Thursday, April 29, 2010

Record Store Day bigger than christmas in US

Hypebot reports that "It was a great day for recorded music as sales surged during America’s third annual Record Store Day on April 17th. Compared to the prior week, overall U.S. album sales in the independent sector increased 12% including a whopping 119% vinyl sales jump for the weekend and 529% growth in vinyl single sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan."

LA Times says "Eric Levin, one of Record Store Day's key architects, declared the event "more important" than Christmas or Christmas week, in terms of boosting sales at independent outlets.

Levin runs Atlanta's Criminal Records and overseas the Alliance of Independent Media Stores (AIMS), a group of 28 indie stores around the country. "Every single AIMS store has reported that this was the best day they ever had, whether they were a 5-year-old store or a 15-year-old store," Levin said.... The overall week-to-week gain in album sales could lead one to conclude that Record Store Day is fueling sales at all music retailers, even those not stocked with exclusive content."

New Basquiat doco

I posted a trailer for this doco a while back, and it had a screening recently at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Here's a clip below, trailer over here.

zSHARE video - Jean Michel

"Before Tamra Davis was directing comedy classics like CB4 and Half Baked, she was hanging around people from the storied downtown New York art scene and taking footage of her friend Jean-Michel Basquiat. After he died, she shelved the film for 20 years and never considered doing anything with it until 2006, when she developed a short for a Basquiat retrospective.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: the Radiant Child is an expanded, feature-length version of that short, combining her extensive archives with interviews with the artist and his friends, including Fab Five Freddy, Julian Schnabel and his girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk, who talks about getting into a fistfight with Madonna. Watch a brief clip above, then go watch the incredible full-length trailer over at Nowness, which presented Radiant Child at the Tribeca Film Festival last night." Via the Fader.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chief Boima -Techno Rumba promo mix

"Chief Boima is dropping his all new EP on Dutty Artz. The Techno Rumba  single is the next slamming leg in his inspired blend of rolling African riddims with electronic club sounds. Big remixes come from Dutty Artz Tropical hype miesters DJ/Rupture, Uproot Andy & Matt Shadetek.
"And to go with the single, a very special Afro-Rumba mix by Boima himself recorded live at his Little Boabab club in San Francisco.

Boima says "What's important about Boabab is that it is an African club in the heart of the city's main nightlife districts where Africans can go to a place that feels like home in America but it's not marginalized as an ethnic club on the outskirts of the city. The music reflects this.

"Drawing influences from the Mission (historically latin) neighborhood, but also from all of our upbringings as first and second generation Africans, and an identity as black people in America. It is a place where I've been able to bridge the disparate worlds' that I grew up in and create something that represents myself and my diverse experiences through music."

Grab it over at Ghettto bassquake.

Next Stop Soweto part 2

Whereas Volume 1 of Next Stop... Soweto focused on traditional South African music, the second volume treads into the fusion of these sounds with western funk, soul, psych & more.  While the results are utterly unique, not all musicians went this direction by choice.  Below, find a track from the powerhouse group Mahotella Queens (whose sublime "Zway Kumusha" is one of the highlights of Volume 1), who according to the album liner notes, were pressured into a more contemporary direction by their label.  

Not ones to bend over easily though, the track (the title of which translates to "Come On, Hippies") calls out South African youth for leaving behind the values of their parents.  Volume 2 of Next Stop... Soweto is out May 11th.
The Mahotella Queens- "Wozani Mahipi" (mediafire) (soundcloud) (zshare)
From: Next Stop ... Soweto: Soultown, R&B, Funk & Psych Sounds from the Townships. 1969-1976  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Voodoo Frank vs BBE

Voodoo Frank pops up in the Wax Poetics 'Africa' issue - he's a  mighty interesting cat. He's a serious record collector and DJ, who moved to West Africa in 2005 and lived there for 3 years. You can read about his time there on his website, here.

He recently posted up a thread of emails he had with UK label BBE (titled "Fighting British bootlegging enterprises"), over a song that he says they didn't have a proper licence to use on Off The Track Vol 3, from Kon and Amir. He also posted it on the Soul Strut forums. It's currently 18 pages long.

Frank says that he has an exclusive licence to use a track by Doris Ebong for a compilation he put together called Lagos Disco Inferno, but Amir says Frank sold him the record knowing it was for their compilation, then changed his mind when he later decided to do his own comp. I read the first 4 pages, and man, it gets heated.

Starts like this...

Frank: We have just last week released our compilation "Lagos Disco Inferno" which prominently features "boogie trip" as the first track and this song has somehow become the signature track of this release.  We do own the exclusive copyright of "boogie trip" and have signed with Rev. Tony Essien who is the producer and co-author of said track.

I would think it should be easy to understand how we can't accept the unauthorized publication of this track through a competing product. I will leave it up to the record label to serve you with a cease and desist order and to take further legal steps if needed.

BBE: "...The consultant who did the licensing for the off track 3 compilation is away on compassionate leave and as soon as i can speak to him next week i will confirm what the status is regarding the license of that particular track. We had someone in Nigeria assisting with the project. Being from Ghana myself i know these things can be not always so straightforward re ownership. Either way just bear with me for about a week and i will get back to you..."

Frank: "Since I haven't heard back from you about this matter, I'm assuming you are willing to go ahead and publish your record including Doris Ebong "boogie trip" for which we own the exclusive copyright.

You claiming "The consultant who did the licensing for the off track 3 compilation is away on compassionate leave" doesn't appear to be anything but an effort to gain time. Why would you need an consultant to tell you what you know as well as I do: You do not have any licensing for this track.

Next thing will probably be you tell us that the record's already manufactured."

BBE:"Can you send me your phone number please?"

Frank:"Let's keep this at emails, easier to document what was discussed.

-We paid the songwriter and producer for the exclusive licensing of this track.

-You don't have any license for it.

-You can't release unlicensed material, especially not after being contacted by the licensing holder and asked not to.

I think I was clear enough that I don't want you to release this track and you refused to comment on this demand.

Off Track Vol. 3 is still being advertised as soon to be released including this title.

This forces us to seek legal counsel so we can make sure our interest is being protected."

BBE:"Sure. Whatever works for you. Cd was already pressed over a month ago.
... Hope we can find a solution."

Frank:"Our record just came out and we will not accept you publishing this track be it on CD, digitally or otherwise. That's the whole point in licensing something exclusively, isn't it?

It's your own fault for manufacturing a CD that contains unlicensed material and the
distribution of a compilation that includes bootlegged material is against the law. You can't knowingly commit an illegal act and expect to "figure out compensation" later."

The next section are excerpts from several subsequent emails and everything you're about to read are complete and utter lies as will be proven later.

BBE: "Just want to inform you that Tony Essien does not have the rights to license you the Doris Ebong track as he has never been the master owner. All the recordings were a buy outs by Phonodisk.  BBE have a signed agreement for the rightful use of the track from the correct owner of the Doris Ebong master. I am passing on your email to correct owner as per his request. "

... "The track was never owned by the artist or the producer. Your license is not legitimate. "

... "The track was never owned by Tony Essien. "

Frank: "Putting the child of the label owner over the songwriter, producer and artist will not only put you in a very bad light publicity wise but will also not stand up in a court of law, be it in Europe or the US. You're more than welcome to fight over this.  There is no question that you will be left holding the short hand of the stick.

