28 September 2011

Delays.... so bonus video

Yeah.  So, more delays.

Work is the main excuse, but also I have new wheels.... so that cost a fortune and cost me about 6 months of my life due to stress.

I was going to upload Diesel Power in celebration of the fact that I am now significantly old and own my first Diesel.....  balls to that though as it isn't really a good Prodigy track.

The car does have a fairly good stereo, 6 disc MP3 multi changer thingamy.  So I let it rip with more Nirvana on the way back from the dealer....

I particularly liked the recently released live at the Paramount disc - great recording quality - something missing from much of the previous released live material.  The DVD isn't too bad either as apparently it is the only live recording on 35mm, rather than digital equipment.  Or VHS to old people.

Enjoy this as a break....

You know, I don't even mind the "quirky" angles.  Remember, at the time programmes like "The Word" and "Rapido" made this kind of thing their mainstay.  It's a bit honest, of it's time and, oh heck, yes, a Golden Memory....

23 September 2011

Nirvana - Sappy

Well, it's about time for the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, and it is being re-released again.

However - 1 disc version - about £7
2 disc version - £11
4 disc and DVD - £75

Balls to that.  And I love this album.
I will explain what the picture to the left is, and why you shouldn't pay anymore money for this stuff, but do have a listen to the stand out track on the release:


Not a bad video that either.

My opinion is that that track really stands out as one that could have been released posthumously.  Along with "I know You're Right".  Never was.  The story goes that it was recorded many times during their career, but it never was of the standard that they wanted. The fantastic chord changes are particularly original - but as you'll hear from the different versions on this page, they clearly never managed to record what they heard in their heads....

So how come on my computer I have 8 versions of it already?
It's all to do with a bunch of things that happened all at the same time. Ranging from personal computing to Courtney Love.

We know the Nirvana story - I'm not going through it at length again.  His suicide was inevitable as winter following autumn.  And we all watched it happen.  Week after week that poor bastard was on the cover of NME, either performing at a concert off his tits, or being hospitalized after swallowing every pill he could find. And we bloody lapped it up.

This was before September 11th 2001 and before Diana slammed into a Paris tunnel.  There was a more cynical, sarcastic air to celebrity.  Both of those events made us more empathetic towards people we had never met or had a connection with.  Kurt Cobains suicide was not a surprise.

What also has to be remembered is that they were bloody massive. Musical trends and fashions move a lot faster today - and the internet helps with that - spreading music globally for free.  You don't have to wait for delivery of albums in stores, or learn through monthly magazines what the news is - it is now instant.  If I want to listen to Dennis Bovell playing with Steve Mason, I can just search for it online.  I can buy it, or steal it within 5 minutes.

Back then this wasn't the case....
We had to physically search for news, and releases.  Nirvana was so big, there was a huge blackmarket for bootlegs.  CD duplication was getting cheap and easy - and once it had been 'saved' somewhere there was no drop in quality as time went on.  Recordings from the radio (Peel sessions etc) made it onto CDs and then onto market stalls.  For Nirvana this became such a problem, they released the album "Insecticide" made up purely of live and rare recordings.  However, for hard core fans (and there were a lot of them) this wasn't enough by far.

One of the most famous set of bootlegs was called "Outsecticide" series.  Expanding on the premise of Insecticide, this collected the live recordings, as well as the rare tracks from earlier days (the Fecal Matter cassette) TV and Radio.  I feel it was the success of this series of bootlegs that forced the hands of Geffen et al to release the "With the Lights out" box set.

What a great live version......
However, that took far too long to get released, thanks to Courtney Loves bizarre ideas as to how Cobains legacy should be managed.  Frankly the only people suffering from the arguments between Love and Grohl and Novaselic are the fans.  So if they can't get what they want, they'll invent it.

And that is the modern version of what was going on.  The internet couldn't deliver bandwidth capable of video streaming - or even music streaming.  People could, however, rig their video players up to their computers and rip the audio tracks from it.  They could also then compile 70 odd minutes up and then master a whole CD.  Play around with Photoshop and make a cover.  Burn 100 copies and they could easily find their way around the world.

Yes I own bootlegs - from rare Nirvana, even rarer Orb and Pink Floyd Remixes and I love them.

Could it happen again?  No.  There is no taste or market for carefully produced entire albums.  Due to a drop in bandwidth constraints and the ease of recording, video is available almost instantly from live shows on Facebook etc.  You can see how easy it has been for me to find this track half a dozen times.  But as a track, rather than on an album.

