Archive for June, 2008

30
Jun
08

FM – Original Soundtrack Recording

So, like two years back, I got hired to DJ a charity event.

I had never done a charity event, but I was relieved to discover that my services would be paid for at well over my going rate for a gig.  It was for a school and they were having a dinner and an auction to raise money…which was something I support so it was all good.

I talked with the lady who was in charge about what kind of music she wanted, and the only response I got was “Eclectic…you know…like KCRW.” (for the non Angeleno readers…KCRW is the big independent station in town that has NPR on for most of the day and plays some really awesome tunes at night.)  I listen to KCRW, so I figured I had it pegged.

Since I wasn’t there to get people to dance I was free to explore what I usually call “mingling music.” This is good music that people can enjoy and talk over at the same time.  Drew and I had done a nice mixtape of downtempo beats that I felt would be perfect, so a week before the gig I sent it to the lady in charge to see what she thought.

She was not pleased.

“What is this?!?!  This won’t work!  I told you I wanted KCRW type music!!!”

“Everything on there has been on KCRW” I told her.

“But I wanted rock…indie rock!”

“Well, all you told me was KCRW…they do play a lot of different music.”

“But I need indie rock!!!  I designed the whole evening around it!!! This is going to ruin the event!!!”

At this point I figured she was being a little more melodramatic than was necessary.  If people were there for dinner and cocktails I don’t think they were going to freak out if The Faint wasn’t playing.  I told her not to worry, and that I would come up with something that would please a crowd of hip middle aged parents.

I went with soft rock.

Why?  Because I believe soft rock is the new heavy metal.  And you know what?

I killed it.

People went ape shit for it…and most of my set was built around the soundtracks to “The Virgin Suicides” and “FM.”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never seen “FM”…and as far as I know it’s not even on DVD.  From what I can gather, the story involves a group of groovy DJs who hijack the radio station in protest over the new management’s rules.

But none of that matters.

What matters is that this collection is a hell of a line up…a virtual who’s who of seventies rock: Steely Dan, Boz Skaggs, Bob Seger, Steve Miller, Tom Petty, Foreigner, Boston, Billy Joel and James Taylor just to name a few.  But the song selection keeps it on the softer side like Tom Petty’s ‘Breakdown’ or Steely Dan’s title track ‘FM,’ which I don’t believe was released anywhere else.

Another real standout is a live Linda Ronstadt show where she covers the Stones ‘Tumbling Dice’ to perfection. (below) I don’t think this is available on any of her albums either.

Some of the tracks like Steve Miller’s ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ are radio edits…shorter than the originals.  But they did throw in the full length version of Joe Walsh’s ‘Life’s Been Good to Me.’

Until 2000, this wasn’t even available on CD, and to be honest you could probably put the soundtrack together yourself with access to any classic rock station or just off the individual albums. But that’s not the point.

The point is it stands on it’s own. And if you want to save the time and effort, just pick this up for your next road trip

$15 on Amazon!

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25
Jun
08

Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics – Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop

Ok, so De La Soul was a no brainer.

I feel like I have to throw those ones in from time to time because they are albums you need to own.

But my real reason for writing this blog was to introduce the casual listener to things they don’t know about, which brings us to today’s selection, the seminal 1992 work from Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics: “Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop”

Many people who know a little about hip hop can name at least one Diamond D song…his production credits are a mile long and include work on A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory,” The Fugeee’s “The Score” and Mos Def’s “Black on Both Sides” just to name a few.  But few know about how awesome this album is.

Seriously.

Joseph “Diamond D” Kirkland was born and raised in the Bronx, where he got ito the hip hop scene at an early age DJing for Jazzy Jay and the Zulu Nation before forming Ultimate Force and releasing tracks on the Cold Chillin Label.

In 1992, however the group disbanded and Diamond began assembling a new crew D.I.T.C.(Diggin in the Crates) when he recorded and released the underground showcase album “Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop.” Not only are Diamond’s beats totally on point, but he displays a previously unknown gift for the rhyme as well. But what also sets the album apart are the guest stars.  This was one of the first places the world would hear Big L (RIP) and Fat Joe before they became big name stars.

(SIDE NOTE: At the time, Fat Joe was a neighborhood dealer when he made it known he wanted to trade in his dealing shoes for a microphone.  Diamond was not not impressed until Joe won the rap battle at The Apollo four weeks in a row!  Word!)

