Amoeblog

Soca Musician Arrow, R.I.P.

Posted by Billyjam, September 16, 2010 11:29am | Post a Comment
Arrow "Hot, Hot, Hot" (live 2006)

Alphonsus Cassell, the soca musician known to the world by his stage name Arrow, died yesterday in his home on the Caribbean island of Montserrat as a result of complications from brain cancer. He was 60 years of age. Although he had a good long career, Arrow will always be best remembered for his huge international hit single, the 1982 recording "Hot Hot Hot."' The success of that song not only catapulted the artist's career globally but also spread soca music into new territories around the world. Above is a video of Arrow and his band performing the song four years ago at the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) Awards Show.

It's Hard to Ignore the Poignancy of Camu Tao's Posthumously Released Song, Death

Posted by Billyjam, September 15, 2010 10:00am | Post a Comment
Camu Tao
The new album track "Death" from the late Camu Tao includes a refrain with him singing in a pleading tone, "Death! Where have you been all my life?" It is hard to ignore the poignancy of these passionately sung lyrics by the artist, born Teru Smith, who passed from lung cancer two years ago. It seems like, in a morbidly dark and humorous way, the Ohio born artist was taunting his pending death, which struck him down on May 25th, 2008, a month before his 31st birthday, following a two year battle with cancer.

Although Camu Tao had recorded albums with other artists (including S.A. Smash, Nighthawks, and Central Services), the recently released King of Hearts (or Death, Where Have You Been All My Life? as it was titled at the time of his death) was to be his long awaited solo debut. Signed to the Def Jux label, the album would not have been released had Def Jux's main manEl-P (also his partner in Central Services) not gone ahead and released it in its current, raw sounding form via Fat Possum Records, since Def Jux isn't putting out records right now (even El-P's own recent solo WeAreAllGoingToBurnInHellMegamixxx3 was released on Gold Dust Media).


Camu Tao "Death" (Fat Possum/Def Jux 2010)

King of Hearts is a really good album but by no means is it a hip-hop album, and even former fans of the alternative hip-hop circles that Tao worked in (including Ohio's MHz crew, Weathermen, & the Cardboard City collective) couldn't get into it. As one recent online comment succinctly summed up: "A lot of people been hatin' on this album." Those haters no doubt would be the disappointed hip-hop fans who, much like the disgusted Bob Dylan folk fans who hated him going electric, balked at the fact that the artist sings his way through most of the 16 track rock sounding album. In fact, it isn't until CD track number 10 (the title track) that he raps at all. The lesson here is don't judge someone by their past work or their musical affiliations; rather, listen to the music for itself. Unfortunately, since he didn't live to record a follow up, we will never know if this was merely a temporary detour from hip-hop or not.

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Mash-Up Of The Week: Wax Audio's Whole Lotta Sabbath, a Led Zeppelin vs Black Sabbath Mash-Up

Posted by Billyjam, September 14, 2010 04:04am | Post a Comment

Wax Audio "Whole Lotta Sabbath" Led Zeppelin vs Black Sabbath Mash-Up

This latest Mash-Up of the Week is a refreshing change from the usual mash-ups being produced these days. Typically mash up producers base their tracks off of either solely contemporary pop songs, or else Wax Audiocurrent pop hits mixed with an older era pop tune (such as Lady GaGa + Kei$ha with Michael Jackson). But "Whole Lotta Sabbath" works exclusively off of classic hard rock sources -- namely Zeppelin and Sabbath.

The audio/video mixer of this mash up is Wax Audio out of Australia, who has been creating mixes for the better part of the past decade. I first learned about him six years ago during the Bush administration when, like myself and the DJs of Mass Destruction crew (DJ Pone, Dawgisht, DJ ALF), he was also doing remixes of George W. Bush speeches. One of Wax Audio's greatest pieces was his remix of John Lennon's "Imagine;" retitling it "Imagine This," he chopped, word by word, Bush saying each lyric of the song and matched it over an instrumental.

