Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Young Knives - Whelans, Dublin, Easter Sunday 2008

Words: Paulo
Tunes: Kub

When one mentions this band, I find myself drifting back to the summer of ’07 and the U.S. Road trip I did. It was in a quality little music establishment called “Grimey’s”, Nashville, Tennessee (another story!) that I came across the wonderful first album “Voices Of Animals And Men”. It was my good mate, Kub, who encouraged me to buy it and for this I say “Cheers lad”.

Anyway, back to the present! I found myself at the infamous music venue that is Whelan’s of Wexford Street on a cold Easter Sunday accompanied by the aforementioned Kub. Having picked up the second album “Superabundance” earlier in the week and found it to be as good if not better than the debut, I was naturally excited about hearing the tunes live. I hadn’t witnessed them on stage before so I was curious and buzzing!

A newspaper article on the previous Friday had recommended the gig and advised, in particular, that anyone in attendance should pay special attention to the ‘in-between-song-banter’!

The venue quickly filled up and both Kub and myself were happy to see the back of the support band (called Unicorn something or other). We moved down towards the stage, took up our positions next to the sound desk and watched as the roadies meticulously put the bands gear together.

At approx. 9.30pm the lights went down and a cheer went up as the band took to the stage. Lead singer Henry Dartnall said a quick hello and they were off, opening with the snappy “She’s Attracted To”. I was also off, getting straight into gig pose with air guitar/bass/drums at the ready (sorry, I probably look like a twat but I can’t help it and those who know me well understand what the music buzz does to me!). Having finished the first tune Henry thanked the crowd and dived straight into the ‘in-between-song-banter’ I mentioned earlier. “We’re gonna be playing a lot of songs from our new album which is called Superabundance. We will of course also be peppering the set with all of our chart topping hits!” I turned to Kub and smiled. The tone was set for the evening!

They breezed through singles “Terra Firma” and “Turn Tail” with gay abandon and you could tell they were enjoying themselves. Henry then quipped that it was “great to be back in Whelan’s” and went on to introduce the band – “on bass we have the wonderful House of Lords! And on drums is Oliver”. Now, I was aware of the fact that the bass player held this quirky title but on the night, the lead singers’ reference to him was particularly humorous. What was even more comical was the fact that a few songs later the lead singer went about introducing the band again at which point The House of Lords interjected to inform the “slightly chubby” (he referred to himself as this) Henry that he had already done this. “Oh did I” was his reply, “Well you obviously didn’t say anything when I did as otherwise I wouldn’t have forgotten!” which brought a hearty laugh from the enthralled crowd.

Upon introducing one of the “chart toppers” the lead singer blasted “This is another one of our singles. One of our chart topping, best selling singles. Singles... Singles shmingles… what does it matter? Singles shmingles. I’m not even Jewish by the way”. The House Of Lords then pointed out that his remark was rather racist which led into a lengthy and clown-like debate on racism between the two front men. Henry made some comment about how the House Of Lords doesn't speak much to him and then comes out with that attack. Without missing a beat, HOL replied, "I can't ever talk to you backstage because you always have your head buried in 'Mein Kampf'!" Ouch. All Henry could say was "touche". “Why can’t all gigs be like this” I thought to myself.

They continued to bang out the tunes with the crowd getting more and more involved as they did so. “Fit 4 U” was then announced as the next song at which point I let out a roar of appreciation that came out very high pitched, sounding like a teenager whose adult vocal chords were breaking in! But I didn’t care. My favourite song of the new album was played to perfection by the boys and it made my night!

Henry then announced that time was closing in on them and that they were coming to their final two tunes. The crowd sighed with disappointment! “However, there is a line drawn under these on the set list with 3 more songs underneath”, he cheekily chirped (one of which was Adam & the Ants ‘Stand & Deliver’ – legendary!). The crowd went bananas and all was OK again!

They finished off with the harmony-tastic “The Decision” and bounced offstage to a barrage of applause and cheers. It left me longing to see them play live again very soon. Whelan’s is just a great little venue too… if only it could play host to every band!

