Disco needs you -Chic and Donna Summer

In their 1992 40th birthday issue, NME commented that Chic’s single ‘Good Times’ had an effect on artists as diverse as Public Enemy and Queen. That would have been claim enough for any band, but given just how fantatsic the tracks are, it may also be something of an understatement. The Smiths’ Johnny Marr claimed them as a major influence, and Orange Juice were initially derided for having the cheek to say that they wanted to mix Chic with The Velvet Underground. (Considering how influential Orange juice continue to be today, I think we know who had the last laugh). Formed by guitarist Bernard Edwards and bassist Nile Rodgers in 1976, Chic are arguably just as influential as Kraftwerk on Hip-Hop and Dance culture over the last thirty years.

In terms of Hip-Hop and the Public Enemy influence, the first Hip-Hop track, The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ used Good Times as its’ basis (as did Coolio in 1995 on ‘1-2-3-4 (Sumpin’ New)’). Whatever you make of Queen, their biggest selling single worldwide was not ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ which showed that Chic was a huge influence on bass player John Deacon. As Hip-Hop culture evolved and Grandmaster Flash’s ‘Adventures Of Flash On The Wheels Of Steel’ set the tone for cut and paste hip-hop, ‘Good Times’ featured prominently there too. As did ‘Rapture’ by Blondie, which is as much a tribute to Chic (who would go on to produce Debbie Harry’s solo debut Koo Koo) as the rappers and DJ’s namechecked in the song.

And after the band split in the early eighties, the production skills of Edwards and Rodgers were in demand by many. They had wisely turned down the chance to produce Aretha Franklin’s disco album, but they worked with Diana Ross producing hits like ‘Upside Down’ and ‘I’m Coming Out’, produced David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Duran Duran’s Notorious and perhaps most famously, Madonna’s Like A Virgin. Even allowing for Madoona’s utter determination to get to the top, it’s quite unlikely that she would have done it without their help.

Of course, Disco came from other areas too. Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ was produced by Germany’s Giorgio Moroder. Released in 1977, this track can still slay dancefloors today, more than thirty years after its release, and its’ influence can be tracked in many areas. Put it this way, without ‘I Feel Love,’ New Order’s Blue Monday would have sounded hugely different (and might not have got beyond that rough demo sound that you hear in 24 Hour Party People).

Not everyone loved Disco, especially people who were uncomfortable with the blacks and gays associated with the scene. A ‘Disco Demolition Night’ got wildly out of control, and the ‘Disco Sucks’ phrase was common amongst rock fans by the late seventies. Interestingly, about this time in the UK, Wah! Frontman Pete Wylie coined the phrase ‘Rockist’ which sneered at those obssessed with Rock.

Punk and Disco’s relationship was uneasy. Some punks sneered at it, but there were points where it mixed, most famously Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass.’ The No-Wavers in New York incorporated it into their sound -for example, James Chance knowing that it would annoy hardcore punk fans. The Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra, however, likened Disco to the Cabaret music of Weimar Germany, for its escapism and apathy towards government policy.

But maybe records don’t always need to be overtly political to get their point across. Sometimes actions really do speak louder than words.

Chic -‘Good Times 12″.’ mp3

Chic -‘Le Freak 12″.’ mp3

Chic -‘I Want Your Love 12″.’ mp3

Donna Summer -‘I Feel Love 12″.’ mp3 (Thanks to Davy H at the Ghost Of Electricity)

POSTSCRIPT: In view of what I had written about, I felt it only right to include this track too:

Grandmaster Flash -‘Adventures Of Flash On The Wheels Of Steel.’ mp3

Chic at Wikipedia

Album Review: Benga

Benga -‘Diary Of An Afro Warrior.’ (Ammunition Promotions Ltd)

Whilst UK garage didn’t do much for me, the atmospherics of Dubstep have produced some of the most bass heavy and genuinely Urban sounding and feeling music since Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album in 1998. As with many genres, hardcore purists (for which read: elitists who can’t bear anyone else daring to listen to it) may debate about where the scene is going, but last year’s sophomore from the ultra-enigmatic Burial Untrue showed that there was some mighty music being made. I compared it to being the offspring of Massive Attack and Mogwai, in the way it was just so other.

