Archive for the ‘remixes’ Category

One Part Funk and Three Parts Groovy

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

My computer, which had served me well for many years and across two continents, kicked the bucket a few weeks back. And it was rather sudden, so I had to move fast in choosing a replacement. I think I got a good one though, a beast of a machine from a local gaming PC shop called G-Tune. It plays games super great, audio editing is faster than ever, and it’s by far the quietest PC I’ve ever had. I love it.

But it really can’t play music all that well.

Although I suppose that’s really not the computer’s fault. In this situation, iTunes is entirely to blame. On my old PC, I never updated iTunes, I think I was rocking a three or four-year-old version of the program. And it was a slog and slow as hell and had all kinds of problems, but it played music well, and that was kind of the point.

On my new machine, with the newest version of iTunes, music sounds like shit. If I have just a handful of applications running, it starts to pop and crackle, almost non-stop. And I’ve tried mucking about with various settings, both in Windows and in iTunes, all to no avail.

So I thought I would try some alternative programs. The first one that I gave a try was MusicBee. I had heard good things, and it was supposed to be easy to use. And it was at first, but how that programs handles rips (or any new files in my library for that matter) is just atrocious. Simply put, they don’t seem to show up, at least, not in a matter that I would deem punctual. I add an album and have to wait several minutes for all the songs to propagate in my library. And when I would play new songs the song order would get all wonky for no damn reason. Every problem I had with the program just seemed nonsensical and beyond hope. Fuck it.

Now I’m trying MediaMonkey. Allegedly, this program is made special to handle super-large media libraries. In my experience so far, that hasn’t been the case. Constant hangups and lag whenever I try to sort anything. And searching my library often creates delays as well. The interface is just a clusterfuck. So hard to make your way around anything.

Can anyone out there recommend a media manager/music player that just fucking works? One that makes adding new media easy. One that can rip CDs. One that allows me to make playlists and gives me plenty of sorting options. I don’t even care if I have to pay for it. I have no problems paying for a program that works!

Suggestions would be welcome, thanks.

Sheila E.
Glamorous Life Medley
This is from a German 12″ single and includes truncated versions of “The Glamorous Life,” ‘Sister Fate” and “A Love Bizarre.” Medleys are sometimes good, it’s like getting a concentrated version of your favorite artist. And any excuse for me to post more Sheila E. is a good thing.

Pizzicato Five
The Audrey Hepburn Complex (Extended Stanley Donen Mix)
The 59th Street Bridge Song – Feelin’ Groovy (Club Mix – Night Owl)
Let’s Go Away For Awhile (Club Mix – Cafe Bizarre)
I haven’t talked about Pizzicato Five much, I think I’ve only written about them once on this blog. Truth be told, I don’t know all that much about them. They were kinda-sorta a little popular in the States for a brief period in the 90s, but they’ve actually been around much longer than that. They’re almost contemporaneous with YMO, with their first releases coming out in the mid-80s.

This is actually their very first single, and it really sounds ahead of its time, in an entirely retro kind of way. I mean, it’s ahead of its time in what it’s references, that mainly being music from the 60s and 70s. They were definitely throwing back to that retro sound before it was cool. Their jazzy club sound is certainly more reminiscent of acts from the 90s, with Saint Etienne being the most obvious comparison.

This shit is groovy, that’s what it is. Makes sense, as the Shibuya-Kei scene from which they came was heavily influenced by 60s and 70s pop music (I mean, one of these tracks is a Simon & Garfunkel cover after all). PIzzicato Five own some Leslie Gore albums I know it.

Save Me Japanese Nu-Jazz Rock Rap Fusion

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

What the fuck do I say?

This is the year that just keeps on shitting. The President of the United States of America is a recluse who sits behind his phone, tweeting out racist propaganda to encourage ethnic cleansing, while the GOP work in the middle of the night to pass criminal “tax” codes that work to dismantle health care and destroy the global climate. The rest of the world needs to pass economic sanctions on the US for human rights violations.  The citizens of America to brush up on their carpentry skills and build some motherfucking guillotines. I feel like that’s the only way that things are going to get any better at all.

