In 1983, Malcolm McLaren released two singles, Buffalo Gals and Double Dutch, both of which becoming worldwide top-10 smash-hits. Those two tracks hit the international music charts before his LP Dutch Rock was released. Dutch Rock album proved to be highly influential, bringing hip-hop to a wider audience, especially in the UK.

Giacomo Puccini, Madam Butterfly operaIn 1984, Malcolm changed his tune to opera on his next maxi/EP single release of Madam Butterfly which was an electronic, synth-pop modern-classic track, based on Giacomo Puccini’s 1902 classic-opera Madam Butterfly’s“Un Bel Di Vedremo” final aria (watch videos below). For those of you who are not familiar with Puccini, perhaps you might recognize his “Nessun Dorma” aria from his Turandot opera (which is still part of today’s popular culture). Nessun Dorma has achieved pop-status by Luciano Pavarotti’s recording of it, used as the theme song of BBC’s television’s coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup soccer in Italy; and it subsequently reached #2 on the UK singles music chart (the highest placing ever by a classical recording).

Malcolm McLaren’s Madam Butterfly is arranged with a drum-machine, atmospheric synthesizers and spoken/sung R&B verses (with opera backup vocals). The production on Malcolm’s Madam Butterfly is stellar. The track was produced by Steven Hague who settled for nothing but the best in overall production. I know for a fact that a Fairlight CMI-2 was used, because Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo) starts with the Fairlight’s famous factory sound-preset ”aah” voices coming in slowly and rising gradually in amplitude, serving as a bed/pad sound layered in the background throughout the track. Watch music video below to hear that sound. I know all the Fairlight sounds inside-out, because I’ve heard them millions of times since 1980 when the Fairlight beast of a sampler/workstation instrument was used on countless of tracks by other famous artists and groups in that era (for it’s unique sound, powerful sample/sound processing engine and music sequencer). Watch this video of the Fairlight being demonstrated by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. As for the chord melody in Madam Butterfly, it is a sound of an upright-harp with softer/slower attack transient; though there’s no telling what synthesizer or sampler brand used for it. It could’ve been a custom-sampled harp sound for the Fairlight, or a factory-sample bank coming from a then-popular E-mu Emulator-II, but my guess is that the harp and the bassline-sound were factory-preset patches from a Yamaha DX7 synth. Watch this YouTube demo of the DX7. Harp sounds from synths and samplers sound almost exactly the same and very difficult to distinguish them apart. Also, the drum-machine used in Madam Butterfly is an Oberheim DMX (which was just as popular as Roland TR-808, LinnDrum and E-mu Drumulator and SP-12 drum-machines at that time).

Attention new music producers: I have compiled and categorized .wav samples of almost every classic drum-machine and electronic drum-kits made by man.  Download drum_kits.zip

I used to own the 12″ vinyl of Madam Butterfly which I bought in 1984 from Our Price record store in Uxbridge town center (Hillingdon, Buckinghamshire, UK). But I gave it to my friend Mister P-Body (Arizona) in June 2001 (just before I moved back to West Vancouver, BC, Canada, on July 1, 2001), as I had already owned a copy of it on CD-single which I’d purchased in 1988. To this day, I’m still playing the track over and over again. I have never gotten (and still never get) sick of listening to Madam Butterfly — takes on me on long mind trips each time.

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (Un Bel Di Vedremo)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records; Charisma Records

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (Un Bel Di Vedremo) (mp3)

 

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (On The Fly Mix)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Madam Butterfly (On The Fly Mix)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records; Charisma Records

Malcolm McLaren – “Madam Butterfly” (On The Fly Mix) (mp3)

 

Malcolm McLaren – “Death Of Butterfly” (Tu Tu Piccolo)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Death Of Butterfly (Tu Tu Piccolo)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records; Charisma Records

Malcolm McLaren – “Death Of Butterfly” (Tu Tu Piccolo) (mp3)

 

Stage Performance: A preview of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” opera…

Opera Performance: Puccini – “Madama Butterfly” (Un Bel Di Vedremo)…

Stage Performance:
Pavarotti sings “Nessun Dorma” final aria of Puccini’s Turandot opera…

I love Thomas Dolby.  I have all his albums on vinyl, cassette tapes and CD’s.  However, I do not own all of Dolby’s maxi-singles on 12″ or CD’s.  But I am a proud to have in my collection a rare 12″ vinyl record of Dissidents, Part-1 and Part-2.  To this day, I have yet to find the full-length dub-version (Part-1) of  the track on any Thomas Dolby CD out there so far.