Four months later, and the debut from Benga may well be the next massive album to emerge from Dubstep, and people who have loved the Burial and Skream albums may find much to enjoy here. Second track ‘Night’ (credited to Benga and Coki) was the first Dubstep track to be playlisted by daytime Radio 1 in the UK. But it’s more upbeat than Untrue without being more commercial. What it does share though, is the sense that here is an album from a particular dance genre that works as an album rather than selected 12″s that have been cobbled together and rewards with each and every listen. As with any genre, Dubstep has not arrived in a vacuum; there are hints of electro on ‘Someone 20’ and drum ‘n’ bass on ‘Light Bulb.’

In an interview in this month’s issue of The Wire, Benga suggests that is a dancefloor album, which certainly would enable anyone to appreciate it with the right sort of volume. He seems at pains to be developing his sound and keeping fresh. As with Burial (sorry to keep going back to that album, but I’m still reeling from the sheer amazement of it all these months later) there are few vocals. The album doesn’t need them.

This would be an impressive album by anyone’s standards, and any genre’s, but the fact that this is Benga’s debut is all the more impressive.


Benga and Coki -‘Night.’ mp3

Benga -‘E Trips.’ mp3

See the video to ‘Night’ by Benga and Coki here at YouTube

See the video to ‘Crunked Up’ by Benga here at YouTube

Benga’s myspace is here

8X8-some reggae for Wednesday

Reggae is one of those genres that I can’t help wishing I knew far more about than I actually do. I’ve enough sense to realise that Bob Marley is far from the whole story, and that even within reggae there are sub-genres: Dancehall, Roots, Lovers Rock and Dub, to pick a few. Then of course, there’s the influence it’s had on rock for many years, be it Paul McCartney writing ‘Ob-bla-di’ (from the White Album), The Clash covering Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’ or ‘Willie Williams’ ‘Armagideon Time.’ 2-Tone. Massive Attack. The music of both The Slits and the Au Pairs, and certainly the early work of Public Image Ltd. too without reggae’s influence would be like an omlette without an egg. The Strokes’ second album Room On Fire had a reggae influence, though not to the extent that the Police plundered the genre. Frequently. (Elvis Costello once remarked that ‘someone should tell Sting to stop singing in that ridiculous Jamaican accent’).

Anyway, there have been other bloggers, such as Davy H and Steve who have been trying to get more reggae in the blogosphere. It’s not a genre I feel qualified to write about in deep analysis, but there’s some great stuff I hope people will like.

First up, that knowing dig at those folks who don’t really understand it at all:

Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3 (possible the greatest one hit wonder EVER).

To these ears, grime and dubstep are descended from reggae, if not being part of it. This track was covered by Lethal Bizzle a few months back. This multiracial band were lead by Eddy Grant who had a lot of solo success subsequently:

The Equals -‘Police On My Back.’ mp3

The original of one of those aforementioned Clash covers:

Junior Murvin -‘Police And Thieves.’ mp3

Last year, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood released an album he had compiled of reggae entitled Johnny Greenwood Is the Controller. Here are two tracks from it:

Derrick Harriott -‘Let Me Down Easy.’ mp3

Scotty -‘Clean Race.’ mp3

This track was featured last month over at Teenage Kicks. It’s just too good not to spread the word:

Susan Cadogan -‘Hurts So Good.’ mp3

It was wearingly inevitable that this would end up being used to advertise medicine, but it’s still a cracking song:

Gregory Isaacs -‘Night Nurse.’ mp3

Finally, whether this is ‘reggae’ or not can no doubt be debated by those far more knowledgeable about the genre, but it’s a beautiful, gorgeous song:

Jimmy Cliff -‘Many Rivers To Cross.’ mp3

For great compilations, try anything that Trojan have put out, and Don Letts’ compilation of the tracks he played to the punks at London’s Roxy in 1977 Dreads Meets Punk Rockers Uptown is fabulous. I recently got Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Arkology which is a place for excellent dub.

Like I say, I am not an authority, so I humble offer these as eight great tracks.


PS Just found a site offering some excellent choice cuts here

(They were John Peel’s favourite band, you know!)

‘There are apparently some people out there who don’t like The Fall. I spurn them with my toe.’ John Peel

I’m two days away from the school term finishing. I’m currently more upbeat and optimistic about both my working life and my profession than I have been for a long time. The blog is apparently still being read by people, and I’m also getting a lot of people contacting me about featuring bands (I haven’t stopped doing this, you understand, but it reached the stage where I had thirty band wanting to be friends with me on MySpace and I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt). I’m still trying to wake people up to older stuff too.

