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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Playlist - 27th January 2007

Bobby Beausoleil - Lucifer – Arcanum
M Ward – Post-war – 4AD
Mountaineer – Eliza (a day for every hour) – Type
Richard Javerling – Ice princess – Yesternow
Marissa Nadler – Mr. John Lee (Velveteen Rose) – Eclipse
Judy Roderick – Born in the Country – Vanguard
Susanna and the Magical Orchestra – Don’t think twice it’s alright – Rune Grammafon
Joanna Newsom – Cosmia – Drag Cityd
Loren Connors – I’ve had trouble, I’ve had joy – Family Vineyard
Dorit Chrysler – Satellite – Monika
Yo La Tengo – Black flowers – Matador
Chris Herbert – Cassino – Kranky
Bana Ry-Co - Cara Cara - Retro Afric
Les Mangalepa - Embakasi - Retro Afric
Diagram Brothers - My bad chest feel much better - New Hormones
Adrian Sherwood - The House of Games - real world
Sun city Girls - Elvis and machinery / Bacchanalia - sun city Girls
Hovis Presley - aS if by magic the shopkeeper appeared
The butterflies of love - famous problems - fortuna pop
slipstream - AEIOU - Enraptured records
Gecko Turner - En La Calle, ON the street - love monk
King melody - - Crying time - AcLCD
Naturalites and the Realistics - picture on the Wall - CSA Records
Devon Russell - Things THin - AcLCD

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Playlist - 20th January 2007

Dadiao – Lusheng Mangtong Music:
Bullfight – opening – Miao Music CD
Tom Waits – Jayne's blue wish - Anti
Tom Waits – Redrum - Anti
Tom Waits - Lowdown - Anti
Rosy Parlane – Atlantis – Touch
Henry Jacobs – Guitar Lesson – Important
Ellen Allien & Apparat – Bubbles – Bpitch Control
B6 – Little secret – Bit Records
Asuna – Happy misunderstanding – Wire cdr
dan.lofi – Chamber electronica ep#1 for violin and vocal samples:
track 1 - Transcover Productions
Ike Yard – We are one – Acute Records
Team Doyobi – Thus jacked Zarathustra – Skam
Carla Bozulich – Evangelista 1 – Constellation
Mum - Scractch Bicycle/Smell Memory - Fat Cat
Odori - Thousand (featuring carl Stone) - Hefty records
Drone - Waterlillies - My Kung Fu Recordings
Massonix - Diamond Dance (4th, Heavy Water) - Skam
Kris Drever - Steel and Stone (black water) - Reveal
Drew Pilgram - Shades of Grey -
Delicate Hammers - Spaguetti Head - Cheap and best records
Macolm Middleton - A Brighter Beat - Full Time Hobby
The Earlies - Broken Chain - Full Time Hobby
Aereogramme - Barriers - Chemikal Underground Records
Field Music - A House is Not a Home - Memphis Industries
Dr Fathallan Ahmed - Jozi Tjawaz Alai - Union Square / Metro
Mighty King David Sounds - Everlasting Glory - Earthquake Dub -
Johnny Horn Crew -Demo
L.Pierre - Drift - Melodic

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Playlist - 13th January 2006 - Funkology

James Brown - Dead on It - Polydor
James Brown - Get on the good foot - Polydor
James Brown - Why am I treated so bad - Saturday King Records
Afrika Bambaataa and the Jazzy 5 - Jazzy Sensation (Bronx version) - Tommy Boy
James Brown - My Thang - Polydor
Yerba Buena - Fever (Blaze Roots Vocal Mix) - West End
James Brown - Rapp Payback - RCA
Joe Coleman - Get if Off the Ground - Jazzman
Vincent Montana, jnr featuring Double Exposure - You are my everything - Philly Sound works
James Brown - Wake up and give youself a chance to live - Polydor
Peven Everett - Sexy Make Up - Defected
James Brown - Papa's Got a Brand New bag - Verve
The Jimmy Castor Bunch - It's just begun (Extended Instrumental Breaks and Beats Mix) - RCA
James Brown - Get up offa that thing - Polydor
Funk for your face - Barna Soundmachine - Blindtest

