Game Music Disco

January 30th, 2015

I think my new thing will be to post tracks from artists who have as little in common as possible from now on. So tonight, here’s some 80s disco by a soul diva and a remix to a video game theme song.

Sara Dash
Low Down Dirty Rhythm
Low Down Dirty Rhythm (Radio Version)
Low Down Dirty Rhythm (Instrumental Version)
Been a while since I posted some Patrick Cowley produced disco, so I thought I’d dig this one up out of the vaults. And by “the vaults” I mean my massive iTunes playlist of songs I’ve been meaning to share here for the past few years. I really have to work on thinning that thing out. I’ve had some Shamen and DJ Rap remixes in there for over two years. Does anyone want Shamen and DJ Rap remixes?

Anyways, Sara Dash. She was in LaBelle, although her solo stuff never reached the heights of “Lady Marmalade.” She has a hell of a voice, and this is a damn great dance tune.

Konami
Contra (魂斗羅) Super Sweep Remix
I’ve been buying a lot of game music in Japan. Too damn much to be exact. So in an effort to justify my insane habit I’ve started reviewing old game soundtracks over at my other blog Mostly-Retro. So far I’ve put up two; one on the very first game music release Video Game Music, and another on an obscure Konami Compilation. I like writing them and I plan to keep at it for some time. So if that’s something that interests you be sure to check them out.

This bizarre remix of the music from Contra isn’t really from a game music release proper. I found it on a mini-CD that came with a PS2 repackaged version of Contra, which also came with a DVD that I have yet to play. I guess the package, which is titled Oretachi Game Center Zoku: Contra, is pretty damn rare, so I’m pretty stoked about finding it for 10 bucks.

 

Moogs and Wagnerian Rock

January 24th, 2015

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to update this blog at least once a week. Made it with about two hours to spare (Japan Standard Time) but I’ll take it.

Tonight’s two songs have squat in common.

Gershon Kingsley’s First Moog Quartet
Sounds Of Silence
Gershon Kingsley is a ubergod of electronic music, one of the very first people to attempt to make electronic music fit in a pop landscape. In 1966, alongside his collaborate Jacques Perry, released The In Sound From Way Out, probably the very first attempt at a mainstream electronic pop record. It’s a crazy record, and I recommend you buy it now.

In 1970 he formed The First Moog Quartet, and they released this album the same year. While his earlier output was very fun and upbeat, The First Moog Quartet’s album is much more experimental and bizarre. I suspect this was because it was limited to what the Moog could do in a live environment, which, to be honest, wasn’t much back then. This insane cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic, for instance, is primarily an acappella number, with the Moog elements only really kicking in sporadically, albeit to great effect. The singing is pretty impressive though.

Fire Inc.
Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young (Single Edit)
The original version of this song is in the 1984 film Streets Of Fire, the greatest movie ever made.

That’s barely hyperbole to me. Streets Of Fire is a damn masterpiece of everything. Amazing music, spectacular direction and cinematography, a stellar script, insane acting, tremendous characters, unbelievable set design. Name something a movie needs to truly be an epic of epic proportions, Streets Of Fire has it. It’s the third greatest movie ever made about music (behind Purple Rain and Fish Story).

So of course it was a huge bomb. Life is a dick like that sometimes.

This song, as well as a few other tracks on the soundtrack, were composed by Jim Steinman, the bombastic songwriter behind everything worth hearing by Meat Loaf, as well as “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” and “Holding Out For a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler.

The credited performers, Fire Inc., really aren’t a band, but a collection of studio musicians put together solely for the soundtrack. They include lead singer Laurie Sargent (who didn’t do much outside of this), Elton John’s guitarist Dave Johnstone, and the E Street Band’s very own Max Weinberg on drums.

It is the most epic shit ever. Seven minutes of heaven – a wondrous, almost religious blast of ecstasy. Like all Steinman songs, it is completely lacking in subtlety and grace, but that’s partly what makes it so damn fantastic. It’s the greatest love song – a song that captures the overwhelming feelings of love in all its elation and tragedy.

