Monday, July 22, 2013

Song of the Day: "I Refuse to Lose" - James Brown

"I Refuse to Lose"

This track was released as a single in 1976. I found basically no info on the web about it, but from what I've gathered, the primary themes are:
  • 1970s stagflation was a bitch
  • James Brown being a bad motherfucker
BAMF Exhibit A

As for the music, one key element I picked up on is the use of the call and response. Brown hollers at the rhythm section and queues up grooves from the bass, horn and guitar. Ain't it funky now? (The correct answer is: Hell yes.)
The call and response originated in Sub-Saharan Africa as a means for the public to participate in civic discussions. The technique was also employed during religious rituals and, of course, in music. The African-American roots of gospel, R&B, blues, jazz, soul, rock and roll and a plethora of other sub-genres kept the call and response alive.
Fun facts about the great James Brown:
  • Regarded as the "Godfather of Funk"
  • Holds record for artist with the most singles to hit Billboard Hot 100, without ever getting a #1 slot.
  • Ranked #7 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list.
As for the lyrics, they were nowhere to be found online so I took the liberty of listening to the song a bunch of times and transcribing them as best I could. Gotta love the juxtaposed Muhammad Ali quote! 

The song is awesome so the transcribing process was far from torture, but the outcome is by no means an infallible one. I encourage you to let me know if you think I misheard something in the lyrics - you'd be doing your fellow funk fans a service!

Note: I've got the original 3 min 42 sec track on my iTunes and that's the version I used to get these lyrics - the video embedded above is a 7+ min remixed version of the track. The original is unfortunately not on YouTube at the moment, but I may end up uploading it for all you easily distracted/impatient critters out there, as well as any breakers and/or lockers looking for something shorter and easier to splice.

*Guide to reading: parenthetical lines indicate calls, bracket lines indicate improvisation.*

Lyrics (as I heard them)

(1, 2, 3 - take it down!)
Hard times
Hard time
Ain’t got no money to pay my bills
Gonna have some fun, keep my lover still
But I refuse to lose
Oh, I refuse to lose
Keep my lovin’, I need it bad
With all the good times I used to have
But I refuse to lose
I refuse to lose
(Take it up!)
I refuse to lose
I refuse to lose
(Get down!)
Ali said, I feel like Ali
I said-uh:
Sting like a butterfly and float like a bee
Don’t want nobody botherin’ me
Cus I refuse to lose
Oh, I refuse to lose
I refuse to lose
[Oh yeah]
I refuse to lose
(Get down!)
[Oh yeah]
In the pocket
Sock it in the pocket
In the pocket - yeah
Sock it in the pocket
- in the pocket
Sock it in the pocket
And let the good times roll,
And let the good times roll
Sock it in the pocket
And let the good times roll
Get it in the pocket
And let the good times roll
Sock it in the pocket - [heh]
And let the good times roll
Rock it in the pocket - [heh]
And let the good times roll
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
[Ah - a ha]
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
Come on and dance, dance, dance, dance
and let the good times roll
(Hit it again now!)
[Oh yeah]
I miss the funds that I used to have
I miss my love and I need her bad
But I refuse to lose
Yeah I refuse to lose
Time is rough and money’s short
I lost the things that I thought I bought
But I refuse to lose

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Subterrestrial Miami: When “Hola” Meets “Hi”

Overall Rating: **** ½ stars out of 5

In a world filled with solo artists and bands with good looking front men or front women, we seem to forget about the power of two. Musical duos are almost an ancient reminder of bands from the last century. The popularity of couple bands has also greatly diminished, though in the 60's and 70's groups like The Carpenters, Sony & Cher and Captain and Tennille got mainstream attention.

Despite the passing of time, some still pop up here and there, reminding us what the power of two and the power of love can create. Using compositions inspired by their experiences and passions, a duo in love can use song to give listeners the hope of long-lasting romance. It’s a niche that few bands have today, even despite the number of people who have a soft spot for hearing two lovebirds sing about their love for one another.
Hola Hi has tapped into that niche. The band was formed once upon a time, when Louisiana native Paul Curtis and Dominican-born Angelina de los Rosarios fell in love. The two met while attending Louisiana State University and married soon after. Both were musicians prior to meeting, so they jumped at the opportunity to create music together and share their love.

