Apple

Food for Friday again today. Following on from honey, sugar, wine and lemons today I give you apples, a rich source of song titles.

Milltown Brothers were/are a five piece from Colne, Lancashire (not Burnley as was often said of them although apparently they were regulars at Turf Moor). They had bowl haircuts and an organ led sound that got them drawn into the fringes of the late 80s Manchester scene. They had some coverage from the NME including a single of the week (a much coveted award at that time), a near hit with Which Way Should I Jump? and then a major label deal with A&M in 1990. But what we’re here for today are apples, specifically Milltown Brothers’ 1990 song Apple Green which at this distance sounds pretty fresh, infectious 60s inspired pop, the work of a band who maybe got missed, chewed up and spat out back in the early 90s. They re-united in 2004 and have released an album as recently as 2015.

Apple Green

A Man Called Adam came through at the same time but from a different part of the country (Middlesborough, Teeside) and from a different background (dance music, 60s soundtracks, acid jazz and a Balearic epiphany). Their 1991 album The Apple is a Bagging Area favourite with several songs that are often palyed round here, Barefoot In the Head, The Chrono Psionic Interface and Righteous Life for starters. And the album’s opener…

The Apple

Also from 1990 (but here in a re-edited version from 2016 by Rhythm Scholar) A Tribe Called Quest  were part of hip hop’s second wave, part of the Native Tongues collective and had a real way with both tunes and words. Bonita Applebum was about a girl from high school who clearly stuck in the memory…

Bonita Applebum (Rhythm Scholar All Nite Excursion)

Manic Street Preachers burst out of South Wales in the early 90s, in a riot of mascara, feather boas and heavy rock. In 2009 they released an album called Journal For Plague Lovers which contained a song called Peeled Apples (a song I don’t think I’ve ever heard in its original form). They commissioned some remixes and Andrew Weatherall peeled the Manic’s apples further, a heavily percussive stomper with some guitar parts echoing through.

Peel Apples (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Lastly, a Joe Strummer’s song from his Mescalero years, a top ten Strummer solo song for sure. Johnny Appleseed is a joy, with a rollicking rhythm on acoustic guitars, a full throttle vocal and lyrics about bees, Martin Luther King, a Buick 49 and Johnny Appleseed (a character from the early years of the USA, a pioneer who scattered apple seeds wherever he went). This song makes me really miss Joe Strummer.

We The People…

Just trying to catch up with some stuff people have recommended in various places and I come across the new one from A Tribe Called Quest. Back, back, back, backer than backer. This is how you do it…

If You Need ‘Em I Got Crazy Prophylactics

Experts have recently calculated that the number of re-edits in the world will outnumber the planet’s population by the middle of 2017. But if there’s one thing that 2016 has taught us it’s that, as Michael Gove told us during the referendum campaign, ‘the British people have had enough of experts’. Given the way he ran education during his time in office and how he then handled his own campaign for the Tory leadership he’s clearly no expert at anything. Nigel Farage joined in with the general rubbishing of experts and I think we can agree that he’s no expert either- the change in leadership at UKIP is a marvellous farrago. I’m sure that if any of us needed something serious and technical doing- fixing an engine say or heart surgery- the last person we’d want is an expert. What do experts know?

But back to  re-edits. This new edit/remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s Bonita Applebum dropped into my inbox yesterday. Rhythm Scholar is the expert in question, a scholar too, and has done a fine job, making Bonita all smooth and slinky with the little riff reappearing now and then. As a bonus you can download it for free with two extra versions, The All Nite Excursion and Dubb. I am down with this.

Phife

Sad news yesterday with the news that Phife Dawg has died aged just 45. Phife (Malik Taylor) was a founder member of A Tribe Called Quest along with Q-Tip. The freshness of their debut album, along with De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers at the same time, cannot be overstated. So many great tunes contained within. I always loved I Left My Wallet In El Segudo especially the ‘I ordered enchiladas and I ate ’em’ line for some reason.

The group’s second album The Low End Theory was less Daisy Age, a more stripped back hip hop record. They always knew where they stood politically and socially and the wordplay, rhymes, vocal interplay and rhythms on this track are stunning.

Scenario

Roar Roar Like A Dungeon Dragon

One of the best things about doing this blog for me has been how it’s led me back to some stuff I haven’t listened to for years, decades even. The recent Pharcyde and Public Enemy posts being two examples- it’s years and years since I deliberately put on any hip-hop, and I haven’t gone mad and started wearing my jeans really low or nodding my head slowly while driving the car or anything, but the door has re-opened slightly. This is another great piece of early 90s hip-hop from A Tribe Called Quest’s second album The Low End Theory. I’m sure a lot of work went into recording, sampling (Hendrix, Kool And The Gang, The Ohio Players, Jack McDuff, and The Emotions), arranging and writing this track, but over a great bassline it just sounds like seven men standing around a microphone and making rhymes about whatever comes to mind- effortlessly cool.

14 – A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario featuring L.O.N.S..mp3