga superior
Quantic -Westbound train
Dubblestandart - Pre-emptive dub (Sly n Robbie remix)
Johnny Osbourne - We need love
Jackie Mittoo - Summer breeze
Mr Vegas - Must come a road
Ticklah - Descent
Prince Jammy - A stalawatt version
Hakan Lidbo - Trinity
Oogun - Drony dubhall
Nortec collective - Tenga la voz, Colorado
J Dilla - Safety dance
Joy division - Love will tear us apart (Arthur Baker remix, 1995,
find it here: )
Amral's Trinidad cavaliers - 90% of me is you
Jahdan Blakkamore - She said
Poirier - Let them hate (Mungos Hifi remix)
Richie Phoe - Bumpy's lament
Adrian Sherwood and Lee Scratch Perry - His masters voice
Cooly G - Love dub
DJ Vadim - Soldier (UK Flex mix)
Fink - Sort of revolution (Sideshow dub)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Raw power
They may have been nominated for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame seven times since becoming eligible back in 1994, but finally, Iggy and the Stooges made it in. They were inducted alongside Abba, Genesis, the Hollies and Jimmy Cliff. The NYT noted that... 'In his acceptance speech, Mr. Pop declared: “Roll over, Woodstock. We won.” HELL YEAH.

They had previously performed at the Inductees event when Madonna asked them to play her songs in 2008, as her protest at the omission that year of Iggy and the Stooges (who were nominated that year but didn't get voted in).

ADDED Here's a review of the staid, black-tie audience reaction to Iggy and the Stooges performance... "Iggy ripped off his shirt and the band roared to life. And the audience … pretty much just sat there.  ... I can’t remember the last time I saw a more uncomfortable looking group of people. You could almost read the thought balloons: “I can’t wait for this to be over.” “Please make them stop.” “Bring out the Hollies.”

AND if you think being nominated seven times and missing out is bad, Solomon Burke was nominated nine times before he got in, and Patti Smith was nominated six times.  Read all about it in this article: Bridesmaided Bands: What it Took for 5 Hall of Famers to Actually Get In.

Video from AP, includes Iggy and the Stooges performance and press conference. More video here - warning  - seems to start playing ALL the videos when you open this page. Sucky.

NZ music websites strike right note at SXSWi web awards
Three of the five finalists for the best music website award at the 13th annual SXSW Web Awards (held Sunday) hailed from New Zealand. Fat Freddys Drop TV and Shapeshifter made the finals, as did Splore music festival. The other finalists were Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and the winners, Echo and the Bunnymen.

The music award is listed as being for "sites related to musicians, bands and the music industry, as well online radio and other destinations that offer streaming audio content."

Fat Freddys TV and Shapeshifter's sites were designed by Resn, and Splore was designed by Salted Herring.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For a New Zealand company doing incredible things on the world stage, Serato slide pretty much under the radar in terms of local acclaim. I suspect that's just how they like it.

I recall hearing DJ Sirvere claim on a TV show once that Serato was the greatest invention ever to come out of NZ, and I think he's right on the money.

Not only are they collaborating with some of the world's greatest DJs, they also have great hookups with some of the most prestigious record labels too, resulting in gems like this one. A Serato/Stonesthrow collab with previously unreleased goodness from the late J-Dilla. Exquisite packaging, two vinyls, and slipmats for your turntables shaped like donuts - who doesn't love donuts?

And you can preview one of the tunes here - JDilla covering Safety Dance. Seriously. Go grab it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 13
Jingo - Thousand finger man
Soul fantastics  - Aint no sunshine
Los Superiores - Descarga superior
Prince Fari  - Mozabites
Dub Colossus - Negus dub
Noiseshaper  - Ruff like a what
Lewis McCallum - Almanac
Herbie Hancock - Bring down the birds (B-Boy edit)
Barkin soul - Baby ba ba be be
Simon sound  -Tour de Mars
Skatalites - Beardsman ska
The Wailers - Put it on
Morgan Heritage and Bounty Killer  -Guns in the ghetto
Nas and Damian Marley - As we enter
Mr Chop - Straighten it out
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings  - I learned the hard way
3 Titans - Life of a scholar
Daktaris -Its all a big hustle (Mad Professor remix)
Adrian Sherwood and Lee Scratch Perry -  Brazilian jungle
Ruts DC - Love and fire (Dreadzone remix)
RSD - Jah way
Suizen  -Cartesian space 4d mix
Sade - Keeps us from falling (Ill poetic remix)
Collen and Webb - Give me a call
Fulgeance - Sour socca
ESG - Moody (spaced out mix)
Dub asylum - krd loop unmixed
Ricketts meets Fabulous - Riki

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rhys Darby meets Dr Dre
You probably already seen it, but damn, its funny. Our boy with Dre. Nuts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Recycle: everything's gone green
This blog - neworder-recycle- is all about New Order and Joy Division. A fan has lovingly collected up rare, out of print singles and collated them. It's a magnificent effort.