In the meantime here’s a 16-year-old song that perfectly defines how I feel right this minute.

Boom Boom Satellites (Featuring Chuck D)
Your Reality’s A Fantasy But Your Fantasy is Killing Me (Coldcut V.Steinski Going Under Mix)
Light My Fire (Live At Fuji Rock)
It’s been a bit over a year since we lost Michiyuki Kawashima to brain cancer and to be honest, I had to take a break from the group’s music for a bit. Some of it, especially Shine Like a Billion Suns and their final EP, just made me too emotional. I strongly associate Boom Boom Satellites with some of my greatest moments in my life, from the Moby concert I went to on my 20th birthday where they were the opening act, to my first visit to Japan where I gorged on their music while traveling the side streets of the city that would eventually become my home.

For me, Boom Boom Satellites are an encapsulation of every kind of music I’ve ever liked. Part hard rock, dub, big beat, synthpop, hip-hop and even progressive rock. They did it all and they did it all well.

I like all their albums, but the one I’ve probably re-visited the least is their 2001 sophomore effort Umbra. It definitely qualifies as a “difficult second album” with diversions into downbeat electronica and even some jazz that are honestly hard to digest at times.

The album does have a standout shoulda-been classic though, “Your Reality’s A Fantasy But Your Fantasy is Killing Me.” Rad live drums and programmed beats accompany guitar noise and dissonant sax. It’s cyberpunk jazz serving as a backdrop for a viscous rap by none other than Chuck motherfucking D. Segueing from nearly nonsensical word association to blistering verses attacking white liberals who want to pretend everything is okay alongside black leaders who aren’t trying hard enough, it’s even more fucking relevant and brutal now than it was when it first came out.

Umbra is not available in the states, but the song is. You can get it on the 19972016-19972007 Remastered greatest hits collection, which is available on most digital storefronts. I recommend that entire album, it’s a fantastic, epic-length introduction to a band everyone needs to recognize.

Another album that isn’t on iTunes is the group’s Remixed compilation, which features a fantastic remix of the track by Coldcut, which is the version I’m sharing here tonight.

From what I can tell, there are no live recordings of the track, but it was often incorporated into the group’s live performances of another track called “Light My Fire,” where they would take the beats and heavy guitars of that song and play Chuck’s rap over them. The combination worked wonderfully, and the fierce nature of the group’s always intense live shows made the rhymes by Chuck sound even more brutal.

Annoyingly, no live version of “Light My Fire” ever made it to a proper BBS live album. However, it made it to plenty of their live DVDs, all of which I’ve ripped and converted to MP3s. The live version I’m sharing tonight is from the group’s 2005 Fuji Rock performance. It’s rad as shit.

In the interests of my own mental health, my next post might be nothing but Japanese new age/ambient music and I apologize in advance.

Back from the hospital and laying down dope beats

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

So this weekend I found out that if you’re six and a half feet tall and…not thin, and rush to the Japanese hospital complaining of shortness of breathe and chest pains, they see your giant ass immediately, because no one in the country will be able to pick you up off the floor.

I was fine, by the way, ended up just being some weird bronchial infection. But that’s why I was MIA for a bit. But I’m back! I’m not dead, I feel happy.

Well, that’s not true, look at the news, but I’m back to normal at least and ready to post obscure music no one cares about so let’s get to it.

Arrested Development
United Front (Noises In My Attic Remix)
United Front (Acapella)
Fun fact, Speech from Arrested Development is big in Japan. Seriously, he plays solo shows here in respected (if not large) venues that usually sell out. He’s the Mr. Big of hip-hop.

I have no idea why this is. In fact, I always wonder how/why any hip-hop artist makes it big in Japan in any capacity. Rap is such a lyrical medium, and if you don’t understand the lyrics, there’s no way you can get as much out of it. Lyrics are obviously important in other forms of music too, but let’s be honest, you don’t need to understand the meaning of a song like, let’s say “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” to really appreciate it.

