Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Double Dee & Steinski - The Ultimate Lessons

These guys started it all. DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Girl Talk, The Avalanches, and countless others can all trace their style back to the original mash-up artists Double Dee and Steinski.

It begins with a 1983 contest held by Tommy Boy Records. Participants were asked to remix the single Play That Beat, Mr. DJ by G.L.O.B.E and Whiz Kid, and in addition to a small monetary prize, the winner received some air time and free promotion by Tommy Boy.

The entry submitted by Double Dee and Steinski was composed of sound clips and samples not only from contemporary funk and disco, but also from older sources like Little Richard and the Supremes. Their entry, titled Lesson 1 - The Payoff Mix, won first place. This launched their career (though they still remain relatively unknown), and prompted many sequels and derivative works.

Although the album was never commercially released due to copyright issues, bootleg copies have been passed around for the last 25 years. The album posted here, The Ultimate Lessons contains the three original Double Dee and Steinski mixes, as well as several more recent recordings they inspired.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Burt Bacharach - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

WARNING--This album may be a danger to your health. Potential dangers include: chapped and/or bloody lips due to incessant whistling, fainting from lack of food/water due to uncontrollable humming, and song-stuck-in-head related insanity. Please take the proper precautions and only engage in responsible listening.

My first draft of this post included lines like "if you like the movie, you'll love this soundtrack," and "if you haven't seen this movie yet, move it to the top of your Netflix queue." But I scrapped them when I remembered this is not a movie blog, and I don't care if you see the movie or not. But you need to give this soundtrack a chance.

Although every track is highly enjoyable, South American Getaway is far and away the most memorable song, and it is the one that will have you wishing for some peace and quiet inside your head. This is not a standard soundtrack in a modern sense--there are only a few instrumentals and very little 'theme music.' Instead there are a bunch of catchy pop songs written by Burt Bacharach at the peak of his career. There are three version of 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' although one would've probably been enough. The other five tracks are jazzy, western sounding jingles that, unfortunately, are overshadowed by South American Getaway.

As a whole, you probably won't listen to the entire album on a daily basis. But, if you are like me, you will be compelled listen to South American Getaway on repeat for the better part of a month.

Link is here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Love - Forever Changes

Ranked #40 in Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time, Forever Changes is arguably among the most important albums of the 1960s. This is quite a statement, especially when you consider all the genre defining albums of the decade. But Love was responsible for more than just a genre--they are credited with turning Elektra into a rock label, getting The Doors signed, and giving Jimi Hendrix his first experience in a recording studio.

Love, front man Arthur Lee saw Hendrix as a backup guitarist for the Isley Brothers and asked him to play on a song he had written for Rosa Lee Brooks. This is possibly Hendrix's first vinyl recording, and his first known recording session. Later, Love became Jim Morrison's favorite band, and it was Arthur Lee who first introduced him to Jac Holzman and Ahmet Ertugen of Elektra.

What makes
Love's tracks so unique is the incredible mixture of sounds and styles they employ. On Forever Changes you will hear folk guitar, blues riffs, horn sections, and violins. However, none of the songs are ever overdone, and everything fits together perfectly. Some of the tracks have a very Spanish sound seamlessly blended with the sounds of American rock.

Links are here and here (2 parts), and as an added bonus, here is their January 2003 Forever Changes concert video: part1, part2, part3, part4, part5, part6, part7.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist - The Hard Sell

The Hard Sell is right--as a person who usually finds any release by this duo sensational, I am not blown away by this project. The Hard Sell lacks the impeccable chemistry and air tight timing of some of their earlier collaborations, and the result is messy and haphazard.

This is not to say that there are no moments of greatness--there certainly are. However, in this hour of mash ups I've found no more than 20 minutes of excellence, and unfortunately these minutes are not consecutive.

Their technique hasn't changed much: old soul and interesting sound bytes are mixed with elements of modern hip-hop. This has worked for them before; Product Placement and Brainfreeze are enjoyable from beginning to end. But The Hard Sell just falls short. Many of the sound bytes feel out of place, and some of them are just downright disruptive. I could tolerate this if the music felt natural. Unfortunately, much of it feels forced and destroys the rhythm of the album.

As I read through this review it sounds pretty damn negative, perhaps too much so. As I mentioned, it does have its moments, and any DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist fan should at least give it a chance. They are two talented individuals, and I will approach anything they release down the road with an open mind. However, in my playlists, The Hard Sell isn't ever going to make as many appearances as their other projects.

Anyway, here's the link.

Marc Mundy - Marc Mundy

What better way to start things off than with an album that no one seems to like but me. Well, that's not true--Marc Mundy does have a surprisingly large following. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't quite large enough to prevent total despair and a move back to his native Cyprus to live in mediocrity as a high school teacher.

The original album was released in 1971, when Mundy was 23 years old. Only 500 copies were pressed, and less were sold. However, the quality of the music eventually permeated the consciousness of collector Paul Major, and in 2006 the album was reissued on CD by Companion. Major wrote "You'll have a hard time finding another LP compare with this combination of feeling of and sounds." I'm not quite sure what that means, but I couldn't agree more.

Mundy's poor grasp of the English language (on this album at least), adds humorous undertones to the music (if you are immature enough to find that kind of thing funny). However, this is album's merits do not come from its novelty. The music is, I hesitate to say, incredibly compelling, and the lyrics portray sincere heartache. Fortunately, the cheesy angst is overshadowed by the hilarious accent.

So, here it is, the first entry to Listen To My blog.

Listen To My Blog

Do you care what I am listening to right now? Probably not, but if you do you can find it here. The only thing I enjoy more than music is pushing my musical tendencies on others.. so here you will find whatever it is I currently am interested in.

And if no one comes, at least whenever I'm unable to access my own music library, I can still come here and subject people to my music.

Now--LISTEN TO MY BLOG bitches.