Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Birth Of Disco

Today is June 21st and it is the summer solstice which is an astronomical term referring to the position of the sun in relation to the equator. On this day in the northern hemisphere the earth's orbit is most tilted towards the sun which causes the longest daylight period and the shortest night of the year. In some countries (such as the US and Canada) the summer solstice is regarded as the beginning of summer. In others (like Ireland) it is considered to be the middle of summer.

June 21, 1969 is considered (by some) to be the day that Disco was born.

In Greenwich Village, Manhattan there was a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. It was actually a private club (or 'bottle bar') that was run by the mafia. There was no liquor license so you had to sign in to gain entry and be served. The place was fitted out with warning lights and although the police usually never went near it they were installed to warn of just such an occurrence. On this particular night, the police decided to enter.

The place was packed because earlier that day Judy Garland had been buried after overdosing. Everyone was there to mourn her but when the police entered a riot ensued. Although most of the men were dressed in drag, they fought back and poured into the streets in protest. They protested against the police force and against the oppression they had suffered for years and (since most were underclass and black) against the civil rights tensions. They decided it was time to leave the underground and go out into the open, which they did punching and kicking.

Down the street from the riot was another club called the Haven. On June 21 a new DJ was playing one of his first sets. His name was Francis Grasso and he turned the entire idea of what a DJ was upside down. He had started working in the club as a dancer but one night when the resident DJ decided to drop acid and not show up Francis was asked to fill in. He did so well that he was hired on the spot as the new resident DJ for Haven.

It wasn't that he played entirely different music to his predecessor, although he did play more funk. In addition to the usual music: The Beatles, Motown and Northern Soul, he also played The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Kool & The Gang, Santana, EWF and Chicago. He looked for slightly harder, funkier rock and as much latin music as he could find (since it was so much easier to dance to). The thing that was really different about Grasso was that he mixed the records he played - he created a performance. He matched beats and therefore never let his audience stop dancing. He never let the music stop or a pause to occur between records. He also invented the "slip cue" which is what he named the technique for cueing a record with a slip mat. The use of a slip mat (which lies between the record and the turntable) enabled the turntable to keep spinning while he could hold the record stationary with the needle. This allowed him to begin playing the record at the exact beat or second that he wanted to and continue mixing. Incredibly he did these things before anyone ever heard of them and without any of the necessary modern day equipment was even invented. According to him he was just a natural and could "catch a song at the right moment". All he used was two decks and a cross fader and it blew everyone away. One of his favourite techniques to extend a really good song was to get two copies of the single and then play them back to back. Often, singles contained instrumental versions on the B side and he would mix these in as well. He said that no one knew what was happening. They couldn't figure out where he was getting a record that was so long because of course the 12" single had not been invented yet and most releases were only about 3 minutes in length. He quickly became a legend. He dated playboy bunnies, Liza Minnelli and even lived with Jimi Hendrix's wife for a while after he died. He spent several years DJing around New York and was one of the very first "superstar DJs".

A summer night in Greenwich village with a riot going on at one end of the street and a superstar DJ playing in a club at the other end. Both events sparked the beginning of something very different in the New York club culture - it was to be called Disco. Before the Bee Gees, polyester suits and really bad dancing Disco was about dramatic social change. It represented freedom, togetherness, love and the underground. It allowed for escapism in the underclasses and offered fresh new attitudes towards sex, drugs and music. It took the sixties idealism and combined it with the hedonistic liberation of the black and gay communities in the 70s. It also paved the way for House, Techno and the entire modern dance culture that exists today.

June 21, 1969 - the day Disco was born.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

ZCA - "The Barbecutie"

Summertime in Ireland. It is usually a mixed bag - you never know what will happen. It could be sunny, it could rain, it could be windy, it could hail, it could be 25 degrees or it could be 12. Thankfully for all of June (so far) the weather has been, well... it's been... really good! What I mean is really good by Irish standards: 20+ degrees and (more or less) sunny skies every day.