Their self-titled debut album is made up of a well-executed body of songs. The lyrics speak about the struggles of not being next to the one you love, feeling the happiness of love, and the struggles that most couples go through. The music fuses a variety of genres - Spanish rock, Dominican bachata, country rock and power ballads. Their band name skillfully implies what can happen when the best of both worlds collide.

Songs like “Nunca Mas Terminaran” channel classic rock elements in the first few seconds of the opening verse. Then it infuses bachata instruments, creating an interesting and effective transition into the chorus. The vocals in the chorus made me recall Shakira’s earlier work in her album 'Pies Descalzos.'

The song 'Si Estuvieras Aqui' combines much different elements - bluegrass and country rock fusion. Organ is also incorporated, and the chorus is poppy and catchy.

Despite the mixture of genres, Hola Hi still manages to produce a well-done and consistent album.

Next Live Show:
Hola Hi, Minimal, & Dear Darling
Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Time: 10pm
Venue: Pax Miami - 337 Southwest 8th Street, Miami, FL 33131
Price: $10

Monday, March 25, 2013

Music Mashup and Fun with Numbers

Dangerous Minds never fails to disappoint, but they definitely made my Sunday with this post.

The concept is a musical spin on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Fun With Shorts: Dubbing over some old footage of L7s in the 50s to create a universe of subversively clever possibilities.

The soundtrack they chose for this project is way on point:

Run, Run, Run - The Velvet Underground
Rule The Nation - U- Roy
DJ’s Choice - Dennis Alcapone
Warm Leatherette - The Normal
Why Can’t I Touch It - The Buzzcocks
Too Many Creeps - The Bush Tetras
Love Song - The Cure
B.O.B. - Outkast
America Drinks And Goes Home - The Mothers Of Invention

The 1956 video comes from 'Seventeen,' a central Iowa teen dance show that was aired by WOI-TV. It's refreshing to see teenagers on a show that has nothing to do with unplanned pregnancy. Still, watching 22 minutes of awkward, middle-class white kids cutting a rug in Nowheresville can get old fast. Luckily, the audio is perfect as seamless background noise.

For some more seventeen fun, check out this gem:

(She's) Sexy & 17 - Stray Cats

If you're sick of the number 17 by now, chill out to this: 

I'm Eighteen - Alice Cooper

Numbers, bitches! 1-2-3-4!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Walk on the Wikiless Side: AA's Essential Entertainment

The title of this post is the spawn of a protologism and my love for Lou Reed. I first drafted the title at around 1 a.m, so it was too late for me to tell whether it blew chunks or was pretty fuckin' cherry. Now that I got some sleep I'm throwin' in with the latter. Can you dig it? If you can't, you probably shouldn't be reading this anyway, so slag off.

Alright, moving on - this is the inaugural post of a new series I cooked up: Bands Without Wikis. With all the exhausting (but occasionally awesome) minutiae on Wikipedia, it's kinda hard to imagine that they'd leave anything out. To be wikiless today is to live on the modern edge of the obscure.

First up is AA. Before I continue, I'd just like to clarify for all the K-pop fans out there: If you think this is a post about Double A, you're in the wrong barrio.

There isn't a lot of info out there on this band, but I did find one fascinating bio on - get this, Myspace. And you thought they were totally irrelevant. Eat it, Zuckerberg!

L. to R.: Remo Perrotti in the drumbooth, Eddy Goossens, Geert Beuls, Eddy Gabriel in AA by
AA in the studio. From left to right: Remo Perrotti, Eddy Goossens, Geert Beuls, and Eddy Gabriel. 

AA (more specifically: Anarchists Anonymous) was Belgian post-punk group founded in late 1980. Their name was chosen on pragmatic grounds, record store bins and shelves usually organize bands alphabetically, meaning they'd be listed first. This also meant being listed before ABBA, who were huge at the time because people were on too many quaaludes.

As legend has it, Geert Beuls, Eddy Gabriel, Eddy Goossens and Remo Perrotti weren't impressed by a concert thrown by former winners of Humo's Rock Rally, a Belgian band contest that was launched in 1978 and is still held today.

They decided to skip the talent show posturing bullshit and record their own album. No jerk-off jamborees necessary, they just cut to the chase, jamming out at a Bilzen rehearsing studio and laying down four moody, ethereal tracks: "Suicide Fever," "The Shot," "Society Stinks" and "Hymn of Praise.

