Friday, January 25, 2008

FDF Vol 1 Issue 83 - A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory

Album - The Low End Theory
Artist - A Tribe Called Quest
Key Players - Jonathan (Kamall Ibn John Fareed) "Q-Tip" Davis - vocals, Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor - vocals, Ali Shaheed Muhammad - arranger, producer, mixing DJ.
Produced By - A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, Skeff Anselm

Release Date - September 24, 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust? - This is just one that comes and goes in my mind to give a re-listen to. This week it just happened to be the week.

Overview - This is the second release from a Tribe Called Quest. This, and subsequent Tribe albums would long be considered "essential" releases in the rap and hip hop communities. The band would gain wide mainstream success with this release, establishing them as the forerunners in the genre.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - An almost coffeehouse music feel upright bass brings up "Excursions". The simple slap drums as Q-Tip has a smooth delivery layered over the top. Subdued horns ring out underneath as the song has a breakdown utilizing samples as well to fill the groove. Almost the same bass line seems to intro "Buggin Out". Phife takes the lead on this track and his vocals are a little stronger, a little bass to his voice, but the tag team with Q-Tip works out well. The slow jazz underbelly layers well. The wah wah guitar of Jimi Hendrix (a sample) brings up "Rap Promoter". Its a simple sample that is looped over the 4/4 cadence of the drums. The drums, never seem to waver holding the steady low end . "Butter" has a pretty slick back beat that underlines the smooth lines given. Phife takes the lead on this track as well. He name checks Heavy D, Bel Biv Davoe to name but a few. Busta Rhymes is name checked from the get go on "Verses from the Abstract" as Q-Tip handles the lead on this track. The bass line is done by jazz player Ron Carter The band also name checks De La Soul whom for a few years they'd share a common bond musically. As you'll hear in the down load section "Show Business" kicks right off with a more heavy back beat. Phife and Q-Tip seem to feed off each other right away. This was new to this record, and the vibe is strong. If you are new to A Tribe Called Quest this is a good sample of their work. We slow it down, and smooth it out on "Vibes and Stuff". Chimes, or bells, sound off verse changes as the verses are given at a brisk, yet at the same time, laid back tempo. A track that will turn up eyebrows "The Infamous Date Rape" follows. The lyrics are a little risque as one would imagine. Considering the time, hard core rap was a few years away (at least in a more mainstream sense). The first single released from the album "Check the Rhime" follows. It overs a smooth tag team on the vocal lines that uses the sample "Love your Life" from the Average White Band. The loop works wonders, and your toes will be tapping before you know it. The breakdowns use the sample heavy riff a few times as well. "Everything Is Fair" opens with a compressed sounding loop of the title repeated before the instrumental breakdowns. "Jazz (We've Got)" keeps the (as the title suggests) strong vibe of jazz music. It is a smooth flowing track with the laid back lyrics given clearly without blurring the lines of quirky. Speaking the first few moments of "Skypager" the listener is then tossed right in to some heavy bottom bass (well heavy for this record). The sample loop repeated lays the tempo and again, Tip and Phife trade lyrical verses laden with samples from phone calls to phones dialing. The track would break down, filled only with DJ scratches. "What?" opens with a little more funk organ. Tip comes right in with a speedy vocal delivery. The song just asks the question over and over with an example like "What is hip hop if it doesn't have violence". When you listen, it does ask a fair number of questions that need an answer. A track that is credited with launching Busta Rhymes into the mainstream "Scenario" closes out the album on a high note. One of the hard hitting, yet fun tracks on the record. See for yourself in the down load section. A great album closer.

Where are they now? The band disbanded in 1998 but reformed in 2006 for a tour and rumors of a subsequent new album. The band supposedly owes the label one more release under their contract. The members who were about 18 when it all started have outside interests from producing to coaching basketball teams.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I actually *should* have seen them live as part of Lollapalooza 94. I left my house at something like 10am that day for the show but sat in traffic..and sat..and sat. Nick Cave who was on the bill sat as well, and missed his set but played a little bit during the Breeders set. Oh well, can't say I didn't try.

FDF Overall Take - ten years ago rap records were rap records. A co-worker who is a fan of the genre told me recently "nobody raps anymore" and when you think about it, its rare. It might not be for everyone, heck its not really for me all that often, but when its done well my ears do perk up. The accolades this record has gotten speak volumes, here is but a sample:

#53 in Blender Magazine 100 Greatest American Albums of All time (2002)
#56 in Pitchfork's Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s (2003)
#154 in Rolling Stone's Best 500 Albums of All Time (2003)
Spin Magazine has sung the accolades: #32 in Top 90 Albums of the 90s (1999), #38 in Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years (2005) and, #87 in 100
Alternative Albums (1995)

Links -

Official site
The band on myspace

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

MP3'have been removed.

