Amoeblog

Obscure & Unrecognized Republics of Eastern Europe

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 19, 2009 08:55pm | Post a Comment
Romanians shoveling

So as not to offend anyone, films set in Eastern Europe commonly take place in imaginary countries like Trouble for Two's Karovia, The Terminal's Krakozhia or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Vulgaria. In reality, there are several little-known, obscure republics which enjoy various amounts of autonomy that would fit the bill. As portions of their citizenry actively campaign for self-rule, I thought I'd shine a light on the unrecognized peoples of eastern Europe. It turns out there's more to the region than ruthless spies, fortunetellers and stout babushkas.

The Caucasian nations and the trans-continental Bashkortostan are dealt with elsewhere.

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(If interested, there are similar entries about Caucasia, North Asia and South Asia)

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Flag of Chuvashia        Chuvash people

In defense of lipsynch

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2009 07:03pm | Post a Comment
Whilst pricing vinyl recently, Amoeba's Chris Matthews unearthed a copy of one of Milli Vanilli's albums that looked normal enough from the outside but when opened up proved to be a sort of scrapbook/time capsule created by a one time fan. Apparently, when confronted with the shocking admission from the two-heavily accented Euros that the smooth, American accented vocals on record were not theirs, said fan responded by cutting out articles about what was scandalous to their pre-teen audience but a non-issue to any adult smarter than a parakeet.


Milli Vanilli press


1989 - A Time of Lies
Rewind back to 1989. It was a time of shadows and deception. A Massachussets-born, Ivy League blue blood masquerading as a Texan succeeded a bad Hollywood actor as president. America's youth shaved the Batman emblem in the back of their heads in anticipation of Michael Keaton playing Bruce Wayne, who secretly fights crime by night as Batman. The music world was rocked when, at a Connecticut performance, the recording of "Girl You Know It's True" began to skip. See, CDs had been billed as indestructible, so why was it skipping? And even the most naive fan had to accept what had been obvious and scarcely worth pointing out, that this particular dance-pop duo may've been chosen for their looks in an unholy scheme to... make... money!

Skweee - the sound of young Scando

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2009 03:36pm | Post a Comment
Skweee homelands

Skweee is a stripped down, barebones, (mostly) Nordic and Finnish, minimal synthfunk. The songs sound like old midi files and karaoke soul music that's the perfect soundtrack to Leisure Suit Larry getting his mack on. The scene's been around for a few years and I can't remember when I first became aware of it... it may go back to the myspace age. Actually, this blog entry has been around a long time so I thought I should wrap it up. Vinyl is the medium of choice for this example of what can happen when your country pays you to advance their culture.

Check out these label sites if you're interested:
Flogsta Danshall, Harmönia, Dødpop, Disques Mazout and Titched.








Big Boy Records

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 16, 2009 08:53pm | Post a Comment
For several years in the '90s, before Master P moved to New Orleans and gobbled up most of the talent Big Boy Records logoof the legendary Parkway Pumpin, Big Boy Records was one of the main creative and commercial rivals to uptown's fledgling Cash Money. Over the course of the next few years, they released some of New Orleans' indisputably finest (and under-recognized) bounce and rap music. They also got caught up in all-consuming rivalry with Cash Money that raged in tit-for-tat diss songs while at the same time many of their stars departed for bigger labels. When Cash Money and No Limit signed multi-million dollar deals with major labels, Big Boy floundered, only to be reborn years later on a smaller scale,

Big Boy Records
was founded by Charles "Big Boy" Temple and the talented producer, Leroy "Precise" Edwards, who was responsible for most of the varied but always warm, solid and organic sounds. Others involved in the production were " David "D-Funk" Faulk and Brian "Big Bass" Gardner.

1993
Big Boy's first signee was pioneering New Orleans raper Sporty T (Terence Vine). The Gentilly resident had previously been a founding member of The Ninja Crew -- New Orleans's first rap group to record. In the early '90s, inspired by hits by Juvenile and Everlasting Hitman's bounce hits, he moved in that  direction as well. The label's first single was "Sporty Talkin' Sporty." Though bounce, it had an uncharacteristically heavy sound for the genre. After it sold 4,000 copies, Big Boy sought out more talent.

Mobo Records - West Bank's Finest

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 15, 2009 06:05pm | Post a Comment
Mobo Joe Records Label
In the old days (the '80s), most New Orleans rap was released by labels from outside the state. Dallas's Yo! had handled Gregory D & Mannie Fresh and Tim Smooth. Ft. Lauderdale's famous bass label, 4 Sight, released Ninja Crew's "We Destroy." Juvenile was initially on New York's Warlock. When majors got involved, they invariably mis-handled the artists. Gregory D & Mannie Fresh moved to RCA; Warren Mayes and pioneering west bank rapper MC Thick signed to Atlantic.

All that changed following the bounce explosion of 1991. New Orleans's long established Soulin' Records finally got into the rap game, releasing DJ Jimi's debut single, the bounce classic "(The Original) Where Dey At?" Seemingly overnight, a number of cottage industry labels sprang up, including Big Boy, Cash Money, Parkway Pumpin, Slaughterhouse, Take Fo' and Untouchable. None of them except Cash Money lasted into the new millenium. But for a time, they collectively produced and recorded some of the most overlooked and greatest rap of the decade and routinely outsold nationally-promoted rappers of the day, helping turn the tide toward the south.

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