Monday, August 25, 2008

Digital Kicks 025

25 volumes
21 songs
01 mix

Here we go...

01. Colder Than The Coldest Winter Was Cold - The Dandy Warhols
02. Maybe Lately - Miracle Fortress
03. Ankle Injuries - Fujiya & Miyagi
04. Death To Los Campesinos! - Los Campesinos!
05. I Want To Be In Husker Du - Let's Wrestle
06. Fast Cars - Buzzcocks
07. What'cha Gonna Do About It - Small Faces
08. Sunshine Superman - Donovan
09. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive - Bing Crosby & The Andrew Sisters
10. Move It On Over - Hank Williams
11. Ghost Hardware - Burial
12. If You Really Love Me - Stevie Wonder
13. (What A) Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
14. Mighty Power Of Love (Lars Behrnoth Deep Subtle Koffee Mix) - Leee John
15. No Communication, No Love (Devastating) (Original Version) - Charles Schillings
16. Rock - DJ Spinna
17. American Boy - Estelle ft Kanye West
18. Blacker (Album Version) - Ballistic Brothers
19. Hold Me Now - Johnny Logan
20. Song About Traveling - The Innocence Mission
21. Anyone Else But You - The Moldy Peaches

Colder Than The Coldest Winter Was Cold - The Dandy Warhols
CBS News anchor and documentary show host Bill Kurtis narrates this opening track to the Dandys fifth album 'Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars' and Kub's 25th Digital Kicks.

Maybe Lately - Miracle Fortress
From the Montreal outfit Miracle Fortress comes 'Maybe Lately', a lo-fi song that combines exactly the right amounts of the Beach Boys and Phil Spector without too much of either one.

It's a lovely little slice of Pop music that makes the world seem like a much better place after you hear it.

Sparkly, shimmery, summertime Indie Pop that will make even the most hardened of cynics smile (maybe even tap their feet).

Ankle Injuries - Fujiya & Miyagi
A record player brand name + the guy from 'The Karate Kid' = a couple of guys who like to combine 70s Krautrock and 90s electronic music.

The group apparently met a Sunday league football match, while warming the bench and discussing their mutual admiration for world heavyweight wrestler Kendo Nagasaki.

After spending several years in obscurity, they finally got noticed with the album 'Transparent Things' featuring the song 'Collarbone' and this little gem.

Death To Los Campesinos! - Los Campesinos!
Aleksandra, Ellen, Gareth, Harriet, Neil, Ollie and Tom are Los Campesinos! Roughly translated as The Farmers! or The Peasants! in Spanish.

This track is from their debut album 'Hold On Now Youngster...'. Although it may not be the most cohesive piece of work out there it has a lot of catchy tunes, great musicality and proper from-the-heart type Indie music. They are one to watch. That is to say, listen to.

I Want To Be In Husker Du - Let's Wrestle
Don't we all?

This is the B-Side to this London trio's first single, 'Song For Abba Tribute Record'.

Described as a couple of knock-kneed Indiepop fans with a love of Pop music, who sound like a mixture of Los Campesinos! and Pavement with just the right amount of The Wedding Present thrown in.

If only John Peel were alive today to hear them...

Fast Cars - Buzzcocks
Pete Shelly and Howard Devoto formed The Buzzcocks in Manchester in 1975.
In February 1976, they went to London to see the Sex Pistols.
In July of that year they opened for them at their second gig in Manchester.
At the end of the year they recorded and released 'The Spiral Scratch' EP by themselves, making it the very first independent record released.
Then Howard Devoto left the group. He would go on to form Magazine.

Two years later they released their first LP, 'Another Music In A Different Kitchen', that begins with this track. 'Fast Cars' contains the guitar riff from 'Boredom', one of the tracks that put them on the map and featured on their previous EP.

Their strong craftsmanship of Pop songs combined with their rapid-fire Punk energy made them very popular and a huge influence on nearly every band that formed in the 1980s.

The name of their album was based on a piece of art by performance artist Linder Sterling called, 'Housewives Choosing Their Own Juices In A Different Kitchen'.

And that is the buzz, cocks.

