Thursday, April 27, 2006

power pop masterclass vol. 1

What is Power pop? The Beatles translated through a transatlantic accent? Pop music but a bit more raucous? I don't really know without consulting Wiki but to me most artists tarred with the Power pop brush combine the melody and structure of Pop with the urgency of Rock. Whatever it is, I like it and Yanks seem to do it best. Let's Active's 'Every word means no' starts with a crisp guitar riff, two snare beats and you're in, Mitch Easter gives us the chorus within 30 seconds, textbook!

Let's Active- Every word means no

Jason Falkner turns up on loads of other people's records, including Fab Maccas. He is a powerpop wunderkind and multi-instrumentalist. 'Follow Me' is fuzz-toned pop majesty in action.

Jason Falkner- Follow Me

One artist that Jason Falkner has worked with a lot is Jack White's current sidekick in The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson. His second album 'Lapalco' is a real treat for anyone who grins daftly when their chorus and middle eight come when they most expect it.

Brendan Benson- Folk Singer

Whether this stuff can really fill The Beatle's boots is debatable....alright it doesn't but they seem to be having fun trying.

Buy 'Cypress/Afoot' by Let's Active

Buy 'Lapalco' by Brendan Benson

Buy 'Author Unknown' by Jason Falkner

Visit Brendan Benson and Jason Falkner

Saturday, April 22, 2006

just say yes...

The scene opens with the camera close-up on a pair of French windows, as two pairs of sneaker-clad feet approach... As the doors slide open, the camera pans upwards to the faces of FERRIS and CAMERON; both have looks of faint wonderment...

CAMERON: (Respectfully) The 1961 Ferrari GT California... less than a hundred were made... My father spent 3 years restoring this car... it is his love, it is his passion...

FERRIS: (Interrupting) It is his fault he didn't lock the garage!

Yello - Oh Yeah

For a long time this and The Race were all I really new of Yello. I have to say that I liked both songs, and their "unconventional" image certainly intrigued me, but they remained something of a mystery. That was until the reissue of their first 6 albums late last year. Oh Yeah! I really don't know what took me so long, as they tick so many of the "Jim music" boxes.

I'll dispense with the history lesson, as that can be found elsewhere. To simply describe their music as "dance" or "electronic" does Yello a great disservice; it is both of these things, and much more besides.

Their first album, "Solid Pleasure" (1980), is a fun-packed art pop adventure. At this point, the line up still included guitarist Carlos Peron alongside the recognisable moustaches of Boris Blank and Dieter Meier. For me, it makes the album sonically more ecclectic than later releases. That isn't to say that later records aren't worthy of attention. They are. For me though, Yello's thirst for experimentation and comic swagger on "Solid Pleasure" make it something special...

Here's a taster:

Yello - Night Flanger

Yello - Bananas To The Beat

Oh yeah.

Buy - Yello remasters.
Visit - the official Yello site.

Friday, April 21, 2006

mc black'n'decker

Released in 1989 on Def Jam, "The Cactus Album" by 3rd Bass is a great example of post-De-la-Soul hip hop.

I always wondered why "Sons of 3rd Bass" was so down on the Beastie Boys. According to Wikipedia, it wasn't just that 3rd Bass signed to Def Jam shortly after the Beasties had acrimoniously ditched the label. Apparently, prior to joining 3rd Bass, MC Serch auditioned for the Beasties, too.

3rd Bass - Sons of 3rd Bass

The Beastie Boys got their own back on their track "Professor Booty". Lines like "dancing around like you think you're Janet Jackson" were targeted at MC Serch, who if I remember rightly, had a touch of the MC Hammer's about his dancing. He also had a thing for excessively baggy trousers, too.

3rd Bass - Product of the Environment

"The Cactus Album" features production from Sam Sever, Prince Paul, and the Bomb Squad - even if the rhymes might seem a bit dated, it still sounds great to me. They followed it up with "Derelicts of Dialect", which I know Jim is a big fan of.

This is for 'coryt' who left a comment in the post domino rally hot 100 requesting this great track, which was originally posted last May. It's a pleasure!

Gary Byrd & The GB Experience (feat. Stevie Wonder) - The Crown

Read my sparkling prose in the original post here.

See Domino Rally installments 001-100 and 101-202 and see if there's anything else you'd like us to resurrect!

Buy - The Cactus Album (import)
Visit - 3rd Bass on Wikipedia
Visit - 3rd Bass fansite

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the earworm vs. the internal ipod

Franco Godi - "Mr Rossi" theme (aka Viva Happiness)

This is a song that gets heavy rotation in my brain. I don’t know why but I find myself singing it at random times. It’s a great song.

