Anatomically Correct by Custard, from We Have the Technology
(rooArt/BMG International, 1997)
Pinball Lez by Custard, from We Have the Technology
(rooArt/BMG International, 1997)
Gomek back again with a one-band focus. If you´re from the Lucky Country, you know these guys already, but if not, then yer in for a treat. This is Custard, a Brisbane band that sadly is no more but left us with a ton of tasty treats. While certainly influenced by Pavement, they are sufficiently warped by the antipodean double-whammy of distance and too-strong-sun to result in something else entirely...
Why not start with "Anatomically Correct", a song that´s already great from the title before a note is struck? And it contians the perfect segue lyric "....and his family pinball begins to reset..." which leads me to...
"Pinball Lez", my favorite-ever Custard song. This is pure pop heaven, and with lyrics like ¨oh Lez come home, the cops will understand everything...¨you know there´s a lot more going on than meets the eyes.
Exploration of the Custard discograpy is highly recommended... there are gems scattered everywhere. Their music serves much better than my words.
21 Questions (Disco Mix) by 50 Cent, original version from Get Rich or Die Tryin´ (Analog, 2003)
21 Answers by Lil´Mo, from Syndicated: The Lil´Mo Hour (Unreleased)
After too long a layoff I´m back. The old computer is dead and now I´m packing a shiny new iMac so hopefully the music will flow.
I was hesitating with this one since the songs are from the recent past, but that´s the thing with R&B and rap... they´re very "of the moment" genres that, for the most part, don´t age well. Sure you still listen to your Quest and Roots from back in the day, but Kane sounds stale ("Raw" notably excepted), and don´t even think about pulling out those Stacy Latissaw records! So today we go back through the mists of time to 2003.
One really great thing about hip hop is the traditon of answer songs, settling beef through single release... gotta love that. Of course, like most things hip hop, the origin is right there to be seen in reggae. But that´s another story...
This song / answer song pits Curtis Jackson against Cynthia Loving, or, if you must, 50 Cent vs. Lil´Mo.
50 fired first with "21 Questions", a song that posits the aformentioned quantity of preguntas to his lady, trying to figure out if it´s him or his fortune and fame she´s after. And of course I can´t just give you the regular version here, so here´s something you might have missed... the slinky Disco mix!
Fortunately, Lil´Mo is here to fire back ¨21 Answers" and fill him in. Everyone knows 50, but Lil´Mo has always been a favorite of mine, and doesn´t get the recognition she deserves. In fact, the 2003 album that "21 Answers" was supposed to be on was scratched, and remains unreleased. The ranks of quality female MCs are pretty freakin´thin, so give respect where it´s due!
Hope you've all had the time to check out my latest effort, the Gomek Dread Podcast, featuring only the finest in heavy roots reggae - strictly dread mi bredren! Here's the full tracklisting:
Soon Come - Culture
Positive Movement - the Paragons
Beggars Suite, Part 1 - Pecker
Rise Jah Jah Children - Ras Michael & the Suns of Negus
Rasta Dreadlocks - Heaven Singers
Rastaman Chant - Bob Marley & the Wailers
Pumping Dub - Prince Jammy
Slavery Days - Burning Spear
Whip Them Jah Jan - Dennis Brown
Night Shift - Bob Marley & the Wailers
Mi Ma Kpe Dje by Picoboy Band D'Aborney, from African Scream Contest (Analog, 2008)
Izogie-Eronmwon by Sir Victor Uwaifo, from Ekassa (??)
Oya Ka Jojo by les Volcans de la Capital, from African Scream Contest (Analog, 2008)
I think I'm fairly good at ferreting out quality music wherever it's lurking, but OH SNAP, lately I've found some KILLERS! I'm going to be sharing a lot of music, so keep your eyes peeled here in the coming weeks.
This week I'll start with some African stuff. The beauty of the digital world is that so much previously unavailable material is starting to surface. Super rare or local label only stuff is now much more available than ever before. The first wave of this phenomenon was with domestic US stuff like the archives of the jazz labels. More interesting for me was the second wave, where a ton of reggae and dub previously only available in Jamaica or the UK suddenly appeared. I'm still working my way through that treasure-trove...
Now the same thing is happening for African music... and this could potentially be the biggest gold mine of all. Seems that in the late 60s and throughout the 70s, the continent was seething with small labels issuing discs of local musicians. And the music? Some was local African styles, totally fascinating and compelling... but even better in my eyes was the incredible fusion that was going on. The effect that James Brown had on the world cannot be understated, and when mixed with African music, some incredible shit was the result. Then there's the 60s mixes of traditional music and psychedelia. I usually shy away from that, but a kora line transposed to an electric guitar WITH acid-rock wah-wah effects? Damn...