We have passed the matter onto out lawyer."

BBE: "Tony Essien is NOT the owner of the Doris Ebong masters and did not have the power to sign the track of to you. I'm afraid you have been ripped off.

BBE have the correct rights to the record.
As such you may have a cease and desist coming your way now."

In the meantime, my agent in Nigeria had done some research and this is what I wrote to BBE after I had received the results.

Frank: "I feel deeply sorry for you but I'm afraid you were ripped off.

Tony Essien's company TEDD Records licensed the Doris Ebong record to Phonodisk for 2 years after its original release. Tony Essien doesn't only still own the original contract for this but also all master tapes for his record. Still, I'll give you bonus points for the boldness of yesterdays bluff attempt."

BBE: "Just have your lawyer contact me. I am not interested in your mind games. "

Frank: "Count on it!"

Just two days ago, I have finally received scans of the contract Tony Essien had made with Phonodisk and with it final proof that nobody else but Tony Essien was the owner of the copyright of this record. Of course I couldn't resist firing off a gleeful mail to BBE before passing the matter onto our lawyers in the US and Europe.

Me: "Dear Peter,
as you have asked for, we don't play games anymore. Attached you find the proof that the copyright to the Doris Ebong LP "All I need is your love" including the track "boogie trip" was never owned by Phonodisk, Mr. Ishola or his family.

Should any copies of your CD that include this track hit the market, be prepared to be sued in a European court (where you will be stuck with all -including our -legal costs) as well as in a US court.

You can also tell the person you signed your fraudulent license with that he will hear from a Nigerian lawyer which will make for an even more unpleasant experience than what's in store for you.

Have a great weekend,
yours sincerely

See the contract documents here.

Then you get to page 4 on the Soul Strut forum and Numero group weigh in...

"Regardless if this is the right place or not, the world needs to know that BBE is kinda shady. It took nearly two years for us (Numero) to get Frank Penn and Jesse Jones paid from similar infractions. BBE's certainly not above just putting shit out when push comes to shove.

Frank, you look seriously foolish when you take it beyond the foothold of "These dudes are in the wrong." The legal threats are totally retarded, as no lawyer is going to trial over one song on a comp that will top out at 3000 copies. It's just not fucking worth it. Make your point and move on. I agree wholeheartedly that SS should know about this bullshit "reissue" label, but put it on the table and let the consumer decide.

And Kon and Amir? Defending your employer against this is just not a good look. We've discussed this before, and you know they're hardly on the level. I know you want the paycheck, but if you don't want your name covered in shit, don't swim in a septic tank...." Numero also suggest a few solutions to the issue.

Hat tip to Alan P for sending me this. Graphic from Soul strut forum thread.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tube-Tech visits Daptone's Gabe Roth

Tube-Tech's Jesper Bo and Thermal Relief's Erica Earl (Camera) visits Gabe Roth in Daptone Studio, Brooklyn NY. Gabe talks about recording with Tube-Tech and shows us the studio. It's a pretty basic video.

Think I've posted an article about this before, but the video is kinda cool. Watch out for the Daptone studio blackboard, with lotsa tracks listed - looks like they were working on the latest Sharon Jones album. Apparently they cut over 20 tracks for it.

Part2: How they get the Daptone drum sound

Share the information, spread it like butter

P-Money talks about getting ready to release his new album, the work involved being an independent, and how to deal with the pressure... this is well worth a read for any budding musician out there. Read it here, excerpt below...

"I tell ya, it sure is a great feeling to own an independent record label and be free to choose how you create, market and promote your own music. But don't ever make the mistake of thinking it's easy to do this well. You have to be sharp, attentive and dedicated. Especially when you manage yourself, as I mostly do....

"It's important not to forget that as a human you need to balance work and home life in order to be truly successful (and stay healthy… and sane!). With a schedule like mine is at present it can be difficult to find time to eat, let alone foster any kind of meaningful relationships, but I do my best on both fronts.

"It would be fair to say I'm feeling the pressure at the moment. But it's obviously something I've done before and can confidently navigate. This is technically album number 3 for me as P-Money the producer/artist and there are a number of other projects under my belt, courtesy of our other great acts at Dirty, that have contributed to my experience. So yes, I can handle it and fortunately this time I'm handling things far better than with any of my prior efforts. There have been no breakdowns yet! (believe it, they are par for the course in this game).

" With age I've learnt to not be as precious about each minor detail and instead look at the overall picture. I've also learnt to trust others with aspects of my projects a bit more, so that helps with not overworking myself. Control freaks and perfectionists (like me) are very prone to pulling all nighters and suffering severe burn-out. Im speaking from experience here. Taking care of yourself, getting rest, and not over indulging, is of utmost importance..."

Style Wars revisited

Style Wars is a crucial slice of hiphop history documented on film. "We are embarking on a project to restore STYLE WARS and bring it up to the highest technical standards available today in order to create a High Definition edition of the film. We will be transferring the original 16 mm negativeinto full HD 1080p while cleaning and restoring the film during the process."
Read more about it here.

Some of the original graffiti artists look back on that time, in the clip below...

Legendary DJ Greg Wilson: FACT Mix 141

Grab it here, only up for 3 weeks.

Wilson DJed at the Hacienda, the Wgian Pier,  and curated "compilations including the seminal Street Sounds UK Electro album (1984) and Classic Electro Mastercuts (1994). The last decade thankfully saw Greg make a welcome return to the DJing fray [after taking a break in 83], but the real renaissance began with Tirk’s brilliant Credit To The Edit 12″s and CD compilations, which celebrated the veteran’s unique and deliciously raw reel-to-reel editing technique."

1.      6th Borough Project – How can I show you (GW ‘bomb’ re-touch)
2.      Duff Disco 002 – Return of the duff
3.      6th Borough Project – Do it to the max
4.      Crazy P – Lady T (GW edit)
5.      Duff Disco 003 – Do that thang
6.      Young Dog Alien – Gotta keep workin’ it (GW mash-up)
7.      Stevie Wonder – Superstition (Todd Terje edit)
8.      The Bangles – Walk like an egyptian (Todd Terje edit)
9.      Killer Funk Disco Allstars – Things you do to me
10.    Sgt Lovebody – Skippy’s down the well
11.    Aretha Franklin – Rock steady (DK edit)
12.    Rufus Feat Chaka Khan – Ain’t nobody (Frankie Knuckles hallucinogenic mix)
13.    Blondie – Rapture (6ms edit)
14.    Linkwood – Falling
15.    Elektrons – Get up (GW special version)
16.    Fatback Band – (Are you ready) do the bus stop

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guru interview from 2003

Writer Oliver Wang wrote one of the few decent obits for Guru, for the LA Times. He talks about putting that together here, along with some of his favourite Gangstarr tunes.

Oliver has also put up some snippets from a 2003 interview he did with Guru and Premier...
"I wrote a cover story on Gang Starr for URB in 2003, in anticipation for The Ownerz, the group’s first album in five years. I flew out to NYC and interviewed the two men, separately, in Studio B of D&D Studios."

Guru talks about raising his son, staying relevant, Gangstarr thru the years, and as a bonus, top 5 beats that Premier wished he'd produced. Great reading.