What'cha Gonna Do About It - Small Faces
Small Faces or The Small Faces were from East London and had a huge love of American Rhythm & Blues music. James Brown, Smokey Robinson and Ben E King were just a few of their massive influences.

They are one of the most acclaimed Mod groups and are acknowledged as one of the biggest influences of the Britpop movement in the 1990s.

Things got off to a rough start when the band started playing live. They were kicked out of their first 'away' gig in a working men's club in Sheffield. Feeling rejected, they walked next door to Mod-oriented Mojo Club and played for free. They went down a storm, creating a huge buzz and they soon had a residency in Leicester Square with support from Sonny & Cher.

Their name comes from the fact that all of the band members were around 5'4" and of the girlfriend's remarked that they all had "small faces". The name stuck because the word 'face' is Mod slang for a popular, trend-setting individual.

This track is their first single from their first album, 'Small Faces', released in 1966.

Sunshine Superman - Donovan
Having begun his musical career as an acoustic Folk musician, Donovan was keen to move on by the mid-1960s. He met Mickie Most and John Cameron, adopted the hippie 'flower power' image, immersed himself in Jazz, Blues and Eastern music and discovered Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead.

The result of all this was 'Sunshine Superman' - an eclectic blend of Folk, Rock, Pop and Jazz that was innovative and one of the very first psychedelic Pop records of the 1960s.

It made him a superstar, selling hundreds of thousands of records in both the UK and the US. To this day it remains an essential recording from the short-lived (but much-hyped) psychedelic era in Rock music.

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive - Bing Crosby & The Andrew Sisters
Ac-cent-tchu-ating the positive was (in 1944), is (now) and always will be the key to happiness.

Good advice.

Move It On Over - Hank Williams
The hard drinkin', Honky Tonk man sings about sleeping in the doghouse after a night of heavy boozin' in this, his first major Country hit.

Ghost Hardware - Burial
Burial is a Dubstep musician from London. Apparently.

He has released two albums that have received large amounts of critical acclaim. But no one really knows who he is. He has claimed in anonymous interviews that only five people know he makes music.

It was reported in the news earlier this year that his name is William Bevan - the name used for the credits on all of his songs. But it seems that William Bevan is the name of a funeral director in London.

I wonder who this 'mystery' man really is?

If You Really Love Me - Stevie Wonder
'If You Really Love Me' is from Stevie Wonder's 1971 groundbreaking album 'Where I'm Coming From'. It was a very important album for Wonder because it was the first in which he had complete artistic control in the production. It was also the last album in his very first contract with Motown.

Signed as a child prodigy nine years earlier, Barry Gordy had kept very strict control over his company's productions and his artist's careers. But that all changed in the early 1970s. Wonder, along with Marvin Gaye, wanted to expand his music with new styles and techniques. When he turned 21 (in 1971) Wonder was approached by Gordy to renegotiate his contract, but thanks to a clause contained in the document he was able to void the agreement and force Motown to accept whatever he recorded.

The result was 'Where I'm Coming From' and it foreshadowed what was to come in his next four albums, which would be referred to as his "classic period" and make him one of the most successful and critically acclaimed musicians of his time.

(What A) Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
Considered by many to be the 'King of Soul', Sam Cooke recorded and released this song on his first album, 'Sam Cooke' in 1960.

It was one of his amazing 29 Top 40 singles in the US between 1957 and 1965.

In addition to his huge contribution to Soul music, he was also a savvy businessman. He founded a record label and a publishing company as an extension to his 'day' job as a singer and composer.

He was so astute he even added the 'e' to his name because he thought it was classier.

Mighty Power Of Love (Lars Behrenroth Deep Subtle Koffee Mix) - Leee John
1957 - Leee John born in Hackney, London
1970(s) - John works as a back-up singer for The Delfonics, Chairman Of The Board and The Velvettes
1980 - John forms Imagination (the name is a tribute to John Lennon) with Ashley Ingram and Errol Kennedy
1981 - They release the track 'Body Talk', which is a huge club hit, goes to Number 4 in the UK Singles chart and sells 250,000 copies
1983 - John appears on Dr Who1996 - John releases 'Mighty Power Of Love', which becomes an underground club hit
2000 - Ben Watt releases 'Lazy Dog' - a compilation of his favourite tracks from the Lazy Dog club in Notting Hill that features 'Mighty Power Of Love'. Kub buys the compilation and really likes the track.
2004 - 'Mighty Power Of Love' is remixed by Lars Behrenroth and re-released.
2008 - Kub downloads the Behrenroth remix from eMusic and includes it in 'Digital Kicks 025'.

