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Wiley’s message to all the haters -  ‘Cheer Up, It’s Christmas’
12.24.2011
01:15 pm
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And if you really, really don’t like disco, then perhaps this is more up your street. It’s an unexpected Christmas cracker by the king of UK grime Wiley, taken from his forthcoming album Evolve Or Be Extinct (to be released on Big Dada Recordings on 19th January - pre-order available here.)

This track is hilarious, the beat’s great and the sentiment is universal - about a family trying to cheer up that one misery guts who would rather stay upstairs playing Xbox while everyone else is downstairs having a drink and a laugh. We’ve all been there I’m sure:

“Go on, have a dance with aunt Shirley/
A little wind-up an’ that/
No, you go have a dance with Shirley/
Leave me alone anyway!”

I only found this track about an hour ago, and I’ve already listened to it half a dozen times. In fact, I’m going to listen to it again, right now. And you should too, it’s a future Christmas classic:
 

 
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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12.24.2011
01:15 pm
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Have yourself a Disco Christmas with Cut Chemist’s ‘Disco Is Dead’ mix
12.24.2011
12:24 pm
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It’s party season, and as we should all know by now, disco is the greatest party music ever. If you happen to disagree with that statement, then check out this excellent 50 minute mix by veteran LA turntablist Cut Chemist.

There is nothing particularly obscure of unknown here (not for disco aficionados anyway) but what sets it apart is the sheer slickness of the mixing, and the ease with which these tracks go together. Especially worthy of mention is the section from about 5 minutes in which sees Donna Summer, Rinder & Lewis, Silver Convention and Love Unlimited Orchestra slide into each other hand in glove, as if they were written for that very purpose. Then he drops “Sesso Matto” and it just keeps getting better: 
 


Happy Christmas everybody! 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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12.24.2011
12:24 pm
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DJ Dear Leader - Dropping the bass with Kim Jong Il
12.20.2011
02:07 pm
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Ain’t no party like a Kim Jong-Il party!
 

 

 

 
More at Kim Jon Il Dropping The Bass.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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12.20.2011
02:07 pm
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‘Swords, Sandals and Sex’: International grooves vs. pagan dance clips
12.16.2011
06:01 pm
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Swords, Sandals And Sex mixes international grooves, punk and psyche with ultra-groovy dance sequences from vintage sword and sandal (pepblum) flicks.

01. “That’s Where It’s At” - Van Morrison and The Holmes Brothers
02. “Mabala” - Fathili and The Yahoos
03. “Saman Doye” - The Black Brothers
04. “Negre Africa Dub” - Sly and Robbie
05. “Daughter Whole Lotta Suger Down Deh” - Jah Berry
06. “She Moved Through The Fair” - Jam Nation
07. “Teen Tonic” - Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier
08. “World Destruction” - Afrika Babaata and John Lydon
09. “Fever” - Jingo
10. “El Pescador” - Toto La Momposina and Sus Tambores
11. “Swinger” - The Third Rail
12. “Venetian Glass” - Infinity
13. “Jocko Homo” - Devo
14. “Human Fly” - The Cramps
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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12.16.2011
06:01 pm
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‘Dream Machine’: New wave disco and beautiful vintage celluloid
11.20.2011
02:58 am
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Late 1970s/early 80s dance grooves intermingle with beautiful hand-tinted and b&w vintage movie clips to create a rhythm you can dream to.

01. “Hard Times” - The Human League
02. “Why Can’t I Touch It” - The Buzzcocks
03. “Journey” - Delta 5
04. “Keeping Up” - Arthur Russell
05. “Theme For Great Cities” - Simple Minds
06. “Pata Piya” - Manu Dibango
07. “We Don’t Need No Fascist Groove Thing” - Heaven 17
08. “Death Disco” - Public Image Ltd.
09. “Warm Leatherette” - The Normal
10. “The Jezebel Spirit” - Brian Eno/David Byrne
 

 
Alternative mix after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Marc Campbell
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11.20.2011
02:58 am
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Ali Renault: lord of the doom-dance
11.18.2011
10:18 am
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Ali Renault is one of my favourite producers working right now. Formerly one half of the ace Italo revivalists Heartbreak he has been building a reputation over the last few years with his solo techno-disco outings on labels like Moustache and Dissident, and now he has just dropped his excellent debut album for the London label Cyber Dance.