"Many of the tracks have never appeared on CD. This was a labor of love from a small, devoted circle of fans... All tracks were taken from the best/earliest possible sources to avoid modern mastering techniques which crush the dynamics. Tracks sourced from vinyl have been carefully cleaned and EQ levels have been tweaked for consistency. The artwork was scanned at the highest possible resolution and the type was reset when possible using the original fonts."

Take Love Will Tear US Apart - look at the attention to detail. You get...

01 Love Will Tear Us Apart
02 These Days
03 Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine/alternate version)
04 The Sound Of Music
05 Love Will Tear Us Apart (1995 Don Gehman Radio Mix)
06 Love Will Tear Us Apart (1995 Arthur Baker Remix)

1, 2 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD Substance COCY-9332
3 sourced from 1988 Factory Records CD single Atmosphere Facd213
4 sourced from Nippon Columbia Japan CD Still COCY-9331
5, 6 sourced from 1995 London/PolyGram Canada CD single Love Will Tear Us Apart 422 850 129-2.

Grab my fave New Order track, Confusion, over here. Or maybe I like Everything's gone green better? Hmmm....

Lalo Schifrin: The Cool Maestro
 Check this very cool interview from the LA Weekly with the soundtrack composer Mr Lalo Schifrin (Mission impossible, Bullitt, Enter the dragon and many more). He's still working at 77, but is a bit sceptical of how today's film directors approach film scores...

"One of his biggest worries is what he sees as a cost-cutting industry trend toward "assembled" soundtracks, like the Robbie Robertson–curated score for Scorsese's current thriller, Shutter Island, or even Tarantino's recent recycling of Schifrin's own 1970s work. "I liked Inglourious Basterds," he admits. "It was entertaining, and Tarantino used my music well. But he cannot work with a composer — at least not yet. He needs records, and from those records he extracts what he needs....

... For Schifrin, another industry practice that limits creativity is that of directors or producers handing the composer the "temp tracks" (works under copyright that are used temporarily for editing purposes) and telling him or her to imitate them. "Thus the composer is not a composer anymore — he is just a vehicle to copy the tracks with just enough variation to stay within copyright regulations. He ends up producing a kind of parody," Schifrin states with the contempt of someone for whom all music, from Beethoven and bebop to karate soundtracks, has always been a serious matter.

"I don't want to be the old guy who keeps complaining," he clarifies. "But I once had to tell a director: 'Stop going to the record store. Stop buying music. Let the composer compose.' "

Next he's off to Ireland, where he's conducting a program of suites arranged from his soundtracks, at Dublin's National Concert Hall. Check the article, he's got some great advice for anyone wanting to get into writing soundtracks.
The KPMG report on Radio NZ
Released under the OIA (Official Information Act), and kindly shared with the world by Paul Reynolds (local commentator and joint managing director of web design business McGovern Online, NOT the head of Telecom) - read it here. You can download it too (13MB).

The report clearly states that "we have concluded that RNZ is underfunded in terms of ensuring the sustainability of its current outputs".

So its current level of funding is not enough to continue its current commitments, which means, if it has to live within its existing funding as the Government is insisting, it will probably have to cut services.

As Paul says, "Seems clear as mud to me - RNZ can't do what they are tasked to do within their current budget - so the question Minister is, are you going to change "their outputs" - and make this change public - or are you going to help them achieve their existing outputs with additional resources?  And if the former - they have to do less - then can you make it real clear to them - and indeed the rest of us, just what less means."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The things you find on the side of the road...
... like a box of records, sitting outside a shop with a sign that says Free Records. Saw this on my walk home this evening, so I grabbed a few, chopped up some samples and came up with this tune in ten minutes, a mad jazzy flute loop that's wonky as hell.  Enjoy. The picture with the video is the records sitting outside the shop.

DUB45 styles
DUB45 is home to a new project from Wellington musician Tim Prebble. Check the video below, tasty electronica business. Then go check out his net label and grab a copy.

Happy 80th birthday, Ornette Coleman.
“I was born in Fort Worth in 1930, and I knew about as much then as I do now,” he said. “I don’t want to be smart and I don’t want to be dumb and I don’t want to be dead.” From NYTimes.