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Playlist - 6th January 2007

Tetine - Slum Drunk - soul Jazz - sjr
DJ Sandrinho - Berimbau - Easy Recording
Arthur Russell - Sringfield - Audika Records
Observer All Star - Observer Punchin' Dub - Observer
Observer All Star - Razor Blade Dub - Observer
Scritti Politti - Petrococadollar - Rough Trade
Scritti Politti - the "sweetest girl" - Rough Trade
Ali Farka Toure - Savane - World Circuit
Vieux Farka Toure - Tabara (ft. Ali Farka Toure) - World Village
Paul Wine Jones - Stop Arguing - Fat Possum
Stephen Marley feat Damian "Jr Gong" Marley and Buju Banton - Traffic Jam - Tuff Gong
Twin of Twins feat. Damian "Jr Gong" Marley - Gangsters and P.I.M.P.s - Tuff Gong
Blanko Y Nero presente Dia de Los Muertos - Season of the witch -
Adjagas - Rievdadeapmi - Ever Music
Le Fil - Ta Douleur - Emi
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Lay and love - Domino
Junior Parkers Blue Flames - Feeling Good - Sanctuary
George Soule - Something went right - Zane
Arthur Alexander - Soldier of Love - Ace
Stereotype feat. edu K and Joyce Muniz - Jece Valadao - Man Recordings
Boom Pam - Weijl - Easy Recordings
Scan One - Dark Dub VIP - Combat recordings
Ekaros - Atoms - Combat Recordings

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dub Review - July 2007

The French label Tabou1 is notoriously difficult to track down; bad news, as they released the essential Satta Dub, an Abyssinians in dub set, a few years ago since when it disappeared from view. As this one is back maybe the Satta Dub will re-appear too. This is not a U Brown album but compilation of tracks produced by the Deejay lifted from his Hit Sounds label, loosely related to and recorded at Channel One as the seventies ended and eighties began. The dubs here are mixed by Bunny Tom Tom who is joined on engineering duties by Peter Chemist and Soljie. It’s not a hard driving steppers experience but more of a relaxed Aggrovators with some great vocalists, Sugar Minott, Delroy Wilson, Johnny Osbourne, struggling with below par songs. But Al Campbell’s Now I Know provides the material for a textbook binghi drumming workout by Sticky and Skully - perhaps the most used session men in Jamaican recording history and surely overdue what would be a great tribute album retrospective. Most interesting for the four versions of Weather Balloon, lyrically a little limp, but the rhythm and playing mirrors the best of Mikey Dread/King Tubby output from the same period, there’s two versions from the revolutionaries and an instrumental outing from Deadly Headly and Bobby Ellis in brass combination.

Daddy U Roy may have been the originator and Big Youth the most exciting Dee Jay but for sheer wit, intelligence and creativity there was no match for the might I Roy. Back in the early seventies he was too often dismissed as a U Roy copyist, a move that left much of his output undervalued by many other than the hardcore reggae enthusiast. Trojan redeem themselves here by following the precedent they created with the excelled re-upholstering of Big Youth’s epochal Screaming Target – also produced by the youthful Gussie Clarke, so we have all the original cuts from I Roy’s 1973 debut with the addition of their original vocal versions, dubs and also further re-versions by the Dee Jay on the most popular rhythms. The undoubted highlights are the segueing of Dennis Brown’s magnificent vocal on In Their Own Way through to Coxsone Affairs, I Roy’s tribute to Lloydie Coxsone’s ruling sound with name checks for contemporaries and venues and the immortal rhyme: “Girls without spouse …. Drinks on the house!”; and the five takes on Lloyd Parkes ever-fresh Slaving rhythm best known via the multiple Glen Brown versions and here with an intro exchange between I Roy and Gussie that is pure street theatre. Number One contender for revive reissue of the year.

