If you’re in Glasgow for a couple of nights it’d be churlish not to pay a visit to one of the iconic music venues, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Walking up the steps from the main bar your feet pass over the printed names of some of the big name acts who’ve graced it’s stage. From the Manic’s and Blur in ’91, it’s a veritable who’s who of Indie… Oasis, Pulp, Radiohead and erm.. Natalie Imbruglia.
King Tut’s even has its own lager, the whiff of which sent my nostrils spinning back a few days to the distilleries and wash backs of Islay & Oban. Mind you after 10 distilleries, and countless drams it doesn’t take much to trigger a whisky flashback.
Glasgow’s Pronto Mama topped a four band, all Scottish lineup, and by the time they took to the stage the place was rammed with half cut punters ready to jump around. The band arrive bedecked in slightly questionable hand printed t-shirts emblazoned with messages like “Check Me Out” and “Ego Friendly” as if they’d mistaken an EP launch for a stag-do. What they lacked in sartorial elegance they more than made up for in raucous fun, and an ability to simultaneously charm and rock the crowd.
Michael Griffin’s nominally the lead vocalist but Ciaran McEneny on keyboards has an equally fine voice, and thankfully neither bother to tone down their Glaswegian lilt. “Still Swimming” opens with a plaintive wail of what might be “I don’t want to fight anymore” but to my ears sounds like “I don’t want a shite anymore“. Thankfully the songs are as strong as the accents, with “Still Swimming” being the real standout and crowd pleaser. From its gentle piano intro, it swings from delicate declarations of love to crashing guitars, with a maddeningly catchy chorus to boot.
A month shy of six years ago Dan Le Sac, Scroobius Pip and myself waxed lyrical on this ‘ere blog about a mysterious young balladeer from Essex called Jackamo Brown.
Now Scroobius is celebrating his own birthday by uploading a free teaser single from Jackamo’s upcoming debut album “Oh No. The Drift of the World” due in September on Pip’s Speech Development Records.
As an extra bonus, the reliably superb Buddy Peace has chipped in with a remix.
Before I disappear on a whiskey and wildlife tour of Scotland, here are a few musical lovelies that I really shouldve mentioned an age ago. There’s something of a backlog so lets see how many I can mention before I have to go pack.
The wonderfully named Chicano Batman bring ’60s and early ’70s Brazilian Tropicalia, slow-jam soul, surf-rock cumbia, and spacey psychedelia direct from their Los Angeles base. They never venture on stage without their Batcape ruffled tuxedo’s, use ironing boards as keyboard stands and their video’s are chick extravaganza’s (of the Hen type).
I meant to mention them as a plug for the $5000 they were hoping to raise to press vinyl copies of the Joven Navegante EP but fortunately they still hit the target. It’s not too late to order your vinyl, CD or download (I opted for a vinyl/tshirt combo) and any purchase will also allow to spread the Chicano Batman live sound across the world/state/country (delete according to records sold). Hopefully they’ll come to the UK one day.
Chicano Batman – The Ballad of Raymundo Jacquez
Julian Cope pens monthly musical and topical “Drudian Address” updates on his site that often begin along these lines… “As the culture of Exxon, Cowell & Coke wades daily ever further into the mire“.
As you’d expect his albums – of which two are due this year – deal with tales of insurrection, tales of building new cultural traditions and songs about such things as disastrous exploits during the G20 protests.
“Psychedelic Revolution” is split into two parts dedicated to Cope’s two most politically intense heroes and heroines – Che Guevara and Leila Khaled. It’ll be followed by “Revolutionary Suicide” later in 2012.
Lucy Brownhills of Lucifer NYC also features, and its out on Cope’s own Head Heritage label (rather than Cope’s amusing titled mid-price label “Fuck Off & Di”).
Julian Cope – “X-Mass in the Woman’s Shelter”
Julian Cope – “Psychedelic Revolution”
HACKNEY COLLIERY BAND
Hackney Colliery Band’s homage to rave pioneers The Prodigy is a popular part of their live show, but now it’s actually recorded its set to destroy dance floors with a rollercoaster ride that takes in some of Keith and co’s finest works including the furious death jazz take of “Jericho”, the dubwise “Out Of Space” and club anthem “No Good”, all given that HCB twist.
The lovely people at the station the BBC wanted to kill but the public wouldn’t let them, 6music, asked a select few (hundred) music bloggers their favourite three artists as we reach 2012’s half way point. On Sunday the 24th of June (6-8pm) they’ll join forces with blogging zeitgeist’ers The Hype Machine and declare Purity Ring the winner unveil the top 25 artists of the year so far (according to pale white guys who spend far too long on their computers).
