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los amigos de durutti

a music blog. concerning a diverse array of music: alt hip hop, jazz, funk, soul, electronica, indie rock and more.

Updated: 2009-07-17T05:11:32.369-04:00


Baby Loves Hip Hop (Prince Paul and Dino 5)


(l-r) Prince Paul, Scratch, Wordsworth, Mec, and Chali 2NaApril 1st sees the release of an album by an astounding hip hop supergroup consisting of Prince Paul (De La Soul, Stetsasonic, Handsome Boy Modeling School, etc.), Ladybug Mecca (Digable Planets), Scratch (The Roots), Chali 2Na (J5, Ozomatli), and Wordsworth (eMC). Wow. Wow. Some of my all-time favorite artists from some of my all-time favorite hip hop groups. And get this -- the supergroup, billed as "Dino 5," front as cute cartoon dinosaurs targeted to the all-important pre-school demographic.If any part of that sounds like an April Fools joke, it's not.The Baby Loves Music label hooked-up with the legendary Prince Paul to produce an inaugural Baby Loves Hip Hop release. Paul gathered Mec, Scratch, Wordsworth, and Chali 2Na to take on cartoon dinosaur personae and join together as Dino 5, "the first prehistoric hip hop supergroup" (take that rappin' Barney Rubble!)the Dino 5 crewParents. Teach your children hip hop! What a thrill and relief it must be for moms and dads to put pick up Dino 5 and put down the sickeningly cute Barney -- whose insipid "I Love You" song could drive any parent insane. And while Baby Loves Hip Hop is great for what it is, it's not like Dino 5 is your father's legendary Roots crew. Or your mother's De La. Or your uncle's Jurassic 5. Er, wait. Actually it is. Well, sorta.The Dino 5 website claims the Baby Loves Hip Hop release is "3 Feet High and Rising for the next generation." I'd say that's a Tyrannosaurus stretch. And yet, who better than Prince "3 is the Magic Number" Paul to produce a hip hop for toddlers album? Hell, Paul even corrals cameos from De La Plugs One and Two, Posdnuos and Trugoy (but not Plug 3 -- Hey Paul, where was Mase?)Prince Paul is DJ StegosaurusPlug Tunin' for the under six set! The album tells the story of five dinosaur friends who come together to perform as Dino 5 for a school talent show. Along the way, they learn all sorts of important lessons that dino-boys and dino-girls must learn to be better dino-pals in dino-land. Prince Paul is "DJ Stegosaurus." Chali 2Na is "MC T-Rex." Wordsworth is "Billy Brontosaurus." Ladybug Mecca is "Tracy Triceratops." And Scratch is "Teo the Beatboxing Pterodactyl."Baby Loves Hip Hop has made one track, "What About 10?" (Paul's retort to 3 is the Magic Number?) available for free download. Oh, and here's the infectious intro to the "Dino 5 Theme," courtesy of Pitchfork last week:What About 10? -- Dino 5: Baby Loves Hip HopDino 5 Theme (Intro) -- " . . . " (2008)I'm a Billy Brontosaurus with four big feetI eat lots of plants, but I don't eat meatI'm one cool dino, no matter what they saySo when I say "fossil," jump up and say "hey"!Ahhh. Pure genius. As great as this may be for hip hop loving parents, a part of me cringed, over and over, at Baby Loves Hip Hop. Prince Paul and Ladybug Mecca are absolute heroes of mine. So when I click on Mec's "Tracy Triceratops" page on the Dino 5 website and read: "Tracy didn't learn how to use potty until she was four years old and now she speaks to dino-kids across dino-land about the benefits of early potty training!" I, you know, cringe. Say it ain't so Mec. (Oh, it be so).BONUS: Dino-cuteness antidote. Here's a couple of remixes of De La's "Magic Number": Chad Jackson's "1-2-3 mix" from the UK release of the "Magic Number" / "Buddy" single, and the "Too Mad mix" from a De La Rarities and Remixes album released in the UK in 1996. Enjoy these semi-rare remixes of a childhood-recalling track from 3 Feet High and Rising, one of the best hip hop albums of all time.The Magic Number (1-2-3 Mix): De La Soul (1989)The Magic Number (Too Mad Mix): De La SoulPreorder Baby Loves Hip Hop from Amazon.p.s. "How high's the water mama?"p.p.s. "Anybody in the audience ever get hit by a car?". . . [...]

Fresh Soul Frequencies (some Afrofreque)


"The revolution will not be digitized / Even though the Presidency has been idiotized"In addition to the hyped national and international acts showcased at SXSW, local Austin bands also get to shine at gigs and events around town during the festival. And now that SXSW is over (not that I was there, mind you), I thought it was high time I got around to featuring one of those local groups who brought the funk to a couple SXSW related performances last week: Afrofreque, "Austin's favorite hip hop groove junkies."Afrofreque starts with The Roots' live hip hop group template, but fashions a brighter sound with socially conscious lyrics and a heavy focus on '70s soul grooves and ultra-funky, feel-good jams. Added to the mix are healthy doses of afrobeat, spoonfuls of reggae, and the occasional dash of electro.The group's debut album, Fresh Soul Frequencies, features ten joints written collectively by the band members (who've all honed their chops with stints in other Austin groups): Tigre Liu (raps, vocals), DJ Resinthol (turntables), Michael Hale (drums, vocals), Claude 9 (keyboards, vocals), John Siebenthaler (bass), and Fumi-Hito Sugarawa (guitar).Hale's crisp drumming, which owes a bit to ?questlove's signature style, is extremely solid. Hale lays a strong foundation, along with Siebenthaler's bass and Fumi Sugawara's funky rhythm guitar (which occasionally stretches out -- he lays down a space jam solo and embellishments on "Cool Breeze" that could have flown from Al Di Meola's fingers in a '70s Return to Forever joint).DJ Resinthol's scratches are often excellent. DJ Logic and Rob Swift are likely influences (you can hear echoes of both on "Illumination"), but elsewhere he reminds me of another Texas turntablist -- Dallas' underrated DJ Zero, best known for his late '80s and early '90s work with MC 900 Ft. Jesus. In addition to p-funkesque synth lines, Claude 9 favors old-school Rhodes and, most frequently, B3 (or B3-sounding) keys. Along with Resinthol's pastiche of samples, Claude 9's spectrum of keyboard sounds help craft the group's amalgamation of hip hop, soul, funk, and groove.Leading the pac is MC Tigre Liu. At times, Tigre Liu raps remind me a bit of Chali 2Na (J5, Ozomatli) -- not so much his voice (which is not quite as deep), but his flow and, to some extent his delivery. Oh, and he does a little beat boxing on "Ice Age."Actually, Jurassic 5 is not a bad touchstone for Afrofreque. At times listening to Fresh Soul Frequencies, I heard traces of The Roots lightened up with a bit of J5 (or even the Pharcyde), set to a soul groove that could have come from acid jazz funksters Brand New Heavies (sans N'Dea). No wonder I like these guys.AfrofrequeIn addition to "Illumination," which you can hear below courtesy of Afrofreque and Earthbird Music, other highlights include the hip hop / summertime party funk of "Smooth and Sweet," the beautifully melodic and jazzy "Born Soul," the B3, cowbell, and wah-wah guitar fueled turbo funk of "Whatcha' Gonna Do," and the catchy "Ice Age" (although I had a hard time warming-up to Tigre Liu's flow on that, and a couple other tracks, no pun intended).Another standout is "Cool Breeze" which is an amalgamation of hip hop, '80s Minneapolis sound (Prince/Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis), breezy soul, a bit of p-funk, and a Nas Illmatic sample ("The World is Yours") snippet ("it's yours!") thrown-in for good measure. Check the short clip, below:Illumination -- Afrofreque: Fresh Soul FrequenciesCool Breeze (clip) -- Afrofreque: " . . ."You know these guys just have to be fantastic live. Join the party if you're in Austin. Hopefully a tour will take them far from Texas soon. Definitely a band to keep an eye on as they grow and mature.Purchase Afrofreque's Fresh Soul Frequencies from iTunes, GigaCrate, and CD Baby :: Afrofreque Website | MySpacepeace. . . [...]

