Remixes From The Far Side (also, Pharcyde)

March 23rd, 2015

So a lot of people seemed to be interested in what it’s like to be gay in Tokyo, so I wrote about it. Read that if you’re interested.

And I got music here for you! Sorry for the lack of updates this month. Moving into a new apartment this month and things have been crazy busy.

The Pharcyde
Drop (Beatminerz Remix Instrumental)
Runnin’ (Jay Dee Remix)
Passin Me By (Video Instrumental)
Passin’ Me By (Acapella)
Pork (Instrumental)
I have a lot of Pharcyde remixes but it turns out that almost all of them are on their remix and rarities collection that you can buy on Amazon, so I’m not sharing them. Too bad, they’re really good! You should buy that remix collection. In fact, you should buy most Pharcyde albums – The Pharcyde is dope.

Sebadoh
Slinstrumental
A lovely quiet instrumental from a 10″ single I bought a few weeks back.

Big Audio Dynamite II
C’mon Every Beatbox (Extended Vocal Version)
So my boyfriend had never heard reggae before so I played some of the soundtrack to The Harder They Come From and then I remembered that this song sampled that movie and it got stuck in my head even while I was listening to “Many Rivers To Cross” because that’s how my brain works.

I am absolutely positive that I’ve posted this track many times before. But it’s one of my top ten favorite songs of all time so that’s going to happen.

I’m Gay. Here’s Madonna.

March 8th, 2015

Do you follow me on Twitter? You should follow me on Twitter. If you did, you’d be alerted to hot scoops like walls of Slime in Shinjuku Station and random rants against sexist pigs.

Oh, and you’d also know I’m gay.

Yes, the man who has spent the better part of nine years sharing club remixes of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and Madonna tunes is gay. I know. It’s a real shocker.

Hey, speaking of Madonna and New Order, how about some more Madonna and New Order?

Madonna
Nothing Really Matters (Club 69 vocal club mix)
Nothing Really Matters (Club 69 Future mix) 
Nothing Really Matters (Club 69 Speed mix) 
Nothing Really Matters (Kruder & Dorfmeister remix)
Nothing Really Matters (Vikram remix)
Nothing Really Matters (Club 69 Future dub)
Nothing Really Matters (Club 69 radio mix)
What It Feels Like For A Girl (Calderone & Quayle Dark Side Mix)
What It Feels Like For A Girl (Tracy Young Cool Out Radio Mix)
What It Feels Like For A Girl (Richard Vission Velvet Masta Mix)
Expect a shit ton of more Madonna in the coming weeks. I feel like I always say that, but it’s doubly true now. I recently bought about 20 more Madonna singles. Add that to the 10 I bought that I still haven’t shared and that’s a lot of Madge.

I now own over 80 Madonna LPs, most of which are singles. I can’t wait until I can go back to the states and mail the ones I have here to Japan. Having my Madonna records spread out across two continents just feels wrong.

“Nothing Really Matters (Club 69 Speed Mix)” is new, while the other remixes of that track are reposts. However, my original post was sourced from a hella scratchy vinyl while these come straight from the CD single, so even if you did download them before I’d download them again.

I might have more remixes of “What It Feels Like For A Girl” in the coming weeks. I think I bought another 12″ of it. Maybe.

Look, I bought 20 Madonna singles, did my Japanese taxes and came out to my family last week. Sorry if I can’t remember everything perfectly.

New Order
Waiting For A Sirens’ Call (Filterheadz Remix)
Jetstream (Jacques Lu Cont Dub)
As New Order get its heads out of its ass and release more of their remixes digitally, it’s getting harder and harder for me to find legitimately obscure tracks by the group. Thankfully I go crate digging for records in tiny record shops in out-of-the-way areas in Tokyo.

Both of these remixes were taken from different 12″ singles that the band put out in 2006. To my knowledge none of them have ever been made available digitally or on CD in a commercial form. They’re very good club tracks, some of the better dance-focused New Order remixes from that decade I think.