It’s always very nice to be asked to participate in these kind of things, but as someone who makes a fine art out of indecision I’m spectacularly ill-equipped to narrow anything down to three. My end of year charts always include at least 200 tracks for this very reason.
After much gnashing of teeth I’ve mostly just gone with the artists my computer informs me I’ve listened to the most. They’re not necessarily tips for the top, just artists I love for various reasons, their lyrics, the beats, the innovation, the anger, or a simply beautiful voice.
Apologies to regular readers for the repeat selections. THE TOP THREE
Fabiana first appeared on the radar when providing the swoon inducing vocals for Ghostpoet’s “Survive It” and then a few months ago, “Young Thing” the first of a series of demo’s appeared on her Soundcloud.
it’s got fretless bass on it WOAH. 80’s throwback ting — FABIANA PALLADINO (@fabipalladino) April 22, 2012
Fretless Bass alert! As Fabiana herself put it “Young Thing” has a wonderful 80’s soul feel courtesy of the lesser spotted fretless bass. Not just any bass either, Pino Palladino is her dad. Pino’s bass supplied the bottom end for the entire Neo Soul movement featuring on D’Angelo’s classic “Voodoo“ album as well as Erykah Badu, Bilal and Common.
Fabiana is blessed with a beautiful voice, the song is understated but reels you in and the production has more than a hint of Paisley Park.
With its crunching guitars, blues howl and of course the booming voice of your new favourite rapper of all time, “King Bee” is a perfect introduction to B. Dolan.
Based on the Stone Foxes reworking of the blues standard “I’m a King Bee“ Dolan delivers a polemic statement of intent, “I don’t practice in the mirror, don’t rap to a focus group” over a sound that you’d imagine Rage Against The Machine might be capable of again one day if they ever got off the festival circuit and wrote material new material.
Last year’s Oxjam Walthamstow gig ((dis)organised by this very blog) was fortunate enough to have a stonkingly good line-up. Now, by chance, B.Dolan, The Melting Ice Caps, Akira The Don, and Barbarossa all have new music ready and waiting at pretty much the same time.B.DOLAN
I was going to say “House of Bees Vol.2” started life as a mixtape, but it still is a mixtape, just one that was a year in the making and more than stands up against any “official” release.
The NWA inspired “Film The Police” became something of an anthem for the Occupy movement, then “Still Here” leaked in May as a tribute to MCA, and now the full album’s here, headed by the epic “King Bee“.
The opening line owes something to Jay-Z & Kanye’s “Otis” but where Jay Z declared “I invented Swag“, Dolan kicks off with “I invented Ugly” (although everyone knows Bubba Sparxx invented that in 2001). The lyrics were written at Dan Le Sac’s flat and Dan’s disinterested response to the “ugly” line as he looked up from an email: “Mhmmm. And you kept it all to yourself, didn’t you?” ended up being the second line.
The track itself is based on the Stone Foxes reworking of the blues standard “I’m a King Bee“, chopped up and turned into something else entirely by producer Buddy Peace. As Dolan delivers a polemic statement of intent, “I don’t practice in the mirror, don’t rap to a focus group” the guitars snarl and deliver a sound that if Rage Against The Machine ever got off the festival circuit and wrote material half as good would sell a million.
Dolan also guests on Dan Le Sac’s new album (see “Caretaker” video below)”
AKIRA THE DON
In between recording 23 minute long video blogs bemoaning the “ridiculous, shlocky, dumb, anticlimactic, nonsensical MESS” that is Prometheus, Akira The Don released the 28th ATD Mixtape, entitled “Unkillable Thunderchrist”. As you’d expect from a Don mixtape its got a long roll call of guests including PolarBear, Envy, Footsie, Big Narstie, Mr Lacey, & Joey2tits. Denver based MC Time features on the tribute to Beastie Boy MCA “Too Sweet To Be Sour“.
In Envy, Akira appears to have found something of a musical soulmate, and as the number of collaborations mount up she must be wishing Virgin offered railmiles between Manchester and Akira’s Hackney home – or Nu Olympia as the Don has renamed it. Last years duet “Nothing Last’s Forever“ takes some matching but the tone of “Give Me Something” is very different with Envy taking the lead delivering a heartbreaking tale about the loss of her mum.
Last year James Mathe aka Barbarossa decamped to the Analogue Catalogue studio in the hills outside Manchester to record the follow-up to 2007’s “Chemical Campfires“. Exclusively using analogue kit (Casio keyboards, vintage synths and old drum machines) and with Adem of “Homesongs” fame at the production helm we’re now seeing the first fruits of that labour.
