This was the future

•09/06/2020 • Leave a Comment

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1980s production values brought a change of sound heard in everything from pop to acid jazz. My earlier Disco Derivative included a few examples illustrating how this affected dance music, and here is another: an eighties-tastic mix of tunes from ’80-’84. It’s mostly funk/disco but witness how different The Fatback Band sounds here compared with Bus Stop in the 1970’s or similarly Esther Williams compared with the 1976 breakbeat classic heard here.

The new mix starts with a Prelude track that was a gift from Tim. After that Fatback track (sampled here by Crazy P) is a relatively recent discovery for me, Ministry, a band that morphed from synth-pop into industrial metal. The Funkmasters track is one Niki used to drop (whatever happened to him); I picked it up at a boot fair soon after hearing him play it at the Devonshire. D-Train meanwhile are an El Grito favorite. I’m not a big fan (a bit too-80’s-soul for me) but this one’s great.

This Beat is Mine reminds me of parties Paul used to play when we all lived together. The Gayle Adams record (another Prelude artist) was one I came across first in a Bill Brewster set. Each Second is one for Ald as he texted me to ask what it was just the other day. Finally that Esther Williams track is one I slept on for a while. I bought it a very long time ago, seeking something reminiscent of Last Night Changed It All and was initially disappointed. But it’s grown and grown on me over the years – my pleasure indeed.

  1. Funn – The Gunchback Boogie Band
  2. Is This The Future – The Fatback Band
  3. Work For Love (dub version) – Ministry
  4. Have You Got The Time – The Funkmasters
  5. You’re The One For Me – D-Train
  6. This Beat Is Mine – Vicky D
  7. Stretch In Out – Gayle Adams
  8. Each Second – Melba Moore
  9. I’ll Be Your Pleasure – Esther Williams

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Excursions 3 – Hidden Transmission (Alternative Free)

•08/22/2020 • Leave a Comment

I’ve written about eclectic sets before, but coming across the James Lavelle documentary, plus his recent deconstruction of the That’s How It Is nights for Worldwide, reminded me to put up this moody eclectic mix from a while ago. At the time I wanted to create something ominous to go with the brilliant NASA conspiracy theory described by a character in Richard Linklater’s movie Slacker. The mix is a blend of trip hop, techno, library music, pop and proto-techno and represents a follow up to earlier excursions (1 & 2), coincidentally the name Lavelle chose for two Mo Wax box sets.

The first tune is from a Bruton library record I originally planned to trade, but Tim spotted this track and persuaded me to keep it (lucky as it’s now almost impossible to find). Next is one of two Kraftwerk records in the mix, the one that inspired Afrika Bambaataa for Planet Rock. Several bits from DJ Shadow’s amazing debut Endtroducing follow. I love the Twin Peaks giant sample, and “It is Happening Again” was the title of a previous incarnation of this mix I once did as a tape for Lucy. In between is the super-sinister Krush remix, which is like witnessing a mafia hit to the sound of drill and bass.

The Eurythmics track I’ve loved since I was a kid. I was lucky enough to meet Annie Lennox recently and we chatted about this record. She was living in a dingy bedsit in Chalk Farm when she wrote it – hence “walls so thin I can almost hear them breathing” – and, as I’d suspected, Dave Stewart recorded the train noise down at the tube station. Here that train noise runs into sci-fi techno on N-Tone, over which I dubbed most of the Slacker monolog. It’s one of my favorite sequences in a movie and I like to imagine there really is a film called Alternative Free hiding on a VHS cassette out there somewhere. Fittingly perhaps, the mix ends with what’s often considered the first ever techno record, from 1984.

