Tagged: house

Stevie Wonder – Superstition (Obol Remix)

I’ll keep this one short.

So, Gilles Peterson, second show on BBC 6Music. Sixth track of the afternoon, a restrained, slow-building house remix of Stevie Wonder’s funk classic Superstition. The remix is by Obol, who I don’t know much about other than the fact that he likes remixing things, and he’s from Switzerland.

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I don’t often say this about cover versions, let alone remixes, but I actually think that Obol improves Superstition; yes, that’s right – I just said that this is better than Stevie Wonder’s original. I always felt that, whilst it’s a great track to get people dancing, the disco was a bit forced on Superstition. With all that stripped away and nothing left to distract us from the lyrics of the song, it’s actually much more powerful. Mat Weddle managed a similar trick with his cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya.

Anyway, enjoy. Here’s hoping Gilles pulls some more smashes out of the bag next week.

Voodoo doll by [F]oxymoron on flickr

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Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young Cover)

Facebook’ made a big push into music last night, but I still tend to head to YouTube when I’m looking for a bit of serendipitous discovery/reminiscing. And today it didn’t disappoint.

There are a lot of great things celebrating 20th anniversaries this year: Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, Nirvana’s Nevermind, my GCSE results. And Saint Etienne’s first ever single, a house-tinged cover of Neil Young’s beautiful Only Love Can Break Your Heart: I know this because of the nifty timeline that YouTube have introduced for bands & artists.

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Saint Etienne’s take on Only Love Can Break Your Heart takes a downbeat, acoustic little ditty and turns it into a dirty, great skanking club monster. It might be twenty years old, but it still sounds fresh enough to take your nose off. Or something. It’s taken from their début album Foxbase Alpha, which was an interesting and eclectic take on post SUmmer of Love London, but is, ultimately slightly frustrating (like much of Saint Etienne’s work if you ask me). But this single is a stone cold classic.

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Lego album cover by hazymemory on flickr

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St. Germain – Easy To Remember

I’ve spent this weekend trying to get up to date with what’s new in music. And, for the most part, that’s involved trying to download everything that’s yet been created by Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or OFWGKTA as they’re apparently known to their fans.

This was brought on by an article in The Guardian about the collective’s ring leader, Tyler, The Creative. According to the article, written by Paul Lester, who, in my eyes, is old enough to know better, Tyler’s (free to download) début, Bastard:

is one of the best rap albums ever made, free or otherwise.

It’s not. It’s horrible.

Yes, the beats are sparse and breath-taking, and the melodies, all Wu Tang style jarring piano lines, are infectious, but it’s just so, so, so, bloody depressing. And offensive. To quote the man himself:

Somebody called me a homophobe. I’m not homophobic. I just say ‘faggot’ and use ‘gay’ as an adjective to describe stupid shit.

Yeah, because that’s OK. As one of the commenters on the Guardian article says:

(Begin Sarcasm)

I think this whole uproar over him using the terms ‘gay’ and ‘Fag**t’ is ridiculous…

To paraphrase the man himself:

“Somebody called me a homohobe. I’m not homophobic. I just say ‘faggot’ and use ‘gay’ as an adjective to describe stupid shit.”

I’m just the same, except I ‘just say‘ nigg**r and use ‘black’ as ‘an adjective to describe stupid shit‘ !

For example, this whole row is totally black…really, it’s that stupid…totally black..

But to my mind there are a lot of nigg**s out there who just don’t get this shit and act all black about it…but hey, those ni**ers can go suck a d*ck, right? They’re so black…
(End Sarcasm)

Quite.

Anyway. Having listened to the (amazing & uplifting) new Beasties album for about the 4th time since I bought it (yesterday), I was trying to be cool, young & interesting by listening to Bastard. For the 2nd time.

But I just couldn’t do it. It’s just too damned horrible. And misanthropic.

So, I swapped to a random Genius playlist, and the first track that came up was Easy To Remember by St. Germain. Thank the bloody Lord.

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In contrast to Tyler’s never-ending nihilism, Easy To Remember is just a beautiful piece of music.