And that is why this new box set is pointless.  The bootleggers have been there first.  20 years ago.
Ironically, of course, this new boxset was available online for free about a week ago.  Some good cuts, some doubled or tripled over the discs.  I'm probably still going to buy it.  Again.  I hate marketing.
They've even released another Cobain limited edition guitar.  I am seriously thinking of buying for investment purposes.  What kind of stupid bastard scumbag does that make me?  Damn.

21 September 2011

Elvis Costello - Radio Radio

Well, I was caught today at work.

Not drinking, or touching myself, but something far more embarrassing.  Singing.  Just two lines....

"When I'm not with you, I lose my mind"

I stopped immediately, instantly realising what I had just sung.
Hoping nobody else recognized what I had just done.
5 seconds go by.
10 seconds.  I'm in the clear.
20 seconds....

"Geej, were you just singing Darius' operatic version of 'Hit  me Baby, One More Time'?"

I wasn't singing that version, but I was singing Britney.  It is a great pop song
That doesn't stop the fact I was caught singing it being embarrassing.

Luckily, it wasn't today's 23rd Track.  I immediately put on a playlist which I think I called "Angry" just to get Ms Spears out of my head.....

Today's visitor to 23rd Track is Mr Declan Patrick McManus.  And that fact could win you a point in a pub quiz.

Now I have a bit of a soft spot for Elvis Costello, not just because of the shared spectacles fetish, and that he is a great songwriter, but he knows how to get some great sounds on record.  Just listen to "Watching the Detectives"  - one of the greatest snare sounds in recorded history.

Quite a zany look and style there - some of the worst teeth - and certainly one of the most recognizable voices in pop.  Musically very accomplished as well - no Verse, Chorus, Verse set up here.  The superb band The Attractions, fronted by Steve Naive just rounds the whole presentation off to a tee.

Lyrically though, lets do a bit of a comparison - an unfair one, yes, but lets just have some fun - it's all pop, innit?

Let's compare the first Verse and Chorus of "Hit me Baby" with "Radio Radio" - first up, Ms B. Spears

Oh baby baby
Oh baby baby

[Verse 1]
Oh baby baby
How was I supposed to know
That something wasn't right here
Oh baby baby
I shouldn't have let you go
And now you're out of sight yeah
Show me how you want it to be
Tell me baby cause I need to know now oh because

My loneliness is killing me
(And I)
I must confess I still believe
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time"

And now Mr. McManus;

I was tuning in the shine on the light night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With every one of those late night stations
Playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke 'cause it's old
They're saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we're getting out of control

(CHORUS) Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I want to make them wish they'd never seen me"

Right - so Ms Spears little ditty is about.... um.  Not really sure.  Is it an airheaded girl trying to get back with a boy she dumped previously and offering herself up for physical abuse?  Is that it?  Seems a bit of a rum do to me....

Elvis Costello, however, doesn't use the word "Baby" once and was written about the overcomercialisation of radio playlists and the moral high ground taken by stations by refusing to play politically aware punk songs.  There is even a reference to the Sex Pistols "God Save the Queen" being banned as many thought playing it was tantamount to treason.  

A much simpler time.....

The man can write.  Nice.  He also famously in the US on Saturday Night Live refused to play their previous single as requested and played this instead - ending up with him being banned from Saturday Night Live for decades.

That ban ended wonderfully in 1999 when he gatecrashed or should I say "Sabotaged" the Beastie Boys playing Sabotage to play.....

Nice.  Now if you don't own any Elvis Costello, he is one of those artists that a Greatest Hits album, is just that.  A decent bloody album filled with real hits, rather than, as in the case of certain 'pretty boy karaoke contest winners' greatest hits - the third album.  Most his greatest hits albums concentrate on 70s-80s work.  If you want something a bit more modern the album "Brutal Youth" is as close as you can get to somebody who has rediscovered youthful anger on record.

Anyhow, tomorrow may be delayed..... I am being "forced" to go out drinking.  £1.50 Jaagerbombs.....

19 September 2011

Chick Corea - Moment's Notice

I think I should call this the "Rum Reviews" instead of 23rd Track.  Yes it is the 23rd track, but I have found so much ease getting to sleep and relaxing after work thanks to cheap rum, it's embarrassing.

Buying a large bag of ice, two bags of mint and 4 limes along with a bottle of Value Rum.... not the greatest sight in Tesco this evening.

However, this bloody fantastic tune is one of those that, for me at least defines "Jazz".

Not the best video - not even the best still, but my ears tell me that is at least the right version of the John Coltrane classic tune "Moment's Notice".
What's that?  You don't know the tune?  Shame on you - Go out and buy "Blue Train" right now - one of the most important albums you will ever own.  Buy "Kind of Blue" first, but "Blue Train" second....