This remix series also had a third 12″ featuring “I Told You So (Stuart Price’s Remix)” but that was later put on the Lost Sirens album so I’m not including it here.

Beck Sucks I Love Beck

February 24th, 2015

Sorry for totally breaking my one post a week rule. Life has gotten very interesting as of late.

Interesting in a good way! But interesting in a way that has made it difficult to dedicate time to writing. Still and yet, I did manage to get one more installment of my Scrunged series up, this time looking at Bush. Take a look if you’d like to read my thoughts on one of the most forgettable multi-platinum rock bands of all-time.

Beck
Jack-Ass (Butch Vig Mix)
Devil’s Haircut (Remix By Mickey P.)
Okay, I need to rant about Beck winning album of the year at the Grammys. I know I’m late but I need to Kanye this shit.

That Beck album is garbage. Hot garbage. It’s sad bastard bullshit music for sad bastards. I’m sorry. I tried to listen to the entire thing but I just couldn’t. It’s boring, musically, lyrically, thematically, just about in every damn way imaginable. It has to be Beck’s worst album since Sea Change, another overrated piece of trash that critics have needlessly gone gaga over ever since its first release.

Beck’s best album is Midnite Vultures. I mean it.

What the hell is so special about Sea Change and Morning Phase? Both records could just be renamed Sad Man Sits In Front Of A Microphone And Whines.

Whoop.

De.

Shit.

Midnite Vultures, on the other hand, is a work of a wondrous genius. It’s Beck taking Prince and doing Prince better than 90% of Prince’s output for the past 20+ years. Taking funk and injecting it with an utterly leftfield production style and some of the strangest lyrics ever committed to tape. “Sexx Laws,” amazing. “Nicotine & Gravy,” funkified masterwork.” “Peaches & Cream,” down and dirty funk of the funkiest funkitude. And don’t even get me started on “Debra,” easily one of the greatest slow jams in history.

Midnite Vultures remains an entirely unique record not only in Beck’s discography, but in popular music. It’s a damn tragedy that it’s fallen to the wayside. First to Sea Change and now to Morning Phase.

Fuck sad beck. Funky beck for life.

Nirvana
Smells Like Teen Spirit (AV8 Remix 1)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (AV8 Remix 2)
Bootleg hip-house mixes from 2009. The first is rather standard, and just injects some added beats and an inane MC. The second is far more…well, I was going to say “interesting,” but maybe I should just be honest and go with “stupid.” It’s not even a remix as it is an entirely original rap track with the backing track of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” haphazardly plastered over it.

I mean, I love it, but I think Morning Phase is bullshit and Midnite Vultures is one of the best albums of the 20th century, so I’m obviously not one who should be trusted in the slightest.

Obscure Remixes By Oscar Winners

February 13th, 2015

High-caliber talent tonight.

12 Rounds
Pleasant Smell (Rethought By Trent Reznor, Keith Hillebrandt and Clint Mansell)
Pleasant Smell (Rethought By Charlie Clouser)
Pleasant Smell (Sniper’s Rit n Run Vocal Mix)
Pleasant Smell (Rethought By Clint Mansell And Keith Hillebrandt)
Pleasant Smell (Sniper’s Regular Specials Dub)
12 Rounds is a lesser-known industrial rock act from the mid-90s. They released two albums, Jitter Juice in 1996, and My Big Hero in 1998. That second album was on Trent Reznor’s Nothing Records and in fact the group went into the studio to record a third album, which was to be produced by Reznor, but it was never released.

I should probably point out at this time that 12 Rounds is singer Claudia Sarne and Atticus Ross, the latter of whom you may recognize as a frequent Trent Reznor collaborator. He produced/programmed every Nine Inch Nails album since With Teeth; was a member of Reznor’s side-project How To Destroy Angels; and served as co-composer with Reznor for the Academy Award winning score to The Social Network, as well as the scores to Gone Girl and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Pretty big step up from “dude in a band that opened for Sneaker Pimps.”

