Thursday, October 02, 2008

Lecco's Lemma at Beat Research

As many of you know, I've been workin' on an article about the history of Boston's early rap scene for better than a year now. Its finally off to the press and I'll certainly post it as soon as it hits the streets (if not sooner). A big part of the project was locating (and visiting!) the legendary Lecco's Lemma tapes.

Back in the fall of 1985, DJ/painter and local music legend Magnus started a rap and electronic music show on Saturday afternoons at WMBR in Cambridge, MA. In addition to being one of the earliest rap shows in the country (which puts him in the company of folks like Mr. Magic and Red Alert), it was the first in the Bean to feature local artists regularly. As a result, it was the hub of the Hub's earliest rap scene. Shows like Beat Street were soon to follow, but Magnus was a critical pioneer and superfan who helped to launch the careers of artists like Gangstarr, The Almighty RSO, Edo G, Big Chuck, etc. To this day, he refers to the regular attendees as "the kids" and he loved them like an older brother. Based on the interviews I did, the love and respect still flows back to Magnus from everyone who remembers the show.

According to folks like Rusty Pendleton (whose legendary Funky Fresh Records is in danger of closing - so go by a cd y'all!!!), the Lecco's Lemma show was THE SPOT to be back in the day. He should know. After all, he was rocking the decks with his TOES back at the Talent Nights while the New Kids took notes in the background!

Still don't believe a PhDJ/professor of management? (I don't blame you really). Check out D. Scribe's words on the matter from back in 2005. Or how 'bout a post from my very own early bloggy days with critical history from Type 4 and Magnus himself chiming in. For that matter, head on over to the Lecco's Lemma page Matt put up with streamin audio and all!

The amazing thing about Magnus is that he saves everything (everything good that is). Over the years, whispered words of a lost Lecco's Lemma tape archive were passed around among Boston hip hop junkies but no one had ever seen them or knew whether they existed for sure...until now.

Last year I was honored to visit my old friend Magnus in his lab in rural Maine and see the Lecco's Lemma tapes. (More on the visit soon as its a story in itself). Sitting above his equally legendary collection of reggae 45's, the three wooden wine boxes contained a litteral treasure trove of early Boston rap tapes! The first one I opened knocked me off my chair.

That hand written tape on the top says "This one's called she's a mutt by Edo Rock of the FTI crew". OMG! There was Guru's "For Magnus" tape when he was just back from college and appearing as MC Kiethy E. Right up front was Malden's Top Choice, there was TDS Mob's whole TAPE (!?!) on Race Records, a hand made demo tape of Boston Goes Def...and on...and on...until the break of dawn. I spent a sleepless night surrounded by Magnus's psychedelic bio-mechanical paintings taping everything I could in 12 hours. (If you look below, you might notice that my portable protools rig is connected to...what's that? No, no, not the cool ass reel to reel. Try the 1/8" jack of the ca. 1989 "all in one" stereo Magnus pulled out for the purpose! More on that later)

I'll be sharing some of the gems in all their hiss and glory this Monday night at Beat Research at the Enormous Room in Cambridge, MA.(567 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA)

The Lecco's Lemma listening party goes from 9:30-10:00 at which point, Flack, Wayne and I will trade sets. You can be sure mine's gonna have plenty of classic Beantown tracks in it (along with a healthy dose of the random dancefloor killers I have collected over the years).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I Love Pop Music

Thanks to a little birdie, I recently got a copy of the famed Whitburn data. Like others, I could not resist posting the results of some explorations. The beautiful Wordle visualization below shows the word frequency of all the words in pop song titles from 1890-2008. Interactive visualizations c/o the ever-amazing ManyEyes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Iraqi Metal and MUM Movie

As promised, MUM ripped a hole in the funkiverse last Saturday night. My favorite moment? A toss up between Todd showing up in a space suit with a can of Tang (?) and the bikers showing up late night with a chopper rigged up with a disco ball on a rotating 10" high pole.