I caught up with Wax Audio earlier today (later today in Australia), who told me that the "Whole Lotta Sabbath" video is indeed brand new but that the audio track has been done for a minute. "To be honest, my main motive to make the mix at the time was just to get a real classic rock/metal mash-up out there," he told the Amoeblog. "I'm a big fan of the old bands and there didn't seem to be too many mashes of them at the time. But once I started, I thought the concept was really cool. Sabbath singing about the evil of men and war and Zeppelin praising women and love. The track is entirely comprised of the original Zeppelin and Sabbath tracks ("War Pigs" and "Whole Lotta Love") but there's also plenty of other Zep samples in there too -- "Dazed & Confused" mostly, but a few other bits and pieces. The video shows footage from the Vietnam and Iraq wars and also shows Sabbath performing from both those eras, which is interesting. There's also stuff of the Hindenburg disaster, which relates to the Zeppelin name and a photo of a Celtic Cross I took in Scotland (relating to Sabbath and their penchant for crosses)."

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Five Reasons To Go See Shonen Knife Play Amoeba San Francisco at 2pm Today

Posted by Billyjam, September 12, 2010 09:19am | Post a Comment
Shonen Knife "Daydream Believer" (1998)

There are dozens of reasons why you should go see Shonen Knife play an instore at Amoeba Music San Francisco at 2pm today. Here are five of those reasons.

1) Shonen Knife is always great in concert (many say even better than on record), as the Japanese trio deliver their infectious retooling of classic American pop, such as their cover of the Carpenters' "Top of the World" (below) or the Monkee's "Daydream Believer." (Above is the promo video for the song that appeared on the all female band's 1998 album Happy Hour, which also featured "Banana Chips," below).

2) They are a musician's band. Kurt Cobain, who had good taste in music, was among their many admirers. So who knows what famous musicians might show up at Amoeba this afternoon to check em out?

3) The three members are adorable people both on and off stage and today's instore may present an opportunity to meet them briefly in person.

4) It's free. This concert will cost you nothing to attend.

5) It's an afternoon show so you will still get home to see the VMA's (spoiler alert -- Lady Gaga will win near everything, the Jersey Shore crew will say something memorably stupid, and  Kanye West will shock by not doing anything shocking).

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Community Activist General Jeff Talks About Lost Angels, a Documentary About Los Angeles' Homeless

Posted by Billyjam, September 11, 2010 05:05am | Post a Comment
Lost Angels trailer (2010)

If you live in LA you've no doubt driven or walked past the city's thousands of homeless people, especially if you pass through the downtown area known as Skid Row, where an estimated 11,000 homeless men and women dwell. But unless you've stopped and taken time to talk to these unfortunate individuals who call the streets home, you may not be able to humanize these men and women and their stories. 

The Thomas Napper directed film Lost Angels, which premiered in June at the Los Angeles Film Festival, screens for free tomorrow evening as part of the Downtown Film Festival. The film can help give a better understanding of LA's homeless. With narration by Catherine Keener, Lost Angels puts a human face on these so readily dismissed individuals that inhabit the Skid Row area. The excellent documentary's subjects (as seen in the trailer above) include a former Olympic runner, a transgendered punk rocker, and an eccentric animal lover and her devoted companion. It respectfully tells their individual stories of what led them to this point in their lives.
 
Tomorrow's Downtown Film Festival free screening of this documentary, which takes place at Gladys Park on a big 50 foot outdoor screen, is special because it is being screened in the heart of Skid Row, where the film was shot and where many of its subjects live. Los Angeles community activist General Jeff, whose last name is Page and who I met recently at Amoeba Hollywood during the KRS-ONE lecture, is a key person behind this unique screening of Lost Angels. Being on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and a resident director with Central City East/ Skid Row, Jeff works closely with LA's homeless and has firsthand insights into their plight. I caught up with the man to ask him about Lost Angels and its importance.

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