Prince – Raspberry Beret

When Doves Cry (the first Prince song I ever heard), 1999, Nothing Compares 2 U, Purple Rain, The Beautiful Ones, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Diamonds and Pearls, Money Don’t Matter 2 Nite, Kiss, I Feel For You, Little Red Corvette, If I Was Your Girlfriend, where do you start with Prince?

I will admit to shedding a few tears when I learnt of his death last year, a man whose songs I lost myself in, who was capable of moments of extreme musical genius and still at times of decidedly average music, and yet he still effortlessly wrote and performed rock, soul, love soaked ballads and sex drenched funk, a little hip-hop, a touch of jazz and a whole lot of purpleness.

I first heard him on the radio, got deeper into him via his greatest hits albums, just as he ditched Prince and came back as Symbol, or the more keyboard friendly TAFKAP. I was hooked just from The Hits 1, Let’s Go Crazy, Adore, Alphabet Street, Pink Cashmere, Sign Of The Times, pretty much every song was great. The Hits 2 contained more of the same, but from that I bought The Gold Experience when it was released, preceded by the pop ballady Most Beautiful Girl in the World. This album absolutely cemented Prince into my life. P Control, Shhh, Endorphin Machine, We March, Now, 319, Eye Hate  You, the uplifting ttle track, the funk busting Billy Jack Bitch and the electric soulfulness of Shy, it still ranks as one of my favourite albums ever. I listened to it over and over again, I threw almost every song onto one home made mix tape or another for my car.

From Gold Experience on I bought every album he released (that I could find out about) while slowly gathering his back catalogue. For some reason I instinctively knew there was a hidden track on New Power Soul, Wasted Kisses, probably the best track on the album, and after listening to The Vault, I wondered just how amazing he would be if he turned his hand to jazz. The Rainbow Children started in that direction but by then Prince had become a Jehovah’s Witness and the sweaty sex driven funk had become diluted. I listened to his later stuff, but didn’t get into it so much, completely missed the album released in the Daily Mail and just raved about the show I was lucky enough to go to as part of his 21 nights at the O2 in London.

So why Raspberry Beret? Mostly because it was one of my early favourites, and because I used to tape songs of the radio and I remember taping it on what would become my favourite tape. It always reminds me of summer and showcases Prince’s playful side
“busy doin’ somethin’ pretty close to nuthin’, but different than the day before …That’s when I saw her, ooh yeah I saw her she walked in through the out door..”

Since he was so hot on the ownership rights of his music (and rightly so) it’s actually fairly difficult to find his songs with audio on youtube or soundcloud, so I’m posting the links to the mixtapes I did in tribute, the 2nd one contains Raspberry Beret.

 

 

Guitarrísimo: Santiago Lara — Flamenco Tribute to Pat Metheny

Wednesday 22nd of February – Sadlers Wells

Well. Not one for the purists. As we trooped in to the small and intimate Lilian Bayliss studio we were greeted by the site of a piano and a drum kit. a piano! No no this won’t do, this won’t do at all, what does Santiago Lara think he’s playing at. Flamenco with all it’s heart wrenching emotional power and jazz, whose where-on-earth-is-it-going-to-go-next rhythms are the epitome of life itself, I can’t see this working. Indeed, after the first song Lara gracefully acknowledges the audience by saying good night, it doesn’t seem quite right.

Well. One standing ovation later, to the sounds of whooping and hollering and other more traditional Spanish noises, I can honestly say that this was some of the most beautiful guitar playing I have ever heard. Lara’s playing was masterful on every song, sometimes driving flamenco power, sometimes light jazzy flourishes that were ably accompanied by the piano (which deliberately or not seemed much quieter in the mix) and drums.

Even with jazz rhythms and breaks, the guitar playing was unmistakably flamenco and it perfectly skipped over the top or drove through the accompaniment with joyful results

Mercedes Ruiz came out for a couple of songs, and perfectly complimented the jazz infused music with some powerfully elegant dancing, that reconfirmed my feelings from the night before, that Flamenco is one of the most sensual dances in the world. Mix it with Jazz however, and that is something beautifully different.

