If, like me, you find the constant barrage of the same old shitty Christmas music in shops and restaurants at this time of year mind-numbing - excruciating even - then this is the perfect antidote. I mean, I’m not being Scrooge here, I do like Christmas and all but I could die happily without ever hearing the fucking “Frog Chorus” ever again. As if Christmas shopping wasn’t stressful enough!
So praise be for dj, writer and Voodoo practitioner Stephen Grasso, who has put together a mix of tunes guaranteed to warm even the most humbugging of your icy cockles. A Voodoo Christmas in South Norwood features mostly ragtime and swing jazz versions of some well-known Christmas standards, along with a smattering of funk, soul and reggae, with some rarities and classics thrown into the mix. “Beatnik’s Wish” by The Beat Generation, “Christmas Time” by Horace Andy and “What WIll Santa Claus Say (When He FInds Everyone Swinging?)” by Louis Prima & His New Orleans Gang being personal favourites, and you will also find tracks here by Louis Armstrong, Celia Cruz, Charlie Parker, the Aggrovators, James Brown, New Birth Brass Band and many more. The full tracklist is on the Soundcloud page, and here is the 76 minute mix:
It’s a Saturday night and I’m feelin’ alright… and this excellent dj mix is just too damn good not to share!
“Boogie” is an often overlooked subset of disco and funk. It peaked in the early 80s when many of the acts from the disco era looked for a new dancefloor style, swapped their guitars for synthesizers and modified their syncopation to suit the popular roller disco phenomenon. Though relatively short lived and with no major artists representing the style in the mainstream (outside of funk-pop acts like Cameo or the more P-Funk-y Zapp) it managed to be hugely influential. It reared its head again for a while in the 90s when many of the original records found themselves being sampled in hip-hop and in particular g-funk, courtesy of producers like Dr Dre. It’s a very West Coast sound, and when it comes down to it nobody knows boogie quite like Dam Funk.
Dam Funk - “Hood Pass Intact”
This native Los Angelino’s name should be familiar to music cognoscenti, as he has released a string of records to much critical acclaim on San Francisco’s Stones Throw label, including the mammoth 2009 5-LP set Toeachizown. A man with a strong fetish for original FM and analog synths, his sound is definitely heavily influenced by early 80s funk and disco and 90s hip-hop, while maintaining a singular sound and atmosphere.
But Dam Funk is not just a talented producer, he is also an excellent DJ, as this awesome set proves. Although he hosts a weekly funk shindig in Los Angeles called Funkmosphere, this recording is taken from the first birthday party of the London night Deviation, and uploaded to Soundcloud by the BBC Radio 1 DJ Benji B. Dam is what is known as a “personality DJ” who is not afraid to get on the mic, give shout outs to the audience, and tell us the names of the tunes he is playing. And damn are those tunes hot - I just keep playing this mix over and over, it’s that good.. You can find more info on Dam Funk (including tour dates, merch and downloads) on the Stones Throw website. But for now just hit play, blaze, boogie and have a great Saturday night:
Thanks to Kelvin Brown for the link.
The original video for Dam Funk’s DJ staple “Dangerzone” by Midnight Express (whose dancing zombies theme possibly pre-dates “Thriller”):
Are there any readers of Dangerous Minds in France? If you do live there, then I would recommend getting your hands on the next edition of the well known rock magazine Les Inrockuptibles, which comes with a free cover mount CD featuring the best of the renowned post-punk and mutant disco label ZE Records.
ZE has been a longtime favourite label of mine, since I first started getting deeper into collecting disco and realised not all of the genre was dripping cheese with a boner for a chart placing. The releases were smart, weird, original, sleazy, camp, funny and funky as hell. The records came in a distinctive sleeve featuring the label’s iconic logo and a graphic featuring a New York City taxi cab. You didn’t even have to listen to tell that they were dripping in the atmosphere of that place and that time - hell, it may not even have been real, it may just have been the disco/punk New York of my imagination, but it sure did sound great.