Them Changes (r.i.p. Buddy Miles)


give the drummer someMemorial posts seem to come in pairs. Two years ago I did a Ray Baretto memorial piece on the heals of a Dilla tribute. Then Billy Preston died less than two weeks after we lost Desmond Dekker. And late last summer Max Roach passed within a week or so of Hilly Kristal's death (then Joe Zawinul died just a few weeks after that).And it's happened again. Teo Macero died two weeks ago (see this great piece at Destination: OUT and Darcy's take). I didn't have time to do a Teo tribute post then, but had this vague sense of dread that another shoe was in the air. And sure enough, late last week I received an email from my brother in Omaha with a subject line "Omaha news for your blog: Buddy Miles." Oh crap, I thought. Although I was hoping that Buddy was alive and well and doing a benefit gig back in his old hometown or something, I knew I was fooling myself.Of course my brother's news was that the great Buddy Miles had just died. He'd been in marginal health, suffering from congestive heart failure. He was only 60 years old.Buddy Miles was born George Miles Jr. in Omaha in 1947. He was a child prodigy and earned his nickname on account of his love of Buddy Rich's drumming. At age twelve, Miles started playing drums with Omaha group The Bebops -- his father's jazz band. (As wikipedia notes, Buddy's dad George Miles had played bass with the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon.) While a teenager, Buddy played with the touring bands for the Ink Spots, the Delfonics and Wilson Pickett.At age 21, Miles relocated from Omaha to Chicago and hooked up with guitarist Mike Bloomfield to form the Electric Flag -- one of the first mixed race, blues-based, horn driven rock and soul bands. After Bloomfield left and The Electric Flag broke up, Buddy formed the Buddy Miles Express using the Flag's horn section. Buddy Miles and his big ass fro The Buddy Miles Express' two albums, Expressway to Your Skull, and Electric Church, both released in 1969, were produced by Jimi Hendrix, who also wrote the liner notes for Skull. Buddy played on Hendrix's classic Electric Ladyland album. After that, Jimi, Buddy, and Billy Cox formed the Band of Gypsys, Hendrix's all-black and much more soulful, but short-lived project. Buddy brought the soul, his sweet but gutsy vocals, and, of course, his fat, commanding, and incredibly powerful drumming.Shortly after Hendrix's death, Buddy released what would become his best known album under his own name. In Them Changes, Buddy fused funk, soul, jazz-rock, blues, and even a bit of gospel. Such amalgamations are commonplace these days, but in the late 1960s -- not so much. Buddy's music was too back and soulful for many white rock fans of Hendrix and Santana. And yet his rock and jazz-rock bent didn't fit the format of many black radio stations at the time. Of course such factors and concerns didn't prevent Sly Stone's soulful, psychedelic funk-rock or WAR's fusion of jazz, funk, Latin, and soul from reaching the masses and scoring big hits. But Buddy's heavier, bluesy, gut-bucket soul and funky jazz rock sound had a harder time breaking through. He never became a big star on his own or had a significant chart success with his own bands after Them Changes.Except when he hooked-up and toured with Carlos Santana in 1972. The live album that tour produced Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!, went gold and includes a ferocious, uptempo, extended version of "Them Changes," along with a 25 minute jam titled "Free Form Funkified Filth" (!)Buddy struggled with drug problems and spent much of the late 70's and early '80s locked-up on narcotics charges. In the mid-1980s, he hit it big once again. This time as the lead singer for the California Raisins -- an R&B group of claymation raisins decked-out in Raybans singing "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" (clever, huh?) in a series of televisions commercials for the California Raisin Growers Council (or some such). Although the claymation figu[...]

Politicians, Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Music Bloggers


John McCain's Daughter takes Reagan Dad to BitburgDid you see this in Pitchfork yesterday? "John McCain's Daughter: Music Blogger." Well, John McCain's 23 year-old daughter started (with the help of a couple others) an ersatz blog to follow and report about her dad's Presidential campaign. It's called the McCain . . . wait for it . . . "Blogette." How original that! Like "Wonkette," but, ya know, not all like mega-liberal or wonkish and junk, but, ya know, like, a blog 'n stuff. (Note: Meghan went to Columbia and doesn't really write like that in her li'l "blog." And she probably doesn't talk quite like that either.)But she did recently post a Super Duper Tuesday playlist that included the RAMONES' "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" -- selected because it felt like her "Brain Was Hanging Upside Down" after "waking up at 5 am to go to The Today Show." I tried to link to this actual Blogette post, but the entries don't have individual permalinks. Because, like, it's not really a blog and stuff. Here's the McCain Blogette site if you want to wade through all the horsehit "musings and pop culture on the campaign trail" posts. The site includes a lot of photos of old, well dressed white people taken on campaign stops and at fundraisers. Dude, so rad! Oh, and it's not published under a Creative Commons license. (Oh that Lawrence Lessig, he's practically a Communist!)There was a very funny post recently on Slate written by a college student who felt all alone in his support for Hillary. He noted that being a Hillary Clinton supporter instead of a Barack booster on campus was like "being a Yankee fan at a Red Sox game, a Barry Manilow lover at a Radiohead concert." Humm. Maybe being a McCain fan on campus feels like being a neo-Nazi at a Holocaust Museum. Or not.But back to Bitburg. After that post, Meghan had sum splainin' to do (again, no permalink):There's always some great irony in between life and art. I posted a link to the Ramone's [sic] "My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)" yesterday and some people seem to think there's some message in the fact that it was written in part [in part?? huh?] as a criticism of a trip President [Ronald] Reagan made to Bitburg, West Germany in May 1985.Duh. WTF did she think Joey's song was about?! Then again, she was an infant when Joey and Dee Dee blasted "Bonzo" -- how can she be expected to know that Reagan was called "Bonzo" way back when (gee, what's that all about?) and, ya know, like, went to some Nazi cemetery and like the liberals and radicals and Jews (they're so touchy!)* got all like upset and like misconstrued the visit and stuff. (*As Meghan learned from wikipedia (see below): "Joey [Ramone], who was Jewish, has stated that he started on the song lyrics [for "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg"] after being almost physically sickened by the Reagan visit, feeling that the President had shown disrespect for the six million victims of the Holocaust by visiting Bitburg").my copy of Bonzo Goes to Bitburg 12" single (back)Gee, that's just what dad needs. Try to make your campaign seem just a wee bit hip in the face of Obama's netroots juggernaut by letting daughter Meghan write a "Blogette," and what does she do? Goes and slaps the sacred corpse of Reagan upside the head at a time when Dad's desperately trying to convince conservative Republicans that he's one of them after all, and not just some war-supporting moderate the independents love to love.Gee, sorry dad.Well, Meghan back peddled away from the Bonzo goes to Bitburg slap as fast as she could (clearly with the help of wiki-"making bloggers everywhere appear to know more than they actually do"-pedia):Wow . . . I happen to like the song and figured it was a bit of an edgy choice considering the content . . . BUT those of you who know [what the song is about], also probably know Johnny Ramone was a proud Republican and big fan of President Reagan who insisted the title of [Joey Ramone's] song be changed to its refrain. So if you've [...]

Barack Obama Has A Posse


Obama '08 Vote Change poster designed by Flickr user xtrapopShepard Fairey of "André the Giant Has a Posse" and "Obey Giant" fame ("manufacturing quality dissent since 1989"), recently created a fantastic Obama poster (below, right), in support of the Illinois Senator's campaign.And of course it was only a matter of hours before folks picked up Shepard's ball and rolled out iconic "Barack Obama Has a Posse" posters and "Obey" style "Obama" images (below, left). Beautiful.And Barack Obama does have a posse. Including, Common, Herbie Hancock, Scarlett Johansson, John Legend, Jesse Dylan, and others:"Yes We Can" was inspired by Obama's New Hampshire post-primary speech. The Black Eyed Peas' turns Obama's speech into a song, speaking/singing along to Obama's words. A cast of all-stars -- including Common, Herbie Hancock, Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, Jesse Dylan, John Legend, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Amber Valetta, Eric Balfour, and Aisha Tyler -- joins, lending their voices to the song and appearing in the accompanying video (above) directed by Jesse Dylan.Here's the song:Yes We Can (Obama for America):, Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Jesse Dylan, et al. (2008)yes. we. can. GOBAMA !peacep.s. As I was posting this, the major networks declared that Clinton took California (reported with only 16% of the vote in). Almost instantly, my inbox began buzzing with a back-and-forth email dialog from members of the Boston for Obama campaign group. Folks were very frustrated by the California loss (and early call). But as Kos just noted, tonight was a huge night for Obama. This thing is far from over.And remember . . . Barack Obama has a Posse !UPDATE: If you haven't seen the "" McCain skewering parody of and Jesse Dylan's "Yes We Can" video . . . you must. I mean really. You must. The vid, by LA comedy group Election08, has circulated virally via Kos and hundreds of other blogs in the past 48 hours. My good friend arb linked to it in the comments (thanks arb!) What? Can't be bothered to click through (let alone drop a note)? Oh, OK, here's the link for the hilarious video parody. You're welcome.. . . [...]

