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Fat Freddy's Drop, Dec 18

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:33 pm
by Charlie
- Fat Freddy's Drop & Jon Lusk - - - -

1 - Segun Adewale - Nigeria - Ase - Nigeria - Segun Adewale

2 - Kottarashky - Mandra - Opa Hey! - Bulgaria - Asphalt Tango

3 - Dr John - Walk on Guilded Splinters - Gris Gris - USA - Atco

4 - Francois Muduga - chante avec Cithare - Burundi: Musiques Traditionelles - Burundi - Ocora

5 - Tom Waits - Trouble's Braids - SwordfishTrombones - USA - Island

- Fat Freddy's Drop in session** - - -

6 - Fat Freddy's Drop - The Raft - in session - New Zealand

7 - Fat Freddy's Drop - Boondigga - in session - New Zealand

- Radio Ping Pong with Jon Lusk - - -

*8 - Fiji Police Band - Amazing Grace - Fiji Police Band - Fiji - Ode

9 - Yoon Jeong Heo - Recitation of Pleasure in Zen, Part 4 - Geomungo Solo - South Korea - C&C/EMI

*10 - Lai Muang - Yang Luang - Old Harp of Lanna - Thailand - unknown

11 - Blue Asia - Kun-nu-shu - Sketches of Myahk - Japan - Vivid Sound

*12 - Kris Drever - Steel and Stone - Black Water - Scotland - Reveal

13 - Sevval Sam - Ben Seni Sevdiğumi - Karadeniz - Turkey - Kalan

*14 - Marta Sebestyen - Vision - I Can See the Gates of Heaven - Hungary - World Village

- Fat Freddy's Drop in session - - -

15 - Fat Freddy's Drop - Afrique - in session - New Zealand

16 - Fat Freddy's Drop - Ray Ray - in session - New Zealand
- - -
17 - Salif Keita - Baba - Moffou - Mali - Universal

18 - Odade Wethu - Sengizokufa - Kuyoxaban' Amadoda - South Africa - Gallo

19 - Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté - Ruby - Ali & Toumani - Mali - World Circuit

** Dallas Tamaira aka Joe Dukie (vocals, guitar) - Chris Faimu aka DJ Fitchie (MPC, mixing desk) - Iain Gordon (Keyboards)

Desmond 'Warren' Kerr, guitars - Scott Towers, sax - Toby Laing aka Tony Chan, trumpet

Joe Lindsay (trombone)


I have been quietly besotted by Fat Freddy’s Drop since receiving their 10” single ‘Hope’ back around 2003. I rarely played vinyl in those days, at home or on the radio, but became obsessed with the haunting mood of this reggae-style mantra, and included it as the final track on my compilation World 2004. To my amazement, the band did not include their best song on their debut album Based on a True Story, which was a disappointment for other reasons, lacking focus and songs that sounded complete. [There was a different song titled ‘Hope’ on the album, but that just made things more confusing and deflating].

In the meantime, I saw them live several times, including once at WOMAD New Zealand, not far from their home town of Wellington, and began to understand how the lack of focus was deliberate, as they put themselves and their audience into a trance. But if any of this suggests the indulgence of 1960s hippies or San Franciscan smokes, I’ve led you down the wrong track. In performance and conversation, these guys are sharp, funny and wide awake, as tonight’s programme hopefully demonstrates.

Having been so disappointed with their first album, I approached the new one with lower expectations. But Dr Boondigga and the Big BW fulfils every hope I ever had, and goes even further as they expand their range beyond reggae and dub into early 70s street funk (War, The Meters, Average White Band) with flashes of jazz, New Orleans funeral marches and Memphis soul.

Watching Fat Freddy in the past, I’ve wondered why they don’t have a live bass player or drummer, normally the fulcrum of any reggae band. At this session, I began to get the point. At the centre of everything stands Chris Taimu, known as ‘Mu’, who used to be a DJ. Back around 2000, after he invited local musicians to come and improvise over the tracks he was playing, a band began to evolve. The structure has remained the same, with Mu at his mixing desk at the centre of operations, programming drum rhythms and playing bass lines on his synthesiser.
With this set-up, Mu remains in control in all situations, whether the band is making a record, playing a festival or doing a radio session.

Around the room are musicians playing guitar, keyboards and horns, and vocalist Dallas Tamaira. Excuse me if I go into raptures over Dallas’ voice, but he bypasses my critical faculties and messes with my mind, my heart and other places untouched by Caribbean rum, Danish beer or any other stimulant. Right now this is my favourite group in the world, and I hope you like them too.

