RIP Leonard Nimoy

Spocks Music From outer SpaceI was sad to hear of Leonard Nimoy‘s death over the weekend. Although I’ve never been a Trekkie his appeal for me was always his voice and I’ve dug out three records from the collection that feature him. The classic is ‘Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space’ album, a direct cash-in LP from the TV show that made him famous. As well as a groovey version of the theme from ‘Star Trek’ it also bizarrely features covers of themes from ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Oliver’ but the gold is in the spacey spoken word tracks were Nimoy shines, especially ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Earth’ and ‘A Visit To A Sad Planet’.

Whales Alive

The second album is a 1987 release entitled ‘Whales Alive’ by Paul‘s Winter and Halley with narration by Nimoy. This is essentially a New Age record with voices of Humpback Whales accompanied by Leonard reading relevant spoken word passages. In the early 90’s I used to play selections from this over my ambient sets, one track in particular, ‘Queequeg and I’ extracted from ‘Moby Dick’, was a favourite. Unfortunately the record obtained a scratch at some point and you can hear it during one of my first ever Solid Steel sets from 1993. Near the end of the piece, just as it builds to a crescendo, Nimoy reads, “as he stood…” and the record jumps back to a perfect loop of the line, as I realised what was happening in the middle of the live mix you can hear me quietly fading the line out.

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Probably the best know use of Leonard in one of the mixes I’ve been involved with though is the Ray Bradbury ‘Marionettes, Inc.’ story used during the ‘Taking of Pelham 123′ section of ‘Now, Listen’. I can’t lay claim to this as it was 100% PC‘s inclusion and arrangement but it stands as one of the most memorable moments of the mix. Someone has uploaded it to the web and it starts at around the 10 minute mark. I can’t recommend this 1976 Caedmon LP enough being that it contains Nimoy reading two other classic Bradbury sci-fi stories. RIP Leonard.

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Greg Gallo in Heavy Metal magazine Jan 1992

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A 3 page story appeared in the January ’92 issue of Heavy Metal magazine, credited to Greg Gallo and made entirely out of distorted photocopies. I’ve searched for more comic work by Gallo but found nothing, can anyone enlighten me on anything else he’s done please or was this a one-off? The twisted xeroxes remind me of WKinteract‘s work that sometimes utilises a similar method.

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Flexibition #9: Salvador Dali ‘L’Apothéose du Dollar’

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I know next to nothing about this but picked it up because of the cover and Dali‘s involvement. According to Discogs it’s a “Short commercial recorded by Salvador Dalí for Crédit Commercial de France (CCF). Sponsored by Publicis. Probably issued in 1967.”
The Continuo blog however thinks it was released in 1971 and describe it thus, “In 1971, the french bank Crédit Commercial de France was selling (not offering) Salvador Dali‘s book L’Apothéose Du Dollar to its customers in CCF agencies all over the country. To promote the book and their customer-oriented financial services they had their advertising agency Publicis create this disc for which Dali wrote a remarkably cynical Dollar appraise. The first part is Dali reading the great poem above. The 2nd part is a bank PR promoting the CCF. The final part is Dali promoting his own book.”  All dialogue is in French and the Continuo post contains a transcript of the poem Dali reads.

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More Rammellzee…

Ramm1&2 colourThe Rammellzee love-in continues… finished colour versions of the Ramm(s) by Dan Lish (love that he flipped the 2nd one) and an old video popped up the other day of a performance by Rammellzee and Toxic C1 at the Rhythm Lounge in 1983. Toxic is cutting up Billy Squire‘s ‘Big Beat’ while Ramm raps but Jean Michell Basquiat also provides graphic overlays and doesn’t actually appear, the video isn’t all that but it’s all about the recording.

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Big Fish Little Fish at the Imagine Fest

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Big Fish Little Fish was amazing on Sunday, god knows how many people crammed into the Clore Ballroom at the Southbank in London. So many at one point that we had to stop the music for 10 minutes for an unscheduled break while the staff tried to calm a swell of the people trying to get in. Above is at the start as people were coming in, you can see House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ on my laptop as the opening track.

