Tag Archives: dusty old records

Five x Sergio Mendes

IT’S DIFFICULT to know where to start with Sergio Mendes.

The veteran Brazilian pianist and arranger has released around 50 albums since he made his name freestyling bossa nova tunes with the cream of Copacabana’s jazz and samba players in tiny after-hours dives in the late Fifties and early Sixties.

As John Peel once said:

“A lot of people write to me and say: ‘I heard Sergio Mendes, which record should I get?’ And I never have any hesitation in telling them, you must get them all. Apart from the one he did with will.i.am.”

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Reach for Me by Funky Green Dogs from Outer Space (Murk Records)

THREE or four years after hearing Brandon’s seminal acid house tape, music was coming at me from all directions.

The shock waves from the initial slo-mo house detonation continued to roll around the world – bouncing between Chicago, Detroit and New York, reverberating across the Atlantic to London and Milan before booming back to New York and then back again to Ghent and Antwerp and Frankfurt via Sheffield and Manchester and beyond.

And all of these shockwaves seemed to collide in Leeds in 1992.

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Man Ah Warrior by Tapper Zukie (Mer)

I’M VERY comfortable in record shops. Too comfortable, some might say.

Either way, I’ve spent too much time and money on both sides of the counter in new and secondhand record shops to worry about what some spod in a Radiohead tee thinks of my taste in music.

Not, I hasten to add, that the knowledgeable, dedicated and more often than not friendly and approachable musical-curation professionals in the shops I frequent are spods. And they’d also be unlikely to wear Radiohead T-shirts, probably. I hope.

Yes, they might be a bit eccentric at times but remember that they have to work with the public, week in, week out. They are a very agreeable bunch of people by and large, considering.

Take a bow, all you ruthless rinsers of my wallet at King Bee, Vinyl Exchange, Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Revival, Eastern Bloc, Jumbo, Relics, Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless – and any number of breadhead charity shop wankers the length and breadth of Britain.

You are more persuasive, convincing and clinically efficient than any dirty drug dealer I’ve ever met. No doubt I’ll be seeing you again soon.

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Uncarved Block by Flux (One Little Indian)

THE STRANGEST thing about Uncarved Block is just how much everyone seems to hate it.

Flux of Pink Indians’ first album – the snappily-named Strive to Survive Causing the Least Suffering Possible – was a very likeable kind of angry, knockabout Crass punk with tunes and feedback.

By contrast, their second, The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks, was a very unlikeable maelstrom of feedback, shouting and no tunes whatsoever. And that was kind of the whole point.

Even so, the greying, befuddled online remnants of the anarcho-punk community seem to prefer The Fucking Cunts to Uncarved Block, the band’s third album, an ultra-accessible collection of loose-limbed dub funk with lyrics inspired by Taoism.

“Uncarved Block was the most unexpected of the band’s three studio albums, delivering more polemic allied to dance and funk rhythms that left their previous audience totally nonplussed,” says some guy off the internet. “It was a dreadful effort.”

Uncarved Block is, it seems, “largely uninteresting”, “self-indulgent rubbish” and, according to Flux guitarist Kev Hunter in The Day the Country Died, “nothing to do with punk in the slightest, a completely neutered record with no balls at all. Trumpets and bongos on a punk album? Arty-farty shite, I’m afraid.”

You have to peer into some very dark and dusty corners of the internet to find another view.

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Five x US presidential election bombs

IT MUST be a confusing and unsettling time for Americans. How awful for you. Welcome to the party. Where the fuck have you been until now?

I don’t have any advice for you. As one of your former colonial overlords, it’s not really my place to tell you how to vote. The best I can come up with is: Make America Great Britain Again.

Obviously, as someone who inhabits the same hemisphere as all you paranoid, gun-crazy, passportless halfwits, I have a view – for what it’s worth: Hillary is your only rational choice. Trump is an obvious nut case. You can only blame yourselves for this lack of meaningful choice – but why would you listen to me?

And whoever you vote for, the government wins, right?

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Jah Shaka Presents Dub Masters Volume 1 by Various Artists (Island Records)

EVERYONE seems to regard the Eighties as a very fragmented decade, where the nation’s youth were divided up into a series of distinct tribes – football fans, indie kids, skins, punks, skaters, whatever – with, the odd bit of casual ultra-violence aside, very little interaction between each. That wasn’t really the case.

We were coming to the end of the time when you had to be ‘something’. Or maybe it was just me feeling like that, having finally reached some kind of level of maturity.

I don’t think I ever self identified as ‘a raver’, in the same way I never really thought of myself as ‘a punk’, as such. I just used to like wearing stupid clothes, having a bad haircut and listening to poorly produced music on a cheap record player. And, at least as far as the people I hung about with were concerned, everyone seemed to be into everything.

Either way, whatever the fuck you call the kind of people who listened to the Fall, the Buttholes, Sonic Youth and Big Black in 1989, I was one of them. Ditto Public Enemy, KRS-1, the Cabs, Renegade Soundwave and the Shamen. And the Stone Roses and the Mondays. And Ofra Haza. And On-U Sound – Tackhead, Dub Syndicate – and lots more dub.

Meanwhile, the musical landscape of Britain was shifting and, just like everyone else, I was getting more and more into house music.

I was all about the music. You may have noticed.

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Five x Agua de Beber

AGUA DE BEBER is a song from the very earliest days of bossa nova, written by the two men who defined the genre, with music by pianist and composer Tom Jobim and lyrics by musician playwright poet diplomat Vinícius de Moraes.

The story goes that the duo were invited to the then under-construction capital of Brasilia by the president to get some inspiration for the music they were composing for the city’s opening ceremony.

While they were on site, the pair kept hearing the sound of running water in the building they were staying in. A security guard told them that it was an unfinished potable water pipeline. Aqua de Beber was the result.

Their tune for the opening ceremony didn’t make the cut.

The song was first released as a single by de Moraes in 1961 and has become something of a standard, with anyone and everyone with any leanings towards bossa nova having a crack at it since then. If you buy a lot of bossa nova albums, you’ll end up with lots of versions of Agua de Beber. I’ve got about a dozen, all told.


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