Thomas Dolby became one of the most recognizable figures of the synth-pop movement of early-’80s new wave.  Dolby successfully harnessed the power of synthesizers and samplers, to make catchy pop and light electro-funk.  Dissidents revisits Dolby’s love of cold-war espionage.  The track’s funky, cold-war theme shows Dolby’s take and collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto on a variety of intelligent subjects with ease.  Definitely a solid marriage of substance and style — a combination which often went unrecognized in the synth laden landscape of the 80s.

Thomas Dolby – “Dissidents: The Search For Truth, Part-1″ (Dub, 12″ Mix)…

Artist: Thomas Dolby
Title: Dissidents: The Search For Truth, Part-1 (Dub, 12″ Mix)
Year: 1984
Label: Capital Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Thomas Dolby – “Dissidents: The Search For Truth, Part-1″ (Dub, 12″ Mix) (mp3)

 

Thomas Dolby – “Dissidents: The Search For Truth, Part-2″ (Vocal)…

Artist: Thomas Dolby
Title: Dissidents: The Search For Truth, Part-2 (Vocal)
Year: 1984
Label: Capital Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Thomas Dolby – “Dissidents: The Search For Truth, Part-2″ (Vocal) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – Selected 12″ Tracks

I have selected my favorite Simple Minds singles to post on here.  These particular tracks are very hard to find these days, as most of them were available only as maxi-singles on 12″ records and audio-CD (only one in particular: Don’t You Forget About Me which was re-issued on CD-single in the late 80′s) back in the days when they were originally released.  Almost all of the instrumental versions below were on the B-sides of the 12″ records.  I’ve added slight reverb to give them more ambience.  It is very hard to find any of them on current CD releases or from legit digital-download services (iTunes, etc.) today.  Now, the very last track on the bottom below is Open Your Mind by Usura (Euro dance genre) and NOT by Simple Minds.  The reason why I’ve made it available here is because it borrowed (and possibly sampled) heavily from Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream track (also posted below, second-bottom).

Simple Minds – “Theme For Great Cities” (12″ Instrumental)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Theme For Great Cities (12″ Instrumental)
Year: 1982
Label: Virgin Records; Polygram
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Minds – “Theme For Great Cities” (12″ Instrumental) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “Seeing Out The Angel” (12″ Instrumental)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Seeing Out The Angel (12″ Instrumental)
Year: 1981
Label: Virgin Records; Polygram
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Minds – “Seeing Out The Angel” (12″ Instrumental) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “Promised You A Miracle” (12″)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Promised You A Miracle (12″)
Year: 1982
Label: Virgin Records; Polygram
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Minds – “Promised You A Miracle” (12″) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “Every Heaven” (12″ Instrumental)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Every Heaven (12″ Instrumental)
Year: 1982
Label: Virgin Records; EMI Music
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Minds – “Every Heaven” (12″ Instrumental) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “Don’t You Forget About Me” (Extended Version)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Don’t You Forget About Me (Extended Version)
Year: 1984
Label: Virgin Records

Simple Minds – “Don’t You Forget About Me” (Extended Version) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “Ghostdancing” (Extended 12″ Remix)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Ghostdancing (Extended 12″Remix)
Year: 1986
Label: Virgin Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Minds – “Ghostdancing” (Extended 12″ Remix) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “Ghostdancing” (Instrumental)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: Ghost Dancing (Instrumental)
Year: 1986
Label: Virgin Records
Media Source: Recorded straight from 12-inch record to enhanced digital.

Simple Minds – “Ghostdancing” (Instrumental) (mp3)

 

Simple Minds – “New Gold Dream” (81-82-83-84)…

Artist: Simple Minds
Title: New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Year: 1982
Label: Virgin Records

Simple Minds – “New Gold Dream” (81-82-83-84) (mp3)

 

Usura – “Open Your Mind” (Chart Mix)…

Artist: Usura
Title: Open Your Mind (Chart Mix)
Year: 1993
Label: Time S.p.A.

Usura – “Open Your Mind” (Chart Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis – “French Kiss”

Important note:
All the French Kiss versions below are the first and original mixes and remixes circa 1989.
It is amazing how French Kiss stood the test of time.  Exactly 21 years ago, around October/November, or let’s just say Fall of 1989, Lil’ Louis came out with this gem.  To my ears, French Kiss was really the first serious progressive/house track (through its rolling, hypnotic bassline) to come out at that time, thus making most other house tracks in the dance and mainstream charts to sound like kindergarten music.  French Kiss took the world by storm with its no-nonsense attitude.  Its incredible breakdown in the middle, as the track slowed down gradually to a complete pause (accompanied by a sustained high-note and a female’s erotic moans, groans and heavy breathing) …. with few seconds of no beats …. and then the beat started to pulse at the lowest BPM, increasing its speed slowly and gradually back to the track’s original fast-paced tempo.  All of that was ground-breaking musically and technologically (as it was really a-first-of-its-kind to be programmed/midi-sequenced at that time when it was hard to do so with midi gear).

