Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The greatest rapper alive - Saul Williams

Saul Williams is far and away my favourite rap artist and is one of the most electrifying live performers I've ever witnessed with my own eyes. There really is no one else like him around today. He is in equal part Gil Scott-Heron, Jimi Hendrix and Chuck D. In many ways, he is the nearest thing to an actual beat poet that I will probably ever write about here.

His new album Niggy Tardust is produced by Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor and as a result is an industrial affair, but here I have made available two tracks of Saul spitting over classic hip-hop beats - Damian Marley's Welcome To Jamrock and Nas's Made You Look. Enjoy.

Welcome To Jamrock - Saul Williams
Made You Look - Saul Williams

You can catch Saul Williams support Jay-Z at Hyde Park on 3 July. Tickets


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Record Kicks

There are some great labels out there that put out classic and new funk and soul on exclusive vinyl-only releases. I'm talking Daptone, Freestyle, Jazzman and the like. To people who collect this sort of stuff these names will be familiar but i'm sure to a lot of people they aren't. One label i'm really starting to like is Record Kicks. Their release of The New Mastersound's 'Drop It Down' made it on to our April Mix (see previous post) and here are two more great funk/soul slices that make a lot of the anodyne neo-soul sound like teenage karaoke.

The first is an uplifting, soulful number from Floyd Lawson and the Hearts of Stone. Their album 'Coming Out' is being reissued now after being something of a lost masterpiece for many years.

Download: Floyd Lawson and the Hearts of Stone - Air I Breathe

The second is a cover of the Arctics' 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' from Baby Charles and, although on difficult cover territory, i think the moody funk makeover works quite nicely.

Download: Baby Charles - I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

Buy Music on Record Kicks from Phonica here.


Thursday, 15 May 2008

Brand New Second Hand

If you are under 20 and your first port of call for new music is the Jo Wiley show, then you'd be forgiven for thinking that Radio 1 invented the cover version. FYI: This is not the case, and no it wasn't Mark Ronson either. The art of reinterpreting someone else's song is as old as popular music itself. From soul to reggae, punk to dance, there are thousands of cover version gems which faithfully copy, reimagine, twist or royally fuck up some of your favourite tracks. There is no formula for what makes a good cover and sometimes the worst ones end up being the best. We are planning to run a regular feature where we post some of our favourite covers, so to whet your appetite here are three stone cold classics.

St Etienne's proto-trip-hop take on Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart.

Buy it at Rough Trade

The Black Keys' version of Have Love Will Travel by 1960s cult heroes The Sonics.

Buy it at Rough Trade

And the KLF's What Time Is Love given a post-millennium refix by dance music misfit Max Tundra.

Download music by Max Tundra at Juno

Ha, only just noticed they all have love in the title. What a happy coincidence. Ally

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Vinyl and Pilooski

Have jack to jack cable, have Audacity programme, will convert vinyl nuggets into digital bleeps. I know i'm way behind the times but i'm pretty excited about being able to get some of the records that i love that i only own on vinyl (often only way they exist) into my ipod earphones and onto this page.

The reason is records like Pilooski's recent vinyl-only, one-sided 7" called WCTBL. It's more chopped up and bass heavy than his usual style but i have to admit that i like pretty much everything he and the Dirty Sound System people release (with the exception of their version of Prince's 1999).

Download: PSKI - WCTBL

Yep, i got tired of 'Beggin' after a while too but The Pointer Sisters edit and this one below show that he's no one-trick pony.

Download: The Human Beinz (Pilooski Re-edit) - Nobody But Me

Buy music from Pilooski Rough Trade here.


The first big weekend of the summer

So, it's here. Summer. Or spring. Whatever. The sunshine is the important thing. And the beer. And the frisbee. And the T-Shirts. Woohoo.

One of my favourite songs about this time of the year is Arab Strap's The First Big Weekend, which came out 12 years ago and details a bank holiday binge in Glasgow in the wake of Scotland's crushing defeat to England in Euro 96.

When the band split in 2006, they got the best remixer in the entire world - Four Tet - to reimagine the song. He came up with a dark techno chugger, which makes it sound like a deleted scene from Trainspotting. Aidan Moffat's dead-pan delivery works perfectly with Four Tet's bleeps and thuds.

Buy music by Arab Strap and Four Tet at Rough Trade


PS The picture is by a one J Millard

Friday, 2 May 2008

Southern Soul

I love the way with music that you occasionally just stumble upon something and wonder how you've lived your life so far without ever hearing it. Well i got that yesterday with Delaney & Bonnie. They were a husband and wife duo sounding something like the Ike and Tina Revue being backed by The Band. Apparently Bonnie was the first white "Ikette" at the age of 14. Their record Home, from which the below is taken, was released on Stax in 1969.

Also check out this footage of them with Eric Clapton in '69. I think i'm going to grow my hair and give up shaving.

On a similar angle, this is one of my favourite records to play at Beat Poetry nights, the drums, the drums... "I can remember, when your daddy used to be a preacher..."

Download here: US69 - Yesterday's Folks



I am getting quite excited by a few records at the moment that I believe are being placed under the umbrella term of raggaclash. It's basically Jamaican techno but is being made by producers from Chicago to Sheffield. Here's some bits for you to try...

Here's the Boy 8-Bit remix of South Rakkas Crew:

Download it here

Here's the video for Toodla T's Sound Tape Killin:

A mixtape by Chicago's DJ C and Zulu:

Please buy music by these artists: South Rakkas Crew / Toddla T / DJ C & Zulu