Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Digital Kicks 022

01. I Will Follow - U2
02. Seeing People You Know - The Young Republic
03. Vodka - China Bear
04. Faust Arp - Radiohead
05. Jigsaw Falling Into Place - Radiohead
06. Empire Song - Killing Joke
07. Get It On (Work In Progress) - T Rex
08. I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore - Woody Guthrie
09. Country Trash - Johnny Cash
10. Lively Up Yourself - Bob Marley & The Wailers
11. Apply Some Pressure - Mark Ronson ft Paul Smith
12 Mr Pitiful - Otis Redding
13. Do You Believe In Love - Huey Lewis And The News
14. Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann
15. Casual Sub (Burning Spear) (45 or 33? Radio Edit)
16. Good Feelin (TNT Bonus Mix)

Click here to listen to the mix.

01. I Will Follow - U2
Track one, album one.

U2 burst on to the scene with this song in October 1980.

Bono wrote the song only weeks before the band went into the studio to record 'Boy'. He has said the song is about his mother, who tragically died at the funeral of her father.

The song is one of their most enduring tracks and has been included in nearly every live show they have ever played.

02. Seeing People You Know - The Young Republic
The Young Republic come from Boston and consist of eight lads, who are equally adept with rock and classical instruments.

This song is a non-album track and highlights their happy, poppy, country-tinged, orchestral-infected harmonic sound. Listen and smile.

03. Vodka - China Bear
I lifted this song from a 'City Lounge' compilation (number 3 to be exact) and included it because of the groovy, laid back vibe it contains. It makes for great lounge music and was also quite a popular track in Ibiza last year, featuring on a couple of compilations created by those peeps who are supposedly "in the know."

04. Faust Arp - Radiohead
05. Jigsaw Falling Into Place - Radiohead

The band and the album are so good that I had to include two tracks. Both are from 'In Rainbows', released on the interweb last October and in shops this January.

One, two, three, four...

'Faust Arp' was a bit of an enigma before the release of 'In Rainbows'. It began initially as an interlude and then transformed into a proper song as recording progressed. The song features Thom's voice, guitar and strings blended together perfectly to produce a brilliant, little acoustic tune.

'Jigsaw' is a tight, quirky song that reminded everyone of the now pre-electronic, classic Radiohead sound. The track was the first single from 'In Rainbows' and made a decent impression in the charts on both sides of the pond. The video also features the entire band together on camera for the first time in years. The technique of using head cams to produce the black and white video just adds to the tense, edgy nature of the song.

06. Empire Song - Killing Joke
Killing Joke started as a Post-Punk Rock band in 1979. Their dark, Gothic sound combined heavy guitars with danceable rhythms that influenced numerous bands and grabbed the attention of a lot of people. One of them was John Peel. He loved them and played them constantly on his show.

Their third album featured 'Empire Song' and it became one of Peel's favourites. Despite the recognition and airplay, the band started to lose the plot. Several of the members became heavily involved in the occult and moved to Iceland in an effort to avoid and survive what they called the 'inevitable apocalypse'.

Of course the apocalypse never happened and they all eventually copped on and moved back to England where they continued to record and tour until the 1990s.

07. Get It On (Work In Progress) - T Rex
'Get It On' or 'Bang A Gong' (if you bought the record State side) is one of the most well known T-Rex tunes and arguably the biggest song from the Glam Rock era.

The track is from 'Electric Warrior' and was Marc Bolan's attempt to emulate one of his heroes, Chuck Berry.

This version of the song is a bonus track from the extended 'Electric Warrior' CD and contains some in-studio banter between Bolan, the band and the engineers during rehearsals.

08. I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore - Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson 'Woody' Guthrie aka 'The Dust Bowl Troubadour' is one of the greatest American songwriters and folk musicians of all time.

He was born in 1912 and traveled extensively across the States, looking for work, in the 1930s due to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

The Dust Bowl or 'dirty thirties' was a period of severe dust storms that swept across the prairie lands in middle America and Canada during the early 1930s. Extreme crop damage and drought forced many men to travel west in search of work.

Guthrie was one of these men and he spent his spare time writing songs and singing about the working people he met.

