Chart Sweep / Time Sweep


This little piece of history has been going viral over the last few weeks after being put up on Soundcloud by a user called mjs538.
*UPDATE: Another user: DJMOOG1 has put up a better quality version which I’ve embedded above.
Although not actually by mjs538, the pieces have a strange and convoluted history in themselves as well as portraying the history of pop music based on all the #1 hits in the US charts since 1958. Both mixes use up to 5 seconds of each and every #1 since the mid fifties, in order, up until 1981 in Part 1 and into the early nineties in Part 2. Whilst a herculean effort, even in this day and age of digital editing and online stores to source the material, it’s all the more impressive that the bulk of Part 1 was made in the late seventies using reel to reel tape and a razor blade.

MARKFO_BThe piece – known as ‘Time Sweep’ – was part of an extensive radio show called The History of Rock n Roll’, made by Drake – Chenault Enterprises for radio in the US which utilized 52 hours to bring the first comprehensive history of rock music to the airwaves. Each year was prefaced with a medley of that year’s #1 hit singles (a ‘Chart Sweep’) and the whole was compiled into a ‘Time Sweep’ to end the mammoth series. The engineer responsible was Mark Ford (above), a veteran of radio jingles and production. He compiled and edited all the selections up until 1977, not only cutting and splicing but also EQing and time stretching sections to make them fit together sonically and selecting and pairing little couplets of lyrics at certain points – Roy Orbison‘s “Pretty woman, walking down the street”, segues into “there she was, just a walking down the street”.

For a little ‘behind the scenes’ info, check out this link on the making of the special

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But the story doesn’t end there. For those paying attention, just after the Meco version of ‘Star Wars’ in Part 1, the sound quality noticeably changes in both the stereo field, quality and editing. The reason for this is that a teacher from Maryland University called Hugo Keesing extended and updated the concept of the Chart / Time Sweep for his classes as each year finished up until 1991. With all due respect to Keesing, he isn’t a sound engineer and it shows in the application of edits and production. This is where the piece stops being art and turns to documentation and, as such, loses the essence of its greatness. Keesing was using a Wollensack tape recorder to edit with and had no way to clean up or EQ the tracks. So, the majority of Part 1 is Mark Ford’s original (up until 1977) and then Keesing’s extension, which runs the entirety of Part 2.

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 2 by mjs538

How this piece came into circulation on the web was via a tape with Keesing’s name on it that was passed to the Evolution Control Committee‘s Mark Gunderson in the 90’s and the piece was widely believed to have been by him in it’s entirety by the cut and paste fraternity unfamiliar with the History of Rock n Roll programme. Eventually Keesing was tracked down and you can read an interview with him over at Jon Nelson‘s ‘Some Assembly Required’ blog.

For a comprehensive overview of the whole story check here, there is also an update of the whole concept from 1993 to 2010 if you can’t get enough of this kind of thing.

Posted in Music, Oddities, Radio, Records. | 6 Comments |

The Death of Output

DoO1-3 coverL3output logo webBack at the end of 2006, when Trevor Jackson‘s Output Recordings folded, I put together a 3 hour tribute mix of my favourite tracks. This went out as 3 separate mixes on Solid Steel and I even made a very limited number of facsimile Output CDRs of the mixes. I’ve recently had requests to upload it again so, by the miracle that is Soundcloud, it’s available. I’ve also edited it into one piece finally and the track list is embedded in the Lyrics section of the mp3. Being an avid collector of the label I thought I’d show off the screen printed promo releases and a few other choice pieces.

Further reading from early 2007 can be had on Mark E’s ‘ireallylovemusic’ site.