I kind of like it. Anyways, you can buy that seven minute version damn near everywhere. The soundtrack is still in print (because it’s fucking dope) and you can snag the track on iTunes and Amazon easily. If you already haven’t done that, go do that, because this version isn’t as good as the album cut. This is a single edit, a trimmed version made for radio play that could fit on a 7″ single.

As I said, it’s not as good as the original, but for fans of the tune (like myself) I think it’s interesting as a diversion and example of how songs can be slightly transformed in an attempt to make them “radio-friendly.”

Prince San

January 16th, 2015

I bought another Hulk Hogan album. At least, he’s on the picture disc. Stay tuned for the horrors I might find within.

Prince
Mountains (Extended Version)
Alexa De Paris
Whenever I buy a Prince single I end up being entirely blown away by the everything of everything on it. I really need to buy more Prince albums.

This remix of “Mountains” is ten freaking minutes long. That’s 10 minutes of Prince at peak funk. Be careful while listening to it, that much Prince peak funk has been known to cause injuries.

“Alexa De Paris” is a guitar solo by Prince. If you need more information that to download it then I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you.

Ryuichi Sakamoto & Robin Scott
The Left Bank
The Arrangement
Just About Enough
Once In A Lifetime
I’ve talked at length about Sakamoto on this blog before, so I’m not going to say anymore about him. But I assume most of you don’t know who Robin Scott is. At least, you probably don’t know him by his actual name.

Robin Scott is the dude behind the group M, meaning he is the person who brought us “Pop Music.” And now that song is stuck in your head and I apologize.

I don’t know how this collaborative effort with Sakamoto came to be, but I do know that it birthed a complete album, and not just the 12″ single from which I grabbed these tracks. I’ll have to find that sometime, as these songs are quite good. They kind of sound like mid-era Japan, which is not surprising at all, as Scott is doing his damnedest David Sylvian/David Bowie impression on these tracks.

Frankie for the New Year

January 4th, 2015

Happy new year’s everyone!

This week marks my one year anniversary of moving to Japan! Holy shit! It’s been a year already and it only feels like…actually, it feels like it’s been a year. With all the amazing highs and shitty lows (most of which are behind me yay) I went through since I moved here, I’d be lying if I said it was all roses, or that it was so great that the time just flew on by. However, it has been, and continues to be, the most amazing and incredible experience of my life and I can’t wait to continue it for years to come.

And there are so many great records stores here! See what I bought?!

Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Welcome To The Pleasuredome (Urban Mix)
I recently bought that gigantic Inside The Pleasuredome box set. I liked it, but found it lacking in really rare and worthwhile bonus material. I wonder who will have to die for us to get a really complete and in-depth Welcome To The Pleasuredome box set. I wish ZZT would just do the right damn thing and put out EVERYTHING Frankie in one massive box set instead of doling it out piecemeal, with a couple of tracks on one compilation, a few others on another. I would gladly pay hundreds of dollars for a comprehensive Frankie Goes To Hollywood box set, and I know I’m not the only one. Besides, the longer they hold the good stuff back, the more assholes like me are likely to share what they’ve accumulated over the years.

This track is from the 1985 Japan-only compilation Bang!, not to be confused with the greatest hits album of the same name. Bang! is a six-track EP, and includes three album cuts, “War (Hidden),” “Two Tribes (Hibakusha)” and the above remix. Everything on the EP is now in-print and easy to find, save for the one I’m sharing tonight. Why has ZZT never bothered to re-release it? Probably because they need it in their vaults for another compilation they’re readying. Wankers.

Kavinsky
Protovision (Sebastien Tellier Version)
The original version of “Protovision” is from Kavinsky’s album Outrun, which, despite Kavinsky’s dreams, has nothing to do with the Sega arcade classic of the same name. It is a quality album though, and I suggest you pick it up. I scored this off of a 12″ single that had several other remixes of the tune as well. However, they’re all available digitally, so you’re only getting this one here. Buy the rest if you like it – they’re really good!