  1. Slacker intro – Richard Linklater
  2. Prospect – Paul Hart
  3. Trans Europe Express – Kraftwerk
  4. Stem – DJ Shadow
  5. Meiso (DJ Die Remix) – DJ Krush
  6. Transmission 2 – DJ Shadow
  7. Transmission 3 – DJ Shadow
  8. Long Stem – DJ Shadow
  9. This City Never Sleeps – Eurythmics
  10. 3001 – Journeyman/Slacker monolog – Richard Linklater
  11. Tour De France – Kraftwerk
  12. Techno City – Cybotron

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The Lost Hour

•08/09/2020 • 1 Comment

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Last year Saul and I reprised the old Positively 4th Street parties once again – this time in a sweat box out East. There was supposed to be a repeat in my honor in Soho this year, but  the pandemic put paid to that, like so many momentous celebrations this year. One of the things I’d planned to do was to play a bunch of old favorites I didn’t get around to dropping at the last party (I was supposed to play two sets but the combination of bailing early and another DJ desperate for a spot meant I didn’t end up playing the second set). So since we can’t have a party this year, I recreated that lost hour for you with a new mix. It’s based on a bunch of jazz-funk records in my bag that night, many of which I’d played out at Back On The Streets and various parties over the years.

The mix starts with two versions of a great Brian Auger tune that mix together nicely. I bought the original in the 90’s because the LP has an awesome version of Inner City Blues. The cover I salvaged later from Leeboy‘s cast-offs when he headed west (maybe he regrets leaving it behind now). These are followed by a couple of amazing tracks from keyboard wizard Eddie Russ and mid-period Gil Scott Heron. Gil’s biography says he wrote the tune following a tour in the mid-70’s, when he was intrigued at meeting Black people who spoke French and, like so many others, found African-Americans were treated far better in Europe than at home.

It wouldn’t be a party set without something from Roy Ayers or War. Pretty much every time I’ve played this live version of Gypsy Man someone’s asked what it is – from Russ Dewbury to Carlotta Severe. Gary Glitter’s backing band then make an appearance before another War track. I originally picked that one up on the infamous trip to Spain – memorable for so many things but in particular Dan’s inability to walk through a nightclub without falling over and McDisco’s dilemma over a dwarf. The mix ends with a Johnny Hammond track from his classic Gears LP. Shifting Gears was always the big tune for me, but this one’s great and always remind me of Steve ‘Blackwax’ Reed DJing at the Light Bar for some reason.

  1. Happiness Is Just Around The Bend – Main Ingredient
  2. Happiness Is Just Around The Bend – Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
  3. Take A Look At Yourself  – Eddie Russ
  4. Racetrack In France – Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson
  5. Evolution – Roy Ayers Ubiquity
  6. Gypsy Man (Live) – War
  7. Zaius – Eddie Russ
  8. Outlaw – War
  9. Makes You Blind – The Glitter Band
  10. Los Conquistadores Chocolates – Johnny Hammond

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Excursions II – Aquascape

•07/31/2020 • Leave a Comment

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A while ago I posted a couple of downtempo mixes that had a bit of a trip hop feel, hopefully without actually being trip hop (I was never a big fan). Here is a long-delayed follow-up but with less emphasis on beats. A bunch of softer tunes also came out around that time. Like ambient music, there was a lot of dross, and the sound became synonymous with W Hotels and pre-irony hipster bars. Some of the records were good though, and a few stand the test of time.

The mix starts with a Koop track that loops the beginning of John Coltrane’s Greensleeves. It was heavily played but typifies the genre. Then there’s a gift Tom brought me from Japan on ******* Recordings. I know next to nothing about Pizzicato Five but he said they were a big thing back home. After that are tracks from two of those bands that seemed to produce great EPs up to the point they got an album deal. I never really listened to Zero 7 after this 12″; similarly Air seemed to descend into synth pop muzak once they were signed by Virgin.

The first three Air tracks here are variations on a theme, coming from a 12″, their LP and a 10″ from the Super Discount series. I bought Solidissimo in the old Soul Jazz shop in Ingestre Place just before Gilles Peterson – I’d asked Ethan to play it and then Gilles asked if he had another copy. Modular, meanwhile, still impresses me even after all these years. It has a really unique sound. I remember hearing an interview with Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel when it came out, in which they recounted how they had used recordings of household objects to get the sound they were after.

Also in the mix are downtempo tunes from three drum’n’bass artists. Two of these came out on the PIL-inspired Metalheadz boxset. In between, is another record that I still find incredible: UFO’s brilliant rework of Lalo Schiffrin’s Sampans & The Human Fly from Enter The Dragon. I first heard it as test pressing Gilles Peterson called “Kung Fu Kick” on his radio show and was lucky enough to pick up a white label shortly afterwards. This was the record I used to test the giant walnut 1980’s Bose speakers I found at Resale a few years later (listening to the opening bass notes, you’ll understand why I chose it).