Like so many musicians steeped in the faith of Rastafari Jah Shaka came out of the hills of Clarendon. Arriving in the UK in the sixties he served his soundboy apprenticeship with the soul & R'n'B sound system Freddie Cloudburst and started his own operation around 1970 taking the name Jah Shaka from a Zulu leader. Featuring mainly dubwise selections and what were later to be know as Steppers tunes, his policy did not make room for slackness. From his Friday night residency at Phebes Club in Stoke Newington started Hackney circa late 1978 and over the following years he reigned supreme amongst tough competition from the likes of Sir Coxsone, Fat Man and Ray Symbolic. Ironically, although having an extensive catalogue as producer and artist, he is best known for his legendary Sound System sessions and has pressed up a number of these from tape sources, some with crowd ambience and some direct from the board. Unfortunately the former take on the sonic qualities of the rawest field recording and the latter lose the vibe altogether. No substitute then for getting out and seeing Shaka live should you ever have the opportunity in the meantime go for Phebes 1981 as a document only.

It was good friend Augustus Pablo who introduced the young Jacob Miller to some of reggae's leading producers – Clement Dodd, Joe Gibbs and King Tubby – and who produced his first release, Keep on Knocking. By the time of his untimely death in a car crash in 1980 Miller was a huge star in Jamaica and was about to embark on a US tour in support of Bob Marley. This set is, compilation of the sides he cut for Joe Gibbs, betray his closeness to Marley creatively and his knack of melding popular and roots strains into a credible fusion. So Marley’s Soul Rebel becomes I Am A Natty segueing into Errol Thompson’s incredibly adventurous dub with the all the vocals and harmonies, plus extra moaned interjections from deep in the ship’s hold, strung out across the signature farting synth bass of the Fatman Riddim Section; whilst Fly Away has a straight read across to Jah Bob’s Turn Your Lights Down Low and the extended recut of Keep On Knocking utilises the Hypocrites rhythm. The title track updates Alton Ellis’ Studio One classic I’m Just A Guy and Keep On Running is another discomix with the all too scarce Welton Irie making an appearance with dancehall chat and a great intro: “ ……. Crucial mi Lion!”. This is an essential addition to the singer’s catalogue alongside his solo albums and the Pablo compilation Who Say Jah No Dread.

After Mikey Dread first recorded for Lee Perry in 1976, he continued to cuts sides for Sonia Pottinger, Joe Gibbs and Carlton Patterson – the latter graced by some of King Tubby’s most stately dubs on the producer’s Black & White label. In parallel with this recording activity be gained notoriety as DJ and engineer on his ‘Dread At The Controls’ radio show for the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. This success spawned the legendary African Anthem album, a re-creation on vinyl of his radio show which re-ignited an interest in things dubwise in 1979 and the early eighties. At The Control Dubwise was released in the same year and this is its first re-issue in digital format. The radio jingles, usually recorded at King Tubby's studio, are here again and are just as insane as first time around, none more so than Fast Forward Dub, a version of Harry Mudie’s Let Me Tell You Boy rhythm with an interrupted sneeze intro morphing into a shout of “Dread At The Control”, halfway though the track a herd of goats wander into the studio and eventually gnaw their way through the power cables after water is poured through a cuckoo clock. Master Mantrol is the track reviewed in last month’s column Dread All The Way re-remixed by Crucial Bunny. The original ‘dubwise selection without objection’!