Primal Scream
Stuka (Two Lone Swordsmen Mix)
Stuka (Two Lone Instrumental Swordsmen Mix)
Primal Scream is insane popular in Japan. I have no idea why. These are from a 12″ single.

Holiday Greetings From The Epic, Portrait And CBS Associated Family

December 21st, 2014

I meant to post this one up Christmastime last year. But between preparing a transcontinental move, packing up everything I owned to put into storage, selling my home, and dealing with an unexpected near mental collapse, I kind of got swamped.

holidays

Holiday Greetings From The Epic, Portrait And CBS Associated Family

This is the kind of relic you just don’t see anymore. I assume record labels still put stuff like this together from time to time, but they’re probably beamed across satellites and data lines to hard drives and then quickly wiped and forgotten after they’re limited use is exhausted. The fact that, at one point in time, a record label had to commit to vinyl something so meaningless and empty as canned celebrity holiday greetings really amazes me. I wonder how many of these silly useless records got made? I bet only a fraction of that number were ever used. What radio station would want to cue up a record just so their audience could hear a six second seasons greetings message from Gregory Hines?

Yeah, the line-up for this one is all over the place, I’ll just go ahead and list them all in alphabetical order:

  • Gregg Allman
  • Billy Always
  • Basia
  • Cheap Trick
  • Cherrelle
  • Alice Cooper
  • Gloria Estefan
  • Europe
  • The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  • The Godfathers
  • Gregory Hines
  • Insiders
  • Living Colour
  • Alexander O’Neal
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Quiet Riot
  • The Rave-Ups
  • REO Speedwagon
  • Rhythm Corps
  • Dan Siegel
  • Slammin’ Watusis
  • Henry Lee Summer
  • Survivor
  • Tony Terry
  • Til Tuesday
  • Luther Vandross
  • Gino Vanelli
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Weird Al Yankovic

There are some big names there, that’s for sure. You got your bonafide legends like Gregg Allman, Ozzy and Weird Al; you’re gone but not forgotten stars of the era such as Survivor, Europe and REO Speedwagon; and you even have a few memorable flashes in the pan like Til Tuesday and Quiet Riot.

But even for me, some of these acts go cross the Rubicon of obscurity and into the realm of pop culture oblivion. Bands that were such failures that they can’t even claim to be forgotten because that would imply someone heard of them in the first place.

Sure, some of them, like Cherrelle or Basia just worked outside of my areas of interest (easy-listening soul and jazz-pop, respectively), but who the hell are Billy Always, Insiders, The Godfathers or Henry Lee Summers? I did a courtesy tour of these artists’ tracks on YouTube to see if my memory would be jogged at all, but I’m completely drawing a blank – and honestly, usually for pretty good reasons. There was a reason why alternative music laid waste to the pop landscape of the late 80s and early 90s, and it was because of dramatically drab pap like this.

Although I will admit that Henry Lee Summers had a pretty remarkable mullet.

The messages themselves are sadly forgettable more often than not, with many just delivering bland “seasons greetings” messages and little else. Living Colour couldn’t even be bothered to do that. They just scream “we’re Living Colour” and leave it at that. I can’t imagine that was really useful to any DJs.

There are some bizarre highlights though. Of course Weird Al’s messages are suitably, well, weird, while Alice Cooper’s labored efforts to come off as “edgy” are enjoyable in their own ridiculous way. Stevie Ray delivers one of the few legit great moments on the album though, thanks to a brief little solo.

And Europe sing a traditional Swedish Christmas song! So there’s that.

 

Transcontinental Remixes

December 16th, 2014

I’ve bought so much music the past two weeks I don’t know what to do with it. I mean, besides listen to it. I know I should probably listen to it. But you know what I mean.

Busy times! Apparently Japanese people want to learn English before New Year’s. At least that’s what it feels like, as I am hella busy with work at the moment. There was also an election this past week, so everyone was talking about it.

