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Dennis Hopper 1936 - 2010

Posted by Billyjam, May 29, 2010 11:50am | Post a Comment
Dennis Hopper

We lost another great today. Actor/director/artist Dennis Hopper died earlier today (May 29th) at his home of complications from prostate cancer after battling it since last fall. He was 74. Hopper came to fame as the director, co-writer and costar (opposite Peter Fonda) of the 1969 low-budget, drug-fueled film Easy Rider, that was a landmdennis hopperark for the counterculture and a surprise hit. He made his screen acting debut over a decade earlier in 1955's Rebel Without A Cause playing a rival high-school gang member opposite James Dean.

Hopper didn't only play a hard drinking, drug imbibing individual on film. The actor, whose hard partying alcohol and drug reputation preceded him for many years, had his ups-and-downs in Hollywood as a direct result. Not surprising considering that, by his own admission, for one long extended lost weekend that lasted five years, he was consuming on average three grams of coke, a half a gallon of rum, plus a case of beer every day.

But after getting his life back on track his career enjoyed a resurgence. Following being out of the Hollywood spotlight, a newly sobered up Hopper returned to his former glory in 1986 for his Oscar nominated role in Hoosiers, followed that same year by his amazing role as the twisted & deranged character Frank Booth in David Lynch's Blue Velvet (check out the brilliant yet disturbing clip below).

In all, Hopper appeared in well over a hundred different films, including (in no particular order) Apocalypse Now, Giant, True Romance, Cool Hand Luke, Hang 'Em High, True Grit, The American Friend, Rumble Fish, Speed, and River's Edge. Look for these and other Hopper films on DVD at Amoeba Music. Below are some select Hopper movie clips. And check the nice career-long photo dedication to Dennis Hopper on the Washington Post's website.

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Moe Green, Mystik Journeymen, 2010 DMC Battles, Frisco Legends, Nas + Damian Marley, Reflection Eternal: Amoeba Music Weekly Hip-Hop Round Up: 05:28:10

Posted by Billyjam, May 28, 2010 03:08pm | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 05:28:10

Nas Damien Marley
1) Nas + Damian Marley Distant Relatives  (Republic)

2) Reflection Eternal Revolutions Per Minute (Blacksmith/Rawkus/Warner Brothers)

3) Madlib Madlib Medicine Show #5-History of the Loop Digga-1990-2000 (Stones Throw)

4) Guilty Simpson OJ Simpson (Stones Throw)

5) Mystik Journeymen Return 2 The Love (Outhouse)

Thanks to Luis at Amoeba Music San Francisco for the above hip-hop chart that features the brand new duet album from Nas and Damian Marley, Distant Relatives, in the number one slot. According to Nas, this successful full length collaboration goes deeper than just music. It is about hope and empowerment and education. “We tryin' to build some schools in Africa… and trying to build empowerment,” the Queensbrige emcee recently told MTV News about the album, whose proceeds go to building a school in the Congo. Distant Relatives, which was mostly produced by Damian “JR Gong” Marley and his brother Stephen Marley, addresses the ongoing unrest in the continent of Africa on such songs as "Count Your Blessings." The song "Africa Must Wake Up," the album's closing track that fittingly features Africa's best known hip-hopper, K'Naan, spitting verse in his native tongue, is a powerful message song about the need for positive change across the continent of Africa.

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"Baby Please Don't Go" Has Remained Popular with Artists Over the 75 Years Since It Was Written By Big Joe Williams

Posted by Billyjam, May 27, 2010 06:51am | Post a Comment
Big Joe Williams "Baby Please Don't Go"

Written, recorded, and released back in 1935 by the great delta blues musician and songwriter Big Joe Williams, the sBig Joe Williamsong "Baby Please Don't Go" has been popular with countless artists in the seventy five years since, having been covered by dozens upon dozens of different musicians to the point that it ranks among the top ten most recorded blues songs in music's history. 