Hot summer… here’s hoping! Hot band… ooooooooohhhh yeah!!!! Mother Nature sighs with relief… for now!

The set list was:

01. She's Attracted To
02. Counters
03. I Can Hardly See Them
04. Coastguard
05. Terra Firma
06. Rue The Days
07. Rumor Mill
08. Dyed In The Wool
09. Turn Tail
10. Fit 4 U
11. Up All Night
12. Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer)
13. Current Of The River
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14. Loughborough Suicide
15. Stand And Deliver
16. The Decision

If you want to learn more about this English three-piece, tweed-loving group of geek rockers, go here.

If you want to hear some of their quality tunes (listed below) mixed by Kub, go here.

01. Turn Tail
02. The Decision
03. Walking On The Autobahn
04. Weekends And Bleak Days (Hot Summer)
05. Fit 4 U
06. Dyed In The Wool
07. Here Comes The Rumor Mill
08. English Rose
09. Terra Firma
10. Flies

Finally, Henry in his own words (courtesy of www.myspace.com/theyoungknives):

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Our new album "Superabundance" is out this week. This is the week to make a difference. If you are sick of rubbish music then stand up and be counted. If it is your birthday next week and you were hoping someone might buy it for you , don’t wait, they have probably bought you a Sugababes (nothing wrong with this, just not the same) record, so get Superabundance immediately. If you think that maybe Young knives have gone a bit crap on their second album, then rest assured, it’s a pretty good record, so take a chance and splash out on Superabundance. If you thought you would just download it for free from the internet, then just don’t, it ruins music for everyone, buy Superabundance (and everyone else’s albums that you were considering stealing). If the tone of this message has put you right off buying our album then a) I’m sorry and b) never pay attention to the pish that spews out of musicians mouths, judge them purely on their music (ie, buy Superabundance). "

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Rebirth Of The Cassette

Roll tape...

In addition to my monthly serving of new tunes, called Digital Kicks, I am now beginning a new series called Cassetricity as a means to introduce you, my beloved readers, to even more music and to share some interesting (perhaps useless) stories about the music and my life.

The culture of cassettes and mixtapes began in the late 1970s and peaked in the mid-1980s, enabling every single person who had a few slabs of vinyl to record, make, package, distribute and share the best bits and their favourite pieces from their music collection. It was total DIY. It was no to low budget. It followed on the heels of punk and was the driving force behind the post-punk ethos. There were no rules and anyone could do it. Everything is digital now but I believe the spirit of compiling and sharing good music lives on. The mixtape will never, ever die.

I have chosen to post, as my first installment of Cassetricity, a cracking little mix of Chillhouse tunes called the 'Foundations' mix. Each of the songs have been carefully selected, sequenced and lovingly mixed to entertain and provide some background to how my love of house music was born and nurtured.

Enjoy the mix and remember that they used to say home taping killed music. Respect the artists and their work! If you hear something that you like, go buy it or download it (legally).

First, the geek stuff.

The equipment / resources used to create this mix was:

01. A Dell XPS M1210 laptop - my stereo and general music container.
02. A Western Digital 250GB external hard drive - stores all of my music in mp3 format.
03. Traktor DJ software - the original and in my opinion still the best DJing software. I bought this in 2001 and have never looked back. I use it to edit and tag all of my music and to compile and store my endless amounts of playlists. I DJ with it as well as record and mix all of my compilations and podcasts.
04. Sennheiser HD 202 headphones - my favourite pair of 'cans'.
05. CD-DA Extractor software - this is the file converter. Once the mix is recorded and exported to a WAV file, this application converts the file to .mp3 format.
06. www.podomatic.com - a good hosting site that is (slowly) getting better. All of the .mp3 files are uploaded to this site and hosted for free. The once agonising slow upload speeds are getting better and I just may eventually start paying for the service to avail of all the extra bells and whistles.