I think that explains, at least in part, why some acts make it big in Japan though. In my time here, I’ve noticed that really technically-proficient acts, like Mr. Big, Steely Dan, and Asia have large followings here, while more famous Western artists known primarily for their lyrics and songwriting, such as Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen, are barely ever mentioned here. The language barrier makes appreciating their music much harder. Of course, Bob Dylan is really popular here so what the fuck do I know?

Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock
Joy And Pain (World To World Remix)
Joy And Pain (No-Rap-Attack-Dub-Track)
Joy And Pain (Rob-A-Pella)
I don’t think that Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock are exceptionally more popular here than they are back in the states, but I could be wrong.

Acid House Dollfuckers

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

Any of your heroes, idols, or creative inspirations get accused of gross sexual misconduct yet? Don’t worry, we still got a month and a half or so left in this year. Anything goes.

This is the upside to only caring about hyper-obscure bullshit that no one else in their right mind would care about. I’m not saying my musical idols and/or favorite filmmakers are saints; I’m saying that they’re all so irrelevant that no one is going to bother doing an expose on their alleged disturbing behavior. With how horrible the past two years have been, sometimes I willingly embrace ignorance for even the slightest bit of bliss.

Anyways, apropos of nothing, some songs about fucking a doll.

Lords of Acid
Rubber Doll (Latex Love Bazaar Mix)
Rubber Doll (My, But You’re A Fine One Mix)
Rubber Doll (I Love It When you Squeak Mix)
Rubber Doll (Do You Mind If We Dance With Yo’ Dates Mix)
Rubber Doll (Back Off The Bitch Is Mine Mix)
I actually found this single in Japan and bought it in a heartbeat. As I’ve lamented before, it’s really hard for me to find the kind of 12″ singles I like to buy – unnecessary remixes by now-irrelevant B-grade pop acts – in this country, so I was pretty stoked by this find.

Did “Rubber Doll” need five remixes? No. No it did not. But I’m certain that it no doubt that there are various 2×12″ promo singles and various CDs out there that feature even more remixes of the track. Because 90s.

Also, holy hell those are some bad remix titles.

Rain with Beck

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

I wasn’t washed away in the typhoon last week, so I guess I got that going for me. Funnily enough, I actually got to work early, with every single train running perfectly on time somehow. Of course, once I got there, my sole student for the day canceled and I just had to head back home.

Doubly of course, that’s when all the trains decided to shit the bed and leave me stranded halfway between my work and my home for half an hour.

Who could’ve predicted that? Oh yeah, that’s right – me. I predicted that.

I’d like to say that “making your employee trudge to work in a motherfucking typhoon for a customer who surely won’t come” is a specifically Japanese business trait, but we all know that fucking over the working man is an international tradition.

Beck
Mixed Bizness (Cornelius remix)
Mixed Bizness (Nu Wave Dreamix by Les Rythmes Digitales)
Mixed Bizness (DJ Me DJ You)
Mixed Bizness (Dirty Bixin Mixness Remix by Bix Pender)
Dirty Dirty
Saxx Laws (Night Flight to Ojai)

I posted a lot of these tracks before, eons ago and on a substandard vinyl ripping setup. These versions are taken from a CD-single I bought last week. So if you happen to have to old versions I shared back in 2011 and 2012, respectively, you’re gonna wanna download these regardless.

Beck is coming to Tokyo next month, but I will be skipping that show. I’m sure his new album is fine, I think it’s gotten good reviews, but I just don’t care. Until he announces a Midnite Vultures anniversary show where he plays that album from start to finish, count me out.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again and again), Midnite Vultures is Beck’s best work ever. Neo-funk classic. Sea Change? Fuck that shit. That’s mopey sad bastard bullshit for mopey sad bastards.

The Klaxons
Golden Skans (Sebastian Remix)
Golden Skans (Surkin Remix)
Golden Skans (Erol Ekstra Special Remix)
One day I am going to buy another album by this group I mean it. Judging on how quickly I’ve moved on these impulses in the past, I suspect “one day” will come by approximately 2028. Give or take.

Megagay Megatone Megamixes

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Back to my regularly scheduled programming of unloading all the stuff I ripped to my computer before I moved to Japan. Now for some gay shit.