Glastonbury based Skaville Train begin life in 1987 and were, by all accounts, big in Japan, drifting apart hey re-emerged as Ska Bop in the spring of 1997 with principal members remaining from Skaville Train Bob Ormrod, mainly on sax, and Jeff Reed (Drums). Their specialty was in re-creating the musics that rocked the dancehalls of Jamaica in the late fifties and early 1960’s – shufflin’ blues, latin dancers and ska bounce. Of late Bob Ormrod has featured as the horn player shaping the unique sound of the UK’s underrated Martin Campbell and here makes a solo appearance with some of his old spars in attendance. And it’s a beautifully crafted set that lies in that nether region betwixt Jamaican indigenous music and the post-bop jazz that influenced many of its greatest musicians. So there are loving versions of Oliver Nelson’s The Drive and Russell Henderson’s (John Surman’s pianist) Good Times Will Come Again alongside Don Drummond’s Green Island and Derrick Harriott’s Tonight, but standout track is the Coltrane/Gillespie tribute Dizzy Train on which Bob blows on a rhythm which is a wild countrified take on the dancehall of today.

The long association of Pressure Sounds with the HooKim brothers continues with this strong dub selection sourced in the main from the flips of 45s on the Well Charge, Hitbound and Channel One labels. But the big news is that also includes a version of the crown jewel of any sound system, the killer known as Kunta Kinte which has only ever been available before on a dub plate – not surprising as the track was built like an ultimate sound system tool containing all the necessary ingredients to urge the selector to ‘pull up and rewind’. The mix supplied some of the key dubplate triggers deployed in the junglist heyday, notably being covered by Congo Natty on Kunta Kinte (Original Junglist). Two extra versions of Kunta Kinte will also be available on a specially pressed 45. That headline should not overshadow this excellent selection of dubs mostly featuring the newly developed ‘double drumming’ technique of Sly Dunbar, there’s dub versions of the Deejay cut of The Mighty Diamonds’ Poor Marcus (Hotter Fire), Tubby’s recut of Junior Byles Fade Away (Rootes Dub), Dillinger’s Plantation Heights and Wailing Souls’ Back Weh in amongst lesser known rhythms from the Channel One vaults – a real treasure for the hopelessly lost versionist.

There’s a whole bunch of Rupie Edwards reissues around at the moment and the producer has made the mistake of compiling the tracklists rather than outsourcing to a label that might have a better feel for the revive market. As a result the albums mainly patchy affairs with little recommend them with this exception of the instrumentals set which is a curiosity more than anything. Lovers of the early Upsetters material will ease into Sey Go Dey by Carl ‘Cannonball’ Bryan or Herbert Spliffington by Earl Bailey, there’s a couple of relaxed Tommy McCook cuts and every other name is a JA session legend. On top of all that it’s mayhem in the IPR infringement department as Rupie claims credit for everything except for The Magnificent Seven!

The creative department of Trojan is on max overdrive this year, its 40th, what with the BBC succumbing to the illusion that a tribute week is a tick in the reggae box. The recent sets from members of Radiohead and Super Furry Animals, with the usual well worn tracks on display and the newly initiated ‘Roots of’ series are disturbing new manifestations of desperation. This overview of Sly & Robbie’s input to reggae largely pre-Taxi years is basically a mixtape without enough surprises; however the one joker in the pack makes the album unmissable - for me at least. John Holt & the Aggrovator’s version of Philly cheesemeister Lou Rawls’ You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine, a Gamble & Huff tune, perfectly captures the early eighties sound coming out of Jamaica that blended so well with the emerging Lovers Rock scene in the UK. There’s the full, nearly eight minute, discomix cut here that segues into the dub with Sly & Robbie previewing elements of the techniques that would later develop into their Taxi signature sound – the lower register syn drums and deep rolling piano turns making for a richly lugubrious but sensuous mix. The magnificence of this tune can be extended even further by adding Jah Stitch’s Deejay take Natty Dread Ting and King Tubby & the Aggrovator’s You’ll Never Find, which finds Tommy McCook opening with a Coltranesque flourish before descending into smoochy baritone sax instrumental.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Dub Review - January 2007

Any self-respecting UK dub fan would immediately check this sound as emanating from the twin towers of Alpha & Omega, typically a pounding bass that just won’t stop thumping you in the chest whilst a melodica flutters around somewhere above your head. This time Christine and John come with a mainly showcase set with dub after the vocal, featuring a host of roots talent. Coz Safari’s Marching Warriors is a globalised update of Aswad’s anthemnic Warrior Charge with John’s melodica replacing the martial horns; regular collaborator Jonah Dan pops up twice, first off on the set’s toughest track, Nah Lef The Truth, a meditation on keep to the straight and narrow on housed in a monstrous full-on steppers lurch then with the more reflective This Is My Prayer. Amongst the many others here are old friend Nishka and one of the key voices of new roots consciousness in the UK, Gregory Fabulous.

