- 2021 The Awards
Here we go my end of year run down best of list to round off this slightly less odd than 2020 but still a bit rubbish and strange of years.
First heard Ross sitting in for Gilles way back in the Radio 1 days and he’s just kept doing his thing. So many records I have been put onto thanks to his ear and with the new show on NTS he’s taking it on again.
Honorary mentions – Sarah Evans (Al Hara), Moxie (NTS), Tash LC (NTS), Love Injection (Paul & Barbie) (Lot).
Not really been out so slim pickings to be fair! Bit if I had to pick one, it’d be Luke. Had a hand in two of the events of the year, Homobloc (which I did get to) and the Electric Chair’s long awaited return (which despite some efforts I did not).
Honourable mentions – Jayda G and the mighty Derrick Carter.
I listen to music mostly but sometimes you need to hear some humans and something that’s not the news or too deep. Max and Barry have an easy camaraderie that with the revolving cast of journos keeps things interesting and mostly light.
Artform, Luke Una, Balearic Breakfast, Louie Vega’s lockdown, just consistent quality any time of the day.
Honourable mentions – Hamon, Loose FM and Vinyl Night Radio
Album – Emma Jean Thackray – Yellow
Can’t really go on about this one anymore than I already have. Just a great debut, kicking on from the 12s with ambition and confidence. Quite a decent year for albums (see below) so in good company.
Honourable mentions – Carwyn Ellis, Nightmares on Wax, Vels Trio, Hard Feelings, Dos Santos, System Olympia, Lady Blackbird, Little Simz, Cleo Soul, Sault, Joy Orbison, Rebecca Vasmant, Loraine James, Raheem de Vaughan & Apollo Brown, Greentea Peng, Georgia Anne Muldrew, Altin Gun, Raf Rundell, Emanative and Liz Elensky, Valerie June.
Single – musclecars (feat. Brandon Markell Holmes) – Shelter
Cost of vinyl this year and the ease of streaming has really eroded my ability and desire to buy that many singles on 12. A sad state of affairs, there are so many great old tunes that are still to be (re)discovered but the cost and hassle of putting out records must be a nightmare for young producers who want to do things in the old way. So, my selection is a stream, and it’s great, channeling old music in a new way.
Honourable mentions – Paula Tape, Gabriels, Ruf Dug.
Compilation – DeeWee Foundations
Just an amazing package of music, all a comp should be artwork, concept, breadth. Buy if you can find it.
Honourable mentions – Under the Influence vol.9, Country Funk Vol.3, Eccentric Disco, Small Axe OST, Guts:Straight from the Decks
A super strong year for Bradley Zero, just nailing it with every release, I had to stop myself from getting too obsessive. Albums and 12s, the artwork and consistent quality made it hard to look beyond them this year.
Honourable mentions – Drum Chums/Talking Drums, Parkway, Trunk,
Documentary – The Beatles: Get Back
Well, confession time. I am a Beatles nut and this was probably the most excited I’ve been for a TV show for a long time. How was all this footage ‘lost’? Incredible insight into the process and relationships. Obviously it’s edited to tell the story and it’s ultimately a positive one which is not the previous historical version of this stage of their career, but it gives new life to the records from that period. I challenge anyone to listen to ‘Two of Us’ and not feel moved. Oh yeah, and Ringo is now the best Beatle.
Honourable mention – 1971
Night – Homobloc
Club nights are so few and far between these days and often limited to mega events to catch as many acts as possible or to make it ‘worthwhile’ but this was something else. Happy happy people being themselves to an amazing soundtrack.
I can’t choose Piccadilly every year and it’s still up there obviously but Honest Jon’s is an institution and needs recognition for still selecting some great new stuff as well as killer comps from themselves and elsewhere. Ecuadorean folk? Yes please. It’s a bit of my history too, sadly miss those Saturdays in West London ending up there after mooching down Portobello Road. Maybe one day though for now it’s online only. Great selection, good prices and excellent service.
Mix of the year…..
- 2021 a year in music
Not quite as wtf as 2020 but still an unusual one, then again aren’t they all, or should be! That’s proper living right?
Events did happen. Gigs did happen. Social life did happen. I even made it to a few. Homobloc, Green Man, Repurcussion, Chip Wickham and Joe Culpepper all highlights. The DJ thing didn’t really happen for various reasons (read ‘cos Covid basically) but there was some light at the end of the tunnel. I did a couple of turns at the lovely Morgan’s Vinyl Night at Feed which has led to a hook up with Alain who runs Vinyl Night Radio…and did a show for Mark at Loose FM which went out over Christmas.
Records-wise, there were plenty of Discogs purchases but here I’m concentrating on the new stuff. Things that came out in 2021, admittedly some are old tracks (well quite a lot!) but still 2021 releases. Looking down the lost there is a big leaning on a few labels in particular, Talking Drums on the edit front, Rhythm Section for the dance and Wonderful Sounds for…well, just wonderful sounds. And the send it to you every month. Perfect for the lazy digger!
I’ve put together an extended blended (splendid!) mix for a bit of Xmas food coma/New year party starting soundtrack business. Link below. For anyone who’s paying attention, this is a beefed up version of my show on Loose.fm without the chat for those who prefer my voice to be not heard!
As I started but failed to keep momentum on from earlier in the year there’s some pics and blurb on the various tracks for that full A/V experience. Thanks for tuning in, more to come in ‘22. …that’s a promise and as ever enjoy!
Sean La Broody – Thank you for everything feat. Oliver Paterson
Lovely Aussie jazz downtempo vibes on this one, played to death and great intro music.
Hardy Kutuk – Freudshaft
A top notch comp. from Growing Bin of various bits and pieces with a pastoral vibe throughout. Basso knows.
Ruf Dug – Future Zone
Ruffy still doing it, NTS show, productions, nights, rebuilding sound systems from BBC knock off equipment. Plus a Reddish resident. Local hero.
John Lyle – Life is a Breeze
First one from Wonderful Sounds a reissue of an obscure private press release I’d never have hear without them doing the heavy lifting diggingwise. Lovely insert too.
Emma Jean Thackray – Sun
Album of the year (see other post for my picks elsewhere) just hangs together as a single piece of work as albums should. Jazzy stompers, mellow ballads all with great playing and vocals, arrangements and swing. Sky’s the limit really for EJ.
