Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Very nice documentary video up for only one week about the chiptune scene, those brave souls who make music out of the lowest of low-tech electronics, e.g. Gameboys.

Blip Festival: Reformat The Planet

Man, I loves them bloopy bleepy sounds.

Thanks to J-Unit 1!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Britney live in Vegas. Her vocal mic. Only her vocal mic.

If you watch the video, there's enough dancing, costumes etc. to (partially) take your mind off the vocals. But listening to just the audio is reminiscent of that infamous Linda McCartney tape.

Britney live (vocal mic only mix) - video
Britney live (vocal mic only mix) - mp3

By way of historical comparison, here is Linda singing with her hubby's band Wings:

Linda McCartney (vocal mic only mix) - Hey Jude

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Just came back from Las Vegas, and it's changed quite a bit since the last time I was there a few years ago. Almost all traces of Rat Pack-era Sin City are gone from "the Strip," from what I could tell. Fine dining used to consist of crappy $3.99 buffets, and shopping used to be for souvenir clocks using dice for numbers. Now star chefs and their expensive restaurants and Rodeo Drive-level shopping malls bring in more money then gambling. Speaking of gambling, you don't even use coins for the slot machines any more! I brought a roll of quarters that I never used - the one-armed bandits now take paper money and credit slips, which means no more chingchingching sounds ever time somebody hits the jackpot. In it's place, music is piped in everywhere. Sinatra? Elvis? Forget it - modern rock rules, from hair metal to such unexpected tunes as the Velvet Underground's "Who Loves The Sun" and The Strangler's (!?) "Golden Brown."

Free lounge performances are apparently a thing of the past, too. Lounges that used to feature dudes in tuxedos belting out the standards now sport djs playing modern dance music.

A few classic performers are still making the scene: Tony Bennett, Steve Lawrence, Wayne Newton, and Tom Jones, who we caught at the MGM Grand. Sir Tom was great. His voice is as good, if not better then ever. He rocks, funks, swings, and fills his show with flirtatious comments and gestures that make the ladies sque
al every time. Not bad for a dude in his late sixties.

But what's up with his new look? Fake tan, beard. I was expecting: but got something closer to this:

Here's a repost of a lounge singer's original ode to Vegas:

Mike Hudson - I'll Take Las Vegas

and a slew of brilliant and/or hilarious lounge versions of rock hits performed by totally unknown (well, except for Louis Prima, of course) performers' private press releases that were probably only available at their shows (often autographed), which I have lovingly ripped from vinyl. I've been collecting these for years, searching used record store bargain bins, garage sales, and thrift shops.

Chet DeMilo - Sunshine Superman
Louis Prima - Mrs Robinson
Carmen D'Oro - Something
Vic Caesar - Norwegian Wood
The Jose Maria Band - Light My Fire
Dick Burns - Bad Bad Leroy Brown/All Of Me
Candi - Philadelphia Freedom
Deb Hyer - Proud Mary
Wayne & Marin Foster - (Can't Get No) Satisfaction

There are a lot of place-themed hotels in Vegas: Paris, New York, Egypt, etc. How about a Las Vegas-themed hotel?

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Today features the most offensive recording I've ever posted! Why? Well...

With the eyes of the world fixed on China right now because of the Olympics, I thought I'd post some early recordings, from the first half of the 20th century, that reveal various Western attitudes towards the Chinese.

The earliest recording I know of regarding China or Chinese people (I'm no expert) is a comedy routine circa 1900-1 that is one of the most awful, mean-spirited examples of ethnic humor you're likely to hear. And it was one of the big hit records of the day! But it does provide insight into
the place of the Chinese immigrant in century-old America - as lower class servants of mainstream society, toiling away in laundrys. Taken from the crucial collection The 1890s, Volume 1: Wipe Him Off the Land.

Cal Stewart "Uncle Josh in a Chinese Laundry"

The Chinese may have been initially treated as an exploited working class, but, man, those "Chinatowns" they were establishing in major cities like New York and San Francisco were pretty cool - a heady dose of "mysterious" Eastern culture rarely experienced on American soil. The song "Chinatown My Chinatown," written in 1910, was recorded about a bazillion times in the first half of the 20th century, from the days of vaudeville right up through the '50s exotica era. Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars of the day, was famous for his blackface routine, but here he plays it straight, swinging hard with groovy backup singer gals.

Al Jolson "Chinatown, My Chinatown"

Another popular feature of Chinese communities? Opium dens, where
the jazz hepcats would hang out passing around an opium pipe - "kicking the gong around" - for days on end. Cab Calloway used that phrase in "Minnie The Moocher" with most people having no idea what he was singing about.

Louis Armstrong
"Kicking the Gong Around"

If a cowboy came a-ridin' up to Chinatown on his horse, he might have been heard playing this version of "Chinatown, My Chinatown" on his gee-tar, from the collection Western Swing: Hot Hillbilly Jazz and Blues (1935 - 1947).

Milton Brown & his Brownies - Chinatown, My Chinatown

And then there's this song, from the album "Novelty songs (1914 - 1946) Crazy & Obscure," about, er, a yodeling Chinaman. I don't know why.

George van Dusen "The Y
odeling Chinaman"

Sunday, August 03, 2008


From Scientific American's website: "You know a science experiment has arrived when a rap song extolling its virtues just hit YouTube. After 14 years, CERN, the European particle physics lab near Geneva, is getting ready to switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), designed to seek out new particles including the long-awaited Higgs boson and the possible source of dark matter as well as study the differences between matter and antimatter. The lab says it plans to send the first particles through the LHC's 17-mile- (27-kilometer-) diameter ring in early September and gradually bring it up to full speed over two months.

In honor of the impending start-up, Alpinekat, aka Kate McAlpine, a science writer for CERN, has produced a five-minute rap video starring herself and friends dancing in the bowels of the machine. McAlpine's rap, written during her 40-minute bus commute from Geneva to CERN, gives a rhythmic tour of the mysteries of modern physics and the workings of the LHC, noting that "the things that it discovers will rock you in the head."

Large Hadron Rap (mp3)
Alpinekat: Large Hadron Rap (video)

Quite a funky tune, actually. This page also features the lyrics, and an acapella version for you remixers/masher-uppers.

This is actually not the first time CERN's musical side has been featured here. Two years ago, we wrote about Les Horribles Cernettes, "The First Band on the Web."