Archive for January, 2009

That Monkey Is Wearing the Emperor’s Clothes!

Posted in Music on January 31, 2009 by trapperKeeper

gentleman

Fela Kuti’s Gentlemen (1973) is an Afrobeat magnum opus, so it makes the cut for Dancng Shoes Saturday. I got on a big Afrobeat kick in college. It wasn’t a far jump from James Brown and P-Funk to Fela Kuti. All three create dense funky grooves with a heavy emphasis on the percussive and counter-rhythms. All three channel chaos into a groove, allowing instruments to simultaneously play individually and collectively. In short, it’s unkut democracy expressed sonically. Unlike most other forms of music, funk emphasizes the one and the all, recognizing that every sound, no matter how minimal, is equally important. Whereas in rock music, it is often the lead singer and lead guitarist who are the front and center, or the emphasis on the singer in soul groups.

In fact, the congruence between the three funk groups was more than a coincidence of the Zeitgeist. In fact, Fela’s afrobeat army met James Brown’s funky gang. Even before meeting Fela was already on his way to developing afrobeat, a fusion of high-life, jazz and funk rhythm; however, James Brown’s political songs, especially exhortations to get involved, added another degree of depth to the soul funky. ‘Afro-beat’ was used because of the combination of African styles, but also as partly as a critique of African performers whom Fela felt had abandoned their African musical roots in order to follow current American pop music trends. This was related to the rising black nationalism, Fela was influenced by, along with P-Funk and James Brown, and many others.

As Fela was influenced by this movement, and by James Brown pushing the boundaries of soul music, Fela merged the political to the dance. Fela pushed against the boundaries in his own country, Nigeria, which was run by the military. The result was increased, often violent, government repression, including a raid of his compound that killed his mother. His music progressively mixed politics and propulsive, funky grooves. Fela’s introduction to the black power movement occurred during his band’s first trip to the United States in 1969. He met Sandra Isidore, a member of the Black Panther Party at a gig in New York. Becoming lovers, she introduced him to the work of Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X and persuaded him to write ‘conscious’ lyrics.

James Brown singing passionate singing style had impacted Geraldo Pino of Sierra Leone, who promoted JB and his band while touring around Africa. Geraldo influenced Fela with his deep groove and success.

Just as Fela was influenced by James Brown, James Brown was influenced by his experience in Lagos. Bootsy recalled, ‘[Fela] had a club in Lagos, and we came to the club and they were treating us like kings. We were telling them they’re the funkiest cats we ever heard in our life. I mean, this is the James Brown band , but we were totally wiped out! That was one trip I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.’ Brown took some notes while he was there sending his arranger David Matthews to check out Tony Allen. In an interview, Allen stated, ‘He (David Matthews) watches the movement of my legs and the movement of my hands, and he starts writing down … They picked a lot from Fela when they came to Nigeria. It’s like both of them sort of influenced each other. Fela got influenced in America, James Brown got the influence in Africa.’

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Save Us from the Cratered Economy Boognish!

Posted in Music on January 30, 2009 by trapperKeeper

ween

Ween is definately freaky and nasty, so they get a turn today on this friday. Ween’s Craters of the Sac was released only as a MP3 download. It was leaked by Dean Ween in 1999 as a gift to the fans. Composed of random unreleased songs, it is a compilation rather than an album. Different versions of “Big Fat Fuck,” “How High Can You Fly?” and “Monique the Freak” appear on 2005’s Shinola.

“All That’s Gold Will Turn to Black” is frenetic and noisy.

Short, and as overtly political as I have heard Ween seems to be channeling Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on “The Pawns of War.” The drum beat echoes the military theme.

“Big Fat Fuck” goes on for a long time, but then again this is a semi-official release so some rawness is to be expected and, even, welcomed. A reggae bass holds it down so guitars can rage on the latter half of the track. I love the lurching quality to the beat.

80’s metal excess is tapped on the hilarious “Put the Coke on My Dick.” Ween is good for many reasons, including their ability to be raw while holding a groove. Ween knows how to swing, the key to having a dynamic, danceable sound.

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Spreading the Word Armed with Rifles Loaded with the Good News

Posted in Art, Photos on January 29, 2009 by trapperKeeper

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Here are some more images I made in photoshop. I love the armed Jesus one best.

Must Hear LP Thursday: Beware Funk Ahead

Posted in Music, zombies on January 29, 2009 by trapperKeeper

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http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,484326,00.html

Some pranksters in Austin, TX had zombies on the brain when they decided to have some fun.  On Must Hear Long Play Thursday, Brass Construction’s self-titled debut dance funk classic.  Beware a throbbing bea(s)t lurks.