BIGFM sold to Kirby bros

BIGFM launched in November 2008, and is being sold to Thane and Richard Kirby, both ex-GeorgeFM. The deal was hinted at in Friday's NZ Herald, here. with a rumoured $2m sale price. Here's the official press release...


New format BIG TIME FM goes to air 1 May

There's a new not-so-secret secret set to send shockwaves through the New Zealand radio industry! The Kirby brothers are back in business.

Broadcasting brothers Thane and Richard Kirby have purchased BIG FM 106.2FM in Auckland, as they say, for an undisclosed sum.

Tune in from next Saturday (May 1, 2010) from 7am as the two entrepreneurs of independent radio take hold of BIG and kick off a 'spoiler' format called BIG TIME. The guys are in a holding pattern until their shiny new format is revealed in June.

"The new format is under wraps at present," Thane says, "but we guarantee it's going to provide a new offering not currently catered for by any other station in New Zealand."

Thane Kirby is the founder of George FM, UpFM, Base FM and the now defunct alternative music telly channel he doesn't really like talking about, ALT TV - "Similar to the channel Mediaworks' C42 is about to launch in May," he says.

Thane is also a consultant to Radio Ponsonby 107.7FM and continues to assist with the station's phenomenal growth.

Richard Kirby is keen as mustard to get his teeth back into the Auckland radio market and win the ears of listeners region-wide.

"Ask me about our creds and I'll tell you we both have more than credible backgrounds in broadcasting and have worked for greater successes than some of the more senior members of the local radio business."

The brothers are set to become one of the biggest independent radio operators in the country. Despite the demise of BIG FM they say there is some good news for a few of the station's former staff.

"The pick of the bunch will be recruited to work on the new station," Richard says, "because the new format will adhere to and respect the 'Auckland-ness' and 'community' feel that BIG FM fostered."

Big FM Director Jeff Down is pleased the station has sold to passionate radio people. "The MED is transferring the licence and the transition from BIG FM into BIG TIME should run smoothly."

So put down this release, find a beer and toast the little guys who are about to battle through the current economic climate and the foreign-owned radio networks just to provide the public with a credible source of entertainment.

"We both love radio and enjoy a good challenge so give us a listen from May 1," says Thane.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, April 24

Mighty Mo and winchester seven - Next message version
Simonsound -Tour De Mars
Redds and the boys - Put your right hand in the air...
Quincy Jones - Hummin
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - Better things
UBB - I know you got soul inst
Daru Jones feat Kissey Asplund - So good pt 2 - Gogo mix
DJ Vadim - Hidden treasure
Mos dub - History town
Derrick Morgan - I'm the ruler
Eric and the Loveletts - I've been searching
Lizzy and Alcapone - Ba ba riba skank
Jackie Mittoo - Darker shade of black
Manasseh  - Skenga 12" mix
DVA - Natty
Natural yoghurt band - Latin illusion
Bamboos  -You aint no good
The Roots  -Stars
The Clash - Magnificent seven
Chuck Brown and the soul searchers - We need money
3 Titans - College
George Mcrae - I get lifted (Mischief brew re-edit)
Beat pharmacy - Rooftops
Blundetto - Nautlius - dub version
Ticklah - Si hecho palante
Admiral Tibet - Serious
Ninja man  - Murder dem
Foxy Brown - Baby can I hold you tonight
Pilooski - AAA

Friday, April 23, 2010

Taking the weight off

Legendary Kiwi ska/reggae band Penknife Glides new website goes live. Ther's also a CD reissue "A stab in the dark" on the way too, to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

"So why this release after so many years?

"Regrettably, it seems that some of our best material was never captured on vinyl and the songs that did make it seemed to somehow lack the delivery, spark and excitement for which our live gigs were renowned. After 30 years collecting dust in the vault this first collection of re-recorded songs speaks for itself. After not having heard the originals myself for many years, they leapt out as having memorable tunes and poignant 'of their time' lyrics while also sounding strangely contemporary.

"My task on ‘A Stab in the Dark’ has been to assemble a collection of ten songs from a mass of old live recordings and rehearsal tapes. During that process, with my creative juices running wild, I couldn’t resist adding some new parts and changing others. I’d like to think that the finished result is how the songs might have sounded if the band had had the musical and technical ability to deliver what the four of us had been hearing in our heads back in 1980.

"Like seeing an old photograph for the first time after many years, a song has the power to instantly transport the listener back in time. For me, that trip was like a rush of blood to the… well let’s just say at the very least it was a rush! They were a pleasure to revisit so I hope they have a similar effect on you. If you were there with us in the early days, turn your hearing aids up and check it out. If you weren’t, then take a trip to a Life on Mars …. this was Auckland 1980/1, as I recall it." - Skeats

Photo credit: Penknife Glides

Rap lesson 101

From Rap Radar, hat tip to Mouli...

"Last month, T.I. visited Woodland Middle School in Henry County, GA . Unfortunately, not everyone was happy he was there. According to WSBTV, several parents are upset that the rapper was featured as a guest speaker. One of the parents wrote an email letter to the principal, Dr. Terry Oatts stating:

“In the future, if T.I. or any other convicted felon needs to perform community service, ask for parental permission to allow our children to be exposed to these questionable individuals,”

In the rapper’s defense, Oatts responded:

“I thought about asking a guy who snorted cocaine and got arrested for DUI when he was 30 to come and speak to our kids, but President George W. Bush was not available.”

Turn it up!

Hugh Hughes did a profile of the Open Souls for 20/20 on TV2 last night, very thoughtful piece, nicely done. You can watch it online over here. Watch out for my man Chip on the bass and working hard at BaseFM doing the brekky show.  Mean, bro.

The blurb: "20/20s Hugh Hughes talks to Tyra Hammond, the face of the band, who has already successfully collaborated with cousin Scribe, about her early upbringing with family talent quests, and hits the road with the band as they promote their second album, Standing in the Rain."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quantic Mulatu Show Mix

Quantic Mulatu Show Mix - go get this!

"The Timeless Concert Series wasn’t just a series of stunning performances. All the shows were framed by our favorite DJs. From Madlib to J.Rocc to DJ Nuts and more. For the Mulatu show, Quantic brought along something very special .

In 2004 Quantic, Miles Cleret and B+ went to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia to find records and meet with Mulatu Astatke. It was there and then the first thoughts of bringing Mulatu to LA were hatched. So it was fitting that Quantic came to LA to DJ for Mulatu and brought with him records almost all found on that first unique trip.

Ethiopia has many musical traditions, indeed not all of them have made it to vinyl. But those chunks of plastic contain some secrets that you really have to go to Addis to find. Trawling ebay is never the same as a trip to East Africa.

Quantic made that trip. And at the Luckman Theater on February 1st, 2009 he buckled everyone in, and took us on a one hour flight back.  Here is his DJ set in its entirety. Don’t be alarmed by the crackle, that’s what 30 plus year old records sound like."

Guru's family talk

The letter that Guru allegedly wrote on his deathbed has been attracting a lot of heat. Questions over its authenticity have been raised by a lot of folk. Now Guru's family have released a statement, which clearly shows that he was in a coma from mid February til he passed, which means he didn't write that letter. Read the statement here, on MissInfo's site.