“Butterfly Plague” arrives on June 12th as part of Fence Records Chart Ruse series (preorder).
The video marks the directorial debut of actor, film-maker and James’ partner, Montserrat Lombard. To compliment the analogue origins of the song they filmed on Super 8 and then packed the footage off to the Isle of Wight for transfer. The resulting work perfectly compliments the track with an otherwordly ghostly feel and really effective use of Zawe Ashton from Channel 4’s Fresh Meat expressive face centre frame throughout.
“I wanted to capture the headiness of the track in a simple way. We are all so used to being inundated with slick, fast images that i wanted to go back to the old school way and shoot on Super 8. I love the beauty and simplicity of William Eggleston’s Stranded In Canton so we used that as a template for the kind of feel we wanted to create. The treatment came from listening to the song and writing down the images I saw as it played. Wonderful Zawe Ashton loved the track and as a good friend of mine was brave enough to let the director in me loose and come and play with us.”
“Summer 77 – I’ve taped my favourite songs from the charts by holding a mic up to the radio & am now cranking up the cassette on the clunky mono tape recorder on my lap in the back seat of the family Renault 16.”I Feel Love” is playing & Moroder’s prototechno is gliding & phasing & I’m tranceing out. My Dad stops the car because he thinks there’s something wrong with the engine. Donna Summer – you rocked my world“. – Phil
The above comment left on the Music Like Dirt Facebook page is a far better anecdote to the powers of Donna Summer’s music (and her partnership with Giorgio Moroder) than anything I can muster.
My own first taste of Summer was probably in the mid 80’s when my dad who was DJing on London pirate station LWR used the orgasm filled mid section to “Love To Love You Baby” as a backing track to read out the football scores. Preston North End 1….Uhhhh owwwww….Halifax Town 2….ooooo Love to Love You baby… Kidderminster 1… etc. It’s not a particularly suitable memory to mark the passing of a musical great.
Paul Gambaccini on the other hand knows a thing or two about popular music and his BBC Radio 2 programme on Donna’s life is essential listening. Singer Brenda Russell recalls Donna giving her a voice coaching tip “you’ve got to sing from here” she told her tapping somewhere slightly below her waist.
BBC Radio 2 – “Feelin’ Love: The Donna Summer Story (50 mins)”
Before the iPod and shuffle, the only option if you wanted to flit randomly between musical styles was a compilation CD or a multi CD changer, a machine that once stuffed with your favourite discs would seamlessly blend from one album to another with only a great clanking noise to hint at the switch.
The only other choice was the “producer” album or to give them their official name “faceless producers”. In the late eighties and early 90’s they were everywhere, Coldcut, Bomb The Bass, S’express, Beatmasters, and later Leftfield. The music critics hated them, sniffing that their albums weren’t cohesive and sounded like a collection of singles by various artists. Me, I couldn’t get enough…painting a Coldcut mural on my bedroom wall and lapped up Go-Go tracks, jumping to reggae, acid house, a bit of hiphop, Mark E Smith next, oh now Yazz. Life was sweet.
I’m not suggesting Dan Le Sac’s forthcoming LP marks a return to the days when “featuring” was the most popular word on the charts or the comeback of the faceless producer (for a start I’ve met him and he definitely had a face).
The title “Space Between The Words” doffs its hat to Dan’s part as one half of “Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip” and the difficulty of going from the bloke behind the bloke with the beard to the bloke without the bloke with the beard.
People get very confused. When Scroobius came along to a gig I organised last year a local councillor came up to me and whispered “I think Dan Le Sac’s here“. Not only that but the 2nd comment on the soundcloud page for Dan’s first major solo single without Pip was “Where’s Dan Le Sac!!!??”
“You’re so fit I wish I could get it without the game”
The full album (out July 9th on Sunday Best) features a cornucopia of talent that hopefully hints at the genre hoping pleasures to be found within. Emmy The Great, Merz, Sarah Williams White, Joshua Idehen, Pete Hefferan (from Pete & The Pirates) and most excitingly for me at least, two tracks with the mighty B Dolan.
I say hopefully as I haven’t actually heard it, a fact that cruelly illustrates that I’ve somehow slipped behind comedian Marcus Brigstocke as a goto source for upfront pop, indie, dance previews.
Ok – the new @danlesac album is not what I’d expected at all – mixing up the styles. It’s brilliant. Amazing collaborations.