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The Death of Output by DJ Food

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Steinski WFMU podcast and Dennis Coffey remixes

That old devil Steve Stein aka Steinski – who should need no introduction to readers of this blog – has been hard at work on the musical and spoken word front recently. Firstly, go to his site – Steinski.com – and download the monster of a spoken word podcast he’s made for New York’s WFMU station entitled ‘Walkin’ & Talkin’. It’s a wild and varied ride through all manner of spoken word material whether from the Beats’ hip poetry to Hip Hop or a surprising amount of British Pop from the 80’s. Steinski guides you through the whole thing and, if you’re so inclined, you can follow it up and watch a lot of it via the mammoth post he’s made on his site illustrating most of the content with YouTube clips. It’s a very rewarding 2 hours plus and I suspect the site content will take just as long to hoover up.

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On the music-making front Stein has just given some new Dennis Coffey material the remix treatment, one track of which will be released as a 7″ on Record Store day. A full album of new material and covers by Coffey is coming on Strut on April 25th featuring contributions from Mayer Hawthorne, Paolo Nutini, Kings Go Forth, Mick Collins of the Dirtbombs and more. Check the cover referencing artwork too.

Posted in Music, Radio, Records. | No Comments |

’88 was great but ’89 is mine

classicI was recently asked to play at a night called Classic Material, run by Chris Read and Nick Armitage. The idea for this is to give each month over to a year from Hip Hop’s past and only play tracks released during it. DJ Format did ’87 (entirely on 45’s!), Andy Smith – ’88 and I was given 1989. ’89 was a special year for me as it was the year I moved away from my home and parents and started studying in London, a city I’ve remained in for more than half my life now.

It was also a year rich in musical delights with the beginnings of gangster rap taking over Hip Hop and the emergence of De La Soul‘s Daisy Age with their incredible ‘3 Feet High & Rising’ album. Actually possibly my top three all-time favourite Hip Hop albums were released in ’89, the aforementioned ‘3 Feet High…’, the Beastie Boys‘Paul’s Boutique’ and the Jungle Brothers‘Done By The Forces of Nature’.

De La shirt webThe Beasties’ album was critically mauled at the time but has undergone a reappraisal since and is now hailed as the classic it is but the Jungle Brothers’ record is still only really feted by Hip Hop heads in the know. It’s their strongest record with as much inventiveness as the De La album if not quite the wackiness of Prince Paul‘s production. In it you can hear the whole blueprint for the Native Tongues movement that was beginning to emerge but also a precursor to Deee-Lite‘s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ – which would be the anthem of 1990 – Towa Tei was even involved in aspects of the record. On the west coast the Dust Brothers were in their most high profile period with Tone Loc, Young MC and the production of the Beastie’ record. The whole NWA/Ruthless Records camp was basking in the glory of ’88’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and surrounding releases like the D.O.C‘s ‘No One Can Do It Better’ album.

Hip House and the general speeding up of Hip Hop was the order of the day with a lot of UK only remixes of licensed US tracks having this edge to them. Alongside this you had the Stone Roses’ debut album and the whole Maddchester scene as well as the fallout from the acid house excess of the previous year making it’s mark on both the charts and surrounding music genres. S’Express made their best records and Tim Burton‘s first Batman was the film of the summer, complete with soundtrack by Prince.

Whilst all this was going on I was doing my Foundation course in Art and Design in Reigate and used the screen printing facilities to make some custom T-shirts for myself and others featuring De La Soul surrounded by psychedelic lettering I drew. It’s with this design that I want to illustrate the mix I put together for Classic Material, done completely on vinyl – what a pain that was after using Serato for 5 years!

’88 was great but ’89 is mine by DJ Food

Elsewhere J Saul Kane was starting his own journey with the first Depth Charge releases on DC Recordings but that comes to fruition about five years down the line.