A rough analogue miscegenation rather than a smooth digital fusion sounds oh so much more appealing these days, and so it is for Bass Clef aka Ralph Cumbers another Bristolian ex-pat relocated to the East End via the Blank Tapes people. Whether the 4-track, cassette deck, drum machine, vintage synth and valve compressor that produced this music is down to choice or economics matters not as the end result stands out from a lot of its contemporaries who might be in the same area. The sparseness of the mix gives a spiky edge to the sound; Bass Clef uses both trombone and Theremin on stage. There’s a cheeky opening sample on the first track, Cannot Be Straightened, a sped up capture of Wong Chu the DJ from the Wailers version of Keep On Moving provides the song title and inspires the album title. Followed by a tune about the sound of the tune Subwoofer Loveletter the Eight Zero Eight a purple Def Jam throwback to 1984 convinces us we are in ironically educated hands.

Whether this is some blatant cash-in following the sad, early death of Joseph Hill, Culture’s founder, lead singer and shining light, who knows? It’s certainly an excellent overview of the career of this most popular of reggae vocal groups. Avoiding inevitable litigious action by swerving around the Studio One output, Joe Gibbs’ sides from the late seventies crank up the selection with Two Sevens Clash, Baldhead Bridge and See Them a Come followed by the pick of the Sonia Pottinger sides after the group had moved to the producer’s High Note label. This material was licensed to Virgin in the UK bringing the group under the patronage of John Peel, consequently becoming a favourite of the post punk generation. Joe Hill eventually broke up the group in the early eighties but continued to tour under the banner of Culture, his name being synonymous with the brand. Joseph Hill remained a devoted Rastafarian throughout his career, a dedication reflected in his regular joyous declarations of faith throughout his recorded output; his Love Shines Brighter, originally appearing out of NYC on the April bootleg ‘Africa Stands Alone’, remains one of the most uplifting songs of the genre.

I Kong aka Errol Kong, cousin of reggae producer Leslie Kong, aka Ricky Storm the singer of the roots classic ‘The Way It Is’, former member of The Jamaicans of Baba Boom fame, may be best know as the Ricky of Bunny & Ricky who cut the slower stoner classic ‘Bushweed Corntrash’ for Scratch, is at last recognised by the long overdue reissue of an roots reggae album of the highest order. Originally issued in 1979 via Top Ranking, mixed by Geoffrey Chung at Harry J’s and the Black Ark, the album sank soon after release but is distinguished by its fine arrangements and classy playing out of step with the more militant reggae sound in vogue at the time. The presence of a number of the Third World band may give a clue to the smoother sound and the sophistication of some of the input, the muted horn on ‘Sinner Man’ is the first I’ve heard on a reggae track! and the massed backing vocals, including Judy Mowatt and Beres Hammond, at times give a distinctively gospel feel. The addition of seven dubs makes this a remarkable set as the unusual instrumentation, there’ clarinets in there somewhere, make for a much richer and unusual feel compared to much of the other dubbing happening in the late seventies.