DJ Frank Schmidt
Megatone Records Greatest Hits Mix Side 1
Megatone Records Greatest Hits Mix Side 2

Tracks from Megatone work well in the megamix format, as nearly all of them kind of sound the same in the best way possible. I wish that the Megatone style of Hi-NRG disco had caught on more in the mainstream. I know it had an influence, you can hear elements of Cowley’s production work in tracks by artists like Erasure and Pet Shop Boys, but I feel that neither of them really captured the essence of the vintage Megatone sound. The Pet Shop Boys are often too subdued and/or depressed to be really Hi-NRG, while Erasure…I don’t know, they sound hella gay and camp, but not hella gay and camp enough. I guess no one can top Sylvester in that department.

Sylvester is on both of these mixes, alongside several other Megatone mainstays, the full tracklist for both mixes are as follows:

Side A

  1. Patrick Cowley – Mind Warp
  2. Sarah Dash – Lucky Tonight
  3. Sylvester – Do Ya Wanna Funk
  4. Modern Rocketry – (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
  5. Patrick Cowley – Megatron Man
  6. Magda Layna – When Will I See You Again

Side B

  1. Sylvester – Don’t Stop
  2. Earlene Bentley – Boys Come To Town
  3. Le Jete – La Cage Aux Folles
  4. Scherrie Payne – One Night Only
  5. Queen Samantha – Close Your Eyes
  6. Sylvester – Hard Up

Modern Rocketry’s version of “Stepping Stone” is really great, and both the Sylvester and Cowley tracks are, of course, out of the park fantastic. There really isn’t a weak track on either side of this one. All killer no filler for sure. If you download these mixes and enjoy them, I highly recommend checking out the Megatone Records collections that are currently on sale at iTunes. They have the 12″ mixes to all kinds of amazing tracks, including “Do You Wanna Funk,” “Right On Target,” Low Down Dirty Rhythm” and many others. Essential listening for dancing in the meat-packing district of NYC circa 1981, or, y’know, a really good workout mix.

Black Box from another life

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

I think I’ve talked about this before, this blog is over 10 years old after all, but I have a playlist on my computer that’s just called “Lost Turntable.” That’s a queue of sorts that contains every song that I want to share here at some point.

Right now it has 1,200 songs on it and includes tracks that I first recorded to my computer back in 2013.

Now, the 1,200 is kind of deceptive. I have a few complete albums on there that I have no intention in sharing in their entirety, but regardless, this list has gotten to damn big. And a lot of these songs have been languishing there for far too long.

But no more! The purge has begun! First up, anything I recorded to my computer before I moved to Japan.  A lot of this stuff is strange. You’ve been warned. But if you’re a little sick of the Japanese prog/new wave, then you’ll probably be happy.

Black Box
The Black Box Medley
Hold On (Disco Tech Mix)
Ask me anything about Black Box. Spoiler: I know nothing about Black Box.

Well, I guess that’s not true, weren’t they the other group that Martha Walsh sued for credit (with the more notable one being C+C Music Factory).

It was hard for me to find out exactly how long I’ve actually had this song in my collection. According to iTunes, I added it to my library in March of 2013, but that’s just when I got my current computer, so all that tells me is that it predates that. I actually have the hard drive from my previous setup in this computer though, and according to that, I added these files to my collection in October of 2012.

At that time I was still trying to cut it as a full-time freelancer (I’d just gotten an article on 1up.com!) and was planning my then vacation to China and Japan. Funny that.

I was also buying singles en masse. Seriously, you have no idea. You realize how deep you have to dive into a dance music rabbit hole to come out the other side with promo only Black Box remixes? Pretty fucking deep I tell you what.

Looking back, that was such a weird point in my life, spending so much time in front of my computer, listening to LPs non-stop. I also owned a home! Didn’t have a full-time job! And hella in the closet (as much as a man with over 100 Madonna singles can be)! It’s amazing how fast shit changes. I still look back at that time of my life happily. I have no regrets about any of it. I was happy I spent that time on my ass, trying to make it as a writer and listening to weird 12″ singles all damn day. But I’m glad it came to an end. Tokyo is dope. My boyfriend is dope. My job is dope (usually) and my apartment is hella dope (and I don’t have to worry about the pipes in the basement fucking exploding).