In the midst of all this sat another guest from New Zealand, Jon Lusk, the journalist who has been involved in helping to edit the mammoth Rough Guide to World Music, now in its third edition whose second volume covers Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The range of music is so huge, we could not do justice to it in our short exchange, but at least now you know the book is out. As always, it looks gorgeous, feels good and reads well. In addition to noting recommended albums by major artists, each section has a playlist of specific tracks which is useful for any reader to follow up, not only radio DJs looking to expand their range.

Near the start of the programme, I scratched an itch by finally playing a sequence of the atmospheric track one from the 1967 Ocora album Burundi back-to-back with the singers that it has always brought to mind, Dr John and Tom Waits. Thanks to World Service listener Jim Anderson for pointing out the specific Tom Waits song from Swordfishtrombones which is so obviously based on the Burundi track.

Re: Fat Freddy's Drop - email comments

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:09 pm
by Charlie
email from:

1. Garth Cartwright:

Nice show Charlie! Lovely music and FFD sounded superb - so rare to hear such a naturally gifted singer as Dallas singing live!

Did you consider playing Balkan Reggae by Mahala Rai Banda to FFD? I think they might have enjoyed hearing an Eastern take to measure alongside their South Pacific take.


2. Simon Hall (posted on the fRoots forum):

Sorry, I've tried but don't "get" FFD

Re: Fat Freddy's Drop, Dec 18

PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:59 pm
by jackdaw version
Charlie wrote: . . . but became obsessed with the haunting mood of this reggae-style mantra, and included it as the final track on my compilation World 2004. To my amazement, the band did not include their best song on their debut album Based on a True Story, which was a disappointment for other reasons, lacking focus and songs that sounded complete. [There was a different song titled ‘Hope’ on the album, but that just made things more confusing and deflating]. . . .

Kaa-ching to somebody in the Amazon Marketplace for a used copy of World 2004. It looks like something of a period piece. That was not a happy time around the world. (Is it now? I wonder.)

I will say that it took awhile for the charms of Based On A True Story to become apparent to me, although "Roady" was an immediate hit with me because of its line about "a peaceful place, a peaceful place" — our little dirt road in the woods is called Peaceful Place. Gilles Peterson was quicker off the mark and had them as the headliners at his awards show in 2005. (You can download this performance from

I didn't warm up to Dr. Boondigga and the Big BW very fast either, but it looks as though the band are on the verge of massive breakthrough. I detect lots of enthusiasm for them.

For those who do "get" Fat Freddy's Drop, eMusic have recently acquired several singles, including "Midnight Marauders" and "Hope for a New Generation". I couldn't possibly tell you exactly what version the various songs might be. There are also several other live shows to be had from places such as and From both pages you can easily find other live recordings of not only Fat Freddy, but loads of other acts.

Re: Fat Freddy's Drop, Dec 18

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:54 pm
by Papa M
Here is a review from 2006 taken from the now sadly defunct magazine The Beat.

Album Review

Fat Freddy’s Drop – Based on a True Story (Kartel KCD L002)

The debut album from the Wellington, New Zealand based seven-piece Fat Freddy’s Drop has been available for over a year now and during a large part of that time it has apparently been placed at No.1 in the New Zealand charts. That might bear little significance to anyone not of Antipodean extraction but in addition to the clear success back home the album has also become a firm favourite with the international Funk, Reggae, Soul, Jazz fusion crowd. The band have toured extensively at home and in Europe and their superb live performances combined with this phenomenally accomplished recording show that they are a seriously talented and inventive musical co-operative. Based on a True Story is one of those albums that transcends multiple genres. Reggae is the fundamental back-beat of the album but the Soul-Funk and New Electronica fusion, beloved of trendy Nu-Jazz dance DJs, clearly runs through most of the ten tracks. But to me this album also comfortably falls into a global music sensibility with the jazzy tinges of Afrobeat mixing well into Fat Freddy’s Drop’s gospel influenced vocals under-pinned by a heavy one-drop. It’s the ultimate hip dance fusion.