Toyan, graduate of Killamanjaro Sound, whose gravely voice belied relative
Youth, formed one of the select band of pre-rap bad boy deejays in early
eighties Jamaican dancehall. He owed his first success to producer Henry
‘Junjo’ Lawes who introduced him to a wider market in the UK with the
Greensleeves album How The West Was Won, after which he added to his
name the then ultimate reggae accolade of ‘Ranking’! His biggest album
however came via his association with fellow DJ and Jah ‘Nkrumah’ Thomas who produced Ghetto Man Skank, full of ‘bimmmms!’, ‘bong-diddleys!’ and ‘ribbitttts!’ and slow bouncing riddims from the Radics this is one of the classic DJ walk albums – in other words, stand still walking arms swinging is the only cool dance for this music. The language and rhythms are pure nostalgia for fans of the era with Nice It Up, delivered on Linval Thompson’s Six Babylon, the bragging Pallaving Spree where Toyan lays waste to Brixton in company of Little John and Two Bad DJ Afi Talk in combination with Jah Thomas on the riddim of his Entertainment hit. Watch out for sporadic appearances in finer vinyl emporiums of his excellent final album Hot Bubble Gum cut for George Phang in 1984, after which his career faded before his murder in 1991.

Teleseen is Brooklyn based Gabriel Cyr, a DJ and multi-instrumentalist who often performs locally in tandem with video artist Art Jones, smart move as these extended dub soundscapes on CD just beg for that mixed media treatment. Brave enough to open the set with the twelve minute Malachi, a track of super heavy bass ballast topped with sporadic wood and metal analogue clunks and thuds like a Zen slap to the back of the head, demands a dedicated check of the remaining tunes. The well ingrained samples are sourced from shortwave radio transmissions, mixer feedback, static and defective studio equipment, field recordings from Crown Heights to Kampala and all sucked into a library of conflicting rhythms, from the stuttering skank of Native Yard #133345 to the giddy reggae chops of Burdens and the shimmeringly smooth Xion Gate. An initial impression of a curdled abstract reggae-lite house soon gives way to a submission to bass weight.

There’s a new clutch of releases from Ryan Moore’s increasingly prolific M Records, straight outta Nijmegen, the Netherlands, none of which betrays any deterioration in the standards set since the Canadian dub exile began working with vocalists and DJs after many years as a one man band. This showcase set is a limited edition vinyl only with six tracks extended dubwise, three from Ranking Joe and one each from Michael Rose – the ex-Black Uhuru man has a solo set ‘Warrior’ – Admiral Tibet and Mikey General. Rose’s Shilling evokes one of those early eighties Groucho Smykle mixes, dense and tough with restrained touches of syndrum but this time matched by the nostalgia of the lyric “ …bring me back the shilling with the lion pon it ……”! So it’s no surprise that Steven Stanley’s studio in Kingston is used for the recording. Roots reality crooner, the tragically under-rated Admiral Tibet comes with Have the Strength, a peculiar mixed message of love and vengeance. Ranking Joe’s tracks are all a pure delight for lovers of the old school toast complete with rolled ‘r’s’ on the rebel chant Shaka Zulu.

Deepest of the deep, from 1977 this is the Jesus Dread’s third album, after debuting with ‘Conquering Lion’ and follow up ‘Walls of Jerusalem’. Yabby You’s name became synonymous with his signature sound, especially after Big Youth’s chant on the ‘Conquering Lion’ 45 and the twin DJ attack of Trinity and Dillinger on the tune that actually celebrated the producer as the ‘General sound’ on the single ‘Yabby You Sound’. Lightening the densely spiritual atmosphere created by ‘Judgement Time’ and ‘Pick the Beam’ are two sweet lovers tunes ‘Lonely Me’, which could have been a Thurston Harris tune, and a faithful re-cut of John Holt’s doo-woppish ‘Stranger in Love’. In addition to this perfectly rounded original set are six bonus cuts, including two Jammy’s dubplate mixes of ‘Pick the Beam’, a vocal and a version both laden with max echo and delay; plus two twelves both out first on King Sounds UK Grove imprint, ‘Jah Vengeance’ is a steppers take on the earlier version with DJ Trinity joining Yabby You on vocals and, in a magic moment, the apocalyptic ‘Babylon A Fall’ from the Prophets is extended into an instrumental where Tommy McCook’s flute teases the pumping bone of Vin Gordon whilst Ernie Ranglin’s jazzed guitar licks run free over the insistent rhythm.