Emanative Feat. Liz Elensky – Love and Light
Thanks again to Ross Allen for this one, again channeling some Black UK dance music history, shades of Rae & Christian, Soul II Soul but with a modern twist. Close second to Yellow.
Ndia – Celebration
Shouts 2021 came out late in the year and was a bit more ‘heavy’ than last years but no worse for it. As label showcases go this is a great window. Bradley Zero really has it going on.
Bokeni Dyer – Ke Nato
I maybe stretching the 2021 only rules, this was on the cusp, but as with everything else on Brownswood it was never dull, African inflected some real deep cuts with more dance friendly cuts. One to lose yourself in on a lazy Sunday.
Gabriels – Love and Hate in a Different Time
So they were on Jo Wiley last week, probably means I can’t like them any more (joke!). But seriously what a tune, came from nowhere really, perfectly formed modern soul with nods to the greats. Single of the year no question. Live next year too all being well.
Muchos Plus – Nassau’s Disco (Long Version)
So many versions of this, so many. But this is a cracker, straight up party music isn’t it and all the better for it. On the ever reliable Kalita, still uncovering the lost gems.
Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath – MRA
Another nugget for the lazy digger. Times gone by these would be holy grails that folks like me would never get near, but thanks indeed to Kieran Hebden for sharing the love and in a wonderful package too. Pure jazz fire.
Fire Water – Twilight
Z Records have just kind of always been there, this is number 9 and the series shows no sign of slipping quality-wise. Don’t know the selecter don’t know the tunes, but now I do.
Justin Unabomber – CUT#1
A late in the year drop from half of the Unabombers (who had a bit of a year too) just a set of straight up tunes that would have blitzed it at the Chair. And still might. Sprechen have been busy all year and more to come in ’22.
Moton – Can’t Get You Down
Faith made a bit of a comeback with the mag this year and the extended family have been very busy too. More Moton releases and inaugural Faith drop (see below) showing they are still at the front of dance music culture. Looking back to see the future.
DC La Rue – Cathedrals (Greg Wilson Edit)
Versions coming out of your ears, the Jamie 3:26 was a trip but given Greg rocked the Star and Garter at Repurcussion I’ll stick his version in here. Same as per, looped to death (in a good way) for maximum tension. Still one of the best editors out there.
Plastic Bamboo – Kamboja
Speaking of labels having a moment this year, have to give some respect to the Talking Drums gang. Patch really put out some super 12s this year, unique visual image, unheard tunes all bangers.
Sylvester – Mighty Real (Soulwax Mix)
The original is peerless just a classic anthem. But then add in the Soulwax twist and it just flies somewhere else. 10 minutes of disco heaven.
Cecilia Noah – Yuku Mon Ukelele
Dimitri from Paris shared a few of his gems on this triple set from Favourite Records. And very kind of him it was too. Merci beaucoup!
Neil Diablo – High Emotion
Another local hero, Neil Diablo has been putting out dancefloor killers for years and the combo with TD was always going to hit.
Talking Drums – Under the Sky
So I maybe overegging the Talking Drums but in for a penny….seriously every release is worthc checking.
Guy One – So La Mala
More Ross tips with this one. Sneaky 7 of African heaven. New? Old? Not sure to be honest, but it sounds great.
Kaoma – Dance Togo Mago
Second dip of the needle for Dim’s Balearic Francais comps. So many to choose from but this one just builds then flies.
El Turo Nero – Las Penas
More reissue business from Phil Cooper’s Nu Northern Soul label. Probably something Harvey would play. Enough said.
P-rallel – Been Living (feat. Lord Apex)
Another borderline 2021 release, but a real sleeper, crossing styles, dub, d’n’b, house, hip hop, garage in the UK tradition.
Toulouse Low Trax – Rising Into Water
Themes for Great Cities are just quality, you can just trust. So many great tracks across tempos and sub-sub genres.
Jason Hogans – Do This Player
Sound Signature made a bit of a comeback in ’21 reissuing a few old Theo 12s but with some new artists too. The usual deep, repetitive, soulful groove but never dull.
Adam Pelts – Clusterfunk
Take 2 from Shouts 2021, again tricky to pick but this electro infused number with poetic back vocals just seemed to fit.
Paula Tape – Eclipse
Sorry, I just love Rhythm Section! Great artwork, top notch dance music with a twist. Again a late entry for 2021, but this is well worth checking.
Code Red – In Your Dreams
Il Bosco and the Red Laser chaps kept the momentum in ’21 with more selection from the Manctallo underground. Keeping the flame alive and taking it forward.
Emanuelle – Italove
Triple vinyl, exhaustive comp of some of the vast range of artists and styles the Dewaele bros have signed to DeeWee. Never dull always intriguing and pushing the boundaries.
Nicola Cruz – Supra
Also played to death and featured on a few mixes this year. Tropical dance dub with a tribal drive.
Parkwerks – Hope Dub
Mr 7 keeps going on. Inspiring the name of this blog (well stolen really) and still doing his thing on the regular. Hope Dub seemed appropriate. We all need it, and he gave it.
Brother Lee – Acid House
And finally….Wonderful Sounds rounded off the year with this lovely 7 of folk acid.
So there we go. Fairly exhaustive journey down some of the year’s new vinyl. Tricky keeping the faith with prices being what they are but we try! Happy new year and see you in ’22.
- Two years on..
It’s just under 2 year since I stopped playing at Nook…41 years to get a paying gig and then there’s a pandemic. Anyway as a reminiscent journey here’s a flavour of what I used to play (and will again). Enjoy!
- Goodbye Summer
It’s hot! So maybe it’s not over yet but rain is due and we’re almost at half way through September. I’ve been sitting on the thoughts for this one for a bit. But summer ‘got in the way’ not in a negative sense just busy.
So the intention was to get this done for the UK Bank Holiday which didn’t happen. so here’s a few tracks I’ve enjoyed over the summer old and new and a few musings to go along with them.
- 200 down and still kicking
Landmarks can be pretty arbitrary things sometimes. 500 this, 75 that, but I recently hit the quite ridiculous heights of 199 mixes for the Mixcloud account. Now, while I am not comparing this with anything that really is world changing, it did make me think that for the 200 I should make a bit more effort than normal and pull out a few stops for big two tonne.
