Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Prince - Camille (1986)

I'm heading to Boston tomorrow morning for a conference forThe International Association for the Study of Popular Music. It should be a great time, and I'll report back on what interesting presentations I see (quite a few of them look good). I'll be presenting a paper on Prince that I've been working on since last semester. It should be a great time, although the conference is inconveniently scheduled in the midst of crunch time for me. Ah well.

Since I'm in a Prince mood, I thought I'd share the unreleased Camille album. Recorded throughout 1986, this is the album's final sequence, dated November 5. Within days, he canned the idea to move on to the Crystal Ball project, which was also shelved. It's worth noting that prior to Camille, Prince recorded and shelved Dream Factory, which I still contend would have been the best Prince LP had he released it. Perhaps I'll post that some time.

Of course, throughout the process from Dream Factory to Sign 'O' the Times, certain tracks were retained from the previous shelved projects. In fact, all but one of the tracks on Camille has been released in some form or another. Still, listening to them in sequence is an interesting insight to how Prince had conceived the tracks initially. And it's a tight, funky little album.

These tracks are the best circulating quality that I have. "Rebirth of the Flesh" comes from The Work vol. 2; "Housequake," "Strange Relationship," and "If I Was Your Girlfriend" come from a fan remastered version of Sign 'O' the Times; "Rock Hard in a Funky Place" comes from a fan remastered version of The Black Album; "Good Love" is pulled off of the Crystal Ball compilation (not to be confused with the original 1986/1987 project); "Feel U Up" and "Shockadelica" come from The Hits/The B-Sides set. Listen and enjoy!

les tracks:
1. Rebirth of the Flesh
2. Housequake
3. Strange Relationship
4. Feel U Up
5. Shockadelica
6. Good Love
7. If I Was Your Girlfriend
8. Rock Hard in a Funky Place

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Hell in Paradise" - 1985

Sorry this is becoming a Yoko Ono blog as of late, but I'm immersed in her work for a project. Cool vid though. Notice it was on 120 Minutes!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Review: Yoko Ono - Yes I'm a Witch (2007)

This review is overdue. I didn't get the disc until a month or so after it was released, and then I had to ship it back for a replacement. Wait no longer, dear readers!

Following the incredibly disappointing Stooges record, I'm pleased to report that the latest project from another one of my favorites was well worth the purchase.

Of course, this isn't really a 'new' Yoko Ono album. Rather, it's a compilation of tracks spanning Ono's career, remixed and reinterpreted by a slew of contemporary artists. I can't even call this a straight 'remix album,' because it isn't. Certainly, that's true of some tracks (Peaches, Blow Up, Shitake Mushroom, etc.), but others are somewhere between covers and remixes (The Flaming Lips, Cat Power, Antony) - so I'll call them reinterpretations. I hesitate to say that they effectively 'update' Yoko Ono's music for the modern age, because so much of her work was ahead of its time to begin with (a point illustrated by her reevaluation in the last decade ).

The artists involve are essentially a who's who in modern music: Peaches, Le Tigre, DJ Spooky, Apples in Stereo, Cat Power, The Polyphonic Spree, Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), The Flaming Lips, Public Enemy's Hank Shocklee and The Sleepy Jackson (another group I discovered via IckMusic). There are also a handful of artists that I'm not familiar with yet, based on their contributions to Yes, I'm a Witch, I'm compelled to check them out (particularly Shitake Monkey and Blow Up).

I'm not going to say every track is great. But each is at least interesting. I'm not particularly fond of Jason Pierce's reworking of the classic "Walking on Thin Ice," for example. But I applaud him for completely altering the feel of the song. Whereas the original is indisputably dance oriented, Pierce has made it into a sparse, low tempo piece. It's a complete recontextualization, which is what remixes ought to be - not simply slapping a throbbing house beat over a track.

Along those lines, perhaps the most impressive of these tracks is The Flaming Lips' take on "Cambridge 1969," originally from Unfinished Music no. 2: Life with the Lions. The original is a 25 minute sonic experiment (performed live, I might add) featuring only Lennon's guitar feedback and Ono's voice. The Lips have taken the piece and reworked it with a melody, making it almost (note I said *almost*) a pop track.

Other highlights are Blow Up's take on "Everyman Has a Woman Who Loves Him," Le Tigre's "Sisters O Sisters," DJ Spooky's "Rising" (the original being a personal favorite of mine), and Peaches remix of "Kiss Kiss Kiss."