And when I mean “it” I mean they were talking about the “big erection.” I heard how the “erection is mostly for show” and that “older people mostly care about the erection.”

Pronunciation is important people! Just last week I was trying to teach how to schedule meetings and one of my students kept saying “I have a slut available around 1pm.”

The best is when their English is good enough so I can actually explain what they’re saying, then they get a laugh out of it too. While those kind of mistakes are fun, I do remember that these people can speak English far far better than I can speak Japanese, and that I can make my own pronunciation mistakes as well. For example, last week I was trying to say “you are good looking” in Japanese, but instead I ended up saying “you got a nice pussy.”

So yeah, mistakes happen.

Speaking of mistakes, I wrote about Seven Mary Three and Paw last week.

Björk
Bachelorette (RZA Remix)
Bachelorette (Mark Bell “Blue” Remix)
Bachelorette (Mark Bell “Zip” Remix)
Bachelorette (Mark Bell “Optimism” Remix)
My Snare
I got these mixes from a CD-single/VHS tape box set that I bought for about three bucks. That means that since I arrived in Tokyo I’ve bought CDs, LPs, VHS tapes and even a pair of cassette tapes. I know it’s just a matter of time before I go full dumbass and buy a freaking laserdisc or betamax tape. Sigh. Someone stop me before it’s too late.

Madonna
Bye Bye Baby (N.Y. Hip Hop Mix)
Bye Bye Baby (Madonna’s Night On The Club)
Bye Bye Baby (Tallahasee Pop)
Bye Bye Baby (Rick Does Madonna’s Dub)
I own over 60 Madonna singles now. Japan’s been a great place to find some of her lesser work, like this forgotten single from the Erotica album. I really love the effects they put on Madonna’s vocals for this tune. She sounds like she’s singing through a tin can, but in a cool way. I enjoy the club mix the most, although all the dance beats and effects layered onto it really make the vocals sound out of place.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Firecracker (Main Mix)
Firecracker (Beats Mix)
Technopolis (The Readymade Darlin’ Of Discotheque Track Dub Version)
Okay, real talk. These remixes aren’t that great. But I was really committed to this “three continents of remixes in one post” idea that it got the better of me. Sorry.

Kinky Go
Gimme The Love (Vocal Version)
Gimme The Love (Instrumental)
Gimme The Love (Radio Version)
Special italo disco request for the Pope. Well, a dude named Pope. Not the pope. At least not yet.

Obscure Remixes for Social Justice

December 5th, 2014

I took a week or so off because the world was too horrible to write about music. But here we all a week later and yo shit’s still horrible so I guess I’ll just keep plugging away at this silly little site

But seriously, I’m not depressed.

The fact that I’m not depressed kind of worries me, but hey, gotta live I guess.

I also realized that I’ve posted nothing but wrestling albums, Prince and Madonna for like forever and that it’s time for me to mix that shit up a bit.

Franz Ferdinand
Take Me Out (Naum Gabo Remix)
Take Me Out (Daft Punk Remix)
One of the funniest things I’ve seen in recent history was in 2013 when several reputable news outlets reported on this Daft Punk remix like it was brand new when it was, in fact, from 2004. I love it when shit like that happens, because it shows that the majority of online “news” reporting done these days is just site after site ripping each other off in a quest for the most hits possible. Original research be damned.

Anyways, I guess I really couldn’t blame them all for covering it once they discovered it. It is a pretty solid remix after all. The “Naum Gabo” one ain’t half bad either. I got these both from a 12″ single.

Bjork
Hunter (μ-Ziq Remix)
All Is Full of Love (In Love With: Funkstorung Mix)
Apparently you can’t upload a file via FTP if it has the “μ” character in it. Things you learn.

Purple Motherfunker

November 18th, 2014

I went to a horribly bad “game music” concert last week and wrote about it over at Mostly-Retro. Read it and be flabbergasted at how badly an organization could fuck up something that seems like such a no-brainer.

Then get purple and funky with Prince.

