We hit an auspicious number with a jaunty set of numbers from a hep cat named Charlie.
Mr.Hunter came to my attention as a one-time, part-time Disposable Hero, where he delivered some cracking guitar lines that broke throw the industrial beats of said outfit.
A little research tells me often plays guitars with extra strings (but not quite banjos or harps), and can do tricky things where he plays lead and rhythm at the same time. I suspect he can also pat his head while also rubbing his stomach.
Such feats could be seen as pure novelty, but he seems to also a lot of that talent stuff.
This album is a collection of instrumental tracks, and Mr.Hunter grants centre stage to his horn-player Dave Ellis on most tracks, with the guitar work often back there laying a damn fine understated groove.
When he does step into the spotlight, such as on the Hawaiian-influenced Fistful of Haggis, it is certainly awe-inspiring.Even the somewhat chessy Nirvana cover (Come as You Are) bears repeated listens.
This is jazz without too much of the self-indulgence or skivvy wearing. But don’t take my word for it, check out this promo thingie:
File under: It’s great mate, woof.
Before Michael Franti was sucked into the Jack Johnson-centred black hole of dull, hippy, surfer chic, he was the front man of the mighty Disposable Heroes – an outfit that showed just how funky and intelligent industrial hip-hop could be.
I saw these guys at the second ever Big Day Out and it remains one of the standout live music experiences of my life (thus far). A 6’6″ MC and a pint-sized Asian guy wielding an axle-grinder are hard to forget.
Their debut album captures the live energy plus a little bit more. Its a well-balanced mix of the political and personal. While it was released almost 18 years ago, much of the socio-political content still seems very relevant, as Franti rants against Gulf War I, corporate power, bank bailouts, cynical politicians and media mundanity. The take on the Dead Kennedys‘ California Über Alles is political rallying at its finest.
It’s when he explores the more human issues that this album hits its peak. Socio-Genetic Experiment and the title track are fantastic insights into Franti’s day-to-day life (the latter was perfect live too). The karma-packed Language of Violence should be a compulsory anti-bullying campaign:
I’ll leave you with the lyrics that adorned the back of my much-worn D.Heroes tee:
The bass, the treble don’t make a rebel
Having your life together does
File under: This is a necessity, not a luxury
Posted in D
Tagged album, album review, Beatnigs, CD review, Dead Kennedys, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, hip hop, Michael Franti, music, music review, Spearhead
This CD sits at the unusual intersection of literature, spoken word and music.
The music is fairly incidental and subtle relative to the verbal content. It really just some beats, a bit of urgent, skivvy-wearing discordant horn blasts and some industrial samples.
Its the Burroughs poetry and imagery which totally dominates. He verbalises excerpts from several of his works, and most of them are disturbing. This is the world of mutants, extraneous body orifices and cruel, lawless states.
I once fell asleep to this CD (deliberately – i.e. I had put it on at bedtime). I had some of the most disturbing dreams as I internalised Burroughs’ dreamings. I guess it’s cheaper than hallucinogens, but I would hope for prettier pictures.
For the Michael Franti completists out there, this is by far his artiest work, and, I suspect, much more the results of Ronny Tse and Charlie Hunter’s efforts than his.
Ultimately this isn’t something I chuck on for a relaxing listen. It serves much the same purpose as having Burroughs on the bookshelf – as a testament to some feigned hipster Beat Poet phase that thoroughly failed to impress undergrad girlies back in the day, and now gathers dust.
File under: Art with an extra heart
Often, when you find a new and exciting act, the tendency is to rush off in search of more of their material.
In 1992 I fell for the industrial-hip-hop of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. The word on the street was that band had evolved from an earlier incarnation, known as The Beatnigs. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a copy of their only album anywhere in Melbourne (the web and e-commerce was only but a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye back then).
Many years later, as Disposables’ front man Michael Franti was morphing into some sort of Marley-Harper-Jesus hybrid super-being, I finally purchased it on-line.
This album is driven by a mix of samples, industrial clanging and spoken word (think Gil Scott-Heron without the cool factor). The content is overtly political, peppered with soundbites from Reaganite US and apartheid South Africa. Nevertheless, there a strong sense of humour and satire. And, this was where the Disposables’ biggest ‘hit’ Television (Drug of Nation) was born. Indeed it appears in 3 different versions here, some bordering on Dead Kennedys-ish punk rants.
This was not a bad purchase after the long wait.
File under: San Francisco industrial hardcore rap activism (surely that’s a typical section in any reputable music store)