My Introduction to AA -"Suicide Fever" on YouTube

The guys had a rough few weeks prior to this session so their melancholy and existential angst penetrated the music and provided much-needed catharsis. The resulting tape deck was later taken to a hole-in-the-wall recording studio in Diest. In true Gysin form, the four friends took turns cutting up and moving around their music and lyrics.

Essential Entertainment EP cover art. Courtesy of

Adding a final chill to their coldwave sound, they used an old photo of a classmate's dead grandfather as album art. Their 'Essential Entertainment' EP was released in 1981.

The album got some underground attention, but for a while AA, being anarchists at heart, wanted nothing to do with formal gigs. Instead they opted to go to local concerts, wait until a band finished their set, and then pounce on stage and hijack the instruments. Eventually they caved and played a handful of gigs before splitting up, including one as support for The Fall, a kick-ass band you should totally check out after checking out AA here.

A charming reunion. AA: 28 Years Later. Photo posted in 2009. Courtesy of

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Tune of Subjective Thought

People can create a sense of belonging and understanding through the exploration of different musical genres. Music provides something people can relate to. Music takes us to places far beyond our life and our troubles. It creates trends, makes us dance and sing, it can even start revolutions.

Although our tastes may differ and vary among genres, we can all appreciate what looks, feels and sounds good to us. Music, like art, is a portrait of who we are deep inside.

I’ve been trying to get this blog started up for a long time now. It wasn’t till my longtime friend Kathy and I got together and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to create a blog where we can we can share our ideas,
thoughts, and our love for music?" that the idea began developing.

So here we both are, trying to create a ripple in a world filled with people with contrasting ideals - ideals that are set apart by constantly striving for individuality

While we do share some common musical interests, our individual tastes and approaches tend to be quite different. This is actually a good thing. I will be sharing my musical insights by offering guides to new music, trends and up-and-coming genres. I'll publish weekly blogs that will be broken down into three categories:

Subterrestrial Miami

I will post a new blog every Friday reviewing bands/artist/performers in the Miami underground
scène. I’m not talking about Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, and Flo Rida. There is more to “the 305” than meets
the eye. Miami is filled with many artists, bands, and performers with eclectic talents. This will be a
great guide for MIA locals and I hope it will be a fun way to spread the word to tourists trying to get a feel for what the Miami music scene is really all about.

The World of K-pop

And I don’t just mean Gangnam Style! K-pop is Korean pop music. Having gained
popularity through this miraculous thing called the Internet, K-pop has since received worldwide recognition for its unique talent. Taking influence from Western music, K-pop has perfected the art of fun, catchy,
electronic dance songs by showcasing music videos involving choreography, multiple group members, complex concepts and marketing.

Following the Stream

These posts will follow the most popular trends in the mainstream. These, of course, will be made up of my viewpoints on the popular music of today, the up-and-coming music of tomorrow, and the popular music of the past.

My first post, 'Subterrestrial Miami' will be published on Monday, followed by 'The World of K-pop' on Wednesday and concluded by ‘Following the Stream.’

Kathy's approach may or may not be so methodical, I'll leave that up to her and you'll just have to check in with us regularly.

Our hope is that our differences will lead to the formation of a unique musical guide that you'll all enjoy and share with friends. Hope to see you guys back here real soon!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chrysalis Records: Fun Boy Three

Yeah this is the first post, but introductions are bourgeois so let's get right to it. 

Once upon a time, Chrysalis Records was one of the tripindicular vanguard labels for 80s New Wave.

They didn't just represent New Romantic bands in their native UK (think Spandau Ballet,) but hoards of other bands spanning the obscure, the well-known, and the in between.

Some of these bands, like Blondie and Billy Idol, are currently gang rep'd on Forever 21 t-shirts. Others, like Pere Ubu, have only gotten recent U.S exposure when I've played them with my car windows down.

Chrysalis Records is now defunct which is totally bogus, but I'll do my part as an unabashed, armchair 80s wonk to introduce to the two or three of you out there reading this, some of their bands.

Up first and embedded above (here's the link in case YouTube gets all fascist) is Fun Boy Three. Made up of three expats from The Specials, the band was active three short years and put out two albums.

Describing New Wave is like describing Postmodernism, so I'll go into further detail about what this means in future posts. For now, I'll just describe their sound as loungey New Wave with Ska swirled in and you'll just have to live with that.