Mr Rossi was on British TV in the mid-to-late 80s (I think), the work of the Italian artist Bruno Bozzetto. Go to his website and watch a few cartoons. The ones online are surprisingly dark and surreal, compared to my memories of the show Mr Rossi Looks for Happiness, which usually involved Mr Rossi going on a random adventure with his soppy dog Harold (Gastone in the original version). Mr Rossi is currently the face of the German National Lottery.

The Internal iPod is very different to the phenomenon of the Earworm, from the German Ohrwurm, a term that applies to a song that gets stuck in your head, usually an annoying one. "Viva Happiness" is a song that I happily chose to put on my internal player!

Visit - Bruno Bozzetto
Visit - German Mr Rossi fan site
Visit - the EarWorm on Wikipedia
Buy - Mr Rossi soundtrack

Friday, April 14, 2006

Gooba gooba gooba gooba

Since my dear brother finally came round last weekend to show me how to turn vinyl into mp3’s I have been carefully considering doing this post. I’ve been adding to this blogg thing (on and off) for a while now, so I feel I can trust you, whoever you are. The time has come to share with you one of my deepest joys. This is not just a record ‘I quite like’; these are quite simply some of the most treasured sounds I have at my disposal. For example...

Don’t You Just Know It - Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and The Clowns

Well ok, actually I am in a particularly weird mood due to this crappy virus I can’t shake off but this is a record that has seen me through some tough times, including this one. It’s called ‘A History of New Orleans Rhythm and Blues (Volume1 1950-1958)’, put out by Rhino Records in 1987. I guess some of, if not all of the songs on it can now be obtained on compilation cd’s if you look hard enough. Folks used to love this stuff, and man, I can understand why.

Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and his Clowns certainly do the job for me on that last track, but if I’m in a particularly bad way I may need to turn to this little blast of joy...

Feels So Good - Shirley and Lee

So, can anyone actually tell me what is going on with Shirley’s voice there? It sounds simultaneously sharp AND flat to me. I used to have a theory that Shirley must have been going out with someone really important to get this gig; and suppose you could feel a little sorry for Lee. However it turns out that Shirley’s career endured right up to the disco age, so there you go.

Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry was a bona fide one hit wonder with this next one. He is still playing live regularly in New Orleans where he lives to this day. His home was damaged by Katrina but he was not injured.

On occasions when I really am not worth talking to and I’m neck deep in self pity and introspection, all two minutes and fourteen seconds of this track, more often than not, provide a chink of light to run towards. It stupid, but it’s brilliant...

Ain’t Got No Home - Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry

Really hope you like this stuff!

Buy the best of Clarence “Frogman’ Henry

Read about people who have real problems, not just some bloke who is feeling a bit under the weather



stevedominio - "welcome back, brother!

glorious selection - these are all fantastic. wasn't the clarence 'frogman' henry used in 'the lost boys'? that makes it great on two levels! beautiful.

these have an uncanny knack to fill you with good vibes. if you don't like these, you truly are a joyless f**ker."

london lee - "Shirley recorded the disco-funk classic "Shame Shame Shame" under the name Shirley & Company."

marc-o - "I will join in with the mutual back slapping, great stuff. Even Amazulu couldn't make a mess of 'Don't you just know it'."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the drifter

How do you choose your favourite Sonic Youth album? You obviously can't pick a GEFFEN release. And the Blast First albums just seem a bit obvious - "Daydream Nation"? Come on! And, y'know, no-one likes the first album, really. But you can't say "Kill Yr Idols" - that looks like you're trying too hard. And what are the other options? The SYR releases? "The Silver Sessions"? "Sonic Death"? Decisions, decisions...

Actually, I like something from all of the above. But "Confusion is Sex" has a special place in my heart. Pretty much all SY releases have moments have greatness but they can sometimes sound like they came out of nowhere, from another world - the guitars on "Confusion..." are very much of this world, raking up the muck and plonking it directly in your ears.

Sonic Youth - The World Looks Red

I also love the vaguely sixth-form-poetry nature of the lyrics - "People with fish eyes / The ground sucks / Walk on my fingertips, displacing the fog...". Lyrics on "The World Looks Red" are by Michael Gira of Swans-fame, so we shouldn't be too surprised. But hey! The guitars are the thing - I've always loved that they're so raw and (*journo word warning*) visceral. You can hear that the band are doing battle with equipment that's on the verge of total shutdown.

