Saturday, March 29, 2008

Screen memory /// John Cardiel

Did you notice? You barely hear any good reggae in skateboard videos. Most of the time, you end up with some home-recorded material made by the skater himself, all the way since Jeff Hartsel, with more or less convincing results. Besides the cleverly-fitting Pioneers tune on Sergei Trudnowski's part in Sheeps' Life Of Leisure (Wolves in Sheep Clothing), or Althea and Donna's Uptown Top Ranking jam for Huf in Penal Code 100 A, what stands out? I'll tell you what : John Cardiel's section in Sight Unseen, set to the ferocious spiritual rant of Bobo-dread general Sizzla. For those who didn't know before the VBS series, the one that proved that you don't need to be crazy or have killed somebody to deserve a biopic, John Cardiel is a massive reggae head. These are some tunes he'd like to hear, just one of these days -pivate Sizzla joke- on a skate flick soundtrack. Needless to say you can add your own tunes in the comments...

The top 5 reggae tunes that would
sound good in a skate video /// by John Cardiel

1. Junior Byles : Fade Away

2. Barrington Levy : Rock and Come In

3. Assassin : Surprise

4. Sizzla Kalonji : Talk All You Want

5. Shinehead : Know How Fi Chat

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Screen memory /// Henry Panza

I know. I lied. It was supposed to be strictly an archive for the Kingpin feature, then you spend a day or tow without new posts and it looks so empty. So, being lazy (I blame it on excessive South-of-Frenchness), I decided to let the slavemaster in me express himself and have other people do my job and do some playlists on various themes. Outsourcing at its best -ie at its least tiring.
In order to cross-celebrate the Traffic skateboards article in the new Kingpin and the birth of this very section in the mag, the first one to do the honors is one of my favorite skaters from the past years. Very honored to welcome the Direction East don, and East Coast powerhouse, über-pop wizard Henry Panza.
to from the Traffic website by Stadler)
"5 songs I felt fit the skater
and worked the best in videos"
/// by Henry Panza

1. Misfits : London Dungeon
(Mike Maldonado, Welcome to Hell)

2. GZA : Publicity
(Gino Ianucci, The Chocolate Tour)

3. Neil Young : Cowgirl In The Sand
(Aaron Suski, In Search of Roots & Culture)

4. Metallica : Damage Inc.
(Ricky Oyola, Eastern Exposure 3)

5. Pink Floyd : Time
(Mike Maldonado, Jump Off a Building)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More tech than a pressure flip

Oh and by the way, forgot to say it but if you click on each album cover you get to see the matcing video part, whenever I could find it. Feeling as tech as Damon Byrd over here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

AVS #2 /// “Mosaic”, Habitat (2003)

from kingpin # 52, april 2008

For the second installment of what has officially now become a monthly feature, and almost as obvious of a choice as last month’s pick Mouse, here comes Habitat skateboardsMosaic.
Besides the occasionnal RJD2 beats lost in this mostly late 60’s rock invasion, and the mandatory Dinosaur Junior tune without which the Sect would lose a tad of its Sovereignity, Mosaic's stands as one of these soundtracks where it’s hard to only pick three crucial albums from.
But bravely we dared, baring in mind that most the other artists present on it (The Chocolate Watchband, Papa M, Cymande, The Greenhornes…) also deserve to suck your wallet dry.

The Masters Apprentices : s/t
Tune used : War or Hands of Time (Stefan Janoski)
As everybody knows, Midnight Oil and INXS are the greatest Australian bands ever. Just kidding, come on. AC/DC having been played to death, or at least to nausea in skateboard videos –next editor to use Highway To Hell will be shot- how about The Masters Apprentices ? From 1964 to 1972, they ruled the local charts and went on to look for decent success overseas (alas it never really came), starting from the ashes of a band called The Mustangs, one of these dance band-style clones of the Shadows.
Even though War or hands Of Time –actually the B-side to Undecided, their early hit- was in 1966 the first Australian pop song to directly address the Vietnam war issue, we all know what you care about : how did the video editor to Janoski’s part manage to synchronise so perfectly the two quick drum rolls with the firecracker down that set of steps ? Almost as good as Rick James’ little scream to Rick Howard’s switch tre at Beryl Banks in Virtual Reality, you think. Not interested in history, huh ? Shame on you !

