#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. IV

Alas, we have arrived at the conclusion of the first edition of the club (not the CLUB¬ģ)

This next album will be the last of my picks to fall within the period of 1963-1973 before our focus shifts elsewhere.

With summer having officially arrived, the entries have been (understandably) coming in a little slower across the board.

Additionally, I have no doubt that the masses have been writhing in anticipation of this very post and for that, I do apologize to them (you).

It has been suggested that we take a break from working our way up by decade and change the theme temporarily.

I am all for whatever keeps the interest alive.

It is a busy time of year and I am as guilty as anyone for having slacked on my final entry.. but I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come!

Would be a shame to see the whole thing fizzle out so soon. It has been a lot of fun getting to see the spectrum of tastes within the community and it is already apparent that we are going to have to motivate each other to keep it going.

Having said that, the only thing fueling this thing is fun (not fun.)

So, with all of that taken into consideration, please take this as more of a “you’re cool” than a finger-wag.

Hoping to read more from everyone soon, old and new alike! ūüėÄ

*     *     *     *     *

Gil Scott-Heron РPieces of a Man  (1971)

piecesofaman
Look, Gil was that dude.

The self-described “bluesologist” was heralded as the “black Bob Dylan” and would eventually be referred to as one of the godfathers of rap music.

Scott-Heron was politicized from an early age. Born to a father who became the first black footballer to play for Celtic F.C., he was a gifted writer whose talents would earn him a scholarship to the prestigious Ethical Culture Fieldston private school in the Bronx.

An accomplished poet by the age of thirteen and acclaimed author upon entering his twenties, he split his youth between Tennessee and New York and the socio-economic divide he was privy to in both states would influence a large majority of his musical output.

Although Winter in America¬†(1974) is often considered to be the magnum opus of Gil’s discography, Pieces of a Man – his studio debut – is his true seminal work.

Here’s why:

  • Gil was urged to begin a recording career at the behest of Bob Thiele. If you don’t know who that is, please look it up to see why that matters. Thiele then signed Scott-Heron to his personal label, Flying Dutchman Records.
  • When assembling the personnel for the Pieces of a Man sessions, Gil called upon Brian Jackson, a schoolmate he struck up a friendship with prior to dropping out of Lincoln University. The two would form a songwriting partnership that would last about a decade with Gil referring to Jackson as one of his greatest influences. This period of time is widely referred to as Scott-Heron’s golden era.
  • Although often conflicted about his role as a pioneering figure in hip-hop, it is indisputable that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” practically wrote the blueprint for rap music: Free-form poetic lyrics that defiantly challenge the status-quo, a throbbing bassline, and a minimal 4/4 drumbeat. The song remains as pertinent today as ever.
  • Whereas most “revolutionary” music of the time could be quite bleak, Scott-Heron often relied upon the use of biting wit and subtle sarcasm to ease the digestion of his message. This was fairly unique for the time given his subject matter and also had a large impact upon the braggadocio of the modern MC.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is arguably the most famous song of Scott-Heron’s career and one that was viewed with some disdain by the man himself, particularly within the context of Pieces of a Man, and rightfully so. It certainly does not serve as a reflection of the album as a whole.

Several tracks are much more optimistic in regards to their lyrical content and far less foreboding in terms of the instrumentals. In fact, the significance of the music on the whole cannot be downplayed, as the players were melding styles of funk, jazz, and R&B in ways that were pushing each genre into unfamiliar territories.

Sadly, Gil passed just over two years ago¬†but he managed to connect with portions of each generation up until his death, sporadically recording at least once per decade. He was active all the way up until his passing and closed his career with the very excellent, I’m New Here of 2010.

Below are two of my favourite cuts off Pieces of a Man.
Hope you enjoyed reading about my fave albums from 1963-1973!

See you at the next topic!

* FUN FACT: Gil Scott-Heron was the first ever act signed to Arista Records, the company that now-massive (I meant that figuratively) music mogul Clive Davis would found subsequent to his firing from CBS Records, currently known as Sony Music Entertainment

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Masks During Protest: Now Illegal in Canada

guyfawkes

Yesterday afternoon, Bill C-309 achieved royal assent and was written into Canadian law.

