Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Chic

This isn't going to turn into Chic week or anything but while I'm at it I figured I'd post these:

Charanga 76: "Mi Amor Prohibido" (TR, 1979)

Charanga 76's cover of "Good Times" has been reissued, but this is a little less well-known. Their cover of "We Are Family" is also less well-known and a little less good.

Family zydeco band rips off "Le Freak", masks it with a new lyric built around the members' last name:

Sam Bros. 5: "S.A.M." (Arhoolie, 1979)

It's weird enough that this exists but even weirder that it's on Arhoolie.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

2 Busy Saying Yeah - The CHIC Organization Pts. 1 & 2

Download Pt. 1

Download Pt. 2
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This episode of 2 Busy Saying Yeah is a two-part mix devoted to one of the greatest production teams of all time, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards a/k/a the Chic Organization Ltd.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s the two wrote and produced a remarkable body of work both for their own group, Chic, and for artists like Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Norma Jean and others. Their sound was unique [1] and instantly identifiable—razor-sharp, sophisticated, elegant and funky. It was also strikingly original and weird.

The basic elements of a Chic song—vocals, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, strings—aren’t so different from what you’d find in many soul, disco or funk songs, but they are deployed in bizarre ways. While the drums are almost totally static, Nile Rodgers’s scratchy, syncopated guitar provides most of the rhythmic variation. Bernard Edwards’s limber bass often dominates the songs, while the slightly anonymous vocals, chanted or sung, sometimes seem less the centerpiece than accompaniment, like the strings and tubular bells that tie so many of their songs together. It’s like every instrument is doing another instrument’s job.

The great irony of Chic is that Rodgers and Edwards didn’t aspire to be dance music pioneers—they just wanted to be rock stars. If things had worked out for them, they might have been the Bus Boys, but thankfully record labels had no idea what to do with a black rock ‘n roll band. Instead, they found their niche first with a series of club records, then pop hits.

I wrestled with whether to include pop the stuff but ended up working in everything, from cult classics to megahits. There’s a run of songs in the first mix that I never, ever need to hear again but that at the same time I really wish I could hear for the first time again. As burnt out as I am on “Le Freak”, “We Are Family”, “He’s the Greatest Dancer”, “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down”, I know that they’re amazing pieces of music—they floored me when I first heard them as a kid.

Although Rodgers and Edwards each have some fairly impressive solo recordings and productions, I limited the mix to their collaborations except for Rodgers’s “Telephone”, which I needed to hear next to “Why”. I also included Dimitri from Paris’s remix of “I Want Your Love” from the new Chic Organization box set; remixing Chic is not a productive use of anyone’s time but I like what he did with it, in particular his nod to Moodymann’s “I Can’t Kick This Feelin When It Hits”.

(For what it’s worth, the box set is a mixed bag. It’s great that it includes Chic productions and 12” mixes but there’s also a lot of fluff and the liner notes are way too skimpy. The best reasons to pick it up are that everything is mastered really well and it includes three songs from Chic’s legendarily scrapped album with Johnny Mathis, which are surprisingly great.[2])

The first mix features the hits and is more danceable. The second mix is focused more on oddities, album cuts and ballads. The second is a little closer to my heart but I love the music on both. Here are the track listings for each. Enjoy.

Pt. 1
1. Chic - Chic Cheer
2. Chic - Good Times
3. Norma Jean - High Society
4. Sister Sledge - You Fooled Around
5. Chic - Soup For One
6. Chic - I Want Your Love (Dimitri From Paris Remix)
7. Chic - Everybody Dance
8. Chic - Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)
9. Chic - Le Freak
10. Sister Sledge - We Are Family
11. Sister Sledge - He's the Greatest Dancer
12. Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out (Original Chic Mix)
13. Diana Ross - Upside Down (Original Chic Mix)
14. Chic - Stage Fright
15. Chic - Happy Man
16. Fonzi Thornton - I Work For a Living
17. Sheila & B. Devotion - Your Love Is Good
18. Chic - My Forbidden Lover
19. Norma Jean - Sorcerer
20. Chic - Strike Up the Band

Pt. 2
1. Sister Sledge - Thinking of You
2. Chic - Real People
3. Chic - What About Me
4. Sister Sledge - Reach Your Peak
5. Diana Ross - Telephone
6. Carly Simon - Why
7. Chic - Just Out of Reach
8. Chic - You Can't Do It Alone
9. Johnny Mathis - I Want to Fall In Love
10. Chic - I Loved You More
11. Chic - A Warm Summer Night
12. Chic - At Last I Am Free

[1] Which is not to say it was never copied really well.
[2] No more Johnny Blaze, Johnny Mathis.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Busy Saying Yeah - Ninety-Now: East Coast Indies Pt. 4

More stress, more maintaining, more izm, more ruggedness, more boom bap -- in other words, more east coast indie raps from the 1990s. Mostly NYC, with side trips to Virginia, Illinois and Montreal.

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1. Company Flow - Vital Nerve feat. BMS
2. Hi-Tech - 24-7
3. Da' Mad Scientist - Never Fear
4. DITC - Day One
5. Heltah Skeltah - Operation Lockdown
6. Showbiz & A.G. - Spit
7. Obscure Disorder - Entree
8. Common - Car Horn
9. Mark the 45 King feat. Latee - Brainstorm
10. Akinyele - In the World
11. Natural Resources - I Love This World
12. Lace Da Booms - Cut That Weak Shit feat. Kwaze Modoe & Royal Flush (Remix)
13. Royal Flush - Rotten Apple
14. Ill Biskits - God Bless Your Life
15. Group Home - East NY Theory feat. Brainsick Mob
16. Finsta Bundy - Don't Stress Tomorrow
17. Black Star - Another World [Joc Max RMX]

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Separated at birth

Smoked Sugar: "I'm a Winner" (20th Century, 1975)

One World: "Victor" (EMI Nigeria, 197?)

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 Busy Saying Yeah - Ninety-Now: East Coast Indies Pt. 3

This is the third in a series of mixes devoted to indie rap records from the 1990s that have aged well. For the moment, the scope is limited to east coast releases-- this time out, mostly NYC with cameos from NJ, Philly and Boston.

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1. Street Smartz - Metal Thangz RMX feat. O.C. & Pharoahe Monch
2. Money Boss Players - Walk With a Limp
3. E. Bros - A Toast
4. Black Attack - Correct Techniques
5. 36 Zero - Maintain
6. God Sunz - Sub Sidewalkers
7. DSA - Dark Skinned Assassin - Lock Shit Down
8. Half-A-Mill - Another Homicide Scene
9. Scientifik - I Got Plans feat. Diamond D
10. Tragedy - L.A., L.A. (Kuwait Mix) feat. Mobb Deep & Capone -N- Noreaga
11. Ba$h Ton - More Cheese
12. Artifacts - Brick City Kids
13. Mr. Voodoo - Lyrical Tactics
14. Thrust - Emcee
15. L-Fudge - What If feat. Mike Zoot, Talib Kweli, Skam & Shabaam Sahdeeq
16. Jigmastas - Iz You Dee [Joc Max RMX]
17. Sonic Sum - Downtown Maze
18. Network Reps - Simplistic feat. Tru Persona
19. The Mountain Brothers - Paperchase

If you missed the first two volumes, they're here and here. I'm thinking the east coast portion of the series might run to 5-6 hour-long episodes, but I'll stop when I get bored or it starts to suck.

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