Renault’s heavily Italo-influenced sound is clean and crisp, but with a tangible sense of creeping dread, like that point on a night out when you notice the sun has come up and your high is beginning to wear off. It’s what might happen if you took the synths of Claudio Simonetti, slow them down to a warped ketamine crawl and lock them in a wardrobe with Michael Myers. It’s not nearly as hellish as that makes it sound - in a way it’s kind of comforting, like the knowledge that someday you are going to die. It’s no surprise to learn that Renault’s formative musical influences as a teenager were both metal and techno. 

“I like using old cheap hardware and I enjoy trying to evoke a dark mood with machines” he says.  Renault’s self-titled debut album is 8 tracks of what he describes as “detective-noir” and will appeal to fans of golden age John Carpenter, classic Detroit techno, Garth Merenghi re-runs and the darker side of Italo disco. This isn’t music designed to impress with tricks and technology, it has a cleanliness of form and a melodic richness that is unique and brilliant. You can download the excellent “Pagan Run” from the 20 Jazz Funk Greats blog at this link (highly recommended), and here’s a download of the track “Promises”, courtesy of Mixmag:
 

 
 
And here’s another album track, “Dignitas Machine”:
 

 
 
Ali Renault performs “Zombie Raffle” live at Magic Waves festival 2010:
 

 
Ali Renault can be purchased on vinyl from Juno and Beatport.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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11.18.2011
10:18 am
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‘Five Years In New York That Changed Music Forever’
11.18.2011
02:55 am
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Jeff Salen of Tuff Darts and Talking Heads’ David Byrne at CBGB, 1976. Photo: Robert Spencer.
 
It has been said that when a city is in decline the arts flourish. I don’t know who said it or when it was said or if anyone actually said it at all. It’s one of those things that sounds true and feels true and when I say it people tend to agree, whether it’s true or not. It certainly seemed true when I arrived with my band in New York City in 1977 to play a Monday night gig at CBGB.

Crawling out of an Econoline van into the humidly dense New York night and having a fistful of Bowery cesspool stench sucker punch me was like being greeted by a Welcome Wagon full of decaying dog dicks. I liked it. I took in a lungful of the jaundiced air and knew immediately that my Muse was there somewhere…stuck like a moth in the viscous Manhattan murk.

The asshole smell of downtown NYC was exactly the kind of reality check I needed after spending six years languishing at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. I had arrived in 1970s Manhattan ready to have my world dismembered like a frog in anatomy class. I offered my neck to the city’s rusty scalpel with only a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a bindle of blow to deaden the pain. 25 years later, I came out of surgery a changed man. And I have the scars to prove it. Lovely scars that you can count to determine my age.

In the first few years of living in NYC, I spent most my nights hanging at Max’s, CBGB, Danceteria, The Peppermint Lounge, The Mudd Club, Hurrah’s and countless other clubs soaking in the glorious sounds of local bands like The Patti Smith Group, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Suicide, Tuff Darts, Mink DeVille, The Contortions, Steel Tips, The Dictators, The Mumps… many of whom were gaining international reputations for rescuing rock and roll from the corporate death grip of a dying music industry and from its own artistic stagnation. This was not a commercial strategy, it was something closer to a collective religious epiphany. Poets, painters and philosophers were adding guitars and amplifiers to their arsenals of typewriters, journals and canvas to further expand their medium of self-expression and resurrect a pop culture that had shot its wad at the tail end of the Sixties.

While my main interest was with what was happening in the punk clubs, there were major musical tremors snaking throughout Manhattan,The Bronx and Spanish Harlem. Jazz, rap, disco and Latin music were all drawing from some deep well of inspiration in a city that, on the surface, seemed to be collapsing in on itself. The economy, infrastructure and racial division were crushing Gotham like Godzilla-sized pigeons with restless leg syndrome.

Darkness breeds light and pockets of artists, of every color and cultural background, were conjuring all kinds of magic. And the magic was converging and intermingling in a melting pot, a Hessian crucible, in which alchemical beats, rhythms and song were being transmuted into healing vibrations balancing Gotham’s gloomy Kali Yuga yang into Shakti-powered yin transforming the tortured cries of the city into ecstatic utterance you could dance to, fuck to and get high to. Music was the wave that kept the city from tanking. As the garbage piled up on the streets and triumphant rats were raising flags on mounds of rotting debris like rodent versions of the Marines ascending Iwo Jima, glittering disco balls gaily revolved like tin foil prayer wheels in Studio 54 and downtown The Ramones were generating more energy on the Bowery than Con Edison and the psychotic barker from the Crazy Eddie commercials combined. Music provided the make-up, the blush and mascara that gave New York City the appearance of still being alive.

