Vol. 33 - Word Is Bond

October 9 | 2017

A musical excursion into Jamaica’s love affair with Secret Agent 007.

Another more ‘high-concept’ mixtape – This one came to me after filing away yet another JB themed Jamaican 45 and asking myself “Why are there so many James Bond themed ska and rocksteady tunes?”

To those that watch the movies the connection makes sense – the island setting is used in Dr. No and Live & Let Die as well as being home to Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye estate (now owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell).   ‘James Bond Fever’ was certainly escalated by the coincidence  that  Jamaica gained her independence the same year Dr. No was released (1962).   The combination of independance and a major motion picture being filmed in close proximity surely bolstered local musicians to title songs of their new and up-beat indigenous music (ska) after the exciting franchise.

A musical excursion into Jamaica’s love affair with Secret Agent 007.

Vol. 32 - Holiday At 45rpm – 2016

December 12 | 2016

A non-conventional holiday mixtape for those of you sick and tired of the same old holiday tunes.

Funky and soulful non-traditional holiday tunes.

Vol. 30 - Windy City Reggae

July 18 | 2015

This started one day as I was organizing some reggae 45s.  I have a rather subjective area of my reggae stacks labeled ‘Soul Covers’ (subjective because I arbitrarily will assign a soul cover to be organized there or with other discs on the same label seemingly at random) that I began to notice had a lot of really classic Chicago soul in it.  Obviously The Impressions are well covered in the Jamaican songbook but I realized there was Billy Stewart, The Chi-Lites,  and Tyrone Davis all represented in reggae style.

It was then I began researching and locating more and more examples of music originating from the City of Broad Shoulders and being given the island treatment.  This is by no means a definitive mixtape (I left off a lot of well circulated Impressions covers and just the other day a friend hipped me to Nicky Thomas’s cover of ‘Can I Change My Mind’ that was not on my radar) but it is pretty thorough touching on 40 tracks in about 60 minutes.

In celebration of the 30th volume we actually put this mix on a cassette (something that I hope continues going foward) that are available for free if you come to a gig and ask for one.  In fact the download here is actually ripped from the cassette so you can still get that analog feel even in digikal format.

Strictly Chicago soul tunes covered by Jamaican artists.

Vol. 29 - Who Is The Champion Bubbler?

February 1 | 2014

Who IS the Champion Bubbler? Maybe this mixtape will help you get a bit closer to finding out. But probably not. Whether you want to bubble wit yuh ting, bubble under di fat gyal, or just bubble inna dancehall stylee .. We got you covered.

Who IS the Champion Bubbler?  A mixtape to help you find out!

Vol. 28 - Give Jah The Praise

December 1 | 2012

Nothin too crazy with this mix … Just all sorts of songs singin praise onto The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah … Jah Rastafari …

Vol. 27 - Gunman! Leave Gun Business Alone!

September 1 | 2012

If you haven’t been made aware of the insane increase in violence & shootings in Chicago over the last months you either never read the news, or, you live somewhere without any sort of connection to the rest of the planet .. like, under a rock. Cause it has been gettin’ cold dumb around here with how many badboys need to flex and pop off the next man over nothing. Certain neighborhoods on the South Side have seriously gone borderline-warzone status …

So here we come with a special request to all Gunman! Leave Gun Business Alone! A topical edition for ya’lls lil’ head domes to wrap it’s brain assunder upon. Strictly gunman and badboy lyrics we play .. And none of that glamorizing gangsta culture sh*t … If cautionary tales exist in the reggae community, some of these tunes would probably be the closest thing to them … Also, maybe this will help in eliminating the use of the word ‘rude’ in non-jamaican bands’ names. Rudeboy business is gangster business … Nothing righteous or cutesie about it.