Rhythm Science (DJ Spooky at Boston's ICA)


Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, was at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art last weekend. He did a well received DJ spin in the ICA's giant lobby on Friday night and presented a "work in progress" live mix of a string trio on Saturday that was universally panned savaged in the Boston press (more on that below).But Thursday night's lecture / performance was what I was most looking forward to -- and it's the only gig I caught. Miller's talk was loosely based on his award-winning "Rhythm Science" (MIT Press, 2004) -- a treatise on the role sampling technology has played in transforming culture and our view of art and reality. Or, as the book's promotional website puts it: "taking the DJ's mix as template, [Miller] describes how the artist, navigating the innumerable ways to arrange the mix of cultural ideas and objects that bombard us, uses technology and art to create something new and expressive and endlessly variable." A must read (well, in my book).Paul was hungry, missing dinner, and probably tired. You see he'd very recently returned from a month in Antarctica, where he was filming the melting continent while living on a rented Russian trawler crammed full of high definition cameras and his recording studio. Miller premiered the initial mix of the film at Sundance, projected onto a circle of 17 screens. He showed us a snippet of the film, which he's remixing to play at Imax type theaters.While hip hop is constructed drawing off the vibe, culture, and surroundings of the urban environment, Miller said he wanted to do the same thing in Antarctica, totally divorced from urban society. Thus, Spooky composed the mostly improvised soundtrack for his new film on board the ship -- in large part using his recordings of the sound of ice cracking and breaking-up, with an occasional penguin squawk tossed into the mix. It was interesting, but didn't sound all that inspired and at times even seemed to borrow some well-worn avant-minimalism themes from Philip Glass' soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi (not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was expecting more -- like a startling mix of rhythmic ice crunch and flow. But perhaps he had an Imax audience in mind).Much more rewarding was Spooky's discussion of the history of sampling and sequencing in film -- beginning with a short film from 1900 by French filmmaker Georges Méliès (you've probably seen the homage to his most famous film Voyage Dans la Lune (posted here on YouTube) in the video for the Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight," which includes the famous scene of a spaceship crashing into the eye of a stylized "man in the moon"). Spooky showed Méliès short film L'homme Orchestre (The One-Man Band), pioneering the technique of superimposing multiple exposures to make objects appear and disappear. Méliès film presents a magic act in which, with a wave of a wand, he creates multiple copies of himself on stage with different instruments, who all play as a band, and then one-by-one collapse, back into a single band leader (check the film, posted here on YouTube). This, according to Miller, is the first example of sampling and sequencing in film.Fast forward to the present, and Spooky connected Méliès innovation to the contemporary use of digital editing to seamlessly cut and paste, manipulate, and mash-up footage. As an example, he presented a perfectly edited and hilarious sequence he constructed of a Bush state of the union speech, which had Dubbya actually speaking the truth about the war in Iraq ("we invaded Iraq based on lies and distortions," "and we made sure the risk of terror increased and spread around the globe," "and we were evil," etc).This set-up Miller's discussion, with clips, of his celebrated "Rebirth of a Nation" reworking of W.D. Griffith's racist 1915 film "Birth of a Nation." Check here for a great article on the project.DJ Spooky started the evening by passing out free CDs, noting that he was helping to[...]

Rewriting "Rehab"


They tried to make me go to rehab /I said oh, oh, oh, OK, you win /I'll go, go, go . . . The Guardian: Amy Winehouse Enters Rehab:Soul singer Amy Winehouse was admitted into a rehab clinic last night in the latest attempt to tackle her drug addiction.The announcement came days after video footage emerged allegedly showing the troubled 24-year old smoking crack cocaine. Winehouse decided to enter the facility after talks with her record company, management, doctors and family, according to a statement from her label, Universal Music."She has come to understand that she requires specialist treatment to continue her ongoing recovery from drug addiction," the statement said.She also cancelled a scheduled appearance at an awards ceremony in France, Universal said.Earlier in the day, Winehouse's father said he had considered having her sectioned under the Mental Health Act to help her get clean. Mitch Winehouse, a London cab driver, told the BBC it was not possible because the singer was not considered "a danger to herself"."You might consider taking drugs is a danger to herself, but unfortunately the authorities don't," he said.Until yesterday, Winehouse has been in denial about her addiction, he said. "Part of the problem is she doesn't think she's got a problem. She thinks she can do what she does recreationally and get on with the rest of her life," he said.. . .According to Universal, Winehouse plans to travel to Los Angeles next month to perform at the Grammys, where her critically-acclaimed album Back to Black has been nominated for six awards.Rehab (Desert Eagle Discs (Ronson) remix) -- Amy Winehousegood luck Amy.. . . [...]

Shadow says: Happy MLK Day


Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!In recognition of today's MLK holiday, I thought I'd reup a DJ Shadow goodie posted back in a 2005 Rosa Parks memorial post and a 2006 MLK and the Dreamers post.It's a segment from DJ Shadow's Diminishing Returns mix originally broadcast by John Peel (rip) as "UK Buzz No. 3" on BBC Radio 1 in March 2003. After the broadcast, Shadow released 1,000 "party pack" copies (see above) through his website. Since then a few "official bootleg" editions in standard 2CD jewel cases found their way to some outlets (I picked up one of those bootlegs -- I don't have a numbered copy of the original Shadow release, unfortunately). Even with a few bootlegs out there, the mix is still very hard to get a hold of.The BBC Radio 1 broadcast was in two parts: an 80 minute mix of relatively obscure hip hop -- mostly left field and left coast stuff from the 1980s. The second, 40 minute section is an amazing mix of rare, forgotten, neglected, or very obscure late-60s psychedelic tracks, with a couple weird, tripped-out, proto-prog pieces thrown in. Many are shrouded in a bluesy jazz haze. It's delicious and simply incredible.The last seven minute segment of the hip hop mix features several treats, including a Czech(?) version of Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go For That" (which Shadow cuts with Hall and Oates' original), a steel drum jam of Gary Numan's "Cars," and a marching band cover of "Another One Bites the Dust."But chief among the treats in this segment is "Martin Luther King," a great old school hip hop jam by the B-Down Brothers, released in 1986 on the Boston Goes Def hip hop compilation straight outta Beantown. It's a wide-eyed, earnest tribute to MLK:Martin was my kind of guyAnd if you wonder whyBecause he wanted equal rightsFor blacks and even whitesFor men and women and boy and girlJoin hands around the worldSinging free at last, free at lastThank god almighty we're free at lastSure it's a bit cheesy, but that's part of its appeal. Check the slap bass line that really kicks-in towards the end the jam, which the B-Down Brothers close-out by singing "We Shall Overcome." Beyond sublime.I Can't Go For That (MLK - steel edit) - DJ Shadow: Diminishing Returnspeacep.s. "Boy, this scratching is making me itch."p.p.s. "That's the end of part one of UK Buzz number 3. In part two . . . I'll be playing more records by people you've never heard of and don't like very much." (John Peel)p.p.p.s. Good luck to Obama in South Carolina on Saturday and Florida next Tuesday.. . . [...]

Made in the Dark (new Hot Chip)


Hot Chip Live at Bonnaroo last year (photo: wikipedia commons) DJ Kicks: Hot ChipLondon-based electro-pop purveyors and shiny dance floor nerd funk hipsters Hot Chip are about to drop their new album. Made In the Dark will be released by Astralwerks / DFA in the U.S. on February 5th, and on February 4th by EMI in the U.K. The new album follows hot on the heels of Hot Chip's DJ Kicks mixtape release for the K7 series over the summer -- not to mention about a gazillion remix projects over the past year featuring everyone from Kraftwerk to Tracey Thorn, !!! to CSS, and Omaha's Tilly and the Wall to the Elysian String Quartet's performance of Prokofiev's "String Quartet No. 2" (!)Hot Chip: Made in the Dark Made in the Dark is, of course, ready for the dance floor. The album's first single, "Shake a Fist," was released last year, and the second single, "Ready for the Floor," will be released on January 28th as an enhanced CD single with the video (see below), a SoulWax remix, and a Diplo remix of "Shake a Fist. " "Ready for the Floor" is driven by a fantastic, elastic-bounce bass line. In addition to drawing off early-80s electro-pop (think Soft Cell and OMD crossed with the Buggles), the track features a chorus that sounds like something Jeff Lynne would've written for an ELO pop song. Check the video, which features Alexis Taylor as a two-faced combination of Batman villains the Joker and Two Face playing around in Thomas Dolby's lab (with lots of technicolor and cans of paint):The promo-material for Made in the Dark notes that "the band's sound has evolved towards a wilder, heavier electronics, though still coupled with a signature pop aesthetic," keeping "pure, unadulterated head rush pop into the mix."But, along with the dance floor grooves, the album's title track is a ballad. And a reflective, somewhat melancholy, break-up ballad at that. It's, uh, pretty. It's slow. It takes its time with an extremely downtempo, boom-boom-bip beat.And it's been made available for posting and free downloading:Made In The Dark -- Hot Chip: Made In The Dark (2008)Hot Chip kick-off the release of Made in the Dark with special shows in New York and LA next month, followed by dates in the UK. The band comes back to the US in April with gigs in Philly (4/10), DC (4/11), New York (4/12), Boston (4/14), and Chicago (4/17), among others. See the band's myspace page for complete listings.Preorder Made in the Dark from Insound in the US, and Recordstore in the UK. Release date: February 4th (UK), February 5th (US).p.s. "You're my Number One Guy.". . . [...]

