Back after a good while - I still dig Yahoo! Music Unlimited, especially for listening to albums I might like before I decide to buy them from Emusic, but it has to be said that the ability to find less well-known music through the service is still severely lacking.
But nonetheless, every now and again, I go back and do another label compilation, and here's the latest, 'I'm Totally Skint For It' [YMU link].
As I say: "Brighton, UK label Skint is best known for signing Fatboy Slim, of course, but they were at the forefront of the 'big beat' movement in the '90s, and some of the early highlights are here - from Hardknox through Lo-Fi Allstars and beyond, plus newer house/chill tracks from FC Kahuna, Freq Nasty, and the sublime X-Press 2." Enjoy!
Oops, it's great when you discover half-finished blog posts 3 months later - I just realized that I was most of the way through posting an Ether Music playlist back in January or so when I had to stop, and never started again.
Anyhow, here is the description for 'Into The Ether' [YMU link]: "Looking for Gilles Peterson DJ-ed material, I stumbled across a small cache of excellent music from small London label Ether Music, including several tracks from Peterson compilations, plus odd world music Nirvana covers from Kad and a neat album from Seu Jorge (recently notable for appearing in The Life Aquatic."
"So, lots of world (particularly Brazilian!) jazzy beats here, and it's well worth checking all the source albums."
Time for another label-specific mix for Yahoo! Music Unlimited, and I must say, there's _so_ much good material on YMU which it's practically impossible to find, due to the lack of good 'you might like X if you like Y' comparisons in niche genres, no label search, incorrect label listing for some minor labels, and similar issues.
So this means I ended up reverse engineering this playlist from the Discogs.com entry, but hey it worked - here's the blurb for 'Southern Fried Charm?' [YMU link]: "Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook's very own UK-based label Southern Fried Records started out as a place to release tracks by Cook alter egos such as the Mighty Dub Katz, but has morphed into an awesome big beat/house label in its own right.
Some highlights on this best-of selection include Scanty Sandwich's 'Because Of You', a sizable UK pop hit with its early Michael Jackson sample, as well as great tracks from chill-out dons A Man Called Adam and Prince-covering discohouse crazy Space Cowboy. All in all, most upbeat!"
Aha, the threatened return is here with my 'best of' picks for UK label Planet Mu, in 'Planet Mu's Elliptical Orbit' [YMU link] - worth noting that all of the tracks in it are taken from full albums also available on YMU, as well, so if you like them, there's plenty more to listen to.
Here's the blurb: "UK label Planet Mu, originally started by Mike Paradinas (Mu-Ziq) as a subsidiary of Virgin, has been doing wacky, often dischordant electronic music since the late '90s.
However, more recent material is mashing up early 1993-1996 jungle and its children in ever more interesting ways, straddling the line between breakbeat, pure noise, and even some grime - highlights include Venetian Snares, Remarc, Virus Syndicate, Hellfish, and more."
I'm working on another label-specific playlist, for the excellent Planet Mu, but in the meantime, I stumbled upon the very necessary playlist 'Arch Celebrity Weirdness Alert' [YMU link] - the official description is as follows:
"Want to hear some celebrities performing odd, strange, or just plain awful songs? Sure you do, that's why you're listening to this playlist!
Thanks to the Rhino 'Golden Throats' compilations (and Rhino in general!) for some of the inspiration, but there's everything from Laurel & Hardy through Paris Hilton on show here."
Some further notes - one of the great things is that, while the 'Golden Throats' compilations aren't on YMU, some individual albums are - so you can check out the full Cassius Clay album or even Buddy Ebsen's effort if you want - a great example of why YMU rocks. Oh, and I know Pat Boone is a singer, but he's a celebrity too, and that album ('In A Metal Mood') is just too good to leave out.
(Also, the William Shatner album 'Has Been', from which the cover of Pulp's 'Common People' is taken, is one of the most surprisingly good celebrity albums ever, partly thanks to Ben Folds' producing and writing chops. Highly illogical!)
Finally, a spare weekend, and the chance to come up with a specially themed playlist, with 'The Danger Of The Mouse' [YMU link], with the official description as follows:
"A compilation of tracks produced by Danger Mouse, the talented hip-pop producer best known for his Gnarls Barkley project with Cee-Lo and prodoucing Gorillaz' second album [and 'The Grey Album', of course!]