I'll share the latter with you. Even before hearing it, I thought to myself "This is the perfect song for Peaches to remix." And it doesn't disappoint.

Peaches-"Kiss Kiss Kiss"

For some reason, Amazon has waited a week to ship my order of Open Your Box, a compilation of remixes from the last 7 years of Ono's work. Ah well. Enjoy the track, and enjoy the weekend.

Again, posts will be sporadic for the next month or so, but I'll try to post when I'm procrastinating (like right now).

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Inexplicably, I've been going through a big Madonna phase as of late. This prompted me to add a bunch of Madonna dvds to my Netflix queue. While Desperately Seeking Susan and Who's That Girl? will have to wait (I've never seen either all the way through - I'm sure each exhibits cinematic brilliance) and Truth or Dare is bafflingly not on DVD yet, this week I watched the two Madonna video collections.

As with other key artists of the era (i.e. Prince, MJ), the available Madonna video compilations are rather incomplete. Thus, while the videos are good, I'm holding out for the complete collection, which will inevitably come. In the meantime, it was great to see these videos again, many of which it's been years since my last viewing. In light of the second volume (covering the 1990s), I have two things to share.

First, the video for "Bad Girl." I either didn't see this when it was out, or totally forgot about it (either seems odd, as Erotica is easily my favorite Madonna album of the 1990s). Not only does Christopher Walken star in the video, but the video and its plot are actually pretty well executed. For you:

The second thing of note was the video for "Bedtime Stories." Actually, not the video so much as the song. Whilst watching it, I was thinking "Why have I never noticed that this sounds incredibly like a Bjork song?" And sure enough, I find out that Bjork has a co-writing credit. Makes sense!

Ok, enough for now. I have a review coming up. Posts will be even more sporadic than usual these days given that I'm in the throes of crunch time. Keep checking back. In the meantime, check out my pals on the blogroll - they'll take care of you.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Live Hate at Beatlefest

This is one of the better things I found this weekend. The band is the Tater Totz. I used to play them on my radio show in college, although I've forgotten about them until coming upon this clip. From what I remember, they were basically a noise rock band who did a lot of covers of 1960s rock, including a lot of Beatles. For their appearance at a Beatlefest convention in the late 1980s, they figured the Plastic Ono Band was fair game for a tribute battle of the bands. I applaud them loudly for doing so.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Recently, I made a post about the theremin, spurred by a documentary I'd watched courtesy of Netflix (there's a plug for you). This past week, I took in a documentary on another electronic music pioneer, Robert Moog. The film is simply titled Moog - here's the trailer:

Admittedly, it isn't as well done as Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (in which Robert Moog appears quite a bit). Still, it's an interesting look at the man, the development of the Moog synthesizer, and how its been used in popular music. It's worth renting at least. Sadly, Robert Moog died recently (within the last year or two). Of course, there's plenty of music to carry on his name, of which I would like to share two of my favorites.

First up is The In Sound From Way Out!, a collaboration between electronic music gurus Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley. Released in 1966, the album remains a landmark, and a cult favorite. Billed as being "electronic pop music of the future," the album took 275 hours of work "in the laboratory," and "several miles of magnetic tape" for this album to come to fruition. You kids with your Pro Tools and Midi loops just don't understand! Perrey and Kingsley did a bit more work together, but each had successful careers on their own as well (Kingsley is perhaps best known for his composition "Popcorn," a dance hit in the 1970s for Hot Butter). This was one of the first albums of all electronic music I ever heard, and I still love it dearly.

Perrey-Kingsley: The In Sound from Way Out!

EDIT: see WFMU's blog for 79 versions of Kingsley's 'Popcorn'! Here

Lastly, we have Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman. Released in 1969, the album is an interesting collection of originals and covers. The best known songs here are "The Topless Dancers of Corfu" and "The Minotaur." But the covers include James Brown's "Give it Up or Turn it Loose" and "Time is Tight" by Booker T. and the MGs. All excellent! I actually came across this one by accident. I knew of Dick Hyman and had "The Topless Dancers of Corfu" on a compilation called Easy Rhythms for Your Cocktail Hour. I randomly found this cd for a whopping dollar at a thrift store in Pittsburgh. Score!

MOOG: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman

Enjoy, folks!