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The parachute dance (above) is a regular feature of the BFLF parties and this one was different in that they did it three times so that people got a chance to be under it, still didn’t stop a fight by two mums nearly breaking out to get underneath :). Below you can see just how much it had filled up by the end as families poured into the totally unprepared ballroom to rave inside away from the rain. Despite it being a roadblock all the staff were lovely and Hannah and Natasha from BFLF handled the whole thing like pros.

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I made a mix for them back in January that I’ve been meaning to post it on here but what with the Selected Aphex Works mix I didn’t want to push too many mixes out there. But here it is – Warning! Pop Alert! This is made as much with kids in mind as adults, probably good for a picnic or birthday party rather than the more adult-centric classic rave and jungle I played on Sunday.

‘Ordinary’ by Rob Williams & D’Israeli

Ordinarycover‘Ordinary’ was one of my comics of 2014, the story of a world where everyone wakes up with different super powers, all except Michael who’s ordinary. As the world quickly goes to pot he has to find his son in a New York city gone mad and he soon becomes a target for the government – who want him dead – and the scientists who want him alive as they believe that he may hold the key to reversing the effect.

Shot through with Rob Williams‘ dark humour and illustrated in gorgeous colour by D’Israeli, I’m not ashamed to say that the ending bought a lump to my throat. Originally published in the Judge Dredd Megazine it’s now been collected into a trade paperback by Titan Comics and buyers from OK Comics in Leeds can get an exclusive signed bookplate edition by both creators.

Rammellzee part 2 by Dan Lish

DLish-Rammpt.2This blog seems to rapidly be becoming a Dan Lish showcase of late. Furthermore to the first portrait of Wildstyle-era Ramm that he posted just a few days ago, late last night this version went up. The Rammellzee in full on Ikonoklast Panzerism mode. Both so wonderful, can’t wait to see the colour versions.

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I’ve been meaning to post his illustration for the weird Beatles meets Hip Hop mash up that went up the other month too…

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Early Mo Wax designs by Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift

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I love some of these designs from the first 20 or so releases from Mo Wax by Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift. I’ve purposely excluded the more well known releases like RPM, DJ Shadow, Attica Blues and La Funk Mob that came to characterize the label later and focused on the less well remembered artists. The first 3 releases had stickers like obi-strips on white sleeves and later they were printed on the covers.

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MW001 MW002+003 MWx15_back MWFlower2TheSun_front MWlogoSwifty MWFlower2TheSun_back

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Ian McQue Lander lushness

IMcQ_TowardsToshiStation IMcQ_VTOLIMcQ_ElsonInd_TheGuppyI follow Ian McQue on Twitter and have posted about him a couple of times now, his output and range never ceases to amaze me and he does these in a matter of hours. Here’s a collection of recent vehicles that sees a departure from his tugboat images of old.

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Check his beautiful black & white work below and he does a fine line in scenery and twisted old trees too. Also he put out a new sketchbook last year, the brilliantly titled (or groan-inducing if you hate puns) ‘Mechs & The City’. His online store has just reopened with restocks of prints and two sketchbooks.

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Flexibition #7: Listen With Rustler + Marilyn Chambers Bonus!

Flex7_listenwRustler
Two very NSFW entries to the Flexibition (or should that be Sexibition? – sorry, that’s even worse) this week. As with many things, sex comes into the equation at some point and flexi discs are no exception. If you’re the proud owner of a copy of Jonny Trunk‘s hilarious ‘Flexi-Sex’ compilation (NSFW link!) then you’ll have heard the first disc here before, originally given away free with a copy of British top shelf men’s magazine, Rustler. No, I didn’t get my copy from there if that’s what you’re thinking, it actually turned up at a record fair and I later made the connection between it and the Trunk comp.
Tantalising Tina
was the first in a series of 15 flexis given away over a 3 year period with Rustler and she would later be joined by the likes of Juicy Lucy, Wanton Wilma, Kinky Kelly and Miss Cheeky Chops among others. In true Brit tradition it’s got its tongue firmly in its cheek (no pun intended) and is about as realistic as the Saturday morning wrestling used to be. This is the one where suddenly a man joins in with the charade and pretty much ruins the not-very-good-anyway fantasy that the recording was supposed to induce. Classic 70’s Brit porn. There’s a nice round up of various porn flexi’s over at allvinylexperience, including this one and also at the aforementioned Trunk Records website (Jonny will be contributing to the Flexibition in future too).