The bill makes it so that anyone wearing a mask during a protest could face up to 10 years in prison.

The number of Canadians who are quick to throw their support behind a variety of draconian legislation without considering the long-view has grown far beyond disheartening – it has become downright sickening.

Although our history with refugees is somewhat checkered, we eventually developed an international reputation for being a nation of values, one that prioritized humanitarianism above economics, especially in the post-WWII era.

Nowadays, we seem to have lost our national identity and have been divided among ourselves into factions of East vs. West, Liberal vs. Conservative, Lower/Mid vs. Upper class, etc.

The most disconcerting aspect of this cultural shift is the fact that many blue-collar types have heavily bought into the onslaught of partisan rhetoric.

Many in Canada appear to have lost their ability to think critically.
There is little-to-no outcry about the outrageous abuses of power we are seeing from our elected officials, whether at the federal or provincial level.

If opposition does arise, it is usually perceived and framed through either, blue, red, and now orange-coloured glasses.

The more we enable our governments to criminalize those who are actively engaging their democracy, the less it bodes well for our collective futures.

aiweiwei

Chinese artist and renowned dissident, Ai Weiwei, shared similar sentiments recently after the exposure of the United States’ PRISM program.

He is currently seeing many parallels growing between China and the West. After years of experiencing government overreach within his home nation, including a message-sending arrest in 2011, he has an intrinsic understanding of the need to protect individual rights and the importance of the ability for humans to be able to freely express themselves without fear of reprisal.

In the following (must-read) article, Weiwei states:

When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That’s dangerous for human development.

This sums up the problem with banning anonymous protest.
With technology accelerating to the point where it is being marketed as our only reality, it is more important than ever for us to protect the last semblances of our privacy.

When authorities have the power to turn a peaceful protest into an unlawful assembly based on a predicated lie, you realize that the purpose is to intimidate you, silence you, and fuck you away from doing anything but what you are told is within the limits of acceptability.

This is anti-democratic.

Of course, there are still dummies out there who have yet to comprehend that any official who prorogues parliament (of which the Conservatives and Liberals are both guilty of in recent history) has already revealed our state of “democracy” to be a complete sham.

This is no different.

In an age of political lobbies, union-busting, and agent provocateurs, the goal is to dictate the terms of your civil liberties.

There is more at stake here than your freedom to condescendingly cross your arms whenever “unemployed hippies” force you to look outside your own personal bubble of isolation.

Keep in mind, laws already exist in Canada which make it illegal to conceal your identity if you are attempting to commit a crime.

The difference with Bill C-309 is that authorities now have the ability to arbitrarily determine what constitutes an illegal gathering without any oversight or debate. And if you happen to get caught up at the time that decision is made, simply being in the vicinity could lead to serious consequences in regards to your employment and social status.

It is time to stop being so apathetic towards the increasingly intrusive and fear-mongering introduction of preemptive laws.

Oh, and if you’re the type to say some shit like, “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about!”, just kill yourself now for the betterment of the human race.

When “what’s wrong” is constantly being redefined, I’ll laugh at you when it inevitably impedes upon your ability to be an ignorant dickhead.

morans

For the full CBC article pertaining to this issue, “Wearing a mask at a riot is now a crime“, click here.

Crate Diggers: Young Guru

Young-Guru

For some time now, fuse.tv has been producing what has become one of my favourite web-series – Crate Diggers.

Typically uploading new episodes on alternating Wednesdays, the show focuses upon exploring the vinyl collections of established artists across a variety of genres (although there is a heavy hip-hop focus).

It is must-watch material, not only for aspiring producers, beat heads, and sample nerds, but there is enough knowledge and history on display in each episode for the average music geek to appreciate.

This latest installment spotlights the wax of long-time Jay-Z (@S_C_) engineer and Grammy Award nominee, Young Guru (@Young_Guru).

Take a look at episode no. 26 below:

To check out the entirety of the Crate Diggers playlist, go here.
In particular, last week‘s episode with Egon (@nowagain), as well as the comprehensive J Dilla piece (found here), are absolutely outstanding.