No Communication No Love (Devastating) (Original Mix) - Charles Schillings
This track is lifted from Schilling's excellent 2001 Electro-Acoustic album 'It's About...'

The album reflected his experiences during six years of DJing around the world as well as his varied musical tastes, ranging from House to Techno to Disco to Funk to Groove to Easy Listening and back to House again.

At the time of it's release, Schillings was championing the French Touch scene, producing, recording and DJing all over the world. Basically he was busy being one of the biggest names in Dance music.

I first heard this song on the compilation 'La Mezzanine del Alcazar', where it was featured on the second disc, mixed by Shade. It's a quality piece of chilled House that is equally suitable for dance floors as well as armchairs. Pure grooving.

Rock - DJ Spinna
Born Vincent Williams, Spinna first started experimenting with turntables at the age of eleven.

Since then he has recorded, produced, remixed, collaborated and DJed - all with great success. Despite all of his talent and achievements, he has remained largely underground during his career.

This song displays his love of Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop music blended perfectly to create his own unique sound.

American Boy - Estelle ft Kanye West
Song: American Boy
Writer: Will.I.Am
Singer: Estelle
Guest: Kanye West

Her biggest record to date, 'American Boy' was a hit in 18 different official charts around the world earlier this year. In the UK, it debuted at Number 72 and jumped 71 places to Number 1 the following week.

That sort of success can buy a lot of Ribena and Penguin bars...

Blacker (Album Version) - Ballistic Brothers
Ashley Beedle, Darren House, Darren Rock, David Hill and Uschi Classen are the Ballistic Brothers.

This song mixes pieces of 'Brother' by Gil Scott-Heron and 'Chameleon' by Herbie Hancock to create a chilled, electronic, Downtempo, Trip Hop, Jazz masterpiece.

Hold Me Now - Johnny Logan
Johnny Logan is the most successful artist in the Eurovision Song Contest, having won a total of three times between 1980 and 1992.

'Mister Eurovision' burst on to the scene in 1980 when he took the top prize at Eurovision for the song 'What's Another Year', which was a huge hit all over Europe and went to Number 1 in the UK.

But his massive success was quickly followed by massive failure when his management team made a huge mistake by releasing two follow up singles simultaneously. Since radio stations had no idea which song to play, both of them flopped. Attempted comebacks in 1983 and 1986 also failed to return the singer to his previous triumphs.

In 1987, he entered Eurovision again with this song and he won for the second time! 'Hold Me Now' went on to be a huge hit and million seller. After his second bout of success, he decided to solely concentrate his career in Ireland and Europe.

1992 brought him his third win in Eurovision when he wrote the winning song, 'Why Me', for Linda Martin.

Last year this track featured in a McDonald's Eurosaver Menu ad and introduced a whole new generation to his biggest hit.

Song About Travelling - The Innocence Mission
Husband-and-wife musicians Don and Karen Peris formed The Innocence Mission in the late 1980s in Lancaster, Pennsylvania after meeting at a Catholic secondary school during a production of 'Godspell'.

Coincidentally, Lancaster is my home town and the secondary school where they met is Lancaster Catholic High School, which is also my Alma Mater.

They began recording in their make-shift studio in their basement but quickly progressed and by their third album, 'Glow' (one of my personal all-time favourites), they were selling records and being featured on numerous soundtracks.

This tune comes from their seventh album, 'Small Planes', which was recorded during 'Glow' but not released until 2001.

Anyone Else But You - The Moldy Peaches
The band from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, who began recording in 1999 and then went on hiatus in 2004. Possibly because they released the album 'The Moldy Peaches' on September 11 2001 that contained a song called 'NYC Is Like A Graveyard'. Or possibly because the guitarist, Aaron Wilkinson, left the band and subsequently died in 2003 from a heroin overdose.