I’ve dabbled a bit with themed mixes, couple of label specials or for occasions but never something that gives a bit of a look back on my musical history. I’m not going to pretend it’s anything too original I’ll admit I lean big on some very heavy hitters but these tracks all have memories of times, places and above all people.
There are omissions, as soon as I put something in it made me think of another I’d left out but it was fun making it and I’ve tried to give the story behind some of them below….who knows if they’ll be a 300, but as ever… enjoy!
John Coltrane – Naima: A slow start, something spiritual and moving, simple yet incredibly complex in its emotion. Coltrane is a favourite and has been for a long time. The virtuosity is stunning on the bop stuff but this is one track I can always come back to. I think it was written for his wife and it comes across as a love song. Despite its slow tempo I find it uplifting and the ending just leaves you with a warmth inside.
Bill Evans – Peace Piece: This was a “what is that tune?” moment when I first heard it. It’s very simple like Naima, not much going on apparently, none of the bombast and chaos some jazz will give you. But that is why it is great and has stuck with me. The name says it all really, it’s a piece of peace.
Don Rendell Ian Carr Quintet – Blue Mosque: Bit of a recurring theme with these first three, simple motifs just very well played and paced. This track was first on a Gilles Peterson compilation, Worldwide 1 maybe, along with a few other entry point tunes like Waltz for Koop and Slowly Surely (more of which later). Anyway it just stuck with me and when he dug into the Brit Jazz history bringing to light some of those guys like Stan Tracey, Neil Ardley, Michael Garrick and the rest who had been a bit forgotten this opened up a whole new world. The culmination was the kind of all stars show at the Barbican which just blew me away. Amazing musicians in love with the music even now after 50 years+ of playing. So when this came out recently on Jazzman it had to be added to the collection. Incredible record from incredible artists.
John Martyn – Couldn’t Love You More: Everyone knows Solid Air, an album you can just rinse and repeat and I did. But, One World takes the folky/jazziness of that one and turns it up a notch adding in more electronic sounds. But the songwriting underneath is still brilliant, emotionally charged and full of fire. His singing is so restrained in a way but charged with feeling. I’m not big on lyrics in songs, I don’t really pick up on the words that often but this one….
Letta Mbulu – What Is Wrong With Groovin’: Another GP classic (not the last) kicks off the Journeys by DJ he did with Norman Jay (another big one that basically turned into a wantlist). Again so much feeling and power in the voice, it almost sounds as if its topping out on the recording. Letta went on to do more straight ahead jazz and soul stuff, and Normalizo is as balearic classic, but this is just 2 and bit minutes of drama.
Emma Jean Thackray – Open: In 25 years plus of record buying I still keep an eye out for the new, despite what this tracklist may suggest and Emma Jean just totally grabbed me when I heard her last year. So heavily talented it’s frightening really, she can sing, write and play god knows how many instruments. This EP covers a few genres and Ley Lines is also worth checking out. Album en route which is already ordered. New music!
Jill Scott – He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat): Year 2000, I’ve just come back from travelling around the world, India, Nepal, Mexico, Chile….amazing but back to earth with a bump. Spend the summer living with my travel pal and working in a warehouse in Little Hulton (no Mondays in sight sadly) and this is the soundtrack. So when Gilles (who else) put on a gig at some random East End venue for Jill’s UK debut as a competition prize it had to be entered. Of course we won then had to work out getting down, skiving work (turning up the next week and them saying they didn’t think we’d be back!) to do it. Amazing gig, never forgotten.
R.A.W. – Distant Traveller: Can’t remember exactly when I first heard this, but must have been 1997/98 maybe. I can’t say I was BIG into hip hop – I did have Timberlands but drew the line at baseball caps, but I was pretty into it for a while. Whilst a student in Liverpool the likes of Soundbombing and No Fakin’ plus Zanzibar filled the gaps between techno and house (more of which later too) and this was a real tune for me from then. Just weird and different, daft lyrics about space travel, orchestral bits all over the shop really. Still sounds great, 25 years on.
Mos Def – Habitat: Having said I don’t really clock the lyrics on tunes some do stick with me and this is one. I haven’t lived where I grew up for a long time and I don’t think I have a big emotional connection to it, and then I hear this…and maybe that’s not really true. The whole album is full of tunes. You know tunes. The things that stick in your head and you can’t get rid of them. Not because they are annoying but because they are so well crafted you don’t want to forget them. I must have listened to this on repeat for about 6 months. He never bettered it but in a way I’m glad he never tried.
A Tribe Called Quest – Scenario: Hip hop can be dark, it can be dangerous but it can just be great fun (of the breeds of the genre my personal favourite) and this is right up there. Superb hook with the almost creepy baseline intro then into the chanted chorus of “here we go yo”. Oh yeah and it has Busta Rhymes on it. Possibly the best guest slot ever.
Skitz – Domestic Science: 2001 fast forward living in Leeds (student again) and this comes out, my flat mate was still in touch with his school friends and they had a night in Halifax in the basement of a pub playing hip hop, dub, reggae and the bits inbetween so maybe it was through that. Anyway one of those where you know he has knocked this together on some basic kit and got his mates round to MC on it but somehow the sound is massive and just so full of energy and brio.
Tricky – You Don’t: The whole Bristol thing was my first proper dabbling with ‘new’ music. I say that because around the same time Oasis and Blur were definitely there too, but what’s this over here, some kind of dark, soundtrack to the south west. Growing up in Plymouth, you’d think that the Bristolian spirit would be turned up more the deeper south you got, but maybe I was going to the wrong places (likely) to see it. I do know though that after hearing Tricky on Blue Lines this was the album I was waiting for.
Rae & Christian – All I Ask: Fat City, my first record shop crush. Day trips from Liverpool to my now home of Manchester (well, Stockport) for a bit of a mission to the shops would always require a trip into the Oldham Street shop. They never ‘seemed’ to have loads in but I wanted all of it. Stick on top of that the label and it was a whole world,. So many great artists like Only Child, Mr Scruff, Tony D, Andy Votel…it felt like a cottage industry but a kind of secret one once you were in the know. Huge respect to Mark Rae and Steve Christian for all they achieved with the label. Even when they shop moved to the basement in the later days it was great going in there and chatting with Darren (I think!). Then there were the BBQs…
Phil Asher Presents Focus – Having Your Fun: London 2002, broken beat is really kicking on with proper albums and all sorts. Couldn’t get enough of it (see below) not sure what it was, maybe like Tricky ten years before it was just something new and exciting. I didn’t know enough for it to remind me of anything that had come before so it was just fresh. This is probably the housier end of things, lovely dooby doos and and shuffling rather than totally broken beats, but so infectious and, yeah fun. Sad loss with Phil passing away this year, I saw him a few times and he was a spot on DJ with a huge range of productions for someone so young. Sadly missed.
