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Review: Happy Mondays – Excess All Areas – by Simon Spence

Happy Mondays

This is the third Simon Spence book that I have read. He is a very talented music journalist from Manchester with a taste for documenting, wild, stylish cultural movements that have emerged from the Madchester craziness. Excess All Areas covers perhaps the most successful and innovative band to have ridden the early acid house craze that swept the nation in the mate 1980s. With the charismatic Shaun Ryder heading up the band, a true hedonist, a notorious substance abuser, it was always difficult for the true Happy Mondays to translate through the myriad web of journalists who tried to document them. Ryder, much to the annoyance of most of the musical backdrop of the band, Paul Ryder (Bass), Gary Whelan (Drums), Paul Davis (keyboard), Mark Day (Guitar), Mark ‘Bez’ Berry (dancer), got into a habit of blagging the press and feeding them over the top exaggerations of the band’s history and exploits. In hindsight, this was pure marketing genius and led to much of the mystery and notoriety that paved the way for success. However, it sifting all the bullshit, has made the writing of this book that much more difficult for Simon Spence. The early days of a relatively privileged middle class upbringing contrasts with the bunch of Manchester council estate ‘scallies’ they tried to portray themselves as. Sure there was petty crime and shopflifting etc. but nothing serious, although perhaps the addition of Bez to the group was actually verging on real true life crime as he obviously was up to the neck in it as a youngster and quite obviously expanded his mini empire quite a lot under the guise of being part of the band…. Manchester Giants, Factory Records and Tony Wilson picked up the band and signed them which paved their way to success following the ilk of luminaries Joy Division and New Order and allowing them direct access to one of the UK’s most influential music venues, the Haçienda. It all happened at just the right time for this band, as the cultural rebellion against failed Thatcherism took hold of the UK’s disillusioned youth masses and expressed itself in the ‘Acid House’ movement. Ecstasy-fuelled, fashion shifts, mass movement and gathering of people in raves, parties and festivals, vast increase in polydrug clubbing and mainstream ending of anti-drug taboos. A lot of this movement was driven by DJs and the Mondays’ uniqueness was that they…

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Review: Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas – by Elijah Wald

Whilst planning to do a university translation dissertation on some aspect of narcoculture I was drawn to this work (in English – also simultaneously released bilingually with a Spanish version) by American author and folk musician, Elijah Wald. Having been introduced and hooked on the sounds of Los Tigres Del Norte for years, the Narcocorrido is a music form that particularly interests me. The Spanish word ‘Correr’ = to run, gives way to the Corrido form of music, a Mexican musical ballad, originally historically done as the spoken word, but more recently with Mexican folk music of accordions, guitars and harps added. It is a form of Norteño / Ranchera / Mariachi music, very spicy in rhythm, with neatly rhyming lyrics, telling a popular story. A lively, popular music artform, where masculinity and hyper-masculinity can flourish. The traditional Corrido has been superseded by the Narcocorrido, which tells the stories of Mexican and Latin American drug lords and their conquests – their crossborder trafficking, their grisly assassinations, their lovelife, their organisations. The Corrido is an alternative form of news and corridistas may cover any political event, with some controversial writers documenting political scandals and guerrilla uprisings. Elijah Wald takes us on an interesting personal journey as he hitchhikes and buses across every conceivable region in Mexico and also dips into the Corrido communities of North America. We meet the stars of the genre, the well known celebrity figures, from Los Tigres Del Norte themselves and their most famous writers such as Jefe del Jefes, Teodoro Bello. The issues of assassinated star Chalino Sánchez were particularly interesting and displayed the true dangerous nature of these musicians and their controversial cultural work. We head from the Sinaloan narcocorrido heartland, up to Texas and onto rural Michoacan. Not only do we learn more of the drug trafficking inspirations and the gruesome Mexican drug war, but also we learn of other areas of Mexican culture, history and politics. Wald is a man of the people and the rural campesinos are never far from his heart. He is equally at home listening to corridista buskers on the bus aswell as being able to snort cocaine whilst partying with the stars. For me, the translations done by the author about the often unknown corridos are a true revelation and, being an apprentice translator, I particularly found this aspect of the book exciting. The book is a real…

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Review: Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas – by Elijah Wald