Enjoy.

New Eminem: “Symphony in H”

50MCs

DJ¬†Tony Touch just dropped a snippet of some brand-new @Eminem as part of his PieceMaker3: Return of the 50 MC’s series.

Sounds like vintage Shady to me.

What you think?

* Touch has also been releasing some rare¬†YouTube jewels in the lead-up to this album release (check out the webisodes in the “Recent Uploads” section).

Arsenal Fixtures for 2013/14 Released

arsenalcannon

For those who don’t know, I am a massive @Arsenal supporter.

The Gunners had a memorable second half to their campaign last year after looking like a mid-table club by the end of 2012.

I’ll admit that my faith in the touch-line strategies of¬†Ars√®ne Wenger¬†wavered for the first time last year.

But once again, he and the squad were able to finish the season by locking up their 16th consecutive Champions League berth (fuck you, Spurs).

This summer, rumour has it that Wenger has anywhere between £70-100M available in his transfer war chest but we have all heard that before. Nevertheless, the debt on the world-class Emirates Stadium is becoming increasingly manageable, Financial Fair Play is attempting to level the wage landscape, and the presumption is that Arsenal have some advanced funds available to them subsequent to the renewal of their shirt/stadium sponsorship and the signing of a new kit deal with Puma (which has yet to be officially confirmed).

Arshavin, Squillaci, and Denilson have all said goodbye to Holloway, Bendtner reportedly has the interest of five clubs, and hopefully, a few more dead wages will be out the door soon.

As usual, Arsenal have been linked with everyone for the summer transfer window, but of the names reported, I’m hoping the Higua√≠n¬†and Fellaini rumours have some merit to them.

Truthfully, I can’t wait for footy to return.

Below is Arsenal’s fixture list for the English Premier League season of 2013/14:
AUGUST    
Sat 17 H Aston Villa 
Sat 24 A Fulham 
Sat 31 H Tottenham Hotspur 
     
SEPTEMBER    
Sat 14 A Sunderland 
Sat 21 H Stoke City 
Sat 28 A Swansea City 
     
OCTOBER    
Sat 5 A West Bromwich Albion 
Sat 19 H Norwich City 
Sat 26 A Crystal Palace 
     
NOVEMBER    
Sat 2 H Liverpool 
Sat 9 A Manchester United 
Sat 23 H Southampton 
Sat 30 A Cardiff City 
     
DECEMBER    
Tue 3 H Hull City
Sat 7 H Everton 
Sat 14 A Manchester City 
Sat 21 H Chelsea 
Thu 26 A West Ham United 
Sat 28 A Newcastle United 
     
JANUARY    
Wed 1 H Cardiff City 
Sat 11 A Aston Villa 
Sat 18 H Fulham 
Tue 28 A Southampton 
     
FEBRUARY    
Sat 1 H Crystal Palace 
Sat 8 A Liverpool 
Tue 11 H Manchester United 
Sat 22 H Sunderland 
     
MARCH    
Sat 1 A Stoke City 
Sat 8 H Swansea City (or FA Cup Q/F)
Sat 15 A Tottenham Hotspur 
Sat 22 A Chelsea 
Sat 29 H Manchester City 
     
APRIL    
Sat 5  A Everton 
Sat 12  H West Ham United (or FA Cup S/F)
Sat 19 A Hull City
Sat 26 H Newcastle United
     
MAY    
Sat 3 H West Bromwich Albion
Sun 11 A Norwich City

keep-calm-and-coyg

#COYG!!

New @Bowjia

Last week on 93.3FM, University of Guelph radio, Bryan McNeill of Underplayed & Underpaid got an exclusive with Wakeless and debuted an awesome new track of theirs by the name of “Floating Footsteps“.

This Monday, he followed that up by inviting the great Bowjia onto his show, another Guelph act and one who I truly believe are poised for big things.

Once again, Mr. McNeill was able to wrangle some radio premieres out of his guests.

We were blessed with a pair of gems this time around.

