Friday, January 22, 2021

Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Cauliflower"

On this week's episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM I talked about the many different versions of Evil Ways, a song that most people know from the Santana cover which appears on their self-titled album from 1969. A lesser known adaptation by The Village Callers was released the same year as Santana's but the song was originally written by jazz guitarist Sonny Henry and first appeared on Willie Bobo's album Bobo Motion. In case you'd like to hear some other recordings of the song I suggest you listen to the female fronted version by The Colonists, Myrckwoode's high energy version, Chet Baker's take, or how about Johnny Mathis' passionate vocal styling? If you want to see all the many, and I mean many, different versions of the song you should look no further than Sonny Henry's writing credits on Discogs. Somewhere in my personal collection I have a compilation album released by Rhino Records which features a bunch of different versions of Louie Louie. I'd like to see a similar release that features a bunch of covers of Evil Ways.

There's been a few episodes now where I haven't suggested any movies to watch but recently I found out about Roman Coppola's 2001 release CQ and I think it's worth a view.

CQ follows an aspiring filmmaker, Paul Ballard, as he works as an editor for a science fiction film that's a mix between Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik. When Paul isn't editing the film within a film, Codename: Dragonfly, he's maneuvering between his tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend Marlene and his pet project, an experimental autobiographical documentary. 

In many ways CQ seems to be aimed at an audience of hopeful filmmakers or at least people that are interested in how the industry is run. You'll see images of Paul splicing film and people working on overdubs or miniature set pieces. Everything is presented romantically and with an air of movie magic. This, in part, is what gives the film its unique style. Although the setting feels hectic at times it's presented in a way that makes film making seem fast paced and exciting. Unfortunately, the film is constantly reminding you that the centerpiece of the plot is Codename:Dragonfly and Coppola leaves little room for character development. Every character is very flat and there is little growth over the course of the film. You can't really develop any sort of interest in anyone because every moment in the film is meant to further the plot. On particular example is Paul and Marlene's relationship. Marlene's character almost feels like she can be completely removed from the film as she's simply there to create conflict between Paul and his autobiography. We only really see Marlene complain that Paul is neglecting her and how she thinks his creative pursuits are frivolous.

That being said, I would say that you can still enjoy CQ purely for it's stylistic atmosphere. Every character seems cool or beautiful and the sets show an idealized 1960s France where anything can happen. The world that Coppola builds is a world that looks like a subdued version of Beyond the Valley of The Dolls or The Italian Job or any other typical late 60s film. It's a space that draws people like me in. You really want to walk around in that world and absorb everything. 

The film has a fairly short run time so any complaints you may have about it's floppy plot can easily be forgotten as you enjoy CQ for what it is: a love letter to the spirit and look of 1960s cinema. While I think there is a message behind the film it wasn't too apparent to me. Perhaps Coppola is telling us to follow our hearts and pursue our creative aspirations but admittedly that's probably a fairly basic reading of the film. But then again, what do I know? Most of the films I watch are based around foam brick castles and latex monsters.

You can check out this week's playlist below:

 

The Somers - ...Yet (I Don't Forget You)
Mieko Hirota - Doll House (弘田三枝子/人形の家)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Kale"

During this episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM you heard Your Friend by Mal Ryder and The Spirits and Help Me by The Primitives. I mention this because Mal Ryder eventually left The Spirits and joined The Primitives, a band which had great success in Italy. Over the years Mal Ryder had floated through several bands with each new band releasing a few singles and playing a boatload of shows. As is often the case, band members were swapped around and bands melded into each other which makes it difficult to keep track of who did what and when they did it. At one time The Primitives even featured a young Pick Withers of Dire Straits fame! Of course, things get more complicated when you add in all of the stage names and various international releases. However, if you dig The Primitives you should check out the compilation Maladjusted which was released by Castle Music/Sanctuary Records Group Ltd. in 2001. The compilation is way easier to navigate than finding the individual singles and or bootlegs that drift in and out of the used market. For more info on Mal and The Primitives you can check out the biography section on Mal's website where he goes into all the details and also The Primitives official website. 

In another part of the show you heard The Graded Grains play their song Animal Magic and as I dug into their history I found the origin of their name particularly interesting. 