Perhaps the most famous or recognizable cover version of "Baby Please Don't Go" is the 1964 recording/release by Them -- the Belfast, Northern Ireland blues-rock ensemble featuring Van Morrison. Them's cover (with "Gloria" on the B side), which was a top ten single in the UK in 1965 and a US AOR radio staple in consequent years, injected a whole rock n roll energy into the classic blues song. 

themSo influential was Van & co's version that nearly all of the versions of the song recorded or just played after 1965 (including by fellow Irish blues-rockers Taste featuring Rory Gallagher) are rock inflected covers a la Them rather than the original blues version by Williams. Another Irish rocker to cover the song was guitarist / vocalist Eric Bell, who was an original member of Thin Lizzy. 

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David Byrne Sues Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for $1million for Unauthorized Use of Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere"

Posted by Billyjam, May 25, 2010 04:25pm | Post a Comment
david byrne
Yesterday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, artist David Byrne filed a $1million suit against the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, along with his senatorial campaign, alleging that the governor used the Talking Heads' mid eighties single "Road to Nowhere" (Sire/Warner) without permission or proper licenses.

Gov. Crist, who is also Florida's former Attorney General, used the Talking Heads song, found on the band's 1985 Little Creatures album, earlier this year in a website and YouTube ad directed against his then-Republican primary opponent, Marco Rubio.

According to a report on Billboard's website, Byrne, "became aware of the Crist ad from a friend in New York, where the Talking Heads co-founder resides." Byrne told the music magazine that he "was pretty upset" when he learned about the song's unauthorized use and stressed that the lawsuit, "is not about politics...It's about copyright."

This is not the first time that an American politician has used a famous rock artist's music or likeness without permission. Back in 1984 during his re-election campaign, Ronald Reagan, while giving a speech in Talking Heads Hammonton, New Jersey, appropriated the work of the state's favorite son Bruce Springsteen (referencing the then popular "Born In The USA"). When Springsteen (a liberal & most opposed to Reagan) found out about this, he was pissed and put an immediate stop to it. More recently, John McCain, in his 2008 Republican presidential candidate run, used Jackson Browne's song "Running on Empty." Browne filed a suit and won. His lawyer in the case, Lawrence Iser, is now representing Byrne in the case against the Florida Gov.

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FM Belfast's "Pump" and Stereo Total's "Tour De France" Are More Than Mere Covers of Past Hits:

Posted by Billyjam, May 24, 2010 04:48pm | Post a Comment
FM Belfast
Their economy may be in tatters and the spewing volcanic ash that caused so much disruption to air travel may have strained relations with their mainland European neighbors, who were hardest hit, but Iceland's music scene is still in a very healthy state. From the ever-inventive post-rock sound of Sigur Rós to the turntablist hip-hop sounds of former Amoebite and Icelandic born DJ Platurn, and from the home-made, lo-fi analog sounds of longtime Icelandic duo Slowblow to the warmly produced, retro electronic sounds of FM Belfast, Iceland clearly has much to offer musically.

And of all the recent non hip-hop releases I have been listening to lately, FM Belfast, who hail from Reykjavík, Iceland, are among my top faves.  Their just released eleven track how to make friends album on Kimi Records (which was originally released in 2008 as an import-only on the small Icelandic indie World Champion Records) captures the fun electro-pop/electronicia trio's throwback style on such tracks as "Frequency" and "VHS" (which longs for the bygone days of VHS tapes and other old technology). But the FM Belfast album track that won me over upon first hearing it was the group's inspired cover of Technotronic's "Pump Up The Jam." For their interpretation of this once ubiquitous 1989 upbeat, bouncy, hip-house-y global hit, they totally rework it by bringing it almost to a screeching halt. They transform the song, renamed "Pump," into a hypnotic, DJ Screw (Chopped and Screwed like) slowed-down version that I think is pure brilliance. Check it out below yourself to see what you think. Meantime, all the way down the page is Technotronic themselves with the Belgian outfit's 1989 video for "Pump Up The Jam," which was a worldwide smash hit, including in the US, where it went to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in late 1989 & early 1990, becoming the first ever house record to go commercial Stateside.

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