And now, the music:

Normal Bias
Noise Reduction - IN

Click here to listen to: Kub - MXT - 001

Side (A) - 'Chill' Side

Orange Sunshine - Superstars Of Rock
Cafe del Mar, Sunset Beach, San Antoni, Ibiza. This is the beginning. Ground zero. Square one. The original chill out. Jose Padilla was the first resident DJ in Cafe del Mar and he will always be the best. When the 'English' invasion began and dance culture was born in the late 1990s, Padilla sensed that things were changing and he left before they went pear shaped. Exit Jose, enter Bruno. Mr. Leparte became the new resident spinner of all things chilled and quality. He had big shoes to fill but he held his own and took Cafe del Mar to even bigger and better things.

'Orange Sunshine' kicks off this mix and is an acapella song that I first heard on a Bruno-compiled and blended CD called Real Ibiza. It is by a crowd called Superstars Of Rock, who as far as I can tell, are not superstars and have nothing to do with rock music. They are, however, a collection of very good producers and musicians. Guest singer Yvonne Leybold talks about "the music, the lights, the sweat and the uncontrollable urge to laugh." Welcome to Chillhouse.

Thru 2 You (CJ One Vocal Mix) – Echomen
When Bruno stepped in to Cafe del Mar he had a huge task ahead of him. The question - how was he not only going to DJ every night but be able to create the same atmosphere as Mr. Padilla while the sun was setting? The answer - do the same thing but do it differently. He compiled and released a couple of Real Ibiza CDs and he carried on the Cafe del Mar CD series as well. But he started a new series called Chillhouse, which took the chill side of the bar scene and combined it with four-on-the-floor House music. The result is what I heard the first time I went to Ibiza in 2001 and it blew me away. I bought Volumes 1 and 2 in the Cafe del Mar shop, played them non-stop for about three months and fell in love with House music. They were like nothing I had ever heard before. The music was up-beat but down-tempo. You could play it in the morning, the noon or the night. You could listen to it anytime and no matter what you were doing or how you felt it was a total lift. A real pick-me-up.

'Thru 2 You (CJ One Vocal Mix)' is actually a brilliant tune from the equally brilliant third volume in the Chillhouse series. The Echomen are Chris Scott and Anton Fielding. They are from the north of England. They make fantastic music that is deep, minimal and overflows with funk. It is the kind of House that is sometimes hard to find but always easy to listen to.

Lone Cat - Ben Watt
Ben Watt has had quite a career. In fact, he has had quite a life.

He began recording in the early 1980s for the legendary independent label Cherry Red. In 1982 he met Tracey Thorn and began life as Everything But The Girl, recording together for eighteen years. In 1995 they took a turn away from their alternative, folk, acoustic focus and embraced dance music. The result was the song 'Missing', which was remixed by Todd Terry and turned to gold. They were a great example of an overnight success that took over 12 years to achieve.

During this time Watt grew very sick and after a long time was finally diagnosed with Churg-Strauss Syndrome. The disease begins with allergy-type symptoms, progresses into acute asthma and eventually attacks the organs. Watt was unlucky because it took so long to properly determine the cause of his declining health but he was lucky because the disease did not affect his lungs. It was treated and he recovered with the only side effect being a permanently restricted diet. The book 'Patient' was written by him and tells his story about the battle with the disease.

In 1998, after recovering, Watt established a Sunday club night with his mate Jay Hannan in Notting Hill called Lazy Dog. The night (in the Notting Hill Arts Club) and the club-based compilation CDs were massive. A cult following developed and the queues to get into the bi-monthly gigs became more famous than the club itself. After an unbelievable five years of sell-out nights, the two decided to part ways and move on to bigger projects.

Ben started remixing. Then he started producing. Then he founded his own label called Buzzin' Fly and toured all over the UK and Europe. When Buzzin' Fly started, the great records came thick and fast and the compilation CDs followed. 'Lone Cat' is a track from the first CD and, like it says on the tin, proves to be 'replenishing music for the modern soul'.