Notice the amount that both versions share and importantly how they are different (apart from the first version is shorter...).
In many ways it reminded me of the theme music to Stella Street;

Chick Corea is one of the great post-Coltrane pianists and his really classy use of different chord voicings (is it called inversions in the muso world?  I can't remember) during the introduction move and build the tune up to that early introductory crescendo.

But who is he?  Well, he is a fusion/jazz pianist who started off playing with Blue Mitchell (writer of one of my favorite pieces of music - Dorado) and more importantly replacing Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis' band for two of his most groundbreaking albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
So you know he must be good.....

I had this version on a compilation CD - Late Night Jazz, purchased for £4 from the entrance to a Sainsbury in Guildford years ago.  You know, sometimes those compilation CDs are worth the money you spend on them.  Every track is a winner - from Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck to Stephane Grappelli, Wynton Marsalis, Dexter Gordon and Art Blakey.  A veritable and genuinely impressive collection.

Many a night I have listened to this disc from beginning to end, whilst getting progressively drunker in the company of friends, or woken in the lazy morning and needed something to listen to and love.  This is it. It reeks of wine and rolled fags, or fun and frolics.  Of times when you don't need to talk, but can just enjoy the company of the musicians playing, at the peak of their game, pushing the boundaries.  Just joyous.

Anyhow.  Go grab a drink, or mix a rum based cocktail, settle back and listen to your favorite "Evening Jazz" album.  I know I am. Nice.

18 September 2011

Daft Punk - Alive 2007

I am pissed off.  I need to buy a car.  Need, not want. Obviously one of the top requirements is a decent stereo, however, it all fell apart when the one I wanted was sold mere minutes before I walked in.....   

What to cheer me up on the iPod then.....

Well we touched upon DP last week with their foray into animated movies. They managed a lot of things in those first few years.

Hit debut album, groundbreaking videos, huge DJ presence and touring like BillieO. 
They also released a compilation of their first videos (DAFT), certainly their DJ set on Radio 1 was astonishing. Mez had managed to record it on Minidisc (look it up kids, it was the future, back in the past) and we loved it. An astonishing mix of tunes we knew and tunes we didn't. This was back when the Internet had only a few hundred sites and we couldn't look it up and find out who had written this wonderful music. 

All we knew was that it was chosen by Daft Punk. Who were cool. 
So when they released a live album, after that long first tour "Alive 1997" we were all over it. 

In hindsight, it probably wasn't all that good, but the appetite for this 'up beat' form of disco dance music was such that we wanted everything. 

Look!  They were normal humans once!

Two albums and ten years later, Daft Punk revisited their past triumph with "Alive 2007", in celebration of their tour to support "Human After All".

Their third album tour had been risky from before planning stages. Was there an audience for them still? How can you make 2 chaps in robot helmets pressing hidden buttons a live show?

They tried out a few formats the previous summer by auctioning off their only live festival date to the highest bidder. The Scotsman in me says 'Canny'. It gained them a lot of column inches, especially when they accepted all of the bids. It was even rumoured that they hired stand ins to at for them, as no-one knew what they looked like. Probably cobblers.  

So 3rd album is released, and if I am honest, I still don't find it as inventive or as new as the previous two. A little plain, slow without much depth.  

 However, live is another matter. In the 10 years since Homework, music tech had really increased. Just take a look at their work desk for that tour.... Whut?

Seriously... WTF is all that? No keyboards or decks? All computer control equipment.

The most important development for our French Duo was Ableton Live. Now, although I am a genius and know just about everything, I know very little about this. 

From what I can gather, you can load all your samples, beats and loops into this bugger and you can automatically 'remix' live.  Have a look at this example of what can be achieved with a simple controller....

What this did was drastically alter their set, playlist and alter their tracks.  In fact, by forcing different tracks into each other it brought some of the drier tracks on "Human after all" to life.

That is a great example, should have put it at the top....  

The new live mixing technology formed how their live set was to be performed, in itself re-formatting the style and composition of the pieces themselves.

And of course, it rocks....  There are loads of live videos out there on You Tube - some good bootlegs from Vegoose but what makes it for me is the Encore - which in this video below also mixes in Stardust's "Music Sounds Better With you" - one of the best pieces of pop/disco/dance music of the era and written by half of Daft Punk.


14 September 2011

Lenny Kravitz - Always on the Run

Hurrah it's 1991 again.

Whether you think he is some sort of twat or a sex god, you have to admit that this tune is a good un.