los favoritos de los amigos (2007)


team durutti works on the los amigos year end favorite album listI didn't have time to put together the obligatory year end list before the holidays this year. But the indulgence of ranking the year's "best" albums (which, in los amigos' case, is really more of a "favorite albums" tally) is too much fun to pass up just because we've entered 2008. Plus, this year is notable in that three (count 'em) albums were available for DRM-free mp3 downloads in innovative, optional pricing models: Radiohead's "pay what you want," plan; Saul Williams' "pay a suggested $5 price (for 320kbps), or pay nothing (for 192kbps)" model; and, most simply, Tim Fite's "go ahead and download my album for free" gift. Of course, that's just the tip of the looming ice berg (Titanic image intended). See here for Billboard's speculation on who's likely to follow (Prince?, Daft Punk?, Chuck D?, Sufjan?).So, without further delay, here goes los favoritos de los amigos for 2007:1. M.I.A.: Kala The World is a Ghetto. This was a pretty easy choice for the top spot. From the Jonathan Richman quote (the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner") that kicks off "Bamboo Banga" to the Pixes quote ("Where Is My Mind?") in "$20," Kala is a hell of ride. And one built literally around the globe as M.I.A. (Maya Arulpragasam) traveled the planet working with different artists and producers, partially in response to an extended battle with U.S. Immigration to reenter the U.S. so she could work with Timbaland (which she eventually did). There was all kinds of blogosphere speculation and debate about the extent to which her visa delays related to the radical lyrics in Arular and the M.I.A./Diplo Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape or her father's connection to the Tamil revolutionary movement. But whatever the reason, Kala is an even more explosive amalgamation of cultural influences and clashing styles than Arular. There's the frantic Indian drumming of the infectious (no pun) "Bird Flu," the delicious Bollywood swirl of "Jimmy," and the neo-rave, acid house reminiscences ("where were you in '92?") of XR-2, three standouts. But my favorite tracks are probably "Bamboo Banga" and "Paper Planes," which Diplo and Maya built around a sample from the Clash's "Straight to Hell." I'm not sure if Diplo worked on"Paper Planes" before or after his somewhat acrimonious split with M.I.A., but the the gun shots / reload click / cash register chime (ala Dark Side of the Moon) rhythm that punctuates the Wreckx-N-Effet chorus (which is intended as an "in your face" (with a gun) affront to anti-immigrant reactionaries and their worst fears) is startling and simply incredible. As is the whole album.p.s. "I've put people on the map who've never seen a map."p.p.s. "M.I.A. Third World Democracy. I got more records than the KGB."p.p.p.s. "It ain't Coca-Cola, it's rice. Go straight to hell boy." (the Clash) 2. LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver My very good friend DA in NYC recently chastised me: "you need to hype LCD Soundsystem more." And he's right. LCD Soundsystem's debut made it clear that nobody does dance rock better that James Murphy (DFA). But Murphy's follow-up is even more satisfying -- surprisingly because, at first blush, it lacks killer standouts like "Daft Punk is Playing at My House," "Disco Infiltrator," and, of course "Losing My Edge." But all of the tracks on SOS are so damn great. From the punk-funk of "North America Scum" ("for those of you who still think we're from England, we're not . . . No"), the pulsing, Low trilogy-era / Talking Heads' Remain In Light, Bowiesque art funk of "Get Innocuous," the clacking-churning piano and New Order-like beats and bass of "All My Friends," and the smooth electro of "Someone Great." And then there's the almost ridiculously plaintive ballad "New York, I Love You (But You’re Bringing Me Down)," wherei[...]

Check the Rhime Violin (and happy new year)


Paul Dateh and DJ inka one will perform at LA's Concrete FrequencyHappy New Year.I'll be back in a day or two. And while there may be some unwritten bloggers code prohibiting such indulgence after December 31st, I'm gonna post up my obligatory, but belated, year-end list tomorrow or Thursday. Just wasn't able to get to it mid-late December before the holidays like the past two years (when these things are really supposed to be posted).In the meantime, here's a New Years present from the "how cool is that?!" department. It's Paul Dateh on violin and DJ inka one on the ones and twos. Perhaps some of you have already seen this. Dateh posted it on You Tube about six months ago, but I just recently noticed it courtesy of Wasteland Drifter (who upped it on Peace, Prosperity and Paper in August).You may be saying to yourself "hip hop violin, oh sure, but he ain't no Miri Ben-Ari." Well, sure. But check the video before you're so damn sure:You can download an mp3 of the suite for violin and two hip hop turntables from the above video (which kicks-off with Paul and inka's take on A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime," draws off the Roots and Ghostface, gets "Crazy," and ends in a disco soul flourish) on Dateh's myspace page. Paul has a band called The Live Movement. He's working on a debut album. More info on Paul's blog and forthcoming website. Also check out inka one's myspace page.And get this, Paul Dateh and inka one are performing this week at the kick-off event for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Concrete Frequency, "a multi-disciplinary, two week festival examin[ing] and celebrat[ing] the elements that define a city, and how those elements are affected by – and reflected in – music and art." Once again, how cool is that?p.s. Speaking of Miri Ben-Ari, here's the great hip hop violinist performing with (los amigos favorite) DJ Logic from Logic's album The Anomaly. And speaking of favorites, A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory is not only a favorite, but undeniably one of the best hip hop albums of all time. Here's "Check the Rhime" which kicks-off Dateh and inca's video:Soul-Kissing -- DJ Logic feat. Miri Ben-Ari: The Anomaly (2001)Check the Rhime -- A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory (1991)peace and prospero Año Nuevo. Cheers.p.p.s. "You on point Phife?" "All the time, Tip.". . . [...]

Have a Kung Fu Christmas!!


"I just want a Kung Fu Christmas!"Here's a new los amigos tradition. Last year's "Kung Fu Christmas" piece received a lot of comments and, based on google referrer stats, a bit of attention (google Kung Fu Christmas and see what comes up), so I'm reposting this holiday offering (I'm too busy to post anything new right now anyway. Plus, I'm a sucker for holiday traditions). So, here, once again, is one of my favorite pieces of Christmas music . . .One of my favorite holiday songs is a parody. But not some dumb ass "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" horseshit. No. This is a lovingly crafted, sublimely executed Motown / Philly soul holiday parody by the National Lampoon Radio Hour circa 1974, the same year Carl Douglas hit it big with his monster disco soul smash: "Kung Fu Fighting." So naturally it follows that a "Kung Fu Christmas" was right around the corner . . .There's a man comin' today with lots of lootHe got a pimp-mo-sleigh, a red and white fur suitHe's a super-fly guy, and he's awful cuteHe's about to arrive bringing jingle bell jiveSanta Claus is making the Soul Train scenepickin' out his beard with Afro SheenChristmas Eve's comin' with the last minute bustleSanta tells the elves they better Do the Hustle . . .Hey Baby, I'd like to do something extra special for you for this Christmas-- What's that, sugar?I thought maybe I'd buy you a big house in the South of France-- Oh, I don't want to live in FranceWell, why don't I buy you a big glass-bottom boat then honey?-- Oh darlin', I don't want no fish lookin' up my skirtWell, baby, let me ask you, what do you want for Christmas?-- Oh baby, I just want a Kung Fu Christmas . . ."Kung Fu Christmas" was written by National Lampoon Radio Hour regular Christopher Guest and Paul Shaffer (that Paul Shaffer). Guest is now known for his brilliant ensemble comedies, including Waiting for Guffman and Best of Show, featuring the likes of Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, and Harry Shearer. Oh, and then there's This is Spinal Tap, another little mockumentary he co-wrote and starred in. And this year it's appropriate to feature a piece co-written by Paul Shaffer on the heels of Sunday's posting that included a video clip of Letterman and Shaffer's holiday tradition: Darlene Love performing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." "Kung Fu Christmas" may not be as great a piece of holiday music as Love's masterpiece, but it ain't chopped liver.Kung Fu Christmas -- National Lampoon Radio Hour (1974)You might think I'm joking about how much I love this parody. But you'd be wrong.Enjoy! And have a Kung Fu Christmas!BONUS: to round out your Kung Fu Christmas, here's the first 5 minutes ("Hey martial arts fans, are you ready to get your guts kicked out? Well get ready!") from DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's brilliant Brainfreeze live mix, one of the most impressive mixes ever (and strictly 45 rpms!). A big shout out to Kevin over at So Much Silence for providing me with this more than a two years ago. And for your further listening pleasure, we have DJ Enki's "Kung Fu Kwaku" from the Oakland Faders mix tape that Scion made available for free when it won the "Free Up Your Mix" challenge a couple years ago.Kung Fu Kwaku -- DJ Enki (Oakland Faders' mix)Brainfreeze (Thunder Kick-Turntable King edit) -- DJ Shadow & Cut Chemistkung fu santa photo by tribe member D.A. Happy Festivus!. . . [...]

The Swimmers Christmas Sound


photo: salem public library (salvation army sleighbells, 1950s)I don't really pay a lot of attention to the indie scene, and blog about it infrequently, to say the least. But I received a fantastic Christmas song in my inbox recently from Philly-based indie band The Swimmers that I just had to post."The Christmas Sound" is chock full of festive sounds: chiming piano chords, punchy holiday horns, cheesy organ, and, of course, sleighbells up the wazoo. It kicks off with a thundering drum-kick lifted from a Phil Spector / girl group anthem. Best of all, it's got just enough early 1960's Motown / street corner soul sound to make Darlene Love proud. What more can you ask for this time of year?*As the band's promotional material notes, The Swimmers "mix an indie-rock aesthetic with bright melodies and hook-filled choruses pulled from the pop and rock sounds of the 1960's." The band recorded a self-produced album, Fighting Trees, over the summer. According to Bruce Warren, Program Director at Philly's WXPN (one of the best college/community radio stations in the country), the album is "the best record not released in 2007." It will drop in 2008, however, having been picked up by MAD Dragon Records (Ryko) for a March release.As a holiday warm-up, The Swimmers have made "The Christmas Sound" available for free download. Enjoy.The Christmas Sound -- The Swimmers (2007)sleighbells ring, are you listening?Merry x-mas. Jingle some bells and eat some Christmas cookies.* BONUS: To answer the above posed musical question "what more could you ask for this time of year," here's Darlene Love singing her holiday classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on Letterman last year. And while Darlene has performed this treat (originally produced by Phil Spector) on Letterman for the past 15 years (it's one of Dave's traditions), there may be no Love on Letterman this year given the writers' strike. Perhaps CBS will air this as a re-run. Speaking of holiday traditions, one of los amigos favorite old holiday song is up next. peace.p.s. Can't get enough Darlene? Here's "Chirstmas Time for the Jews," the hilarious Spector / Love holiday parody from SNL featuring Darlene Love and great animation.. . . [...]