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The second inclusion is from the other side of the pond, from a special Marilyn Chambers edition of the American magazine, Club. Marilyn is a bit more earnest in this one, over a cheesy sax-led jazz backing and the funny thing about the recording I found online is that the ending is all messed up and skips, leading to more hilarity. For some reason I can’t embed the audio so head on over to the MotorDudley blog to check it out plus images of the mag it came from.

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The Rammellzee returns

There’s been something in the air recently concerning (The) Rammellzee, firstly there was the old interview that surfaced, pressed up for last year’s Mo Wax exhibition. Then Rammellzeeappeared on Twitter last month, despite passing away in 2010… most strange. I got word that this was something to do with Gamma Proforma and a forthcoming project was hinted at. Then this morning Dan Lish posted his take on early Wildstyle-era Ramm as part of his Egostrips series…

D_Lish-Rammellzee…pretty great huh? and this is only the black & white version.

Then the bombshell: Gamma announces a new release entitled ‘Brainstorm’ from an unreleased album, ‘Cosmic Flush’, Rammellzee’s magnum opus, recorded before his death. This will be the first part of a set and this edition will consist of vinyl (with a remix by Divine Styler) and a print by Ian Kuali’i, released March 30th. Preorder HERE

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Definitely something in the air.

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RIP Brett Ewins

Very sad to hear the news today that Brett Ewins has died after a short illness. He was a master of his art and a huge influence in British comics in the 80’s and 90’s. Starting out with Brendan McCarthy and Pete Milligan he bought the sharpness of the ska movement into comics, slowly working his way up from one-off Future Shock stories in 2000AD to full-on national treasure status in the comic’s first golden age.

Judge Dredd, Bad Company, Rogue Trooper, Judge Anderson, Johnny Nemo and more, he made a huge impression on me as a kid. As the 80’s ended he co-founded the music and comics magazine, Deadline with Steve Dillon and they launched Tank Girl into the world among many others. I’m pretty sure I draw skulls the way I do because of Brett’s depiction of them as biochips in the Rogue Trooper stories. I remember copying at least one of his characters in a graffiti piece I did in my teens and also being shit-scared of a particular character he and Brendan McCarthy drew for a story called ‘The Day of the Phoenix’.

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The one page ‘Encounter’ from a very early issue of 2000AD freaked me out as an 8 year old, mostly because of the leering face of the creature about to do something unspeakable to the human who had just teleported into its world. Back in 2011 Air Pirate Press published ‘The Art of Brett Ewins’, a collection of a lot of his best work from the start of his career up until that time. It’s an excellent book and came as a timely reminder of Brett’s achievements as he’d disappeared from the scene amid rumours of health issues. The book is even more important now that he is now longer with us and nestled inside was the ‘Phoenix’ page which triggered a deep nostalgia in me. I made some inquiries and got a message to Brett asking if he still had the page and was it for sale? Luckily he did and it was, so one summer afternoon I found myself visiting him in his West London home, looking through various classic Dredd stories and chatting about his career. He still had the table that he and Brendan used to sit at and draw on when they were first starting out and he told me he loved listening to Brian Eno when he drew.