The good weather means that this summer rather than the barbecue season beginning in earnest it has kicked into full swing almost immediately. My friend Z had one last Saturday and I must admit it was probably the best barbie that I have ever been to. The weather was decent, the food was great, the drinks were flowing, the company was exceptional and of course there was lots and lots of music. First, a band played and they were great. They covered a lot of the chilled out, summertime pub-friendly tunes that you would love to hear while drinking beer in someone's back garden. After they finished, a couple of the lads decided to have an "impromptu" jam session. It was absolute class! They just played - no practice, no direction, no plan. Just quality musicianship and great music. Next followed a few traditional, acoustic songs and then it was time for the "superstar DJ" - me! Or DJ Kub, as I am now beginning to be known as.

What a night! I played for about 6.5 hours and it was so much fun. I started off with some upbeat jazz and then decided to play some lounge. I thought it might be suitable because it was still very early and everyone had just eaten. Little did I know that EVERY single woman there would absolutely love EVERY single song I played. So we danced & partied to Frank, Dean, Sammy, Dusty et al for nearly 2 hours while the sun set on a beautiful night. For me the highlight of the evening was just before dusk when I played 'Spill The Wine' by War and watched everyone blissfully dance, hands waving in the air.

The rain held off until the very end of the night (I think about 2am) but it was only a slight drizzle. Still one of the lads who had just arrived decided he would give me a hand by holding a very large patio umbrella over me and the laptop! It all went a bit 'Pete Tong' to be honest - there will people falling down, wine being drunk straight from the bottles, endless scissor kicks and people jumping around like idiots. Actually when I say people, I mean Paulo - aka "the muppet"! He followed up his wonderful performance by looking for some tunes to play on the laptop and somehow (I'm not sure how) destroying my play list for the night. He didn't delete it but it was no longer in the correct order when I looked at it on Sunday morning. Actually, to be fair it was probably a joint effort. I tend to forget how to work my computer and the software I mix with towards the end of a long night.

However, I was able to piece things back together and this is (more or less) the set I played:

01. Sookie Sookie - Grant Green
02. The Lady Is A Tramp - Buddy Greco
03. Fever - Peggy Lee
04. Magic Moments - Perry Como
05. Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra
06. A Lot Of Livin' To Do - Sammy Davis Jr
07. Mack The Knife - Louie Armstrong
08. Almost Like Being In Love - Vic Damone
09. Fly Me To The Moon - Julie London
10. Danke Shoen - Wayne Newton
11. A Swingin' Safari - Bert Kaempfert
12. Downtown - Petula Clark
13. Can't Take My Eyes Off You - Andy Williams
14. Ain't That A Kick In The Head - Dean Martin
15. These Boots Are Made For Walkin' - Nancy Sinatra
16. Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps - Doris Day
17. What The World Needs Is Love - Jackie De Shannon
18. I Say A Little Prayer - Aretha Franklin
19. Me & Mrs Jones - Billy Paul
20. Let's Stay Together - Al Green
21. More Peas - Fred Wesley & The JBs
22. California Soul - Marlena Shaw
23. Am I The Same Girl - Dusty Springfield
24. I Get The Sweetest Feeling - Jackie Wilson
25. (I Can) Deal With That - Dee Edwards
26. Get A Life (Album Mix) - Rae & Christian ft Bobby Womack
27. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (Easy Mo Bee Remix) - The Temptations
28. Everybody Loves The Sunshine - Roy Ayers
29. Spill The Wine - War
30. Light My Fire - Astrud Gilberto
31. Nem Vem Que Nao Tem - Wilson Simonal
32. So Com Voce - Thievery Corporation
33. Fastlove (Summer Mix) - George Michael
34. Revival - Martine Girault
35. Summertime (DJ Jazzy Jeff's Mix) - Will Smith
36. Set Adrift On Memory Bliss - PM Dawn
37. Juicy - Notorious BIG
38. Little Red Corvette - Prince
39. Let's Get It On (Simpson & Dalto MPG Groove Mix) - Marvin Gaye
40. Superstition - Stevie Wonder
41. Thinking Of You (Album Mix) - Sister Sledge
42. Kung Fu Fighting - Karl Douglas
43. Dancing Queen - ABBA
44. More More More - Andrea True Connection
45. Night Fever - Bee Gees
46. Rock Your Body - Justin Timberlake
47. Brick House - The Commodores
48. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) - Sly & The Family Stone
49. Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
50. Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band
51. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine) - James Brown
52. Don't Joke With A Hungry Man - Quantic ft Spanky Wilson
53. Mr Big Stuff - Jean Knight
54. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
55. Good Times - Chic
56. Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now - McFadden & Whitehead
57. Car Wash - Rose Royce
58. Rock With You - Michael Jackson
59. Got To Be Real (12" Version) - Cheryl Lynn
60. Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin' - Inner City
61. Belfast (Original Version) - Orbital
62. Pacific State (Original Album Mix) - 808 State
63. The Gift - Way Out West
64. All I Need (Jimpster Remix) - Blue Six
65. Free - Ultra Nate
66. Erotic City - Supafly ft Deni Hines
67. When Doves Cry - Prince
68. Loaded - Primal Scream
69. I'm Free - The Soup Dragons
70. Can You Dig It? - The Mock Turtles
71. There She Goes - The La's
72. Blister In The Sun - Violent Femmes
73. The Lovecats - The Cure
74. Here Comes Your Man - Pixies
75. Unbearable (Album Version) - The Wonder Stuff
76. Elevate My Mind - Stereo MCs
77. Soon (Andy Weatherall Mix) - My Bloody Valentine
78. Vertigo - U2
79. California Waiting - Kings Of Leon
80. Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
81. United States Of Whatever - Liam Lynch
82. Totally Wired - The Fall
83. Cannonball - The Breeders
84. Lump - The Presidents Of The USA
85. 96 Tears - Inspiral Carpets
86. Fool's Gold - Stone Roses
87. Step On (Twistin' My Melon Mix) - Happy Mondays
88. Grey Cell Green - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
89. Scrawl - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
90. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns 'N' Roses
91. Livin' On A Prayer - Bon Jovi
92. Back In Black - AC DC
93. Black Betty - Ram Jam
94. Rock And Roll - Led Zeppelin

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Recent Medical Findings

It is about time that the medical community releases some information from studies to prove that two of my favourite things (beer and coffee) are actually good for you when combined.

In one study in the US, doctors believe that beer may help prevent prostrate cancer in men because it seems that beer can inhibit a protein that is responsible for producing the cancerous cells. The fact that it may take up to 17 pints a day would in no way deter me.

In another study conducted in California, it has been revealed that coffee may counteract alcohol's poisonous effects on the liver and prevent cirrhosis.

I knew that benders weren't really bad for you! I also knew that I nearly had the perfect balance in Madrid: 8-10 drinks a night (most nights) followed by 3-4 espressos the following morning.

I like science...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Digital Kicks 003

A brand new mix for the 3 or 4 of you out there who actually read this bloody thing.

You can find it at

Here is the full tracklisting and the corresponding start times in the mix:

01. American Dream (Afterlife Edit) - Jakatta / 0:00
02. Have You Been Making Out OK? - Al Green / 3:16
03. 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy) - Harper's Bizarre / 6:55
04. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Otis Redding / 9:23
05. 1970 Somethin' - Notorious BIG ft The Game & Faith Evans / 12:03
06. Guitarra G (White Label Remix) - G Club Presents Banda Sonora / 15:31
07. Distant Lover - Marvin Gaye / 20:40
08. By The Time I Get To Phoenix - Glen Campbell / 24:50
09. Girlfriend In A Coma - The Smiths / 27:28
10. Evil Vibrations - Mighty Ryeders / 29:28
11. Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice / 33:12
12. Laidback - Mr Bird vs Wild Palms / 37:32
13. Let It All Hang Out - Los Hombres / 42:41
14. Wart Hog - Ramones / 44:45
15. When The Sun Goes Down - Arctic Monkeys / 46:39
16. Where Did Our Love Go? - Soft Cell / 49:54
17. Beautiful Day (Banzai Republic vs Trentemoller Vocal Mix) / 54:17
18. Let Me Luv U (Muzique Tropique's Remix) - Jii Hoo / 61:45
19. Jaz Love #2 (Edit) - Glenn Underground / 68:43
20. Emily Is Going - Tyco Brahe / 73:13
21. Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera Sera) - Doris Day / 75:04