Founded in New York in 1979 by British entrepreneur Michael Zilkha and the French publisher Michel Esteban (hence the name), ZE specialised in releasing both “Mutant Disco” for the uptown set, and more downtown experimental sound of “No Wave”, both co-existing side by side in a way that kinda made perfect sense. What united them was an attitude born of not giving a fuck. ZE acts spanned the gamut, from the noise-fests of Mars to the ground-breaking Lydia Lunch, from the proto electro of Suicide to the more rock output of Alan Vega, from the twisted dance punk of James White & Blacks to the sassy boy-baiting of The Waitresses, from the new wave Euro pop of Lio and Garcons to the veteran Velvet drone-meister John Cale, from the geeky freak funk of Was (Not Was) to the dancefloor experiments of Bill Laswell and Material.
My favourite ZE associated act is one August Darnell, better known by his stage name of Kid Creole. He worked with many different acts and under a variety of different names, including Cristina, Coati Mundi, Gichy Dan, Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band and Aural Exciters, not to mention being the driving force behind two other seminal disco acts, Machine and Dr Buzzard’s Original Savanah Band. He brought to the music a heavy influence of golden era jazz and Cab Calloway. And it wasn’t just a a sly wink to the past - beneath his sometimes quite strange arrangements lurked classic Broadway songwriting chops and killer one liners (check “Darrio” below). I feel August Darnell has been overlooked in the history of popular music, and I hope to cover him more in depth in the future.
We have already covered a couple of ZE Records acts in the past few months here on Dangerous Minds, namely Cristina and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. it seems only right now to introduce the label to people who may not have heard of it, and/or to remind others who have of just how good it is. As I have mentioned before, it is worth signing up to the label’s mailing list to keep abreast of what they are up to (the next release is a remastered re-issue of John Cale’s Sabotage/Live LP recorded at CBGB’s in 1979 and featuring the Animal Justice EP). To sign up, visit the label’s official website. The entire ZE catalog (with info on how to obtain what is available) is on Discogs. This is the Les Inrockuptibles cover mount CD streamed from the ZE Records Soundcloud page - a pretty good summation of the label’s vast and influential output:
If you are STILL stuck for things to do before Rapturization, why not try your hand at remixing the band Zombi? It seems rather apt, doesn’t it? Remix Zombi now, and get to meet a real live zombie later on today. If you are one of those people unfortunate enough to get left behind that is. Unlike me - it may have passed the 6pm deadline over here but I am hedging my bets on an EST ascension now.
Ok, enough of the rapture jokes.
Zombi are a most excellent doomy synth act from Pennsylvania comprised of the members Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra. I posted on Steve Moore a few weeks ago, as one of his numerous spin off projects is the equally excellent synth-pop act Miracle. Zombi take things in a much more John Carpenter direction, with arpeggios full of authentic late 70s B-Movie atmosphere and a vibe that brings to mind the work of Fabio Frizzi for Lucio Fulci, and some of Mororder’s earliest scoring forays. This kind of retro-soundtrack/space-rock thing seems quite voguish now (not that I’m complaining) but Zombi are one of the pioneers having been on this tip for almost a decade now.
The band have just released their new album Escape Velocity on the respected metal label Relapse, and in conjunction with Self-Titled magazine and Soundcloud are giving folks a chance to remix “Slow Oscillations”. The prize is a Soundcloud pro-account for a year, your very own Steve Moore remix (boom!!) and a whole heap of Zombi-related goodies. And at the very least it’s a chance to hear all those gorgeous classic synths separated. To download the song, and the individual tracks, go here. To buy Escape Velocity and other Zombi releases go here.
So the Beastie Boys are back, with their new album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
There’s an interesting/confusing story about this release - the first Hot Sauce Committee record was due to drop in 2009. At the same time as HSCPt1 was being recorded, the ever-prolific band recorded a bunch of extra material for NSCPt2, and scheduled the release of the sequel for early 2011. Unfortunately the release of HSCPt1 was delayed when MCA discovered he had cancer (which he thankfully pulled through), but HSCPt2 remained on track for a spring 2011 release. And so here it is - but now with the track list swapped for that of HSCPt1. The real HSCPt1 is scheduled for release later this year, presumably featuring the material that was recorded for HSCPt2. Those Beasties, they so crazy.
So what does it sound like? Well, listen for yourself:
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.