Vol. 26 - Reggae Synthesis

May 1 | 2012

A special collaboration with Chicago’s ‘Simmer Down Sundays’ ( Our friends Akasha’s free reggae night held every last Sunday at the Double Door). Simmer Down Sundays features a rotating cast of selectors, deejays and bands is arguably the most important reggae happening in the city. Drastics drummer Anthony (aka King Tony) has dropped his ‘live-dub-via-cassette’ performance there a couple times now, and collaborated with The Blends on this new mix .. Reggae Synthesis .. It’s ya know, like, when the guy (or gal) in your band gets a new pedal or new percussion toy and just throws-up all over the track using it to death? Well this mixtape is orta like that, but with rastas and synthesizers.

Vol. 25 - Killer B

December 1 | 2011

Now, the B side gets a bad-rap, so don’t start thinkin’ this is some of yesterday’s jam sittin’ in a mason jar on your aunties windowsill gettin’ all moldy. These are slammin bees, deadly bees, boss bees, ill bees, even .. well, you get the idea. Now there are more ballads/downtempo jams on this mixtape than any other but they are still slammin! Highly recommended would be ‘You’ll Be Sorry’ by The Fascinations (dig the piano fo sho) and ‘Never Had It So Good’ from Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown. Also, fans of polyrhythmia will appreciate the bizarre (BIZARRE!) transitions from 4/4 to 6/8, swing to straight and other things that make musicologist wet themselves.

Vol. 24 - Soundcraft 2

July 1 | 2011

A hardass dubwise mixtape for ya’lls little boiled cauliflower ears.

Vol. 23 - Yuh Chat Too Much!

May 1 | 2011

And it’s another first for The Blends/Third Thursday mixtape series (that I hope becomes a regular thing)… At 30 minutes and 45 seconds, say hello to you brand new collaboration mixtape … with Nic The Graduate .. the beat-maker/producer behind Illuminati Congo. Strikkly deejay style pon yer mix … Kept ’em short n sweet and tried to cram as many styles on the list as possible. Some you know; Yellowman, Super Cat.. some you (might) not; U Mike, Shorty The President … regardless, this milkshake will surely bring all the boys/girls to your yard when you put yer speakers out yer window and bump it in the warming weather …

Vol. 22 - Reggae/Soul

April 1 | 2011

We humbly offer to the court of yer listening pleasure, surprise witness Reggae/Soul. An all thriller, no filler, 15 track attack of soul tunes gone down the JA-way. Of course to the inundated listener, the connection between soul and reggae is obvious, and soul/reggae comps aren’t exactly hard to find, but we think you’ll enjoy our special blend of common-and-obscure, northern-and-southern, contemporary-and-classic styles on this mix. I mean, Teddy Pendergrass tunes covered in a reggae style? WHACHUTHAWTYOONOO??.

Vol. 21 - Move/Home

February 1 | 2011

Oh boy … The Drastics resident recording studio Dirty North has moved on up to a bigger and badder home. We’ll miss the old digs for sure, but our new space is nearly twice as big and has room for building out a much more professional recording space. So anyway, here is January’s installment of The Blends free mixtape (in February, yes WE KNOW) … appropriately entitled “Move/Home”! And if you detect a theme, you’d be right … all of the songs either have to do with (or are named) on the theme of moving or home.

Vol. 20 - Drastic Radio

December 1 | 2010

We took over the airwaves at KDHX in St. Louis a few weekend ago for a guest set on Ska’s The Limit. So this is a 1-track mp3 of that set, plus some bonus material we couldn’t fit in, and alot of the talkover stuff taken out as well … there is some blending, but it’s mostly just a hard/rare dub/dee-jay mix. Drastics Radio.

Vol. 19 - No DJs, Vol. 2

November 1 | 2010

Yes! Holy crap-on-a-log … twenty freakin’ mixtapes. As I sit here at 4am sipping scotch, it’s hard to believe we actually made it to twenty. The big two-oh … What does it all mean!?  Well, at the least it’s a sure sign I spend way too much money on records. So here we go, grab a kazoo and skip yer way through the looking glass into a magical musical mysterylogical madrigal madagascarian misanthropic medley of magnanimous melodies. How’s THAT for alliteration! I mean, besides the fact it don’t make no sense… We got another “killer party tape”(tm) for ya on the d/l (that’s download not downlow)! Bunch of soul on this one … and generally less eclectic than last months, but once you get up into the 120+ bpm range, there’s not alot of hiphop and reggae to choose from. So deal with it. There is some latin, skinhead reggae, 80s rock, etc … ya know .. the usual bag … so I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore!!  So just grab it and let ‘er rip BROTHER!