Oliver Wang wrote a thoughtful obit for Guru for the LA Times. And the New York Times obit is worth a look too.  DJ Premier weighed in with a statement today too (via DJ Semtex blog). It's admirable the way he chose not to respond immediately to the slander in that alleged deathbed letter.

From the NYT obit... "Guru’s father, Harry Elam, was the first black judge in the Boston municipal courts, and his mother, Barbara, was the co-director of library programs in the Boston public school system."


From a piece written by Dave Sherbow via Music Thinktank. Read this. It will make you a better musician/artist/person.

Never underestimate the value of respect. Here are two very good examples from my personal experience of why this is so true.

Story #1

In 2000 I was at the Impact Urban Music conference in Nashville, Tennessee being held at Opryland. I was working for the VP of Marketing and Promotion at Def Jam running his independent record promotion company. I was always looking for something new. I was invited to many showcases.

 One of them was for a small North Carolina independent label called Soulife Records. I went. It was in a big room and it was only me, a few guys from the label and 8 stuff shirted Indian doctors from the pharmaceutical business who had backed the label. No one else had shown up. It was kind of depressing. So I started making small talk with the doctors building a great rapport until the first act came up a beautiful girl named Sunshine Anderson. I loved her act. I told the doctors and the label guys I thought that her sng “I Heard It All Before” was definitely at hit and asked them if they wanted any help getting a deal They said thanks for the offer but they had it covered.

They really appreciated the fact I treated them with respect and that I had the decency and common courtesy to show up for their show when no one else did. A year and a half later, got a call from the VP of Promotion at Atlantic who said they just signed Sunshine Anderson and that the label insisted that I work the record at radio. I took it to No. 1. They guys at the label said I got the work because they got the respect from me when no one else gave it to them.

Story #2

In the early 1980’s I managed a major regional heavy metal band that played in front of 1000 people a night from Virginia to Maine. We used to play this club in the blue collar section of Baltimore called the Seagull Inn. It was stuck in an out of the way place, held 1000 people and we always packed it. This 6’2 Irish kid always used to come out and get wasted on alcohol and Quaaludes. At the end of our shows we’d pick him off the floor and a member of our crew would always drive him home. For about a year he kept telling me his uncle was the VP of A&R for RCA Records and did I want him to bring him out. It seemed highly unlikely because the guy was such a goof. I would always politely say yes with the utmost politeness and respect. The band and I always joked about it but we liked him and treated him with respect when everybody else made fun of him.

Well one night he walks into the room with his Uncle Eddie DeJoy, VP of A&R from RCA who had just signed the hottest act in the country Rick Springfield and had also been known for signing Judas Priest and Al Stewart among many. We never got the big deal but he produced a 6 song demo in RCA’s famous NYC studios for free that we eventually released as an EP that sold 25,000 copies for us and mentored me for two years.

Respect is something easy to give and sometimes by giving it you are rewarded in the most unlikely of situations.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coachella in a flash

It's a music festival in the desert with 75,000 people and a gazillion bands old and new.  Looking at the lineup makes me very jealous. Here's some random vids, mostly spotted via Brooklyn Vegan's excellent coverage of Coachella.

PiL doing Death Disco. Astonishing.

The Specials at Coachella, doing Monkey Man - check Yo Yo Gabba dude dancing side of stage.

More Specials live videos here at Brooklyn Vegan.

PLUS Coachella Day one review, Day two reviewDay three review (Gorillaz w/ two ex Clash members), LCD Sound System's set (w live video),  and Sly Stone's shambolic appearance  - a day late, on the wrong stage. (From the New Yorker).

AND the best and worst of Coachella, via the LA Times. Includes Best Hairstyle, Best Rap Name, Best Male-Bonding Moment, and Best Coitus Mimicry.

It's a rumble

Earlier today music journalist Hussein Moses (Real Groove, The Corner blog) posted this message on Twitter...

"Here's a screenshot of the one-lined email Dane Rumble sent me where he cusses me out and calls me a snake:

Seems that Dane took offence at Hussein's article on him for a recent Real Groove magazine article. You can read the article over at The Corner blog and judge for yourself.  

Hussein posted later in the day that "Dane Rumble just emailed me again, said my write-up was insulting and called me two-faced."

All in all, a very odd exchange. No one wins from it. 


I had funny exchange today was with Jeremy Redmore, singer for Midnight Youth.  

Late yesterday he posted "Oh man, knew there'd b a catch to C4's new channel. Does ANYONE make money in this industry?"

Someone suggested I send him Steve Albini's rant on the music industry, which I did... see below

"re "Does ANYONE make money in this industry?" read this, by Steve Albini

Jeremy's reponse? "sounds about right! I get some free shoes now and again too...haha".

Smart kid.

I learned the hard way - video from SJ&DKs

New video from the latest album from Ms Sharon Jones and the Dapkings.Out now on Daptone.

Christina Hendricks: A Letter to Men

From Esquire magazine. Guys, read this and learn.You don't have to do all of it, but a lot of it will make you way more of a gentleman. It's not a million miles away from a fantastic book I read a while back called The Way You Wear Your Hat, which is based on Frank Sinatra's rules on style and manners. He knew how to treat a woman.

"We love your body. If we're in love with you, we love your body. Your potbelly, everything. Even if you're insecure about something, we love your body. You feel like you're not this or that? We love your body. We embrace everything. Because it's you.

Speaking of your body,
you don't understand the power of your own smell. Any woman who is currently with a man is with him partly because she loves the way he smells. And if we haven't smelled you for a day or two and then we suddenly are within inches of you, we swoon. We get light-headed. It's intoxicating. It's heady.

We remember forever what you say about the bodies of other women. When you mention in passing that a certain woman is attractive — could be someone in the office, a woman on the street, a celebrity, any woman in the world, really — your comment goes into a steel box and it stays there forever. We will file the comment under "Women He Finds Attractive." It's not about whether or not we approve of the comment. It's about learning what you think is sexy and how we might be able to convey it. It's about keeping our man by knowing what he likes.

We also remember everything you say about our bodies, be it good or bad. Doesn't matter if it's a compliment. Could be just a comment. Those things you say are stored away in the steel box, and we remember these things verbatim. We remember what you were wearing and the street corner you were standing on when you said it.

Never complain about our friends — even if we do. No matter how many times we say a friend of ours is driving us crazy, you are not to pile on. Not because it offends us. But because it adds to the weight that we carry around about her.

Remember what we like.When I first started dating my husband, I had this weird fascination with the circus and clowns and old carnival things and sideshow freaks and all that. About a month after we started dating, he bought me this amazing black-and-white photo book on the circus in the 1930s, and I started sobbing. Which freaked him out. I thought, Oh, my God, I mentioned this three or four weeks ago and talked about it briefly, but he was really listening to me. And he actually went out and researched and found this thing for me. It was amazing.

We want you to order Scotch. It's the most impressive drink order. It's classic. It's sexy. Such a rich color. The glass, the smell. It's not watered down with fruit juice. It's Scotch. And you ordered it.

Stand up, open a door, offer a jacket. We talk about it with our friends after you do it. We say, "Can you believe he stood up when I approached the table?" It makes us feel important. And it makes you important because we talk about it.

