Thursday, May 31, 2007

Revisited: Hong Kong Phooey

While I, and most of people I know, would be wildly hypocritical as to espousing on the evils of bootlegging and downloading, it doesn't take a genius to know where blame lies when comparing the number of record stores to the number of people in Hong Kong (the same, however, doesn't ring true of DVD stores, go figure). Music fans gotta go somewhere, though, and because of that, a whole host of used cd kiosks are there for the picking.

On the one occasion I DJed in Hong Kong, the promoter had told me he wanted an old school hip hop and rnb/soul/funk set (the crowd, however, had different ideas). I ended up downloading a good majority of my regular picks, but hit the used cd kiosks for backup.

I scoured around for what was avail, and found one early/mid 90s hip hop compilation, which is kinda like finding an albino in a crowd of Oompa Loompas. I picked it up for the hits (Beastie Boys, Maestro Fresh Wes, etc), but it also featured this Redhead Kingpin hit, which, apart from Afrika Bambataa, is the only clear sampling of Kraftwerk that I can think of:

The other real memory I have of Redhead Kingpin was from the Do the Right Thing soundtrackaround the same time as the Do the Right Thing soundtrack (thanks for the edit, Jay; the soundtrack opted to feature another Teddy Riley-produced track, "My Fantasy" by Guy), wherein they were quite obviously eclipsed by Public Enemy, like following the Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy (I was 13 or 14 when I first heard "Do the Right Thing," when the biggest hip hop fans at school were the Mormon kids, which is about the weirdest memory I have):

For a crowd of kids that doesn't remember Michael before Thriller, I'm not sure how I came across the Black Caesar soundtrack, but there you go. This was the first JB album recommended to me as a must-have outside the Star Time boxset (by Sam Prekop, nonetheless). I remember the Sweet Charles interview from Waxpoetics wherein he claims all the JBs thought Mr. Brown was a horrible singer, but a listen to any number of his slow jams should dispel that:

As a big fan of the various Soul Source remix albums for the J5, finding the James Brown one was a big treat. The series generally pairs well-known Japanese artists with hits from the featured artist, and thus the JB one features more "Sex Machine" remixes than is necessary. The only real remix that really works beyond the kitsch value is UFO's remix of "Deep In It":

By that point, the lustre off UFO has dulled. Their 3rd album released stateside, some forgettable spy movie wankfest, was largely a mis-step that only the most ardent fans (cough cough Faust cough cough) could enjoy. Their following albums were never released domestically stateside. I picked up V, a sleepy after-hours jazz affair, which featured more than enough Johnny Hartman knock-offs that put the final nail in the UFO coffin. This one track picks up the pace with a Latin tinge, and probably one of few tracks worth mentioning past UFO's second album:

In the end, I spun to a largely Chinese-American crowd of kids spending their summer vacations visiting their repatriated parents. Shoulda just bought that Nelly album. This time around, I'm just buying clothes.

Btw, am I the only one that likes the new Lauryn Hill track? I mean, it's been a gazillion years....

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Revisited: That Crazy Sound From Way Out

For a period in time, I was flying through Japan quite regularly on my way to Shanghai. It's true what they say about Japan: if there's one place where you're going to find any record, however rare, it's Tokyo.

That said, I never was able to find this De La Soul vinyl single, which was supposedly a promo single where they battle Parappa the Rapper on one side, and leave it blank on the other. I searched high and low for that record, and never did find it.

And now comes the muthafuckin' rub named Youtube: if there's going to be one place to beat Japan for rarities (and oddities), it's that site. And, as my luck seems to go for that record, alls I can find is this 30 second clip featuring De La and your ubiquitous Japanese rnb singer, Double:

The full-length video, of course, has since been removed. Goddamn!

That said, I did stumble across this De La rarity on my various travels, wherein they back up another Japanese rnb duo named "True Kiss Destination" on a track called "Victim," from around 1999:

There's no end to hip hop artists heading east to work on a Japanese-only release, and I can't begin to do the research to compile a definitive list. This next track is on here solely because I remember Jay used to prefer it to D'Angelo's Voodoo (that's stillcrazy, but heck, he used to bust out the Ralph Tresvant all the time too).