Prince
Gett Off (Urge Mix)
Gett Off (Urge Dub)
Gett Off (Flutestramental)
Gett Off (Thrust Mix)
Gett Off (Thrust Dub)
Gett Off (Rosie’s Dub)
Gett Off (Urge Single Edit)
Gett Off (Purple Pump Mix)
Gett Off (Housestyle)
I want to buy every single Prince album. Every single one. And then rank all of his songs in order of horniness. Even modern day Jehovah’s Witness Prince is a tiny purple horndog. His new song “PRETZELBODYLOGIC” is about a threesome that was so hot the people involved can’t defend themselves from being robbed. At least, I think it is. I don’t know, maybe I’m taking the lyrics too literally – but it’s definitely about boning.

Of course in terms of horny Prince songs, “Gett Off” is kind of the king. A few weeks ago I featured “Get Off” (notice the singular “t”) which is a pretty sex-fueled little number, but it can hold a lubricated candle to it’s misspelled cousin here. For any other artist this would be the most sexual single of their career, but for Prince, who released tracks like “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” “Do Me, Baby,” “Do It All Night” and “Little Red Corvette” (spoiler:  the title isn’t about a car) it might not even make the top 10.

So here we are with nine mixes of the track, because why the fuck not. The dubs and instrumental mixes are interesting, but I’m only including them for the sake of being a completionist. The “Urge” and “Thrust” mixes are good, and definitely worth repeated listens, but they’re not as intense as the original version as they strip out the hard and heavy industrial beat that made the that such a powerful tune. That’s why the “Purple Pump” remix is probably my favorite of the bunch, as it’s just an extended version of the original. Hot.

The first six mixes are taken from a 12″ promo single I scored in Chiba  few weeks back, while the remaining three are from a CD single.

Additional Prince incoming soon.

The Most Beautiful Blog Post In The World

November 10th, 2014

His name is Prince. And he is funky.

And from what I hear he’s rather finicky too. But “My name is Prince, and I am rather finicky” isn’t a good lyric.

Prince
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Beautiful)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Staxowax)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Mix)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Flutestramental)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Sexy Staxophone And Guitar)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Instrumental)
I’m on a big Prince kick right now, thanks largely to his two new albums, well mostly just one of them. Because while Art Official Age is pretty good, PLECTRUMELECTRUM is fantastic, easily one of my favorite records of the year. Prince’s guitar work on the album is otherworldly, and it has some of his best songs in decades. “PRETZELBODYLOGIC” is the hottest song ever named after a baked bread product, that’s for sure. You should buy that record.

Prince’s two new albums are also noteworthy because they’re his first albums with Warner Bros. since 1996, and supposedly signal a new relationship between the artist and the label that will see the re-release of all his old albums complete with bonus tracks. First up on the docket will be Purple Rain, and oh my god a 3CD deluxe edition of that album just might kill me with awesome.

Although if they fuck that up I might kill someone.

Anyways, “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.” These mixes are from a 1994 EP entitled The Beautiful Experience. As the title suggests, its nothing more than various mixes of “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World,” the six remixes I’m including above, as well as the single version.

Does the world really need six remixes of “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World?” Eh, probably not. But I’m in a Prince mood so here’s Prince. Expect more Prince soon. Prince.

Prince.

Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II

November 4th, 2014

Much belated, eagerly anticipated (by someone I suppose) here we are; my last post on wrestling music – until I waste my money on another dumb wrestling record.

 

piledriver

Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II (complete album download)
Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II, as the title suggests, is the second album of music released by the WWE (then WWF). It was originally released in 1987, about two years after the release of the original Wrestling Album. While the original Wrestling Album was kind of a comedy piece, with novelty tracks and skits taking up half of the LP, Piledriver is actually an attempt at a “serious” record – and is shockingly a far better record for it.

The original Wrestling Album was mostly the work of Rick Derringer, along with the occasional contribution by Jim Steinman and Cyndi Lauper, but on this album Derringer takes the backseat, only contributing to two tracks. The majority of the record was written by James A. Johnston, a composer and songwriter who is still creating music for the WWE to this day, so good on him for landing a steady gig.

