Archive for the ‘Pop’ Category

Madonna – Swim [1998]
October 21, 2014

I went back and took a listen through the whole of Ray of Light for the first time in god only knows how long. No remixes, no edits, the original album. Possibly the first time since 1998 if I’m honest. Incredible to hear how its not dated in the slightest, still sounds as progressive as the day it was released. A really superb showcase of Madge’s superior talents that so sadly got lost in the maelstrom of the Pop Dross we’re subjected too daily. But I think its safe to say that while she’s got some exemplorary pipes, the winner on Ray Of Light is William Orbit. Given the money, and from what i’ve heard, the time, he kicked out one of the seminal crossover pop albums of the decade.

The album weaves pop down into practically every flavour of electronica keeping the album from taking itself too seriously and providing entertainment for anyone. For me, Swim is one of my favourites by a mile. Where Drowned World is a sweeping declaration of fame rejection and Ray of light the title club banger. Swim sits comfortably those two behemoths with a relaxed but solid groove in its pocket and a wry smile on its face. Absolutely brilliant.

Frankie Knuckles 1955 – 2014
April 1, 2014

I found out last night that Frankie Knuckles had died aged 59 and I cannot overstate how gutted I was. Frankie Knuckles wasnt just a DJ or Producer, he was one of a very small cadre of people responsible for creating the sound that has played in my head and heart for as long as I can remember. Sounds a bit spiritual I know but its hard to explain that music to me has always been about the kickdrum, the high hat and piano or soulful vocal hook. Sure my tastes have mellowed over the years but at the very beginning of my own personal musical journey, it was House music and specifically the Soulful House sound synonymous with ChiTown/NYC that I loved. Imagine me. locked onto as a young 8 year old lad, the John Peel radio show on a Sunday night, taping the imports that he played during the show. House music is probably the first thing I would say that defined me as my own person with my own taste. The first thing I found on my own.

Frankie Knuckles was responsible for the music at the Warehouse in Chicago, often credited with the origin of the name “House”, a shortened version of “The Warehouse” music that was in such demand in early 80’s Chicago record stores. The history of House Music is littered with DJ’s and producers held in high almost godlike reverence but almost all agree that Frankie was deserving of his title as the “Godfather of house”. A guy who took the records available to him after the death of commercial disco, rolled in a drum machine in the booth thanks to Derrick May and helped pioneer a sound that has dominated global music for over thirty years. Sure it was going to happen sooner or later but this soon, man I wanted to see Frankie just one more time…

So today the web has been rammed full of tributes to Knuckles, Twitter exploded last night with tributes, Facebook has been busting at the seams with friends all posting their favourite Frankie Knuckles cuts. He has a legacy that transcends his death for as long as there is a Kick Drum, a snare, a highhat played over a soulful vocal and an uplifting piano riff, therein lies some of Frankies DNA, a fingerprint that will outlive all of us left here reflecting upon his body of work.

Thank you for the music Frankie.

Beats Internation Feat Lindy Layton – Dub Be Good To Me [1990]
March 7, 2014

It still boggles my mind how anyone could dislike this track even considering how overplayed its been over the years. Its got a killer bassline, drenched in Reggae tuned riffs and Layton’s vocals over the top just destroy any opposition anyone could have to this track. If your head isnt nodding from the get go, there has to be something wrong with your soul man.

Its one of those tracks that has really never fallen out of favour with me. From the second I hear Johnny Dynells “Tank Fly, Boss Walk” sample at the beginning, I have a massive grin on my face. Stick with the 12″ mix, the radio edit just isnt long enough. Hard to believe this track came out 24 years ago last week…

From Wikipedia]
Written by Norman Cook aka. Fatboy Slim, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “Dub Be Good to Me” was the sole number one single for Cook’s genre-hopping outfit Beats International.