Monday, June 12, 2006

Where's Paulo?

Can you spot Paulo in this picture?

Ciclonudista! Oh, The Bitterness!

Generally, I found trying to cycle in Madrid to be a total pain in the hoop. There were only a couple of roads out of the city that were not motorways and Spanish drivers have absolutely no respect or consideration for cyclists.

And now I missed this:

Published: June, 12 2006

MADRID, June 10 - Hundreds of nude cyclists sped around Spain on Saturday to protest against car-clogged streets.

Spain's third annual Ciclonudista or Nudecycle, in Madrid, Barcelona and Pamplona was part of worldwide naked bike riding events in Europe, North America and South America.

"We feel naked when up against traffic, " explained cyclist Ana Linaza, wearing a cycling helmet and shoes.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Bear Spotted At The Bar!

It seems that Donal has not been studying ALL of the time. Despite his bitter stories and complaints of working too much and always having to study he was spotted in the pub last night incognito! He has been telling us that he can't come out for pints because he has too much on but we have found him out!

Surely the disguise was a lame effort to confuse us in the hopes that we wouldn't spot him. Note the bewildered and surprised look on his face at being caught.

At least now we know the real reason why he can't pass any of the feckin' exams...

This One's For You Mark...

Now what starts with the letter "C"?
"Cookie" starts with "C"!
Let's think of other things that starts with "C"!
Uh. . .Uh. . . Who cares about da other things?!

"C" is for Cookie that's good enough for me,
"C" is for cookie that's good enough for me,
"C" is for cookie that's good enough for me,
Oh! cookie, cookie, cookie starts with "C"!

Hey, You know what? A round cookie with one bite out of it looks like a "C"
A round donut with one bite out of it also looks like a "C" but it is not as good as a cookie
Oh, and the moon sometimes looks like a "C" but you can't eat that


Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with "C"
Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with "C"

Do The Beatles Suck?

I have a friend who posted the question Do the Beatles suck on his blog a few months ago. I would offer the link to his blog but it is all about gambling and his poker obsession and I'm sure you wouldn't be interested in that.

Apparently, someone told him that the Beatles sucked and when he thought about it (after his initial shock) he decided that he couldn't name 3 songs that were good or that he wouldn't switch off upon hearing them. In a pinch maybe 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' but he reckons he would even quickly lose interest in that song as well.

Now, I must admit that I am shocked. I know there have always been 2 camps of people: Beatles fans and Stones fans. The 'good' boys and the 'bad' boys. Most people really love one and hate the other. Some (like me) really love both of them. But even the Stones people could probably think of at least 3 Beatles songs that they could listen to.

One thing I will admit is that they are totally over played (especially in America) and it is easy to get fed up with some of their more popular tunes. But recently I came across this:
We Can Work It Out.

It is a compilation of Beatles cover versions referred to as Covers & Cookies of The Beatles. The disc was compiled by 4Hero and contains versions of tunes done by the likes of Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, Ike & Tina Turner, Ramsey Lewis, Stevie Wonder etc... The first disc contains all the covers and the second disc is a mix of the tunes done by 4Hero.

The purpose of the compilation is to show that the Beatles were funky. Since the Beatles started playing music in the late 50s, they were huge fans of Little Richard (who was very funky) and tried to emulate his sound along with their favourite records from the early Motown years.