That first Buzzin' Fly CD didn't leave my player for several weeks after I bought it. And it proves what a master Watt is at his craft - selecting and mixing killer tunes with incredible skill. It is one of my favourite tunes because it crosses the (barely trodden) line between House and Rap. Yo.

Long Time - Inland Knights
This track is from an album that had a huge impact/influence on me while I was putting together my first demo in 2001. During that time, I was buying a lot of dance music - mostly mixed House compilations. The reason is because I was learning how to mix and beat match two songs. Part of the process is listening to the pros do it and these guys do it better than most.

Inland Knights aka Laurence Ritchie and Andy Riley are both from Waterford, Ireland. They met and started their careers by organising and promoting free dance events in the 1990s. When the underground dance scene was hit with heavy, curtailing legislation in an effort to stop these massive parties, they moved on. They continued DJing and promoting, started producing and founded their own label, Drop Music, which has seen lots of quality releases over the years.

'Long Time' is lifted from an album called 'Creative Spaces' which I bought in Carbon Records in Urban Outfitters, Temple Bar. I used to shop there all the time and had become friendly with the lads in there who all DJed and knew the score. Basically, I would go in once a week or every two weeks and look for the albums that I had heard about or read about. Then I would ask them what else they could recommend and 'Creative Spaces' was one of the suggested gems.

The CD is mixed but it is in no way boring. The Knights know how to put together a great piece of dance music - good beats, funky bass lines, deep keyboard sequences and interesting vocal samples. They keep things minimal and make house music for both people who love house music and for people who don't like house music (but secretly want to).

I have since bought a few more of their compilations and found them on eMusic and Beatport. 'Long Time' is the only track I have thus far been able to buy from 'Creative Spaces' in it's original, unmixed glory. Listen and be amazed.

Get Deep – Lorenzo
Lorenzo are Joachim Schafer, Tim Bernhardt and (sometimes) Linda Mathews. They make deep, minimal House with other chillful sounds and refreshing beats. Although they are dedicated to the dance floor, they remain very suave and stylish in all of their records.

When I was compiling the songs for this mix, I came across 'Get Deep' and thought that it fit in perfectly beside the Knights' tune. It's funky somewhat filtered sound is also very characteristic of the kind of music that I was trying to find and listen to in an effort to understand the art behind beat matching back in 2001 and 2002.

There is an intentional five second gap in the mix to facilitate the switch from Side A to Side B.

Side (B) - 'House' Side

Finally (Original Album Version) - Kings Of Tomorrow
What can I say or write about this song that has not already been said or written? It is one of the biggest House tunes of all time. Full stop. You couldn't go anywhere - any bar, any club, any cafe, any high street shop or any house party in the early 2000s without hearing this song. It was also featured on every single two-bit dance compilation released by the likes of Hed Kandi, Ministry Of Sound, Defected and Warner (to name but a few). And it became a seminal, Balearic wave-your-hands-in-the-air tune that any DJ worth his weight carried in his record box and caned to death summer after summer after summer after...It has also been remixed about 1300 times by every single producer / DJ looking for a sure fire hit.

Sandy Rivera had been a professional DJ and producer for about eight years when he enlisted Julie McKnight to sing on his new track. In an effort to become a bit more radio-friendly, Sandy dropped his name and adopted the Kings Of Tomorrow (KOT) moniker. It worked and the rest is, as they say, (House music) history.

Music Sounds Better With You (Sinclair Remix) – Stardust
Another larger than life song. This track did every single thing that 'Finally' did but two years earlier. It is one of the tunes, if not THE tune that created the entire 'Superstar DJ' movement in the late 1990s. I heard that entire bands were selling all of their equipment (guitars, drums, keyboards, amps, mics, etc) to buy turntables after hearing this song. I personally have never known anyone who does not love this song and I personally have never seen anyone not turn immediately happy and start moving when the song is played in a bar or a club.

