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Archive for the ‘Bad Brains’ Category

hhftSOUNDTRACK: G.L.O.B.E. & WHIZ KID-“Play that Beat Mr DJ” (Double Dee & Steinski Payoff Mix) (1985).

doubledeeThe original of this song (1983) was simply the drums and simple keyboard riff.  The “Payoff Mix” done by Double Dee & Steinski added the incredibly dense layer of samples that really make this song interesting (actually the samples are more interesting than the rap).

The samples included:

  • Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
  • Play It Sam…Play “As Time Goes By” (Avalon/As Time Goes By) by Humphrey Bogart (dialogue spoken from the movie Casablanca)
  • That’s the joint – Funky Four Plus One
  • Take the Country to N.Y. City by Hamilton Bohannon
  • Don’t Make Me Wait (Acapella) by Peech Boys
  • Stop! In The Name Of Love by Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Rockit by Herbie Hancock
  • Situation 12″ by Yazoo
  • Starski Live at the Disco Fever by Lovebug Starski
  • World’s Famous, Hobo Scratch, D’Ya Like Scratchin’ and Buffalo Gals by Malcolm McLaren
  • Apache by Incredible Bongo Band
  • Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
  • Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Indeep
  • I’ll Tumble 4 Ya by Culture Club
  • Speech by Fiorello La Guardia from Reading the Comics – July,1945

Double Dee & Steinski went on to make some other great mashups (and these sound amazing since they were done circa 1985).  I particularly like Lesson 3.

Here’s the one that made them famous:

[READ: November 23, 2014] Hip Hop Family Tree 2

This volume picks up right where the previous one left off in 1981.

First we meet Doug E. Fresh who, devoid of records, starts the trend of beatboxing.  We also see The Sugarhill Gang doing a rap over the song “Apache” (while dressed like Native Americans).

The book bounces back to California (Oakland this time) where we meet Too Short, a great high school rapper who is interested in making money from his skills.  We also see a young Ice-T doing his gangland thing

Then it jumps back to Rick Rubin whose love of punk and metal (these goings on are happening at the same time as Black Flag is trying out a young Henry Rollins, and Bad Brains are in high gear–and often times the crowds mix amiably) fuses with his love of rap.  he really wants to be able to capture the rawness of the live sounds of both types of music onto a record (enter the Beastie Boys).  And, strangely enough (although perhaps it should be expected), Malcolm McDowell enters the picture.  We also see Fab Five Freddy making “Change the Beat” which includes a since-very-heavily sampled “Freshhhhh” (more…)

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hardartSOUNDTRACK: THE TEEN IDLES-Minor Disturbance (1981).

minorThe Teen Idles were the first band released on Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records.  And this EP was record 001 (MacKaye was in the band and he made his own label to release the record).

There are eight songs, done in a total of 9 minutes and 20 seconds.  The final song is a live track and it reaches 2 minutes mostly because of the introduction and crowd noise.  Three songs almost reach 90 seconds long.  The rest are under 1 minute.

Interestingly, there are earlier demos of these songs that are a little slower and a little less fastinyourfacescreamedlyricswhat???  Perhaps because I’m old I like the slower ones a little better, but I know that this represents the core of DC Hardcore and I respect that.  And you can actually make out the lyrics if you try.

Some themes include being too young to go to shows, people trying to grow old too fast, punk music (“you say we need practice, maybe in a couple of years”), and apparently dissing British punk for selling out. (“There goes your fury out the door, don’t expect our respect anymore”).

The acerbic “Deadhead” even has a slow section (but is still overall less than 90 seconds) in which they parody the Grateful Dead—the song is anti-Dead primarily because of the drugs they espoused (The Teen Idles, like Minor Threat were straight edge).  I had to look up Fiorucci to see what “Fiorucci Nightmare” was about (it’s a fashion house).

For an early taste of the DC Hardcore scene, it pretty much starts here.

[READ: August 22, 2013] Hard Art DC 1979

Do you like punk rock?  Punk rock from the late 70s? Specifically bands from Washington DC? In particular bands that played at three venues?  On four specific dates?  That’s the focus of this book.

This is a collection of photographs by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Lucien Perkins.  Perkins has been taking pictures for decades, primarily for The Washington Post—covering major events in Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and, in the late 70s, a few DC punk shows.

The book doesn’t say anything about his motive for doing these shows—other than that he was new to the scene and thought it looked interesting.  And since Bad Brains are the focus of most of the pictures, I’m certain that race and racism had something to do with his showing up at these events.  Especially because the first event was called Rock Against Racism and was held in a public housing area of Washington D.C. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: COCTEAU TWINS-“Frosty the Snowman” (1993).

Cocteau Twins released Snow, a “holiday” EP in 1993.  Their version of “Winter Wonderland” is quite sublime.  This version of “Frosty the Snowman” on the other hand is a bit…off.

I don’t know if the tempo is too fast (I think that may be it), or if the lyrics are too silly (even if the Twins weren’t filled with gravitas, most of the time you couldn’t hear what they were saying anyhow) or if they just can’t get their brand of lush to envelope the song, but it just doesn’t quite work for me.