Brass Construction formed in Brooklyn, NY in 1968 when Randy Mueller joined up with some classmates.  Mueller was born and raised, until 1963 when his family moved to New York, in British Guyana where he played in steel bands.  He formed the Dynamic Soul with fellow high school students, including several others born in the Caribbean.  The band consisted of Wayne Parris, Michael Grudge, Joseph-Arthur Wong, Wade Williamston, Sandy Billups, Morris Price, Larry Payton, Jesse Ward, and Michael “Micky” Grudge.  In 1973, the group became Brass Construction.  By this point they had harnessed a blend of African, Caribbean, and American influences to create a potent pulsating dance beat.  Becoming the house band for Dock, Muller spread his talents liberally.  Brass Construction finally got their own record deal in 1975 on UA, which released Brass Construction in 1976.

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http://www.divshare.com/download/6434782-9f9

Opening strong with “Movin,'” which was a huge hit reaching number one R&B and number fourteen pop.  The throbbing beat is accentuated with punchy horns, strings, and high end synthesizer work.  Dubbed “Movin'” because the beat suggests moving, the groove does impel body parts to move.

“Peekin'” is a hilarious song about peeking at a girl.  While it may be sexist, or even creepy, in some respects, the chorus is also uproarious.

Brass Construction also charted with “Changin,'” which peaked at number twenty four R&B.  Their formula is pretty apparent by this point, but the grooves hold and the sound is rich.

“Love” is about you guessed it, love.  It is a real nice song with an appropriate warm sound.  The spiraling strings around the 2:30 mark lead to sustained plateau.  More cowbell!

“Talkin'” gets a bit sociopolitical.  The flute gets a chance to solo as well.

Commanding you to “Dance,” the band lays down another funky groove to close the record.  Complete with the fake crowd noise, the groove moves efficiently and infinitely.  It doesn’t end, only the recording does.  As an added bonus, the guitar gets dirty.

Brass Construction quickly fell to the disco bug.  Certainly, the sound disco mixed down is present on BC’s first album; however, the instruments play whole musical statements.  Thus, BC’s first release has the deep groove. Disco is the light groove, and the group’s future albums found them increasingly turning to this light side.  A good many number of funk/soul groups had dynamite initial releases, but struggled on subsequent ones.  It makes sense considering the fact that many of the groups go into the first album or few with material hammered out in front of audiences.  Thus, the songs had time to develop.  Once the back material is gone though many groups could come up with a hit or two, but could never generate enough good material for a whole album.  The rise of disco as a record-selling genre contributed to the demise due to the lure of dollars with even James Brown and P-Funk jumped aboard the disco train.  But, as I stated before, Brass Construction’s debut release is the unkut funk.  Enjoy.

Moog Meanderings (Who’s Got the Oxy Remix)

Posted in Music, politics on January 28, 2009 by trapperKeeper

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Following politics is fascinating, hilarious, spirit-crushing, absurd study of diction, action and hypocrisy. Here are two stories that had me smiling.

Leading off, the “brilliant” Bob Woodward, a master of self-serving journalism, is predicting future scandal for the Obama White House. What a ballsy prognostication. A politician tainted by scandal? Who would have ever thought. Pretty galling commentary from a man who ignored most Bush-era scandals. He can’t jeopardize his access.  Even more hilarious is the fact that Woodward will be able to create a scandal if he is due to the news’ media junkie crave for scandal. Fox news is already pulling them out of the air.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/26/woodward-suggests-future_n_160832.html

Meanwhile, prominent GOP members try to outdo each other for who’s the biggest dbag. Georgia congressman Phil Gingrey was critical of Rush Limbaugh the other day asking him to “back off”. Today, the spineless politician apologized to Rush on his radio program. Props to Alex Grayson, a freshman congressman from Florida, for having the gumption to maintain his stand against Rush. He said, “Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention. His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism. Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we’d all need pain killers.” I have no idea what the guys’ politics are otherwise, but props on this at least.

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/28/phil-gingrey-gop-congress_n_161964.html

Anyways, today is got to get over the hump day. Here are some tunes for escaping the Congress has their hands on our money blues.  Dick Hyman’s Moog – The Electric Eclectics Of Dick Hyman is a magical, wondrous journey through the electronic universe of the Moog, which was then a recently introduced synthesizer. A legendary electronic album, Hyman’s skills and sense of humor is evident.  Mixing jazz, pop, avant-garde and space-age electronics Dick Hyman showed the world what the Moog was capable of.

“The Moog and Me” is the best of the jazz-pop numbers.  “Four Duets in Odd Meter” is the most annoying sounding number.  “Minotaur” became the first Moog-based song to break the Billboard top 40.  Epic in length, as it should be for it is titled after a Greek myth, Dick truly explores the dark corridors of the Labyrinth on “Minotaur.”  Half-man, half-bull, all-beast.  Dick improvises an escape into space on the next few numbers before showing a gentler side on “Evening Thoughts”, on which the sound of crashing waves is replicated.  Getting funky on “Give It up or Turn It Loose”, made famous by James Brown.  The world’s first electro-funk?  Dick makes the tune his own with synthesizer antics.  This song, along with the final two, are bonus tracks from Hyman’s next release Age of Electronicus.  “Kolumbo” is long and jarring.  It reminded me a lot of Apocolypse Now.  “Time is Tight” is a Booker T & the M.G.s cover that is not nearly as interesting as the Moog take on James Brown.