Not that I’m knocking Marcus. In fact I also follow @MichaelMcIntyre for his unrivalled knowledge of UK HipHop, while @SandyToksvig is a surprisingly good source for Gabba.
The poet Joshua Idehen also features on Dan’s LP which as good an excuse as any to give a mention to his main band Benin City. Their insanely funky old school Shady Groove style tune “The Beat” actually featured in the upper reaches of my Top 100 tracks of the year in 2010, but “Baby” is their first official single.
It has an odd but charming video (above) featuring Deanna Rodger’s being followed round by a man with a Zebra’s head while the song itself can be filed under bitter-sweet love songs. Its actually far more bitter than sweet, being an ode to fucked up love but delivered with such a slow building beauty and mournfulness that it knocks you sideways.
“we ain’t good for each for each other is what my friends say… “
Starting with just an electronic rumble and Joshua’s voice, by six minutes in drums collide with trombones and sax in a gorgeous soup that recalls the Cinematic Orchestra at their peak. ‘Baby’ is gorgeous and available to download from the 30th May
With its crunching guitars, blues howl and of course the booming voice of your new favourite rapper of all time, B. Dolan “King Bee” (preview video above) was an obvious first single from the eagerly awaited “House of Bee’s Vol.2” mixtape.
However after the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch Dolan ripped up the plan and instead went with what felt right.
“Still Here” was originally written as an ode to his father who passed away after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010. So as a mark of respect for Yauch and of course his father Dolan decided to leak a song that’s truly fit to honour his passing and the moment.
I have to say I’ve only met B Dolan once but the generosity of spirit he showed turning up as a surprise guest at some random bloggers (me) charity gig, then getting a train back to Reading from deepest North London at ridiculous o’clock having stayed till the bitter end seems to me to be a mark of the man. If you couple that with the sheer jaw dropping quality of the music he’s releasing right now, and with each new tune seemingly raising the bar higher still, you can’t help but think his dad must have been a very proud man!
The work of his producer Buddy Peace on “Still Here” is key too. I’ve absolutely no idea what the looping bag pipe sounding refrain actually is but good god its addictive…I’ve listened to this a dozen times on repeat since downloading it.
Here’s what B. Dolan has to say about “Still Here” :
“In 2010 my father was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of lung cancer and died within the span of 8 months. All of this happened at the same time SFR released ‘FALLEN HOUSE, SUNKEN CITY’, and I embarked on the most ambitious touring schedule of my career.
Needless to say, that year was devastating in every way. For the first time since age 12, I found myself questioning what I do and considered walking away from it. I’ve always taken pride in the ‘dues paid’ for my art, but in the face of a loss that great, everything can suddenly seem too awful, too futile, and too difficult to continue doing.
The beat used for “Still Here” was literally one of the most important parts of finally pulling myself out of that tailspin… Something about those bagpipes or whatever that sound is that Buddy sampled. I remember listening to it for the first time and feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand up. ‘They haven’t killed me yet.’ is the thought I immediately had when the beat dropped, and everything followed from there.”
Rest in Peace to MCA and all of our dearly departed. Through the impact they’ve had on our lives and the legacy they’ve given to the world, they’re Still Here.
“It feels good to play a little music / Tears running down my face ’cause I love to do it”
Adam Yauch – “Root Down”
Beastie Boys – “I Don’t Know”[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/beasties/IDontKnow.mp3]
Adam Yauch who lost his three year battle with Salivary Gland cancer on Friday (4th May) certainly crammed a lot into an all too short 47 years. A Buddhist, Tibet freedom campaigner and concert organiser, film distributor, director, magazine and label owner but above all, the irrepressible MCA, one third of one of the all-time Hip-Hop groups, The Beastie Boys.
Only a couple of weeks ago The Beasties were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame. Yauch was too ill to attend but sent a letter dedicating the honour to his fellow B-Boys, “who have walked the globe with me“. Ad-Rock and Mike D in turn paid tribute to Yauch, “It was to MCA’s parents’ house in Brooklyn where I remember I would go every day after school to make a damn god awful racket”
The pair declined to perform without their friend and who knows if they ever will again?
BEASTIE BOYS – “INTERGALACTIC (PSYCHEDELIC SINGH REMIX)” – Thanks to Amarik for posting this for me!
Rewinding a quarter of a century and 40 or so million record sales, The Beastie Boys first burst into my consciousness in a flurry of tabloid outrage. The Sun led a campaign to stop the heinous and in their eyes violent trio getting visa’s to enter the UK (although as The Beasties & Run DMC complain in the video below the claims were overblown). Once here, a 20-foot, motorized inflatable penis, and go-go dancers in cages caused a bit of a fuss, and headlines ranging from throwing bottles at their audience to abusing disabled children accompanied their every turn. The youth of the nation responded by gleefully ripping the badges off VW cars in their honour.