New Sector Movements – Only One: Two memories with this one. First the number one broken beat tune for me from that time. Second, finding it after maybe a year of hearing it and being so happy! Although it was already well old by then. Label looks like Music and Video Exchange, could have been Soho but I think it was Notting Hill Gate branch. Anyway, memories of the saturday digging adventures in London town from early 2000s, you could pretty much go to a different area every weekend and not do them all before a new one opened. Soho was probably the favourite, it’s a cliche and not what it was anymore but Vinyl Junkies, Flying, Mr Bongo, SOTU, IF, Music and Video, Selecta Disc, Reckless…unbelievable really to have that many in one place. But then you head to Ladbroke Grove and it’s Honest Jon’s, Intoxica, Rough Trade…even Putney had/has Soul Brother a solid Friday night stop off with my mate John.
DJ Shadow – Building Steam with a Grain of Salt: It’s hard to describe what a complete game changer/eye opener/revelation(!) this was when it came out. 1996 and he was on the cover of the NME, midst of Brit pop and grunge was this. First year in Liverpool and so much eye opening music coming out. Totally new but built on old. A proper album, total trip end to end so picking one track is not straightforward but the creeping piano line on this and the drums, amazing drums make it one that sticks out.
Sofa Rockers – Sofa Surfers (Richard Dorfmeister Mix): K&D Sessions, what can I say the soundtrack to a certain period of life….just so deep and dubby and all enveloping. Such a broad reach of tunes that they took and reworked into basically new tracks then mixed them together into this journey (sorry I will try not to use that term too often) but it really was a trip.
The Congos – Can’t Come In: One of my favourite reggae albums. That is all really. Probably got into this via the guest spot on Rae & Christian’s Sleepwalking album but totally hooked. The falsetto just grabs you and is never affected just working. Oh yeah and the cover, we’re called the Congos…so here are some congos. Perfect.
Culture – Keep On Knocking: Reggae was a late arrival in the musical make up probably early University life various folks dropping bits and bobs onto the shared stereo at certain points. I was pretty late to this and can’t really remember first time I heard it but Carnival is probably a good shout. Again there’s the obvious tune on this, but I kind of love the relentlessness of this one from the start, urgent reggae if there is such a thing.
Max Romeo – One Step Forward: Now this is definitely a Carnival memory, walking down from Royal Oak tube then hearing Channel One on a side street basically playing this all the way through..back to pick it up from Intoxica the next week. We must have done Carnival every year for a good 7+ years but it’s not for everyone. I need to go back.
Al Brown – Here I am Baby: 100% Dynamite was my first foray into the world of Souljazz Records, picked up from HMV Liverpool (on CD – no decks then) it totally opened up the ska/rocksteady world along with a lesser know comp called Liquidators (you know who you are for bringing this back from Belfast) that also did the rounds back then. Each one built on the last, not sure if there’s a 400% but so many stone cold party starters on this compilation, but since we’re heading in a soul direction , this one kind of made sense.
Ann Peebles – I’m gonna tear your playhouse down: An album I just played to death. 30 minutes of pure soul emotion.
Aretha Franklin – Daydreaming: If a record ever fitted its title, it has to be this. Intro to close out it feels like a dream. Piano hook and that voice. Aretha has done so many amazing records, from the gospel power to the George Michael duet. Never putting a foot wrong. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of my heroes/legends: Terry Callier, Isaac Hayes, Martha Reeves, James Brown, Prince…but this was one that got away. Never leaving the states due to fear of flying probably didn’t help mind.
Syl Johnson – Concrete Reservation: The title track is obviously the big one and certainly cannot be denied but this track is my favourite. his voice, the yearning, strained emotion, coming out. He’s feeling this music and putting it raw onto the record. Incredible.
Isley Brothers – Ohio: So another GP tip here, but also combining two of my favourites, Neil Young and the Isleys in one place. Ohio is a great song with a message, and Neil’s version is obviously so evocative of the time, but the Isleys take it in a completely new and original direction that for me, surpasses his version. But that’s not really the end of the story because you buy an album for one tune then turns out the rest is amazing. Their cover of Fire and Rain again is above James Taylor’s for me too. One I keep going back to.
Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Through the Grapevine: My Dad had Motown Chartbusters, the one with the silver cover and I wouldn’t say he played it death, but it’s definitely an early musical memory along with Sounds of the 60’s on a Saturday morning. Motown is just unbelievable really. In the search for new and obscure music, private press and the rest, this stuff gets forgotten almost. But is this one of the greatest songs ever written? Perfect 2 and half minutes of poetry, music and drama.
Rotary Connection – Hey Love: Soul music covers a lot of music, from the stomping 45 to the psychedelic and beyond. Saying that anything that moves you is soul in my book and boy does this record. Charles Stepney’s production is so rich and complex, but never fussy or overblown. There are some obvious ones again on this, and everyone knows ‘Black Gold…’ but this swings and is so carefree, you get lost in it.
James Brown – Man in the Glass: 2002 maybe, London, overpriced flat, Sundays with no money it was Norman Jay on Radio London. A musical education every week and Soul Brother round the corner certainly helped. There is a theme here, I think, just emotionally charged voices. A probably rare moment of self reflection from Mr Brown with a killer orchestral arrangement. Whole album is underrated by the way.
Freddie Hubbard – Little Sunflower: I love songs that take you on a bit of a roaming trip with different bits to dig into. McCartney knows how to to do, not always with success but you get the idea. not just a solo but vignettes or movements that work to elevate the song from just a few verses to something else. This really epitomises that, the original instrumental is beautiful but with Al Jarreau on top it just lifts it.