  • For those of you interested, the sound of that bassline was a preset called “Solid Bass” from a Yamaha DX-100 synth (pictured above).
  • If you use Native Instruments FM8 software synth, then you can download and unzip the following sys-ex patches of the Yamaha DX-100/27/21.  These synths had identical engines, although each one was different in size. However, they also shared the same exact factory patch/program presets.
  • Download a-z.zip —–and—– DX21.zip
  • Upload the patches to FM8.
  • Look for “Solid Bass” or “Solid Bass 2” patches for that French Kiss bassline sound.

When I first heard the track at Medusa’s club in Chicago, I stopped doing what I was doing ….. stood still in the middle of the dancefloor where the sweetspot was in the stereo-field …… and just listened.  The DJ played the entire 10-minute track.  The only words that came out of my mouth were, “HOLY SHIT!” I said those words three time …. once in the beginning of the track, once in middle/breakdown and then once three-quarters towards the end.

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Original Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Original Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Original Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Hitting Virgin Territory Instrumental Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Innocent Until Proven Guilty Vocal Remix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Backup Your Conversation)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Backup Your Conversation)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Backup Your Conversation) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Passion Radio Mix)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Passion Radio Mix)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Passion Radio Mix) (mp3)

 

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Album Version)…

Artist: Lil’ Louis
Title: French Kiss (Album Version)
Year: 1989
Label: FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recording)

Lil’ Louis- “French Kiss” (Album Version) (mp3)

 

Let’s get one fact straight… former Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren was the first to bring vogue-dancing (from the gay underground scene in New York) to the international mainstream music almost two years before Madonna.  McLaren and Bootsy Collins’ Bootzilla Orchestra collaborated together and came up with a track called Deep In Vogue — an ode to the ballroom scene started by young, gay African-Americans and Latinos in New York City featured in the documentary Paris Is Burning. Dedicating the song to all the houses of ballroom and vogueing, the track featured vocals from voguing pioneer and legend Willi Ninja. (Also, click here to view image-results of Willie Nina.) On the production side, additional remixing were done by Mark Moore (of S-Express, watch video of “Theme Of S-Express”) and William Orbit.

Macolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra
- “Deep In Vogue”…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Deep In Vogue
Year: 1988
Label: CBS Records

Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra
- “Deep In Vogue” (mp3)

 

Macolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra – “Deep In Vogue” (Banjie Realness)…

Artist: Malcolm McLaren
Title: Deep In Vogue (Banjie Realness)
Year: 1988
Label: CBS Records

Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra – “Deep In Vogue” (Banjie Realness) (mp3)

 

Music Video: Macolm McLaren – “Deep In Vogue” (Banjie Realness)…

Documentary edit: Paris Is Burning (of Willie Ninja)…

R.I.P. Willie Ninja (Apr.12.1961 – Sep.02.2006)…

In loving memory of Willie Ninja who was a legend and one of the early pioneers of vogue-dancing and posing.

The first video in the playlist below made me very sad with a huge apple in my throat. Every time I’ve been watching it brings tears to my eyes.  Perhaps I should just release it and ball out crying. And I will.  Willi Ninja — he was so beautiful man.  Rest in beautiful peace, Willie, as I’ve learned about your passing.  You were sent away heroically instead of dying like some aging deadbeat in a nursing home.  You danced, you taught, you loved, you lived most truly, and that’s what life is all about.  What a beautiful man you were and still are… .

Willi Ninja (April 12, 1961  September 2, 2006) was an American dancer and choreographer best known for his appearance in the documentary film Paris is Burning. Ninja, who was gay, was a fixture of ball culture at Harlem’s drag balls who took inspiration from sources as far-flung as Fred Astaire and the world of haute couture to develop a unique style of dance and movement. He caught the attention of Paris is Burning director Jennie Livingston, who featured Ninja prominently in the film. The film, a critical and box office success, served as a springboard for Ninja. He parlayed his appearance into performances with a number of dance troupes and choreography gigs. His style served as an inspiration to Madonna, who immortalized it in her 1990 hit song and music video “Vogue.” He also starred in the earlier music video for Malcolm McLaren’s Deep In Vogue.

Mercy Street is one of the most beautiful, original and highly intelligent and emotional songs ever composed and produced. It still gives me the goose-bumps every time I listen to it, and I’ve been playing it endlessly for the last 26 years. I listen to Mercy Street when I’m hurting and in search of healing; when I’m at peace and in solitude; and when I’m meditating and mind-traveling. The song never seems to wear out on me but rather continually evolve to something bigger and much richer for me to appreciate even more over time as it goes by.  Mercy Street is the song I want to be played at my funeral.