Other notable contributors were Showbiz, AG and The Beatnuts as well as production by Mark the 2600 King, Large Professor and Q Tip.  It contains such notable hits as ‘Sally Got a One Track Mind’ and ‘Best Kept Secret’ as well as lesser known hits like ‘I went for Mine’ and my personal favorite ‘Yo, That’s That Shit.’  This is the kind of album that makes you smack the side of your head and ask “How did I miss this?!?”

Yet, for all the talent and quality it remained an underground hit only. It was only released on cassette and CD at the time, with only a hand full of promo vinyl being pressed.  Said vinyl was going for big bucks until a few years ago when it was finally reissued.

But if you like your hip hop raw and uncut, and you somehow got this far without knowing, go get some of this.

And tell em DJ Tim sent ya.

$10 Cd and a $9 download!

Bargain!

24
Jun
08

De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising

You know what?  Looking back at the golden age of hip hop just makes me ever more aware of how much hip hop sucks in 2008.  I check the stores and the charts all the time as part of my daily DJ chores, and aside from a smattering of singles here and there…there really isn’t much going on.

It’s disgraceful.

Sure, there’s still some good noise being made in the indie hip hop underground (Atmosphere take a bow!)  but when was the last time a really big album hit?  2005???  Compare that to the early nineties when an amazing album full of hip hop dropped almost every month.  And not just an album with a good single or two, but with an assload of singles…and a bunch of tracks that weren’t singles but you loved anyways because they fucking rocked.

I’m beginning to think the hip hop era is coming to a close.

Maybe it’s time is up…maybe it’s time for a new popular genre to rise up and take over, or maybe the time for that is over too.  Maybe with all the internets and media sources out there, there isn’t room for a single dominant force any longer.

Which is too bad because I really love hip hop.

Especially when it is so undeniably fun and frenetic as De La Soul’s “3 Feet High and Rising.”

Listening to the album for the first time was like being shot out of a cannon into a pool of Jello, nerf balls and confetti.  I was freaking out to my walkman, desperate to show someone, anyone what I had found.  Because what I found seemed almost too good to be true.

Formed in high school, the trio of Posdanus, Maceo, and Trugoy (AKA:Plug One, Plug Two and Plug Three) hit paydirt when their demo of ‘Plug Tunin’ found it’s way to producer Price Paul’s (Plug Four) hands.  Together they helped form the base of the Native Tongue Posse that included The Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, and later on Monie Love, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah and Chi Ali.

The Native tongues pretty much paved the way for new style of hip hop for the 1990’s …influencing fashion and lyrical style for years to come. But, I digress.

“3 Feet High and Rising” stands as an excellent companion to the Beastie Boy’s “Paul’s Boutique” for it’s innovative use of sampling.  It was also one of the last albums made before the sampling hammer came down on hip hop, forever changing the art.  Released in 1989, it showed and exuberance that few albums can match even to this day.  Even the group itself in all it’s varied forms has yet to top this effort.

But the day glow look and loose hippy feel would haunt the group for years as they felt they had been misunderstood and mislabeled as “hippies.” The D.A.I.S.Y. Age (DA Inner Sound Y’all) as they called it, would be short lived…but would thrive while it lasted.

Full of awesome hits like ‘Me, Myself and I,'(see below) the Steely Dan sampling ‘Eye Know’ or ‘Say No  Go’…even the misses feel like hits.  And Prince Paul’s skits were copied for, like a decade on numerous albums.  Why can’t people make shit this good anymore?

I blame Little Wayne.

In fact, I would like to take this chance to personally appeal to the boys of De La…If you’re listening, bring back Price Paul!!!  The streets are hungry for it!!!

Supa cheap off Amazon!

20
Jun
08

Kansas City – Original Soundtrack

You know who was my favorite badass?

Pablo Picasso.

Not only was he an amazing artist who created his own style, but he came up with one of the biggest pimp moves I’ve ever heard of.  Near the end of his life, when he was already internationally famous and nailing women who were a quarter of his age, he stopped using money to pay for things.

Pablo would head out shopping and just bring a sketch pad and some charcoal.  Everyone in his town knew who he was, so when he walked into a store he would simply pick out what he wanted and go to the manager, or cashier or whomever was in charge at the time and say something like:

“I could pay you for this in cash, but would you take a sketch instead?”