Mudhoney : Superfuzz Bigmuffs plus early singles
Tune used : If I Think
(Heath Kirchart / Steve Berra)

Seems like each and every Sub Pop, Seattle-based band from the early ‘90s appeared on videos from these troubled times. Only Mudhoney is one of the few that deserved to outlive the grunge hype. It did, brilliantly (9 albums in 18 years and counting, folks), and Heath and Steve haven’t forgotten about Mark Arm’s stoner lowfi outfit, picking the song for their joint part from Mudhoney’s chef d’oeuvre of a 1989 six-track EP, Superfuzz Bigmuffs.
OK, no tune of theirs will probably provide the adrenaline rush Let It Slide did on SMA’s Debunker did in its time, but till… To sum it all up, early-‘90s Mudhoney was the blueprint band to a whole generation of music, so why give a chance to followers ?
On a fashion note incidentally, they are also partially responsible for introducing the flanel shirt to the little skate world, leading to the amazing raver/lumberjack hybrid skateboard look that was the rage in 1992. Other necessary albums from them include Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge and Piece of Cake.

Spoon : Kill The Moonlight
Tune used :
Way We Get By (Jason Dill)
Seeing Will Ferrel acting serious is like imagining Jason Dill conventionnally dressed: if not impossible, barely imaginable. However the former once did, in Stranger Than Fiction, and the latter too, in Mosaic. Both flicks share one thing : a song, Way We Get By, by an Austin-based band that formed in 1998.
Once you manage to swallow that little in-mouth throw up triggered by anything your oh-so-close-minded skateboarder brain identifies as "hipster material" (we’re talking about the band only here, and God knows being remixed by M.I.A.’s DJ Diplo won’t help), truth is that Kill The Moonlight is more than just a fine 2002 Bowesque, Bluresque, power-popish album.
It still is their best one to date and goes hand in hand with their Girls Can Tell effort, while the OGs –I mean, if OGs were into emotionnal shit and not, like, Suicidal Tendencies- worship instead their famous The Agony of Laffitte EP, where they diss the Elektra executive who dropped them from the label. Anyway. Back to Way We Get By, simply remember it as « the one and only time Jason Dill didn’t skate to Radiohead’s Polyethylen and it worked » song.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

AVS #1 /// “Mouse”, Girl (1996)

from kingpin # 51, march 2008

Some artists were already superstars, some bands could have remained local heroes forever. And some should have. Until one day, now or then, a track of theirs got used in a skateboard video. Operation Ivy? Without their This Is Not The New H Street Video bonanza, not sure they would have gone anywhere special. Band Of Horses? A two tracks, Fully-Marianer’d part later, they’re all over discussion boards. 1989’s own Handy With Shovels, who accompanied Brian Lotti’s revolutionary part in Now'n'Later? To this day, they say, they still get inquiries about Not The Same, from their 5-tracks demo tape. And so on…

Call it skate-rock, skate music, skoundtrack. It generated more or less long-lived trends (What happened to Master P?) but point is, admit it o
r not, most of your musical background comes from skateboard videos. From now on, Kingpin is going to help you build the ultimate skate-nerd music library, picking videos on their sole musical interest –which happen usually to have a major skateboarding interest too. Welcome to our new monthly feature, A Visual Sound. For its first installment, why not start with the mother of all soulful soundtracks? Ladies and gentlemen, Girl skateboards' second flick, Mouse, straight out of 1996.

(Disclaimer : for obviousness reasons, I purposedly left Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man out of this selection, assuming that the whole world owns this album already. No?)

Bob Dorough :
ation Rock”
Tune used : 3 is a magic number (intro)
As you might know, three is the magic number. While number 9, still according to Bob Dorough, is arguably “naughty”. Through the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, this vocal jazz singer who used to jam with Miles Davis suddenly became every little American kid’s nightmare, thanks to the Schoolhouse rock show that he hosted on local ABC channels. Just kidding.
Still alive and well today (age 84), Dorough stands as probably one of the few people on earth who actually made kids remembe
r math tables, thanks to funny lyrics and that soothing voice. Not the most immediate tune that comes to mind for a skate video soundtrack some might argue, it still achieved cult status when sampled by De la Soul and also appeared on a more musically-minded Blue Note compilation called Blue Break Beats 4 – featuring also progressive jazz god David Axelrod, among others.
In any case, it perfectly fits any movie scene that involves a giant mouse riding a Vespa in the streets of Torrance with Mike Carroll disguised as an In'n'Out employee.