Posted in Art, Music, Records. | 2 Comments |

Ninja Tune XX box set news

An XX box set just went for nearly £300 on eBay someone should have told the bidders that Ninja had a few tucked away for their new site launch and the winner could have saved themselves £200. In other news, the box set was featured in an end of year round up in the New York Times of all places (there we are over on the right) alongside, Elvis, Dylan, the Stones, Springsteen, Lennon and more…

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Ninja Tune XX in the US, Part 1: NYC

Day 1: Wednesday – NYCWFMU, Coffee Break for Heroes & Villains

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We’re flying to the States for the next leg of Ninja Tune XX anniversary gigs, by we, I mean myself, DK and Tom Bell (Toddla T). We land at New York’s JFK airport and meet Jeff Waye – head of Ninja Tune N. America – and Steve Beatty – tour manager with his assistant Tamara. First stop is the Sohotel in downtown Manhattan where, one by one, Amon Tobin, Brendan Angelides (Eskmo), Eric San (Kid Koala) and DJ Kentaro and his brother Kotaro arrive. The first night is free so some of us go to eat and catch up, well it’s free for the others, but not for me. I’ve agreed to guest on Noah Uman‘s show on WFMU – the great alternative station based over the river in New Jersey – which kicks off at midnight!  So, whilst my body is telling me to go to bed I’m getting picked up and driven to the station with Noah and friends Egor and Greg, wondering how long I’ll last over the course of the three hour show.

I’ve only known Noah for about a year, he contacted me via the web to see if I would be interested in providing a brief quote for a reissue he is working on – Marshall McLuhan‘s ‘The Medium Is The Massage’ – not the book but the record. It’s one of my favourite cut & paste / spoken word pieces and even more amazing in that it actually lives up to the book’s legend. He’d clocked that I would be in town and asked if I would guest on his show which plays predominantly Hip Hop, albeit everything but the major label kind. We hit it off immediately and he took us to the library room where he proceeded to pull a few bits before we hit the studio. I had an inkling of what the station would be like given the material they display and I wasn’t disappointed. Customised record sleeves lined the walls, a huge rack of cassettes was still present, a corridor of strange paintings of public figures like Elvira, Elvis and Sarah Palin (!) all rendered in an odd style by a fan of the station were just some of the decorations. The toilet contained a framed book cover, ‘DJ’ this is THE big one that tells you about THAT man and THOSE people – bizarre sleeves abounded and downstairs was a huge cross made from melted records – ‘the Death of Vinyl’ – again provided by a fan.
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We kicked off and Noah and I were in our element, nerding out and chatting non stop about oddities and obscurities both on and off the air whilst I played a selection of old school favourites of the lesser-known kind, cover versions, cut ups from the UK and Japan and novelty records. I’d pulled out Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s 1981 single ‘Monster Rap’, essentially a rap retread of his ‘Monster Mash’ hit, and lo and behold so had Noah, only he’d found one with a picture sleeve. You know when you meet a kindred spirit, I felt at home straight away and before we knew it it was approaching 3am! Jesus, where did the time go? I got back to the hotel about 4am and bid my goodbyes, Greg was going back to LA the next day but I’d see Egor at the gig the next night. Even though I was flagging badly by now (having been awake for over 24 hours) I could hardly sleep as the room was so hot and the air con like a helicopter when turned on.

You can listen to the show and see the tracklist here

Day 2: Thursday – NYC Double Dee & Steinski, Matt Johnson and a last minute change of venue.

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Rising at 8.30am, DK and I looked for breakfast nearby, it was only on finishing and going to pay that I realised I’d lost my credit card. Great start to the tour! I quickly deduced that I’d had it in the airport and had probably forgotten to take it from a machine in my haste to board, anyway, had to cancel that with a no doubt expensive mobile call to the UK. The rest of the day was ours until a 4pm soundcheck and I’d arranged to hook up with Steinski for lunch who had texted to say that he was up at Double Dee‘s studio in Midtown. The sun was out and with 90 minutes to kill I decided to do the typical foreigner-in-town thing and walk it, checking out people, art, buildings and day to day stuff en route. I arrived at Douglas’ studio as he was finishing off cutting TV promo spots for ‘Meet The Fockers’ and we chatted for a bit before Stein and I jumped on the subway back downtown to the soundcheck.