For those who’ve never heard it, it’s a perfect slice of 90s jazz-house. There’s a beautifully slip-shod jazz drum-beat. A haunting sax melody. An off-kilter piano hook. And, laid over it, is the stunningly wonderful oration that Ossie Davis gave at the funeral of Malcolm X.

Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did, you would know him. And if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood!

So. Maybe I’m getting old. Or I’m just not cool enough. But, do you know what? I really couldn’t give a shit.

I’ll take the uplifting optimism and joy of St. Germain’s Easy To Remember over Tyler, The Creator’s give offence by numbers any day of the week. And, as if to prove my faith in rose-tinted spectacles, as I write this, BBC4, a station for the 35+ demographic if ever there was one, is showing a programme about the 20th anniversary of the making of Screamadelica, which, of course, nearly included this joyous ode to life.

Peace.

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St. Germain by TheDeliciousLife on flickr

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Primal Scream – Screamadelica (Dixie Narco EP)

Ahhh, never was a truer word spoken than when a wise man once said ‘A nostalgic 30-something muso and his cash are soon parted’.

I’ve just got back from a trip into Dublin and am now the proud, if slightly embarassed (by the cost) owner of the 20th anniversary edition of Screamadelica by Primal Scream. Like the similar reissue of The Stone Roses it’s a beautifully packaged piece, with both CD & vinyl versions of the albums, remixes, prints and, possibly best of all, the Dixie Narco EP which was the only release to include the song that gave Screamadelica its name.

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It’s incredible really that Screamadelica wasn’t included on the album of the same name: it encapsulates the best of what the band were trying to do, and would have been the best track on the album, which, when you consider what did make it on there, is saying something. It starts with a gentle bongo beat, a vibey melody and a sample that appears to be of a scouser encouraging someone to enjoy a trip, which is probably what it is.

The track rolls on for 10 minutes, soulful & euphoric, and you can almost smell the air of an Ibiza unspoilt by Ministry of Sound package holidays and pissed-up lager  louts. Denise Johnson sings the title of the song as if it were some sort of mantra, and in many ways it was & is. 20 years after its release it still stands up alongside Flowered Up’s Weekender as one of the finest tracks of the 90s and in many ways is the buzzed-up, optimistic ying to Weekender’s twisted, cynical yang.

The only thing that I don’t like about Screamadelica is that it reminds me that I had tickets for Primal Scream’s, now legendary, all-nighter gig at Brixton Academy just after the album was released. But because, the week before the gig, I had sneaked out to see a girl despite being grounded, I wasn’t allowed to go. I’m guessing the band would have approved, but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

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Ben Westbeech – Falling

I was listening to a random playlist this morning when the epic Get Closer by my one-time hope for the future, Ben Westbeech, popped up. I’d forgotten quite what a great track it is, with Die’s piano-led drum & bass and Ben’s vocals melding perfectly. I’d not heard much of Mr Westbeech since he contributed one of the stand-out vocals to Jazzanova’s (excellent) album Of All The Things and so thought it might be worth seeing if he’d done anything new recently.

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Well, one quick search on YouTube later and I found Falling, the video of which is above. It struck me as a very different vibe to his earlier stuff, and according to Wikipedia, that’s because he’s moved from Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood to house label Strictly Rhythm: I’m not sure it’s such a great idea. Whilst it might be the case that Strictly can offer him more backing in terms of support and marketing (I know the guys at Brownswood have to do most things on a tight budget) I can’t help thinking the change of direction means he’ll find it even harder to stand out from the crowd.

His early work, such as So Good Today and Get Closer had a really unique feel: a great blend of soul, hip-hop, drum & bass & whatever. But a lot of the album fell somewhere in the middle and I think that Jamie Lidell rather stole Ben’s thunder, and probably did what he was trying to do better than he could himself.

Now James Blake is all set to be the next best thing, and Ben’s releasing rather middle of the road vocal house. I hope it does well for him, but it’s certainly not setting my world on fire like his first singles did.