Vol. 18 - No DJs, Vol. 1

October 1 | 2010

Saddle up buckaroos cause this month’s mixtape is another series-within-the-series edition! Like our 80s Dancehall and Drastics Profile mixes. Presenting for thine listening holes we humbly offer up “No DJs, Volume One”. Rare tracks? ehhh, maybe one .. Pop and party jams? That’s a big booya! This is actually a segment of a verrrrry long DJ set I did at a Halloween party 2 years ago .. and this years impending hollows eve is what reminded me of it. All I really remember from that night is people losing their sh*t as this mix went on and the record player skipping with more and more frequency as more and more feet befell the wooden floor.   Which is weird cause I barely drank and you’d think I’d remember more … The mix is eclectic (nothing new for The Blends as you regular subscribers can verify) but the selections jump from Jackie Wilson to Nena, Foreigner to Salt N Pepa, De La Soul to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers… well, you get the picture.  The whole thing fades out on one of the best party jams ever as I wanted to leave you with a sense that it was just getting started … cause the mix went on for another hour after that … and started an hour before the opening track …

So the bad news is I won’t be able to crib parts of this mix for this year’s Halloween party but the good news is that YOU will be able to bump this at your very own sans-dj costume gala. Act now and we’ll include 3 drunk people you don’t know to show up at 2am and weird everyone out! Please hurry as supplies are limited. But not really …

Vol. 17 - Andrew

September 1 | 2010

So here we go … we’re on the musical chopping block and you have 45 minutes to prepare the MEAL OF A LIFETIME and impress some opinionated and pushy British judge … and what you come up with is a sweet sweet 45 minute set of straight reggae trombone. Yup. All trombone .. all the time .. You will probably NOT want to listen to ANY trombone for a good while after listening to this mixtape, so fair warning: Pregnant women (who do not want trombonist children), and; People imminently attending Trombone Choir Recitals should NOT listen to this mixtape.

Vol. 16 - Rub-A-Dub Fashion, Part 2

August 1 | 2010

DAMN! It’s hot up in here for reals. Well, here as promised is yer second installment of Rub-A-Dub Fashion! Got a little more “out” on this one, and there are definitely some tongue-in-cheek selections to prove it … Including but not limited to 2 different tracks promoting Synthesizers and Computers, a track by Charlie Chaplin which breaks into 80s pop-tune-medleys, Mutabaruka warning on the ills of junk food and a rub-a-dub version of Marvin Gayes “Innercity Blues” … yowza! The mix “slowly” blends into more .. how should I say.. Jamaican-centric tunes that never gained much popularity off the island. These tracks are definitely “strange” to Americans and people with more of a blues/rock musical background .. bizarre casio-driven riddims with Jamaican cats talking in heavy patois over them.. using slang and describing situations only relevant to native JAers. But it’s hard to argue that modern dancehall hasn’t had a major influence on modern electronic/dance music (as well as vice-versa).. and these kinds of tracks are the roots. Anyway, if you don’t like ‘em I ain’t gonna be mad at ya. Just gonna put you in the corner with a bag over yer head until you DO!!!!

Vol. 15 - Rub-A-Dub Fashion, Part 1

July 1 | 2010

I think this era of reggae gets a bad rap, but knowing how trends cycle every 20 years (30 for Jamaican trends) it will be popular in about 10 years. This is a real nice mix of both singers, crooners, djs, dubs, live bands, digital productions, etc … Worth the download just to hear Lee Van Cliff shamelessly ripping off Eek-A-Mouse and Papa Kojie toasting about Nancy Regan sitting on Mr. T’s lap!

