BlogCritics is always full of little surprises…

I help out in a very modest way on a cool site called BlogCritics, where a bunch of passionate bloggers get to review everything from current affairs to cultural works and participate in an often articulate, always dynamic flow of ideas between the army of BC and the hordes of committed, or committable, commentors.

Today I came across this review of the NME C86 cassette, which provoked me into revealing the following little known story…

“I dunno if it’s interesting but some may already know that C86 was in fact only the latest in a whole series of NME Cassettes which started back in 1981 with the cleverly titled C81, can’t quite recall now if it was 81 minutes long but wouldn’t be surprised.

The whole series of NME tapes was born out of a conversation between myself and then NME journalist Roy Carr back when I was working for Rough Trade Records in London’s then ultra-cool Ladbroke Grove area.

I was the second of three members of what turned into one of the best ever PR teams, led by my immediate boss, the legendary late Scott Piering, originally from San Francisco and backed up by the inspired mania of the sadly also late French-American genius Claude Bessey.

Really can’t imagine why I’m the only one left alive now, as we were all living pretty much out there lifestyles, the one BIG difference I can think of is that Scott and Claude both smoked cigarettes heavily; Scott tried to get by on low tar brands but was occasionally tempted by the hideous beauty of Claude’s seemingly ever-present Gauloises.

Personally, I’d given up the killer weed one crazy night in Antwerp, Belgium, where I’d lived for a couple of years back in the mid 70s, but that’s another story.

C81 was made available by mail order and broke records for reader response, so both the record company and the music paper, then edited by the excellent Neal Spencer, possibly the NME’s last great Editor, were delighted to keep the series going.

A quick search turned up this link, which seems to be a Young Marble Giants fansite, the link leads to a photo of the artwork (it seems funny now to think that cassettes were actually hip and trendy then, all that tape!) and an artist listing that includes such greats as Scritti Politti, The Beat, Pere Ubu, Orange Juice, Cabaret Voltaire, D.A.F., the Specials, the Buzzcocks, the Raincoats, Josef K, Virgin Prunes, Aztec Camera, Red Crayola and Subway Sect amongst many more.”

Prince and the New Power Generation website

Prince’s NPG Music Club website

Posted by Alienboy on July 31, 2005 04:18 PM (See all posts by Alienboy)
Filed under: Music, Culture/Tech: Internet, Music: Funk, ReviewScroll down to read comments on this story and/or add one of your own.

Exodus
New Power Generation
Music from Msi
Release date: 02 September, 2003

Dear Prince, NPGMusicClub

Ever since I was introduced to your music, I’ve been a keen fan of your work. It was back in the day when I worked at what used to be one of the great Independent record companies, Rough Trade. I was talking about music with one Bob Scotland, (who was fiercely intellectual, Socialist, Scottish and if memory serves, rather a good bass player also!). He was already a huge fan of yours and slipped me a cassette of your mind-blowing double album “1999? – which was only released as a single album in the UK unfortunately – not that that stopped me getting a copy!

I don’t know what happened to Bob, but I know what happened to me:- a lifelong casual love affair began with your music, and just as important, the implied life style, the funk! I could feel the force!! Since then, you’ve been an important part of my life, for funky music is just so damn sexy – and there is so little of it around these days. You were always there for me when I wanted to bump or grind – or both! And I was always there for you, when you correctly told WB to take a hike, turned yourself into a symbol, formed the New Power Generation (10 years on, “Exodus? is STILL one of the GREAT albums in my life’s soundtrack) and later reclaimed your regal crown, I stood by you, defended you, once almost fought for you.

Prince, when the chance came to review your website, the NPG Music Club I was so excited. I thought it might give me a little taste of what it might have been like to visit the now defunct Glam Slam or get in to Paisley Park for one of those hot live party nights you do sometimes.

What I’m about to say might astound you because, unfortunately, the site really doesn’t do you justice. Even over broadband it’s quite slow to load, the click-on-images-not-text links idea has always been better from a designer’s point of view than a user’s – I want to know where I’m going, damn it, too busy to play guessing games, the whole site is too fussy, and finding the links I want so irritating; you really should go find whoever came up with that idea and slap them upside the head. How many people might not take the time to find their way around? Quite a lot is my guess, so the site effectively discourages people from spending time and money there. It’s also not compatible with modern html standards compliant browsers (that means Firefox if you didn’t get that) so sucks technically.

You’re still one of the greatest American musicians, play a mean guitar (along with almost every other instrument), sing like the devil and all that, but the site could be a lot more, well, fun. That said, I’m thrilled to be a member, and already paid to download 2 albums, but that’s just me. However, the track downloads are clunky and not user friendly. I followed the instructions to the letter but it all went wrong and nothing would play. It’s taken over half an hour with your tech support people, who only work Californian hours, and it’s not been sorted yet. HOPEFULLY it will all get sorted in the end.