Will Hermes’ exhilarating new book Love Goes To Buildings On Fire: Five Years In New York That Changed Music Forever captures the energy and excitement of New York’s music scene from 1973 to 1978 in all its multitudinous forms. It is richly detailed, never dull, and exhaustively researched. I came to the book knowing most of what there is to know about Manhattan’s punk scene and as someone who was there at the time was pleased to see that Hermes (who was also there) manages to make it all come alive again. This is not a dull slog through familiar turf. Herme’s prose pulses with a rock and roll heart. He loves what he’s writing about. And he’s writing about much more than just what falls within my frame of reference. He sees and connects dots between various scenes creating a kind of musical mandala. From the lofts of downtown avant-garde jazz composers like Philip Glass to the South Bronx and the roots of rap with Kool Herc to disco’s inception spun off the turntables of Nicky Siano to The Fania All-Stars’ explosive sets at the Cheetah Club, Hermes is like a human Google map, giving us the God’s eye view and zooming in right down to the graffiti in the bathroom.

Today, things seems as bleak as they did in New York City during the 1970s. There’s a sense of hopelessness, a sense that things are getting out of control. But underneath the despair there is a subway-like rumbling, a rhythm, a beat, a sensation that something is moving and about to surface and it could be a train entering the station or it could be something like music, something pulling us all together in a movement that thrusts forward into the future and will not be denied. I’ve seen what the power of music can do. I saw it in the Sixties and I saw it again in the Seventies. And right now my eyes are wide open and ready to see it again.

Love Goes To Buildings On Fire is that fine kind of book that takes you backwards and forward at the same time. Will Hermes reminds us that music matters and every revolution, every movement, every cultural and political upheaval, creates its own soundtrack. What will ours be this time around?

Here’s a video mix inspired by Will’s book which includes some seminal songs that came out of New York City in the 1970s.

1. “Jet Boy” - The New York Dolls   2. “Piss Factory” - Patti Smith   3. “X-Offender” Blondie   4. “Born To Lose” - The Heartbreakers    5. “SuperRappin’” - Grandmaster Flash   6. “Darrio” - Kid Creole   7. “The Mexican” - Babe Ruth   8. “Pop Your Funk” - Arthur Russell
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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11.18.2011
02:55 am
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Nile Rodgers’ ‘Le Freak’: Music biography of the year
11.16.2011
03:57 pm
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Yes, I am aware that Marc Campbell writing on this blog last month claimed that Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson is the music book of the year—which is why I have fudged the terms here and inserted the word “biography” into the headline. Shouldn’t there be a distinction between writers on music and musicians who write anyway? Well, it doesn’t really matter if you are more interested in the story or the music, as Nile Rodgers’ autobiography Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny is packed to the last page with stories and anecdotes that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.

If you consider yourself a music fan, then Nile Rodgers needs no introduction. He is a hardcore, bona-fide music industry legend. He not only co-wrote some of the biggest hits of the Seventies with his partner Bernard Edwards in the band Chic (“Le Freak”, “Good Times”, “We Are Family”), and produced some of the biggest records of the 80s (Madonna’s Like A Virgin, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Duran Duran’s Notorious, Diana Ross’ Diana.) His skills as a guitarist are beyond any doubt and have influenced a generation of musicians not only in the disco, funk and dance genres but further afield in post-punk and even hard rock. At a recent gig in Manchester, Rodgers’ Chic Organisation was joined onstage by The Smiths’ Johnny Marr who sat in on “Le Freak”—the pairing might seem unusual, but listen to their guitar styles and the influence is clear.

Le Freak is Rodgers’ candid autobiography, and what a tale he has to tell. Not only is this one of the most fascinating stories in modern music, with a cast list of some of the biggest stars in the world, but it’s also one of the most under-documented so to hear it coming from the proverbial horse’s mouth is a delight. There’s drugs, sex, rock’n’roll, drugs, booze, disco, hippies, drugs, Black Panthers, bohemians, buppies, drugs and some more drugs for good measure. The years spent playing and writing in Chic, while not given short thrift, are not the main focus of the book. Chic have been well documented elsewhere, in particular the book Everbody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco by Darren Easley. But where that book leaves off—namely the coke-fuelled 80s—is where Le Freak really kicks in to gear, with Rodgers working with Ross, Bowie, Ciccone and snorting his way through the GDP of a small country. Any mere mortal would be dead from the amount of coke Rodgers scoffed, but what’s even more impressive is his hardcore work ethic and the fact that he managed to keep it all together (and tight!) while under the influence.

