Tuesday, October 21, 2014

R.I.P. John Holt

Reggae music lost another one of its true greats over the weekend with the death of John Holt.

Holt was the lead vocalist and a formidable wordsmith for The Paragons in the Sixties – writing many hits, including ‘The Tide Is High’, which eventually became a monster smash for Blondie.

He then went on to enjoy a relatively successful solo career, and became respected for his many cover versions as much as he was for recordings of his own original material.

Holt died in London after a short illness, some reports suggest he was 69, others say 67, and after checking with Wiki and applying some basic math - using fingers - I'm inclined to go with the latter.

Here’s my favourite Holt moment, ‘Ali Baba’ …

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gig Review: The Selecter at Bodega, Wellington, 10 October 2014

I went to see The Selecter at Bodega in Wellington last weekend, and while it won’t rate as the best gig I’ve seen all year, it was certainly one to help restore my otherwise ragged faith in the concept of the "nostalgia circuit".

Fronted by originals Pauline Black and Arthur 'Gaps' Hendrickson, The Selecter offered the not-quite-sold-out venue a highly polished performance; the band was professional, tight, and as sharp as ever. There were new (ish) songs near the end, but for the most part the gig was all about giving the punters exactly what they came to see – old stuff from the Too Much Pressure album, and other tunes from the band's 1979-1981 pomp.

And so we took a trip back in time, from ‘Three Minute Hero’ second song in, to ‘Missing Words’, ‘Black and Blue’, ‘Celebrate the Bullet’, a superb ‘Train To Skaville’ cover, plus many others, right on through to stand-outs ‘James Bond’ and ‘On My Radio’, which closed the set after more than an hour of whirlwind energy. We then got another 20 minutes in the form of an encore, which included ‘Too Much Pressure’, the ubiquitous title track from the album we were there to celebrate the 35th anniversary of.

Pretty darned impressive, recommended even.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Frankie's Run Down To Philly

As I’ve been doing the Bandcamp download links thing a little bit lately, and since I’ve also started noting the passing of a few musical heroes (I’m all euphoria and light, me), I thought I may as well send some love the way of Frankie Knuckles, another lost earlier this year. I haven’t seen this about very much elsewhere, but it’s a cool funky-arse tribute to the House Music God himself, by a guy called Phil Pagan, and I’m loving it right now … grab it, free etc blah:

Minuit - Happy

Fresh from splitting up, here’s a um, new release, from Wellington indietronica giants Minuit … available as a Bandcamp name-your-price download … as is the Serpico remix, which is arguably better than the original mix (both below):

This song has been lost for nine years, sung on the Rode on the road while touring 'The 88'. It never made it to any of the albums, and now it has come back to us. But we don't need it anymore. You can have it, it's yours.

“You always said that the memory, is better than the reality, I don't care just come back for me.

Things are lost the most before they're found, the memory of never seeing you around, he doesn't know that I'm happy.

He says he sees the way to get me on my knees. He said he'd make her pay, but she'd do it for free. He doesn't know that I'm happy.”

Released 07 October 2014

Album Review: J.Bird Taylor – The EP (2014)

Wellington artist J.Bird Taylor certainly can't be faulted for any lack of commitment, drive, or passion. Taylor’s been around the traps for more than a decade now, having released two previous EP-length albums, touring regularly, and fronting various bands as a lead vocalist. Yet she’s never really broken through or crossed the mainstream radar to any great extent. But her drive and her passion compel her to keep fronting up, and she’s back again, pushing the boundaries on release number three, a mini-album simply called The EP.

The release consists of seven tracks on one disc, plus an additional four-clip DVD containing some older video material. As a package it’s professional and impressive, with each disc showcasing Taylor’s unique take on 80’s-inspired theatrical rock. Some of this is experimental and almost genre-less, with shades of Nina Hagen at one end of the spectrum, and rather more low key or conventional acoustic forms at the other.

The EP probably won’t appeal to everyone, and some of the production feels as though its not all it could be, with Taylor’s vocal seemingly a little lost in the mix at times. A few of these tracks would definitely translate a lot better in a live setting, and the clips highlighted on the DVD would tend to confirm as much. Taylor’s art at its best is clearly just as much about the visual as it is about the aural, and as a two-disc set, The EP provides for a good overview of her talents.

(an edited version of this review appeared in the August/September edition of NZ Musician magazine)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From the Doctor to the DMC - the rise of Wellington clubland in the 80s

I wrote a little bit about the AudioCulture website when it was first launched back in June 2013. Since then the "noisy library" has taken on a life of its own to become an incredible resource. Not only is it archiving information about all of the key bands, people, and events that make up the rich and vibrant history of music and pop culture in New Zealand, it's also digging deeper to look at some of the more regional and peripheral scenes. The sort of pre-internet era stuff that is otherwise in danger of falling between the cracks. And that's where history nuts like me come in.