Regardless of the reason for the break, this song brought them back from wherever they were when it appeared in the film 'Juno' last year and was released as a single on Rough Trade records.


Friday, August 01, 2008

MTV - Day One

Date: 01 August 1981
Time: 00:01 EST
Place: New York City, NY
Purpose: To play music videos (no, really it was).
Slogan: "I want my MTV!"
VJs: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, JJ Jackson and Martha Quinn

With the words, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll", a crunchy guitar riff and footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing (with the US flag replaced by an MTV flag, of course), MTV was born.

Even though only a few thousand people from a single cable channel system in New Jersey saw the initial transmissions, a revolution was started.

The format when MTV began was modeled after a Top 40 radio station. But instead of DJs (disc jockeys), MTV had VJs (video jockeys). The original five eventually became superstar celebrities and were, collectively, the face of the station.

Most of the early videos were very crude and usually consisted of either promotional footage or concert footage of the band. But that didn't matter. Now you could SEE the music as well as HEAR the music.

Rock, Alternative and New Wave were the flavour of the day. A lot of the bands that made this kind of music and, indeed, some of the biggest bands of the 1980s can attribute their success directly to the amount of airplay they received on MTV in the early part of the decade. But when the president of CBS Records complained about the lack of black artists being played, especially his heavy hitter Michael Jackson, things began to change.

'Billie Jean' was the first video by a black artist to be shown and by the end of 1983, when the 14 minute epic 'Thriller' was released the entire format was changed from Rock to Pop and R&B.

For the next five years MTV ruled the airwaves. Everyone had it. Everyone wanted more. And everyone talked about the bands being played. It was a great time to be a kid in the 'know' and a music fan.

In 1984 the MTV Video Music Awards started. 1986 saw the introduction of the Alternative show '120 Minutes'. 'Headbangers Ball' started in 1987 and 'Yo! MTV Raps' in 1988.

The early 1990s saw the beginning of other shows such as, 'MTV News', 'Club MTV', 'Remote Control', 'MTV Unplugged' and 'Liquid Television'.

Unfortunately, all of these conventional shows, as good as they were, began to take away from the time that videos could be shown. And the demise of the station began.

By the mid-1990s nearly all of the programming was non-music or reality based. MTV still carries on today but now they have had to start several other channels (MTV2, MTV Tr3s, MTV Hits, MTV Jams and mtvU) in order to show any music at all.

But fear not! I am going to take you all the way back to the beginning. This mix includes some of the songs that were played on MTV on 01 August 1981. I must admit a few tears were shed in compiling and mixing this set and lots of memories came flooding back. I hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as I did creating it.

Shout at the top of your lungs 'I want my MTV!' to hear the mix.
Click on each of the track names to see the video.

01. Video Killed The Radio Star - The Buggles
02. You Better Run - Pat Benatar
03. You Better You Bet - The Who
04. We Don't Talk Anymore - Cliff Richard
05. Brass In Pocket - The Pretenders
06. Take It On The Run - REO Speedwagon
07. Just Between You & Me - April Wine
08. In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins
09. I Wanna Be A Lifeguard - Blotto
10. Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello
11. Tusk - Fleetwood Mac
12. Rapture - Blondie
13. Ashes To Ashes - David Bowie
14. Once In A Lifetime - Talking Heads
15. Cruel To Be Kind - Nick Lowe
16. Kiss On My List - Hall & Oates
17. Da Ya Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart
18. While You See A Chance - Steve Winwood

Video Killed The Radio Star
This was the beginning. Ground zero. The video that started it all. At 00:01 on 01 August 1981, MTV aired this video and ushered in a new era in music. Ironically, it was also the one millionth video that MTV played nearly twenty years later on 27 February 2000.

The tune was originally released on the LP 'The Age Of Plastic' in September 1979 and it became the first Number 1 song for the Island label in the UK.

The band featured Trevor Horn, who had previously been in Yes and would go on to be a highly respected producer, working with numerous Dance acts in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

You Better Run - Pat Benatar
This was the second video that MTV ever played and it highlights their early fondness for Rock music.