On this Toshi Kubota track, "Till She Comes," you might (read: should) recognize the drums - that's Questo, and the rest of the Roots crew (well, except for Black Thought; there's no sense in me posting that DJ Krush track, is there?) AND Larry Gold appear on the track (they produce one more track on the album, which also features production from Raphael Saadiq, of Toni Tone Tony/Lucy Pearl fame).

While we're on the Japanese kick, I don't seem to recall the DJ Krush/Toshinori Kondo album ever making it over to N. America except by import. It plays out in a similar way to that Bill Laswell/Miles Davis mix from around that time. I won't claim to be the biggest DJ Krush fan - no disrespect, but I still find it a little boring, but this track was a standout to me back in 96, though it's definitely dated now:

I found this track on an Ashley Beedle compilation that I found in a used CD bin in the middle of Shibuya (Lord, I wish I could still find my giant Africa medallion). From what I (hardly) remember, Son of Berzerk was one of the few productions that the Bomb Squad did outside of Public Enemy and Ice Cube, primarily because Flavor Flav was a member of its precursor, Townhouse 3, when he had met Chuck D:

I'll post odd shizz I found in HK when I was living there in another post.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Revisited: Long Time No Blah Blah Blah

While the rest of you have been wondering "why the hell am I reading this piece of shit?" "where the hell's that new post?", lemme tell you: moving's always a bitch, so leave it be, son (btw, Chad: thanks for returning my Chappelle show dvds). The only perk of the whole process was getting to sift through all these 90s albums again...oh, and the extra square footage for which to store them in.

Folk Implosion
The whole Dinosaur Jr. reunion thing had me wondering about Lou Barlow again, though I didn't have the patience to go through the Sebadoh catalog again. I won't deny Barlow's gift for writing the 3 minute pop song, but there's only so much pathos a guy can take in one sitting, so the Folk Implosion seemed like a better idea.

It's not a far stretch to place the Folk Implosion more squarely as being more noteworthy for Barlow than its other member, John Davis. Davis' solo tapes on Shrimper make it obvious as to why Barlow and him had a kinship to begin with (both being armed with 4-tracks and little in the way of self-editing), but also clearly indicate which of the two had a better knack for the stuff.

It might be for that reason, then, that the Folk Implosion made more of a mark when they ditched the 4-track Shrimper sound (though their first album was on Communion) for the lo-fi beat sampling they became known for from the Kids soundtrack. Here's "Nothing Gonna Stop" - I figure you can get their hit "Natural One" easily enough:

While I'm sure there's probably loads of examples that pre-date this, according to my spotty memory, there really wasn't much in the way of crossover in early/mid 90s N.American indie rock and other genres (note that I make an exception for UK/European indie rock, which would've made that crossover earlier in the game) - which probably gave rise to the later impetus to ditch the traditional guitar/drum/bass formula across the board. The Folk Implosion, apart from perhaps Beck, really seemed to me as one of few examples of a A-circuit college rock star from that time toying with hip hop craft, while it seems much more commonplace today.

"Nothing Gonna Stop" samples the Silver Apples' "Program" (though some claim it's "A Pox On You," my ears say otherwise), which were one of the earlier synth/drum machine groups, dating back to 68 or so (the liner notes have schematics for the "Simeon," featuring a set up of oscillators and pedals that, while relatively simple now, I can only assume would've been quite elaborate for pop music at the time):

Here's "Insinuation," from the Folk Implosion's last release on Communion. Dare To Be Surprised was probably a step backwards from the Kids soundtrack, stepping more in the lo-fi indie rock direction, but did feature a remix of the track from the Dust Brothers, a logical pairing:

The last Folk Implosion track I'll post is from One Part Lullaby, which should be counted as the duo's last album, though Barlow later released a further album with two other chumps as the "New Folk Implosion," which largely sounded more like Sebadoh than anything else (I'm still going to cite Davis' Shrimper tapes as reason enough to think this had to do more with Barlow losing interest in beats than Davis being some sort of beat-conducta):

'Course, all of this would have been in and around the same time that the Bristol sound was circulating the world. That said, here's an odd little Portishead track that isn't really talked about much - an instrumental track from the Help EP (after the first War Child comp):

PS - I gotta big up this blog, Golden Rock, which is posting archives from the Calgary local music scene, pre-CD.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Just Sayin'

I'm posting this because (i) I didn't get to watch this with you and (ii) you like spoilers anyway:

Plus I didn't have anybody to discuss it with at my office.