[READ: December 13, 2011] “The Tragedie of Frosty the Snowman”

My work director sent this article around as an amusing academic piece for the holidays.  It’s a short article (one and a half pages) but it does a good job of analysing the real tragedy that is Frosty the Snowman: “Frosty’s tragedy is not simply that he must melt, thaw, resolve into etc.–this is merely the common fate of all men, persons, who are made out of snow.”

The tragedy of Frosty is personal, for he has an inner greatness.  When he encounters the magic hat he claims to be coming “back again someday.”   But can he every really understand that?  [We watched this special just the other day, and it must be said that Frosty, who seems to be quite naive and unaware (what’s a traffic light?) is also quite savvy about a lot of things that he should not know–winter flowers, frozen boxcars]. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPUGWASH-Giddy (2009).

I found this CD through a connection to The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon plays on a few of their tracks).  Pugwash (what a crazy name–it comes from a series of children’s books (and a TV show) called Captain Pugwash) is an Irish band with four CDs (and this collection).  And man, it’s hard to find their stuff over here (although their website has a wonderful collection of videos and such).

Giddy is a collection of songs from all of their albums.  Their first album is represented by two songs here “The Finer Things in Life” and “Two Wrongs.”  These two songs sound, with no disrespect intended, like great Oasis ballads.  Say what you will about Oasis’ originality, they wrote some great songs, and these two sound like the best Oasis songs you’ve never heard.

Their other three albums sound far less like Oasis and far more like XTC.  In fact, the XTC comparisons are well-founded as Andy Partridge eventually co-wrote a song with them and eventually signed them to Partridge’s Ape House records (which is how this collection was released in the U.S.).

The XTC comparison is unavoidable on a few tracks.  The opening of “Song for You” (the “when we die” part) sounds like an uncanny XTC outtake, but when the chorus kicks in it sounds nothing like them and moves into more of the gorgeous orchestral pop that overflows on this disc.  And the Partridge co-written “My Genius” is also a wonderful near-XTC outtake, clever, witty, and perfect.

And the song “It’s Nice to Be Nice” is just a wonderful cheery pop ditty.  It sounds retro and charming; if the simple lyrics (and gorgeous harmonies) don’t bring a smile to your face you must be made of stone.

Although the album is primarily orchestral pop, there’s a wonderful array of styles on here.  “Anyone Who Asks” has chipper keyboard bits in the verses, but the chorus is a wonderful mix of dark minor chords.  And then, the absolutely bizarrely wonderful “Monorail” sounds like a fantastic Beck song (with lyrics that are as decidedly unusual as anything Beck himself might write).   It even opens and closes with wonderful circa 1920s banjo.

Despite the obvious nod to XTC, Pugwash does something that XTC doesn’t.  XTC is a very mannered band.  They always seemed very rigid and formal (and were wonderful because of it).  Pugwash uses XTC as a springboard, but Thomas Walsh seems like a guy who likes to let loose with unchecked silliness, so he can move past the strictures of XTC (and sound like Beck!)

And the packaging is just wonderful. The carnivalesque appearance of the cardboard case is enhanced by not just a cardboard sleeve but also by a second cardboard half-sleeve that you slide on top.  Depending on which way you slide it on, it creates a different set of pictures.  It’s a little thing but it’s a nice nod to the fun of non-digital products.

This is certainly one of my favorite albums this year (even if it came out last year).

[READ: September 21, 2010] One False Note

I enjoyed the first book of the series so much, I couldn’t wait to get to Book Two.  In particular, I was interested to see if Gordon Korman’s writing style would differ much from Rick Riordan’s.  As I said last time, I hadn’t read Riordan before, (although I have read a few by Korman) and while I wasn’t expecting them to write in the same manner, I wondered if they would try to keep the style the same (or if it would be really obvious that they were different writers).

I have to say that I didn’t notice the difference between the two.  Korman’s seems a bit faster paced (but he had no exposition to deal with), and it’s possible that he made things seems a bit more scary/dangerous than Riordan, but not much.

The question I have with the series is three-part: Is the basic plot given to each new writer–like the writer is told what the 39 Clues are–or, possibility two, are they told very specifically, the clue is this and it is here and the writer has to figure out how to get the kids there, or possibility number three, they are free to do whatever they want.

Either way, this is an exciting series, and I’m looking forward to Book Three.

So in Book Two, Amy and Dan continue their adventure.  This time, they go to Saltzburg and Venice.  The Saltzburg trip leads them to the Mozart house.  There’s a wonderful sorta subplot about Mozart’s sister, Nannerl (real name Maria Anna), who was also a great pianist and harpsichordist, oftentimes getting top billing when they played together.  I’s never heard of her, and didn’t know of her talent, and that’s the point of the subplot–how Nannerl had to put her musical skills to the side because she was a woman.   This works nicely with the pairing of Dan and Amy and how they are both good at different things and are both very useful on the quest. (more…)

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