Posts Tagged ‘The Chemical Brothers’

Primal Scream

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Listen: Swastika Eyes / Primal Scream

Yesterday’s Super Furry Animals post had me recollecting those last few years of Creation Records’ partnership with Sony. During summer ’99, Alan McGee was shopping for one of the US outlets to release the upcoming XTRMNTR album by Primal Scream. So he brought Bobby Gillespie into the New York office to play me a few tracks. As often as Primal Scream had changed direction, so too did I change my interest in them. Given their most recent sound at that point was directly influenced by Rolling Stones style blues rock and despite the resulting single ‘Rocks’ achieving by far Primal Scream’s biggest US radio breakthrough yet, this Southern boogie woogie couldn’t have been further from my musical palate in ’99. So I was rather uncomfortable about wasting Bobby’s time. Alan insisted otherwise, that instead I would love where XTRMNTR was heading, being well aware of my insatiable taste for dance, techno and the like.

Was he ever right. This album wiped the floor with all their previous material including SCREAMADELICA. Most critics still attach to that one, and in the bigger picture, I suppose I agree. But for Primal Scream specifically, nothing touches XTRMNTR. Alan suggested I visit Bobby and Andrew Innes at their Primrose Hill studio to hear the finished version. The place was jammed tight, and jamming out. Besides listening to the album, we found plenty to agree on in general: The Cramps, Suicide, and a bottomless pit of records. Easy conversation when it came to musical history, plus any reason to go to London.

‘Swastika Eyes’, the single and album version produced by the band and Jagz Kooner, actually takes my preference over The Chemical Brothers’ mix, also included on XTRMNTR. In fact, my belief was this track could perform as well as ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ or ‘Setting Sun’ had for The Chemical Brothers at radio in the States, with Primal Scream coming off the back of their biggest US airplay record as well. Suspiciously, senior management at Columbia agreed after a quick conversation of presenting said theory. The green light was on.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, ‘Swastika Eyes’, by then at #22 in the UK Pop chart, was too controversial, too insulting, to issue here. Huh, this from the company that changed music with Bob Dylan? This from the company that was having platinum success with Nas? Honestly guys, was spineless suddenly part of the label’s character description? Now in hindsight, having dropped 50 Cent around then too, it clearly was play it safe.

Turns out the whole idea was moving forward based on the Southern boogie style of ‘Rocks’, and when so and so finally got round to listening to the music, it was easier to stubbornly remain rooted in the musical past than embrace tomorrow. Indeed, a policy good for Our Lady Peace, but not Primal Scream.

Keith Wood over at Astralwerks, who released the album in America, didn’t have any such corporate trappings.

The Chemical Brothers

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Listen: Do It Again / The Chemical Brothers
Do It Again / The Chemical Brothers

Filing singles is such good therapy. It keeps my mind alert, tests logic and organizational skills, and certainly cleans through one’s memory capacity, kinda like hitting the refresh button.

But mostly, filing records lets me discover records I’d totally forgotten I had, and even more fun, had forgotten existed.

So is the case with ‘Do It Again’. One of the classics they performed last September in NY.

Did I mention that I fucking love The Chemical Brothers live? Right up there with the most seminal. No one can touch them, now or ever.

I do wish they had many more 7′s. That was the one bummer about dance music, it moved folks from 7″ to 12″. How stupid was that?


Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Listen: The Robots (Edited Version) / Kraftwerk KraftwerkRobots.mp3

Thirty two years. It’s a long time.

Well that number represents two things: how many years ago ‘The Robots’ was released and how many years behind contemporary music just about every commercial radio station in America is. They still have no idea.

Believe me, liking this single or Kraftwerk in 1978 got you many a cross eyed look. No worries, I was used to them. The same facial expression greeted me for loving The Pretty Things first album, The Pink Floyd’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, even that wild and zany Jimi Hendrix Experience. Yes, other kids would shoot stuff at my crowd in the school hallways for our queer tastes. I recall one classmate hassling me for liking “the nigger that wears women’s clothes”. True.