Apparently Slash wrote this for Guns and Roses.  I really can't imagine those twits going all 70's funk.

I remember seeing this on MTV whilst on holiday as a kid, thinking it was 'far out' and groovy.
I found the dual riff of guitars quite intriguing.  The bass and the drums playing the back beat and stings from the horns - all this was completely new to me.  It's amazing, I love it, how do I play it?

Of course - none of it is original - it's all based on something else.
Lets start with the most obvious one, Stevie Wonder's Superstition...
How about a Jeff Beck version?
What else?
Wild Cherry - Play that funky music White boy.  Indeed.

Now, I can't be arsed to look up anything on Mr Kravitz, or Mr Slash, but I do know that The Verve had the living daylights sued out of them by Andrew Loog Oldham for stealing a riff  - wheras this seems a bit of a bigger fish to me.

What a bloody rip off....

Done well, no doubt and I do like the solo, but what a fake load of stolen riffs pretending to be original. Booooooooooo.  I've heard your original tunes and they are dull.  Leave those supermodels alone, Mr Kravitz and go back to school.

In other news, I am still drinking and after running out of white rum, can conclude that mixing vodka and dark rum is not the same and turns Mojotos into some sort of "Angry Potion" for me....  Perhaps I should stop.....

13 September 2011

Haircut 100 - Fantastic Day

Yes, it's pop again.  I may be running a few days late on this bugger, but the 23rd track this is....

Ah, Haircut 100 - for our younger readers may not know who the hell this is, but once upon a time pop music was not a dirty word, and it wasn't all manufactured crapola.

Sometimes friends who played instruments came together and formed "Pop Groups".

Sometimes they were shite.
Sometimes Pop Gold came out of it....

Formed in 1980 (Same year as yesterdays rather miserable in comparison track) Haircut 100 claim to have had a number of influences (The Jam and The Clash - really?) but what can be said in all truth is that they were a bit different.  Not much, but enough to be noticed.
If you want labels - jazz-funk style pop with Talking Heads guitars.

They really had a bunch of hits - and quite right too - original, quirky pop tunes, smiling clean cut image - and just look at those jumpers - completely non-threatening. Even Simon Bates liked them.....

So what happened?  Drugs?  Sex with Pepsi and Shirley? Or did their next album go a bit too far on the jazz side?

Nope.  Mental Illness.  Plain and simple.  Their rise to the top of their game was so fast and, to be honest, so high, that something had to give.  After returning from the States where they had hit it super big as well as Japan and the UK, it appears that Nick Heyward had more or less a breakdown.  Huge great bouts of depression and self loathing.  The rest of the band wanted to get recording on their second disc whilst they could, so went ahead without Heyward. When he did finally turn up to the studio, they basically told him he wasn't needed.  So he left.

Not a good thing.

So he decided on a solo career - with some success, perhaps amazingly.  Why so critical?  Well, solo careers aren't the best thing in the world are they? There must only be half a dozen young chaps who on leaving successful bands have anything close to that as a solo artist.

Nick Heyward did - 4 charting singles in 1983 and 4 more the following year.  Most memorable?  Probably this fellow,
Quite similar - a tad slower, but still really quite good.

You see Pop isn't rare, but good pop is more rare than rocking horse shite.  Even a tired old music fascist like myself though can see the innate beauty in these great tunes from the beginning of a dark decade.

12 September 2011

David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes

Welcome to the Eighties pop-pickers.

Probably one of the first Bowie songs I had ever heard (I know the first was 'Loving the Alien') and already in 1980 it sums up a lazy ideal of that horrid decade.

Rather funny looking, 30 years down the line, but in 1980, that, my friends, was the Dog's proverbials when it comes to computer doo-dads and video effects.  Admittedly, most video cameras gave up on such 'cheap' looking effects 10 years ago, but in 1980 that 3 minute 50 cost a quarter of a million quid.  Really.

One of the most expensive videos ever, and at the time it made it a hit.  Bowie claimed it was to 'close' the 70's where he was the king of glam and to herald a new decade.  Well, it does that with aplomb doesn't it?  Lots more glam make up - Steve Strange and the 'Blitz kids' group, terrible eye makeup, which was to last a few more years and certainly setting the scene for Adam Ant.

Lyrically, a cross between a nursery rhyme and a continuation of the tale of "Major Tom" from Space Oddity. - And if you can't remember what that was, shame on you.

Superb production values, as was the fashion in that time with Tony Visconti behind the mixing desk, but most interestingly for me is the guitarist - Carlos Alomar.  Carlos who had once played with James Brown has appeared on more Bowie tracks than any  other musician - Including Eno.... Why is that interesting?  Well, he co-wrote loads of Bowie material - Ashes to Ashes and fantastically this great guitar riff....