  1. Waltz For Koop – Koop
  2. Porno 3000 (Thievery Corporation remix) – Pizzicato Five
  3. One Arm Break – Zero 7
  4. Les Professionnels – Air
  5. All I Need – Air
  6. Solidissimo – Air
  7. Opaque – Aquasky
  8. Modular mix (Solid) – Air
  9. Elysian Fields – J. Malik
  10. His Name Is.. – United Future Organization
  11. Warrior Jazz – Dillinja

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Party Like It’s 1998 (Part 2)

•07/18/2020 • Leave a Comment

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Here is Part 2 of a series of old mixes from the late 90’s featuring crossover tracks played by a bunch of different DJs. This one includes music from France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US, and like the others is blend of house (mainly deep house in this case) and what came to be called nu jazz.

The mix starts with a couple of tracks from what was a very popular St Germain LP. I’m not sure where the flute comes from in the first track, but the second’s built around Marlena Shaw and Dave Bruebeck loops. There’re a couple of Compost tunes in there and several things on the now long-gone Guidance Recordings (a favorite evident from many of my deep house mixes – never got the T-shirt, much to my regret).

In between, are two much jazzier Japanese tracks, Kevin Yost’s follow up to the best deep house record ever made, and another one from the Atmosfear remix series on Disorient that confusingly seemed to have little to do with Atmosfear (you can hear the others here, here and here). This one is a rework of a track by Grace Jones, who features on many of my mixes.

The mix ends with keys from Uschi Classen, who was also part of Black Science Orchestra, and finally Chicago king Glenn Underground with a jacking track.

  1. So Flute – St Germain
  2. Alone Again – Fauna Flash
  3. Rose Rouge – St Germain
  4. The Piece (Ihari dub mix) – Tuomas Salmela
  5. Prima Vera – Truby Trio
  6. Eclipse – Kyoto Jazz Massive
  7. Song of Bebe – Jazztronik
  8. Night of a Thousand Drums (Part 2) – Kevin Yost
  9. Croque Monsieur – Dino & Terry
  10. Feel Up (Spook’s Original Grope Mix) – Spook
  11. Baghdad Café (Mood II Swing vocal mix) – A:xus feat. Naomi
  12. Close To Greatness (Who Took The Funk Away mix) – Classen Collective
  13. Society Rules – Glenn Underground

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Party like it’s 1998 (Part 1)

•07/06/2020 • 1 Comment

R-4201-1190381105.jpegFor a while in the mid/late 90’s it felt like a bunch of vinyl junkies I knew who’d previously been into different genres all started buying the same records. Of course that had always been true to some extent (everyone liked Unfinished Sympathy, for example), but it became more obvious when you went to a club with three supposedly different rooms and heard the same record show up in each at some point during the night.

Part of this stemmed from people like Masters At Work (as Nu Yorican Soul) making records that crossed over different scenes (there’s a great story about Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez and Little Louie Vega being inspired by wandering into the jazz room at Southport Weekender when Gilles Peterson was playing). And as jazzier samples showed up on house records, many of the nu jazz records began to sound more like house than acid jazz.

Most of these tracks had disco, latin and jazz-funk influences. They came out on labels like Nuphonic, Compost, Disorient, Ubiquity, and JBO. I remember playing a few at parties, hearing people like Dimitri From Paris play them and, most memorably, watching Saul swing his hips to send two girls flying off the stage at one of the Events (they’d been kicking beer over Ingrid for ages and he’d finally had enough).

The mix below is the first of two dug up from old minidiscs that I just transferred. Most of the tracks don’t hold any particular memories, but I do remember El Grito putting the Nervous Track on a tape we made for Thomas in San Francisco one night, mainly because George did an impression of a Max Rees fanboy halfway through. In The Trees I first heard at Tim and the Turk’s place in Charlotte Rd and was surprised to learn it was by the guy I bought bootlegs off at Rockin’ Sarahs. It’s a great record but I wish there was mix without the cello (which wears a bit thin after all these year) that still had the synth (the dub has no cello but also no synth). Klubtrance was one McDisco put on a tape for me once, and I immediately went out monad bought it. Mind Fluid I bought without hearing it. Having heard the Nervous Track a couple of years earlier, we were all really excited about the “second nervous record”. It was worth waiting for and, despite all the plaudits, I never thought anything else by Nu Yorican Soul was as good.