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http://www.divshare.com/download/6429420-387

Here is the down low on Dick Hyman from allmusic.

A very versatile virtuoso, Dick Hyman once recorded an album on which he played “A Child Is Born” in the styles of 11 different pianists, from Scott Joplin to Cecil Taylor. Hyman can clearly play anything he wants to, and since the ’70s, he has mostly concentrated on pre-bop swing and stride styles. Hyman worked with Red Norvo (1949-1950) and Benny Goodman (1950), and then spent much of the 1950s and ’60s as a studio musician. He appears on the one known sound film of Charlie Parker (Hot House from 1952); recorded honky tonk under pseudonyms; played organ and early synthesizers in addition to piano; was Arthur Godfrey’s music director (1959-1962); collaborated with Leonard Feather on some History of Jazz concerts (doubling on clarinet), and even performed rock and free jazz; but all of this was a prelude to his later work. In the 1970s, Hyman played with the New York Jazz Repertory Company, formed the Perfect Jazz Repertory Quintet (1976), and started writing soundtracks for Woody Allen films. He has recorded frequently during the past several decades (sometimes in duets with Ruby Braff) for Concord, Music Masters, and Reference, among other labels, and ranks at the top of the classic jazz field.

Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday (Standing on the Verge of Getting It On)

Posted in Art, Music, P-Funk, politics on January 26, 2009 by trapperKeeper

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Happy Parliafunkadelicment Thangday! The world keeps on turning as economies keep on burning. Iceland’s government became the first government to declare bankruptcy after recently being the economic envy of the world. This is only the beginning of the fall that will hopefully see mankind renewed and freed from the oppressive, degrading shackles of the “free market” and the unfettered salacious rapacity. Funkadelic’s Standing on the Verge of Getting It On is a perfect album for these times of change. Better know how to surf or suffer.

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There is nothing harder to stop than an idea whose time has come to pass

Standing on the Verge of Getting It On was released in 1974 under the Funkadelic moniker, and for a good reason. Funkadelic peddled the heavy heroin sound. Well, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On is a guitar-powered record. Eddie Hazel co-wrote every song on the album under the alias of Grace Cook, his mother’s name. Thus, Standing on the Verge has a funk-rock sound with a little bit of soul mixed in. As important as Eddie was to the guitar sound, the polyester soul-powered token white devil, Ron Bykowski, and Gary Shider strummed some strings as well.

The three guitar players were only a few of the many musicians to contribute to this album while simultaneously working on the Parliament’s Up for the Downstroke (1974). The core Funkadelic band of Bernie (keys), Boogie (bass), and Tiki (drms) were joined with by the Parliaments. A few other musicians, including long-time funkateer Ty Lampkin, also contributed.

Opening with a rock’n’roll funk blast “Red Hot Mama” Eddie Hazel (ld gtr), doubling as a vocalist, and the Polack (rhy gtr), hold down the guitar duties. An update on an old Parliaments’ song, “Red Hot Mama” is thoroughly unwashed funkadelica. Beginning with a double soliloquy, which echoes the theme of “Maggot Brain”, “Red Hot Mama” is smoking. “Maggot Brain” is much more solemn in comparison to “Red Hot Mama”. Eddie combusts over a throbbing groove. Sweet funky produce!

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Freaky Friday (I See Fire in the Dead Man’s Eyes)

Posted in Art, Music, Photos on January 23, 2009 by trapperKeeper

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On this freaknastay friday, I come with the real deal. An allegedly authentic field recording of a voodoo ceremony. Aptly titled, the raw, unkut Voodoo Ceremony in Haiti (1974) is a strictly percussion and vocal affair.  Recorded by Maurice Bitter, who was responsible for many field recordings and historical anthropology books.  “Nago Rhythms” is particularly eerie.  The spirit is being summoned.  On “Invocation To ‘Papa Legba'” it appears as the drums pound more frantically. The appearance is celebrated on “Dahomey-Maize-Diouba Rhythms,” which has a lighter tone.

You can kinda picture the ewoks dancing to this after defeating the empire. Voodoo Ceremony in Haiti is not an album you will find yourself listening to often.  It works better as ethnomusicological document, which was the actual purpose of the recording, than an musical record.  While I would go for Exuma’s work over this album 99% of the time, Voodoo Ceremony in Haiti is still worth a listen.

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Here is the track listing:

1 Voodoo Drums
2 Nibo Rhythms (1:19)
3 Prayer To Shango
4 Petro Rhythms
5 Nago Rhythms
6 Invocation To Papa Legba
7 Dahomey Rhythms “The Paul’L” / Maize Rhythm / Diouba Rhythm “Cousin Zaca”

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http://www.divshare.com/download/6382412-417

I hadn’t messed around in photoshop in a while, so I sat down last night to explore the kaleidoscope angle with some more photos.  Not all photos are created equal for kaleidoscoping.

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