Parliament – Just Got Back: As well as gigs and nights it’s mixes that stick with me for hearing stuff for the first time and the Air Essential Mix was a total revelation for me. I was heavily into the weekly show, Tongy’s intro and the rest of it. All house or maybe techno then, mixed of course. Then along come these guys and do two weeks on the bounce, 4 hours and it’s not mixed really, more a random selection of tracks. Everything was in there, I’d recommend anyone to check it, loads I had heard but so many new to me. This was one, and it has just stuck with. Merci chaps.
Mark E – Formed: So another one that combines some memories here. Firstly the obvious one, Grace. Saw her after waiting about 2 hours or something at the TDK Cross festival (or something) hoola hooping and the rest of it. Then again at Sonar where it’s safe to say she blew everyone else out of the water. On a bill with James Murphy and Orbital amongst others that was good going. La Vie en rose is probably my favourite track, so what Mark does with it, is basically make it longer (this got me into edits as something worth checking – less so these days…).
Bobby Womack – I Can’t Understand It: My favourite Bobby tune and a reminder of the legend that is Nicky Siano. The only survivor from the big 3 of NYC nightlife (Mancuso and Levan the others in case you weren’t sure) and still doing it. Homobloc highlight, still playing these records and making them feel alive.
Geraldine Hunt – Can’t Fake the Feeling: So I have to ‘fess up here, if there is one musical influence, driver, shadow even that sits over my whole taste and attitude it’s Mancuso and the Loft. And it’s not just because he didn’t mix, although I’d be lying if I said the fact he never felt it was needed to make a set has stuck with me. It’s just the freedom, the spirit it embodies for me that is always there. Play what you like, dance how you like, be who you like. I could go on, but people like Cosmo Murphy and Tim Lawrence are far better at articulating the power and grace of what the Loft and Mancuso embodied. If you don’t know, you should.
Blair – Nightlife: Kind of linked to the Loft and all that, this is just an amazing record, slow and low but deeply danceable. It’s also on this compilation from one of my favourites, BBE. Pete Adarkwah’s label is still going strong putting out fresh music and important compilations, but the run they did with these opened up a whole world to me. Purchased from Disque in Islington Market back in the London days they are still up there.
Brainstorm – Journey to the Light (Ashley Beedle edit): Another one in the disco best of and with a story to tell via the man on edit duties, Mr Ashley Beedle. Black Science Orchestra did some amazing records and he’s still knocking them out. I even met him once kind of, after sneaking in backstage at an Electric Souls event at the Edge in Frodsham and making use of the kitchen facilities. It was that kind of night.
Divine Situation – Born Again: More label love here and connections. Moton are consistently digging up and putting out edits, courtesy of various contributors, helmed by Dave Jarvis. Which brings me to Faith and before my time but still influential, Boys Own. Those guys opened up so much music to me, especially via the charts and lists – love a list. And still manage to produce interesting copy, even in this post-mag world.
Marta Acuna – Dance Dance Dance: Once my daughter asked me what my favourite record was and I told her it was this. I think it still might be.
Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – Shame: More disco, very much a banger, very much a crowd pleaser, and a go to. Another journey song with a killer chorus and middle eight to die for.
D Train – You’re the One for Me: Whisltebump boat party, heading up the Thames, maybe sometime in 2000 and 2? The disco education continues on the poop deck with Captain Francois K dropping this as we head down river. Scenes would be a good description. 20 years on its a memory that’s still alive when I hear this record.
Gladys Knight – A Better Than Good Time: So at the age of 40 something and playing records for fun, 4 months before a pandemic hit I managed to get a semi regular paying DJ gig at a little bar called Nook. Who knows if it will reopen, who knows if I’ll get another shot. Anywhere. But I played this every time I was there. And I will play it if I ever go back.
Sylvester – Over and Over: I feel a bit of a fraud sometimes, especially on this post, trying to write meaningful, interesting words about what I consider some of the greatest music made. In my opinion, obviously. But this has to be the most party, party song ever written. At the end of a night this needs to be played. Over and over.
Soul Ascendants – Tribute: Body and Soul somewhere in Kings Cross 2001. We’d heard the compilations (another tip from a mate) and now they were coming to London. What could go wrong? Nothing in all honesty, just amazing totally captured what I wanted it to be. Brixton Academy, not so much. Which goes to prove you shouldn’t try and repeat. When they say something is greater than the sum of its parts Joe, Francois and Danny are that. Plus local lad Andi Hanley used to support them in NYC, chatted to him a few times at Cutloose, great bloke.
Unknown Artists – Palmwine Disco (Hide & Smile Edit): Again, no particular memory on this, although the Sofrito nights are on the to do list definitely. Amazing artwork and music, the full package and this is one of my favourites. Just jealous that they get to find this music, but glad they are kind of enough to share.
Ray Barretto – El Nuevo Barretto: Had to have some Latin in here. Had to and this is a killer. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. I’m not an expert in anything! But if you want to know about soul music, you need to know about Latin music.
Velvet Season and The Hearts of Gold – El Dorado: There are labels/artists who I have made the attempt to ensure I buy on sight. VS&tHoG are one of them. Joel Martin blew me away with quiet Village, then decided to do some records with Harvey’s mate…Gerry Rooney. What could go wrong. These have great memories and evoke some of the nights at Cutloose and Wildfire last throws of the clubbing dice before the kids made it better to get an early night. Mostly.
Sweet Dick Willy – Aie (A Mwana): I like a random purchase. Sometime a punt is more fun than poring over reviews and sound clips before making a decision. This was from Vinyl Junkies, amazing basement shop in Soho. No longer with us sadly, but this is of that time. The Saturday expeditions. They still happen by the way. I just need to keep some lollipops ready for my little accomplices.
Shaun Escoffery – Days Like This (Spinna & Ticklah Mix): Southport Weekender, did it like Carnival as part of the year’s planning and execution. Actual Southport, concrete bunker chalets and all then the more salubrious Minehead. If I’m honest, the upgrade worked and took it on a notch. Anyway every year there would ‘the tune’ Gregory Porter had one (you know which one) but Shaun Escoffery’s epitomised that whole feeling. Moving between rooms and it would be playing. Tying the weekend together. Great memories and one of the best crowds out there.
Point 3 FM – Picks Me Up (Your Love): So I have to give a nod to another hero, Ross Allen. First head him standing in for Gilles probably late 90’s, same ethos but different taste. Now on NTS and one of the shows I go to. I love radio, doing it well is a still and a gift and Ross can do it. So this is a musical shout out, because he’s all about the soul.