Show Business
Jazz (We've Got)

**Show Business - has some "language" so heads up.

All the tracks taken from "The Low End Theory" which you can grab here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, January 18, 2008

FDF Volume 1: Issue 82: Andrew W.K - I Get Wet

Album - I Get Wet
Artist - Andrew W.K.
Key Players - Andrew W.K - vocals, Tony Allen, guitar, Chris Chaney - bass guitar, Jimmy Coup - guitar, Mike David - bass guitar, Gary Novak - drums
F.T. Thomas - guitar, Frank Vierti - piano, keyboards, Phil X. - guitar
Produced By - Andrew W.K, Mario Dane, Scott Humphrey

Release Date - November 2001.

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- One night recently I couldn't sleep so I headed to the basement where my stereo and cds are kept. I sat for close to one hour pulling cds and listening to a track from one, then on to the other..until for some reason I grabbed "I Get Wet". A huge smile overtook me and I realized it had been far to long.

Overview - Andrew W.K. (real name Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier) was in bands from age 13 released this, his major label debut in 2001. It caused concern from the get go with a bloodied image of AWK on the cover. Rumor had it that he hit himself in the face with a brick right before the cover shoot, thus resulting in the image. The album would bring him some success, getting tour slots and some commercial deals. Andrew, known for his totally white outfits on stage (he said he did this because the bands he loved growing up all wore black and you never could see them on stage), also would go crazy live, which resulted in a broken foot. He loves his fans and goes above and beyond to meet as many as possible. His follow up "The Wolf" didn't leave quite as big a mark and his subsequent release(s) haven't had a proper release in the U.S.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - This album hits hard and fast with "It's Time to Party". Clocking in at 1 minute 30 seconds you are in the mix right away. The guitars buzz, the drums hit hard and before you know it your head is bobbing along. It IS time to party Andrew..indeed it is. Second song in, we are still in party mode when the lead off single "Party Hard" is unleashed. In a wall of guitars we are off to the races. A single guitar then rises over it before a single keyboard note is played a few times then wham the drums it. The chorus is just great "Lets get a party going, lets get a party going .....PARTY HARD!!!. Honestly, this song is rock and roll is so basic, yet catchy. It all ends with a loud "AHHHH". Whew that was good. A seemingly lighter track "Girls Own Love" follows, but before you know it the trademark wall of guitars is laid down. The keyboard intro fools you. The chorus showcases some pretty decent harmonies for what the song is doing, you'd never expect it. Andrew keeps the chorus steady while the band layers over the top. A love song, but its hard to tell because its not a mellow track by any means. There is a false ending before we get the chorus one last time. The scary titled "Ready to Die" follows. Honestly, this is THE track from Andrew W.K. The music just explodes off the speakers and Andrew really pushes himself. The guitar and keyboard sort of mesh into this hybrid of 80's cheese and metal for a cool sound. When he stutter sings "ready to die" towards the end a gun shot rings out and the whole riff is this is some good stuff. The band doesn't slow down as "Take It Off" follows. The same pattern is followed, quiet intro, drum crash, wall of guitar, slow it down with keyboard/piano then get it all rolling. It is harmless good fun. "I Love NYC" is the first track that has Andrew singing right from the start. He professes his love by singing that very line, then saying "oh yeah New York City". He is in strong voice, but its a little held back. The keyboard retain more of the 80's synth feel as well. A real hidden gem on the cd is "She Is Beautiful" which follows. Musically it is what we expect by now but the lyrics just strike a chord. If some American Idol pop star sang this, slowed down some, they'd have a massive #1 hit. Read the lyrics here. We are not talking a "Sgt Pepper" moment here folks, but this is pure pop..come on. The song that every single entertainment venue, complex would love to use "Party Til You Puke" is up next. Nuff said. This song says it all. The blistering intro sets the tone and we "go.go.go". The super growl returns to open up "Fun Night". Where the heck are the ad executives? We have been having Fun, Partying hard (till we puke no less). We are on auto pilot right now. The longest track on the album "Got to Do It" comes up and it is still 5 seconds short of 4 minutes. Its a little more laid back, but still a rock song. The title track is buried 11 tracks in, "I Get Wet" opens with what appears to be a horn section before we hammer on down once more. I think he repeats "I Get Wet" 50 or more times, but still its fun. The album closes off with a track that Target stores bought for an ad called "Don't Stop Living in the Red". The bulk used in the commercial is the hook of the track where they just sing "Don't stop living in the Red". *rushes off to Target*

Where are they now? - Andrew continues to write and record. There are rumors of at least two releases being slated for 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I have never seen Andrew W.K. live, but man I really want to. If his live shows are anything like the video (I believe they are) how can you go wrong?

FDF Overall Take - There are better records and worse records. For what this is, a blend of metal, pop and chaos it is just a fun, repeat FUN listen. Either you love it or hate it that is the bottom line on this. Honestly, how many songs mention "party" to begin with. There are some really fun moments on this record and it was a listen that was long overdue. Hopefully the last few AWK cds will get released here in the States.

Official site
Myspace page

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***MP3's have been removed March 4, 2008 2:25 PM ET***

The live show has everything I'd have posted, but
"Fun Night"
and Don't Stop Living in the Red

Those tracks taken from "I Get Wet" which you can buy here

**Bonus Download**

Andrew W.K.
The Astoria, London England
February 10, 2002

This sounds GREAT and has all the tracks you WANT to hear.