  1. Lost (The Lost mix) – Drivetrain
  2. First Light – Artemis
  3. The Nervous Track (Ballsy mix) – Nu Yorican Soul
  4. In The Trees (Original Disco mix) – Faze Action
  5. Klubtrance – Blaze
  6. Sunrayz – Abacus
  7. St Mark’s Square – Black Science Orchestra
  8. Mind Fluid – Nu Yorican Soul
  9. Mezzophunk – Nu Phunk Theory
  10. Uptown Vigilante – The Funk Chile
  11. Lara’s Theme – Streetlife Originals
  12. Can’t Take It (F100 jazz relecture) – LLorca
  13. Live The Happy Life (Klub Head vocal) – Blaze

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Mixed drinks

•06/09/2020 • Leave a Comment

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Quarantine means we’ve all had to become our own bartenders. Our lounges have become our cocktail lounges, and everyone seems to be making Negronis, Boulevardiers, Old Fashioneds, Tom Collins or Dry Martinis (America’s greatest contribution to civilization after jazz).

Cocktails remind me of many times and places – from the Red Room and Le Colonial in San Francisco with Tony to the Iguana in Paris, Fred’s in Soho, specials on the house at a bar high up on a hill in Lesbos, Pisco Sours in Santiago, Gin Fizzes with Stefan in Ibiza, quayside Harvey Wallbangers with Sean and Ald in Spetses, half-price Caipirinhas early Friday evenings with Rammy and Ingrid, French 75’s with Saul at Deals, Angel’s Share and other speakeasies here in NYC, the 18th Street Lounge in DC, and crazy nights at the Light Bar back in Cam, in particular that time Feb convinced Jamie Oliver’s limo driver to give us a ride home.

The right background music is key to convincing yourself you’re having a Gibson with Cary Grant, Champagne Cocktails at Rick’s or Vodka Martinis with Commander Bond, rather than Pina Coladas with Delboy down the Nag’s Head. So I put together a mix together to sip along with your next Pink Gin. In some ways, it’s a follow up to the earlier easy listening mix. Appropriately there’s plenty of lounge music, and most of it’s on the space/lounge/easy/jazz spectrum.

FB647E9C-30BA-482C-9E2D-BD26B9C047F0The mix starts with a sublime piece from arranger Les Baxter, then fasts forward forty years to the best of the Jazzman label. Beastie Boys keyboard wizard Mark Nishita is about halfway between and always won the prize for best album packaging. The Rusty Bryant track was one I picked from Gav, much smoother than the heavy funk/jazz that saxophonist is normally associated with. It’s one of three variations on the Mel Torme classic here. Similarly, there are two Buffalo Springfield covers (both better than the original), and three of the many covers of a song originally written for the Stylistics (Dee Dee Bridgewater’s version is still the best but it didn’t fit in here). In between, there’s an Italian lounge funk number, an unusual Texan b-side, the Peddlers do Streisand, Wales’s finest diva does Cole Porter, and the original version of an Astrud Gilberto track whose reinterpretation I put in an earlier mix.

  1. Tropicando – Les Baxter & 101 Strings
  2. Girl and Robot with Flowers (Part V) – The Greg Foat Group
  3. Pinto’s New Car – Money Mark
  4. Streak O’ Lean – Rusty Bryant
  5. Comin’ Home Baby – Mel Torme
  6. Comin’ Home Baby – The Peddlers
  7. Joint Session – Mickey & the Soul Generation
  8. On A Clear Day You Can See Forever – The Peddlers
  9. For What It’s Worth – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
  10. For What It’s Worth – Lou Rawls
  11. Mood – Augusto Martelli
  12. Love For Sale – Shirley Bassey
  13. Who Needs Forever – Astrud Gilberto & Quincy Jones
  14. People Make The World Go Round – Sir Edward
  15. People Make The World Go Round – The Iceman’s Band
  16. People Make The World Go Round – Profile

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House bound

•05/25/2020 • Leave a Comment

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I was picking through some old house records recently and found a few classics that didn’t made it into earlier mixes and some other odds and ends, so put together a new mix. It’s a mixture of early deep house and some later stuff on Nuphonic. Despite being out of New York and Chicago, the first few tracks remind me more of Italy, a La Spezia radio show and the medieval castle that Pearl, Benj and I stayed in one summer. Then it’s a FFWD to Nuphonic years later, a more afro feel, and a handful of tunes that recall less balmy surroundings – more Fort St George than Castello Di Monti.