According to the band's website:
"In the mid-sixties there was a band called 'Marmalade' and on the bass drum front skin there was a “gollywog” found on  Robertson's jam - this logo is not used now as it is classed as racial!
John & Bud tried to think of a well-known logo and 'Fred' came along from Homepride.'Fred' was, and still is, on their product and one of the famous lines was 'Graded Grains make finer flour'.
In 1967 flower power was creeping in from California and they played on the words with flour/flower power."

Having never heard of a Golliwog or Robertson's Jam I checked out some images to see what all the "racial" hubbub was about. For an American audience I would describe a Golliwog as a sort of blackfaced version of a Raggedy Ann doll. It appears that Robertson's must have understood the Golliwog's racist undertones because when Robertson's Jam was exported to North America the character was absent from the label. 

Robertson's Golliwog on the left and Homepride's Fred on the right

As it goes, the Golly mascot was so beloved in the U.K. that the brand continued using him in marketing until his retirement in 2002. Over the years the company developed a strong collectable brooch campaign which has an active collectors community and many people continue to identify the Golliwog with their childhood. At the time of the character's retirement Robertson's brand director, Ginny Knox, stated that: "We are retiring Golly because we found families with kids no longer necessarily knew about him. We are not bowing to political correctness, but like with any great brand we have to move with the times." I'll let you come to your own conclusions about Robertson's ad campaign but personally I find it odd that Knox was compelled to explain that the company wasn't "bowing to political correctness." It seems that no longer using racial caricatures should be considered a good thing even if the character was never meant to be offensive.

Homepride's mascot Fred, on the other hand, appears to be free from controversy and as with Robertson's Golly, Fred has also appeared on many collectables. Admittedly, I can see how much easier it would be to collect Golliwog pins compared to Fred shaped salt and pepper shakers or ceramic mugs.

Whew. If you made your way through all that you can find this week's playlist below:

 

 
The Newman Family - Two Ton Mama

Friday, January 8, 2021

Free Small Speaker Impulse Response (IR) Pack

I've been using impulse responses for sometime now but it's only been recently that I've decided to make my own. What is an impulse response? In basic terms, impulse responses are files that capture the audio characteristics of something and give you the opportunity to apply those characteristics to your own audio. People mostly use them to copy the reverberation of a room or the sound of a certain guitar cabinet. I'll admit that I hardly understand how it works but you essentially take your audio source and run it through an IR and now your audio sounds like it's being played somewhere else, through something else, or both. IRs allow you to make sounds in places that you've never visited using countless amounts of gear. It's really outta sight.

While I don't have any fancy boutique amps I do have a bunch of old speakers that I've collected over the years that were all salvaged from toys, calculators, and other random objects that I've destroyed during my circuit bending escapades. Today I decided to finally put them to use by making IRs that I can use whenever I make music. While I was making them I thought that I might as well put them out there in the world for others to use. However, because I was originally planning on just using them for myself I didn't name any of the IRs (doh) and I haven't really messed around with their individual volumes. So when you use this pack keep in mind that it's not close to what you'd expect from a retail release. Don't get too hung up on which IR belongs to which speaker and device. Just use whichever one you think sounds best for your application.

Typically I load all my speaker and cab IRs through Audio Assault's aIR Impulse Rack which I like because of its' simple interface and ability to load multiple IRs simultaneously. Stacking IRs can lead to unique sounds that would be difficult or impossible in real life and mixing your signal with my small speaker IRs can give you a cool lo-fi sound. Have you ever wondered what a Marshall amp would sound like if it was ran through a bootleg Godzilla alarm clock? Now you can find out!

My janky adapter

To record the IRs I made an adapter by soldering some stiff wire to an RCA plug and some alligator clips. Everything was then housed in a spare Bath and Bodyworks body spray cap. Remember to recycle, reduce, and reuse! The alligator clips allowed me to run a sine sweep signal through the speakers without worrying about soldering anything to them or damaging the speakers in the process. I ran the sweep file from my Focusrite's monitor output and connected the alligator clips to each speaker's hot and ground. Simple!

When I recorded the loose speakers they sat on my desk while I mic'd them as closely as possible. For the other speakers I left them in their respective cases because the plastic grills and housings influence the way the speakers sound. The mic I used was the AKG Perception 170 and to generate the IRs I used my favorite DAW, Reaper and the ReaVerb plug-in.