Stardust were Alan Braxe, Thomas Bangalter (half of Daft Punk) and Benjamin Diamond (French singer). The song sampled the Chaka Khan's 'Fate' which was buried deep on her 1981 album 'What Cha' Gonna Do For Me'. And, perhaps most importantly, the song was a one-off. There was no album, there was no second single, there was no tour. Stardust were a true one hit wonder and that has probably only added to the love of the song.This version was reworked by Bob Sinclair and gives the song a darker, deeper sound. It's a great tune to break out after midnight when the night starts to move on.The

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Digital Kicks 020

Hello. Welcome back to Blog Rockin' Beats (after a long, long layoff) and to a brand new, updated, revamped Digital Kicks. It's hard to believe that I am already on volume 020. Not all of the compilations / mixes have seen the light of day but I can assure you they were all lovingly put together on my laptop and saved for posterity.

Some of you may remember previous editions of Digital Kicks. The premise is pretty simple - I trawl through all of my new music each month, select my favourite tracks and present them to you sequenced and mixed with love. I have had a long think about the approach and nearly decided to change the format beginning with volume 020. But since I want to avoid trouble and potential lawsuits, I am going to continue with the same formula.

So, I have still made my way through all of my new music for this month. I have still selected and sequenced the killer tracks with love. And to help you along the way, I have written a little bit about each song so that you know more about what you are hearing.

I give to you the first Digital Kicks of 2008 and number 020 in the series.

To listen to the mix, click here to go directly to my Digital Kicks podcast page.

Enjoy the compilation!

The track listing for this month is:

01. I Still Remember - Bloc Party
02. We'll Live And Die In These Towns - The Enemy
03. Tonight The Streets Are Ours - Richard Hawley
04. You Dream In Solid Gold - Future Kings Of Spain
05. My Babe - Little Walter
06. Let Me Blow Your Mind - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
07. I Just Want To Make Love To You - Etta James
08. Secret Stealth - Stealth 3
09. The Clapping Song - Shirley Ellis
10. The Preacher & The Bear - Golden Gate Quartet
11. Green Door - Wynder K Frog
12. Days Go By (Paul Oakenfold Vocal Remix) - Dirty Vegas
13. Spliffhead - Ragga Twins
14. Smile And Receive - Swayzak
15. Das Spiegal - The Chemical Brothers
16. Operation - Jamie T
17. Crumble - Dinosaur Jr
18. You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover - Bo Diddley
19. Ain't Got No One - Clarence 'Frogman' Henry
20. The Imperial March - John Williams
21. Midnight Funk Infinity - Soulphiction
22. Fragment Two (The First Picture) (Jesse Rose Instrumental Remix) - Kenneth Bager

I Still Remember - Bloc Party ¦ Vision
Bloc Party. Yer man, Kele, is a bit of a douche but I still think that the band haven't made a wrong turn. Yet. Musically, I'm a huge fan. I've even seen them live twice and they certainly don't disappoint. This mix kicks off with 'I Still Remember' from 'A Weekend In The City'. It's a song about regret. A song about what could have been. A song about lost love. And maybe, just maybe a song about two boys. I haven't quite worked that out yet. Give it a listen and judge for yourself.

We'll Live And Die In These Towns - The Enemy ¦ Vision
While I would like to give my mate, Mark, credit for introducing me to this song (he is always about 5-6 albums ahead of me when it comes to anything Indie), it was actually on 'Tom Dunne's Essential Selection 20007'. From what I know about these guys (which isn't very much) they are a bit of a slow burner. They have been touring for a while and most people who have seen them (not me) reckon they have improved a lot since the beginning. They have had their fair share of press in NME but then again what young, up-and-coming English band hasn't? And apparently the Manics really dig them. I just like this tune (even if it is the only one that I know - to date). I think I mostly like it because the singer sounds like Paul Weller and they really remind me of the Jam. And since I am too lazy to go and copy all of my Jam CDs on to my iPod, I have been listening to this tune a lot lately.