Upstate New York was not a very open minded place in the late 60′s.

Now I guarantee you, most of those ignorants are still listening to these very bands, yes still.

Fast forward to 2002. I’m working at Columbia and our chairman had decided to sign David Bowie. He passed around the demos from HEATHEN, his forthcoming label debut. Settling into a weekly A&R meeting, he asks me what I thought of the songs.

“Garbage. I hate them.”

“What! You never liked Bowie? You didn’t like ZIGGY STARDUST?”

“Boss, when I liked ZIGGY STARDUST, I got laughed at in the hallways and chased home after school by bullies.”

There was no way this guy was into a bloke wearing a fake fur top shaped like two rabbit ears, hot pants, seamed fish net stockings and stilettos in ’72 (David Bowie’s exact outfit at the Syracuse Landmark Theater that very year).

In truth, there was no replacing the pulse of those moments, like championing any of the above in their prime, when you’re insatiable for the sonic palate cleansing these genre inventing acts provided. It was a rush. You felt high every time you listened, and you couldn’t listen enough.

Like Kraftwerk, THE MAN MACHINE. A defining work of music that changed culture, introduced the world to the sound of technology. And a whole bunch of people still don’t even know that it has yet. That’s how far ahead of their time Kraftwerk were/are.

You’re going to be dead for an awful long time, so don’t ever, ever miss them in concert if you can help it. In many ways, there is no better live act. When it comes to electronic music, only The Chemical Brothers come close, and they’re a completely different experience altogether.

The Chemical Brothers

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Listen: Hey Boy Hey Girl / The Chemical Brothers HeyBoyHeyGirl.mp3

Just to be clear, I started this blog so that the kids would have a diary of a lot of the things Dad did before I eventually drop dead. So occasionally, there’ll be a post like this:

I took Ping to see The Chemical Brothers yesterday. At 14, she was already on a high from iTune’s new social network having her nickname. Her friends were well impressed.

The first song she ever connected with at age 3 was ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’. We used to go everywhere and I’d say “Hey Boy”, she’d reply with “Hey Girl” and then we’d keep it going thru the rest of the lyrics. In that case, all my friends were impressed that she was into something pretty hip musically. She hated soft rock and teen pop, which were the first things I thought she might like, but as soon as she heard The Chemical Brothers, she lit up, smiled like I’ll never forget. Ask Duane, he was there.

So last night as we struggled our way through not only the crowd, but also three hours of ghastly uninteresting dj’s and acts with not a new idea in sight, we finally made it to the edge of the barrier, literally right in front of where the band were about to be. As always, when their setup was wheeled out, 50,000 kids went berserk – they knew, like me, the rest of the nonsense that had proceeded them was about to be leveled by the real deal.

The Chemical Brothers hadn’t been in New York for three years – how did that happen? Everyone, especially the super crazies in the front, were more than ready. As usual, it was beyond the beyond, absolutely un-topable. And this time, the light show was even a step higher than prior, if those of you who have seen them can believe that. (Proof below, especially around half way through when both lights and lazers really kick in). For true.

One of the greatest moments of my life happened when the first notes of ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ started. Ping turned to me and smiled looking exactly like she did at 3 when she first heard it.

A second smile for ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ that I will never ever forget.

Unlike when 3, at 14, she had a one word comment, “Epic”.


Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Hey Girl Hey Boy / The Chemical Brothers

Listen: Listen: Hey Boy Hey Girl / The Chemical Brothers HeyBoyHeyGirl.mp3

How often do you see a 7″ single by The Chemical Brothers? Actually this was the first of two, that I’m aware of. And it’s US only. If ever there was a great night out, it’s at one of their live shows. You almost, like with Kraftwerk, The Ramones, Suicide or The Cramps, need not bother going to see anything else ever again. Well that’s a bit strong, but not far fetched. This also was a favorite call and response number I sparred off with between myself and our daughter Ping when she was about 5, so pretty sentimental. Even though it’s fairly current, and well known, it’s still a great single – and sounds amazingly good in the Seeburg.