Funky Soweto.
Coming soon in the "Next Stop: Soweto" series is Funky Soweto, which looks killer.

"Volume 2 of the Next Stop... Soweto series shifts its focus to traditional forms meeting with funk, soul, jazz and more.  Painstakingly researched and compiled by Francis Gooding and Duncan Brooker (whose influential 2001 compilation Afro Rock was also just recently re-issued), it's essential listening for anyone interested in timeless music of any variety.  Check the awesome video from The MahotellaQueens, whose songs appear on both volumes." -

Original song with self-made video, featuring clips of the Queens back in the 1970s with their backing, Makhona Tsohle Band.

Next Stop ... Soweto: Soul, Funk & Organ Grooves from the Townships 1969-1976 (out May 11th)

Monday, March 08, 2010

New kids on the block
Life of a scholar is the funky single from 3 Titans, three young cats backed by the Menahan St Band.

"The 3 Titans, Khalil Jackson, Jorden Plaines, and Dallas Ifill, are rhythmically gifted fifth-graders with their sights set on higher education. On their debut 7” for Dunham Records, “C-O-L-L-E-G-E” b/w “Life of a Scholar”, the precocious eleven-year-olds trade rhymes about the benefits of going to college and the determination it takes to get there over two sides of old-school, hard-as-nails (and refreshingly sample-free) beats provided by the notorious Menahan Street Band."

Out Feb 16 thru Daptone/Durham Records. Watch it below.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (trailer)
Directed by Tamra Davis, the documentary features never-before seen footage of the prolific artist painting, talking about his art, and existing in the two years prior to his death in 1988. Davis shot an interview with her friend Basquiat in 1986, when he was out in Los Angeles. Two years later he died, and she took all the footage and put it away on a drawer. Now it's finally emerged.
The soundtrack features music from Mike D (Tamra Davis's husband) and Ad Rock. Watch it over here, or below. (hat tip Different Kitchen)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 6
Marlena Shaw  - California soul (Diplo remix)
Beat conductor - Carribean path
Red earth collective - Never give up (Manasseh remix)
Sugar Minott - So we love it/so we dub it
Augustus Pablo - Cassava piece
Karime Kendra - 90% of me is you
Prince Fari - African queen
Ricketts meets Fabulous - Riki
Mr Chop - Straighten it out
Grover Washington Jr  -Inner city blues
Mulatu - Ethio blues
Dub Colossus - Sima edy
Dubmatix - Peace and love (Introspective steppers remix)
Mr Vegas - Heads high
Ragga twins - 18" speaker
RSD - Firewall
Malcolm X/Keith Le Blanc - No sellout
Jingo - Fever
S Piloso and his super seven - Kuya Hanjwa
Myron and E and the soul investigators - It's a shame
Dub asylum - My sneaker collection weighs a ton
Barkin soul - Babybababebe
Black velvet - An earthquake's coming
20th century steel band - Papa was a rolling stone
Unitone hifi - Sneeze off
Lee Scratch Perry and Adrian Sherwood - Lucky Tarzan
Lewis McCallum - First date

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Shake N Bake on this Saturday and it's free!
BASE FM is once again holding its annual Shake ‘N Bake in Ponsonby at Western Park, this Saturday. Kicks off at Midday, til 6pm.

Shake N Bake is a combination of music & graffiti art in the park, which embrace the key elements of the underground hiphop culture. Don’t worry about having to fork out cash on tickets as this event is free for the whole family, and this unique line-up is the best you’ve seen yet!

On the live front, Auckland’s current leading hip-hop group Home Brew will be performing, alongside rising stars of the soulful groove Koru Licks, and the MC combo Shine Forum. Two of the nations most celebrated producers/drummers will be combining forces for this event: Wellington’s Riki Gooch (Trinity Roots and Eru Dangerspiel fame) and Julien Dyne (Opensouls) will be pushing the outer limits of rhythm. A special producer showcase will feature NZ’s best up and coming beat–makers Scratch 22 (Tourettes, Unscene), Charizma (Koru Licks) & Ben Wah (Honeyclaws). 

Support from BASE FM DJ’s Gemma and An Pham, Chef D and JC/DC all pumping out of the massive 30Hertz Sound System.

To keep not only your ears but your eyes entertained the one and only Cut Collective will be painting a trailer. Beat Markets, apparel and food stores will be running from midday to 6pm. 

