The Black Crowes – Hard To Handle
(Otis Redding, Allen Jones, Alvertis Isbell)
Live on Letterman
>Shake Your Money Maker (Def American)
If you were around in the 80s you must remember the eccentric, and sometimes controversial, Swedish trio Army of Lovers. Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda and Camilla Henemark (aka La Camilla) formed their Army in 1988. Through the years band members came and went, and returned. Most memorable songs, and biggest hits, are Crucified, Obsession, and Israelism.
The band never really broke through in the USA. Explicit lyrics and the group’s refusal to moderate their recordings even kept them from signing a record deal. The music videos, and outspoken costuming, are probably just as memorable. Some were even band by MTV at the time. After going their separate ways in 1996, the band reformed briefly in 2001, and got back together for some live shows in 2007. The original members reunited last year to enter the Melodifestivalen 2013, aiming at representing Sweden in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Their song Rockin’ the Ride stranded, not reaching the finals. Here’s a peak at the new life of the AoL.
The latest, self-titled, Jamie Lidell album is surely a contender for album of year. It’s the man’s 6th album release. His first release Muddlin Gear went a little unnoticed as Lidell’s big break came with Multiply in 2005, a single off his sophomore album. The new album has less of a dark feel than the previous. Unlike Compass, this is much more a DIY project, with less guest appearances, also as far as production goes. Overall the songs sound very Prince-esque, with an electronic seasoning. Though the lead single What a Shame sounded very electro, yet catchy, the rest of the album is a lot more toned. The new single You Naked is proof of the pudding. Won’t let you off the hook after you press play.
Speaking of Billie Ray Martin, the Queen of electro Soul. Coming week The Crackdown Project Volume I: Sold Out To Disco and The Crackdown Project Volume II: Darkness Restored will be released on compact disc. Originally a digital release on Billie’s Disco Activisto label in 2010, it is now being released on CD for the very first time, including a huge collection of innovative remixes personally commissioned by Billie, and an exclusive new mix. The project features BRM’s re-workings of the influential Sheffield industrial group Cabaret Voltaire’s Crackdown and Just Fascination, taken from their 1983 album The Crackdown. Volume II features Cabaret Voltaire bassist Stephen Mallinder on vocal. The Crackdown is produced by Maertini Broes from Berlin, and UK producer Lusty Zanzibar takes production credit for Just Fascination. Remixes were delivered not only by Billie’s co-writer David Harrow, but also by Celebrity Murder Party, Copycat, Divide and Create, Dunproofin, Flying White Dots, Phil RetroSpector and Year Zero.
Being influenced by both electronic music and Soul in the early 80s, Billie moved to London set out to fuse soul and electronics. Birmingham’s Electribe 101 was her first ticket to success. Talking With Myself is probably their best known piece of music. A second album never happened as the band split. Working with S’Express later scored her a first top 10 UK hit.
After a successful collaboration with British dance duo Spooky, Billie Ray landed a new record deal, both in Europe and Stateside. The first solo release Your Loving Arms, co-written by David Harrow and produced by Dave Ball and Richard Norris of The Grid, became the monster hit and iconic club classic still spinning to date. Her solo album entitled Deadline for My Memories included several songs originally destined for Electribe 101’s second album.
Moving to New York, earned her another #1 Club hit in 1999, Honey, produced by The Grid. Killer mixes came courtesy of Above & Beyond, Deep Dish and Chicane of course.
After releasing the album 18 Carat Garbage independently, Martin then released a series of singles on her new Disco Activisto label. In 2007 Undisco Me went Top 10 in the UK Dance Chart. A year later Billie got together with Robert Solheim to form The Opiates which resulted in their first EP, entitled Anatomy of a Plastic Girl.
With the release of another solo single Sweet Suburban Disco in 2011, Martin delivered an Italo disco classic cut. On the Sold Life EP Billie Ray got together with Chicago house favorites Hard Ton. The EP features Sold Life and a cover of the Club classic Fantasy Girl.
A second EP from The Opiates titled Rainy Days and Remixes was released in September 2011 as a prelude to their long awaited album Hollywood Under The Knife. In February 2012, Kim Ann Foxman and Aerea Negrot of Hercules and Love Affair, and Throbbing Gristle’s Chris & Cosey contributed to a remix collection entitled Hollywood Cuts.
End of last year, Billie released a limited edition DVD entitled Five Takes (A Song About Andy), featuring five movies inspired by Andy Warhol‘s Screen Tests. The song On Borrowed Time is presented in five unique takes, with music by electronic producer and soul singer Waterson. Now it’s time to revisit The Crackdown Project. Here’s two favorite picks: a Phil RetroSpector remix of The Crackdown, and a Copycat remix of Just Fascination.
Magic Hour is to be Scissor Sisters’ last album. For the time being, the last we get to see will be a Live DVD of their performance at London’s Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park (2011). The four band members are taking a (temporary?) break to concentrate on their individual future. Guitarist Del Marquis, maybe the fiercest of ‘em all, already launched a side project named Del & Xavier.
Earlier this year Marquis announced he was sitting on a ton of new songs that he had recorded for his debut solo album Slow Nights, set for release this Spring, including quite a few that he had done together with Xavier. The guys picked six of these recordings to mash up a mix tape which is available as a free download. The lead track Let Me Tickle Your Fancy is a very groovylicious tune, reminiscent of the 80’s. And it’s got a saucy vid to go with it. Treat yourself to a time warp, why don’t you!
Producer Bright Light Bright Light is still highly underrated as an artist in his own right. The album Make Me Believe in Hope is definitely one of the better products that came out of 2012. Rod Thomas knows how to serve a slow jam just as well as electronic Poptasm. Remarkable is his version of Julee Cruise’s Falling. Last week he unlocked a new track Your Loving Arms (click the link for your copy). Yes, the Billie Ray Martin club classic of the 90’s. The iconic dance track has been stripped bare. Bright Light x2 lays his frail vocal over a simple piano solo. Who’d have thought someone would pull this off. But if anyone could…
Pop stars tend to turn up in one or the other commercial for a major brand at some point in their career. Recently Lana Del Rey even remade a classic crooner especially for the promotion of a Swedish retailer, which went down quite well as Lana’s bewildering vocal created a mood setting. Desire is going to be the singer’s next project: a feature film about the Jaguar F. An extended commercial, if you will. The new music video basically serves no other purpose than to sell a car. Del Rey takes to the stage in an abandoned theater while images of a fast and furious F-Type flash up. But if you listen closely, you will read nothing deeper in the lyrics. Shall we just say sex sells.
A commercial helps an artist get exposed to a wider audience, but commercial usually doesn’t equal quality. And typical for a (clever) Pop song, you just can’t get it out of your head, which is a good thing for product placement.
Let’s just stick with Pop equals fun, and -try to- enjoy Burning Desire.
Laura Mvula – Green Garden
Directed by Wendy Morgan
> Sing To The Moon (RCA)