Vol. 14 - Bloodline

May 1 | 2010

On the real though, this mix has got some wicked instrumental cuts from obscure groups like The Prunes, The Khromozones and Slide Five Trio as well as joints from household names like Common and The Roots …

Vol. 13 - The G.I. Mix

April 1 | 2010

Well this one really is a special request and a popular demand! This month’s Third Thursday Mix Tape is a doozy. 36 tracks, over 75 minutes of music .. all dedicated to one man .. The Cool Ruler himself .. Mr. Gregory Isaacs. I’ve had a couple people bugging me to do this mix for a while now, and finally had the time to do the proper research to bring you a near definitive mix of The Lonely Lover. “Near definitive” because a definitive Gregory mix would have to be something hours and hours long and boast rare 45s and dubplates I can’t afford! The man’s career stretched 4 decades! But we humbly offer a nice cross section of the man’s catalog… starting off with his first 45 release “Another Heartache”. The mix isn’t chronological and jumps through the decades from rocksteady to roots to lovers rock to 90s dancehall .. the man is a living history of Jamaican music.  Also featured are some of the great Jamaican rhythm sections: Sly & Robbie, Roots Radics, Soul Syndicate, The Revolutionaries, The Upsetters, etc … Definitely some tongue-in-cheek entries in here, specially from his late 80s albums “Private Beach Party” and “Red Rose for Gregory” …

I did my best to hunt down dubs and versions … this is the perfect music for the warming weather, so get on the stoop and turn it up!

Vol. 12 - Pop’s Stacks

March 1 | 2010

And here we go again. Put another nickel in the juke machine, put on a silk tie and order another egg cream cause we’re here with Part 13 in our Third Thursday Free Mixtape Series! Lucky 13 … This month we got a very personal mix for your Panama Ear Canals .. Pop’s Stacks. These are all tracks off records I’ve got from my dad, Frank Abbinanti .. though a couple tunes are off records he’s picked up for me at swap-meets and 2nd hand stores over the years. The man is/was an avid record collector amassing a significant collection of LPs and 45s since the late 1950s … and I attribute my propensity for meshing genres in songwriting and djing to being brought up listening to this kinda stuff …

I put this mix together a few years ago, and originally only shared it with friends .. judging by the response I got; I think you’ll dig it. Your brain will probably notice a penchant for latin, soul and latin/soul in the mix .. Some real gems in this set; including tracks what been sampled for your hip-hops, latin versions of Eddie Harris tunes, and tracks covered by Yesterday’s New Quintet …

Vol. 11 - Hypnagogia

July 26 | 2015

Well, it’s late on a Thursday afternoon and in Drastopia that means it’s time for a visit from our resident DJ .. The Blends! Yes, it’s time for another installment of our Third Thursday Free Mixtape series .. Number-freakin-Eleven! This month’s installment is entitled Hypnagogia. A ten dollar word worth every penny. It’s really just a fancy word for that area your mind goes to before you fall asleep … when yer still kinda awake, but are still kinda dreaming, but still kinda asleep. It’s how I spend 90% of my CTA rides going and back and forth downtown. Hypnagogia Hallucinations. So strap on your granmas velcro shoes ’cause we’re going to some dark and strange aural areas. Let it be the crushed ice in the Tom Collin’s cocktail glass of your mind … Now quit reading and download it already!

Vol. 10 - Potluck

December 1 | 2009

Well, its 6am and I still haven’t gone to sleep so technically it’s still Thursday and so I’m in time for our Third Thursday Free Mix … Our 10th Mixtape! Good God, we actually made it to double digits ….. My brain is fried right now so pardon the brief description .. This month we present Potluck as the finger in the fjord of your ear canal.  So put on your wooden shoes and get ready for the storm.

Except for the self-contained Christmas-themed Mini-Mix at the end, this collection makes almost no sense. We got soul into hiphop into latin into downtempo electronic into ska …

Eclecticism is the theme.

Happy Holidays ya’ll.