No shorts that go below the knee. The ones almost like capri pants, the ones that hover somewhere between the kneecap and the calf? Enough with those shorts. They are the most embarrassing pants in the world. They should never be worn. No woman likes those.

Also, no tank tops. In public at least. A tank top is underwear. You're walking around in your underwear. Too much.

No man should be on Facebook. It's an invasion of everyone's privacy. I really cannot stand it.

You don't know this, but when we come back from a date, we feel awkward about that transition from our cute outfit into sexy lingerie. We don't know how to do this gracefully. It's embarrassing. We have to find a way to slip into another room, put on the outfit as if it all happened very easily, and then come out and it's: Look at me! Look at the sexy thing I've done! For you, it's the blink of an eye. It's all very embarrassing. Just so you know.

Panties is a wonderful word. When did you stop saying "panties"? It's sexy. It's girlie. It's naughty. Say it more.

About ogling: The men who look, they really look. It doesn't insult us. It doesn't faze us, really. It's just — well, it's a little infantile. Which is ironic, isn't it? The men who constantly stare at our breasts are never the men we're attracted to.

There are better words than beautiful. Radiant, for instance. It's an underused word. It's a very special word. "You are radiant." Also, enchanting, smoldering, intoxicating, charming, fetching.

Marriage changes very little. The only things that will get a married man laid that won't get a single man laid are adultery and whores. Intelligence and humor (and your smell) are what get you laid. That's what got you laid when you were single. That's what gets you laid when you're married. Everything still works in marriage: especially intelligence and humor. Because the sexiest thing is to know you."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Video - Pacifican Descendants

Old school kiwi hiphop styles featuring Joni and Sonny Sagala. Johni ended up in Lost Tribe and Sonny performs as Dei Hamo. I remember  we did a gig with them supporting us (Hallelujah Picassos) down in Fort St at a club called Forts Xing. They were wicked too.

Youtube notes: "Johni and Sani Sagala doing dey thang with the PD Dance team Ali Cowley and Willie Boaza, with DJ Chris Halavaka on the ones and twos. Its the time when Georgie Pies was king for the clubbers coming home at 3 or 4 in the mornings, where $5 could get you full with $1 pies and shakes and $3 fish and chips.

This was our last gig before we decided to split up as my bro went to start DEI-HAMO and I was to pursue my acting career, But then we were approached by Phill Fuemana to do the Proud tour and compilation album, so we stuck it through for one more year as "Pacifican Descendants." PD-94-RIP"

Hat tip to Simon Grigg for the link.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Record Store Day report

My Record Store Day started with a visit to Conch Records after my radio show; the place was buzzing. Brent was DJing out front of the shop, spinning 45s by the likes of Julie London and Frank Sinatra, all class; Dustin and Cian were running round behind the counter and Jim was making excellent coffees, as always. I scored the new Black Seeds single on vinyl, and the latest copy of Shook magazine.

Trekked down to Real Groovy later in the afternoon, that was packed too, good to see. Had a dig round in the bins down the back and picked up a wicked Quincy Jones album, Gula Matari. I discovered this album after hearing the excellent mix from DJ Spinna a while back, a Tribute to Q (which features the title track and Hummin off that LP).

If you haven't heard that mix, go get it, it's mean. It's a funky education on the many varied styles of Quincy Jones. I was only familiar with some of his film composing work and of course producing Michael Jackson, but he's done a ton of cool stuff around that too.

Real Groovy had a selection of folks DJing some of their fave tunes - Liam Finn, Russell Baillie, Roger Shepherd, Recloose, Nick D, David Farrier, Roger Perry, and when I was down there, Dylan C was dropping some wicked tunes, including that Chains remix by Che Fu, always good to hear that, love the opening liine - "I grew up in Ponsonby, they take the Gluepot now they coming for me..."

The special mystery guest DJ appeared after Dylan - it was Ladyhawke. She attracted a small crowd to watch her 'mix', but they were kept a safe distance from her by a velvet rope. Celebrity DJs aye? Woohoo. That's Ladyhawke DJing, below.

This is one of the Real Groovy staff who dressed up for the day, note the hat made of 45s - she's also got a record attached to her shoulder, slightly obscured. Imagine if there'd been a scene in Bladerunner with Deckard ducking into a record shop to hide from his pursuers - she would've been working behind the counter.


This is photographic proof that Record Store Day wasn't just a bunch of sad old men, but there were some young women buying LPs. See, they don't all sit at home downloading Britney/Lady Gaga. Ah, young people...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Herbs light up the court

Reggae band Herbs is currently involved in legal action against former members also using a similar name - Pacific Herbs. The latter band played at Rotorua's Raggamuffin Festival, while Herbs were playing the same weekend at the Parihaka Peace Festival in Taranaki.

"Herbs band members Dilworth Karaka, Joseph Lundon, Morehu Watene, Gordon Joll, Toni Fonoti and Thomas Nepia have begun legal action against two former members - Spencer Fusimalohi and Carl Perkins - with promoter Andrew McManus Presents about what they allege is misuse of the band's name .... the dispute has continued for many years with band members unhappy with their former colleagues' continued use of the band name when they perform.

"It's understood the row came to a head in January when Fusimalohi and Perkins performed as Pacific Herbs at Rotorua's Ragamuffin festival ... They were in the band for less than five years of its 30-year history and are among more than a dozen former members." Source: Weekend Herald.

Graham Reid asked in a 2002 article on the release of a Herbs Best Of compilation "Did they ever break up? Who knows, but few could hear of the death of founder drummer Fred Faleauto last year or that of internationally acclaimed bassist Charlie Tumahai (who joined in ‘85) without reflecting on the enormous contribution to New Zealand music Herbs made." Source.

Homebrew need a dollar or two

Can you help?
Local hiphop crew got turned down by NZ On Air for their video grant, but they aint sulking (much), no sir. They've talked Chris Graham into directing the video for free, and now they're having a fundraiser to make some money to pay for the video. Get along tonight and help them out - Plaything Gallery (opposite Kings Arms), from 6pm til midnight, cheap booze, lotsa cool acts. Flyer above, and watch the promo for it. Homebrew have a go at busking, knocking off Dobbyn's Loyal and Exponents' Why does love..' classics for maximum comic effect.

HOMEBREW - A LITTLE BOY WAITS... from Askew One on Vimeo.

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM April 17

Sunlightsquare latin  combo - I believe in miracles inst
Bill Withers - You got the stuff
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - Better things
Belleruche  - 56% proof
Born Jamericans - Yardcore
Architeq - Birds of prey dub version
Mos dub - History town (download it here)
Damian Marley  -Move
Jo Jo Bennett  - Canteloupe rock
Adrian Sherwood and Lee Scratch Perry - Kingston tower
Jahdan Blakkamore - The general - Ticklah mix
Staff benda bilili - Sala mosala
Simonsound - Bakers dozen / It's just begun
Barkin soul  -Babybababebe
Shawn Lee and Bei Bei  -East
Al Green - I'm so glad your mine
Wild Bill Ricketts - Riki
Blundetto - Nautilius dub version
Lever bros steel band - Black man cry
Daru Jones feat Kissey Asplund - Please
Candi Staton - Do your duty - Pepe Bradock reowk
Gil Scott Heron - New York is killing me feat Nas
Pilooski - AAA
Sly n Robbie - Softcore surge - Ashley Beedle remix
Mos dub  -Travellin underground/history town (so nice I gotta play it twice)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Row over radio royalties drags on

The NZ Herald's John Drinnan reports on this long-running dispute between the Radio Broadcasters Association and PPNZ (representing the 4 major record co's) over royalty rates.