Sonic Youth - Shaking Hell

The sessions for "Confusion..." were legendarily disorganised. Whole tapes were wiped by accidents with magnets, one tape had cola liberally poured over it. The chosen take for "Shaking Hell" was lost, so the final master was copied from a cassette dub.

Both of these mp3s are ripped from my vinyl which sounds super-in-your-face and melded together. The current CD version of the album really overeggs the 'lo-fi' nature of the master tapes - the version of "Shaking Hell" practically uses tape-hiss as an extra instrument and other tracks sound weirdly dislocated and distant.

Sonic Youth have just released their eponymous debut on CD, remastered with all manner of groovy extras. I really hope that they do the same with "Confusion is Sex" as it deserves better than it currently gets in it's shiny-beermat state. Hunt down a vinyl copy if you can.

Buy - "Confusion is Sex"
Visit -
Visit - Sonic Youth illustrated equipment guide


from the original comments

Anonymous - "I could never get into Confusion, must admit I sold it a few years ago - but EVOL is in my humble opinion hands-down the greatest thing they ever put out. Dreamy and atmospheric without being overblown, abrasive without raising hackles... rock and roll greatness, pure and simple.

marc-o -  "Never really got it, still don't really get it, it all seems so 'studied' to me. Enjoyed the gear list tho'."

stevedomino - "weirdly, in my opinion one of the strengths of "confusion..." is the fact that it seems really UN-studied - it's more punk rock than their other albums. to me, it just sounds like a band kicking out the (weird / disjointed / spiky / angular) jams.

i will say that, as someone who at the time was just starting to play the guitar, it was pretty liberating to see how far you could go with basic equipment, with regards to making interesting noises.

but hey, each to their own!"

oxbow - "Daydream Nation does it for me - but it's great to hear these again. Marc, please explain what you mean by 'studied'. I am not catching your drift.

The gear list is amazin'"

stevedomino - "sorry marc-o... 'contrived'? 'schtick'? you posted tracks by the dukes of bloody stratosphear! at least sonic youth ARE from a new york art school background, you little monkey"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

the stalin of pop

Here in Domino-land we are generally at ease with our musical past, I'm sure there are things we rather were heard than others but generally it's all out there, hence 'The Shithouse Masters'.

Bobby Gillespie is obviously a little less comfortable with his recording history. In the recent Primal Scream 'Best Of' there was no evidence that the 'Scream had once been a Byrds and Love fixated band of sixties freaks. Their early singles and that 'difficult' first album 'Sonic Flower Groove' are usually dismissed as too fey but their behaviour and intentions at that time were anything but. Sugar-coated, sure but poisonous in intent. Perhaps Gillespie took the criticism to heart... a shame when you have a Rickenbacker 12 played as well as on this....

Primal Scream- Sonic Sister Love

The band just didn't have the chops to realise the sound they were after so several producers including Stephen Street and Langer and Winstanley had a go at cooking a decent 60's influenced guitar record out of them. Stolen master tapes and multiple band member sackings all probably made it a miserable experience for all concerned, maybe this is the reason why Gillespie has purged it. The Stone Roses took the template and made it a cohesive reality on their debut album. I have a big soft spot for 'Sonic Flower Groove', it doesn't hang together, side two is weak and the vocals are very hit and miss but for me 'Imperial' really flies, it has a real celtic lilt and the fade out rocks.

Primal Scream- Imperial

What were they thinking with that cover photo?

Buy 'Sonic Flower Groove' here

Visit Primal Scream

Monday, April 03, 2006

fair's fair

Ilkeston's Charter Fair dates from 1252 and is among the largest and oldest street fairs in Europe. Every year, children consume their body-weight in candy floss, toffee apples and chips before mounting a dizzying array of increasingly jerky rides (egg wheel, cakewalk, waltzer, dodgems, etc). I took the above picture there the other year.

But regardless of all that, is it really wise to offer this track as a prize in a shooting gallery??

Kim Fowley – The Trip

Our good friend Dicky Rock won this when he was but a wee lad. When he got rid of his turntable my brother and I adopted this single. If ever there was a case for a person being the real-life inspiration for Lorenzo St. DuBois (from Mel Brooks’ The Producers) this must be it.

I love the attempts at being "far out"- lyrics about "purple cats and emerald rats". There's even "pictures hanging upside down". Wow. Groovy, etc.

Kim Fowley - Beautiful People

How you feel about the b-side will depend on how you feel about poorly-tuned acoustic guitars. I always preferred this track - I especially love the bit at 1:35 where his voice audibly gropes for the key.

Visit -
Read - about Kim Fowley on Wikipedia
Buy - Impossible But True: The Kim Fowley Story