Taken down...

Time to Party
Take it Off
Ready to Die
Girls Own Love
She is Beautiful
I Love New York City
Got to Do It
Party Till You Puke
Party Hard

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, January 04, 2008

FDF Volume 1 Issue 81: **REPOST**Depeche Mode - Violator

This was my first every "take down". I have posted this only in text form.

Album - Violator
Artist - Depeche Mode
Key Players - Andrew Fletcher - keyboards, backing vocals. David Gahan - lead vocals, Martin Gore - keyboards, guitar, backup vocals, occasional lead vocals,
Alan Wilder - programming, keyboards, drums.

Produced By - Depeche Mode, Flood.

Release Date - March 19, 1990

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I actually heard an older track from the band recently and decided I'd go back and give them a listen. I thought I had "that" record and was surprised to realize I only had this record. It is still a good record and I hadn't listened in a long time, so..there you have it.

Overview - Formed in 1980 UK synth pop band Depeche Mode (named for a French Fashion magazine) have been a long running fan favorite in the electronic music genre. The band were no strangers to releasing albums. Violator was the bands seventh release and was coming off the heels of the successful "Music For the Masses album and tour (which sold out the Rose Bowl and was released as "101") . Fans (both new and old) were teased with the lead off single "Personal Jesus" a full six months before the album was released. A pretty amazing feat before file sharing. Considered by many fans to be their best album (or one of the strongest) the band would reach international fame and tour extensively for this album. Four singles would be released from this album in the US. The album would make Rolling Stone Magazines list of the Top 500 cds of all time, landing on spot 342. In 2006 the album was re-released as a hybrid SACD/CD +DVD Package. It had 5.1 mixes of album tracks as well as the b-side singles from the album.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Two keyboards feed off one another as "World in My Eyes" gains momentum. The inescapable sound of Depeche Mode is now in your ears. Gahan has the baritone whisper at the outset but it swells. The song keeps the same tempo with a machine like back beat, which is not uncommon in this genre. Martin Gore takes the lead vocals on "Sweetest Perfection". The key song writer of the band takes over on a haunting slow churning track. The sound of brushes on drums adds a unique touch. "Personal Jesus" could be considered one of, if not "the" song from Depeche Mode. Even if you don't know who the band is, you know this track. It has a harder back beat than the two earlier tracks. Guitars have a particular punch and the machine like break down towards the end always had heads bobbing on dance floors. Once more we slow down some as "Halo" begins. One synth will hold the basic tempo, while one will do more over the top, a third, will add some cool noise at random points. About a minute in the track moves along a little quicker and gets a little more urgent both musically and lyrically. Upon listening once more this track has a similar feel to the "Policy of Truth" which comes up in a few tracks. "Waiting for the Night" is another track with a lengthy, quiet fade up. The keyboards at times sounds like children's instruments but adds a unique touch. Gahan is very laid back vocally, resorting to whispering just about the whole track. Yet another single even casual fans would notice is "Enjoy the Silence". This hearkens back a little more to the bounce of previous Depeche Mode records. It almost sounds like a cast off from the bands prior album(s). A far more radio friendly sounding track overall it doesn't force the electronica sound. Gahan is in fine voice and has a slight wave to his voice on the chorus. Also to note the radio single cut this song down drastically considering radio would rarely (if ever) play a track longer than 4 minutes, this, the album version is over 6. Granted its just a series of bars repeated, and the chorus but it is funny to go back and say "This is where the song used to end". Without slowing down yet another single released to US radio "Policy of Truth" follows. After the intro a punchier keyboard comes high in the mix. Gore and Gahan share some of the call and response vocals on this track. Once again Gore takes the lead vocal duties on "Blue Dress". Although they at times sound similar Gore has, I feel, a stronger voice. Since he is the key song writer one has to wonder if he writes things specifically for him. It doesn't go up into some bizarre vocal range, but when you hear a track like this Gahan wouldn't have been the right choice. The album closes out with "Clean" which layers the various textures from the outset. One keyboard holds a bass line, another shoots lasers of sound over the top. We then get hit with hard marching like bass drums. We haven't broken any new ground by this point, but we have somehow remained interesting as well.

Where are they now? Dave Gahan released a solo album in 2007 called Hourglass. This was his second solo release. Martin Gore has also released a solo ep and lp and played guitar in the studio for Gwen Stefani. Andrew Fletcher spends his time away from Depeche Mode as a touring DJ. Alan Wilder left the band in June of 1995. He had been in the band for 14 years but the extensive tour (15 months leading up to this time) proved to be enough for Wilder. He now devotes his time to the band "Recoil". Depeche Mode as a collective are rumored to head back to the studio in 2008.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I have no idea why, but I have never seen Depeche Mode live.

FDF Overall Take
- Depeche Mode might not be for everyone, then again is there a band out there that is for everyone? Regardless, the band has stayed together with hardly a line up change in over 30 years and released some great records. The hard work has paid off as the band has sold more that 91 million records world wide. Chances are you have one of these records, if not, this is a good place to start.

Official Site , Martin Gore here, The band Recoil and Recoil on myspace

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.