"The row over radio royalties harks back to last year when the radio industry challenged PPNZ price rises that might cost $9 million a year in a case heard by the Copyright Tribunal. The tribunal's decision has yet to released....

"Radio bosses are tuning up to buy music rights directly from record companies if a claim to the Copyright Tribunal falls over.
The Radio Broadcasters Association (RBA) says that is what will happen if a long-delayed tribunal case goes against them and upholds price rises by Phonographic Performances New Zealand (PPNZ)...."

Read the full article here.

DJ Food goes to Slough

This is a tale of a room full of master tapes from late last century, from the ZTT record label. Read on...

"Back in the winter of 2009, on a bleak, windy Monday, I died and went to heaven. Actually, I tell a lie, it was Slough... I’d been invited by my friend Ian Peel to visit him at an address owned by the record label ZTT – home of Trevor Horn, his associated productions as well as the back catalogue of Stiff records, which they acquired in the mid 80’s...

For those unaware, (probably most of you) Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and more importantly the whole aesthetic of the ZTT label in the 80’s, had a huge effect on me in my formative years. Most people have one or two bands that they ‘grew up’ with, moments where a bands rise to fame and the mania that surrounded them dovetailed with your own musical tastes and that group becomes forever linked with your memories of the period. For most of ‘84 and ‘85 I bought little else than the bands on the ZTT roster, Frankie, Art of Noise, Propaganda, Grace Jones’ incredible Slave To The Rhythm LP, even venturing into contemporary classical waters with Andrew Poppy, and of course, the Frankie Say… T-shirts....

Go read the whole story here, and how DJ Food ended up owning the original cover art for Frankie's ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ album. Lotsa pics of old master tapes for Art of Noise, Frankie, Fairlight disks for Art of Noise etc.

Tour de Mars

Tour de Mars by The Simonsound has been doing my head in for a few weeks now. I copped this single recently, a mad funky synth freakout that hooks into Tour De France by Kraftwerk and boxes it round the ears soundly. Turns out one of the cats behind the Simonsound is DJ Format, a well-funky geezer. They also name drop the coolest Moog cover version ever, Dick Hyman’s take on James Brown’s “Give it up or Turn it Loose”. That makes them well cool in my books.

Listen to their music here. Tour de Mars is there too, or watch the funky space vid below. Their album is set to drop May 24.

"The Simonsound’s first album, “Reverse Engineering”, offers an intriguing variety of sounds, including ’50s and ’60s-inspired space music, mood music for film and TV, haunting vocal tracks, and switched-on cover versions of classics realised on the Moog synthesiser.

The Simonsound is a sonic partnership consisting of Simon James and Matt Ford. Having previously worked together on Matt’s DJ Format albums and with infinitely broader musical tastes than just hip hop and funk, they began working on The Simonsound as an outlet for their more experimental offerings. This is far from another DJ Format project.

Matt and Simon both cite Dick Hyman’s crazy Moog take on James Brown’s “Give it up or Turn it Loose” as a big inspiration, representing the perfect meeting of experimental electronics and solid rhythm section. They created their own homage to it with a take on the classic b-boy anthem, “It’s Just Begun” by The Jimmy Castor Bunch, replacing the original’s soulful vocals, gritty rhythm and horn sections with heavy Moog synthesiser and electronic sounds that place you firmly in outer space."

Album out May 24 on First Word Records. The Tour de Mars/Bakers dozen single is out now. You can buy it from Soundcloud for a few measly bucks.

First Word Records is also home to the Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra, a bunch of cats from Leeds who have just dropped their debut single, a mean version of Jimi's Crosstown Traffic done afrobeat style. It's wicked.

BONUS Just found this  - Tour de Mars (DJ Food video re-edit)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free tune from The Midnights

Auckland reggae outfit The Midnights are about to drop their debut album very soon. I did a remix for them a while back, and they're a top bunch of fellas. You can grab a sample of their new album for free, from Amplifier.

Just log in and you're  away. Have a listen and then get it here.

Tour dates here.

New music channel on Freeview

UPDATED/CORRECTED: C4 is launching a new music channel via Freeview, called C4-2.

" C42 will be launched on May 1st, to celebrate the start of NZ Music Month and will offer... up to 30 per cent local content. C42 will feature back to back alternative music videos, without hosts.

An arrangement between MediaWorks and PPNZ will ensure videos and artists represented by IMNZ (the New Zealand trade body for independent record labels and distributors) represent a larger portion of the playlist."
I have heard that 60% of the videos screened will come from IMNZ members. The remaining 40% will be divided amongst the major record label owners and other (non-IMNZ) PPNZ members.

CORRECTED: Any content owner that has their music video played on C42 will not receive royalty payments from PPNZ (prev version said :Any IMNZ/PPNZ content owner that has their music video played on C42 will not receive royalty payments from PPNZ).

In exchange for no royalties, IMNZ members get: first six months 4 x 30 second ad spots to air each hour 4pm to 12 = 224 spots a week. After six months this will increase to 8 x 30 second (4 mins) per hour. And IMNZ are charging to 'administer' the ads.

ADDED: Other PPNZ members (those not majors, nor IMNZ members) don't get the advertising.
Read the press release here.

NZ Herald's media columnist John Drinnan speculated on March 26 that Mediaworks was expected to announce a new music channel on Freeview, saying that "MediaWorks is obliged to deliver a second digital channel, but there has been speculation on how it can afford it." A music channel with no hosts is a low cost option.

ADDED: From Drinnan's column dated April 16, on the new channel... "The deal gives MediaWorks time to get advertisers on board. The no-charge deal on some music means the videos can act as free promotions. C4-2 is aiming at 30 per cent local content. Music lawyer Hocquard said he had concerns about the terms of the deal which implies airplay for music had a promotional value. Hocquard did not specify his concerns but radio stations made a similar claim when trying to undermine PPNZ price rises on licences for radio play."

Record Store Day this saturday!

"indie music stores are a hotbed of discovery... and bacteria..."

Record stores are about community. Sure, digital music may be the way of the future, but searching for records is a tangible experience that harbours one great truth - you never know what you are gonna find. And like Gabe Roth (Dapkings, Daptone) says, you can't roll a joint on an mp3.  Go visit your local record store this saturday and have some fun.

You can check out Lewis McCallum doing an instore gig up at Conch Records, at 115a Ponsonby Rd, and they've got DJs playing all day. Lewis is on at 2pm - his new album Syntheology is a dirty funky sexy jam. Details here.

And downtown in Auckland, Real Groovy has a host of people DJing the music they grew up with - expect to see Roger Shepherd, Nick D, Andrew Tidball,  Roger Perry, Liam Finn, Recloose and more behind the decks.

Check the lineup here, and if you buy something instore on Saturday, you'll get a free ticket to a special gig Real Groovy are hosting at the Kings Arms that night. There's also events going on at Real Groovy Wellington and Christchurch. There's a list of NZ stores participating here...

