Retro Reminiscence: Digable Planets Old Skool Kool

Digable Planets are a class act old school hip hop group whose Rebirth of Slick burnt up the airwaves on the charts and music TV back in the early 90s.

Here’s a performance of the funky syncopated groove track 9th Wonder (Blackitolism) live on some show starring Jon Stewart in 1994. Something about Ladybug’s live delivery of her memorable phrase-turns “ninety three million miles above these devils… A alike, B alike…” makes them snap for me and really brings home the street poetics in a way the recorded version doesn’t… but that’s just me… And doesn’t Jon Stewart look like a spry young lad?

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Retro Reminiscence: Aah Shaddapp-a You Face

Joe Dolce’s classic 80s song “Shaddap You Face” is the most successful Australian-produced single in Australian music history for 28 years straight with sales of over 350,000 copies. It brings back memories of a crowded house full of cousins, uncles and aunties all singing the chorus punch line: “Aaah shaddap-a you face!” at the top of their voices xD.

Style-wise it’s a bit of a departure from the norm but it proves the efficacy of a sing-a-long style with a funny, universal concept xD. And whilst this live version from Countdown is a good enough performance, Samuel L. Jackson’s “spoken word” version is better, if you ask me ; ).

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Retro Reminiscence: Imogen Heap Getting Scared

This vastly underrated song from Imogen Heap’s debut album “I Megaphone” (the title is an anagram of her name) deserves a lot more fame than it’s had to date; it was the first single released and my favourite at the time. I bought the album on the strength of the first verse and chorus and the effect they had on me.

Over the opening riff with the D pedal tone Imogen sings a vocal melody in the Mixolydian mode which gives it that slight edginess (suited to a song about come-uppance for a childhood bully) and makes it one of my favourite verse melodies ever (gasp).

Turn your ugly face, are you so surprised to see me?
Yeah, I was your little childhood playground toy
And if I remember, yeah if I do remember rightly
I said the tables will be turned around boy…

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Retro Reminiscence: Three Strange Days by School of Fish

Apologies for yet another day of no postage as I had no machine upon which to post : (. My laptop deserted me utterly but it’s been rebuilt and will be up and going again tomorrow at last! : ).

Here’s a great little schoolboy pop-rock track from a band that didn’t make much of a splash over here beyond this one song. The vocal is delivered in a fairly staid way but the melody and the main guitar riff is catchy and memorable.

Oi! the most notable personal tale from School of Fish’s history is the death of frontman Josh Clayton-Felt by testicular cancer in 2000 at the age of 32 : (. Of the other members, guitarist Michael Ward eventually joined Jakob Dylan’s Wallflowers and drummer Chad Fischer went on to create the Scrubs original theme “I’m No Superman” with his band, Lazlo Bane.

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Retro Reminiscence: Luscious Jackson

This early 90s single from alt-popsters Luscious Jackson has a great, driving main riff with a funky edge and syrupy chorus hook. It reminds me of long, workless days chilling with mates in a house that had long been vacated by the parentals xD.

Oi! the ‘Jack – as I have just this moment decided to call them – were the first band signed to the Beastie Boy’s Grand Royal label (Kate Schellenbach – the ‘Jack’s drummer – was the Beastie’s drummer from 1981 to 84).

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Retro Reminiscence: Bran Van 3000

This late 90s pop psychedelia single evokes hazy memories of laid-back summer days on my cousin’s porch.

Canadian electronic collective Bran Van 3000 merge stoner fuzz guitar, trip hop trance electronica, mumbled Beck-ish “rap” and an r&b soul chorus hook in a stoner anthem with a slightly melancholy vibe.

The Twang recorded a less than perfect cover of the song last year.

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