Continuing my quest to build playlists around great YMU-hosted labels you might not know enough about, we now have 'Ninja Tune Lets Us Play' [YMU Link], an entire playlist devoted to some of the best tracks from the veteran UK label.
As I explain in my description: "Founded in 1991 by Coldcut, London's Ninja Tune is one of the best eclectic breaks, electronic, scratch and nu-chill labels of all time, with artists like The Herbaliser, Kid Koala, Mr. Scruff, DJ Food and Coldcut themselves providing darn funky audio insanity for 15 years, now."
I conclude: "This is my vaguely chronological pick for the best of the awesome label." If you're starting anywhere in the 23-track compilation, my all-time favorite tracks are the Cornelius remix of Coldcut's Atomic Moog 2000, plus the awesome Get A Move On by Mr. Scruff (which you may recognize from every Lincoln car ad ever). Anyhow, I'm out of town for a few days, so no more updates for a bit, but when I get back, I might try to do a playlist for Ninja Tune's great hiphop sublabel Big Dada. Happy listening!
You guys probably know turntablist Lucas 'Cut Chemist' MacFadden from his work with Jurassic 5, particularly the awesome 'Lesson 6: The Lecture' as well as a whole bunch of solo scratch DJ-ing with buddies like DJ Shadow and Z-Trip, as partly showcased in the documentary Scratch.
[Random fact stream - I managed to randomly turn up to the Future Primitive Sound Session in SF in 1999 pictured at the climax of Scratch, with Z-Trip and Cut Chemist cutting up Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King' - which is also the theme tune to classic video game Manic Miner, which I just wrote an article for PC Gamer UK magazine about. Weird. No Kevin Bacon, though.]
Anyhow, Cut Chemist's first solo album has just been released, and it's been available on Yahoo! Music Unlimited [YMU link] in the last couple of weeks. It's not completely cohesive (nor perhaps should it be, being made of snippets of every record under the sun!), but tracks such as 'The Garden', which samples Astrid Gilberto, are pretty DJ Shadow-ish shades of gorgeous, and 'The Audience Is Listening Theme Tune' is a great conclusion. Therefore, we have that very rare thing - a home-listenable turntablist album (sorry, Mixmaster Mike, X-Ecutioners) - so please do so!
Keeping on with the custom playlists, and this one is another throwback to my English roots - the hopefully rather fun 'Madchester Rave On' [YMU link].
I describe it on YMU itself as follows: "Some choice picks from the late '80s and early '90s 'Madchester'-inspired baggy music scene, with largely Manchester-raised bands like Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses blasting it with a loose-limbed, dance-influenced rock groove."
What's more: "Those who want to know more should check out the sublime Steve Coogan-starring movie '24 Hour Party People', named after the Mondays song included in this playlist." Yep, so if you dig everything from James through Flowered Up and New Fast Automatic Daffodils (!) to Inspiral Carpets, The House Of Love, The Farm, and early Blur, go take a listen!
[Also, while researching this set, I came across another similar playlist on YMU, 'From Manchester To Madchester' [YMU link], by 'pricecs'. It's got a number of similar artists, but is more a chronology of Manchester sounds, from much earlier (Buzzcocks) to much later (Oasis). But it's also well worth checking out - many thanks to him for compiling it!]
Firstly, thanks to Robert Burke of Yahoo! Radish for mentioning this blog over at the official Yahoo! Music Blog's 'This Week In Playlisting' weekly entry - it's very much appreciated, and I'll try to keep up regular entries here to justify the 'hype'.
While this isn't a custom playlist, the Grant-Lee Phillips album 'Nineteeneighties' [YMU link] is almost a compilation its own right, since it features the former Grant Lee Buffalo ringleader, who has apparently "become a reoccurring character on the WB's Gilmore Girls", according to his own site's news page, doing some marvellously downtempo, reflective covers of classic '80s songs.
As his site notes: "A tribute to the songwriters and artists who influenced his own music, nineteeneighties features Grant-Lee Phillips' stunning reworking of The Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation," The Psychedelic Furs' "Love My Way," REM's "So. Central Rain (Sorry)," and many more."
[Mind you, my wife, a major Morrissey fan, doesn't dig Phillips' closing, almost whispered version of The Smiths' 'Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me', and I agree that it's almost too glacial, but everything is forgiven, thanks to the beautiful cover of The Church's already gorgeous 'Under The Milky Way'. More, plz!]
Aha, now we're properly launched (and thanks for the nice comments, Y! Music types who hang out on the Playlisters group), it's time to try out another original playlist, this time called 'Ozric Tentacles Envelop Me' [YMU link], and basically a best-of for the more than 10 Ozric Tentacles albums available on YMU.
The description for the playlist reads as follows: "Some of the best releases from the history of this Somerset, UK-based psychedelic instrumental band (think Pink Floyd vs. Orbital vs. Tangerine Dream in a blender) circa 1991 to 2003 - an entirely justified guilty pleasure, I claim!"