The event will be broadcasting live on BASE FM 107.3FM Auckland, nationwide on TiVo TV & Freeview Channel, and streaming live across the world
Later on for the big kids we will be taking the day into the night at Auckland’s hotspot Rakinos where BASE FM’s finest DJ’s CXL, Dan Paine, Chip Matthews, Junior, Wendy Douglas, Coopa Blu and Future One will be rocking the dance floor till the early morning from 10pm.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Get a handclap?
Here's a rather tasty remix, of the Phenomenal Handclap Band's tune Baby, by Architeq. Grab it!

ADDED: a few more treats for ya... "in honour of Mayer Hawthorne reaching the 10,000 follower mark on his Twitter page, he has decided to release some goodness for all his fans to enjoy.1000 Paper Cranes” is an instrumental track he made a while back under his DJ Haircut moniker." DJ Haircut (Mayer Hawthorne) tune over here, and a tasty Jaylib vs J-Rocc mixtape. "JRocc threw together some Jaylib tracks and sources into a 30-minute mix. If you weren’t aware, J Rocc was the third member of Jaylib, as he performed on the turntables for Madlib and Dilla at live shows." Hat tip to Potholes in my blog.
Afro-rock - finding records in Africa.
Duncan Brooker compiled Afro-rock back in 2001, and its getting a reissue on Strut shortly (out March 9) - I posted a free download courtesy of Strut the other day, go grab it here.

I remembered a really good article that Brooker wrote for the Guardian back when the album first came out, and hunted it down. The Guardian, July 2001.

"...In west Africa, I found I was dealing mainly with producers - frequently the rights to a piece of music revert to the producer after a period of time. In order to trace music by the Ghanaian great K Frimpong, I needed to trace a producer called James Ofori and went to visit a man I knew, AK Brobbey, who styles himself "Africa's number one producer". Brobbey told me he knew Ofori well and that he would take me to him.

I jumped in the car with his driver, his daughter and two or three people that we were just giving a lift to. The village was a two-hour drive from Kumasi but it took us all day because the car broke down a lot and - because I was Brobbey's guest - I wasn't allowed to help push, though his daughter had to. In the end, I climbed out and pushed anyway. We got the car patched up at a garage and bumped on over the potholes to Ofori's village.

Ofori has become a poultry farmer. He lives in a two-storey house - the lower level is taken up by chickens while he and his family live upstairs. He was amazed to see me, telling me he hadn't talked about his music with anyone for seven or eight years, and started getting out all his photos of his studio and musicians in enormous flares and Afros. I told him I was looking for music by K Frimpong. "I have a copy of the cassette here somewhere," he said.

He found it and put it on, and his seven children came running in. They stared at me for a little while - I was, I suppose, the first white man they'd ever seen - then started dancing around. I told him I wanted to license the music, so that it could be heard outside Africa. "No, no. Come with me," he said, and led me downstairs into a room full of chickens. He started pulling out bags and reels of tape crusted with a thick layer of chicken shit and dust - everything in Africa gets coated with dust. "My God," he was saying, looking into cans of tape. "I don't know what's in this one. I haven't looked in here for 20 years. Which track were you after?" he asked. "Kyenken Bi Adi M'Awu," I said (which means Come Back My Love in the local language). "I can't believe you've still got it."

"It's lucky because Frimpong came here about seven years ago and took it away. But he came back. It's been in this room ever since." I told him I needed to take it away to get it recorded on to digitial audio tape. Fine, he said, bring it back when you've finished with it. I thought it would be completely shot, unusable, but in fact it was really very good, very clean stuff. I had another track...."

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Long Player, Short Changed.
Hollie Smith has been doing a ton of press lately, promoting her second album, due out March 15, called Humour and the misfortune of others.
She's been talking about the ups and downs following the release her debut album, Long Player, in early 2007. Its sounds like quite a story. As Hollie has said, the whole tale will take some time to come out, but the details she's revealed so far are pretty horrifying.

Hollie attracted the interest of Bruce Lundvall, the head of Blue Note Records (read Graham Reid's 2005 interview with Lundvall here), which led to her signing an international deal with Bluenote subsidiary Manhattan Records, amid much excitement from these parts. She had great hopes for the deal, but then EMI started laying off staff after it was sold in August 2007 to Terra Firma. International priorities changed.

Hollie told the NZ Herald's Greg Dixon that "Essentially, the contract was that an advance would go to a producer to make two extra tracks that I was obligated to make to release the album internationally. Once that was done and on the signing of the contract, I would gift them my masters [original recordings]. So the masters would become theirs, which is reasonably standard. But on signing the contract they had an obligation to release the album within six months. So as much as I'd given away something, it was give and take."