The only versions of Mercy Street which I love and respect are two of them: LP version and the William Orbit mix which is featured in a 1992 CD-single of Blood Of Eden by Peter Gabriel. Please take the time to read the lyrics and the meaning of the song below. I’ve provided a video of Peter Gabriel talking about what inspired him to write and dedicate his song to Anne Sexton who wrote a poem and play called 45 Mercy Street.

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (LP Version)…

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: Mercy Street (LP Version)
Year: 1986
Label: Real World Records / Real World Music

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (LP Version) (mp3)

 

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (William Orbit Mix)…

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: Mercy Street (William Orbit Mix)
Year: 1992
Label: Real World Records / Real World Music

Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (William Orbit Mix) (mp3)

 

Mercy Street Lyrics…

Looking down on empty streets, all she can see
Are the dreams all made solid
Are the dreams all made real

All of the buildings, all of those cars
Were once just a dream
In somebody’s head

She pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam
She pictures a soul
With no leak at the seam

Lets take the boat out
Wait until darkness
Let’s take the boat out
Wait until darkness comes

Nowhere in the corridors of pale green and grey
Nowhere in the suburbs
In the cold light of day

There in the midst of it so alive and alone
Words support like bone

Dreaming of mercy st.
Wear your inside out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms again

Dreaming of mercy st.
Swear they moved that sign
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms

Pulling out the papers from the drawers that slide smooth
Tugging at the darkness, word upon word
Confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box
To the priest-he’s the doctor
He can handle the shocks
Dreaming of the tenderness-the tremble in the hips
Of kissing Mary’s lips

Dreaming of mercy st.
Wear your insides out
Dreaming of mercy
In your daddy’s arms again

Dreaming of mercy st.
Swear they moved that sign
Looking for mercy
In your daddy’s arms

Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy
Mercy, mercy, looking for mercy

Anne, with her father is out in the boat
Riding the water
Riding the waves on the sea

The Meaning Of The Lyrics & Anne Sexton’s Poem 45 Mercy Street

Peter Gabriel was inspired by Anne Sexton’s poem 45 Mercy Street which led him to write/compose his song Mercy Street, dedicating his song to her. Gabriel could relate to Sexton as a deep thinker with a troubling depression who searches for meaning through her art.

Anne Sexton, a poet, committed suicide in 1974 after a life marred by mental illness. The first couple of verses in the song play on the difficulty she had differentiating between her successful creative life as a poet and her failings in her “real” life as a daughter/mother/wife. Years after leaving the home where she lived with her father, one day she decided to go back and look for the place on 45 Mercy Street. But when she walked there, she wasn’t able to find the house nor recognize the neighborhood what she once knew.  It has all been changed over time. so in essence, this is what the song Mercy Street is all about … Anne’s searching of her home and past.

According to the uncredited sources on the internet:

As a poet, Anne, in effect, had a “leak at the seam,” her inward thoughts and feelings that got expressed through her poetry. Many poets have commented on the pain that comes through revealing one’s inner self.

The boat references allude to her final book of poetry, “The Awful Rowing Toward God,” about our inevitable journey toward death and the afterlife. “Tak[ing] the boat out” refers to her intention to accelerate her own demise. (She killed herself just after finishing the book.)

Corridors of pale green [aka 'hospital green'] and gray” could refer to her stays in mental institutions during her manic episodes (which alternated with her stints of “ordinary life” in the suburbs of Boston).

Wear your inside out” again refers to the way a poet exposes his soul to the world. That which, for most people, remains private and unknown is shown to all. The “daddy” allusions again seem to refer to God, in whose arms she might find that elusive mercy (so difficult to attain in this life, hence the reference to the moved street sign.

All of the confession allusions have double meaning, as much of Anne’s life was spent “confessing” her innermost feelings to psychiatrists ((whereas in the song, the “warm velvet box” might also refer to the psychiatrists and mind doctors)) as well as revealing them to the public through her poetry. The shocks can doubly refer to shock therapy administered by psychiatrists as well as the shocking things a priest might hear in confession. Per Wikipedia, Sexton was the epitome of a “confessional poet.”

Live Performace of Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street”…

Live Performance of Peter Gabriel – “Mercy Street” (1988)…

Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio…

The pictures you see below are Peter Gabriel’s own Real World Studio where he recorded Mercy Street as well as the most of his previous albums, soundtracks and productions of other artists signed on his label Real World Music/Records.

Page 1 of 1 1