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The venue – Santos Party House, owned by Andrew WK – had the most speakers I have ever seen in a club of its size, the stage was mounted on subs, rows lined the ceiling either side of the bar, tiny tweeters hung down in clusters above our heads and there was a huge cabinet at one side of the stage that you could have slept in quite easily. Set up was pretty painless even though we had five different performing configurations: DK and I have 4 decks and 3 mixers, Kentaro: 3 decks and 2 mixers, Koala: 3 decks, 1 mixer, Amon: 2 decks, 1 mixer and Eskmo: his own specific set up.

It was then that I realised my headphones were missing and that I’d probably left them in the radio station the night before in my jet-lagged state, second thing I’d lost in the space of a day! By this time Ghislain Poirier had joined us as well as several of the office staff from the UK, having all been given a lump sum each to go to an international gig of their choice. A huge dinner was planned shortly nearby for the staff and the distributors in NY but first I had another date.

I’d arranged to meet Matt Johnson, of The The, who was incidentally in town with his son on business, for a quick drink and chat which he would record and use on a later monthly podcast. Our cover version of his song ‘Giant’ is ongoing and we both agreed that it should be finished by the end of the year, me reworking my instrumental and him providing vocals in a new style. He was staying 2 blocks up from the party and after meeting we happened to walk by the club with soundcheck still booming out across the street. He took us to a bar he knew from his days living in the city, lamenting the closure of many of his favourite old haunts. Throughout the drinks I was getting ever increasing texts from Steinski: “were being invaded!”, “there are business people everywhere!”, “help!” so after a couple of beers I scooted off the the restaurant to find him and Double Dee literally surrounded by Ninja artists, staff and distributors, very few of whom they knew. The dinner descended into ordering mayhem with dishes arriving no one had ordered, people nicking other’s meals and a bill that seemed way over the odds.

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We crept back to the hotel to get some rest before the night began and I called Noah to see if my headphones were at the station. Whilst waiting for him to call back I got a text message from Nigel Peake (also in town on business): “I’ve just seen a squad of New York’s finest heading into the club, what have you been up to?” Thinking he was joking I texted back, “No idea but it’s going to be pretty loud in there tonight” – famous last words. Next thing my phone rang and I answer thinking it’s Noah calling back with news of my headphones, instead it’s Steve, “Come to the club right now, the police have shut down the party, we have to get the gear out, grab DK too”. Shit! Great start to the tour, credit card and headphones lost and now the first gig shut down before it’s even started. We raced down to the club, luckily there wasn’t too big a crowd yet and we managed to easily get inside without trouble and proceeded to rip down the gear as fast as we could.

Jeff, Steve and the promoter wanted a show of hands to see who was up for trying to do something elsewhere if we could find it and all were in agreement. By the time everything was packed a venue had been found on Bowery and we all jumped in cars and cabs (Egor came to my aid out of the blue) and made our way over to the new venue, Crash Mansion / BLVD to be greeted by a severely grumpy sound man. “These are my monitors, you don’t touch them unless I tell you to”, he stated, like some sort of whiny drill sergeant, fine, we were just glad of somewhere to play, we didn’t want to start messing with his speakers. He produced the most rickety tables I’ve ever seen, one of which he had to screw back together just so it could stand up and we soon realised that we would have to have a rotating pair of set ups, one act playing whilst the next one built their set-up. Just before midnight we were ready and a large crowd had got word and trekked over (the power of Twitter), forming a huge line round the block.

We’d managed to uproot the whole party in less than three hours and restart with only the loss of the video and a seriously compromised soundsystem. Downstairs was opened so that Poirier, Toddla T, Priest and M Sayeed from Anti-Pop could play but it didn’t quite work as either people didn’t realise it was on or were too captivated upstairs. I was flagging badly by this point and fell asleep backstage during Amon’s set (photo evidence by Melissa Phillips), DK and I were on last due to us having the largest set up and the gig finished at 4am. I really didn’t get very many good pictures due to low light and tiredness but the Hi-Fi Cartel site has some 150+ excellent ones. Everyone was relieved but exhausted and we hauled everything back to the hotel with only an hour until lobby call for the flight to San Francisco at 6am.