But it’s the early years of Rodgers’ life that are the unexpected highlight. To call his upbringing unusual would be an understatement. Born to his mother when she was just 13, and only a few years before she became a full-time heroin addict, Nile travelled with his mother or one of his grandmothers between New York and LA during the 50s and 60s. His musically gifted father wasn’t present, but Nile ran into him in a couple of times on the street, and got to witness his vagrant lifestyle first hand in a couple of heart-breaking reminiscences. In Los Angeles, at the age of 13, Rodgers drops acid at a hippie pad and ends up hanging out with Timothy Leary. In New York, at the more wizened age of 17, he finds himself tripping balls in a hospital emergency ward as Andy Warhol is wheeled in, having just been shot by Valerie Solanas. This being the kind of incredible life that Rodgers leads, he is able to meet both men later on in life, in very different circumstances, and recount these tales directly to them. He credits events and coincidences like this in his life as something called “hippie happenstance.”

Yet, despite all the major celebrities who make regular appearances throughout the book (I particularly liked the story of meeting Eddie Murphy), this remains distinctly the Nile Rodgers story. It’s clear how important family is to the man, and despite his own family’s unusual set-up and dysfunction, it’s the Rodgers’ clan who are the anchor in this wild tale (even despite their own wild times consuming and selling drugs). Nile’s parents may have been junkies, and genetically predisposed him to his alcoholism, but they taught him about fine art, music, fashion and culture, which is not how heroin-addicted parents are generally perceived by the public.

Le Freak is an excellent book, and worth reading whether you like disco music or not. Nile Rodgers’  is one of the most important composers/musicians/producers of the 20th century, and it’s good to see him finally getting his due. But despite creating the biggest selling single for his then label, Atlantic, and producing the biggest break-out records for a generation of 80s pop superstars, it still packs a punch to read about the discrimination that Rodgers and his music faced from within the industry:

A few weeks later I did a remix of a song of [Duran Duran’s] called “The Reflex”. Unfortunately, as much as Duran Duran liked the remix, their record company wasn’t happy, and I was soon in an oddly similar situation to the conflict Nard and I had had with Diana Ross’ people.

Nick Rhodes called me moments after the band had excitedly previewed my retooling of “The Reflex” to the suits at Capitol Records. “Nile” he began, his monotone stiff-upper-lip English accent barely hiding his despair. “We have a problem”.

My stomach tightened. “What’s up Nick?”

He struggled to find the words. “Capitol hates the record” he finally said.

I was stunned. “The Reflex” was a smash. I was sure of it. This was déja vu all over again.

“How do you guys feel about it?” I asked a little defensively.

“Nile, we love it. But Capitol hates it so much they don’t want to release it. They say it’s too black sounding.”

Too black sounding? I tried not to hit the roof, but in a way it was nice to hear it put so plain. Finally someone had just come out and said it.


 
Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny by Nile Rodgers is available here.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Nile Rodgers dishes the dirt on Atlantic Records
Miles Davis talks about his art on Nile Rodgers’ ‘New Visions

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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11.16.2011
03:57 pm
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Ops ‘n Pops and The Seeds: Cool clips from teen dance show ‘Shebang!’ 1967
11.09.2011
11:16 pm
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These two clips from 1967 episodes of teen dance show Shebang!, hosted by Casey Kasem, are candy-colored time capsules featuring some ultra-cool Sixties artifacts, an era when even writing utensils were on acid.

Ops n’ Pops psychedelic ballpoint pens, a Vox amp,Super Meteor guitar, Radiocorder and Honda mopeds!

Kasem talks to proto-hipster/radio deejay Dick Moreland about his trip to the Monterey Pop Festival.

Good times.
 

 
The Shebang! Dancers get their groove on to The Seeds’ “A Thousand Shadows.”

Posted by Marc Campbell
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11.09.2011
11:16 pm
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The Swan Lake of breakdancing
11.09.2011
04:28 pm
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Arthur Cadre’s performance to the song “Sail” by Awolnation is like the Swan Lake of breakdancing. It needs to be seen to be believed.
 

 
(via Poor Mojo)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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11.09.2011
04:28 pm
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