Having already documented (for the blog) the strange phenomenon that was the early Eighties nightclubbing scene in little old Palmerston North - a blogpost that is fast closing in on 4,000 individual page hits (go figure) - I always intended to do something similar to cover off the Wellington scene of the same era (having moved to the capital mid decade). An approach from AudioCulture to do just that was the proverbial rocket I needed to get the project beyond the "great idea" stage and turn it into something rather more tangible - safe in the knowledge that anything published on AudioCulture will reach a far bigger readership than the blog itself can attract.

One of the main problems with attempting to provide an overview of events - a full decade's worth - all these years on is that stuff gets missed. Or gets lost in the mist. Important stuff. And everyone who was there at the time will recall things differently. For the AudioCulture piece, which amounted to some 4000 words, I stopped short of interviewing key personalities within the scene. Had I decided to colour in the framework and source quotes, I would have ended up with a book, or at least 30,000 words. So it reads as one man's perspective only and I left out far more than I was able to include - for a variety of reasons. Anyway, have a read (link below) or just enjoy some photos and flyers ...

Monday, October 13, 2014

R.I.P. Style Scott

Another week, another musical hero gone …

Now we’ve lost Lincoln ‘Style’ Scott, better known simply as Style Scott, drummer and riddim guru extraordinaire.
Having emerged in the Seventies as a key member of the legendary Roots Radics, one of Jamaica’s most prominent backing bands, Scott worked alongside many of the greats of Jamaican music over the course of his life. I think his best work was reserved for Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label, as the driving force (with Sherwood) behind Creation Rebel and Dub Syndicate, who provided so many great riddims for the likes of Prince Far I, Bim Sherman, and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, among many others. Scott also operated his own label, Lion & Roots.

Details of his death are sketchy at present, reports coming out of Jamaica suggest the 58-year-old was murdered at his home.

Going way back, here’s a tune from the missing channel, ‘Geoffrey Boycott’ …

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Friends Electronic

Here’s something from Auckland group Friends Electronic – released back in June, it’s a fresh take on a very old New Zealand pop classic, and another name-your-price Bandcamp download …

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Civilian Sol - When Tomorrow Comes

More name-your-price local goodness from Bandcamp. This time from Wanaka-based producer Civilian Sol (aka Danny Fairley), and the When Tomorrow Comes album, which was released a month or so ago. The album comes to us via Austin TX-based Gravitas Recordings and has a seriously good dub-hoppy electro-soul vibe, combining state-of-the-art bedroom studio wizardry with real instrumentation and luscious production. The end result is hard to resist – a soundtrack for those upcoming warm summer evenings, or for any northern hemisphere readers, a pocket full of warm fuzzies to help fend off the winter chill …

Also check out (separately) Civilian Sol’s own Bandcamp page here.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Here Comes Alice ...

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But only if it’s done well.

Not content with using the name of one of The Jesus And Mary Chain’s best tunes for their band name, Tauranga-based Here Comes Alice also successfully manage to ape TJAMC’s signature sound. In a very good way.

Check out the Bandcamp links below for a couple of name-your-price downloads of Here Comes Alice flattering the bejesus out of TJAMC with layers of melodic feedback, reverb, fuzzy guitar, and wrist-slitting vocals ... just released in August:

Friday, October 3, 2014

R.I.P. The Spaceape

Regular readers of everythingsgonegreen will be aware of the blog’s fascination with all things Hyperdub, and it was sad this week to read about the death of The Spaceape (aka Stephen Samuel Gordon), who died on Thursday after a five-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

As a Hyperdub original (since 2004), The Spaceape has long been one of my favourite vocalists, and his work with label founder Kode9 is right up there with the very best Hyperdub output. In fact, it ranks alongside the best any-label “bass music” produced in the past decade.

The 2011 collaboration between Kode9 and The Spaceape, Black Sun, was one of this blog’s most loved albums of its year, and I’m still very much looking forward to the arrival of the pair’s latest effort, The Killing Season EP, which is due for release later this month.
R.I.P. The Spaceape … here’s ‘The Devil Is A Liar’ from that forthcoming EP:

And from a few years back, a spooky version of The Specials’ Ghost Town ….

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bass Culture Players - Foundation EP

I can’t let this one pass without blogging about it. On a few occasions now I’ve used everythingsgonegreen to highlight some of the exceptional dub and roots music coming out of mainland Europe, and this name-your-price Bandcamp release is yet another prime example of that.

Bass Culture Players is a collective of dub devotees operating out of Madrid, Spain, and the Foundation EP contains four top notch tracks, plus a (dub) version for each. It features several different vocalists and the music itself is an infectious blend of classic roots and contemporary dub.
It’s difficult to identify a favourite track on the EP but I have to say that Payoh Soul Rebel’s vocal on opener ‘Forgiveness’ is a stand-out, and his voice sounds a little bit like the perfect hybrid of Lee Perry and Bob Marley himself.

Truly wonderful stuff.

The Foundation EP was released last week, grab a copy by clicking on the link below:
Bass Culture Players – Foundation EP on Bandcamp