Tonight The Streets Are Ours - Richard Hawley ¦ Vision
Another artist that I know nothing about. And another tune courtesy of Mr. Dunne and his essential selection. Hawley apparently worked as a session & supporting musician for years before slowly building an audience of his own and a bit of respect from those people who claim to know something about music. This is a great song and if I am to believe what the interweb says, a departure from his normal sound. Still, if you are a bit fed up with your town or city, you will love the way he sings about getting out of 'this town' with an overflowing amount of youthful optimism. And you can never go wrong with a song that sounds like it was written by Burt Bacharach and produced by Phil Spector.

You Dream In Solid Gold - Future Kings Of Spain
I was asking a good friend of mine about these guys the other night. "Are they really princes?" "Are they from a long line of royalty?" "Are they actually Spanish?" It turns out that the answer to all of these questions is no. They are in fact Irish. And they are from Dublin. And one interesting thing about them is that they played their first ever gig in support of J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) in the The Temple Bar Music Center. So, now you know.

My Babe - Little Walter
Little Walter (Marion Walter Jacobs) started his music career as a guitarist. But he was a much better harmonica player. While trying to earn a living as a musician, he grew very frustrated because he (and his harmonica) were continuously being drowned out by electric guitars. So, he had a clever idea. He held a small microphone in his hands when he played and plugged it into an amp. Suddenly, everyone could hear him. He went on to experiment with the harmonica and developed radical new techniques and effects that had never been heard before. After joining Muddy Waters and playing on most of his hits throughout the 1950s, he started recording his own material. This song went to number one in 1955 and marked his second time at the very top of the charts.

Let Me Blow Your Mind - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Cover tunes are not everybody's thang. Some may say that they require no creativity. Some may say they are used as filler or for when writer's block strikes. But others may say that they offer a chance for an artist to throw a curve ball and develop a song further by doing their own take on it. That's just what Shawn Lee did with this Eve and Gwen Stefani track. As a kid growing up in Kansas, Shawn probably stood out a bit from the crowd. His musical tastes were satiated by 70s funk and blaxploitation songs. He moved to LA as a teen and learned to play multiple instruments. Then he moved to London and recorded an album that never got released. But he perservered and eventually recorded another album called 'Monkey Boy' that was released (and applauded). Fast forward to 2004 and Shawn released the first album featuring his Ping Pong Orchestra. They wrote songs for the cinema that were inspired by classic library records. I'm not quite sure what that means but I read it on his website, so it must be true. Their third album is full of funktastic, groovilicious covers like this tune. Check him out!

I Just Want To Make Love To You - Etta James
Etta James began singing at the age of five and never looked back. She worked hard through the 1950s, releasing several successful singles, which eventually led to her signing a recording contract with Chicago's infamous record label, Chess. One year later she released her most popular and enduring album 'At Last!', which featured six chart singles and this song. She continued singing and recording until the mid 1990s when a long-time drug problem and obesity forced her to stop. But, in fairness to her, she didn't let those problems end her career. She sorted herself out and lost an amazing fourteen stone. (Her heaviest weight was an unbelievable twenty-eight stone!) She has been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, received a Grammy Lifetime Acheivement Award and is regarded as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Secret Stealth - Stealth 3
Google 'Secret Stealth' and you will get pages and pages of hits back about bombers and fighter programs. But if you dig a little deeper you may find a bit more information about these guys. They are two English producer-DJ type boffins that have been around a while and involved in numerous different projects. One site I read describes them as being reminiscent of Kool & The Gang with their electro-funk-soul-proto-disco flavour. I have tried for days now to remember how I came across them and I have no idea. But I suppose where you get new music from isn't as important as the fact that you do, in fact, get new music. I am thrilled to have this tune. And now you can have it too!