It’s funny that two of these remixes feature Clint Mansell, who also was a member of a lesser-known rock/industrial act (Pop Will Eat Itself) before abandoning the pop world and becoming an incredibly successful composer who has worked on films such as Requiem For A Dream, Black Swan, Moon and, um Doom. I sincerely believe it’s just a matter of time before he wins an Oscar as well, which will definitely make that remix the only alt-rock/industrial track featuring the work of three Academy Award winners.

Ryuichi Sakamoto
Heartbeat (Dance Mix)
Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II) – Returning To The Womb
Heartbeat (Ambiant Mix)
I’ll be honest, I’m just including these remixes tonight so I can say that this post has not one, not two, but three Academy Award winning composers (Sakamoto won for The Last Emperor). Also, that last track name isn’t a typo, it’s “ambiant.” I don’t know why.

 

Remixes I Forgot I Bought

February 9th, 2015

Time to clean house with shit I’ve had in my backlog for over a year.

DJ Rap
Good To Be Alive (Johnny Vicious Short Epic Mix)
Good To Be Alive (Johnny Vicious Dub)
Good To Be Alive (Dronez Vocal Mix)
Good To Be Alive (Dronez Dub)
I will be entirely honest and say that I know very little about DJ Rap. I know she’s immensely talented, and that most of her popular work (house/dance music) has little in common with most of her actual work (drum and bass/jungle). I also know that this song was in the film Go, a movie that I have to re-watch someday to see if it has become a wonderful time capsule of the late-90s or a horribly dated Pulp Fiction rip-off. I suspect it is some combination.

Anyway. Yeah, even at the time that I bought this I neither knew much nor cared about DJ Rap. In fact, I don’t even know when I bought this record. I know I recorded it to my computer near the tail-end of 2013, but that just means I recorded it during my marathon recording session in which I digitized every single record in my collection that I hadn’t yet. As the clock was ticking before I packed them all up in storage before my big move to Japan. I suspect I probably had this record in my “to record” pile for over year before I actually recorded it.

Thinking about it now, this record very much serves as an example as how I used to buy records, and serves as a contrast to how I buy music now.

When I was living in Pittsburgh, in a rather large house, I was buying records like no tomorrow. I lived right by Jerry’s Records, the largest vinyl-only record shop in the world, and had vast amounts of disposable income and time (for reasons that I am not getting into).

Turns out that time + money + space = far too many needless purchases. Some of this worked out for the best. I would have never discovered Slow Bongo Floyd, Fay Ray, The Hitmen or countless other forgotten acts if it wasn’t for my nearly indiscriminate record buying habits.

But at the same time, it kind of turned listening to music into a chore. When you buy anywhere between 10 and 30 12″ singles and LPs a week, it doesn’t allow for much time to really absorb music. My turntable became a revolving door, and making the time to actually set aside music to review became increasingly difficult.

Now, with limited space and time, my record buying habits have drastically changed. With rare exception, I find myself buying no more than three or so LPs a day, and they’re usually albums. And my reasons for buying music has changed as well. Before I was often grabbing music solely because I thought it was out-of-print or hard-to-find, making it prime fodder for this blog. That was regardless of whether I thought I would like it or not (this explains why I at one point owned 12 Leather Nun records). Now I actually buy music because I think I’ll like it. I know, a crazy concept. Although I still do buy a hefty amount of records and CDs simply because I think they’re stupid, weird or idiotic, how else would I have bought that Hulk Hogan LP?

But yeah, I did buy this single, and I recorded it. So I guess I should finally share it. So to the one person out there who wants it, enjoy!

The Shamen
Make It Mine (Hilltop Mix)
Move Any Mountain (Progen 91) (Land Of Oz)
Move Any Mountain (Progen 91) (Rude)
Move Any Mountain (Progen 91) (Bang To The Beat)
Move Any Mountain (Progen 91) (Beltram Dub)
Move Any Mountain (Progen 91) (The Bones Break Mastermix)
The Sound Of Pro-Gen (Horns, Guitars, Keyboards, Chorus, Bang, No. 1)
Everything I just said about the DJ Rap single does double here.

 

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.