narcocorrido

Whilst planning to do a university translation dissertation on some aspect of narcoculture I was drawn to this work (in English – also simultaneously released bilingually with a Spanish version) by American author and folk musician, Elijah Wald. Having been introduced and hooked on the sounds of Los Tigres Del Norte for years, the Narcocorrido is a music form that particularly interests me. The Spanish word ‘Correr’ = to run, gives way to the Corrido form of music, a Mexican musical ballad, originally historically done as the spoken word, but more recently with Mexican folk music of accordions, guitars and harps added. It is a form of Norteño / Ranchera / Mariachi music, very spicy in rhythm, with neatly rhyming lyrics, telling a popular story. A lively, popular music artform, where masculinity and hyper-masculinity can flourish. The traditional Corrido has been superseded by the Narcocorrido, which tells the stories of Mexican and Latin American drug lords and their conquests – their crossborder trafficking, their grisly assassinations, their lovelife, their organisations. The Corrido is an alternative form of news and corridistas may cover any political event, with some controversial writers documenting political scandals and guerrilla uprisings. Elijah Wald takes us on an interesting personal journey as he hitchhikes and buses across every conceivable region in Mexico and also dips into the Corrido communities of North America. We meet the stars of the genre, the well known celebrity figures, from Los Tigres Del Norte themselves and their most famous writers such as Jefe del Jefes, Teodoro Bello. The issues of assassinated star Chalino Sánchez were particularly interesting and displayed the true dangerous nature of these musicians and their controversial cultural work. We head from the Sinaloan narcocorrido heartland, up to Texas and onto rural Michoacan. Not only do we learn more of the drug trafficking inspirations and the gruesome Mexican drug war, but also we learn of other areas of Mexican culture, history and politics. Wald is a man of the people and the rural campesinos are never far from his heart. He is equally at home listening to corridista buskers on the bus aswell as being able to snort cocaine whilst partying with the stars. For me, the translations done by the author about the often unknown corridos are a true revelation and, being an apprentice translator, I particularly found this aspect of the book exciting. The book is a real…

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Wez G Sessions – Episode 1

Wez G Sessions Episode 1

This is the first episode in the Wez G Sessions, a radio show covering all genres of music, introduced by Wez G. All shows are released weekly on Mondays and are available at http://djwezg.com :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. The KLF – Justified And Ancient [KLF Communications] 2. Bill Withers – Lovely Day [CBS] 3. Beats International – Dub Be Good To Me [Go! Discs] 4. The Shamen – Boss Drum [One Little Indian] 5. Yusuf Islam – Edge Of Existence [Kensaltown Records] 6. The Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums [Silvertone Records] 7. The Brand New Heavies – Brother Sister [FFRR] 8. Blondie – Heart Of Glass (Rob Garza Remix) [WHITE] 9. Los Tigres Del Norte – El Gato Felix [Fonovisa] 10. UNKLE – In A State (Sasha Mix) [Global Underground] 11. The Doors – Hyacinth House [Elektra] 12. Black Box – Ride On Time [Deconstruction] Wez G Sessions – Episode 1 by Wez G on Mixcloud

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Review: Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience

Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience by Aldous Huxley My rating: 4 of 5 stars I am a big fan of Aldous Huxley’s work from what I know of this author. A friend in the music business recommended that I try Moksha and I thoroughly appreciated reading it. It is perhaps the logical follow-on read to the infamous ‘Doors of Perception’ as the book covers the period during which Huxley’s great mind was subjected to hallucinogenic drugs. His groundbreaking work with (and indeed coining of the phrase) the hallucinogens, was important for science as a whole. So often drug use can be tainted in today’s society. Huxley demonstrates that he was acting in a responsible fashion and he was exceptionally keen on expanding his consciousness. He saw in the substances he used a visionary future for mankind and Moksha gives us an insight into that world. I found the most enthralling part of this book to be the interspersed personal correspondence between chapters. These letters showed Huxley’s devotion to his cause and gave valuable insight into his personal manners. I felt Moksha to be an intimate portrait of a man with immense brainpower, a true literary shaman and a genius. Huxley’s work should long be remembered and his life celebrated more so than it actually is. I plan to go on to read his novel ‘Island’ next as that has so far eluded me. View all my reviews

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Floating Thoughts

Blissful thinking, a mind of changing images, this floaty deep house and bassy mix will have your head bouncing around as it whisks you on a journey of the freshest house cuts. I’ve aimed for funk and groove, perfect for an early night dance floor to get you in the mood for a party. :::TRACKLISTING::: 1. Justine – Be Sexy (House Mix) [UMM] 2. Josh Butler – Got A Feeling (Bontan Remix / Pleasurekraft Edit) [Kraftek] 3. Hauswerks – Worth the Wait (Original Mix) [Moda Black] 4. Gui Boratto – We Can Go (Original Mix) [Kompakt] 5. Mario Basanov, Miss Bee – Just Think About (Mario’s Dub Mix) [Darkbeat Recordings] 6. Aqob – All Moving Over the Earth (Dischords Remix) [Renaissance Recordings] 7. SuSoul – Cosmic Theater (Pete Herbert Remix) [Blue Dye] 8. Maya Jane Coles – Easier to Hide (Original Mix) [I/AM/ME] 9. Kellerkind – Tristesse (Original Mix) [KNM] 10. Doomwork – All About (Original Mix) [Renaissance Recordings] 11. Ben Delay – Keepin It (Original Club Mix) [Toolroom Records] 12. Catz ‘n Dogz – They Frontin’ feat. Monty Luke (Original Mix) [Darkbeat Recordings] 13. Jack Priest – Get On Up And Dance (While The Record Spins) (Original Mix) [Cajual Records] 14. Maetrik – Walk Alone (Maceo Plex Revenge Mix) [Ellum Audio] 15. Hector Couto, Roberto Palmero – Waxes And Romances (Original Mix) [NM2 (Noir Music 2)] 16. Todd Terje, Lindstrom – Lanzarote (Original Mix) [Olsen Records] Wez G – Floating Thoughts by Wezg on Mixcloud

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