Cía. Mercedes Ruiz — Déjame que te baile

Tuesday 21st Feb at Sadlers Wells

This was a slow burner. Mercedes Ruiz in all her pomp, starting with fingers clicking, her arms swaying hypnotically or even at times snapping with the music, an unflamenco touch that suited the night, that built up into a virtuouso performance with Flamenco elegance and passionate power . The accompanying guitar was soft, the voices and clapping audible but meant to underline the dancing, not distract from it.

Watching Ruiz early on I was mesmerised as usual by the movement, trying to think of the right word for Flamenco. But I couldn’t come up with just one. There is power, there is passion, but as I watched the arms, fingers the body strut and sway, it was the dress that caught my eye. For an instant it reminded me of a snake, but a snake as a temptation of something good.the dress slid with a languid uncoiling around those stomping feet, but there was nothing dark, it was altogether sensual.
At other times, arms raised like a bull, there was sheer power in Ruiz’s performance, she clearly commanded the floor, strutting like a bird with prize plumage through each song.

One of the costume changes saw Ruiz appear in a red suit, that she owned as well as an many male flamenco dancer would hope to do. It was wonderful, the power slipped into elegance, as the trousers allowed the audience to see the technical side of the woman’s dance, normally so well concealed underneath the traditional dress.

As usual the guitar and accompanying singers had their own moments, but it was Ruiz herself that powered the show and at the end, she rightly drew the appreciation of the packed hall that burned with more than a little Flamenco fever.

Jurassic 5 All Nighter – Chali 2na, Krafty Kuts, Mr Thing and DJ Nu-Mark

Let’s take you back to the concrete streets
Original beats with real live mc’s
Playground tactics
No rabbit in a hat tricks
Just that classic
Rap s**t from Jurassic

It was concrete streets that introduced me to Jurassic 5, and still Power in Numbers is one of my all time favourite albums. The 4 MC’s running the track, passing the lyrics between them like a relay baton, some times mid line, some times all holding it at once. Their rap was understandable not undecipherable and the beats from Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark were for me the embodiment of great Hip Hop.

It was always Chali 2na’s deep baritone voice that I loved, although the interplay between all the rappers were what made J5 so good, the track didn’t seem complete until Chali rumbled in, so while I wasn’t sure what it would be like to see him on his own, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him live, and then see Nu-Mark at the after party.

I arrived just as A Skillz was finishing the warm up, and shortly after Krafty Kuts and Chali 2na came out onto the stage to a welcome louder than seemed possible from the size of the crowd. Playing old school Hip Hop with Chali rapping over the top the crowd were bouncing and dancing from the opening tune. Although there were a number of phones in the air recording bit and pieces, when Chali implored the crowd to put their hands high nearly every one did, something that seems to be becoming rarer these days.

I didn’t know all the songs that they did, but they in no way lessened the sheer pleasure of hearing him rap, and at one point he busted out the robot which was loudly appreciated by the crowd.

The highlight though was Krafty Kuts playing a new track, It Ain’t My Fault which features Chali and MC Dynamite, who guested. Watching Dynamite and 2na interact on the stage, and the smile on 2na’s face, it felt that as good as he is on his own, Chali misses the rest of the J5 crew on stage to interact and share the flow with. At one point he told the crowd that J5 was his past, his present and his future, and as much as he is clearly enjoying working with Krafty Kuts, it almost feels like a fling, until the time comes for a full on re-union.

He finished with concrete streets and Krafty blasted out Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved that brought the house down and was a fitting end to a gig filled withgreat tunes.
As people flowed out the doors, making their way down through Islington to Nu-Mark, Chali jumped down to the barriers and patiently chatted and took photo’s with the crowd, about 20 minutes later I has my own photo and headed out into the night.