As for when I first listened to the band, I guess I picked up two or three of the albums, including Arborescence and the excellent Become The Other [YMU link] on cassette tape when I was at university in Durham, UK from 1993-1996, and it's great to find almost the entire band's back catalog available here on Yahoo! Of course, when chatting with fellow Ozrics fan and game journalist Jeremy 'Toastyfrog' Parish, we both agreed that all their albums, and indeed all their songs, are basically the same - but it's a heck of a nice same, so you won't mind me sharing it with you, eh?
The other YMU playlist that I publically released over the past few months is this one - the 'Get Lo' compilation [YMU link], of which I explained to YMU Playlisters:
"Anyhow, it's a sampling of the excellent, if somewhat obscure UK electronica label Lo Recordings, which has a whole bunch of albums on YME. They share some artists with mid-'90s Warp Records (Red Snapper, Luke Vibert, etc), and that kind of bouncy creative electronica aesthetic.
They also have a gorgeous album by Japanese electronica guy Susuma Yokota sampling classical music, which I excerpted to bookend the playlist. Oh, and the Sabres of Paradise remix of Red Snapper's 'Hot Flush' is, honest to God, one of the best ever remixes, and I was delighted to see it featured."
Plenty of other good stuff on here, too - including Mileece, Cursor Minor, King Of Woolworths, Alexandroid, and so on - 15 tracks in total, and you can click through to listen to the entire Lo album that the song is taken from, in just about all cases.
Hunting around on the sometimes junk-filled playlist search on YMU, I ran into the very neat 'Union Jack Swing' playlist [YMU link], showcasing the best UK hiphop on YME, and created by 'lyndseylaunch', who is the Music Editor/Director of Yahoo! Music, according to their Y! profile.
The playlist description (there needs to be a way to cut and paste this, btw!), says: "The U.K. may have stricter gun control-laws, and its rappers may rhyme about such polite subjects as footie matches, pub quizzes, and mushy peas. And yes, these Brit-hoppers' crisp, lilting accents may be a little more Masterpiece Theater than Master P. But as Dizzee Rascal's knife wounds and Goldie Lookin Chain's voracious narcotic intake attest, life in Britain's council estates can still be hardscrabble indeed. Listen here for a bit of Brit grit from the 'hoods across the pound."
As well as some of the obvious but marvellous (The Streets, Roots Manuva), there's a bunch of good tracks from the 'Run The Road' grime compilation, and some neat, leftfield choices such as tracks from ex-pats like Slick Rick and Floetry - oh, and there's even Malcolm McLaren in there somewhere or other. 82 songs in total, well worth checking out.
Wandering around YMU randomly, managed to spot that Ugly Duckling's new album 'Bang For The Buck' [YMU link], put out via NY hiphop label Fat Beats, is now streamable - and it's another classic from the all-white, all-goofy Long Beach hiphop crew.
Ugly Duckling specialize in the polar opposite to thugged-out bling hiphop - in fact, when I saw them live in San Francisco a few years ago, they did a great version of 'A Little Samba' from the awesome 'Journey To Anywhere' album [YMU link], also available on YMU in an extended version, which aped the 'Cash Rules Everything Around Me' attitude of a lot of contemporary hiphop - also check 'Big Bank Take Little Bank' on 'Journey To Anywhere' - same concept, hilarious!
Of course, this means that UD aren't really mainstream, at least not in the U.S. - though they're actually reasonably popular in Europe and Australia, where the hiphop pop hooks go down quite well. But the new album seems like another great alternative hiphop release, and I, at least, highly recommend it.
The 'Unto The Rave Eternal' playlist [YMU link] was created by myself, and is described thusly: "Some classic British music from the early '90s, both directly from the rave scene and inspired by it - from The Shamen to 808 State and beyond. Vital for those who love electronic and techno, I claim.'
This was originally posted in the YMU Playlisters Yahoo! Group, and got a nice response from Lucas Gonze, who commented: "For some reason this turned out to be a great playlist for working. I had it on via headphones in my cube and ended up sort of grooving away and crunching through backlog to the beat. Out of the tunes, the cover by Saint Etienne grabbed me the most. Most of this stuff is new to me, though. In the early 90s I was way too flannel for this genre. :)"
The KLF - Last Train To Trancentral (Live From The Lost Continent)
808 State - In Yer Face
Orb - A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre
Of The Ultraworld (Orbital Dance Mix)
Primal Scream - Come Together
The Prodigy - Charly
The Beloved - Sweet Harmony
Orbital - Impact USA (The Earth Is Burning: Diversion)
The Shamen - Phorever People (D's Mellow Dub)
Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
The KLF - Justified And Ancient
The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds - Dance Mix 2
[This is the kind of music I used to dig a lot growing up in the UK, so it was great to find at least _some_ of it on YMU - though I had to dig around quite a bit to find streamable tracks. If you do nothing else, listen to the sublimely 'geezer' Shamen's Phorever People remix from Tommy D in an ambient-ish house style.]