Anyway, here’s three tracks from the legendary Mark E. Smith, one with last year’s collaboration with Mouse On Mars as Von Sudenfed, one a collaboration with the Inspiral Carpets (and his second Festive Fifty no.1) and a classic from The Fall:

Von Sudenfed -‘That Sound Wiped.’ mp3

Inspiral Carpets featuring Mark E. Smith -‘I Want You.’ mp3

The Fall -‘Spoilt Victorian Child.’ mp3

If you have never bought a Fall album, shame on you, I recommend This Nation’s Saving Grace for a studio album, and 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong as an introductory compilation. In the words of Mr. Smith himself ‘Noteboks Out, Plagiarists!’

The Vaselines

The Vaselines were one of Kurt Cobain’s favourite bands…yeah, we know.

But it’d be nice to think that this fab scots indie band, whose music sounds so endearlingly shambolic that they make that other Cobain favourite, The Raincoats, sound almost shiny by comparison, would still be loved today even if Cobain hadn’t been a fan.

Though they were shortlived, their songs are just great, very scots, very sleazy and about sex. In the immortal words of Eugene Kelly:
‘The Vaselines were born out of the bored and very sick minds of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee. They were later joined by Eugene’s brother Charles on drums and James Seenan on bass. We only wanted to have some fun. We were friends of Stephan from “The Pastels” and he introduced us to Sandy McClean with whom he had set up a label “53rd & 3rd.” Stephan took us under his wing and produced our first two singles as we had no studio experience whatsoever. The first single was the first time we had ever been in a studio. We were camp and pretended to be sleazy and we were very drunk. Vaselines rehearsals involved meeting in the pub and talking about. James would often turn up and realise his bass was locked in a bar we used to drink in. Charlie turned up once without drum sticks and then constructed some from bamboo sticks, two nails and lots of tape. We soldiered on until 53rd & 3rd went bust. The band split the week the album was eventually released with help from Rough Trade. We were bored, had no money and sick of it. We hoped someone would get the joke. They did and we live on.’

Oh to have been young and living in Scotland in the eighties. Oh well, you eventually get to meet most of the great and the good if you hand around the central belt long enough…

My reader ‘La Squadra Italiana’ had requested some Vaselines, so why not? And maybe I’ll someday do a post on Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee’s post-vaselines music…

Vaselines -‘Dying For It.’ mp3

Vaselines -‘Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam.’ mp3

Vaselines -‘Son Of A Gun.’ mp3

Vaselines -‘Rory Rides Me Raw.’ mp3

There is a Vaselines homepage here and a wikipedia entry here

There is a fan page devoted to Eugene Kelly here, while Eugene Kelly’s MySpace page and Frances McKee’s myspace page can be reached by clicking on those links.

Presenting…Neon Neon

OK, so this wasn’t a band I was emailed about, but having heard about the collaboration it’s currently a contender for track of the year. The band in question is Neon Neon and the song is ‘I Lust You.’

Neon Neon is a collaboration between Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals fame) and Boon Bip and is a fantastic electro collaboration (anyone who thinks that it’s all white boys with white guitars round here is mistaken. Honest.) It also reminds me of that other contender for song of the year ‘Time To Pretend’ by MGMT (before you embarass yourself, that’s NOT pronounced Management), which has only just come out in the UK (yes, we’re slow like that). MySpace have a page where you can stream the entirety of the album right here.

The album is called Stainless Style and according to the MySpace page ‘is themed around the life of John Delorean and features Spank Rock, Yo Majesty and Fat Lip.’ Stainless Style of course, as the DeLorean was a stainless steel car.

And yes, that John DeLorean, maker of the DeLorean sports car as seen in the Back To The Future series. (I was utterly appalled to discover that some of my students had not heard of this film the other day. I was at least partially reassured that their classmates were appalled too). Oddly enough, the car was produced in Northern Ireland (read more about the story here

Anyway, go and buy these albums, Neon Neon’s Stainless Style and MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular.

