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Archive for May, 2007

Stop Me Medly
Mark Ronson
Version (Sampler), Album Coming Out July 10

I had already started another post but this just came in the mail today from the good folks at Giant Step, so I switched gears and decided to post this. I saw the video for this song last week via the Fader Blog and have been on the lookout for it since. This is a combination of The Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” from Strangeways, Here We Come (1987) and Diana Ross & The Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” from The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland (1966) and it features Daniel Merriweather on vocals.

This song has reportedly reached #2 on the UK pop charts and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s well-received here too, especially as it’s coming close on the heels of the growing success of his production of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen.

Obviously a lot of people have attempted to recreate the analog early seventies sound with varying degrees of success and it seems that Mark has a solid grasp on what makes it work. The first hint was came with his funk cover of “Just” on the Exit Music: Songs for Radio Heads compilation that I posted last year. Then came the brilliant pairing of the Dap-Kings with Amy Winehouse and now this (he returned to the Daptone Studios to record portions of “Valerie” for this album). I suppose the all retro/analog/covers thing could wear thin but I’m not sick of it yet and I have the feeling that Mark Ronson has the good sense to switch it up before people tire of it.

Dale, is this the song you played me on the train?

>> songs are available for two weeks [5.0 MB]

If We’re In Love
Róisín Murphy
Ruby Blue, 2005

myspace | official site

There are a lot of people who know a lot more about Róisín Murphy, Matthew Herbert and Moloko than me, but I would like to add my 2 cents of appreciation. This song and album are from 2005 and in researching this post, I realized that her new album is close at hand. The first single, “Overpowered” is up on her myspace page. It didn’t grab me on first listen but then again, neither did this one.

This song is amongst the most traditional sounding on this overly quirky album. This is a quote about the creation of the album from Róisín’s artist page on the Echo site:

“The first day I worked with Herbert he asked me to bring in an object. I brought in my notebook thinking we could use it for ideas, but instead he said ‘Go over and bang it on that microphone’. And that’s how we went on,” says Roisin.

“Every sound we made excited me, because there was nothing coming from synthesizers,” she says. “But it was really shocking to me as well, and I went home at the end of the first day thinking I couldn’t live up to it, but then by the end of the second day we had ‘If We’re In Love’, and it really began to flow out of both of us.”

I tried to find a place to link to that sells this album (it was released in the US in 2006) but everyone seems to be out of stock. It’s too bad, because I do highly recommend picking it up. The album isn’t perfect but five songs are and there are a few other that also warrant repeat listens.

The other thing I just realized while reading her wikipedia page (which I feel pretty stupid about) is that she is the voice on the Handsome Boy Modeling School song “The Truth” which I’ve been listening to for 7 years. It only took me a year and half of listening to both to put it together. I also read that her name is pronounced ro-SHEEN…I just don’t think I can go there, sorry, it’s too late.

>> songs are available for two weeks [6.2 MB]

I’ll be playing at short set tomorrow at christopher logan aka loganic (fka blessed productive)’s moving to Berlin party.

Apples&Pears (Extended 2007 Version)
moO
Apples&Pears EP, 2007

myspace | official site

This appears to be the second release on Up My Alley Recordings out of Cologne, Germany; both belonging to somewhat enigmatic, 23 year old German-Turkish producer moO. I only say enigmatic because his myspace page only says “hey!~!!” in the “about me” section and the two pictures that he is actually in are in a dark alley and a dark attic. According to his artist page on the Up My Alley site, he is “part of the Beatfanatic fam (amongst Kev Brown, Dela, 9th Wonder etc).” I didn’t actually realize that Beatfanatic was a crew and not a person but that is definitely a name I’ve been hearing in association with good songs for a little while. I can’t seem to get a reliable link but if you can be bothered, go to the Piccadilly Records site and paste “Beatfanatic Around The World In 80 Beats” into the search box then click on the “A Lovely Day” audio link to hear something lovely (right now it’s one of the records of the week on the homepage so it will be pretty easy to find).

All four tracks on this EP are great, it was hard to decide which one to pick. This might be a little hard to track down. This seems to be your best bet to buy vinyl and this seems to be your only option to buy MP3s.