I do, however, miss buying countless 12″ singles for dirt cheap prices. Tokyo may have more record stores than most American states, but none of them are Jerry’s Records. I miss Jerry’s.

And Mineo’s, the pizza place that was next door. Although the fact that I don’t go there ever week is probably for the best. It’s probably why I lost 20 pounds when I first moved here.

Anyways, Black Box. House music. Dig it.

 

Madonna for Head Colds

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Figures right after I write about how I don’t get sick as much as I used to that I go and get sick for the second time in two months. Might as well post and write about a shitload of Madonna remixes, cuz that’s my thing after all.

But before you check out this bountiful supply of mid-tier Madonna tracks, take some time and head over to my other site, Mostly-Retro. Witness it’s continuing transformation into a far-too-personal blog. Here’s a story about Japanese medicine (and poop). Here’s another story about arcades, and also about how I identify with Tokyo’s slow decay away from the glory days of the 80s. Y’know, hot topical stuff that I’m sure will get me them hits.

Madonna
Hollywood (Jacques Lu Cont’s Thin White Duke mix)
Hollywood (The Micronauts remix)
Hollywood (Oakenfold Full remix)
Hollywood (Deepsky’s Home Sweet Home Vocal remix)
Hollywood (Calderone & Quayle Glam mix)
Love Profusion (The Passengerz Club Profusion)
Love Profusion (Blow-Up Mix)
Love Profusion (Ralphi Rosario House Vocal Extended)
Love Profusion (Ralphi Rosario Big Room Dub)
Love Profusion (The Passengerz Dub Profusion)
Love Profusion (Craig J.’s Good Vibe Mix)
Love Profusion (Ralphi Rosario Big Room Vox Extended)
Lots of stuff here, I want to empty the Madonna out of my backlog by the end of the month.

There are some reposts here, kind of. I put up most of those “Hollywood” remixes a few years back, but those were taken from various 12″ singles. Tonight’s MP3s are rips from CD singles – so they sound much better. Re-download them even if you snagged the earlier ones. They’re all mostly good remixes also, solid takes on a good track.

The “Love Profusion” tracks are good as well, I really enjoy the Ralphi Rosario remixes, they give the track an 80s vibe that really suits it well.

Hey, did I mention I saw Duran Duran and Nile Rodgers this week? That was fucking amazing. Here, I have the gif to prove it.

Y’all have a nice weekend.

Funky Drummer and Bad Madonna

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Okay, I lied. I’m going to keep trying to get my old Twitter account back, I have a few more tricks up my sleeves. I know what you’re thinking, “James, you swore off Twitter a few months ago, why do you care that your account is gone?”

Well, for a few reasons. One, while I did severely cut back on my tweet activity as of late, it’s still a good way for me to keep in contact with a few people I like to know about. It’s also an excellent resource to find out about record sales. Additionally, let’s just be honest, having an account with close to a thousand followers is a decent method of self-promotion. I’ve never been shy to the fact that I desperately want people to read my shit.

Also, for me to get banned for “targeted abuse” while David motherfucking Duke still has account where he tweets out antisemitic bullshit literally every day is a fucking hypocrisy that I’m against on basic principle.

Anyways, I’m still trying out some options on my end, and may require your assistance at some point. In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas that might help, please share!

Now, for a change, pop music.

Sheila E.
KooKoo (Remix)
Paradise Gardens (Extended Version)
Sheila E. has a new album out! I haven’t bought it yet as I found out about it only 20 minutes ago, but from what I gleamed on YouTube, it’s funky as a motherfunker and sounds pretty rad. Check it out if you can.

Also check out these dope vintage Sheila E. remixes I scored…shit, where/when did I buy this? Did this just show up at my apartment someday? Is that what it’s come to? Are wayward 12″ singles just somehow becoming self-aware and making their way to my place because they know they’ll have a safe home here?

Seriously, I have no idea where I got this.