Payfone – Paradise: You know when a label comes along and everything about it just clicks, I think I’ve mentioned this before. Repetition is a failing of mine – hands up. But Golf Channel is one of those and this record is just totally on the money. Intro, hook, bassline, drums..vocal. It was also a great geek moment to see the barbers where the cover was taken. Tick.
A Vision Of Panorama – Cascade: So I couldn’t do this compilation, monologue, history, whatever without mentioning the Aficionado lot. Label and night, run by Jason Boardman and Richard Bithell, Moonboots. I have to take this opportunity to shout out Jason because he gave me a slot at Nook. It meant a lot to me, especially from someone as steeped in the nightlife history of this city as him. They have put one some amazing nights and filled my ears with so much great music. Pretty much none of it I new before they played it. Any of their releases would be a welcome addition to this list and likewise the live acts and Djs they had on over the years. the 20 was amazing. Let’s hope it can go again. Thanks Jason:)
Parkway Rhythm – Working Girl (Dub): You know Mark Seven? Come on, surely you know Mark Seven. I think maybe I’ve seen him two or three times. He doesn’t come over from Sweden much to Manchester to play house music. But one of those nights was at Islington Mill, for 4 hours it was like NYC came to MCR. Deep, jacking, funky, sweaty, and great fun. Oh yes, should also mention he has a label that is excellent too. I also nicked his phrase for my blog. Thanks Mark.
Santos – Work the Box: Chicago house music, where things get interesting with drum machines and modern dance music begins? Or mindless repetition devoid of soul and meaning. I think you can guess where I stand on this. Too young to hear it first time. I was eight, but so what.
Daniel Wang – Like Some Dream (I Can’t Stop Dreaming): I know, another comp. I do buy the 12s I promise, but there is a reason for this double up. Firstly I bought the Balihu 12 in I don’t know 2000, so it had been out a while but so great and what an introduction. Another lost shop, of a kind, the original Soul Jazz on Ingestre Place. Part 2 is Robodisco, incredible nights at Planet K, Li’l Louis one from memory. So there you go, two for the price of one.
Etienne De Crecy – Prix Choc: That French stuff, you know, Daft Punk late 90’s Liverpool with Bugged Out in full flow at Nation they were everywhere. You could pick any number of records from that time that still hold up, but this album was the best of them for me, a proper album and very French.
Silicon Soul – Right on 4 Tha Darkness: 1999 I am done at University in Liverpool, so what next? No idea, but going to T in the Park with my Scottish mate seemed a reasonable compromise. He was good enough to introduce me to so much great music (you also know who you are mate) and that I got to see Joe Strummer at the festival was great. But before we went we had a barbecue at one of his mate’s house who happened to be DJs playing all that Scottish house that was about then, then they played this and I had to get it.
Underground Resistance – Some Times I Feel Like: More Scottish techno memories, you have the tough stuff, you have the deep, the dubby and then the out there which is kind of where I am at now. UR are a phenomenon, a force of nature completely out there on their own. I saw them! Once! more like hip hop than techno but memorable all the same.
Rhythm is Rhythm – Strings (Flam-Boy-Ant Mix): I’m being obtuse here, because I have to check Derrick May, unbelievable DJ and producer who with Blue Monday made one of those tunes. So I am not including that one, here’s the other mix. Because you need to mess about some times.
Jeff Mills – The Bells: It’s 1997, 19 years old and you hear this. In a dark room in Liverpool. Before that it was Oasis and the rest with fighting and shouting and all the worst aspects of being out on a night out. This changed everything for me. If there was one record….thanks Jeff.
House Of Spirits – Holding On: We’ve peaked, the lights are up they want to shut us down, send us home but the owner says you know what, you can play a few more….I may have mentioned the joy of radio, and Tim Sweeney is another hero so here’s a double memory, Beats in Space is no more but opened my ears and this record is just so evocative of that ethos. And it’s on his label, good luck wth the kid Tim.
Dinosaur L – Go Bang#5: Can we finish without some Arthur Russell? Of course not. It could have been ‘Is It All Over My Face’, ‘Pop Yer Funk’ or anyone of many others, but this is my favourite and this is my mix, so on it goes.
The Beatles – Got To Get You Into My Life: OK, so we finish here with where it began for me. The Beatles ‘The Rock’n’Roll Years’ the first tape I remember owning, so they had always been there from the start. I know people find them dull or it’s fashionable (sometimes?) to hate them but they are geniuses. They did it first and better. I could have picked any number of tracks, Revolver is the obvious go to, and there are deeper or more popular tracks, but this one, it just makes you smile.
Thanks for reading (if you got this far) thanks for listening. Hope you enjoyed….
- Take the Train
I’m coming up on 200 mixes on Mixcloud and have been married to my good lady wife for 11 years one of those milestones is obviously way more significant than the other…
As a treat took a train
- May Day May Day
So it’s now May. Not sure how that happened really. Year seems to be flying by.
Got my vaccination last week. Feels like a step in the right direction. Mass events maybe on their way back. Test events with 3000 folks unmasked…just keeping the fingers crossed for no more obscure strains that will derail things. Maybe a corner has been turned at last.
So as soundtrack for the May Day Bank Holiday here in the UK a few tunes I’ve accumulated over the last few weeks with a couple of old ones for good measure. Not really a homage to the great Derrick May mix – wouldn’t dream of that kind of comparison but it’s a good name! Enjoy!
- Sounds for Japan
Hamon Radio is an amazing internet radio station based in Tokyo. Over the last year or so I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to their mix archive with a few selections, joining a wide gang of folks from across the world who have done the same. Check their site below and Mixcloud page for more. Some really great stuff in there from people I am honoured to be among.
My most recent mix link is below.