Neon Neon -‘I Lust You.’ mp3

Neon Neon -‘Steel Your Girl.’ mp3

MGMT -‘Time To Pretend.’ mp3


It’s kinda funny (to quote Josef K), sometimes I seem to be more impressed with the side projects than the main band. Firstly, much as i like Death Cab For Cutie it was the Postal Service who really impressed me. And whilst I like what bits I have heard of Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, it’s this side project (brought to my attention by the same man who notified me about Oh! Custer) which is floating my boat.

I know I started a post the other day about there being something in the water in Sweden…well this just kinda confirms it for me. Gorgeous Swedish indie-pop.

Give these a listen and see what you think. As ever, please leave feedback for the new bands (and not just the stuff I post from twenty years ago!)

Springfactory -‘No More.’ mp3

Springfactory -‘Stingy Friday Afternoon.’ mp3

Springfactory -‘Get Out Of Bed.’ mp3

Springfactory website/Springfactory MySpace

Album Review: Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros

Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros -‘Someday’ (Jezebel)

To my shame, I hadn’t heard of Frank Carillo before being sent this album. And I really mean that.

Frank Carillo has played with many people in the music business over the last thirty five years, and supported even more (the press release reads more like a CV!) But even if this was the first and only record he ever made, this fourteen-track collection of songs is absolutely stunning. Carillo plays an excellent bluesy, rootsy type of Americana that is astonishingly easy to love. Right from the opening track ‘Roll The Bones’ this is a man who can write songs and grab your attention very quickly. Several tracks have been played more than once as I set about reviewing this record which turned out to be no chore, but a delight.

Carillo talks about travelling and the girls he’s met on the way. His voice is a mixture of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, if the latter could actually sing (c’mon, that Emperor has been stark naked forever). The urpright bass of Karl Allweier is also something that adds hugely to this record.

So, no, not the sort of record I tend to listen to often, but if you let that put you off, you’re missing out on a gorgeous treat. To good to remain a secret.


Someday is out on Jezebel records on March 17.

Frank Carillo and the Bandeleros -‘Roll the Bones.’ mp3

Frank Carillo’s website is here

Presenting…The Winchell Riots

Another mp3 I got sent a few days ago, and many thanks to Phil for getting in touch to send me the mp3 and a copy of the EP.

The Winchell Riots were formed from the ashes of Fell City Girl and are an Oxford-based four piece who have clearly been kicking up dust, as it were in that town. They have supported iLikeTrains and Kraftwerk/Neu founding member Michael Rother. Their press release says that they mix up Bjork, Sigur Ros and Death Cab For Cutie which produces a sound that manages to both both epic, rocky and ethereal, quite often at the same time. No mean feat. their name comes from a chapter in a Philip Roth novel ‘The Plot Against America.’

The EP will be released on April 28 on Andrew The Great Records. It’s a limited edition of 300, so get your act together now and pre-order it. They are playing ten shows in England throughout April, and hopefully will make it north of the broder sometime soon. On the strength of this EP, see them while you can still see the whites of their eyes.

The Winchell Riots -‘Histories.’ mp3

And here’s the video too…

The Winchell Riots: Histories from adam deeves on Vimeo.

And please, please, please…leave feedback!

Presenting…The Dawn Chorus

Hi there.

Apologies to anyone who’s been looking here and wondering where the posts have been this week…there’s been way too much work to do, and there’ve been a lot of CDs dropping on the mat at 17 Seconds Towers and emails and mp3s…I’m working on it. Promise. So there will be a fair few posts over the next few days.

Anyway, one band I’ve been meaning to post on for the last few days are the fantastic English five piece The Dawn Chorus. Hailing from the English south coast, they have released three ‘well-received’ (as they say) EPs and are now set to release their debut album The Big Adventure soon. I think this will appeal to fans of bands like British Sea Power and Brakes (or BrakesBrakesBrakes for US readers) and the comparisons with Wilco and Bright Eyes are also quite accurate too.

For their early stuff investigate Downloads here, from their web page, and for two tracks off their latest single try these:

The Dawn Chorus -‘The Hope will Kill Us.’ mp3

The Dawn Chorus -‘Heart Of Hearts.’ mp3

The band are playing live in the next few months, check their mySpace for details (and maybe they’ll get further north than London. Please!!

As always, please let me know what you think

The Dawn Chorus website/The Dawn Chorus MySpace