Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cold Act Ill with Classixx

Classixx are a couple of remix ninjas from LA that are blowing up just about every spot there is to blow up lately. Case in point: their remix of YACHT's "Psychic City" was included on the "How To Make It In America" soundtrack and is now exponentially more popular than the original track. Remixes for Phoenix, Major Lazer, Mayer Hawthorne and others followed, each rivaling if not outshining its source material. All in all it's pretty incredible - with exactly 3 original songs to their name, Classixx are everywhere.

What makes a Classixx remix so amazing is that they don't adopt the style of the song at all, they bring that song into their world. So while other DJs are content rearranging a band's furniture, they're in the backyard torching the whole damn house. Their older tracks (like "Cold Act Ill" above) owe a lot to French house in general and Justice in particular, but their more recent remixes have located a mellow vibe all their own. It's a style I can only describe as California 80s noir - like driving down the coast at night, palm trees and the Pacific hanging in the air. Quickly becoming "the Classixx sound", it's like drugs for your ears, man.

Below are 10 tracks for your listening enjoyment - be sure to wait for the Major Lazer glass bottom dub, one of the sexiest joints you'll ever hear and one of my top remixes of all time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Real King

Guess what kiddies: Grandpa's back with more good time oldies. Today I bring you the real King. Forget that King of Pop crap (R.I.P. Michael [from your father's abuse and your lawsuit hush $]); this is the only King that matters. Most people our age fail to understand why, for example, Bob Dylan said the first time he heard Elvis' music was like "busting out of jail." As someone who's been to Graceland three times, (No...seriously, that's true.) I feel somewhat of a responsibility to educate, so I shall try my hardest.

In early December of 1968, NBC aired the now infamous Elvis "Comeback Special." Out of the spotlight for a while due to military service (where he first encountered amphetamines), a long courtship and eventual marriage to Priscilla, the art of the Hollywood movie-record tie-in, and a newfound affinity for and immersion in gospel music, Elvis reemerged in primetime for a carefully orchestrated return to form that drew 42% of the television viewing audience. The concert signified a changing of the guard in popular music. No longer content to milk it, Elvis desperately sought the relevancy he had lost, remarking to his producer that he'd "never sing another song that I don't believe in" and was "never going to make another movie that I don't believe in." Elvis the Hollywood puppet was no more. Elvis, always a staunch, God-fearing Christian, was tired of appeasement. He wanted to scare the straights, but he wanted to do so on his own terms.

As a clarification, Elvis was vehemently anti-drug. President Nixon, in a desperate attempt to improve his image among the nation's youth, posed for a photograph with Elvis and made him "Federal Agent At Large for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs," a specially created position. In Elvis' mind, there was nothing "druglike" at all about the doctor-prescribed painkillers and doctor-approved pharmaceuticals he regularly abused. By contrast, Elvis was extremely upset at the suggestion by some that he was partially responsible for 1960's drug culture as a result of his influence on some of its most popular acts. This has been suggested by many as the single biggest reason why Elvis got it together for this concert. And thank God he did.

About a year after the show, Elvis returned to a Memphis recording studio and created this album, From Elvis in Memphis, regarded by many as his seminal masterpiece. It contains well-known Elvis tunes like "In the Ghetto" (the original hip-hop chorus?,) "Suspicious Minds," and the somber, eloquent ballad "Long Black Limousine." As a nod to the changes in popular music which had occurred since Elvis last attempted to make relevant popular music, the album also includes a wistful take on The Beatles' "Hey Jude," which just might bring a tear to your eye. Simply put, I cannot recommend this album enough. Check it out and you'll see why Rolling Stone ranked it as the #190 Greatest Album of All Time. Most importantly, you'll see why the King will live on forever...