Don Byron Spins the Dreidel (via Mickey Katz)


Here we are half-way through the Festival of Lights. As promised, here's this year's Chanukah post. While los amigos has featured Hanukkah hip hop, jazz, and klezmer in the past, we're going all Mickey Katz on the kandles this year.Mickey Katz was a Borscht Belt comedian and superb clarinetist who played with Spike Jones (not Spike Jonze) in the 1940s. He later broke out on his own, performing Spike Jones inspired, klezmer infected, Yiddish parodies of popular songs. In addition to a slew of comedy and song parody albums, Katz also recorded a straight-up klezmer album in the 1950s: Simcha Time: Mickey Katz Plays Music For Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and Brisses.Although a big fan of the Klezmer revival emerging out of San Francisco (Klezmorim), Boston (Klezmer Conservatory Band), and downtown NYC (Frank London and the Klezmatics), I'd never heard of Mickey Katz until I saw Don Byron perform a tribute to his klezmer music at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia back in 1992.It was a fantastic show, made all the better by the diverse audience. About two-thirds of the crowd was what you'd expect: jazz fans and avant hipsters, most in their late 20s to late 30s, black and white. Your typical early 1990's Knitting Factory crowd. But the rest of the audience consisted of old school fans of Katz in their 60s and 70s, including a fair number of blue haired old Jewish women and men in dark suits or ugly sweaters, some of whom seemed, at least at first, a bit taken aback at the sight of the young, hip, dreadlocked Byron in Katz's clarinetist/leader role. Byron toyed with it a bit, peppering his remarks with hip hop references and street slang in a joking manner that helped pull the old folks in.Don Byron, who studied at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music and played with the Klezmer Conservatory Band in the 1980s, put together a stellar band of downtown NYC avant jazz and klezmer musicians to perform his tribute to Mickey Katz, including los amigos favorite Dave Douglas (trumpet), Uri Caine (piano), Mark Feldman (violin), Josh Roseman (trombone), and the Klezmatic's Lorin Sklamber (vocals). A couple years later, Douglas became one-fourth of Zorn's Masada (see below). Feldman has played with numerous Zorn projects, as well as Douglas' Charms of the Night Sky.In 1993, Byron released his tribute album Don Byron Plays Mickey Katz on Nonesuch. As Stuart Broomer notes, Byron "forg[es] links between black and Jewish outsider traditions . . . balanc[ing] contemporary musical interests with an archival re-creation of some spirited Yiddish comedy." It's a great album by one of the more inventive jazz musicians, and gifted clarinetists, around. For Chanukah, I've included Byron's interpretation of Katz's piece "Grandma's Dreidel," along with Katz's original track from Simcha Time.Dreidel Song -- Don Byron: Plays Mickey Katz (1993)Grandma's Dreidel -- Mickey Katz: Simcha Time (1956)BONUS: Tonight and Friday, John Zorn played a Festival of Lights concert at the Abrons Art Center in in NYC, featuring tracks from Bar Kokhba. Here's a taste from Zorn's 2-Disc Masada Chamber Ensembles Bar Kokhba from 1996. Bar Kokhba took pieces from Zorn's Masada songbook and arranged them for a variety of small chamber ensembles, including strings. It's a fantastic part of the Masada collection, but I'm still partial to the Masada quartet (Zorn on sax, Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass, and on Joey Baron on drums). As I've said before, Zorn's Masada, the avant/free jazz group steeped in traditional klezmer/Eastern European Jewish folk melodies and middle eastern modalities, was one of, if not the best jazz quartet playing in the 1990s.In keeping with the clarinet focused klezmer of Byron[...]

The Mighty Underdogs (Gift of Gab, Lateef, and Headnodic)


The Mighty Underdogs: (l-r) Headnodic, The Gift of Gab, and Lateef the TruthspeakerI'm finally getting around to writing up a review copy of an Ep that's been in very heavy rotation on my iPod for the past month: The Mighty Underdog's The Prelude.The Mighty Underdogs are The Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Lateef the Truthspeaker (Latyrx, with Lyrics Born; Lateef and the Chief with Blackalicious' Chief Xcel), and Headnodic, the bassist / producer from Crown City Rockers (which began as Mission in Boston where most of the members met at Berklee in the mid-late nineties). The Prelude is a precursor to the supergroup's full-length album due out next year (see below). The group produced and self-released the Ep independently; it's sold through Giftstribution on Gift of Gab's website.The Gift of Gab, as one half of Blackalicious, and Lateef co-founded the legendary SoleSides collective and lablel in 1992 with DJ Shadow, Jeff Chang, and Lyrics Born (you should really pick up a copy of SoleSides Greatest Bumps if you don't have it, btw). Since then, Blackalicious and Lateef have gone on to be major forces in underground and progressive hip hop, releasing a string of acclaimed albums on SoleSides and its successor Quannum (Blackalicious and Lateef and the Chief will continue to release on Quannum, while not ruling out more self-released projects in the future). And while very big names in underground hip hop, Lateef and The Gift of Gab are (mighty) underdogs in the face of Clear Channel controlled radio and mainstream, corporate, major label hip hop. Less widely known (undeservedly so), Headnodic and Crown City Rockers have been a key voice in the resurgence of jazz rap and progressive hip hop following in the footsteps of los amigos favorites Tribe, De La, and Digable Planets.The Mighty Underdogs' new Ep features guest appearances by DJ Shadow, MF DOOM, Ladybug Mecca, and Rashaan Ahmad from the Crown City Rockers.The biggest standout track is "Gunfight," featuring MF DOOM. It's incredibly infectious, with a chorus that will stick with you through the day and stellar raps all around (of course DOOM's flow and wordplay is always a supreme treat). The old west, high noon themed "Gunfight" includes Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western Soundtrack twang and the spooky, slow whistling trill from Morricone's theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (don't even think about trying to fix those terms on the individual Underdogs)."Gunfight" is so damn good, it's worth the price of admission alone. But all of the tracks are strong. "United Flow Champions (UFC)" (featuring cuts by DJ Shadow), "Status Symbol," and "Lovelife" (featuring Ladybug Mecca) are other los amigos favorites (anything w/ Mec on the Mic is worth hearing in los amigos' book).And then there's "Bring Me Back" -- which does just that. Over a bouncing (or jiggling?) sample from LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby" (talk about bringing you back), the track reminisces about the golden age (late eighties - early nineties), with shouts out to In Living Color, The Cosby Show, and Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle. The ubiquitous PE "bring that beat back" sample is included, but the Dogs reach back to the early seventies to borrow the intro from The Jimmy Castor Bunch's funky cave man epic "Troglodyte." If you know that track (and you should) you understand how much the sample fits ("what we gonna do here is go back, way back, back into time. . ."). Finally, "Out of My Life" features deliciously cheesy analog synth lines and squiggles straight out of Quincy Jones' Body Heat.Here's a small taste, including the progressive lyrics and breezy, jazzy, mid-60's bossa-lounge sound of "Status Symbol," and a 1 [...]