"With her "reasonably minimal" advance from Blue Note, Smith flew to Philadelphia to record with Grammy award-winning R&B producer James Poyser [The Roots], who has worked with such acts as Al Green, Mariah Carey and Lauryn Hill. It was, she says, an amazing experience. She was pleased, too, with the result..."

....[Smith says] "What happened from my point of view was [EMI] started calling me probably about four months before the release internationally of Long Player. So a couple of months after signing, they came through and said 'hey we think you've got a lot of potential, we want someone to write you a radio single and start doing the whole radio-friendly single thing'.

"I said 'well, give me a month and I'll write you a couple and you can say if they're adequate or not. And if that's the case, then sweet and if not, let's talk about the idea of someone else writing my stuff because I don't want a cheesy pop song that's totally irrelevant to the rest of the album'.

They were like, 'cool, cool, cool'. I sent them over some stuff and I hadn't heard back from them and I rung them again and said 'what's happening?' And they're like 'oh we've decided not to release your album at all internationally'. I said 'okay, well that's fine, then give me back my masters'.

"It was like 'cool, let's just dissolve the contract and get my masters back and let's just leave it at that'." But Blue Note informed her they owned the masters and Smith would have to buy them back. She says they told her: "You can buy your masters for 'x' amount of dollars', which was a huge, huge amount.

"A couple of hundred thousand to buy back my life. I basically said 'I'd rather sue you for that' and they said 'okay, go ahead'... "They essentially said 'if you want to sue us, go ahead but we're a $4 billion corporation' and that was kind of where it was left. I was obviously very conflicted on whether I should fight for it. I was completely, completely f***ed. At the start, I was angry, angry, angry. But then, realising how hopeless the situation I was in was, I kind of stopped doing anything."...   Read all of Greg Dixon's excellent interview here - above quotes are from it.

Hollie had signed a two album deal with Bluenote/Manhattan, so until that deal was dead, she couldn't write or record anything new. She eventually extracted herself from the deal, at a huge personal and professional cost.  I don't know Hollie personally, but this story is just heartbreaking.

I'm thrilled to see she linked up with the very talented Riki Gooch (the man behind Eru Dangerspiel, responsible for one of the most exciting and adventurous albums to come out of NZ in a long time - buy it now) to record her new album - there's a great quote from Riki in the Real Groove interview with Hollie, where he reassures her after she gets worried that the recording sessions are going too well and something's going to go really wrong. Hollie: "Riki just turned around and goes 'Babes, I know you find this hard to believe but this is how an album is supposed to go and this is why its fun to do music and this is what its supposed to feel like".

Amazingly, after all her trials with Bluenote/EMI, she's chosen to go with EMI NZ as local distributor, which resulted in a funny exchange between NZ Musician's Karl Puschmann and EMI's publicist before his interview with Hollie - "... before talking to Smith, I had been directed by an EMI publicist not to ask about the Bluenote saga. But as he's not here, and Smith herself bought it up, I decide to ignore the request...."

Let's face it, Hollie's triumph over adversity story makes for great reading, and it gets people interested in the album. How could she NOT talk about this? It's obviously been a really big part of her life for the last 7 years and she's still dealing with it.

Looking forward to hearing what the album sounds like. Anyone heard it yet?

Score! Free bonus track - Afrorock comp reissue   
Special non-album bonus track from Afro-Rock (out March 9th, Strut) - Help yourself! 

Latapaza Band- "Odi-Yoo" [mediafire] [zshare]

"Duncan Brooker's Afro-Rock Volume 1 compilation is generally cited as one of the most influential factors in the spread of obsessive collecting and documentation of rare African nuggets. Strut is very pleased to be re-releasing the collection next week, and totally geeked to be able to offer you an exclusive track that didn't make the album! Opening with a crisp drum and conga break, "Odi-Yoo" is a wild slice of unrestrained funk, and is a great indication of the treasures on the Afro-Rock album...

... Originally surfacing on Duncan Brooker’s indie Kona label in early 2001, the album single-handedly kick-started the thirst among jazz, funk and soul fans and ‘diggers’ to rediscover lost music from Africa made during the ‘60s and ‘70s from a time when many countries were gaining independence and celebrating a Pan-African identity within their music. The album was one of the first to reach a far different audience than the traditional ‘world music’ market and spawned many further projects and labels in its wake. A year later, the Nigeria 70 compilation surfaced on Strut and labels like Soundway and Analog Africa would continue to unearth amazing lost gems from the Motherland..."