I walked into the Runnin’ by the Pharcyde at the after party  as Mr Thing scratched and turntabled his way through a large portion of the Tribe Called Quest back catalogue and some Hip Hop classics. Nu-Mark came on at half 1 and switched it up a notch, and switched the styles to play some brilliant beats mixed in with old school classics, and a slice of disco. I spent the entire time dancing in amongst the crowd who all had the same appreciation as I did for the music.

At 3am I finally stood still, aching all over, with a free CD from Nu-Mark and another photo. My knees hurt, my legs hurt but it was worth it, the whole night had been filled with great beats still reverberating through my head as I headed home through the concrete streets.

U2 -Mysterious Ways

After something of an unexpected hiatus, I’m aiming to carry on with my Life in Music series of posts, looking back at the songs that I’ve grown up with, that revealed a new direction to me and that soundtrack some of my favourite memories.

Music is probably the biggest passion in my life, it features much more in my life than my books do, mostly just out of practicality, I never leave the flat without my ipod yet I never really take a book with me (I don’t like them getting tatty).

So we come to U2. Or more specifically Achtung Baby, my first U2 album. This album is the soundtrack to Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. I received both for Christmas and would put the CD on loop while I jumped, flew, rode Yoshi and grabbed mushrooms in my mission to unlock all 99 levels.

While I loved most of the songs on the first hearing, there were a couple that took a while to grow on me, and even to this day I still can’t say I love Acrobat.

It was Mysterious Ways though that went onto my casettes for the car and my walkman (I know, I’m revealing my age here), edging out the album opener, Zoo Station. The crashing wall of the guitar leading into bongo’s and rumbling base and Bono’s pleading vocals making the song an epic rock track..
I missed getting to see the tour for various reasons, but when watching the Zoo TV video (there’s no point trying to hide it now) I fell in love with it again when they revved up the guitar, added a big dollop of keys, some funky bass, and for good measure threw in a dancer (Morleigh Steinberg, or Mrs Edge). It’s this version I’ve bunged in at the bottom of the post.

Over time Ultraviolet (light my way) and Tryin’ to throw your arms around the world overtook Mysterious Ways, and I could easily write about every song on the album (think they’ll be another post coming) but it was Mysterious Ways that drew me in, and started my love affair with U2. Since drafting this post I’ve been listening to the album on repeat on my ipod, and it’s still stands the test of time.

 

Funk Soul Brother 4

So I’m aiming to increase the music side of my blog this year and a new mix seemed a good place to start. Going to put out some different kinds of mixes as well at some point so keep an eye out for those, for now, it’s the latest instalment of my Funk Soul Brother series.

Not quite as proflic as I had hoped but still going, as Volume 4 finally gets uploaded. A somewhat down tempo mix this time, full of electonic winterscapes with a splash of heat here and there. We kick off with the dream like A Scarecrows Heart is Made of Straw by Rain Dog Feat. Finn Ryder followed by J-Felix’s remix of Ooh by Paper Tiger and the tumbling One Day by Mooryc. Next up some atmospheric funk from Brazil’s Junip with Ola, La Vem Ela and some mellow hip hop from Medline. Melody Gardot’s silky voice is up next with It Gonna Come before some deep and cold Electronic goodness from In Fields with the vibrating Stay Safe, Electric Wire Hustle’s March and Molasses from Kan Wakan. Picked up from a mix by iZem, DJ Satellite’s Malembe Na Sououss warms things back up before the soulful Aching Heart from Ade Alafia Adio leads us to the haunting Cold Little Heart from Michael Kiwanuka from his album Love and Hate closes the mix.

Funk Soul Brother 3

It’s been a while but finally managed to get this saved down. Mikael Seifu starts off with Soul Manifest before the slow beats of Jonwayne’s Jump Shot. There’s a little soul injection from DJ Vadim & Sena and Electric Empire before Oddisee, The Allergies and the bold Dayme Arocena speed things up a bit. Snarky Puppy then come in with an international melting pot of a tune. Rodriguez Jr provides a nice deep house track while Life on Planets take things back down. To finish off Orelha Negra and Idjut Boys provide a couple of relaxing numbers before Pajaro Sunrise’ weird and wonderful cover of I’m on fire closes the mix.