The suggestion is that if they started playing music in the mid 60s instead of the late 50s that they would have probably emulated James Brown instead. Because at that time he was the most rebellious and raucous person around and that is what they wanted to be. The liner notes state, "The Beatles were the chicken that laid the egg that was rock music, but the chicken was raised on the chitlins and corn of R&B, from which funk grew."

Maybe you agree with this theory, maybe you don't. But one thing is certain - this compilation is absolutely phenomenal and it will blow you away. It really gets the funk out.

Oh, and the Beatles do NOT suck.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Miles Davis - The Genius

Miles Davis.

He was once called "the Picasso of jazz" because of the ability he had to re-invent himself and his music.

The nineteenth century French painter Delacroix once observed: "Talent does whatever it wants to do... Genius does only what it can."

So it was with Miles - Miles the man and Miles the dedicated and instinctive musician. An aura of moody mysteriousness was planted around Miles by writers and critics who desperately tried to put the paraxdocial pieces into place. But to the fiercest and only critic that mattered to him, Miles himself, all was clear:

"I am one thing, a musician; I only can do one thing, play my horn."

Miles Davis - the genius.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Some Pictures Of The Lads In London

Paulo getting ready to go to the pub.

Mark having a cookie before going out for a beer.

London Town & Kub vs Keb

Wow. What a weekend...

3 nights in London, 10 pubs, 3 CD shops, 1 gig, a boat ride down the Thames and a chat with a legendary DJ.

There were so many funny moments during the weekend but this story has to be one of the best:

Sunday night we went to see Ned's Atomic Dustbin in The Forum. The sound wasn't great but NAD are one amazing band and they did not disappoint. Plus tins of Red Stripe for only £2 - qualiteee! My only bitterness was over the fact that they did not have any medium sized T shirts. Sometimes it's not easy being a weedy little man...

After the gig I coerced Paulo into going to a club to hear some funk & soul spun by
Keb Darge. After a bit of faffing about and some bickering over directions we found the club, paid our fivers in and the funk began.

There was probably only about 20 people in the whole place but I knew the music would be great and it was. I first heard of Keb when I picked up a compilation called The Kings Of Funk that he released with RZA of Wu Tang Clan - it totally blew me away. So, we are sitting in the club and I am telling Paulo about the CD and decided that I would go have a quick chat with the man. You know, say hello, tell him I appreciate the music, that I think his compilations are always great, etc...

Of course that is what I would have told him if I had been sober and a lot more sensible (like now). Instead, this is my best (and quite fuzzy recollection) of what I actually said to him:

Me: Dude, howya? I think you are great (shaking hands).

KD: Well, thanks very much.

Me: Do you know the compilation you did last year - The Kings Of Funk?

KD: Yes, of course.

Me: It was phenomenal. It blew me away. You are a legend!

KD: (Laughing) Well, I don't know about that. But thanks.

Me: No, seriously. You are a legend. An absolute leg-end!

KD: Well, not tonight I'm not. There is no one here. It's a bit shite really but it happens sometimes.

Me: Not to worry lad. You are a legend. A top man. A fookin' leg-end. I am fookin' tellin' you mon. A fookin' legend!

Now, all the while I am saying this I am pointing at him and gesticulating about how much he is the man, smiling and shaking my head. Paulo was watching from across the room and said he nearly wet himself laughing. Unfortunately, I think the rest of the club was watching as well as Paulo overheard some lads next to him saying "would you look at the state of your man, what a fucking lunatic".

Keb just continued to smile politely and look at me like I didn't have a bleedin' brain cell in me noggin. He then eventually excused himself to go and cue the next record. I'm pretty sure I threw in a few more leg-ends! and points just for good measure after he had walked away.

Later, when the club was closing, I ran into him again near the door but he wasn't gonna chance getting stuck in another conversation with me. He legged it outta there. I'm not even sure if he had all of his records with him!

So much for showing a bit of restraint and playing it cool...