He was very humble about his own work and forthcoming with answers to the many questions I had about it. I bought the page although, unfortunately, most of the lettering had fallen off over time (it was drawn in 1978). Brett said that it was around somewhere and that he’d find it and send it to me although that wasn’t to be. Just a few months later there was a news story that he had been arrested and sectioned after an incident outside that very house late one night and soon after he was imprisoned for stabbing a policeman. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and served several months in jail before being released in late 2012. Since then he had been under psychiatric care and even made a few appearances at comic events as many rallied round him to offer support. I feel very lucky to have met him for the hour I was at his house, he certainly won’t be forgotten.

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I urge you to buy a copy ofThe Art of Brett Ewins’ to see how much great work this man gave to the comic world, Titan have also recently released a Johnny Nemo compendium collecting all the old strips and adding new work by artists like Rufus Dayglo, Ashley Wood and more. Air Pirate Press have collections of his Bad Company work and the US series, Skeemer. 2000AD have various Dredd collections available with Brett’s work in them but I don’t know the exact volumes that feature him. Lastly here’s some rarely seen early work that he did for a British poster company in the late 70’s, these are hard to find now but sometimes crop up on eBay.

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Record Roulette #16: Rodney Matthews 7″ sleeve illustration

Old Pete front
Found in a London basement this week, my eye was drawn to the illustration on the cover of the 7″ sleeve. ‘Sleeve drawing & design: Rodney Matthews, Plastic Dog Graphics‘, it said. I knew Rodney Matthews from hours spent looking at his posters our hip French teacher had plastered around his classroom in the 80’s, numerous record sleeves and Paper Tiger books. But I’d never heard of Plastic Dog Graphics so I looked it up on his website:

“In 1970, Matthews left the advertising world to form an art partnership with Terry Brace, who was an acquaintance from art college days and had played in the same band (Barnaby Goode) for a while. The partnership was related to a music agency and the two businesses were given the name Plastic Dog (graphics and music agency). The name was a joke at first (family dog!), but eventually became official.

Plastic Dog Graphics specialized in design for the music industry; everything from press ads to button badges to record covers, and what started as a company working mainly for local folk artists on the Village Thing label progressed to encompass internationally known artists via companies like United Artists Records, MCA Records, Sonet Records (Sweden), and Transatlantic Records. Rodney’s first full colour LP cover design was for the German band Amon Düül II (Live in London). It was to be the first of many.”

This sleeve dates from a year later so must be one of his first, but I can’t find it listed on Discogs although the label, Saydisc, is there. The content on the record is first person narrative, dodgy stories of the character Old Pete and his misfortunes, probably similar to a Viz of its day, although way tamer, more like pub banter.

Old Pete back

Selected Aphex Works mix for Solid Steel

Record_Collector_8_AFXFew can’t have heard that earlier this month user48736353001 started uploading copious amounts of old tracks to their Soundcloud account claiming that they were a fan of Richard D James aka Aphex Twin and had made lots of tracks in his style. Very quickly speculation spread that this was actually Richard and these tracks were selections from his mythical archive or thousands of unreleased tunes, some dating back from before he broke through in the early 90’s. As more and more tracks appeared and comments started appearing from the user it became apparent that this was indeed the real deal and Xmas had either been delayed by a month or arrived ridiculously early.

I was suspicious at first but when a track named ‘8 Utopia’ was uploaded I knew that even if the person uploading and commenting wasn’t Aphex then the music was. Way back in the mid 90’s I was made a ‘best of’ tape of unreleased work by a friend of Richard’s on the condition that I kept the content to myself. As you can see from the track list above, the compiler wasn’t 100% sure on a lot of the titles but the track that starts side 2, ‘The one that makes you shiver’, was the same as ‘8 Utopia’, albeit in far worse quality. As more tracks were uploaded I started recognising more tunes with even a couple of titles matching. A total of 5 out of the 17 tracks from the tape appeared, with another 7 having been heard on RDJ-related records elsewhere since the tape was made, leaving me no doubt that this was Aphex. Here’s how the original tape titles match up (and bear in mind that the cassette titles could be wrong in the first place):

i. ‘AFX vs UZiq’ = not uploaded to Soundcloud
ii. ‘-?-‘ (’94) = track 11 from the Joyrex tape that was uploaded a few years ago, although at a faster speed
iii. ‘Untitled Jungle tune’ = track 10 from the Joyrex tape that was uploaded a few years ago, although faster
iv. ‘Epic Breakbeat’ = not uploaded to Soundcloud
v. ‘Mantra’ = the track known as ‘Humanoid Must Not Escape’ from the Caustic Window ‘Joyrex J9′ picture disc (303 side), you can hear a sampled voice say what sounds like ‘Mantra’.