The FADER turns 50 issues old


The FADER turns fifty . . . issues old that is. Started more as a project than a publication in the late 90s, The FADER has become a leading voice and go-to source for coverage and exposure of cutting edge, underground, and emerging indie, hip hop, and other artists, rounded out by features that set the pace for style and all-around cultural hipness. The magazine is now published eight times a year, and there's an expansive website and iTunes podcast. But, as the 50th issue webpage notes, the FADER has been and remains "dedicated to shining a light on —and providing a platform for— some of the most diverse and brilliant new talent on the planet . . . [our mission]: to capture and document emerging music and culture. Artists like Outkast, the Strokes, Kanye West, MIA, and the White Stripes are just a few household names that saw their first covers with the FADER."To celebrate, the entire 50th issue of the FADER has been made available for free download in interactive pdf format. Among the feature articles looking back over key moments of the past ten years are pieces on New York Rock ("Save Your City") focusing on Radio 4, the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yehas, etc; Atlanta Hip Hop ("Bottom of the Map"), featuring OutKast and more, New Club ("Last Night a Remix Saved My Life") focusing on Diplo / Hollertronix, and MIA; Soca, Reggaeton and island hip hop ("Postcards From the Ghetto Archipelago"), and Vinyl Archeology ("Birthmarks: Touchstones & Standards").Plus, there's a special podcast and mix tape available for free mp3 download. The mix (see track list below) celebrates some highlights and "anthems" in the FADER's ten year history.the FADER 50th issue mix track list:Animal Collective -- "Who Could Win a Rabbit?"Beenie Man -- "Dude (Panjabi Hit Squad Remix)"Mavado -- "Weh Dem A Do"The White Stripes -- "Hello Operator"Tego Calderon -- "El Abayarde"Dr. Dog -- "Adeline"Cat Power -- "Lived In Bars"Wolfman -- "For Lovers"The Stills -- "Still In Love Song"The Rapture -- "House Of Jealous Lovers"Gorillaz -- "Clint Eastwood (Ed Case Remix)"Outkast -- "Bombs Over Baghdad"Roll Deep -- "Heartache"ARE Weapons -- "Don't Be Scared"Dead Prez -- "Hell Yeah"Cam'ron -- "Killa Cam"Rick Ross -- "Hustlin'"Young Jeezy -- "My Hood"Swizz Beatz -- "It's Me Bitches"Terror Squad -- "Take You Home"R Kelly f. Akon & Sean Paul -- "Slow Wine (Remix)"Akon -- "I Can't Wait"NORE -- "Oye Mi Canto"Damian Marley -- "Welcome to Jamrock"Ladyhawk -- "My Old Jacknife"Bill Callahan -- "Sycamore"Lavender Diamond -- "You Broke My Heart"The Strokes -- "Hard To Explain"The Roots -- "Thought At Work (Original Version)"Kanye West -- "Celebration"ten years of the FADER -- from the free 50th issuedownload the entire 50th issue here and mp3 mix here -- both courtesy of the FADER.UPDATE: While were are on the subject of birthdays, Creative Commons turns five years old in December. To celebrate, they are holding parties in NYC and Berlin, with the primary bash in San Francisco on December 15. That event, sponsored by Mozilla and, will feature presentations by Joi Ito and Lawrence Lessig, creative commons founder and director of the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. There will be video remixing by Phi Phenomenon and music by Gilberto Gil and DJ Spooky (!) If you don't know Creative Commons (cc), it's a groundbreaking licensing method that provides a range of alternatives to copyright (c). Creative and scientific works with a cc license may be set for free use with a variety of restrictions, fostering creative and cooperative development stifled by draconian or outmoded [...]

Rob Swift: Ouvroir de Musique Potentielles (OuMuPo)


The Ablist: Turntablist Extraordinare Rob SwiftThere is no doubt that Rob Swift (X-Men, X-ecutioners) is one of the best turntablists on the planet (check the clips below and listen to him scratch along to Charlie Parker's "Cheers" and cut up the mighty Biz Marke). Rob's amazing dexterity and highly musical scratching are instantly recognizable, much in the same way that the "drunken trumpet" technique and sound is unmistakably Kid Koala.Unfortunately, I missed Rob when he was in Boston in May on the heels of the release of his DVD As the Tables Turn. As Scratch Magazine noted, the DVD is an "always engaging, intimate look at Rob Swift that mixes classic footage (90's DMC shots, the infamous X-ecutioners vs. Scratch Piklz battle) and new interviews." Check it out or purchase it from Rob's website.I did, however, pick up a copy of Rob's French release in Ici d'Ailleurs' OuMuPo series while I was in Paris last month. More on that below. But first a bit more on Swift for the uninitiated.Rob Swift started DJing with the turntablist supergroup X-ecutioners (originally the X-Men) in 1991, alongside Total Eclipse and the legendary Roc Raida. A year later Rob won the DMC East Coast Turntable Championship. But Swift started DJing as a preteen. Here's an excerpt from the Swift bio written by Doug Cohen on Rob's webpage, including an interview with Swift regarding his and upbringing and influences:Swift educated himself with the classic turntable beats of the early '80s New York playground pioneers while listening to funk and jazz at home. "My dad was a salsa and meringue DJ," Rob says. "My brother learned how to scratch and do all the hip hop deejaying stuff on my dad's equipment (without his permission) and I'd sit there and watch him. My older brother exposed me to all that," Swift notes. "All the stuff I create as a DJ is rooted in the songs that I heard from Bob James, Herbie Hancock and James Brown to Quincy Jones and old DJs like Grandmaster Flash and Grandwizard Theodore. That's where my roots are."In 1999 Swift released The Ablist, his phenomenal (and highly recommended) solo debut. AMG noted that The Ablist was "Swift's attempt to introduce the turntable as a virtuosic instrument capable of being played with the same feeling and skill as any other instrument," adding that it was "directly influenced by Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," an early melding of jazz and hip-hop." It's notable that DJ Logic released his own "turntablist as a jazz musician" debut, Project Logic in 1999, making it a watershed year for the resurgence of jazz infected hip hop -- at least from the perspective of the DJ. In 2001, Swift added scratches to Herbie Hancock's Future 2 Future album.In 2004, Swift was asked to contribute the second installment of French label Ici d'Ailleurs' OuMuPo series. OuMuPo is short for Ouvroir de Musique Potentielles -- workshop for potential musics. The concept stems from the literary movement Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (OuLiPo) initiated by French surrealists Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais in the 1960s.For the OuMuPo series, Ici d'Ailleurs asked leading DJs (DJ Krush and Kid Loco were featured in subsequent installments) to construct a continuous mix, looped end-to-end, that included a theme and used tracks or samples from at least six artists on Ici d'Ailleurs' O1O1 imprint. Swift's construction is an intoxicating mix of jazzy soundscapes, dark, brooding downtempo, and funky hip hop featuring French rapper Gravité Zero and mixes of 0101 electronic and experimental artists Madrid, Micro:Mega, I N Fused, and Bästard. Oh, a final requirement for the mix wa[...]

Thanksgiving Gospel . . . recycled


Goin' Up Yonder -- Gospel legend Walter HawkinsNOTE: I'm back from the dead (actually an unexpected series of interesting but all consuming work endeavors) and posting again. Thanks to the few folks who inquired as to the status of los amigos. Not hanging it up, just took a (forced, work-related) break.I'll be back this weekend with the long ago promised Rob Swift (French edition straight outa Paris). But first, here's a quick post before turkey day. Three years running, it's become a los amigos tradition to feature gospel on Thanksgiving. This post is basically recycled from two years ago. But I've added the incredibly sublime "Close to Him" from the Sons of Truth's 1972 gospel funk album A Message From the Ghetto. Enjoy. And Happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S. --mWalter Hawkins in 1972(no its not Billy Preston) Walter Hawkins' Goin' Up Yonder is my all-time favorite piece of gospel music. I don't really know a lot about gospel, but I do know a little bit about Hawkins, and Goin' Up Yonder in particular. Walter Hawkins is the younger brother of Edwin Hawkins, choirmaster of the Edwin Hawkins Singers that scored the smash pop gospel hit Oh Happy Day in 1969, from their album Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord. Originally a member of the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Walter formed his own choir in the early 70's and released Love Alive in 1975. The album included Goin' Up Yonder, sung by Walter's wife Tramaine Hawkins (who's now his ex-wife, per AMG).I fell in love with Goin' Up Yonder after repeatedly hearing it performed by Wantu Wazuri, the black gospel choir in my high school (don't snicker -- they were awesome) and it remains my favorite gospel piece to this day. So here it is.I've included a gospel funk track from the Sons of Truth's 1972 album A Message From the Ghetto, which was originally issued on Stax Records Gospel Truth imprint.Both of these track are "spine-tingly" as etno noted in the comments last year about Walther Hawkin's classic. No matter how many times I hear "Goin' Up Yonder," I still get that rush the first time the full choir kicks-in on the chorus. And hearing it / seeing it performed live, well . . .Hope all in the US survive the holiday and the tryptophan. Happy eating.Goin' Up Yonder -- Walter Hawkins: Love Alive (1975)Close To Him -- Sons of Truth: Message From the Ghetto (1972)Purchase The Sons of Truth's Message From the Ghetto from Stax Records. Purchase Love Alive from Artists Directp.s. oh, and speaking of not knowing all that much about gospel, I kinda feel like the dude in this hilarious onion article (which speaks for itself).. . . [...]