The album opener “Ernie” starts in a heavy dub vein with singer Dallas Tamaira (alias Joe Dukie) drifting in and out over a piano motif. Half way through the song the rhythm changes into a sprightly skank with a great horn refrain which drifts off into an atmospheric instrumental interlude. “Cay’s Crays”, one of the band’s strongest numbers, has a mid-paced reggae vamp under Joe’s incredibly soulful vocal. The chorus “The skank be the rock in my life” has a solid bass thump appropriate to what is virtually the group’s theme tune, ending in some dubby jazz improvisations. More jazz phrases under deeply soulful vocals permeate the metronomic beat of “This Room”. Tenor sax player Warryn Maxwell (Fulla Flash) doubles up on flute which he weaves around Iain Gordon’s (Dobie Blaze) keyboard. The heavy dub of Chris Faiumu’s (DJ Fitchie) tape loop opens the spacey “Ray Ray”. Joe Dukie’s repeated vocal line “Tell me – What’s the world with no soul?” shows that he has one of the great modern soul voices. The space-age electronics fuse into an extended retro jazz-funk keyboard solo. “Dark Days” is a heartfelt soul ballad with Joe exploring his emotions over swirling keyboards, strings and horns. The funk back-beat returns on “Flashback” (one of several tracks given the remix treatment on 12” vinyl issues). This has strong vocal refrains “I lose myself in you” and “Breathe easy lovers” and a neat jazz interlude before returning to heavy funk and a gentle acoustic guitar ending from Tehimana D. Kerr (Jetlag Johnson). Undoubtedly “Roady” and “Wandering Eye” are the album’s two outstanding songs. “Roady” has a totally wicked keyboard/bass skank that launches the “Feels so good when I know you’re skankin’ with me” theme. A tight female rap passage increases the tension in the tune before the group modulate down into the “Do it for the love of music” extended workout. At this point the funk of the horn section becomes impossibly powerful, the back-beat builds, and the entire band let rip in a groove that is as good as any sixties US soul band. “Wandering Eye” is nearly ten minutes of twisting and turning soul skank. Crisp horns, snappy back-beat, infectious vocal line – another of the group’s anthems, and like “Roady” subject to remix on vinyl 12”. In order to show their versatility the album’s two closing tracks are played in an entirely softer but equally powerful style. “Del Fuego” is a high quality down-tempo soul number and the final song “Hope” is a magnificent lengthy gospel anthem with some fine female vocal backing.

Fat Freddy’s Drop are far from being a conventional working band. Apart from the fact that they come from far away New Zealand they are independently produced, marketed and managed – no record company budget driving these boys. Musically they operate with a rhythm section based on the computerized beats and loops of Fitchie’s MPC 2000 – no live drum kit or bass guitar. Their live show is ostensibly fronted by their horn section –Joe Lindsay (Ho Pepa), trombone; Toby Laing (Tony Chang), cornet; Warryn Maxwell (Fulla Flash), saxophone. They perform within their own charming cartoon character alternative world - a light-hearted and unpretentious concept reflected in the artwork on their record sleeves. The Fat Freddy’s Drop cooperative has existed under different guises since the late 1990s and there have been several self-released recordings that have appeared as vinyl singles or on compilations, plus a superb four track live recording, Live at the Matterhorn. Based On A True Story is their first full album and has been created by the stable seven man line-up with some augmentation of conventional rhythm instruments, additional horns and backing vocalists. Having enjoyed their album I must admit that I felt some trepidation about their live show but remarkably the electronic beats created by Fitchie’s technology are so huge that the absence of bass guitar and drum kit is un-noticeable. The horn section work at the front of stage with trombonist Ho Pepa letting himself become totally immersed in the music whilst performing some amusing dance moves that may or may not be entirely serious (his penchant for cheap track suits and his protruding pot-belly imply that “cool sartorial elegance” is not Ho Pepa’s intended on-stage image). As a live band they show an exceptional ability to improvise whilst remaining rock solid. They also have some new material that suggests that their next album may be as good as the debut. In Joe Dukie the group have a front man who is sincere and sensitive, strikingly handsome, unassumedly charismatic and one of the finest young singers working in the reggae/soul genre. They are, without doubt, one of the most exciting live bands I’ve ever seen.

Along with Sinead O’Connor’s Throw Down Your Arms the Fat Freddy’s Drop debut album Based On A True Story was the most joyous and uplifting new reggae based album that I heard in 2005, and one year after its release I am still thrilled, moved, and rocked to my soul every time I listen to it.

Martin Sinnock

Re: Fat Freddy's Drop, Dec 18

PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:47 am
by jackdaw version
I liked reading that. Thanks, Papa.

My copy of World 2004 arrived and it's easy to hear why Charlie might have been disappointed with "Hope" as it eventually appeared on Based On A True Story. The version on World 2004 is a lot more vivacious. However, I always think it's a good sign when musicians go back and revisit and rework their songs, shows real musical intelligence at work. Can be bloody frustrating for the fans, collectors and anoraks, however. Otoh, gives us a reason to keep living in hope of finding the elusive, legendary version, long buried and unavailable. For their own album as a whole, and at that later time, I think the other version works finer, if not better.

Those years were so ugly. I can hardly bear to think about them.

Re: Fat Freddy's Drop, Dec 18

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:25 am
by Rob Hall
John83 looks a little suspicious, but doesn't quite fit the pattern. A spammer? We'll see.