Madonna
American Pie (Victor Calderone Filter Dub Mix)
American Pie (Victor Calderone Vocal Dub Mix)
American Pie (Richard Humpty Vission Visit Madonna)
American Pie (Richard Humpty Vission Radio Mix)
American Pie (Victor Calderone Vocal Club Mix)
American Pie (Victor Calderone Extended Vocal Club Mix)
If there was ever a sign that a completionist attitude is a mistake that can only lead to suffering, it’s the fact that I own not one, but three different 12″ singles of Madonna’s “American Pie,” solely because I want to own as much Madonna as inhumanly possible.

I hate the original version of this song. I’m sorry, I just do. And Madonna’s version is just infinitely worse. You know what doesn’t need to be remade into an upbeat dance track? The song about that time those famous rock and roll stars died tragically at very young ages.

I’m sharing these in the same sense of completionism that I bought them. I’m sure there’s someone out there who wants them just for the sake of wanting them. I’m here for you dude.

In case you’re wondering if any of these remixes are actually good, well it’s hard to say since the original is so bad. But the “Richard Humpty Vission Radio Mix” and the “Victor Calderone Vocal” mixes are decent as they actually resemble the original track to some degree. The others are just bland house tracks with the occasional Madonna vocal sample.

Puffy (Not That One) and Moby

Friday, August 4th, 2017

I wrote a thing about Death Wish. It’s probably not very good (both the movie and what I wrote).

In other news, I’m going to America next week oh God.

This will be a much shorter visit than my usual month-long transcontinental tours. I’m stopping off in Oregon to see my mom and then jetting back to Japan a week later. Hopefully ICE won’t send me to Mexico before then.

Assuming I’m not detained on trumped up (PUN) charges and sent to a CIA retention center, I do plan on doing some record shopping in Portland before heading back, so I hope to find some 12″ singles that seem to be a bit on the scarce side here. Until then, here’s some fucking ultra-rad J-pop and Moby being Moby.

 

Puffy
愛のしるし (✪ Mix)
渚にまつわるエトセトラ (Take Me To The Disco)
アジアの純真 (Malcolm McLaren Mix)
パフィー De ルンバ (Watermelon Remix)
日曜日の娘 (Ultra Living Mix)
Have I ever discussed the idiotic backwards way I usually discover old bands? It’s really stupid.

While most people get into a band from a hit single, or an album recommendation from a friend and then maybe eventually work their way to the obscure 12″ single or remix, I start there and work my way up to the hits. It happened with Depeche Mode and Erasure, and now its happening with Japanese acts like this. I’ve never heard a Puffy (aka Puffy Amiyumi) track proper before buying this remix single. Still haven’t, to be honest, but I’m eating this shit up right now, so I can totally see myself buying some of their stuff in the immediate future.

So why did I buy this remix single? Well, I could say that it’s because I noticed Malcolm McLaren’s name on the tracklisting. But I’m going to be honest and say that I thought my boyfriend would giggle when he saw the package of the guy on the cover.

I was right, by the way.

These remixes are fucking rad, totally groovy disco-infused dance music that will get you in the mood to boogie. The best of the bunch is the second one, which is remixed by Fantastic Plastic Machine. It’s got that perfect storm combination of 90s electronic, 80s synthpop and 70s disco that gets me every damn time. Great hook that had me singing along even though I don’t speak the language…still.

Look, Japanese is really really hard.

Moby
James Bond Theme (Moby’s re-version) (Piet Blanc’s Da Bomb mix)
James Bond Theme (Moby’s re-version) (Danny Tenaglia’s Acetate dub)
James Bond Theme (Moby’s re-version) (Grooverider’s Jeep mix)
Japan-only maxi single exclusives woo living in this country totally continues to pay off. I walk into just about any CD store and find a Japan-only CD single I’ve been dying to get my hands on for years, and I have affordable health insurance. Totally a win-win.

I’m sure these remixes are on some US release, so don’t “actually…” me. But they’re not on my US CD or 12″ singles for this song, so I was very happy to find them on the Japanese version. Always been a big fan of Moby’s take on this classic.