However, other recent production work for Sparklehorse and The Rapture is included here, as is material from his excellent Danger Doom album [with MF Doom] themed around Adult Swim.
There's also a very odd bonus track - a 'tribute' version of Feel Good Inc by the 'Gorillaz Tribute Band' - so a soundalike version of his production!"
Back after a short hiatus with a compilation of some of the female-vocal tracks that I particularly adore, in the form of 'Her Voice Of Summer' [YMU link].
As the playlist description explains: "A compilation of some of the more gorgeous female voices flirting with electronica, from former Opus III singer Kirsty Hawkshaw through the wonderful Imogen Heap of Frou Frou, and encompassing other great female-fronted vocal tracks from Lamb, Jem, EBTG, Morcheeba, Zero 7, and more."
Other than that, that's all you need to know - unfortunately, my all-time favorite album, Kirsty Hawkshaw's 'O.U.T', isn't up on YMU yet, but there's plenty of other goodness from both her and the spectacular Imogen Heap. Yum.
My new Yahoo! Music Unlimited playlist is the absolutely horrible 'This Beat Is Technotronic' [YMU link], and spans from some kind of minor breakdown I had when deciding what high quality mix I was going to do next for YMU Playa - and resolving to do a low quality one instead.
As the playlist description explains: "An absolutely horrific playlist, bookended by 2 tracks by Technotronic, featuring some of the cheesiest (or darn catchiest) pop-techno hits to come out of the early '90s. These are the songs, from 2 Unlimited through C+C Music Factory and even Rednex (ack!) that get played too often at sports stadiums, but we keep coming back for more - suckers!"
(Tragically, Haddaway's 'What Is Love', as used in the Saturday Night Live club sketch, wasn't available in its original version, but there's a cheesier newer version available instead.)
BONUS LINKS: an excellent 'Mojo Top Tracks Vol.1' mix [YMU link], presumably from the UK music magazine, by 'ad1s0n', and featuring awesomeness from Keane, Doves, Supergrass, Super Furries, etc. Plus I spotted that Samantha Fox's album 'Touch Me' [YMU link] is available on YMU, if you're into topless pinups transformed into bubblegum pop superstars. Which I'm sure you are.
My latest Yahoo! Music Unlimited playlist is called 'Ambience Into The Ether' [YMU link], and tends toward the distinctly chilled, since I decided to compile some of my favorite ambient artists into one longform playlist.
The description in YMU itself is as follows: "[This is] my playlist of the most pulsing, most spaced slices of ambient I could find on YMU. It mainly includes some of the genre's originators, including Brian Eno, Harold Budd, and ex-Tangerine Dream-er Klaus Schulze. But it also drifts into the 'avant-garde composer' realms (Terry Riley, Steve Reich) and features some newer ambient standouts (Biosphere, Pete Namlook). Enjoy!"
Nothing much else to be said about this, other than the playlist is only 10 tracks, but about 2 hours long, thanks to some mammoth track lengths, heh. Oh, and that there are some semi-miscredits on YMU's listing, due to co-composed albums, such as the first track from 'Ambient 2' being by Brian Eno and Harold Budd, not just Budd, and one of the Namlook tracks being co-composed with Move D - you can tell if you squint at the album covers.
[Also, Harold Budd's The Serpent In Quicksilver/Abandoned Cities album [YMU link], of which one track makes it onto this playlist, is one of my favorite albums of all time - completely gorgeous piano-based ambient.]
Here's the description attached to the playlist: "This UK-based Ninja Tune offshoot releases some of the best alternative hiphop from the UK and US scenes, from mainstay and British hiphop icon Roots Manuva, through the Anticon guys' Clouddead project and the awesome MF Doom alter ego King Geedorah, all the way to new signing Spank Rock's electrotastic 'Rick Rubin', Super duper recommended."
And that's about all I need to say, really, other than the fact that I like how international Big Dada ends up being, since it hoovers up a lot of the alt.hiphop that's just too wired and weird for U.S. labels, as well as important people from elsewhere in the world, such as France's TTC - here's a really good interview with them. Go listen!
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!
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!]
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.
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.]