As digital sampling becomes more and more pervasive as a recording technique, the belief that anything is possible in a studio nowadays is also on the rise. But in 1981 "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash and the Wheels of Steel" took the cut-and-paste-sound approach used covertly on many records today (when they're not abusing Auto-Tune) and the scavenging of other songs as its very subject. The number asks: How smart can you steal? How slick can you mix? This technical apex of one of rap's leading disc-spinners is tremendously influential; many of today's dance-music and rock productions are unimaginable without it. Flash started as a South Bronx dance-hall disc jockey whose trademark was taking his favorite rock and rap songs and repeating their hottest elements for heightened effect. Although credited to the full vocal group he supported, "Wheels of Steel" was a solo shot by Flash designed to show off the wizardry that knocked 'em out live. After a stuttering intro, Flash lets Blondie's "Rapture," Chic's "Good Times," and Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," as well as snippets from earlier Flash/Five singles glide in and slam out of the unwavering beat. These songs of different tempos all fit without being forced. Spoken sections, boasts, and song apexes are finely woven into an amazingly seamless whole. Before the serrated-edged righteousness of "The Message" and "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" turned attention to rapper and writer Melle Mel, the group was a showcase for Flash. This is why.
At Nick Cave’s “The Red Hand Files,” the musician/poet/screenwriter responded to a fan who asked, “What do you do when the lyrics just aren’t coming?” In short, Cave’s answer is to wait patiently. But his full reply is quite beautiful and inspiring. From The Red Hand Files: The idea of lyrics ‘not coming’ is basically […]
For the Seattle Mariners’ virtual Opening Day festivities, my pal Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie brought some good ol’ fashioned melancholy to John Fogerty’s “Centerfield.” Ben pre-recorded this clip in an appropriately, and sadly, empty T-Mobile Park.
Freeman Vines is a luthier in Fountain, North Carolina. For half a century, he’s crafted beautiful guitars from wood taken from a tree used to lynch Black people. Vines deeply moving work is the subject of a new photography book, Hanging Tree Guitars, with tintype images by Timothy Duffy and essays by Zoe Van Buren […]
If you’re a big fan of ink, but not such a big fan of the forever side to tattoo body art or the pain, the Prinker S Temporary Tattoo Printer might just be your favorite creation of the century. Winner of 2020 Red Dot and If Design awards, the Prinker S is kind of like […]
If you want to understand what it takes to keep a company’s computer network happy and healthy in the cloud, the training found in The Complete AWS eBook and Video Course Bundle can go a long way toward making sure you know the ins and outs of the AWS environment. This bundle brings together five […]
Part of the reason WordPress is the undisputed king of website creation is its open-source framework, allowing anyone to create plugins offering levels of functionality to WordPress sites that were unprecedented. So where do you find all the great ideas that are pushing WordPress forward? You can sample a heaping spoonful of that innovation with […]