Bowie on Soul Train? Raaaare!

Back to A2A - a great little tune, not Bowie's greatest, but very much of it's era, vaulting the gap between two decades.  Just Glam enough to keep the old fans and new enough to inspire another bunch of insipid wannabe groups for another 10 years.....

God, I hate the 80's. And that TV programme based in that awful decade.  What was it called again?

09 September 2011

More excuses

Well, excuses.  Work is taking up a lot of energy.  As has reclaiming drinking as a past-time. I do blame the Ginger witch and her evil elf friend.  The drinks at Gatsby's bar in Berkhampstead are devilishly strong.
However  - a quick home brew for you:

You will need -
Elderflower Cordial (Available from Ikea or supermarket)
Fresh Mint (Garden)
Whole Lime
Ice - Crushed -  buy an ice crusher - essential
White rum - cheaper the better

Squeeze the whole lime into a glass, chop a big handful of mint into it.
Crush a glass of ice - and I mean crush it.
Add this to the lime and mint.
Pour a small measure of elderflower cordial over the ice.
Fill with white rum.



Fall over, or make a pass at the person to your left and right.
Apparently you should add soda water to this, but I say balls to that, just make sure there is loads of ice.

I think it would be even better if the big handful of mint is liquidised, arab-style with the ice like a slushy.

Mmmmmm.  Summer never ends.

Daft Punk - Interstellar 5555

What do you mean you've never heard of this?

Well, I'll tell you all about it...  but first, yes, apologies. Work is horrid, I finish and turn up at home, knackered.  I'll fill in at the end.

However, if you like Daft Punk (and I know you do) you may wonder what the chicken liver pate this is...

Perhaps listening and watching a bit of this video may help.... How about the trailer?

Hang on, you should be saying, isn't that just the music to Daft Punks rather spiffy second album, the 2001 release Discovery.  Well yes.  Yes it is. But animated and two years later.  By some Japanese chaps.  It looks all a bit like "Battle of the Planets" for people born in the early 70's.....
If you don't remember what that was - it was also known as "G-Force" and looked like this....

Wow.  that really is a blast from the past - nice 70's MGM style backing music - and I only realise now that the fat one was probably supposed to look like Ernest Borgine.  I never really understood that cartoon, "Protecting earth from aliens from beyond space"  Where the hell is 'beyond space'? And when they became 'one' did they die?  Each week? Or am I imagining that?

Anyway, back to disco kings Daft Punk.  They clearly not only loved things like Battle of the planets, but wanted to branch out a bit more with their second album.

Their first had been a huge goddamn hit - not an overnight success - they had worked hard to get their music pressed, remixing and touring like nobodies business, but their debut had blown everyone away.  Continual airplay and requests as DJs on radio stations had made them not only "Superstar DJs" but media darlings.  That they didn't like.

So they invented personalities and masks they could hide behind.  Their silly robot masks.  Brilliant marketing idea, to be honest.
Ageless and give the owners the ability to be "non-participants" to their own promo opportunities if they want.  Brilliant.  One of the great rumors of a few years ago was that they never showed up to one of their own gigs.  Very hard to prove, if you don't know what they look like....

With this bit of freedom, they decided to invest in their videos.  Something they had always done in the past rather well - using the talents of Michel Gondry, et alia in the nineties.  For Discovery they wanted something with a common thread though, and used the idea of a make believe band from another planet as the unifying theme.  Interstellar 5555 is the story of the kidnap and rescue of an alien pop group, put to Daft Punks music.  Or rather, formed around the track from Discovery - not necessarily in the same order.

These formed the promotional videos for the album.  For example - Aerodynamic....
All a little story condensed into that single track - "The kidnap of the band" - I especially like the fact that the first "One shot" of the video is of the guitarist running away, which combines with the first time we hear that great solo guitar line - chance or planning?  Planning, I am sure.


Their music has always been rather 'soundtrack-esque', certainly their first albums videos were collected together and given some extra shot to seque it better, and the third album was a little more difficult to listen to.
However, their fourth was the genuine soundtrack for Tron 2. Which they also 'played themselves' on the big screen.  How droll.

But - opinions - The Album 'Discovery' love it.  Can't work out if it is better or worse than Homework though.  The video 5555 - also great fun, and I do put it on occasionally. But the best representation of this music, I am afraid is on the Alive 2007 album - it gave it a whole new dimension  of freedom it was otherwise missing.... Magic