I'll keep it Sixties with this first African post with a ferocious workout. Mi Ma Kpe Dji starts out in the sonic lope of African rhythm, albeit electrified and echo-chambered, before a ferocious psychedelic guitar rips on to the scene. The rhythm guitar & drums battle it for supremacy until the end... so yeah, everyone wins.
The next one, by guitar legend Sir Victor Uwaifo, shows the more traditional side of things. However, I love Izogie-Eronmwon not because of the guitar (although its lilting and sweet), or the harmonized vocals (although they are spot on)... it's that beat. This is like the missing link between Rasta Nyabinghi music and African music... and what a connection THAT is! And I need help with the label/release date on this one... the internet has no info. So if you know, tell me!
And as a bonus, I throw in one more from the African Scream Contest CD that you really need to get.... Oya Ka Jojo. I love this one for two reasons: 1) further muddles the "where does rumba-type rhythms come from " question..., and 2) the brass section sounds totally drunk. Plus it just sort of starts carrying you along with it after a certain point, as often happens with African and Latin music.
No songs this time, just a summary of the track listings for the 5 Gomek Podcasts I've made thus far. If you haven't heard them and don't have the link to get 'em, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you the info. More will be coming in the Fall.
#1 Gomek Country
Mexico – Cake
Arse Kickin’ Lady from the Northwest – Tim Rogers & the Twin Set
To Her Door – Paul Kelly
True Fine Love – Steve Miller Band
Spring Rain – the Go-Betweens
Different Finger – Elvis Costello
What Light – Wilco
Purdy Baby – Mad Turks from Istanbul
Cajun Country – Hoodoo Gurus
Wedding Cake Island – Midnight Oil
Country Honk – the Rolling Stones
#2 Gomek Funk Part 1
Freshmen 10 – the Greyboy Allstars
Funky Four Corners – Jerry-O
Chicken Pox – Booker T. & the MGs
Ghost Walk – the Budos Band
Ghetto Funk – Boris Gardiner
Funky Buttercup – the Chosen Few
Mango Walk – the In-Crowd
Check Your Bucket – Eddie Bo
Cramp Your Style – All the People
#3 Gomek Funk Part 2
the New Avengers – Snowboy & the Latin Section
Hump the Bump – the Soul Company
Right On - Clarence Wheeler
Water No Get Enemy – Fela Kuti
My Thang – James Brown
Joseph’s Popcorn – the Mighty Imperials
#4 Gomek Live Alive
Hyper-Ballad – Bjork
True Love Waits – Radiohead
Down on the Corner – Neil Finn ftg. Johnny Marr
Bigger Boys & Stolen Sweethearts – Arctic Monkeys
Think – James Brown
Love the One You’re With – Aretha Frankilin
This Perfect Day – the Aints
Good Times – Beasts of Burden
Wildflower – Sonic Youth
Lazy Bone – Shonen Knife
Stop – Jane’s Addiction
Roi – the Breeders
You’re No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun – Sleater-Kinney
Glorious Day – Weezer
Hercules – Midnight Oil
Fox on the Run – You Am I
#5 Gomek Disco
Swami on Disco
Too Much Blood - the Rolling Stones
The Call Up - the Clash
Disco – artist unknown
Dance Have Fun- Milton Wright
Candy – Con Funk Shun
Feels Alright! – Regurgitator
Cosmic Slop – Material
Showdown – ELO
Disco Members – Bjorn Torske
Electric Feel – MGMT
El Disco Anal – Los Amigos Invisibles
Move Your Feet – Junior Senior
The Youth by MGMT, from Oracular Spectacular ( Red Ink/Columbia, 2008 )
The Ending of an Era by Midnight Juggernauts, from Dystopia (Siberia, 2007)
Lest you think I only look backward, here's a taste of what's happening now. If you've talked to me lately it's a good chance you know how crazy I've gone over the MGMT CD. Hell, it caused us to trek out to the desert of Almeria to see them play a show a few weeks ago. Such a glorious mish-mash this disc is, with killer hooks everywhere. I'm going to dig a bit deeper than the big 3 songs (Time to Pretend, Electric Feel, Kids) and go with The Youth, a song that starts killer and stays that way throughout. This album's such a mixed-bag but hits on all cylinders success that I have a hard time seeing how they will ever equal it.
And from Brooklyn we go down under, to Melbourne's Midnight Juggernauts. Shout out to Michael Geisler for suggesting these guys to me as the "Australian MGMT". A fair characterization, especially in their ability to conjure up a catchy party vibe, like in the track showcased here. And they're a two-man band like MGMT as well. There's not as much variety in their album as the Brooklyn boys', but you could say that about 99.9% of all albums anyway. These guys are still bubbling under, so watch out for them in the future.