Vol. 9 - Cornucopious

November 1 | 2009

Aight, now that we got that out the way, welcome back, and please to be considered for you prompt consideration … another Third Thursday, another Mix Tape for ya courtesy of The Blends! This month’s collection is titled “Cornucopious” as a sort of early Thanksgiving treat for ya’ll good lil pilgrims out there. The tracks are mostly dubs and versions of pretty chilled out reggae joints, in some cases we’ve included the original and the version for contrast .. but there’s no “Mayflower” or “Turkey” themes on any of these tunes … just hard hittin reggae jams for ya lil cranberry sauce filled earholes!!

Vol. 8 - Instajam

October 1 | 2009

And here we go once again … gonna keep this entry short and sweet cause I gotta finish squeezing the OJ. So this month we place on the altar of your aural consciousness; Instajam! This is the first mix up here that isn’t strictly reggae .. it’s a collection of some of my favorite tunes, plus tracks that just make ya nod ya head … nawsayin? Now drink the whole thing or you don’t get none of Uncle Abbinanti’s famous chocolate covered biscuits n gravy for dessert!!!!

Vol. 7 - Tom

September 1 | 2009

Well here we go! Back to our regularly scheduled program so put your little busted-ass Speak ‘n Spell down and take that damn Play-Doh out ya mouth! I know it says it ain’t toxic but what if someone else wants to play with it? Ever think of that? Nah, you didn’t did ya? Cause yer too busy practicing yer long division on yer damn Speak n’ Math while shoving yer lil bitch mouth full of Mallomars like it’s goddamn Halloween! Now listen up … it’s another Third Thursday and YES, it’s time for another Free Mix … Part 7 in our series.

Finally had a minute to get a new mix together and so this month we are taking a hard look at long-standing Drastic hornsman Tom Riley. For some reason I always associate ol’ MushMouth Riley with Studio One, ethereal whistling, and instrumentals … Tom is also a big fan of the ska-steady beat … that kind of ska that’s so slow as almost to be rocksteady, but it’s definitely NOT rocksteady … well, if you don’t know what I’m talking, check out the later half of this mix and then go watch some Golden Girls reruns for christ sake. I didn’t even tell ol’ T-Bot Rizzle that I was doing this so he’ll probably be just as surprised as you! So this one goes out to the White Larry Bird of the Tenor … Uncle Term Rerry.

Vol. 6 - Reggae House Party

August 1 | 2009

We teamed up with our friend Andrew Barker over at Musical Occupation to host this month’s free mix tape! If you’re not familiar with Musical Occupation, they put up a consistent amount of great content: ska/reggae news, interviews, podcasts, etc … check ‘em out!

This month I had to dig deep into the vaults as I was overwhelmed trying to finish up our MJ A Rocker project in-time for MJs birthday. So after perusing the warehouse I decided to dust off the very first mix I ever made .. Reggae House Party! These tunes are like a slow cooker, perfect for chillin’ out too, or (if the feeling’s right) gettin’ up and shakin’ it to .. ! I’m pretty sure this dates back to 2006, and for those of you who have collected the previous 5 mixes, you’ll probably notice a few rough edges on this one, but it’s still a solid play!

Vol. 5 - Cool Down The Pace

July 1 | 2009

Oh yeah! Santa comes early like Christmas in July and a monkey with a gun with an preemptive installment of our Third Thursday Mixtape Series! For those of you who liked our “Drastics Profile Series”, we will be bringing those back once the team at DrasticConLabCo returns from the field with the results of our remaining personnel.

So for this month we’ve dusted off archives once-again and pulled up “Cool Down the Pace” in honor of Chicago’s latest heat wave. A tasty chilled out and dubby kind of mix … perfect for a summer day just cruising or stone cold lampin’ on ya stoop. This one comes from back in August of 2008 and was actually done while both my arms were in casts. A sort of “f you” to fate for putting me in that condition, I needed to prove that I could still be productive … Anyhow , I dug a little deeper for this compilation which features more obscure names like Super 8 Corporation, Junior Moore and Prince Douglas … Except for a handful, all of the cuts used on this mix are B-Side dubs .. the A-sides used were just too hard to pass up