From what I’ve read, no one refused.  Why would they?  They’ll cover the guys groceries, and in return they get a signed original Picasso sketch that will someday be worth thousands of dollars.  Good deal! In fact, a lot of stores started requesting the sketches in lieu of payment.

Just imagine taking a girl on a date to an expensive restaurant, finishing a huge meal with lots of great wine and the restaurant manger comes to your table and asks if you could pay with a sketch.  The deal is pretty much sealed right there.

Another great historical pimp move came when Robert Altman made “Kansas City” in 1995.  If you’ve seen the film, I’m sure you’ll agree that the 1930’s era gangster film was mediocre at best.  Especially for an Altman film.  But what sets the film apart, was the music.

Altman was born in Kansas City and had a lifelong love of jazz, and while I can’t prove it, I wholeheartedly believe Altman made this film as a cover for making this album.

What a pimp.

Basically they recreated the Hey Hey Club, as it was in the 30’s.  They brought in the best sound guys in the business to mic the place correctly to get that authentic sound, and then they brought in the musicians.  Man did they bring em in!  You get a virtual who’s who of jazz in one room.  Guys like Joshua Redman, Geri Allen, Kevin Mahogany and Cyrus Chestnet all get their jam on in what can only be described as the most awesome way ever.  They also brought in an enthusiastic full audience, shouting out encouragement and cheers throughout the set.  Essentially this recording grabs the listener and tosses them back in time to a place that doesn’t exist anymore.

I don’t know of very many albums that succeed in doing this.

Filled with hits of the era from the likes of Count Basie (‘Blues in the Dark’) and Bennie Moten (‘Moten Swing’ as you will hear below), this is a must have for anyone who likes the swinging sound of Kansas City jazz.  Or just jazz in general.

It’s the pimp move.

17
Jun
08

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – ST

One of the best things about digging is finding new things. Sometimes these are good things…sometimes these are strange things, but they’re always new and they’re always out there.  Take the other day for example.

DJ Andrew and myself were sifting through the stacks at one of our spots, assaulting the 45 section from opposite ends when I found a cardboard record from the 1940’s.  Back in the day they would print out promotional pieces like this and insert them into magazines.  This one was for the Norelco electric razor and was aptly titled “Music to Shave By.”

I was immediately struck by the realization that I had no music to shave too, and since the record featured Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, I had to buy it.

I can now say in all honesty that you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Louis Armstrong sing ‘Baby, I’ll shave myself for you!’

Awesome…and mildly creepy.

One of the best surprises I had in the last few years though was the discovery of the internet phenomena: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.  You gotta love any band who sold 20,000 copies of their first album over the internet with out the benefit of a major label.  The first pressing sold out and they were forced to press up more.

Formed at Connecticut College and based in Brooklyn, CYHSY made their name and their fame mostly through enthusiastic responses from MP3 Bloggers and other denizens of the internets before getting some Hot List Action from Rolling Stone Magazine.  But all statistics aside, this is a great band pure and simple. Drawing inspiration from such artists as David Byrne and Jonathan Richmond, the band plays it fast and loose with their production…riding almost completely on the sheer energy of their songs.

And it works too.

The only downside to the album is that you can barely understand what front man Alec Ounsworth is singing.  And the thing is…you want to understand.  You want more.

The group recently release their second album “Some Loud Thunder,” that while different from the first is just as good and they seem to be slowly building in maturity and depth as they head toward the future.  They may not be the second coming, but they sure do sound good.

Amazon!

13
Jun
08

Peter Framton – Frampton Comes Alive!

There was a time, back when I was little Tim, when there wasn’t a soul around who didn’t know the name of Peter Frampton, or his seminal live album “Frampton Comes Alive!”

Seriously…I think it was a requirement for the seventies that you had to own it.  Maybe by government mandate. And it made sense too, because this album definitely rocks in a way that makes me compare every live performance I’ve ever seen against it.

“They were good…but not “Framton Comes Alive!” good.

It’s not just the music that’s great either.  The crowd and the energy they captured on the recording simply doesn’t occur that often.  Seriously, back in San Mateo where I was driving forklifts in college, the warehouse manager told us stories of going to this show and being deaf for a week after.

That’s how loud the crowd was.

But more surprising then how fucking awesome this album is, is how little people know about who Peter Frampton is. Hell, he’s almost become like a musical punchline…because aside from this album, no one seems to know what else he’s ever done.