The Harlem Experiment (new from ropeadope)


I'm back from 2 weeks in Europe with a quick post. More this weekend, including a treat from Paris (French label Rob Swift release, hard to track down here). But first . . .Ropeadope Records will release The Harlem Experiment, the third album in its city homage series, on October 30th. Following on the heels of The Philadelphia Experiment (feat. Christian McBride, Uri Caine and the mighty ?uestlove -- probably los amigos favorite album of 2001), the Philadelphia Experiment Remixed album directed by King Britt, and The Detroit Experiment, ropeadope goes uptown.As the label notes, "The 'city experiment' albums are jazz-inspired collaborations by well-known local musicians who set out to capture the sound and spirit of their hometowns." Obviously, Harlem provides fertile ground for a city tribute. After previewing the album, I've already cleared a spot towards the top of los amigos "best albums of 2007" list.rodeadope **stand strong** recordsAccording to ropeadope, Harlem is the next logical step in the city series because "we look to Harlem as ground zero for all that is modern day 'American' music - whether you call it jazz, R&B, hip-hop or rock, all of it passed through the neighborhood's gates." Here's more about the forthcoming album from the roapeadope press release:The Harlem Experiment takes on the melting pot identity of Harlem, from the early Jewish enclaves to the epicenter of African-American culture to the Latin legacy of Spanish Harlem titans like Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri. [The album] includes jazz, funk and hip-hop. But the project also digs deep into Harlem's illustrious roots and gives shout-outs to the Jewish and Spanish communities that also helped to create one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world. It makes sense that Latin rhythms are laced throughout the jazz and hip-hop of tracks like "One For Jackie," and "It's Just Begun." It makes sense that the Klezmer style of Don Byron's clarinet transcends the playful jazz on "Reefer Man" and the funkified Yiddish folk song "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen."The musicians ropeadope brought together for the album (the "Harlem Experiment House Band") include Eddy Martinez (Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Run D.M.C.) on the keys, Steven Bernstein (Sex Mob) on trumpet, Steve Berrios on drums, Don Byron (!) on clarinet, Ruben Rodriguez (Tito Puente) on bass, and Carlos Alomar (David Bowie) on guitar. Guest artists and vocalists include Olu Dara, Taj Mahal, Queen Esther, and Larry Legend. The joint is produced by Aaron Levinson, creator of the great Spanish Harlem Orchestra.Here's a sample, courtesy of ropeadope records: the glorious, fat-beat bounce / chunky-funky clavinet crunch driven, trombone, horn, and synth punctuated romp "One for Jackie" by the Harlem Experiment house band.One For Jackie -- The Harlem Experiment (2007)And to further whet your appetite, here's the full album track listing:1. Intro2. One for Jackie (feat. the Harlem Experiment House Band)3. Rigor Mortis (feat. the Harlem Experiment House Band)4. Reefer Man (feat. Taj Mahal on vocals)5. Harlem River Drive (feat. Steven Bernstein on trumpet)6. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (feat. Don Byron on clarinet)7. Mums Interlude8. It's Just Begun (feat. Larry Legend on turntables)9. Mambo a la Savoy (feat. Carlos Alomar on guitar)10. A Rose in Spanish Harlem (feat. James Hunter on vocals & guitar)11. One For Malcolm (feat. Malcolm X samples)12. 'Lil Bit (feat. DJ Mums on the mic)13. Think (feat. Queen Esther on vocals)14. A Rose in Spanish Harlem15. Walking Through Harlem (feat. Olu Dara on vocals, guitar &[...]

Lightning Strikes (new Aceyalone)


Here's a quick post before I travel to Europe for 2 weeks (los amigos will thus be silent for the next 15 days).Aceyalone has a new album, Lightning Strikes, coming out on October 2nd. Decon Media (Aceyalone, RJD2, Dilated Peoples, DJ Z-Trip) sent out an advance, along with 2 (count 'em) tracks for posting and free downloading.AceyaloneAceyalone, a founding member of the the left coast's inventive Freestyle Fellowship, is kicking off a string of albums inspired by different genres of music. Of his new series, Acey says "I want to explore the world of music through hip-hop. I've got many more coming too, like a jazz, a funk, and a world music record."But for his first project, Acey goes to Jamaica. Which is a good place to start since the island's sound systems inspired Jamaican-born Kool Herc's DJ events in the mid-1970's Bronx and led to the birth of hip hop. As I've said before, it's hard to imagine hip hop without Jamaican sound systems and Tubby and Lee Perry's mid-1970's dub experiments.Lightning Strikes explores dancehall, dub, and reggae riddims. The resulting amalgamation of hip hop and dancehall, produced by LA's Bionik, is brilliant and intoxicating.Here's a taste, courtesy of Decon / Project Blowed. "Easy" features the mighty Chali2Na from Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. It's a fantastic track with a bouncing bass line and rhythm track that demands head nodding and body moving. The recurring "real, real, real, real" phrase, sung in a descending scale, is better than a hook. "Shango" features pounding drums, whistles, clanging percussion and dancehall chants. It's a party. Lightning Strikes will be rockin' my iPod as I make my way across the pond.Shango -- Aceyalone: Lightning Strikes (2007)Easy (feat. Chali2Na) -- Aceyalone: " . . . "Preorder Lightning Strikes from Underground Hip Hop. Or buy it direct from Decon once it's released. Release date: October 2nd.see you in 2+ weeks. cheers.. . . [...]

In A Silent Way (rip Joe Zawinul)


I Just found out that jazz legend Joe Zawinul passed away today. He was 75 and had been suffering from a rare form of skin cancer.I don't have time to post a full-fledged tribute now, but will try to flesh out a more robust memorial post in the next day or two if I have time (see update, below). At the very least, I'll point you to the best tributes that are sure to be written by folks like the guys at Destination: OUT, Darcy James Argue, my man etno, Jeff at Straight No Chaser, Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus) over at Do the Math, and perhaps Oliver over at Soul Sides (update: posting Weather Report's "American Tango" from Mysterious Traveller, Oliver notes that "Jazz purists hate Weather Report and their popularization of jazz fusion. Hip-hoppers (for a time at least) loved its mix of dissonance, rhythm and more moody loops than you could shake a stick at. Just listen to the song and try to count the number of different folks who've stolen snippets off it. Blows the mind").For now, allow me the indulgence of reflection on my tender youth. Along with Herbie Hancock's electronic jazz-funk circa Headhunters, Thrust, and Man Child and early Chick Corea / Return to Forever, Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorious and the rest of Weather Report were responsible for creating and nurturing my interest in love for and obsession with jazz as a kid in the 1970s. I can't even begin to tell you how important Weather Report's 1977 release Heavy Weather and Jaco Pastorius' 1976 debut albums were to my musical development. Weather Report and Herbie Hancock's jazz funk sent me exploring Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way. Both of those landmark albums --- which remain favorites to this day -- benefited tremendously from Zawinul's compositions, organ, and electric piano work.Damn. I can't believe he's gone.Front and back covers to Miles' Bitches BrewThere's even a Boston connection. Zawinul emigrated to the U.S. from Vienna in 1959 to study on scholarship at Berklee. And a hip hop connection, as Weather Report has been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest and many others.More later. Here's Joe's "In a Silent Way" from his 1971 eponymous release. It's not as well known and not quite as satisfying as the title track of Miles' release. But the power and beauty of Joe's composition come across just as strongly.In a Silent Way -- Joe Zawinul: Zawinul (1971)Rest easy, Joe. I'm sure you and Miles have some catching up to do.peace.UPDATE: As promised, I've linked to Zawinul tributes by the usual suspects, above. Darcy has a typically compelling write-up with his own reflections and a comprehensive round-up of blogosphere tribute posts.I'd originally planned on expanding this tribute but, given the kind words Darcy, Adam, and chmmr said about what I wrote above, I think I'll just let the above be what it be.I do want to share what a couple of friends said about Zawinul's influence on their lives. First, Ian over at Retrobabe notes :At a time in the early 80's when Punk had gone stale and bar a few exceptions the New Wave offered little but strange hairdo's, the music of Weather Report caught my mood to perfection and would lead me up musical paths I never new existed & in some ways still continues to do so, such was the effect the music of Joe Zawinul would have on me. I was fortunate to see Weather report live during one of their rare journeys to the North of the UK in 1980. The line-up I consider to be the classic Weather Report of Zawinul, Shorter, Pastorius & Erskine still ranks in my[...]

New Justin Timberlake Remixes


Justin Timberlake's LoveStoned/I Think She Knows Remixes Ep was released today on iTunes. And guess what, Zomba/Sony sent out the Kaskade Remix for posting / free downloading.Coming from Kaskade (Steppin' Out, Kaskade remix of Pussy Cat Doll's & Busta Rhymes Don't Cha, etc), it's a bit too straight up house for my taste. But it's got a good beat and you can dance to it. There's more hype around the Justice remix of "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows," which is worth the price of admission alone.LoveStoned/I Think She Knows (Kaskade remix) (2007)Here's the complete Ep Tracklist:1. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows [Radio Edit]2. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows [Justice Remix]3. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows [Tiesto Remix]4. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows [Kaskade Remix]5. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows [Roc Mafia Remix]Regular los amigos readers may recall that I like me my Justin Timberlake -- remixed or straight up. Saw JT and Timbaland (who doesn't like Timbaland?) in Beantown last February. They brought sexy back. It was a great show.** As I noted before, I wouldn't have purchased concert tix, truth be told, without a push from a friend, who was practically hyperventilating -- which she claims was only rapidly whispered speech to prevent co-workers overhearing (how embarrassing that!) -- as we made the decision to cough up the $$$ for seats that were rapidly selling out online to thirteen year olds as we were checking to see if there was an AARP discount.purchase the remix Ep here on iTunes. Or pick up the 12" vinyl remix single here from underground hip hop.p.s. "Hot damn. She's got me lovestoned."p.p.s. "I think that she knows.". . . [...]

Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8


los amigos loves Tuvan throat singingthis is almost too perfect. From The Onion, of course:Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8THE ONION | September 10, 2007 | Issue 43•37CHICAGO—Music, a mode of creative expression consisting of sound and silence expressed through time, was given a 6.8 out of 10 rating in an review published Monday on Pitchfork Media, a well-known music-criticism website.According to the review, authored by Pitchfork editor in chief Ryan Schreiber, the popular medium that predates the written word shows promise but nonetheless "leaves the listener wanting more.""Music's first offering, an eclectic, disparate, but mostly functional compendium of influences from 5000 B.C. to present day, hints that this trend's time may not only have fully arrived, but is already on the wane," Schreiber wrote. "If music has any chance of keeping our interest, it's going to have to move beyond the same palatable but predictable notes, meters, melodies, tonalities, atonalities, timbres, and harmonies."Schreiber's semi-favorable review, which begins in earnest after a six-paragraph preamble comprising a long list of baroquely rendered, seemingly unrelated anecdotes peppered with obscure references, summarizes music as a "solid but uninspired effort.""Coming in at an exhausting 7,000 years long, music is weighed down by a few too many mid- tempo tunes, most notably 'Liebesträume No. 3 in A flat' by Franz Liszt and 'Closing Time' by '90s alt-rock group Semisonic," Schreiber wrote. "In the end, though music can be brilliant at times, the whole medium comes off as derivative of Pavement."While Schreiber concedes that music is still "trying to find its aesthetic," he also claims the form has not yet lived up to the lavish praise heaped on it by pop culture journalist Chuck Klosterman and 19th-century French romantic composer and critic Hector Berlioz, among others.Schreiber concludes his critique by calling on music to develop a more cohesive sound in its future releases."We can only hope that [music] will begin to grow with its fans over the next few millennia," Schreiber said. "If it can stick to what it does well, namely the song 'Peg' by Steely Dan, and Tuvan throat singing, then a sophomore effort will indeed be something to get excited about."The review has split the music community, with many decrying Pitchfork's lukewarm reception of music as a contrarian move designed to propel the publication's tastemaker status."It's elitism for the sake of elitism," said Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke, who refuted Pitchfork's middling rating, describing the entire art form as "transcendent." "I've been listening to music for over 30 years, and it's consistently some of the best stuff out there."Despite music's defenders, the Pitchfork review has made a deep impression on the thousands of music fans who slavishly follow the website's advice when it comes to enjoying things."Music used to be great, but let's be honest, it's a 6.8 now at best," said Los Angeles resident Lowell Radler, 23, who admitted that he just looked at the rating rather than reading the whole review. "I seriously might never listen to music again."Still, most analysts agreed that the impact of Pitchfork's scathing review of music will be dampened by the 2.4 rating it received from Pitchfork staff writer Dave Maher just moments after the initial critique was published online. Maher termed Schreiber's assessment of music "overwrought, masturbatory posturing intended to mak[...]

New from Stones Throw: B-Ball Zombie War (2K8)


NBA 2K8 Soundtrack feat. Dilla, Madlib, MF Doom, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli & QuasimotoA year ago I did a preview post of the Dan the Automator produced soundtrack to the NBA 2K7 video game. That album featured a fantastic collection of rappers including Ghostface, E-40, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, and Aceyalone, plus a bonus treat in the form of an Automator remix of A Tribe Called Quest classic "Lyrics to Go." Check my 2K7 post here and a post on the Automator instrumental release of the album here.Well, a new year is on the horizon and Stones Throw has put together a soundtrack to the new version of the NBA game: 2K8. This time, Peanut Butter Wolf compiled the project, NBA 2K8: B-Ball Zombie War, which features another stellar line up including Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, and MF DOOM over beats by (los amigos favorite) J Dilla (rip), along with new tracks by Madlib, Guilty Simpson, Aloe Blacc, Koushik, and MED. A new Stones Throw artist, Karriem Riggins, is introdued, along with Madlib's new group the Supreme Team. The tracks are produced by Just Blaze, Madlib, Wolf, and, by provision of posthumous beats, J Dilla. The album and the game will be released October 2nd.Here's a taste of the forthcoming soundtrack: Guilty Simpson's "Make It Fast," featuring a rattling, bumping beat by Dilla, which Stones Throw just sent out as an advance copy tonight.Make It Fast -- Guilty Simpson: B-Ball Zombie War (2007)Here's the 2K8: B-Ball Zombie War entire Track Listing:01. SUPREME TEAM (MADLIB & KARRIEM RIGGINS) - See (Suite)02. MED - Break It Down03. GUILTY SIMPSON - Make It Fast04. J DILLA feat. Q-TIP & TALIB KWELI - Lightworking05. PERCEE P feat. J.ROCC - Legendary Lyricist Pt. 206. J.ROCC - Super Sound07. MADLIB - The Wigflip08. J DILLA feat. MF DOOM & GUILTY SIMPSON - Mash’s Revenge09. OH NO - Action (Rap Version)10. BEAT KONDUCTA - Trouble11. QUASIMOTO - Hydrant Game (Jaylib Remix)12. ALOE BLACC - Find A Way13. DAM-FUNK - Sidewayz14. BARON ZEN - Electronic (Koushik Remix)15. JAMES PANTS - Ka$h (Peanut Butter Wolf Remix)16. NIKO & DJ BABU - Now You Know17. KOUSHIK - Basketball Beat18. ARABIAN PRINCE - Professor X Saga19. JONATHON BROWN - Bass Creator’s Groove20. CX KIDTRONIK feat. TCHAKA DIALLO - Big Girl, Skinny GirlEach track produced by the artist, except #2 produced by Just Blaze, #3, 7, 11 produced by J Dilla, #5 produced by Madlib, #14 produced by Koushik, #15 produced by Peanut Butter Wolf.A 2K8 tour is in the works for November and will feature a "Stones Throw showcase" including Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, and J Rocc. In the meantime, Common, Q-Tip and Percee P are on tour now. Check 'em out when they drop by your hometown:Common, Q-Tip and Percee P -- TOUR DATES:9/22 - Milwaukee, WI at The Rave9/24 - Toronto, ON at Kool Haus9/25 - Philadelphia, PA at Electric Factory9/27 - Charlotte, NC at Amos’ Southend9/28 - Greensboro, NC at N Club9/29 - Myrtle Bch, SC at House of Blues9/30 - Orlando, FL at House of Blues10/1 - Atlanta, GA at Center Stage10/3 - Baltimore, MD at Sonar10/6 - Worcester, MA at The Palladium10/7 - NYC at Nokia Theatre10/8 - Norfolk, VA at NorvaPreorder NBA 2K8: B-Ball Zombie War from Underground Hip Hop. Release date: October 2, 2007.Get your Zombie B-Ball game on.. . . [...]

"This Ain't No Disco" (rip Hilly Kristal)


Hilly Kristal at CBGB (photo: wikipedia)Well, I return from vacation only to find it's time for yet another memorial tribute post. Hilly Kristal, who founded legendary punk and post-punk club CBGB & OMFUG in New York's Bowery, died Tuesday, following on the heels of Max Roach's death and Tony Wilson's passing. Kristal was just as important to the mid '70s punk, and late '70s - mid '80s post-punk, art rock, and punk-funk scene in NYC and the US as Tony Wilson was to the late '70s post-punk, and late '80s - early '90s Madchester and rave scene in Manchester and the UK. They both owned and operated clubs at the epicenter of musical movements that had profound and lasting impacts, influencing the past 30 years of music history.After managing the Village Vanguard, Hilly Kristal opened a club in the Bowery in 1973 with the intention of featuring country, bluegrass, and blues, along with "other music for uplifting gormandizers," (hence club name CBGB & OMFUG). That plan was permanently sidetracked a year or two later after Tom Verlain, Richard Hell, and Richard Lloyd talked Kristal into letting their new band Television start a residency at CBGB. The Ramones soon joined Television as regular performers. The cult following that formed around Television and Ramones' gigs established CBGB as the nucleus of New York's growing punk scene. Talking Heads, the Patti Smith Group, and Blondie also became regular performers and leaders of New York's punk and post-punk movement.CBGB's role as home base for that movement was furthered by Kristal's decision to focus on new bands performing original compositions. As Hilly notes in his history of CBGBs, posted on the CBGB & OMFUG website:No club would let you play original rock and roll unless you had a recording contract. There were so many bands around that could only practice in their lofts and basements. They had not many places to play in public. So I decided not only to have rock bands and let them play their own music, I made it policy that the only way to play CBGB was to perform only your own music. That seemed to turn things around and soon bands were flocking to CBGB so they could do their own thing. It was quite an experience. Musicians literally came out of the woodwork. We even started to develop fans and regular paying customers who hung out to see and hear what was going on.Below are a few sample tracks from key bands in CBGB's late '70s and early '80s post-punk scene. The lead-off track, "See No Evil," from Television's very highly regarded 1977 debut Marque Moon is included. As AMG puts it, "Television were one of the most creative bands to emerge from New York's punk scene of the mid-'70s, creating an influential new guitar vocabulary. While guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd liked to jam, they didn't follow the accepted rock structures for improvisation -- they removed the blues while retaining the raw energy of garage rock, adding complex, lyrical solo lines that recalled both jazz and rock. With its angular rhythms and fluid leads, Television's music always went in unconventional directions, laying the groundwork for many of the guitar-based post-punk pop groups of the late '70s and '80s."It's difficult to pick a couple Ramones tracks, but I've thrown in their cover of "Little Bit O' Soul" from 1983's Subterranean Jungle and the appropriately titled "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" from 1977's Rocket to Russisa, the [...]