Monday, April 7, 2008

Naughty By Nature – "Hip Hop Hooray"

OK, so I don't really have anything ready to post from the Frisco spree, so I'm just gonna reach deep into the archives and pull out a few random old hiphop 12"s to post this week.

First up is Naughty By Nature's unstoppable "Hip Hop Hooray", surely one of the finest singles of its era. Infectious beat, relentlessly catchy chorus and killer flow on the verses by both Treach and the underrated Vinny G. Seriously, listen to the way they keep trying to one-up each other throughout the song: masterful. There may be hiphop/pop crossover singles as good as this one out there, but are any of them really better? Plus, you can't beat the bucket drummers in the video.

The 12" has five tracks: LP, extended and instrumental versions of the title cut, and LP and instrumental of the b-side, a little number entitled "The Hood Comes First". The extended version of "Hip Hop Hooray" is precisely twenty seconds longer than its LP counterpart; the extension appears to be in the delayed start of the beat at the beginning of the track. Good enough. I've also posted the LP version of the b-side, a decent song in its own right that suffers only in comparison to one of the great singles of all time.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Naughty By Nature – "Hip Hop Hooray [extended version] and "The Hood Comes First [LP version]"

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Grace Period – "Et In Arcadia Ego"

And the Grace Period 7" I found in the bins of Rasputin in Berkeley brings us to five singles I've acquired in the last couple months. I was looking through the G bin for an old Guided By Voices 7" when I stumbled upon this nice surprise and decided to call it a day.

Quick word about Berkeley: I'd never been there before. When I was in High school I applied to Cal and got in, but I never visited. Y'know how that's where all the student movements in the sixties started? The history of the place is really cool, but those student radicals are all still there selling incense on the sidewalks and having hare krishna parades. I think if I'd gone to Cal I would have strangled a hippie at some point. Or maybe I woulda turned into one. Yuck.

I think between this one and the one with the samples of that British mod kid I now have the complete collection of Grace Period singles. This one's got three tracks; I'm posting the two from the b-side. The forst one's downtempo with a few teasing drum'n'bass breaks thrown in as the "fills". The second is faster and has a bunch of 8-bit-sounding video game noises and is awesome. Interesting to note the title: the GP not so fond of Wednesday's post, perhaps?

Full disclosure, by the way: I know this guy. Knew him before he'd even heard Joy Division, in fact. But that's not why I'm posting this, I genuinely like his music. He's supposedly working on a new album, but apparently his desire to emulate Kevin Shields encompasses release schedules as well. ZING! Who knows, maybe he's holding out for Mr. Pibb to make it worth his while.

Buy it... on vinyl. (Scroll down; it's at the bottom on the left.)

From my deck to you: The Grace Period – "Do You Believe In Vitamins?" and "Fuck Amen"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Northern Liberties – "Easter Island"

So Northern Liberties is this freaky band I saw a couple weeks ago at Circle of Hope when I went to see British Lit play. They were awesome. Both bands, actually, but NoLibs also had a 7" for sale so lucky you.

They were a three-piece consisting of a drummer, bassist and singer/percussionist. Sometimes the singer would scream and get in the crowd's faces, sometimes he would strap on one of those marching band tomtom thingies and just start pounding. Oh, and they brought their own smoke machine.

So yeah, they ruled, and if they're ever playing in your town make sure you go see 'em. They played a Nirvana cover, too ("Dive")! The only thing I'm on the fence about is their name. I think it only sounds cool if you're not from Philly. But that's most people, so I guess it's OK.

The single is a couple years old and consists of intense noise and yelling. Not too heavy on the extra percussion on either side, unfortunately, but intriguing nonetheless. I'm posting the b-side because it's the one that grabbed me more. And I'm posting only the b-side because if you like it you should go buy it. Mine's numbered four hundered something out of 500 so like, time's runnin' out. Get on that.

Buy it... on vinyl. (Scroll down.)

From my deck to you: Northern Liberties – "Chromosomatic"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Winstons – "Color Him Father"

YEAH! Got my own Amen break!

I picked this up a couple weeks ago on a whim. In a way this record is one of the last possibilities for bargain-hunting in the era of Internet-induced liquidity in the used record marketplace. If you search for it on GEMM, you'll still find a couple of people who don't know what it is selling it for about two bucks. Then there's a couple dozen other copies for like twenty. Get it while you still can.

What we've got here, quite simply, is arguably the most oft-sampled drum break in the history of recorded percussion. It leaves the more well-known Funky Drummer in the dust. If you've ever spent much time listening to 90s jungle, you'll recognise the beat immediately, particularly that jarring cymbal crash in the fourth bar of the breakdown. In fact, the entire jungle/drum'n'bass genre is based almost entirely upon this beat and some reggae basslines.

It's not worth trying to explain in too much depth here because it's been done so much better by others. The Wikipedia entry is a good place to start, but the definitive history remains Nate Harrison's 2004 audiodoc Can I Get an Amen? There's a video of it here, and if you're in any way interested in the history of dance music, the legal implications of sampling or the dissemination of creative ideas, it'll be the most productive 18 minutes of your day.

You can even download your own copy of the break here. Now go make a remix.

Oh yeah, and the original song's a b-side. The a-side is a terrific little slice of classic 60s soul featuring a touching lyrical tribute to a caring stepfather. Oddly enough, while this track turns up on a bunch of compilations (and deservedly so; it was a big hit at the time), I can't find the b-side available anywhere. Go figure.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: The Winstons – "Color Him Father" and "Amen, Brother"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Red Monkey – Kill Rock Stars Mailorder Freaks Singles Club

This one I got free from Kill Rock Stars when I ordered a few records from them a couple months ago. It's part of the (defunct?) Mailorder Freaks Singles Club and it came out in like 1998, so I guess they just had a bunch of copies lying around. I can't even find a picture of it for this post.

Needless to say my expectations were low, and first listen didn't do much to change that. But I listened to it a couple more times in the process of recording it for the post and it really grew on me. It's pretty simple, but I like the energy. Plus they're British so they know how to fuckin' spell.

Red Monkey are apparently still around and currently in the process of trying to put together a compilation of tracks off old 7"s which will presumably include these. I'm posting the two tracks from the b-side; they've posted the a-side on their MySpace. I'm not sure if you can still buy this from KRS; it's listed in the discography (scroll down; it's KRS305), but if you click on the retail link you just get a blank page. So I guess if you want it you gotta download it here. Or wait for that nebulous compilation to come out.

Buy it... on vinyl.

From my deck to you: Red Monkey – "Make a Mess" and "The Exact Geographical Centre of Me"