  • The first track is a new cut, fittingly entitled “New Tropics“, and it will appear on the official release of the Bowjia LP, Ballooniverse, due out this July.
  • The second is a fresh remix of Toronto artist, Trish, and her¬†cut, “Up There“.

Don’t sleep, these dudes are on the come-up.
I done been  saying it.

* * UPDATE * *

Trish has released a proper rip of the “Up There” remix¬†at this location.

#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. III

Fourth week of the club and I am sneaking in my third contribution just prior to the Sunday midnight deadline.

I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this next album ‚Äď meaning I hated it in the first half of my life and have really come to appreciate it since then.

It is fitting that today is Father’s Day as this could be my Dad’s favourite record of all time.

He used to play the shit outta this guy and as a kid, it was so weak to me. It was old people music and I thought I was really badass listening to Ko–Įn¬†and shit like that at the time. But, as is usually the case, I came to really enjoy much of the music I got to hear while I was growing up.

It’s a different time now that we are living in the internet age so this may be obvious to the youth at this point in time.. but music is always more fun when you start going backwards. When you begin to investigate the musicians that influenced your own favourite artists, it is mind-expanding, plain and simple. Staying current is always cool too but knowing how we got here is dat real shit tho.

LEARN THE HISTORY, KIDS.

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Van Morrison ‚Äď Astral Weeks¬† (1968)

astralweeks

The most obvious pick of mine thus far. Its classic status is not debatable.

Despite the fact that Van was born into an orange territory of Protestant filth, his music transcended Irish borders and sort of nestled into that peaceful little white space in the middle of the flag of the Republic.

Both of my parents are Irish immigrants ‚Äď proper, respectable Catholics, mind you ‚Äď and my pops, in particular, thinks Morrison is the cat‚Äôs ass.

I mean, I know I already mentioned this but when I was a kid, he would play Van Morrison albums the way my sister played Spice Girls albums when she was still playing with Polly Pockets. It was that real.

But it was dope. As the size of my pant leg began to decrease, I started allowing myself to hear the things in this record that made it so crazy.

It has some great stories attached to it:

  • It was born out of tumultuous circumstances. Van was in the midst of a contract dispute that resulted in him being put on a New York blacklist by his label, thus having to move out of state in order to continue performing. The label, Bang Records, contacted immigration soon after in an attempt to have Morrison deported, which he only managed to avoid by marrying his then-girlfriend.
  • The aforementioned contract dispute pertained to Morrison‚Äôs rejection of his own pop appeal that arose upon the success of ‚ÄúBrown Eyed Girl‚ÄĚ. Bang strongly opposed Van’s growing desire to diversify his own repertoire.
  • His resulting move to Massachusetts turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Morrison began linking up with local Berklee trained musicians. With many of these players coming from jazz-heavy backgrounds, they perfectly complimented his folky and increasingly stream-of-consciousness inspirations.
  • After being courted by Warner Bros., Morrison fulfilled his contractual obligations to Bang by recording a fuck-you album of ‚Äúnonsense‚ÄĚ tracks. Each ‚Äúsong‚ÄĚ clocks in at about a minute in length on average. The sessions will not be heard publicly for nearly 30 years.

Five years in the making, Astral Weeks broke new artistic ground by seamlessly fusing together elements of folk, rock, classical, blues, and jazz music. Lyrically, it is considered to be an early example of the song cycle and concept album within contemporary music.

The session players were given free-reign to improvise whatever they liked alongside Morrison’s compositions. As a result, there is a breadth of variety on display in terms of instrumentation, tempo, and meter. In fact, due to the expansiveness of the recording sessions, there were many editing experiments that yielded some interesting results in post.

The complexity of the album became especially apparent to me in college when I was tasked with recreating a song of my choosing as closely as possible to the original. I chose ‚ÄúCyprus Avenue‚ÄĚ to give my Dad a little kick (he refers to it as his favourite song) but I definitely made life hard on myself with that one. Not only is the song all over the place (not even a trace of a metronome / click track) but how the fuck did I ever expect to replicate the tone of a goddamned harpsichord!?

The song is a masterpiece, though.
The album and its influence remain timeless.
But I’m sure you already knew this.