More info at Or just watch this informative clip from Mister Josh Homme (the official Record Store Day Ambassador)... that's his quote up top...

Amadou & Mariam, “Aritstiya (DJ Sabo RMX)” MP3

Grab it here. And here's a bonus - Stink Inc has a killer edit by Pilooski. Original is 'Angie La La (Ay Ay Ay)' by Nora Dean, released on Treasure Isle in 1969 as the b-side to U Roy's staggering 'Tom Drunk' says the Stenchmiester.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PiL on Jimmy Kimmel Show

John Lydon chats with chat show host Jimmy Kimmel, talks about how the PiL reunion was funded by the UK butter ad he did, no record company backing here! You can watch the band play Rise and This is not a love song over here.

Interview clips below. "Jimmy, I'm sorry, but I used your show to rehearse!" The band have only had 4 hours rehearsal since Christmas, ahead of their US tour.

Neil Cartwright on why UK's Digital Economy Bill is technology censorship

 snip... "Incredibly, the DEB now gives record labels and movie studios the power to block these  [P2P] networks rather than deal with them and work out a licensing structure. The technology is, in fact, being censored because it doesn’t conform with someone’s idea of what constitutes a workable model. Note: the site itself and the technology will still exist – it will simply be ‘blocked’ so no-one in the UK can see it. Does this sound like a good policy for a nation heading towards a digital future?"

Cartwright goes on to examine how you could get around blocked sites by using Google  - which then raises the issue of the UK Govt blocking Google for offending users. He says that the law is so inherently flawed that it will fall down at the first court order. Which is essentially why the previous version of S92A of our Copyright Act was revised by John Key's government. It was unworkable.

Read Cartwright's piece in full here.

This DE Bill is not a million miles away from what New Zealand could end up with from the secret negotiations around ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which has become all about protecting copyrights. It's essentially about rightsholders trying to dictate what should be in this trade agreement, behind closed doors. The only way we know anything about what is being negotiated in secret is from a series of leaks.

Check out PublicACTA to find out more about it from a New Zealand perspective.

From that site - "What is ACTA? ACTA is a controversial international treaty that impacts digital rights and is being negotiated in secret meetings. PublicACTA has been organised by InternetNZ so that the public can critique the known and likely content of ACTA proposals ahead of the next round in Wellington." This is taking place in Wellington at present.

From Computerworld NZ: "About 120 attendees at the PublicACTA conference gave up nine hours of Saturday to hammer out “The Wellington Declaration” — intended to be a constructive criticism of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement ACTA." Read the declaration here.

Russell Brown looks at the Wellington Declaration at Public Address, a good read.

RIP Steve Reid

"Domino are very sad to hear the news of the death of Steve Reid, who passed away in his sleep last night after a battle with cancer. Steve Reid was a giant of a drummer, who began playing professionally at the age of 16. His first recorded work was with Martha And The Vandellas, working in the Apollo Theatre House band, under the direction of Quincy Jones. Over the years Steve recorded and played with artists such as Miles Davies, Fela Kuti, James Brown and Sun Ra, amongst other musical legends.

Domino had the pleasure of releasing The Steve Reid Ensemble's Daxaar album in 2007 and Steve's groundbreaking works with Kieran Hebden, the albums The Exchange Session Vol. 1, The Exchange Session Vol. 2, Tongues and most recently, NYC.

Our thoughts go out to Steve's family, friends and 'musical soul mate' Kieran Hebden who had these words to say: "Steve was one of my great friends and the most wonderful musician I have ever encountered. The music and adventures we shared have been some of the most happy and meaningful experiences I've ever had. A true inspiration. He lived a great life and gave us incredible music. I'll miss him forever."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jimmy Cliff interview (video)

Jimmy Cliff interviewed for Fader TV.

Gabe Roth - mathematics of soul

From the Red Bull Academy, Daptone Records boss/producer (and Dapkings bass player) Gabe Roth talks shop.(video, 1hr 51 mins)

Also, Gabe Roth  - indepth studio technical talk with Sound on Sound magazine (2008). One for the gearheads. What mics he uses, studio setup and so on.

PLUS interesting backgrounder on Roth's early years from NYTimes (2008). And a more recent interview of Roth with Popmatters from January this year here.

How to Wreck a Nice Beach

"Dave Tompkins heads over to NYC’s Big City Records to share some of his favorite albums that utilised the vocoder and a bit of the strange history behind the device’s creation and rise in popularity." From Crate Kings/FaderTV.

Tompkins’s recent book, How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, which is available now, thru Stop Smiling Books (the folk behind the excellent Stop Smiling magazine, one of my favourite mags on the planet - shame its defunct).

"This is the story of how a military device became the robot voice of hip-hop and pop music. Though the vocoder, invented by Bell Labs in 1928, was designed to guard phones from eavesdroppers, it expanded beyond its original purpose and has since become widely used as a voice-altering tool for musicians. It has served both the Pentagon and the roller rink, a double agent of pop and espionage.

In How to Wreck a Nice Beach—from a mis-hearing of the vocoder-rendered phrase “how to recognize speech”—music journalist Dave Tompkins traces the history of electronic voices from Nazi research labs to Stalin’s gulags, from the 1939 World’s Fair to Hiroshima, from Manhattan nightclubs to the Muppets." Source.

Banksy, the movie

Exit Through the Gift Shop tells the incredible true story of how an eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. The film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader [who is the film maker's cousin] and many of the worlds most infamous graffiti artists at work, on walls and in interview. As Banksy describes it, Its basically the story of how one man set out to film the un--filmable. And failed" From BV.

Opens in US on April 16.

Guide to digitising vinyl

Here's a handy guide from Soul Sides, entitled, The Cavern Productions/Soul Sides Guide to Digitising Vinyl.

Prepared by Brendan Irvine-Broque (for Cavern Productions) and Oliver Wang (for

Before you start to build a vinyl digitizing system, remember how sound signal chains work. Every sound, whether it’s coming from a singer’s voice or a groove from one of your LPs, has an origin, and passes through a number of different physical and electric stages before it becomes the 1s and 0s that reside on your hard drive.

This is the long version:
1) The physical grooves of a record
2) The turntable, which spins the record at a theoretically constant speed, and isolates it from any internal or external vibrations.
3) The tiny needle that follows the grooves
4) The cantilever system that acts as a suspension system for the needle as it is affected by the record’s grooves
5) The tonearm that stablizes the needle and keeps it in the grooves
6) The wiring inside the tonearm, and the wiring coming out of the turntable, which carries a very weak signal through unbalanced cables into the phono preamp.
7) The phono preamp, which uses the standardized RIAA equalization curve to boost bass frequencies that cannot be represented by grooves on a vinyl record at high amplitude.
8. The cables that connect the phono preamp to the Analog/Digital Converter (ADC)
9) The ADC itself – its dynamic range, accuracy, and clocking.
10) A computer software program that then saves that information into a sound file (AIFF, WAV, MP3, etc.)