Crab Race by the Morwells, from Crab Race (Burning Sounds, 1977)
Bird in Hand by the Upsetters, from Return of the Super Ape (VP, 1978)
I couldn't hold back any longer from an all-reggae post. I love a wide variety of music, but reggae is always where I come back to... my true favorite. And of all types of reggae, none is better than the dreader-than-dread sounds coming straight from yard in the late 1970s. "Dread" is a hard sound to describe, but it's deep and rootsy, and conjures in the mind images of hot, smoky studios filled with rasta vibrations.
1977 brought us "Crab Race" by the Morwells, a Channel One/Randy's product. Super drum and bass reggae legends Sly & Robbie are one of two rhythm sections credited to the album in general, and it sounds to my ears that it's them at work here. The throbbing heart-like bassline and insistent snare patter gives me that clue.
The following year, 1978, saw the release of The Return of the Super Ape album by Lee "Scratch" Perry. Scratch is a master, and at his peak he was simply untouchable. The album became a classic, and you should really go get it if you don't already have it. This song features a chorus sung in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia, and an uncredited singer whose identity has never been revealed...
Rockin' Funky Watergate by Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s from Breakin' Bread (People, 1974)
Mr. President by the Heptones with Jah Lion from the Upsetters-Turn and Fire Upsetter Disco Dub (Anachron, 1977)
Don't worry, it's not a blog about politics at all! It's an example of what I love about doing this audioblog... I can link songs by the slenderest of threads... So here we have two policaly-themed, or at least related, songs.
The J.B.'s were, of course, James Brown's backing band and had some of the most bad-ass musicians of the era. This one's a fine workout, with Fred Wesley wailing from about the middle to some truly sweet rhythm guitar from beginning to end. Songs like this show why I'll always prefer rhythm guitar to lead. And the political side? Just a then-current shout-out to tack on (and chant) to a funky instrumental.
Next we leave the US altogether to get a Jamaican perspective on things. It's the classic Heptones track Mr. President, in a devastating dubwise reworking by mad genius Lee "Scratch" Perry at the controls - and this is in '77, the prime of Black Ark Studios. This versions sees Jah Lion adding the hoarse-throated toasting. The dread beat, Scratch magic and Leroy Sibbles' vocals demonstrate why this is an all-time great.
Jive Talkin' by Spiderbait, from Andrew Denton's Musical Challenge (??)
Comeback by Regurgitator, from Crush the Losers (Warner Brothers, 2000)
This is a pure fun post, hatched late at night with many chuckles. We're focusing on Australian bands covering unlikely songs in an ironic manner... and I've come up with two prime examples.
Let's start off with Spiderbait, a 3-man (OK, 2 man and 1 woman) band from NSW that can kick some serious ass with some industrial strength riffing. But here instead, we have Kram, the drummer and vocalist, singing a disco cover over a drum machine beat... gotta love it.
And not to be out-roboted, we have Quan and Ben, aka Regurgitator, the current title holder of greatest band on Earth, weighing in with a track dripping with irony as always. This is from the band's EP dedicated to the Sydney Olympics entitled "Crush the Losers", and this particular song is a cover of an old 80s chestnut that I won't reveal here but I think you'll recognize.
Always Love by Nada Surf, from The Weight is a Gift (Barsuk, 2005)
Dejame vivir by Jarabe de Palo con La Mari, from Adelantando (Warner Brothers, 2007)
I'm kicking off the soundbombing with a comparison of killer pop songs built off the same riff. It's one of those simple riffs you get into right off the bat and doesn't get old after that. These aren't samples or EXACT copies, but you'll see what I mean....
The first use came in 2005, in Always Love by Nada Surf. This is a group my friend Dave Marony, who had moved away from San Diego to Colorado by the time this hit the radio, always loved... so it always reminds me of both him and SD. Always Love is a great example of the delayed satisfaction that really hooks me into the songs I like best (and is the primary reason reggae is my favorite type of music, btw), as the super-ULTRA-killer "I've been held back by something..." bridge waits a long time to come in. Once you've heard the song once, you'll be waiting for that moment.
The first time I heard Dejame vivir, I expected the Nada Surf vocals to start and was shocked to hear Spanish vocals instead. But this is a different animal entirely, with nice lyrics-the title means "let me live", and it's an ode to freedom in general-and great vocal interplay between Pau Dones & La Mari. The song's by Pau's band Jarabe de Palo (literally "stick syrup", but meaning a whipping or beating) with the guest shot by La Mari, who heads Chambao, a huge band in their own right.
Which song is better? You decide... but I say BOTH. Create, recycle, chop, remix... whatever the case, as long as the result sounds good the rest doesn't matter.