The song is from Benatar's second album titled 'Crimes Of Passion', which featured her biggest single, 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot'. The album spent more than 90 weeks in the Billboard Album charts, including a month at Number 2, and earned her a Grammy for 'Best Female Rock Vocal Performance'.

You Better You Bet
This song is from 'Face Dances' and was the Who's last crack into the Billboard Top 20 singles.

The video was shot in black and white for 'artistic' reasons and featured the band performing on stage.

We Don't Talk Anymore - Cliff Richard
This song marked a big comeback for Cliff Richard and was his biggest selling single worldwide. The single was released just before his 40th birthday and before the announcement that he was to receive the OBE for services to music.

It was Number 1 for four weeks in the UK in August of 1979, Number 1 in Germany for five weeks and peaked at Number 7 in the Billboard Singles chart in America.

Brass In Pocket - The Pretenders
This was the breakthrough hit for Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, even though Hynde didn't like the song after it was recorded and didn't want to release it.

The title was lifted from an expression that Hynde overheard someone from a support band say one day when he was trying to find his money.

The video was cheesy enough and featured Hynde as a waitress serving 'specials' to three gentlemen (the rest of the band) in a cafe.

Take It On The Run - REO Speedwagon
The band who took their name from a flatbed truck, used the initials (REO) of the founder of Oldsmobile and are renowned for their 'power' ballads also got a shout out on the first day that MTV hit the airwaves.

'Take It On The Run' was from the album 'Hi Infidelity' that spent three months at Number 1 in 1980 and 1981.

Just Between You And Me - April Wine
This tune was played on MTV's first day of broadcasting and owns the distinction of being the first video by a Canadian band to be played. It was also the first video that the station repeated (most likely when they ran out of videos to show).

In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins
Released in January of 1981, 'In The Air Tonight' was Phil Collins' first solo single. It was atmospheric. It was menacing. And it was big.

The song was an instant hit. It has been used in numerous advertisements through the years as well as featuring in the pilot episode of 'Miami Vice'.

I Wanna Be A Lifeguard - Blotto
These guys were quirky. Really quirky. They were:
Broadway Blotto
Sergeant Blotto
Bowtie Blotto
Cheese BlottoLee Harvey Blotto

There was also (at different times throughout the years)
Bert Blotto
Johnny Blotto
Bluto Blotto
Scott Blott (the only one without an 'o')
Chevrolet Blotto
Blanche Blotto
Clyde Blotto
Hammerhead Blotto
Ink Blotto
Juan Pablo Blotto

They formed in Albany, New York and always did their best to combine music and humor. Not always in equal parts though.

The band rose from the ashes of what was the Star Spangled Washboard Band, a post-hippie, comedy jug band.

They were New Wave. They played and released comical songs. They made a video for this track and MTV loved it, putting into heavy rotation for months after bringing music to the world of television.

Despite some exposure and recognition from the song on MTV, they broke up in 1984 and, thankfully, only ever recorded enough music to fill one CD. It's called 'Collected Works'.

Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello
The song that almost got away.

During the recording of 'Armed Forces', this song almost got dropped from the album but was rescued after the keyboardist wrote the piano part, which he based loosely on 'Dancing Queen' by Abba.

Good thing too. The song went all the way to Number 2 in the UK charts.

Tusk - Fleetwood Mac
This album, 'Tusk', was the quirky follow-up to the massive LP 'Rumors'. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham had discovered 'New Wave' music and he convinced the band to be a bit more experimental with their music. He was also allowed to use more creativity in his writing, which resulted in the twenty song double album.

But the critics didn't like it and neither did the fans. Where 'Rumours' had managed to sell over 30 million albums worldwide, 'Tusk' could only manage four million. The label saw it as a failure and blamed Buckingham. The band, however, blamed a major radio station for playing the album in it's entirety prior to the release and allowing people to copy it. Indeed, home taping was killing music.

Rapture - Blondie
'Rapture' was a New Wave pop song that featured a Rap section released by Blondie at the beginning of 1981.