Beastie Boys – “Rock Hard” (1985)
The craze even reached the wilds of Carlisle where a 15-year-old me wasn’t quite brave enough to strip cars of their insignia, but Foggy, my mate up the road, built up quite a bounty of shiny VW’s, despite preferring Stock Aitken & Waterman. To my dad’s horror the family Morris Minor was stripped of its badge – thieved presumably by a confused Morris Minor & The Majors fan – while in a bid to halt the mini crime epidemic VW desperately offered to send a badge to any kid who wrote and asked.
Tim Westwood who back then was a Pirate Radio DJ fervently plugging Hip-hop as he still does to a wider audience today posted this fantastic video from the 1986 “Raising Hell” tour. The Beastie Boys along with LL Cool J perform amidst utter chaos, ending with MCA flinging himself head first into the crowd.
It’s also easy to forget just how terrified parents were of The Beasties back then. The episode of Oprah below gives a hint and is worth watching anyway for the simple pleasure of hearing Tipper Gore say “20 foot inflatable penis“.
“In those days hip-hop was truly from the streets and everyone rapping was black and then all of a sudden these 3 punk rock white kids appeared..” Chuck D speaking at Video Vangard Award (Youtube)
PE's very 1st show Passaic Theater backstage License To Ill Tour April 1 1987
Chuck D: “Last night, I took a 14 hour flight to Sydney, Australia from LA, embarking on PE’s 80th tour in 25 years. I just landed to 65 texts with the news. Adam and the Boys put us on our first tour 25 years and 79 tours ago. They were essential to our beginning, middle and today. Adam especially was unbelievable in our support from then ’til now, even allowing me to induct them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I consider myself a strong man and my father says be prepared to lose many in your post-50 path of life. Still, I’m a bit teary-eyed leaving this plane. R.I.P. Adam aka MCA.”
Fab Freddy interviewed The Beasties on Yo! MTV Raps remembers Adam trying to set him up with Drew Barrymore
The joys of spring. Its been pelting with rain for 36 hours straight and The Southbank Centre, London’s concrete edifice to art is looking fairly bleak.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hall there’s a loud clanking gear shift crowd wise, as the heavy coats and grey hair of a Beethoven Cello Sonata audience push up their umbrellas and scurry into the rain, an assortment of hairstyles and slightly hipper folk arrive for the launch of the Kwesachu 2 mixtape. The first 200 punters snaffle an upfront cassette of the mix to treasure, and quizzically ponder if they know anyone that still owns a tape deck (they could of course download it here).
Charming is the word I’d use to describe Kwes, declaring himself “chuffed” that people have braved the monsoon weather to come down. He’s said he doesn’t savour being the centre of attention but his music ensures he will be. In the last year he’s produced Speech Debelle’s new LP, worked with Damon Albarn in Africa, and braved the spotlight live with his solo material.
Picture by @deanbryce
Kwes clearly loves collaborating with like-minded people both on record and with one-off live events. After providing a deliciously sparse remix of The Invisible he’s now playing a one-off joint show with them and of course tonight marks the 2nd chapter of his 2009 collaboration with Micachu, “Kwesachu“.
Watching the video (below) about the recording of “Kwesachu 2” what comes across is the mutual admiration that Kwes and Micachu have for each other. It’s also a chance to rope in a load of talented friends, a steady stream of which pop on stage across the course of launch night (with the notable exception of Ghostpoet who’d just got off a plane and didn’t quite make it).
Kwes & Mica are joined by the phenomenal drummer Kwake Bass and Shabaka Hutchings who adds another layer to the sound with some incredible sax work. Kwake Bass and Mica have previously teamed up to create another mixtape last year (download).
At 7pm Speech Debelle was tweeting that she needed to learn her verse but by the time she joined Del for a Big Dada double-header on “Plastic Coins” she’s flawless. A fleeting appearance and a reminder that I really need to see her full live show.
Dels is the mainstay of the evening featuring on three tracks, including the excellent “Bird Milk“. He deadpans the line “Some say I’m just anxious, but I just think I need to eat cheese less” while Bella Wilde brings a touch of glam to the night rocking a pair of zippy PVC trousers and heels while delivering the song’s chorus.
Micachu herself takes main vocal duties on “Awol/Amen” which recalls the poppy accented swagger