Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Join the Professionals

Sorry I was a bit late with my mix this month, jedzz, and hope you enjoy.

Cover art features a teenage Diane Lane in a still from Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains.

The songs:
1. Ravi Shankar - Anti-drug spot
2. The Spontaneous Generation - Up In My Mind
3. Owusu & Hannibal - Blue Jay
4. Ann Peebles - How Strong Is A Woman
5. Blossom Dearie - Just One Of Those Things
6. Dolly Parton - Travelin' Thru
7. The Cinematic Orchestra - Horizon (ft Niara Scarlett)
8. Duran Duran - The Chauffeur
9. Skunk Anansie - Rise Up
10. Ursula 1000 - Electrik Boogie
11. Audra Kubat - Georgia
12. Honeycut - The Day I Turned To Glass
13. Captain K. Verne - Don't Bogart That Joint, Marius
14. Minnie Riperton - Young Willing And Able
15. Koop - Whenever There Is You (ft Yukimi Nagano)
16. George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars - Sloppy Seconds
17. Brandon Wiard - Miss Michigan
18. David Bowie - I Would Be Your Slave
19. Squarepusher - Hello Meow
20. The Epoxies - Join The Professionals

The artists:
Ravi Shankar is a sitar virtuoso who raised awareness of Indian music in the western world through his association with the Beatles. This anti-drug PSA appears on the collection Psychedelic Promos & Radio Spots.

The Spontaneous Generation are an obscure 60's psychedelic rock band and information about them on the web is apparently nonexistent. "Up In My Mind" appears on the compilation Psychedelic States: Georgia in the '60's.

Owusu & Hannibal are a Danish duo who bring funk and soul influences to their electronic compositions. "Blue Jay" appears on their recent debut, Living With Owusu & Hannibal.

Ann Peebles is the gospel-rooted singer and songwriter whose powerful voice breathed new life into 70's Memphis soul. Her hit "I Can't Stand the Rain" was covered by Tina Turner and sampled by Missy Elliott. "How Strong Is A Woman" appeared on her 1972 album Straight From The Heart.

I discovered Blossom Dearie through this article about Schoolhouse Rock (she sang the Figure Eight song) and became a big fan. An accomplished jazz singer, songwriter and pianist since the 50's, she still performs regularly at a New York City cabaret. "Just One Of Those Things" is from her 1958 album Give Him the Ooh-La-la.

East Tennessee native (go on, homegirl!) Dolly Parton became a country music star in the 60's and crossed over into pop success in the 70's. She achieved international stardom, movie roles, a TV variety show and even her own theme park. She remains a relevant artist with recent albums exploring her bluegrass roots, now collected in a box set. The Oscar-nominated "Travelin' Thru" was featured on the soundtrack of the 2005 film Transamerica.

The Cinematic Orchestra are London-based electronic artists whose lush sound derives from diverse influences including jazz, trip-hop, and soundtrack music. "Horizon", featuring vocals by Xenomania singer Niara Scarlett, is the title track from their 2002 EP Horizon.

With their emphasis on style and their inscrutable faux-profound lyrics, Duran Duran were an easy punchline for music snobs in the 80's. I'll cop to teasing some Duran-obsessed friends back then, but lately I think their music holds up surprisingly well. I like "The Chauffeur", from the 1982 album Rio, in no small part because it was the impetus for one of the best music videos ever made (NSFW).

Skunk Anansie were a British metal band fronted by the charismatic Skin, who tackled issues of feminism, sexual identity, racism and religion with a singular ferocity in her lyrics. "Rise Up" appeared on their acclaimed 1995 debut, Paranoid and Sunburnt. The group disbanded in 2001 and Skin continues to record as a solo artist.

Ursula 1000 is Alex Gimeno, a Miami DJ who moved to New York to pursue a career as a producer. He's best known for cheeky excursions in lounge and exotica but "Electrik Booogie", from his 2005 release Here Comes Tomorrow, is a funny take on 80's electrofunk.

Audra Kubat is a Detroit-based folk singer and songwriter (and friend of a friend) whose work has earned comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake. "Georgia" is from her 2003 album Million Year Old Sand.

is an indie electronic group who mix vintage synths, hip-hop loops, live strings and soulful vocals into a highly accessible sound, described by one critic as "the Bay area's own answer to Gnarls Barkley". "The Day I Turned To Glass" is the title cut from their 2006 debut album.

Captain K. Verne are three French DJs working a jazzy trip-hop vibe. That's all I know about them since all their sites are in (surprise) French. "Don't Bogart That Joint, Marius" appears on the 2006 compilation Cannabissimo: Electro.

Minnie Riperton was a Chicago soul singer with an incredible five octave range, best known for her hit "Lovin' You". Ripperton died of breast cancer at 31. "Young, Willing And Able" is from her 1977 album Stay In Love. Random fact: Saturday Night Live regular Maya Rudolph is Minnie's daughter.

Koop are a Swedish duo who craft sublime electronic jazz. "Whenever There Is You", featuring the dreamy vocals of Yukimi Nagano, appears on their 2006 album Koop Islands.

George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars are a periodic reunion project comprised of members of from Parliament-Funkadelic. "Sloppy Seconds" is from their 1996 release T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (The Awesome Power of a Fully Operational Mothership).

Brandon Wiard is an Ypsilanti, Michigan-based singer-songwriter whose indie pop songs pair sardonic lyrics with catchy, hummable melodies. An old friend of mine plays drums in his band, The Saviors. "Miss Michigan" is from 2004's Painting a Burning Building.

David Bowie is the English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger and audio engineer whose pioneering, influential career spans more than four decades. He reinvented glam rock and explored electronic music, soul and dance pop. He even did a bit of acting. "I Would Be Your Slave" is from his 2002 release Heathen.

Squarepusher is English electronic artist Tom Jenkinson. Best known for his drum/drill-and-bass compositions, his tracks are heavily informed by jazz and musique concrète. "Hello Meow" appears on his 2006 release Hello Everything.

New wave and punk revivalists The Epoxies hail from Portland, Oregon. Their cover of "Join The Professionals" appeared on the compilation Dirtnap Across The Northwest.

"Join The Professionals", which satirizes an army recruitment slogan, figures prominently in the plot of my favorite 80's film, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. The Stains are a talentless but image savvy teen girl punk band who steal the song from their tour mates. After a couple of live shows they they perform it for an unexpected cult following. By movie's end both the song and the band have morphed into glossy, MTV-ready versions of their former selves. Test audiences found the film too cynical so it never got a theatrical release. It gained a cult following through cable TV airings in the 80's and widely circulated bootlegs. I named this mix to celebrate the long-awaited DVD release announced in this excellent behind-the-scenes video.