And why should I have to download each track of a CD separately? I ought to be able to simply download the whole album in one simple operation. And why don’t you include some information? You know, who played what on which tracks, production credits, the making of, that kind of thing. Printable artwork would be nice too. So you missed out on the chance to cross-sell other stuff by keeping me current and you didn’t enhance the music. SLOPPY!

What’s that? What about the music, you say? Well, that’s another story for another day. You’re still one of the coolest creatures that ever walked this Earth but nowadays I guess we’re hearing the same music but somehow dancing to a different tune…

This review of Prince’s NPGMusicClub is also presented on BlogCritics.

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Exodus/New Power Generation Prince & The New Power Generation/Prince

Rocket Festival, Antequera 29 April to 1 May 2005

Thanks to a blog i found today, Agenda Personal, I found out about the awesome Rocket Festival (Festival site in English & Español) taking place in a beautiful hidden valley near Antequera (links to city info in English, Español and more info on the new serendipitous discovery World66). I haven’t had time to check it out personally but W66 appears to be a great wiki travel guide, “the travel guide you write” (my italics) and their site has a Creative Commons licence too – well worth a more detailed visit I reckon.

The Rocket Festival runs from the Friday (29/4) to the Sunday (1/5) and “is a three day festival of contemporary and traditional music, performance and sculpture set in a beautiful site in the heart of Andalucia in the deep south of Spain. Local artists, performers and crew are working with guests from across Europe to create a truly international festival with a strong Andalucian influence.

The ethos of the festival is to bring together as diverse a range of entertainment as possible. Artists from Malaga, Granada and Antequera will share a stage with artists from Britain, Austria, France and elsewhere in Europe.

Musical styles will vary from traditional and modern Andalucian music through blues, jazz, rock, reggae to the best live dance music and DJs. The main stage powered by the Innerfield Soundsystem hosts a wide variety of local and international bands.

The Dance Tent powered by Turbozone features DJs and Live Acts from Spain, England and the rest of Europe playing Breakbeat, Drum and Bass, House and Techno.

A strong focus is placed on traditional and modern circus and performance with demonstrations and skills workshops for people of all ages.

Look out for the spectacular 21st century sculptures in the arts and crafts area – workshops for young and old alike are available to learn some new skills.

The Rocket Festival is open to people of all ages. A lively kids area is provided to keep the young ones entertained with the skateboard ramp and BMX track in the Extreme Area for the older and more adventurous.

The site of the festival is a tranquil valley 15km from Antequera below the stunning Sierra De Camorolos mountain range. The site has excellent access via the A45 Malaga – Cordoba motorway with regular cheap flights to Malaga from all over Europe.

A key objective for the festival is to promote the importance of nature and the environment and this has been a big influence on the choice of venue. Through the festival and our approach to recycling the festival aims to increase ecological awareness and respect for our surroundings within the community.

If you want to get involved or find out more about the festival please get in touch. CONTACT US.” And they mean it too – 6 hours work earns you a refund of the massive 40€ entry!

Welcome to the House of Fun

Welcome to the House of Fun

Posted by Alienboy on March 22, 2005 02:58 PM (See all posts by Alienboy)

Heavy Heavy Hits
Madness
Music from Emi Int’l
Release date: 16 February, 1999

I don’t know how English music (by which I mean music that sounds uniquely English, rather than music made by Brits that simply sounds international) goes down in the USA these days, but there have been some great artists over the years that maybe haven’t done quite as well as they could have in the Americas.

To set the ball rolling here is Madness (crap site btw, don’t go unless you really want to), whose Nutty Ska image and very English voices sometimes obscured a band of impressive musical ability and a wonderful way with words.

This compilation features 23 consecutive hits in chronological order that reveal the depth and diversity of their musical reach, going far beyond their Ska roots, even tracks that you think you know sound different after a gap of years. It took my breath away to re-learn that “Our House? has one of the most perfect openings of any pop song, love that bass burp too!

Titles like “My Girl’s Mad At Me?, “Embarrassment?, “Grey Day?, “Shut Up?, “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day?, “One Better Day? and “Yesterday’s Men? highlight a recurrent theme of loss, alienation, betrayal, fear, an increasing sense of wasted precious time and quiet English desperation forming the core of the Madness experience -desperate but still dancing.

Tracks like “Wings Of A Dove?, “Michael Caine? and the covers of Labi Sifre’s “It Must Be Love? (not too bad, actually) and Scritti Politti’s “The Sweetest Girl? (very bad) reminded me how Madness were not always great and ultimately faded away, probably still “Waiting for the Ghost Train? of Fame to call upon them again.

By the way, both the US & UK sites have the same Amaz(on)ing typos “Night Beat To Cairo? and, my personal favourite, “Yesterday’s Menu?! LOL

This review originally posted on Blogcritics