The track started out as an instrumental with the title “The Invasion of the Estate Agents”. While also included as the B-side to this single, it originally appeared as the B-side to Norman Cook’s 1989 single “For Spacious Lies”. This instrumental track is heavily based on the bassline from The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton” with a sample of the distinctive “harmonica” theme from the epic western film Once Upon a Time in the West, written by Ennio Morricone. This instrumental, in slightly remixed form, had vocals added from The SOS Band’s “Just Be Good to Me” (as re-recorded by Lindy Layton) to form “Dub Be Good To Me”. The track also features the distinctive vocals of David John-Baptiste, more commonly known as DJ Deejay or just DJ. The opening and closing line “tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty you’re listening to the boy from the big bad city, this is jam hot, this is jam hot” was from Johnny Dynell’s 1983 hit “Jam Hot” and became an instant classic and was repeated often, being used as the most common reference to the song. The song was a massive hit, spending four weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart in February 1990. It was the seventh best-selling single of 1990 in the UK. In the U.S., the song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and #76 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Alexander O’Neil – Criticize (Ben Liebrand Remix) [1987]
October 13, 2013

An apt response to being off the grid for almost 6 months. Work’s a beast! Anyway, lets get back to it with this belter from O’Neil. Liebrand does what he does best and punches up the original arrangement with a face slapping bassdrum and catchy as all hell bassline. Thankfully he keeps the entire vocal arrangement from O’Neil although I could have definately done without ‘ALEX BABY’ hitting the track so often! But if you push your way thorough the intro, the rest of this is a soaring freestyle classic.

From Discogs
Fantastic record with a special nice video along . This was a big hit and in heavy rotation in 1987 on MTV . Whenever this one came up i was delighted . A female drummer , the impressive body of Alexander O`Neal weraing a suit and tie , while singing these fabulous lyrics , that couldn’t fit my feelings at the time any better : “Don’t criticize my life style . Don’t criticize my friends .. All You wanna do is criticize “.
Damn i wish i had this 12”..

Vindahl – Sometimes ( 12″ Groove Version ) [2011]
June 17, 2013

If you havent purchased Tokyo Dawn’s seminal Electro/Groove/NuDisco/Funk compilation “The Boogie”, get right on that now. Its a huge assortment of the freshest sounding electro work i’ve heard in the past 10 years with Vindahl’s Sometimes being a real standout belter of a tune. This doesnt just rock you slowly, its a moog driven behemoth of electrofunk evoking memories of ’84 Freestyle flavour with a solid and unstoppably crisp modern delivery. Its so slick, its almost unbearable but that bassline just carries your ass along for a cracking ride.

For the record, this compilation has about 12-14 different, practically unknown artists that contribute to it and absolutely every single track sounds better than anything any of the heavy hitters have put out in recent memory. Anyone wanting to hear some seriously progressive Electropop would be doing themselves a serious disservice by not diving into that back catalogue. Start your journey right here.

From TokyoDawn.com
Co-founder of the vanguard soul collective Boom Clap Bachelors, Vindahl has been involved with numerous offspring projects such as Ivory & Gold, Robi, Kris Mars and Non+.

“Vindahl – Serendipity”, the first album project to be released under his real name has been his secret heart project for more than four years now. Musical influences as diverse as Talking Heads, Trevor Horn and Prince shimmer through, complemented by lyrics often based on themes of duality.

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam ‎– Let The Beat Hit ‘Em (Paradise Garage Club Mix) [1991]
April 6, 2013

We dont often get to revisit a track around these parts because usually i’d like to think ive uploaded the definitive version of that given track. However, since I had this mix rocking my socks all afternoon at work, it seemed prudent to give it a revisit.

Gone is the exceptional vocals from Lisa Lisa, replaced with a genre spanning house banger that will have your head bouncing for hours after you’ve stopped listening. You’ve got huge slabs of synth work in here, some light breakage and a truck load of classic house rhythm. Topped off with the occasional vocal stab and some cheeky nods to the original and your laughing. I just cant get past how great some of the remixes of this track are.

Michael Jackson – Rock With You (Frankie Knuckles Favourite Club Mix) [1995]
November 29, 2012

For the record, I pretty much adore Michael Jackon’s first 3 Albums, Off The Wall being my favourite by a long way with Bad and then Thriller. Dont care about the eccentricities, accusations or any of that shit, the music stands bigger than the man.

Now, I have no idea what Frankie Knuckles was smoking when he wrote the intro to this remix since it deviates so far from the original disco/funk classic it hard to believe its even related to the original. But this is the intro I think every artist wishes his tracks remix would have. Its a full force emotional buildup of biblical proportions with a piano riff so inspired it just steamrolls the listener into submission. Soon as the drop comes, your back in Frankie Knuckles familiar housey territory and its a pretty happy bouncer for the remaining 5 mins but you’ll find yourself constantly yearning for that intro.