Here's a list of some of the devices I recorded:

  • Bootleg Godzilla Alarm Clock
  • Electronic Buddhist Prayer Box
  • Sylvania Transistor Radio
  • Panasonic Tape Recorder
  • Korg Monotron Delay
  • Music Pretty Keyboard
  • Furby
  • Random DC Motors (I bet you didn't know you can use them as speakers!)
Below you'll find an example of what some of the IRs sound like. I ran my Squire Strat straight into my interface and used LePou's amp sim Le456. You'll hear my bridge's humbucker, then the middle single coil, and finally the neck's single coil.
 
First I played the dry signal and then everything else was 100% wet.



  • 27 seconds in you'll hear "Small Speaker 20"
  • 54 seconds in you'll hear "Small Speaker 19" 
  • 1 minute and 21 seconds you'll hear "Small Speaker 11"
  • 1 minute and 48 seconds you'll hear "Small Speaker 14"
  • 2 minutes and 15 seconds you'll hear "Small Speaker 5"
Although my example is using a guitar you can use the IRs on anything. I like mixing the dry and wet signals with the Izotope Vinyl VST to get a sort of vintage budget garage sound. If you end up using the IRs let me know! I'd love to hear what you come up with.



Sunday, January 3, 2021

Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Parsley"

Here's the rundown on what you heard on this episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM. Firstly, I talked about The Syn and how they played regularly at London's historic Marquee Club which was open from 1958 to 2008 and had hosted many legendary artists during their prime. In particular, they played with Jimi Hendrix during one of the busiest nights in the club's history. There's a lovely site about The Marquee Club which features an interview with Peter Banks where he mentions performing with The Syn while famous music groups such as The Beatles and Rolling Stones watched on.

"I didn't enjoy the night at all because Syn had to play two sets and we had, you know, a lot of pretty famous people in the audience and we had to come on and do one set, go off, and then come back and do another set, which was a terrible thing to do because everybody certainly didn't come to see us!" -Peter Banks

The Syn disbanded some time in '67 but reunited in 2004 with a completely different sound. The band released Syndestructible in 2005 which featured songs that were less psychedelic/garage sounding and more prog rock-ish which makes sense as both Chris Squire and Peter Banks left The Syn to form Yes. If you're like me and you don't know a lot about Yes I'm sure you'll still recognize their song Owner of A Lonely Heart which itself marked a change in Yes' sound.

Later in the show I talked about the group Los Shain's and how they were from Peru's capital Lima. Lima is home to the Larco Museum which houses hundreds of Peruvian pre-Columbian art pieces including: ceramics, textiles, and metal jewelry. I know that it's fairly unlikely that I'll ever venture out to Peru, however, the Larco Museum has a fantastic virtual tour of the museum's permanent collection that's definitely worth checking out if you are interested in early Latin American art.

 

Speaking of art, I can't forget to mention this week's movie suggestion Style Wars, a movie about young graffiti artists and B-Boys set during the late '70s and early '80s in New York. The film is a documentary that was originally made for PBS and went on to gain a cult following over the years. When it comes to documentaries I tend to like films that serve as a snapshot for specific moments in time. In Style Wars you see a New York that feels like a smaller and more isolated version of itself. A New York that's composed of train tracks, bridges, service tunnels, and abandoned building as opposed to the bright lights and towering skyscrapers that you're used to seeing in our modern media. The kids featured in the film belong to a cultural subset with unwritten rules and ethos that set them against society.

 

Some of my favorite parts of the film feature the squares that try to understand the graffiti artists and their motivations for painting subway trains. New York's mayor Ed Koch, seems especially out of touch when he explains his idea of building fences in which vicious dogs can guard the sacred subway trains from vandals or how he seems convinced that his dopey anti-graffiti campaign will make a difference with the youth. 

As you see subway trains completely covered in paint, both inside and out, you can understand why the authorities were frustrated with the graffiti, however, when they talk about the cleanup costs and how the pieces are eyesores etc. you can't help but giggle at how silly the whole thing seems. Everyone is completely unaware of just how important graffiti culture would become throughout the world and it's almost quaint when you hear people talking about how they can squash the city's vandalism problems.

Anyways, you can find this week's playlist below:

 

 
The Dept. of Sanitation - Don't Ever Leave Me

Dat En Wat - I Can Live Without You

Kitty Lanier - I Know, Oh Yes I Know

The Many Boots That Are Made For Walkin' - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Soursop"

On this episode of Hippie Love Turbo , on KUCR 88.3 FM we started the show off with a Spanish cover of These Boots Are Made for Walkin'...