Read Part 2…

Ninja Tune XX in the US, Part 3: Los Angeles

Day 4: Saturday – LA – Echo/Echoplex

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Lobby call was a slightly kinder 10am this time and we were starting to acclimatise  to the time zone now. We were staying at the Standard downtown, which had a ping pong table and organ in the lobby as well as a curtain print in the room that matched the design on the walls. The shower wall was also clear glass so everything was on display if you were sharing rooms. Steve lucked out when he was given a huge top floor suite which included a bath that could hold six and a large, spongy foot in the middle of the floor(!). The show was at Echo/Echoplex, a two room venue in Echo Park, with Eskmo, special guest Cut Chemist, Toddla T, Amon and Kentaro downstairs whilst Jeff, Thavius Beck, Koala and DK and I had the smaller upstairs room. We all went to dinner nearby and were joined by Money Mark, publicist Trevor and several of the UK office staff who had chosen LA as their destination of choice. We got back to see the end of Cut’s set which was amazing, using one turntable and a foot pedal to loop and scratch African records over each other as with his Sound of the Police release. Plenty of people had come in costume as it was Halloween weekend including a taco, cavemen, telly tubbies, pimps and pnutz from the Ninja forum dressed as a Technics turntable, complete with 7″ hair accessory and Ninja record label on the deck. Highlight of the night was Koala’s crossfader breaking mid set and him seamlessly changing it live onstage whilst using the pillow fight routine to cover himself. DK and I had a great set and Jim Mahfood turned up with his posse and sweated his guts out dancing. Some great pictures of both players and costumes plus a review are here at Chinashop. We all ended up back in Steve’s suite for an after party but I was flagging badly and retired to bed early.

Day 5: Sunday – LA – Halloween, a visit to Augustine Kofie’s and the Boo-Over

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I was woken at midday by the phone, it was Augustine Kofie calling to see what my plans were so I packed, left all but my backpack at the hotel and headed over to his house. We’d agreed to meet up as I was picking up a piece of his I’d bought called ‘Constructive’, a gorgeous 12″ x 12″ collage which seemed tiny in comparison to the bigger pieces I’d seen at the gallery in San Francisco. His home looked similar to the constructions he’d built in the gallery too, neatly ordered stacks of paintings, paper, rulers, wooden boxes and other ephemera he’d picked up on his travels. We headed out to get some lunch and then on to a fancy dress store as I had to pick up a costume for the party I was secretly doing that afternoon – the last ever Do-Ever at Cranes in Hollywood, renamed the Boo-Over for the night, costume mandatory. I was at a loss for what to go in but after trying on several masks Kofie spotted the pizza slice costume which was a no-brainer for a DJ Food outfit.

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When we arrived at the spot, the line of costumed freaks was already down to the bottom of the block and it was only 4pm. There were some excellent choices too, Wolverine, plenty of Darth Vaders, a KanYe West bear, Ray Charles and a vampire Queen of the Damned with very realistic fangs who wanted to bite me all the time. I met up with Aloe Blacc and Jamie Strong who run the night in the back courtyard at the tiny venue (capacity about 250 although they must have fitted more in). I had the second set as I had to leave early to catch a plane at 10.30pm and got the party started nicely with some Halloween tunes. Later on Koala played and DESTROYED the place, his rock-heavy set going down a treat. Women were losing it big time in front of him, screaming, making heart signs, jogging the decks and pulling the ears on his bear suit.
(Note: some of these pictures were found online after the event, contact me if you have a problem or want credits added, most that weren’t by me are by RFeezy)

Kid Koala destroys the Boo-Over (web)