Image by Neal Fowler on flickr

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20 Essential 90s Albums

In its ongoing bid to have more sub-brands than any other media owner, Absolute Radio recently launched a new niche-station, this time one tailor-made for those of us currently experiencing the dizzying pangs that come with realising nostalgia isn’t just something that happens to your parents: Absolute 90s. And, as part of the ongoing celebrations of the launch, they’re compiling a list of the Essential 90s Albums.

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Now, anyone who has ever read this blog before (Hi Mum!) will know that I love a good list and so, taking Absolute 90s compilation of such a list as a challenge, I thought I’d have a go myself. And here, after much thought, is my 20 essential albums of the 90s. It was hard enough keeping it to 20 (and they’re likely to change) so they’re in no-order other than chronological. I’ll happily admit that it tends to skew towards British music & hip-hop, but it’s not my fault that most grunge was shite.

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Anyway, for anyone that cares (Hi Mum!), here’s my 20 essential albums of the 90s.

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Now, the observant amongst you will have noticed that the list above only has 19 entries.So, I want you to make suggestions as to which album should fill that space and I’ll choose one of the suggestions and add it to the final list of the 20 Essential Albums Of The 90s.

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I should probably warn you now that it’s very unlikely that I’ll add any album that had a picture of a baby chasing a dollar bill on the cover. Just thought I’d mention it.

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Passion Pit – The Reeling (Bubblegum Sci-Fi Remix) [Skins Series 4 Trailer]

Effy from Skins

The Bubblegum Sci-Fi Remix of The Reeling by American electro-indie band Passion Pit is the perfect subject for a post: it’s a blend of lots of different styles, it’s a remix (my original blog was limited to posts about remixes & samples) and, as it’s used in one of the ads for Skins, the TV series that’s using the web to subvert the traditional methods of making & marketing programmes, it’s oh-so on topic for me.

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So, is that why I’m posting it? No, it’s because I haven’t posted anything for ages and the way that this track, stops, starts & stutters makes me think of the Pet Shop Boys meeting Ladyhawke in an indie disco in Ibiza. And it totally rocks.

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Photo of Skins’ Effy via Channel 4/e4. They own all that copyright shit baby.

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BT & Sonifi At Stream 09

I’ve just got back from 3 days at an event called Stream 09. It was organised by WPP, Mindshare’s parent company and was, quite simply, brilliant. Billed as an unconference it’s essentially a group of about 200 people who are invited to spend a few days discussing interesting things at a venue on the coast of Greece, just outside Athens. The attendees ranged from scientists to technicians to engineers to venture capitalists to journalists to magicians, and it really was a fascinating few days, as well as a lot of fun.

On the first night they held what was dubbed as The Gadgethon: essentially this was a Dragon’s Den scenario where people had to showcase the latest gadgets they had come across. There was also a section where people presented ideas for gadgets that haven’t actually been invented yet – I won that section with a device called Walk & Talk; I’m not going to try to explain it here, but ping me if you want the details. I have a feeling it’s unlikely to be going into production any time soon.

Anyway, the first section was won by a guy called Miles, who presented a really bloody cool iPhone app called Sonifi. It basically allows people to remix, mash-up & generally muck around with tracks just by doing things like tapping the screen & shaking the phone. Nice.

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The tune that you can hear in that demo of Sonifi is Rose Of Jericho by BT which is, quite simply, what I believe is known in the trade as an absolute f*cking tune. It starts off with some vaguely alien sounding bleeps & blips, with a rather ominous drum ticking away in the back. After not too long it all builds up before rocketing in with an absolutely storming bass. I would imagine it would sound rather fabulous in a club – it sounded pretty damn good in a meeting room in a Club Med.

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The photo at the top is of the wall of Polaroid photos taken by the guys at Stream. Can you spot me? If you were there, can you spot yourself? It was taken by Guido Van Nispen who took a load of amazing photos there. Thanks to him, thanks to Yossi Vardi & everyone at WPP for organising such a great event and thanks to everyone who attended for making it so interesting. Here’s hoping I’m invited back next year.

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