On a side note, after MJ passed away, a guy with the online handle of Technics2000 did a kind of tribute mix featuring tracks from his entire back catalogue in their best remix format. Its an amazing mix that I strongly recommend you go grab and give the guy some love. Its been on constant repeat this week on my 14 hr days and im yet to get bored! There’s lots of links online, just run a search for “Technics2000 Michael Jackson”

INXS – I Need You Tonight (12″ Mix)
June 25, 2012

A track that really doesn’t need much of an introduction, INXS were pretty much unstoppable when this was released. The riff is a legendary slice of late 80’s pop, catchy and inescapable once its hooked itself to the inside of your skull. Hutchence’s vocals take an important but laid back, sordid position at the back of the track while the instrumental sits right up front, exactly where it should be.

The 12″ re-edit just lengthens the original composition with some echo effects but more importantly, it keeps the riff and baseline going for much much longer and lets be honest here, its the reason the track is so beloved. An absolute classic.

From Wikipedia

In INXS’s official autobiography, INXS: Story to Story, Andrew Farriss said that the famous riff to the song appeared suddenly in his head while waiting for a cab to go to the airport to fly to Hong Kong. He asked the cab driver to wait a couple of minutes while he grabbed something from his motel room. In fact, he went up to record the riff and came back down an hour later with a tape to a very annoyed driver. This riff was later described as sounding like a cross between Keith Richards and Prince.
The song is a much more electronic track than most of the band’s material before or after, combining sequencers with regular drum tracks and a number of tracks of layered guitars. To approximate the sound on the recorded track, the band often utilizes click tracks for a frequent synthesizer chord as well as rim shots heard throughout the song.

Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It (Ben Liebrand Mix) [1990]
June 24, 2012

So, we’re back! Its been a busy old couple of months, relocating here and there. Staying in spare rooms, floors, hotels and most importantly, pubs. I reckon Talk Talk’s seminal downtempo pop classic is a suitable way of summing up the most recent move!

Well, this track likely doesn’t need much of an introduction, the original was huge and Ben Liebrand’s re-edit keeps all the best parts of the original and trims the fat. Keeping that punchy break and immortal baseline at the front of the whole track is probably what makes this mix better than the original, which has a tendency to wander a little in the middle. Liebrands version keeps the track on track and delivers 7 minutes of awesome.

From Wikipedia
“Life’s What You Make It” is a song by the English band Talk Talk. It was released as a single in 1985, the first from the band’s album The Colour of Spring. The single was a hit in the UK, peaking at no. 16, and charted in numerous other countries.

The song was one of the last to be conceived for The Colour of Spring, following concern from the band’s management at the lack of an obvious single among accumulated work. Initially unwilling, Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene, the principal source of original material for the band, accepted the task as a challenge. Friese-Greene: “I had a drum pattern loosely inspired by Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill and Mark was playing Green Onions organ over the top.” (Making no. 3 in the UK Singles Chart, “Running Up That Hill” had been released in August 1985.) The track was embellished with David Rhodes’ guitar hook.

Whyte – Purple Haze [1990]
April 17, 2012

A truly excellent laid back ravey cover of Hendrix’s Purple Haze with lots of uplifting piano filling in for massive guitar riffs. The addition of the sultry female vocals are a great touch but overall, this is all about the strings, the piano and the vocal. Such a great example of 1990 dance music.

From Discogs
Although the obvious track to go would be side A, where you can hear the Hendrix track done with a down tempo piano rave style which rolls along nicely.
Have a flip over to the B side and listen to Love,Lust and Sex and you find somethig very different.

Again the down tempo beats with plenty of synths make a melodic piece but it doesn’t really make a connection with the track title. Not until the very graphic porno sound clips hit your ears, then it all makes sense, although when you first hear it, it makes you think that the T.V volume has been turned up and is clashing with your music.

This is a track that could potentially still make the creators money if they played it down the telephone to those who choose to pay for a bit of telecommunication titilation.

Love ,Lust & Sex was one of a few pieces of the era that used samples from the bedroom and put them on the dance floor, but it was never going to have the same success as French Kiss.