Black Booby – Natural Patty;
John Cravache – Paris Roswell;
Hardy Kukuk – freindschaft;
Miko – I’m Garten;
Barthel, Brohm, Bauer – through desert plains;
Discodor – The flange; Basso – Breaking Bread;
Stabil Elite – Agent Orange; Darling – When she hates me;
Mystic Jungle – Jurakan;
Parbleu – Pas De Saints Au Paradis;
My Guinea – Je Vulesse;
Torch Song – Prepare to Energize;
Discotheque – Disco Special;
Oto Gelb – Love Comet;
Wildlife – Disco Fever;
Cynthia ‘Cookie’ Abrams – Best Part of Me;
Coldfeet- Shamefaced (Francois K Club Mix);
Dirty Jesus – Don’t Fuck with my Shit;
- Spirits Up Above
This year has been tough, many many people have lost someone close to them. And yet for many others this sickness has still felt very distant. A dream almost. Life has gone on…
The restrictions on every day life have become conditioned now so as we are allowed to do more the freedom feels strange and unusual. But they are here and we have to adapt again but not forget what has gone before.
Anyway by way of tribute and celebration here are some records in a continuous blended bubbling brew. Enjoy!
- Marching On
New month new mix, down the discogs wormhole this month. You know how it is. One seller has something you want so you stick a few more in, y’know to save on postage. Anyway, 5 hours later you have cleared the free postage mark and then some. Happens to the best of us. Anyway in my view some overlooked gems from the bins blended up with usual inattention to detail with the emphasis in on fun and games. Enjoy!
What you see is what you hear…..
- Liquid February
First new mix of ‘21 comes in with the underlying feeling that not a whole much has really changed since 2020. Still in ‘lockdown’ insomuch as all the good shops are shut and any likelihood of going for a pint is still a distant prospect.
But it’s what, mid Feb? UK weather is as changeable as ever, cold, wet but some sunshine pulling through so maybe it’s not all bad. Despite saying I’d try and reign back on the vinyl it didn’t really happen this month some great releases and a few below from the vaults that seemed to fit at the time. Not promising this for every one (closing in on 200 now btw) but this was fun and hope it adds something to the listening experience so let’s see eh? As ever glad to have you along for the ride, enjoy!
Track list ⬇️
Vibration Black Finger – Empty Streets
HMD – If I
Young Disciples – Funky yeh funki (Mek it)
Kelly Lee Owens – Re-wild
Siglo XX – Moving Creatures
Matty – Selfportrait
Basso – Do Stay for Breakfast
Farsta Kalle & Samo DJ – Tranam Rumba
Thatmanmonkz – track 4
Muchos Plus – Nassau’s Discos (Long Version)
The Pearls – Groovy Beat (Jura Soundsystem Edit)
Semi Skimmed Edits – Jungle Music
Dazzle – You Dazzle Me!!!
Soul II Soul – Back to Life (Zepherin Saint Club Edit)
Soundboy – Soulboy ( IZCO Remix)
Dan Kye – Moving
Tiago – The Source (Mudd’s Slow Rave Mix)
Soundspecies – Balafon Jam (Wolf Muller Deep Dub Remix)
Darling Isle of Red
Shape of Space – Manifesto
Mozaika – Taba Taba
Lord Power & The Trenton Spence Quartet – Let’s Do It
So this was fun. Hope the chat and pics add a bit more to the music, more of the same next time if I have the time. Link to mix above so check it on Mixcloud. Thanks px
- The first time
The first time you do anything it’s memorable not always for good reasons. as this enforced isolation ticks into another year, it’s easy to start reminiscing on what you’d do to once ‘it’s all over’. Usually it’s the things you miss the most and it’s those primary experiences that set your mind to what you love – and miss – the most.
Obviously music is a big part of that. Considering myself to be a ‘serious amateur’ enthusiast, suddenly not being able to go to a gig, head out and listen to someone play, or latterly play myself means a big hole in the old spare time.
I’ve tried to make up for it, 20 odd mixes on Mixcloud and plenty of new purchases went a bit of a way. Dabbling in live streaming late into the night in lockdown 1 also helped but going solo just doesn’t cut it. So maybe some reflection is required, I think it’s ok to look inward sometimes, while we wait for something resembling normal service to be resumed. Which kind of brings me to something I tried to plan earlier this month and actually got tickets for New Order at Heaton Park in September – probably more in hope than any realistic expectation.
So in an occasional series called the first time, here’s some memories of when the feeling hit. And seeing as New Order have ridden along with my from day one (shelling out in Plymouth’s Virgin Megastore for Substance on CD) why not start with them…
Temptation, if go online now is described as a festival, don’t really remember it being called that at the time. But living in Liverpool, 1 year into my degree seeing them on a line up with Laurent Garnier, Underworld and Sasha seemed too good to sniff at.
So we buzzed it over on the National Express, I think rolling into Piccadilly at Chorlton Street. I live in Manchester now but back then we were only occasional visitors so wending our way down to Victoria and the mega shed that is the MEN (as was) probably took a little longer than it should. In we go anticipation building, me and my mate who I’d corralled into chumming me along. All nighter of course, when that was an option. Sat up high to take it all in, then diving down to the floor when New Order came on. Track after track, songs I knew by heart singing out loud and looking round at the proper lads who had probably seen them many times before, smiling, just buzzing. Then done, it’s a while ago now, obviously so not even going to pretend I remember the set list. Internet tells me it was Blue Monday so, what a finish.
Thing is by this time I’d migrated out of the indie life being a sixth former in Plymouth basically landed on me by default. Cream and Voodoo in Liverpool were already standard haunts on the weekends, so seeing Underworld was as big. By now kind of flying at this night, visuals, noise, just immersive, relentless…seen them since at Mayfield year before last and they can still do it. Again google can help with the tunes, but Slippy was on at some point of course.
Then done and into Laurent. Knew the techno but this was different, African drums and singers, super tribal. In all honesty the hazy memory gets more so at this point, so dragging ourselves into a side room to catch Weatherall (maybe?) and Luke Slater (90% certain) before calling it a night to find a bus home.
So there you go, New Order. Done. Underworld. Done. Seen many other bands in better venues but like all the best experiences it’s of a time and a place. I doubt my mate would even remember it, it was one of them, but for me it was another step forward……
- 2020 Wtf the sleeves
- 2020, what was that?