Jim Mahfood turned up again with Jane Dope in her Beat Bee costume, Money Mark was back, Kentaro and brother Kotaro arrived in pimp gear and as I was saying goodbye to Jamie he introduced me to Madlib who was standing next to us in a Friday 13th/Jason hockey mask. He mimed a friendly punch to my stomach and shook hands, saying he used to sample DJ Food way back when, the next thing I knew he was pulling me into a group photo of him and his friends. As I left to grab a cab to the airport I noticed the flashing lights of a police car outside and later found out six of them had come and shut the party down early. Seems like the tour began and ended with cops shutting down parties. I sped to the airport on a cloud it seemed, what a completely bizarre few days, meeting and playing with people from all over, some of them my peers, jumping from city to city in a Ninja XX shaped bubble. All so far removed from my regular life back in London and only two days until I flew on to Japan for more of the same…

Here are a couple of videos I found online after the event as well as one of my own
(from the DJ booth), easily one of my favourite gigs this year.

Happy Halloween at the Haunted House of Rock

Happy Halloween to everyone! By the time this is published, I should be in the US possibly playing an unannounced spot at the Do-Over Halloween party in LA, that’s if I can get out of bed after the marathon 3 days that preceded it on the Ninja XX mini-tour. Anyway, in preparation I was going through my collection in search of Halloween and Horror-themed tracks and I found this. Picked up years ago in a record shop in Exeter I believe, it’s the Jive UK issue of Whodini’s ‘The Haunted House of Rock’ which has a unique sleeve.

Whodini  frontWhodini  back

The cover illustration is by Graham Humphreys who many of my generation will recognise as the artist who provided the posters and covers for the UK releases of Evil Dead 1 & 2, Nightmare On Elm St 1,2 & 3, Creepers, Basket Case and more (not getting typecast or anything). That’s great enough but check out the (s)lime green vinyl and skull label, beautiful.

Whodini labelWhodini  disc

Posted in Art, Design, Records. | 1 Comment |

splashOff to the US Wednesday for a 4 day jaunt that will take in NYC, SF and LA and hopefully a lot of friends along the way… First major stop should be Noah Uman’s  Coffee Break For Heroes & Villains show on famed radio station WFMU. His show is on at midnight until 3am 27th/28th of October so lord knows what physical state I’ll be in at that hour.

It’s mainly Hip Hop with a bias towards old school and golden periods seemingly although he does play more contemporary stuff too. I’ve dug out some oldies and oddities to play and it’s pretty relaxed on air so I expect we’ll be talking Hip Hop shop too at some points. Oh yeah and it’s not a mix show so don’t expect any great blends.

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More info: wfmu.org/playlists/NU •   WFMU 91.1 fm & 90.1 fm •   www.coffeebreakradio.com

Posted in DJ Food, Music, Radio, Records. | No Comments |

Canterbury Carboot bargain

I played at the Farmhouse in Canterbury on Saturday and had an excellent night (thanks Sean, Victoria and James) – try the excellent food on the menu courtesy of chef Rob if you’re in the area.

On Sunday morning I went to a local carboot sale and found this gem for 20 English pence. Apart from the beautiful cover it features excellent Radiophonic Workshop pieces on the B side from John Baker and Delia Derbyshire, including ‘New World’, which is better known to a generation of 70’s school kids for it’s closing seconds which were used for the theme to John Craven’s Newsround.

MMM frontMMM back

Posted in Design, Records. | 1 Comment |

3rd Demdike Stare EP coming, mix CD and new podcast

demdike
artworks-000002581467-iqocss-originalEasily one of the most interesting acts out there at the moment, Demdike Stare have the third in their trilogy of EPs ready to drop soon. Apparently called ‘Voices of Dust’, containing 9 tracks and over 50 minutes long (!), it will be with us at the end of November inside another lovely Andy Votel sleeve. Not only that but there are plans to collect all three EPs onto CD, a new mix CD – Industrial Desert – was out last week (still waiting for mine) and a new-ish podcast is up on Unsound’s soundcloud page.

UP#13 Demdike Stare’s Unsounded Podcast by unsound

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