Vol. 4 - Down ‘n Dirty Rocksteady

June 1 | 2009

Ahhhhhhh yes …. gather ’round the fire all you rosy-cheeked little cherubs, it’s time for another installment of our Third Thursday Mixtape Series! Those astute readers might recall that in our last episode I had a premonition this month’s issue would be in honor of Tom’s upcoming shotgun wedding and would be packed full of lovey-love-lover’s rock tunes ‘n what not. Well, we’re once again a day late and a dollar short. At the last minute, Tom was all like “oh, hey, can you do the music for my wedding, but, like, I don’t want you to have to DJ so can you just make the mix ahead of time, and it needs to be like about 90 minutes and can you get it to me soon so I can tell you how much I need changed” (liberties in actual conversation were taken for this dramatic reenactment). So yeah, long story even longer, I didn’t have time to complete a lovely mixtape as all the time I could allot over the last couple weeks for the DJing was devoted to the “non-typical but still cool wedding music” mix.

But fear not fair denizen of the deep, I just pulled an old mix out the vaults, made up some artwork and voila! SO! This month we have Down ‘n Dirty Rocksteady. I realize (now, literally right now as I type this) that the title might be misconstrued as meaning a “slack” or “x-rated” mix, but what I meant was this is a sort-of no-frills mix. I think this mix was made in fall of ’07, and was one of those “I should make a rocksteady tape” thing … don’t feel like I even dug that deep into my own records to make this one, just whatever was hanging around the turntables …

What do the stars hold for next month!? Madam Zoltran forsees good things in your future …

Vol. 3 - Anthony

May 1 | 2009

Wow! Well … look at this … another month another mixtape for ya’ll to download … thanks to everyone who has downloaded the previous months … they should still be available but if not, feel free to give a holla … This month I’ve gratuitously profiled myself, so it’s more just a collection of tunes I like rather than an actual cross section of the reggae part of my brain … I like alot of styles of Jamaican music but as you’ll hear (and may be surprised that) I really really like catchy rocksteady jams … especially if they’re about loves lost … couldn’t exactly tell you why …

Next month up on the chopping block is our dear dear tenor saxophonist Tom Riley. For those of you who don’t know, Tom’s getting hitched in June! So instead of just doing a profile, I’ll do my best to commemorate the occasion by putting together a mix of strictly lovers rock, lovey dovey and generally sappy kinda jams … Can’t you just feel the love?

Vol. 2 - Chris

April 1 | 2009

Whoa …OK, well …. I just slept on this months’ installment of the Third Thursday Mix … today just feels like the Third Thursday of the month so it’s when I had planned on dropping this mix (the mix itself has been ready since last month) and that’s what we’s all bout round here … feel …. not no special calendars aligned to a papal decree or stone henge or ancient Mayan pyramids or what have you … OK!?

This month I’ve profiled Drastic bassman, bassie, bassist Chris … Definitely more on the heavy and dub side than Bijan’s mix, we open this collection of jams with Chris explaining how to properly drink a bottle of cognac we stole obtained legally after we opened for Mad Prof. After that it’s more or less just that gangsta style …

Vol. 1 - Bijan

March 1 | 2009

So we decided to start a collection of reggae mixes each profiling a member of the group here … We all (obviously) like Jamaican music but we all like certain styles a lil more than others … This month to kick things off I humbly offer The Bijan Mix. There’s something very specific to the kind of jams Bijan gets down on … specific to the point that amongst the group the term “Bijan-Reggae” is used without definition to describe certain tunes … the tunes are usually steppers-reggae with 3 part male harmonies in falsetto … and there’s usually something a lil cheeseball about it too … but in a good way. Obviously not every joint on this mix is steppers or has three part harmony, but they all make out (at least in my mind) where this guy’s coming from … Part of the reason for making the Bijan tape (beside the fact it was easy for me) is Mr. Warner has departed the keys chair in pursuit of more scholarly and worldly conquests, and we all wish him well … so think of this as a lil send off …