Cymande :
mised Heights”
Tune used : Brothers On The Slide (D.Castillo / S.Randle / G.Rodriguez)
They might occasionnally lyrically praise Jah, don’t get mistaken though : Cymande was, is and will always be one of the most infectious all-time funk groups.
With musicians hailing from Guyana and Jamaica, including reggae band Aswad’s amazing multi-terrain sax/flutist Michael “Bami” Rose –black music’s John Cardiel, if you will- the nine-members equipage still remains as one of the most sample
d acts ever. Funny enough, its serious political message on Brothers on the Slide, if taken litterally, later proved to apply to two of that 3-skaters part : shortly after Mouse, Shamil Randle and Gabriel Rodriguez totally slid out of the skateboarding world. Trippy ! Not as much as Cymande’s album covers.
Anyway, the track in question can also be foun
d on their Renegades of Funk comp or on the reissue LP Best Of Cymande, for the fetishist, yet cheap, vynil enthusiast.

Royal Flush :
Tune used : Worldwide instrumental mix (Gino Ianucci /
Keenan Milton)

When curly-haired soul music über-star Billy Preston covered You Are So Beautiful in 1974, he certainly didn’t think that his stellar, heart-melting effort was to become one of the hip hop sensations of the moment, twenty-or-so years later. In 1996, as sampled by the likes of East-Coast ghetto sensation Royal Flush, the tunes’ violins became an instant success again, propelling the humbly self-called “Street Boss” into selling over 150,000 copies of the album that followed the release of the 4-track 12’’ used on Ianucci’s and Milton’s 46-seconds-long part (counted).
For those who didn’t know, the full-length was called Ghetto Millionnaire and came out on Blunt Records, so that might give away a handful of the philosophical themes discussed in this true masterpiece. Like The Hieroglyphics Crew, The Beastie Boys or Lord Finesse, Royal Flush stands as one of the most memorable skateboard-affiliated rappers. Not sure he kows, even less sure he cares.

Skatemaster Tape

Some time last year, i found a really interesting cassette. Kids, a cassette is, or was, a rectangular piece of plastic with a magnetic band going at the bottom of it that played music. Anyway, this very tape was a compilation of my personnal favorite tunes from skateboard videos, from 1989 to 1992. Yeah, it took me 3 years to complete it, and being from the smallest neck-of-the-wood village in the south of France, that was my only access. I mean, try to go to La Disquerie in Narbonne in 1989 and ask for an Odd Man Out album, just to see the guy's face...
Needless to say, the sound engineering was immaculate, crisp, professional : this stunning 82-tracks chef d'oeuvre was recorded with a tape player stuck to the TV's speaker, which allowed all kind of noises to invite themselves on it -my dad's cough being always a crowd favorite-, and they would harmoniously complement the various board noises/cameramen shout-outs that we all know and love. Even now when I hear the actual tune I'm surprised not to hear "Yeah, Matt!" on Sub Society's A Whole Lot Less...
For shitty as it was, re-listening to it 15 years later, it made me think that this very tape was the very foundation of the music I was gonna be into for the next decades. Fortunately thank you so very much, I've moved away from the Operation Ivys and Skatemaster Tates since, yet it helped a lot to build a taste for "different" music, from punk to hip hop to reggae.
Over the years after the tape, I've always picked up music I heard in skateboard videos. Big mistake sometimes (I have that Pennywise blue album too), but some of it remains eternally good, I think. Cymande, Black Sabbath, Lord Finesse, The Pioneers, Q Lazzarus, GG Allin, Casual, the list is endless.
It's to pay a tribute that I started this monthly feature in Kingpin Mag. It' s called A Visual Sound as one more tribute to one of my favorite skate vids of all time. Roll tape...