There is a short video here.

Keeping in the video domain, there is a Scion-sponsored screening of the new documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad this Tues Sep 2 from 9pm-12am at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline. A documentary on an Iraqi heavy metal band complete with a DJ (the ever ill Jayceeoh), drinks and free admission with just an RSVP to Scion. Can you beat it?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Project MUM Aug 23, 2008

Mum_lo_rez, originally uploaded by libraryofvinyl.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beantown Boogie

Beantown Boogie

With the 1980's in full comeback mode people seem to be feelin' the vocoder, synth bass and double claps again. What they may not remember is that back in the early 1980's Boston was a hotbed of synth-driven funk with groups like the Jonzun Crew, Dwayne Omarr and Starr's Computer Band pumping out heavy electro grooves. (That's not even mentioning Planet Patrol and Boston native Arthur Baker's collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa on the seminal b-boy anthem Planet Rock). In honor of all the Beantown funk originators, I give you the Beantown Boogie Mix - a collection of (mostly) 1980's Boston electrofunk, boogie and breaks that is sure to get the party movin'. All the labels are up at my flickr site if you want to see what's in there. Of course, if you want to do an 1980's mix, you are gonna get some cheeze in there. All I can tell you is that this is a funkalicious dish of historical Boston synth-funk that's loaded with plenty of the vocoder, synth bass and hand claps that made the 80's so special. The mix ends with a little something special from my man Mc Spice from WAY back in the day! Yes TOUCH fans, Spice was rockin the mic back in the Bean in 1986. Stay tuned for more Boston rap history...but for now, Let's Boogie!

I'll be dropping some of these tracks at the upcoming Project MUM party in Somerville, MA on August 23 along with a bunch of dirty disco, electroclash and whatever other space age funk I dig out of the crates. Get your shiny track suit out of the closet and come pop and lock your way back to the future with myself, DJ Flack, Yamin and Axel Foley. That's just outside Union Square under the McGrath O'Brien bridge in Somerville, MA.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Comments on

I had turned them off while the blog mouldered for 2 years. I just turned them back on in case anyone out there on the interwebs has info on these strange Boston 78s - or anything else they want to squawk about. Bring it viagra bots. I got word completion on!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Quincy 78 Haul

Last week I brought Chalfen some 78s that washed up in a Quincy yard sale (thanks for the tip Franc). His first e-mail after the fact concluded "thanx for the wild-ass stash of wax obscuranta; i hope you realize you've revolutionized the field of Boston proto-jass". Wha?
His latest continues...
"dr. so far no mention of The Ormsby Disc or Boston Talking Machine Exchange,
but both songs are dated 1904 and by known ragtime era composers:
Make A Fuss Over Me
Music: Theodore f. Morse
Words: Edw. Madden
Madden was later busted for a 'song-poem' scam where submitted 'lyrics' were added to music, for a price - there's a whole website dedicated to the form
"What's the Matter With the Mail?"
Music: Percy Wenrich
Words: Fred J. Hamill (also the publisher)
Wenrich was known as 'the Ragtime Kid' and wrote Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet and other hits. so far no boston connection to either tune or composer."

Mysterious. Boston. Ragtime??

ormsby 1520 what's the matter with the mail
ormsby 1507 make a fuss over me

He's referring to this rather mysterious pair of 78's that turned up at a garage sale in Quincy. The elderly gentleman having it was some kind of collector finally ridding himself of the detritus of his career. Of course, I asked if he had any records. After producing a smattering of random rock 45"s, I asked if he had any older records. "You mean 78's? Someone took a hundred yesterday." Not expecting to find anything left, I had to give one look and found an apparently untouched stash in the garage, well out of reach. These (apparently) rare discs contain Ragtime from Boston in the (last) oughts. More on this one as it emerges. For now, check the audio (click the records above) and the pics from the night we first heard them.