After ‘Mantra’ comes a short 30 second piece of electronic glitching with the sample, “I had to kill Bob Morgan because he made a mistake”, the same as on the ‘Bob Morgan’ track included in the uploads.

vi. ‘AFX vs. Uziq’ = ‘Giant Deflating Football’ from the Mike & Rich album on Rephlex
vii. ‘unreleased Ventolin’ = ‘phlangebeat’ although a lot slower on the tape
viii. ‘Bradley Styder’ = the first track from ‘Bradley’s Robot’ from the Strider B. 12″ on Rephlex
+ scanning by R.James‘Phone Pranks’ (Part 1 & 2) from the original Caustic Window LP that was finally released via a Kickstarter by WATMM.

i. ‘The one that makes you shiver’ = ‘8 Utopia’
ii. ‘-?-‘ (’93) = not uploaded to Soundcloud
iii. ‘GAK track’ = ‘d15-10 dulcimer dub’
iv. ‘—- ” —–‘ = ‘Untitled’, track 5 from the officially unreleased ‘Analogue Bubblebath 5′ EP
v. ‘-?-‘ (’91/92) = not uploaded to Soundcloud
vi. ‘Dance To The Beat’ = ‘dance2thebeat’ although the tape version is speeded up noticeably so that it clocks in at under 4 minutes.
vii. ‘Fresher + Cleaner’ (The Best Aphex Track Ever!) = ‘Fresher + Cleaner’ minus the intro hi hats
viii. ‘AFX vs Wagon Christ’ (Hissy Mix) = not uploaded to Soundcloud

Looking at some of the dates on the titles – mid to late 80’s – I’m slightly dubious as this would mean RDJ was making fully-formed gabba Techno at the same time as the Detroit pioneers were weaving their magic. Anyway, back to the present day and, eventually, 155 tracks appeared and, after making my way through them all, I pulled out 40 favourites for a mix. These were further whittled down to 31 with the addition of interview snippets from Radio 3‘s Mixing It show and John Peel‘s Sounds of the Suburbs TV program, and the whole thing clocks in at 86 minutes.

My Top 10 AFX Soundcloud tracks in no particular order:

Red Calx / Red Calx [slo]
Make A Baby
Luke Vibert – Spiral Staircase [afx remix]
Fork Rave
Moodular Acid
Th1 / th1[slo]
Heliosphan live
afx 126b
Utopia
Moodular Acid

DJ Food added to the 45 Live roster

DJFood_45L_labelI’m very pleased to be added to the roster over at 45 Live – a collective of DJs who spin 7″ only sets. The site was set up by Scott Boca 45 and Pete Issac (Jelly Jazz) as a hub for booking DJs who use purely 45s as their format of choice in their sets. This is becoming more and more popular and playing at Scott’s 45-Live night in Bristol last year convinced me to jump in. The site aims to also act as a magazine showing vinyl-related stories and mixes, a shop and, later, a label. Check out my profile here.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be ditching the Serato and AV sets by any means, this is more for special occasions where I’ll be concentrating on Rock, Psych, Electronic and Break-led sets like my ‘Magpie Music’ mixes, with as much new material as old classics. It’s a different kind of discipline and doesn’t reply on the ease with which digital files mean that every DJ can have every song they want. I like the challenge of that and, now entering my 30th year as a DJ, a challenge can revitalise you in all sorts of unexpected ways.

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