This track is from 'Dust Bowl Ballads' which Guthrie recorded in New York in 1940. It was his first commercial recording and the most successful album that he ever made.

09. Country Trash - Johnny Cash
From the 'Dust Bowl Troubadour' to the 'Man In Black', Johnny Cash sings about 'Country Trash'.

Another man all too familiar with pain and hardship, some of Cash's songs exude feelings of loss and suffering from every single line.

'Country Trash' was recorded later in his career and can be found on 'American III: Solitary Man'.

In the song Cash sings, "My hands don't earn me too much gold, For security when I grow old. But we'll all be equal under the grass, And God's got a heaven for country trash." Amen brother.

10. Lively Up Yourself - Bob Marley & The Wailers
'Lively Up Yourself' is the first track on the politically charged 1974 album 'Natty Dread' and is a blues influenced song that captures the spirit of the Rastafarian Movement.

Marley is by far the most widely known and revered performer of reggae and ska music. He is also known for his unwavering beliefs in the Rastafarian way of life. In fact those beliefs cost him his life.

In 1977 he was diagnosed with cancer when a malignant melanoma was found in an old football wound on his right toe. He refused amputation (believing the body must be 'whole'), all other surgical possibilities and perceived doctors as deceivers. Within three years the cancer had metastasized to his brain, lungs, liver and stomach. Four years after being diagnosed, Marley died at the incredibly young age of only 36. His parting words to son Ziggy were, "Money can't buy life."

11. Apply Some Pressure - Mark Ronson ft Paul Smith
Mark Ronson. Producer. DJ. Cover artist. He's won a few Grammys and BRITs. He plays at celebrity private parties. People either seem to like him or hate him.

'Version' is the album this song is from and, as the name suggests, is a disc of cover versions.

In an unusual move, Ronson enlisted Paul Smith, the singer with Maximo Park, to sing on this tune. The result is a not-so-different-than-the-original cover version. Slightly brassier. Slightly more polished and produced. But every bit as cool as the original.

12. Mr Pitiful - Otis Redding
'Mr Pitiful' first appeared on the 1965 album 'The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads'.Then it surfaced as a reference in the fictitious dance song 'The Crunge' by Led Zeppelin.Next, it was featured on the soundtrack to 'The Commitments'.

And now it appears again on Digital Kicks 022. It's a musical journey.

13. Do You Believe In Love - Huey Lewis & The News
I was watching 'The Wedding Singer' a few months ago and heard this track for the first time in years. I used to really like Huey Lewis when I was a kid and this song would have been one of my favourites.

After seeing the film, I scanned my hard drive, found this track buried on a compilation, dusted it off and included it in this mix.

14. Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann
Manfred Mann, who is originally from South Africa, formed a band in London at the end of 1962. Inspired by the Blues scene championed by the Stones and Yardbirds, the group toured non-stop for nearly a year. They signed a record deal with HMV in early 1963 and struck gold with this tune, which was their third single. It went to number one in both the UK and the US. Proof that the third time really is a charm.

15. Casual Sub (Burning Spear) (45 or 33? Radio Edit) - ETA
'Casual Sub' was released by ETA in 1997 at the height of the Big Beat scene. It samples 'Burning Spear' by Burning Spear, who is a Jamaican born singer and musician.

The song was released as a five track EP and contained this original version as well as some really good remixes. The name comes from the fact that the song can either be played at 33 rpm (for a chilled out vibe) or at 45 rpm (for more of a party, get-down type of vibe). Either way the song is big and it grooves!

16. Good Feelin (TNT Bonus Mix) - Swing Kids
Swing Kids is a moniker for Kenny 'Dope' Gonzalez of Masters At Work fame. He used the name when he produced, recorded and remixed this tune in 1991. India's singing is a perfect match to his classic four-on-the-floor House music.

This track is one of his personal favourites and, by his own admission, very rarely leaves his record box. I lifted it from his brilliant collection, released last year on NRK, called 'Back In The Box'.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Drum 'n' Bass 1ne

Drum 'n' Bass started as a tangent of the UK rave scene in the early 1990s and is electronic music characterised by two unique elements. First are the fast tempo, broken beat drums, largely programmed by the use of a Roland 808 drum machine with the dial set to about 160 - 180 bpms. The second are the gut-wrenching, chest-pounding sub bass lines that are usually sampled or created by the use of a synthesizer and looped.