It says “UpMyAlley is supported by Forvert Clothing” in very fine print at the bottom of their website. I wonder if that means they get free clothes or if this is the side project of whoever owns the clothing company…

UPDATE: Joscha from UpMyAlley stopped by to let me know that Beatfanatic is in fact a person and a crew and that UpMyAlley is not a side project of the clothing company. Keep up the good work homie!

>> songs are available for two weeks [6.9 MB]

I Just Realized
The Brand New Heavies
Get Used To It, 2006

As I mentioned on this post, The Brand New Heavies returned last year with a new album with N’Dea Davenport as lead singer. N’Dea was the lead singer on the first and third albums (the 2nd album featured guest MCs). She was followed by Siedah Garrett and Nicole Russo but it was always clear that the N’Dea/BNH formula was the winner.

I finally got a chance to listen to the new album and “I Just Realized” blew me away. Even though I’ve been an ardent fan of the early Brand New Heavies material for many years, I will gladly acknowledge that they can cross over into slightly cheesy arrangements and lyrics and that has always somehow been part of the charm. I’ve only made it through Get Used To It once and it seems like this album probably isn’t exempt from cheese but this song is somewhat of a revelation. It’s, at once, more gritty minimal and more orchestrated than than anything I remember from them. A BNH song usually has a interesting intro and then it’s “off to the races” i.e. they’re going full tilt until it’s over. This song has somewhat of an irregular song structure but there’s basically only two sections. The “A” section has the full sound of the band and some strings but more or less only on the first beat of each bar leaving a ton of space for just voice and drums. The “B” section is much more lush and features two vocals lines, both of them harmonized (this has surely never happened before). They usually throw a very standard harmony behind the chorus to make it sound fuller than the verses but it’s almost intentionally innocuous.

I don’t know the full cast of characters here but it’s no surprise that the writing credit on this song is different from the rest on the album, it contains a certain “Jaz Rogers” who seems to be the magic element here.

>> songs are available for two weeks [5.3 MB]

Be My Husband
Nina Simone
Pastel Blues, 1965

This is one of the saddest songs I know. The delivery is harrowing and lyrics are even more dire. The writing credit is “A. Stroud” who also has the writing credit for a surprisingly overt (for 1966) sexual song called “Chauffeur” on her Let It All Out album. It consists of Nina singing “Be my chauffeur, I want you to ride me, ride me downtown” and “don’t ride those girls, don’t ride them girls, don’t ride them other girls downtown.” That seems consistent with “Be My Husband” (as you’ll hear) but what is stranger is that he is listed as writer for “Nearer Blessed Lord” which I think of as a traditional church song.

I assume that “Be My Husband” wasn’t written expressly for her as a sizable portion of her songs were covers. I can only imagine that this version trumps all previous versions; I would love to hear one. The lyrics portray a woman who is caught up on man that isn’t respecting her and they go from bad to worse.

It starts out with :

“Be my husband, I’ll be your wife / Love and honor you for the rest of your life”

But progress to:

“Stick to the promise you made me / Stay away from Rosalie”

Then:

“If you want me to I’ll cook and sew / Outside of you there is no place to go”

And:

“Please dont treat me so now dog-gone mean / You’re the meanest man I ever seen”

And just when you think she might be becoming self-aware she ends with:

“Oh daddy now love me good”

Four times

Nina’s delivery of the lyrics makes it all the more dramatic with her heavy breathing, jumping around octaves and yelling “papa!” at the end of different lines.

The song actually sounds surprisingly full as it only consists of voice and a hand clap/cymbal combo once every bar.

I was looking around on youtube to see if I could find a live version of her performing this song and I found one; it won’t allow me to embed it in this post but you can see it here. It’s generally less dynamic then the album version but she does do this sexy subtle dance around the 3:00 mark and there are some added lyrics about “sudden death is what I’m gonna bring to you – if I ever catch you being untrue.” It’s from the “Harlem Festival” in Central Park in 1969 (probably about 1000 feet from my apartment…if I could only go back in time). This video is from the same show:

>> songs are available for two weeks [4.8 MB]

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