Guess even 3 weeks in I’m kind of still processing this year just gone. Years are an arbitrary measure of time and with lockdowns rumbling on feels a bit like this year has just rolled off the last. But the end of a year does give the opportunity to look back. So here’s my run down of 2020, first with a bunch of tunes I’ve picked up over the year
Mix is HERE
Rune Lindbaek – San Augustin
Common Saints – Summer Sun
Discodor – Spring in Rome
Jpye & Leonidas feat. Elle – Oui Non
Alan Hawkshaw – Saturn’s Rings
Tom Of England – Song of the Sex Monk
Emma Jean Thackray – Ley Lines
Zoe Modiga – The Healer
Yvonne Archer – Checking Out The Way I Feel
Emma Jean Thackray – Movementt
Ben Tankard – Eden Celebration
The Steele Family feat. Little Sharon – Show His Lov
James Moore – I Thank You Master
Famous Ward Sisters – I’m Getting Stronger
Azwon – Paradise Island
King Sporty – Safari (Lexx Mix)
Velvet Season & The Hearts of Gold – Having Fun
Sunny Gayle – I Wanna Know
Chuck Mangione – Land of Make Believe
Twennynine – Fancy Dancer
Asher & Zaf – Boss Groove
The Vision feat. Andreya Triana – Heaven (Danny Krivit Edit)
Parbleu – Dance Cette Zik
Rosa – Sera A Posillipo
Tunblack – Caraiba (Stefano Ritteri VErsion Spaziale)
Joe Sembene – Weur Di Dane
Penya – Yale
Arp Frique – Minima Bem Li
Ali Kuru – Luna
Dukes of Chutney = Love with a few Hares
Dan Kye – Rainbow Road
David Arch – Afro Culture
Obiecany Raj – Stachy DJ Dub Wersja
Brazil – Tyoj Svijet
Guiseppe Leonardi – Acid Flower
Jitwan – Back to my Place
Virtual Roots – Sonar (Virtual Version) (Ygal Ohalon Low Gravity Edit)
Jose Marquez – La Negra Lorenza
Paula Tape – Panamerica
Park Hye Jin – Like this
Sometime Songs – BorderlineRune Lindbaek – San AugustinCommon Saints – Summer SunDiscodor – Spring in RomeJpye & Leonidas feat. Elle – Oui NonAlan Hawkshaw – Saturn’s RingsTom Of England – Song of the Sex MonkEmma Jean Thackray – Ley LinesZoe Modiga – The HealerYvonne Archer – Checking Out The Way I FeelEmma Jean Thackray – MovementtBen Tankard – Eden CelebrationThe Steele Family feat. Little Sharon – Show
Click HERE for a bit of a deeper look
Now for the awards….
Gig – Moses Boyd @ Band on the Wall (Manchester).
Slim pickings this year for obvious reasons but Moses absolutely blew me away at this one. Drumming par excellence, dancey, jazzy, funky amazing stuff at a brilliant venue. Just hope it survives. Honourable mention to my neighbours for an impromptu Christmas gig on my street.
Artist – Emma Jean Thackray
Two entries in the mix of the year from Emma. One a reissue admittedly but still amazing range of styles and rhythms. Another ‘jazz’ artist making waves. Such a good year for that genre especially the UK scene.
Album – Dukes of Chutney – Hazel
Another lockdown hero, Tim Sweeney’s BiS label doesn’t put out volume but what it does release is always top quality and The Dukes nailed it for me this year. Mixtures of K&D tripped out beats, head nodding halcyon pastoral acoustic stuff and all the bits in between it really hit the spot and hung together as a proper album. Few others to mention in dispatches, not many on record but Tom of England and Rune Lindbaek got a purchase. Streamingwise Jay Electronica, Beatrice Dillon, Double Geography, SAULT, SPAZA, Kelley Stolz, Keleketla! And numerous others made it past the track skip test.
Single – The Vision feat. Andreya Triana – Heaven
Just a great track, home or club (if they ever return) uplifting, joyous and above all soulful. Many others – see above but this one I keep putting on.
Compilation – New Horizons (Afrosynth)
I love a compilation mainly due to my time poor (read as lazy) life situation but this year had many amazing collections. My pick is the South African jazz comp, New Horizons. Afrosynth have been quietly knocking out some great jazz and the bits around it but this is full of amazing music from spiritual meditations to soulful vocal stuff. Really beautiful and full of (new to me) treasure. Special mentions to the following: Rhythm Section – Shouts, Mr Bongo – Record Club Vol.4, Bruton Brutoff, Leng/Claremont 56’s retrospectives and Jura Soundsystem – Transmission 2. Oh and those Gospel comps on Honest Jon’s….
DJ – Gilles Peterson
Maybe an obvious choice, but pushing 30 odd years in the game and still in the cutting edge. His lockdown selections from the brownswood basement were a joy and Worldwide Radio never fails to give something interesting and unusual. Special mentions too for pandemic busting home sessions from Francois Kevorkian, Colleen Murphy and Mr Ross Allen.
Label – Rhythm Section
Already called out the Shouts comp, but Dan Kye’s album and 12s across the styles make Bradley Zero’s label my number one. That said On The Corner ran them very close with the absolute classic already that is Door to the Cosmos along with stuff from Penya.
Podcast – A History of Ideas
Off the musical track for pod of the year. Amazing insight and engaging delivery of heavyweight topics by David Runciman. Food for the brain when Netflix can be a distraction worth ignoring. Honours also for Guardian Football Weekly, Adam Buxton & Test Pressing, especially the Lockdown playlists.
Shop – Piccadilly Records
What have I missed most this year? The Friday duck in to collect the tunes of the week. Seems. World away at the moment but the folks at Piccadilly are still here. Click and collect isn’t the same but if it helps them survive. We continue.
Radio – NTS
Some string contenders, internet is a big place but for pure range and passion for the music NTS are where it’s at for me.
So what next? 2021 has just kind of happened. Very easy to skip on without the hard stop that a new year usually gives you. Even if you don’t make it out anywhere. Will the vaccines work? If so for how long and even with it will things ever go back? How can they. Around first lockdown time there was much talk of how this could be a new beginning, more time with family through home working and big social change. Now it just feels like survival. But things have to change. We will be living with this virus for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s like flu and you just get your jab each year or something deeper and more affecting that means we can never go back only time will tell. But whatever comes we just keep going and whatever we can do we make the best of. Music isn’t everything but it keeps going and keeps hope alive. So whatever comes, look after each other and maybe one day we can stand together in a dark room and dance. But in the meantime make the most of what we do have. Enjoy!
- Checking In
So this was meant to be number one blog post where it all kicked off. As is standard other stuff got in the way…so just a quick one to say watch this space in 2021. Music, memories, missives and a mission to be involved.
This is where it starts….