It was the third song to feature Rap and place in the charts but it was the first to go all the way to Number 1. Previously, 'Rapper's Delight' by The Sugarhill Gang and 'The Breaks' by Kurtis Blow were the first Rap songs to have some commercial success.

After this single, Blondie took a break but the record made strong headway into the world of Hip Hop. Grand Master Flash used pieces of it in his classic single 'The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel' and it has been sampled or used as the basis for several other tracks.

Ashes To Ahes - David Bowie
'Ashes To Ashes' was a song about space men becoming junkies written in the style of a nursery rhyme. Due to the lyrical content, it is believed to reference Bowie's previous work including, 'Space Oddity' and the album 'Low'. In his own words, the song "wrapped up the seventies really well."

The video was one of the most expensive at the time, costing over 250,00 pounds to make. It featured solarised shots, black-and-white shots and Bowie in a Pierrot costume, which made the clip one of the most iconic of the early 1980s.

Once In A Lifetime
This track was released in October 1980 on the album 'Remain In Light'. It was written by David Byrne and Brian Eno after they heard a preacher speaking on the radio while driving through New York. It's a song believed to be about a middle age crisis and the inevitable sacrifice of youthful ideals and dreams for more conventional success.

The video features Byrne dancing and moving like a marionette, flinging his arms and tapping his head. It was choreographed by Toni Basil (of the hit song 'Mickey' fame) and inspired by footage of people suffering from epilepsy.

The video is another that was on heavy rotation for many months on MTV and was also on exhibition in the New York Museum of Modern Art for a period of time.

Cruel To Be Kind - Nick Lowe
Nick Lowe doesn't mind change.

He was once referred to as 'Basher' because of his rough and ready aesthetic and approach to production.

He began his recording career in the mid 1960s playing Country and Blues Rock. Then he switched to ironic Pop and animated Rock in the mid 1970s.

This track was released in 1979 - the same year that he married Carlene Carter (daughter of June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash). It was part of another transition into more mainstream Pop music.

Then he became a millionaire in the 1990s. '(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding' was covered on the soundtrack to 'The Bodyguard'. The album sold 15 million copies and since Lowe wrote that song, he received a lot of money in royalties.

In his own words, Lowe said that his greatest fear was, "sticking with what you did when you were famous". In an effort to avoid that, he continues recording today and still incorporates different kinds of music into his sound.

Kiss On My List - Hall & Oates
Daryl Hall and John Oates began their recording career in 1972 with the album 'Whole Oats'. It flopped. So did their second and third albums. The problem was they couldn't settle on a particular style or sound and jumped from Folk to Soul to Rock to Pop and back again.

However, the song 'She's Gone' did appear on their second album and, despite any real sales, received a lot of airplay on the radio.

Their fourth, self-titled album contained 'Sara Smile' and that was a Top Ten hit for them. Things began to change and they had more hits in the following two years.

Then, in 1978 they hit a wall. They struggled for two years with producers and musicians who didn't understand their musical tastes and visions. So, they ditched LA, moved to New York, started producing their own records and recorded the album 'Voices' in Electric Lady Studios. It was a massive hit.

'Kiss On My List' went all the way to Number 1 in April of 1981 and they never looked back from there. By 1984, the Recording Industry Association Of America declared them as "the most successful duo in the history of recorded music".

Da Ya Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart
In the late 1970s, everyone jumped on the Disco bandwagon. Even Rod Stewart. But not without controversy.

His Disco song 'Da Ya Think I'm Sexy' angered Brazilian musician Jorge Ben because he claimed that it was derived from his song 'Taj Mahal'. He filed a lawsuit and Stewart agreed to donate all the royalties from the song to the United Nations Children's Fund.

Stewart was also slated by the Rock press for 'selling out' and betraying his Blues-oriented Rock roots. But the song was a huge hit. It spent one week at Number 1 in the UK and four weeks at the top spot in the Billboard charts in America. And MTV played the video more than most others in the early days.

While You See A Chance - Steve Winwood
The 1980 album 'Arc Of A Diver' produced this breakthrough hit song for Steve Winwood and made him a successful, viable solo artist.

It was another heavily played video that reflected MTV's early affinity to Rock and Pop music.

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