The genre began as and remains an underground phenomenon, although a couple of tracks did make an impression on the charts during it's peak. As an ever changing style of music, it reflects the many and different elements in it's roots from ragga, dancehall, electro, funk and hip hop through house, jazz, reggae and rock to techno and trance.

These diverse influences helped shape the style that covers the entire spectrum of sounds from heavy, hardcore, industrial electronic music all the way through to the jazz-influenced use of acoustic instruments.

Drum 'n' Bass is probably best listened to and experienced in a club. However, that is not where I first heard the music. When I arrived in Dublin, fresh-faced and innocent, in 1997 I wandered into Tower Records on Wicklow Street for the first time and came across a compilation called 'Earth II'.

Packaged in a copper coloured box and curated by LTJ Bukem (Danny Williamson) it intrigued me. I listened to it and was blown away. The jazzy atmospheric electronic music blended perfectly with the heavy drum beats. This was some dope shit and nothing like what I had been listening to in America.

I worked hard and saved my punts for about two months so that I could by the CD. 'Earth II' was the very first album that I bought in Dublin and I spent many months and lots more money on the output of Good Looking Records.

This mix is my take on the genre. There are some obvious tunes and some not-so-obvious that may or may not really be Drum 'n' Bass. But the intention was to push the boundaries a bit and create an interesting listen.

Drum 'n' Bass 1ne

01. Fictions // Rollercone
02. The Sun Rising (Tom's Drum & Bass Mix) // The Beloved
03. A Festa // Truby Trio
04. Sweet Sunshine // Ils And Solo
05. Nightlines (Original Mix) // Alexkid
06. Rainfall // LTJ Bukem
07. Heroes // Roni Size Reprazent
08. Sugar Is Sweeter (Drum 'n' Bass Mix) // CJ Bolland
09. Distorted Reality // Bjorn
10. Inner City Life (Album Version) // Goldie

Things kick off with an excerpt of Roni Size's 'Heroes', serving as an introduction.

01. The first full track in the mix is 'Fictions' by Rollercone, which is the first track on 'Earth II' and seemed like the best place to start.

02. The Beloved's track 'The Sun Rising', released originally in 1989, got a loving re-work several years later by Tom Middleton and has appeared on more compilations than you could shake a stick at.

03. 'A Festa' by Truby Trio is a song released on the Compost label that reflects the group's love of Downtempo, Breakbeat and Bossa Nova music.

04. Ils And Solo recorded several tracks for Good Looking Records in the mid 1990s. 'Sweet Sunshine' is a perfect example of Intelligent Drum 'n' Bass and appears on 'Points In Time 004'.

05. Alexkid is a French knob twiddler with a love for all things dance-y. 'Nightlines' is from his album 'Bienvenida' but I came across it on 'Cafe del Mar Chillhouse Mix 3'. It is a really unique tune that connects the dots between Deep House and Drum 'n' Bass. All in less than seven minutes.

06. No Drum 'n' Bass mix would be complete without an LTJ tune. I chose 'Rainfall' in an effort to shy away from the obvious. But believe me it was tough. There were about another two dozen other songs I would have loved to include by him.

07. 'Heroes' is one of the biggest Drum 'n' Bass songs ever recorded. Full stop. A stone cold classic.

08. Is it House or is it Drum 'n' Bass? Is it both? Who cares? It's a fucking great song. CJ Bolland does his best Alexkid impersonation by combining Deep House and Drum 'n' Bass to perfection with 'Sugar Is Sweeter (Drum 'n' Bass Mix)'.

09. Bjorn recorded and released a handful of 12" singles on Good Looking Records and Cookin' Records. 'Distorted Reality' can be found on 'Earth III' and is a tune that HAS to be heard LOUD.

10. Released in 1994 'Inner City Life' is the biggest selling and probably most recognizable Drum 'n' Bass song ever recorded. The song has sold over 15,000 copies on vinyl alone. The album, 'Timeless' is the considered the best Drum 'n' Bass album of all time. Both have made Goldie famous and a bit of a household name for a couple of years.

And that's it. There you have it. Drum 'n' Bass 1ne. Enjoy...

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