The Clapping Song - Shirley Ellis ¦ Vision
I took this little ditty from a Chess Records compilation, even though it was recorded on the Congress label in the 1960s. Weird. Supposedly, it is a really difficult song to find on CD, so I am just happy that I managed to get my hands on it. The story goes that Shirley met Lincoln Chase in the early 1960s. He was an experienced singer and song writer. He did not have very much success at either. Still, she married him. And then, like magic, the duo started turning out the hits. 'The Clapping Song' is one of them. The lyrics sound very much like a nursery rhyme and the song was one of her last big hits, released in 1965. She subsequently retired from the music business three years later in 1968. The song has survived though. It has featured in some ads through the years and was a favourite among early Hip-Hop DJs spinning at block parties.

The Preacher & The Bear - Golden Gate Quartet
Despite their name, this quartet were actually from Norfolk, Virginia. They formed in 1934 and had several hits, including this one in 1937, that combined barbershop quartet-type arrangements with blues and jazz rhythms. This tune is about a preacher that goes hunting. After he shoots a quail and a hare, he is confronted by a bear, who chases him down the road and up a tree. Another cool little ditty with a mighty fine story to boot.

Green Door - Wynder K Frog
Although it is a cool name, Wynder is not the real name of this talented keyboard player. His parents call him Mick Weaver and he was a sessions player who was in a slew of bands in the late 60 and early 70s. By most accounts he was a bit of a master of the Hammond organ. But he seemed to have some weird obsession with frogs. His solo work consisted of albums named after frogs or that had pictures of frogs or contained songs about frogs. This particular tune is on a compilation CD that I bought in Bangkok (at a very reduced price) called 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life'. It is the companion CD to a book of the same name and one that I have read numerous times. He may be totally obscure and unknown but this song deserves to be recognized as a true funk nugget.

Days Go By (Paul Oakenfold Vocal Remix) - Dirty Vegas
Oakie - you either love him or hate him. Lots of people hate him. Then again, he is rich and famous so lots of people must love him. After an auspicious beginning producing the Monday's killer album 'Thrills 'n' Pills...' his career has been mostly about pleasing the masses. True, he did introduce the general public to trance and has done some great remixes but most hardcore people think he spends far too much time on the wrong side of the mainstream fence. This mix (like many of his) isn't much of a stretch. OK, it's no stretch at all. He seems to have added a drum loop to the original song, thrown in a few extra vocal bits (hence the name of the track) and Bob's yer uncle. But it is still a cool song. And yes, I picked up his greatest hits CD, which is where I got this track from. And while some of his stuff is too dumb or too big or too obvious or just plain wrong, there is enough quality to please me. Especially considering the 'on sale' price I paid for the disc.

Spliffhead - Ragga Twins
Flinty Badman and Deman Rocker were a couple of MCs who decided to get together and make some dance music. They ended up creating to a sub-genre of jungle called ragga. This song was one of their big hits and was highly influential. I reckon that Goldie may have been furiously taking notes the first time he heard this track. It's also another tune lifted from the 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life' compilation.

Smile And Receive - Swayzak
Swayzak are James Taylor and David Brown. They have been releasing deepy, dubby, techy, moody, angular house music for over ten years. Personally, I think a lot of their stuff is a bit too hectic but they do have a soft side, typified by this track. I downloaded this tune from emusic.com after coming across it accidentally. It turned out to be a great mistake.

Das Spiegal - The Chemical Brothers
Messrs Rowlands and Simons released their sixth studio album last year. Even though they may not be the Kings of Big Beat anymore, they can still pack a bit of a punch when they want to. And this tune proves it. I have not heard the entire album just yet - Paulo, I'm waiting for a copy because I know you picked it up in America! But I read the other day that some of the tunes on the album actually sample some tracks from their previous albums. That's very interesting. Either they have completely run out of ideas and are just getting lazy or they are trying to start the next trend in sample-based music: quit digging in the crates for funk and soul rarities from the 60s and 70s and just start using your own songs (which probably contain a sample of a 70s funk or soul rarity anyway).