Born in England, Frampton went to the Bromley Technical same school as David Bowie, where Framton’s dad was an art teacher.  David and Peter even hung out at lunch and play songs.  By age eleven he was in  a band called The Trubeats, followed by The Preachers who were produced by The Stone’s Bill Wyman.

BY 1966 he was singer and lead guitarist for The Herd and scored a series of teenybopper hits in the UK.  In 1969, an 18 year old Frampton joined up with Steve Mariott of The Small Faces and formed Humble Pie.  By then he was already an established and respected musician in the UK scene, recording sessions for artists like Jerry lee Lewis, while performing on albums like John Entwistle’s “Whistle Rhymes” and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.” In fact, it was during a session with George that Frampton was introduced to the talk box which would soon help form his signature sound.

After making five Humble Pie albums, Frampton went solo in 1971, but his early albums achieved only minimal commercial success, despite his frequent touring. But all that changes in 1976 when he released “Frampton Comes Alive!”

Recorded mostly at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, with other pieces recorded in Long Island, the album includes a slew of surefire hits like ‘Show Me The Way,’ “Baby I Love Your Way’ and my personal favorite “Do You feel Like We Do?’  It was the top selling album of 1976 and stayed on the charts for years, still getting plenty of airplay 30 years later.

Why?  Because it’s the bomb!

You don’t go six times double platinum for nothing! He got invited to the White House, got the cover of Rolling Stone, and got a starring movie roll!

Unfortunately, that movie was the Bee Gee’s ill conceived “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning of the end.  But rather than dwell on the failure, let us focus on the triumph of another of the greatest live albums of our time.

And if you want to focus on failure, check out my new book “How to Blow a 24 Point Lead” by DJ Tim and The Los Angeles Lakers.

10
Jun
08

Neil Diamond – Hot August Night

Although it was not an event that was repeated at any other time in my youth, in 1979 my parents took me to my first concert.

It was Neil Diamond on The Jazz Singer tour.

While I don’t remember much of the concert itself, I do remember forcing my Mom to play the cassette over and over again whenever she drove me someplace. So I guess you could say I’ve been a Neil Diamond fan for most of my life…minus those four Diamond-less years at the very beginning.

Neil began his career in the early sixties, but found no real success until his compositions (I’m a Believer, Love to Love) were picked up and recorded by The Monkees.  Contrary to popular belief, Diamond did not write the songs for The Monkees, but their versions were released before his own.  This deal did begin to get him recognized as a songwriter as well as a singer and musician.

After a few years with the Bang label, honing his skills on tunes like ‘Cherry Cherry’ and ‘Kentucky Woman,’ Neil wanted to branch off and do something new.  After finding a loophole in his contract he tried to jump ship only to get tied up for a few years in the ensuing legal troubles that would not be fully resolved until 1977.

He signed with MCA in 1969 and moved to Los Angeles where his sound changed.  He began cranking out new hits after his year or so off the radar…hit’s like ‘Cracklin Rosie,’ the ode to Caroline Kennedy ‘Sweet Caroline’ and the country tinged ‘Song Sung Blue.’

Neil was on a roll.

Then, in 1972, he played a string of ten sold out shows at the Los Angeles Greek Theatre.

TEN SOLD OUT SHOWS!

I defy you to find another artist that will play ten shows in a row, let alone sell them all out. So, on Thursday August 24th they recorded the show that would become “Hot August Nights.”  Coming to the stage with a renewed energy and showmanship, Diamond is at his peak here as he runs through his new material and his back catalogue.  All in a denim jumpsuit.  (I’ve never personally worn a jumpsuit…but I feel safe in assuming they don’t breath too well.)  The album did really well here in the states, but amazingly well in Australia where it was a top twenty chart hit all the way into the 80’s.

Filled withsuperb sound quality and a song selection that starts withone of the best orchestral intros ever and ends with a massive ‘Soolaimon’ that jams into “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,’ (hear it below!)it’s a collection that just doesn’t miss.  They have a new extended version out now with even more hits on it as well, but the older version holds up just fine.

Neil later recorded a follow up in 1977 called “Love at The Greek,” but it’s not as good and he sing’s a duet with the Fonz (I shit you not.)

Best Live Album ever?  Maybe.

Best Live Neil Diamond album…definitely!

Amazon!




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