As I said, this album is shockingly not horrible, although things do get off to a really weak start thanks to opener “Girls In Cars,” a schlocky piece of light rock by Robbie DuPree, the one-hit wonder best known for “Steal Away,” a song that in itself sounds remarkably like the far superior “What A Fool Believes.” This track was used as the intro music to the tag team Strike Force, but I can’t imagine how that worked. That would be like having your intro music by Peter Cetera.

After that we have the title track, performed by wrestler Koko B. Ware. This song is decidedly not horrible. In fact, I’m just going to come out and say it – I kind of like this tune. Yeah, it may be stupid, and Koko B. Ware would never be mistaken for Curtis Mayfield, or even Gregory Abbott for that matter, but he’s competent. And the song itself is actually pretty clever in comparing falling in love to a piledriver. I mean, what better wrestling metaphor could they have used? “Your love hit me like a suplex?” “She closelined me with her beauty?”

Next we have the theme music for the Honky Tonk Man. It’s an Elvis homage, which was kind of the Honky Tonk Man’s whole shtick, so that makes sense. It’s a horrible track, although to be honest my opinion of it might be skewed by the fact that I do, and always will, hate the Honky Tonk Man with every fiber in my being.

Motherfucker tried to hit Elizabeth with his guitar. Fuck that dude.

Things recover slightly as Rick Derringer makes an appearance for “Demolition,” which served as the theme music to Ax & Smash during the majority of their run in the WWE. Simple tune, thrash-inspired metal without much melody, but it’s fun enough. And it certainly fits as a wrestling entrance theme far more than “Girls In Cars.”

It’s followed by probably one of the more (in)famous tracks on the album, “Jive Soul Bro” by the “heel” manager Slick. I assume he recorded this before he became a born-again Christian. It’s pretty dumb, and it’s followed up by the equally dumb “Crank It Up” by fellow loudmouth manager Jimmy Hart. This is light years better than “Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield,” mostly because it sounds like a third-rate Rick Springfield rip-off with a heavy dropping of sleaze thrown on for good measure. It’s still not a good tune, mind you, but it’s listenable.

By far the strangest track on the album is Hillbilly Jim’s “Waking Up Alone,” a soft-rock country ballad that features guest vocals by a woman going by the name of Gertrude. I have no idea who that is, but she can certainly sing. Not a horrible tune, with Jim’s complete lack of vocal ability probably being the single thing that holds it back. You give this to 1980s-era Kenny Rogers and you’d probably have a minor country radio hit.

The same cannot be said for Vince McMahon’s “Stand Back.” Bad song. Bad music. Bad singing. Bad. It’s bad is what I’m saying. It’s the worst track on the album, and might be up there with some of the worst tracks on the first Wrestling Album, save for Captain Lou’s number, which as I mentioned before, is the worst song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Thanks to it, Rick Derringer and “Mean” Gene Okerlund’s take on Derringer’s own “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo” sounds downright amazing by comparison.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a wrestling album without an all-star number featuring the best and biggest WWE superstars. For the first album that track was The Wrestlers’ take on the classic “Land Of A Thousand Dances,” a cover that could be generously described as a sonic abortion.

This time around its an original tune entitled “If You Only Knew” and it’s…kinda funny.

I think all my praise of this record benefits greatly from lowered expectations thanks to the absolute horrid nature of the first album, but I really don’t think this song is all that bad. It’s definitely a better fit for The Wrestlers, a joke track about all the painful things they’re going to do to the song’s unnamed antagonist, than a cover tune of a 60s novelty track.

It also makes better use of the individual wrestlers, giving many of the biggest names of the time their own lines to sing, including the Million Dollar Man, the Honky Tonk Man, Slick, Jimmy Hart (giving his best vocal performance on any WWF album), Macho Man, Koko B. Ware, Junkyard Dog and Hulk Hogan.

Next week, no more wrestling.

Sorry.