Operation - Jamie T
Jamie T(reays) is from Wimbledon but don't let that put you off. His album 'Panic Prevention' is literally all over the shop. It ranges from punky, raw stuff to somewhat dancey-type stuff with lots of acoustic folk thrown in. He also likes to sample - everything. Lines from movies, self-help tapes and even pieces of stuff he recorded himself where he just chats to friends and family. This song is no exception and is well worth checking out.

Crumble - Dinosaur Jr
Dinosaur Jr are one of the oddest bands you could ever find yourself wanting to like. On paper they don't promise anything that great: high gain, loads of feedback, distortion, reverb and whiny, low-key singing by Mr. Mascis. And even though it shouldn't, it works. It totally works. Now, I can do without all of the distortion and feedback but every album they release contains a few tunes where Jay turns the dial down from eleven to a more reasonable number and they belt out a glorious pop tune. 'Crumble' is the lastest in a long line of those tunes. Probably my favourite tune by them since 'Feel The Pain' way back in 1994.

You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover - Bo Diddley ¦ Vision
Bo Diddley was born Ellas Otha Bates in Mississippi. There are different stories about where his stage name came from but one claims that it is from a black slang phrase meaning nothing. As in, 'he ain't bo diddley'. Although there may be uncertainty about his name, there is none about his musical ability and influence on rock 'n' roll music. He, in fact, created a style of music captured on his 1958 album 'Bo Diddley' called (originally enough) Bo Diddley Beat that used instruments to imitate the sound and rhythm of people slapping or patting their arms and legs. In 1955, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and infuriated the host by not playing the song that he had agreed to. It didn't matter. After his performance, all of America knew who and what Bo Diddley was. He released this song in 1962, one of a long line of musical triumphs.

Ain't Got No Home - Clarence 'Frogman' Henry
What a tripped-out cat. His influence was Fats Domino. He did talent shows and wore a wig with braids. He opened about twenty concerts for the Beatles when they toured the States in 1964. He played in the Bourbon Street strip in New Orleans for nearly twenty years. And then there was his voice. Some have said it was 'freak unique'. Others probably said it was just 'freak'. But it is brilliant. He developed a trademark croak that was never better than in this song. He sings the first verse like a man, the second like a woman and the third like a frog (croak and all). It is beyond description. It is fucking brilliant. Get this tune into your life - right now!

The Imperial March - John Williams ¦ Vision
I was born in 1970. I grew up with Star Wars. I had all the toys as a kid and saw the original three films more times than you could possibly imagine. I love everything about the films. But not the new ones, just the originals. One day, while surfing emusic.com, I typed in 'Star Wars' and found this song. It's deadly, dark and evil. And it is a great seque way into the next song...

Midnight Funk Infinity - Soulphiction
Soulphiction (aka Michel Baumann) likes to release music. Since the mid 90s, he has put his own blend of hip-hop, soul and jazz on slabs of vinyl for four different labels! I downloaded this tune from emusic.com after hearing a few of his tracks on a German house compilation called Inhouse. It's quite laid back and jazzy and the vocal bit at the beginning is pretty cool. A very good warm-up record if you ever find yourself on the decks.

Fragment Two (The First Picture) (Jesse Rose Instrumental Remix) - Kenneth Bager
He's a Danish guy who used to manage a record label. Now he owns one called 'Music For Dreams'. He has an album or two knocking around and he is the force behind the Luftkastellet compilations. I reckon you have never heard of him or Luftkastellet. The compilation series is now five releases in and is one of the best kept secrets in electronic music. The name comes from a Danish night club and Mr. Bager knows how to compile music. He combines well known artists with up-and-coming ones. His selections range from eclectic to quirky. The beats range from chilled to tech-soul, passing through dubby on the way. And the best part is he doesn't mix anything! I'm not sure why but for me decent song selection and high quality don't need to be mixed. Each track can stand on it's very own. So, hat's off Mr. Bager - keep them coming!

Thanks for listening and remember to respect all of the included artists' work and talent. If you really like something, go buy it!