This is the short(er) version:
1) The record itself
2) Stylus + cartridge (can be upgraded separately)
3) Turntable + tonearm (can be upgraded separately)
4) Phono preamp (either stand-alone or built into a stereo receiver or DJ mixer)
5) ADC (either stand-alone or your computer soundcard)
6) Computer software
For each part of this chain, your decisions will impact the quality of sound at the back end.

Let’s get the simplest things out of the way first: computer software.
BIB says: Audacity is the most popular by a long shot, though I find its user interface to be confusing and inefficient. I recommend the inexpensive, yet very worthwhile Peak Express, made by Bias Inc. It’s been around for over a decade, and the professional version is used in many mastering studios. At $29, it’s a steal, and will save you hours of time.
OW says: I’ve always liked Sound Studio 3 for the Mac. Simple, easy to use, but also powerful. $60.

Now here comes the more complicated parts…
The simplest way to digitize vinyl is to buy a generic audio cable as the link between your preamp and ADC. If you’re already a DJ, this likely means running a cheap (less than $5) cable from your DJ mixer to your computer soundcard. Assuming that mixer is connected to something like a 1200 that you already own, this will almost assuredly sound better than the Numark or Crosley USB turntables that seem to be popping up everywhere these days.
Note: It may be tempting to buy one of these cheap, plastic USB turntables since they combine #2-5 into a single machine. And frankly, if you just want to digitize records and you don’t care that much about how the final product sounds, this may be the way to go and you can stop reading now.

For those who want a higher level of sound quality, keep reading. The basic principal of capturing sound is to ALWAYS start at the origin and work from there. There is no need to spend any extra money on a special, high-end ADC if there’s a weak link in the chain PRIOR to getting there. That’s why the kind of cartridge, turntable, and preamp you use are relevant.

To put it another way: you can’t get gold from lead; you need to start off with gold (the record you want to digitize) and hope the rest of your chain doesn’t tarnish the sound too much.
If you want to get serious, start at the beginning.

1) Are your records clean? There are all kinds of options out there, from robust vacuum designs like the VPI 16.5 to Groov Glide, to DIY designs involving ultrasonic cleaners. This may sound excessive, but remember: most of your records are at least a decade old, if not 50, and if you bought them used, who knows where they’ve been and what they’ve been exposed to? Dirty records = dirty sound. So make sure your records are as clean as you can get them before a stylus ever gets into those grooves.

2) Stylus/cartridge. These are a matter of personal choice. There may be objective quality differences between brands and models, but ultimately, it comes down to what’s pleasing to your own ears and people will have their subjective preferences.

BIB: My personal recommendation is Ortofon Concorde style cartridges – I use the Nightclubs for archiving, and have the elliptical (E) styli for LPs and the spherical (S) styli for 45s.

OW: I would second the Nightclub E but, as BIB notes, you may want to change styli (same cart, different needle) for 45s. In my experience, a “loud” 45 played with an E stylus is prone to bad distortion. I use my Nightclub to digitize LPs but often switch to a Shure White Label for 45s (I don’t own a separate S stylus for the Nightclub).

3) Turntables.
BIB: Technics 1200s are the kings. If you’re willing to spend $200 or more, it’s absurd to buy anything else. The “warmth” that audiophiles talk about getting from other turntables is nothing but resonance that reinforces midrange frequencies in a way that pleases the ear, but isn’t accurate. Like EVERYTHING record related, the Japanese have the game on lock and Technics are no exception.
OW: I think 1200s are a perfectly good choice and if you’re a DJ, you already know this. But if you’re NOT a DJ? I think there are other options, especially if you’re willing to spend time on Craigslist or eBay or browsing thrift stores and swap meets. There’s many good medium/high-end consumer turntables made in the ‘70s and ‘80s to be found under $200. This is a great research resource.

Ultimately, if you want to take the guessing game out of it? Look for a used 1200 under $250. Can’t go wrong with that. Me though? I’m fiending for one of these.

4) Preamps.
Preamps pose a unique challenge in the digitizing realm. Professional grade, stand-alone phono preamps are practically nonexistent and instead, you’re often left with either overpriced audiophile models and cheap, high-school-electronics-class designs.
There are some wonderful phono preamps built into some home stereo receivers from the 1970s, but these come with their own problems having to do with crosstalk and voltage, because there are so many other components within an analog stereo receiver (AM/FM radio, inputs, 50 watt speaker amplifiers, etc.). Current, analog DJ mixers are likely the best choice for anyone serious – particularly because they offer XLR or TRS balanced outputs, which keeps the noise floor low and dynamic range high.

BIB: I personally use an Allen & Heath Xone 02, just for the phono section, but only because it’s the best thing I’ve found so far. I’m hoping to build out a balanced Bozak (link) phono preamp sometime this year – they were the gold standard for design in DJ mixers for discos of the 70s and 80s, and are revered for their phono preamps.

I really wish that I could give a more solid recommendation for a dedicated phono pre, but the only phono pre I’m remotely interested in is a rackmount unit that the homie Thes One had custom-built by Manley.

OW: I used to use my Rane TTM56 as a preamp and from what I’ve heard, Rane builds very good preamps into their DJ mixers. But when I decided to separate my digitizing set-up from my DJ set-up, I needed to put the Rane back and look into a stand-alone preamp. The overwhelming recommendation I got was for the Radial J33 (which Thes One also uses when he’s not running sound through his custom Manley pre).

I’ve been happy with it so far and what’s nice is that you can plug headphones into it and you’re likely to get better sound from that than a stock computer soundcard (you can’t adjust volume though). I’ve had some people recommend the Rolls V29; it’s inexpensive but I’ve never test-driven one.

4.5) Cables.
Remember that your sound signal chain has to travel down wiring and the quality of wire matters as much as every other part of the chain.
BIB: My absolute highest recommendation goes to Redco Audio, who lets you design your own cables at very affordable prices, down to the length, connector style, and cable quality. I probably have over 50 cables from them, and know many studios who count on them regularly.

5) ADC.
Unlike preamp choices, the consumer options here may seem staggering but don’t be fooled. The vast majority of ADCs on the market are not worth your $200. Why? Because even though they most often have the exact same chipset that’s used in Protools HD systems, most are fraught with the exact same problems that plague your laptop’s soundcard – unstable and insufficient voltage rails, interference, and shoddy manufacturing. Avoid M-Audio, Tascam, MOTU, or others unless you plan on having it modded.

BIB: There are two companies making quality, affordable audio interfaces that sound great – Apogee Digital and Echo Audio. I personally use the Duet, and it’s wonderful, stable, and is truly the best you can find for less than a grand (at which point I’d start looking at RME, Lynx, and other Apogee products).

OW: I bought a Duet, partially on BIB’s recommendation, and have been very happy with it. The versatility is excellent – you have multiple ways to cable it (XLR, 1/4”) and the jog wheel lets you adjust both input levels and headphone volume. They’re not cheap – even used, expect to shell out around $250-350 – but if you’re serious about stepping up your ADC, it’s worth the added cost.

In conclusion:
The cost-differences here are dramatic depending on how you want to play it. An all-in-one USB turntable will run you about $100 or less. The set-ups both of us use will set you back at least $700-1000+. If you are going to trick it out, just remember: the strength of the digitizing chain is a linear process. You have to make sure your starting components are strong before worrying about the end; investing in a Duet or Echo would be one of your last purchases, not your first.