The mix kicks off with one of my favorite Strictly Rhythm records. The next two speak for themselves. Larry Heard (Mr Fingers) has a strong claim to having invented deep house, while Frankie Knuckles (RIP) came out of the disco/loft scene. The sample underpinning Roger Sanchez’s Luv Dancin’ is from that era: the West End classic Is It All Over My Face, (heard here). Tribal Confusion was a King Britt and Josh Wink project, the best of a bunch of tracks with “tribal” vocals around the time (Deep Forest was the one every nouveaux hippy had on CD).

Simon Lee’s Faze Action came several years later. Kariba is also on an afro tip (I never felt they reached the same heights after In The Trees), while the Soul Ascendants tracks were among a bunch of Fela tributes at the time – there were a number of afrobeat reissues and afrobeat-influence house records in the mid-late (90s).  In between is an early Talking Loud release on that first sampler, which proved to be uncharacteristic of both the band (Incognito, an 80’s Brit Jazz-Funk group that became more acid jazz in the 90’s) and the label itself.   

  1. I Wanna Feel The Music (Smooth mix) – Sound Waves
  2. Can You Feel It – Mr Fingers
  3. The Whistle Song (Sound Factory 12″ mix) – Frankie Knuckles
  4. Luv Dancin’  – Underground Solution
  5. E-Culture (Inhalation mix) – Tribal Confusion
  6. Kariba – Faze Action
  7. Tribute – The Soul Ascendants
  8. Glide – Incognito
  9. Rise – The Soul Ascendants

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Covert order

•05/09/2020 • 1 Comment

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Sheltering in place, picking through odds and ends, I decided to do another eclectic mix of tunes that didn’t really fit in to earlier mixes. It started off as an attempt to recreate a CD I made for Pete a while back, but that was more of a compilation than a mix, so Shamek Farrah, the Tosca Tango Orchestra and Steppenwolf made way for more beats. It’s all in a slightly moody vein, starting with what was once called ambient house (before ‘ambient music’ became a thing again), then some art rock, instrumental hip hop and jazz remixes.

I think Soul II Soul were the first to use the Graham Central Station drum sample in the first track but it was everywhere for a while. The Neutron 9000 take was my favorite; the Enigma tune I like less, so is more truncated than extended here and just a bridge to Talk Talk. That was on the original CD, inspired by Eddie D dropping it at Apple Crumble; but really it reminds me of a cassette played on journeys down the M4 in a VW Golf years earlier. Fever popped up on a B-side and is the first of a three instrumental hip hop tracks – as always the early Matt Black and Jonathan Moore stuff is the best, and Detroit’s Carl Craig does downtempo just as well as techno – before Massive Attack sample the Billy Cobham classic Stratus.

Galliano reprise (without crediting) Bill Conti’s Reflections from the Rocky soundtrack (one for Ramesh), itself a derivative of Kool & The Gang’s Summer Madness (which featured in the film) – both are on an old mix I must post one day. Then Peter Kruder proves the longest title ever for remix. A couple of tunes from the Verve remix project follow, separated by another appearance from Joe 2 Grand. With Gotan Project in the mix, there is at least some tango for Pete.

  1. Metropolisation – Neutron 9000
  2. Sadness Part 1 (Extended Trance mix) – Enigma
  3. Life’s What You Make It – Talk Talk
  4. Fever – Stereo MCs
  5. Covert Action – Urban Tribe
  6. Which Doctor? – Coldcut
  7. Safe From Harm (12″ version) – Massive Attack
  8. New World Order – Galliano
  9. Donaueschingen (Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänskajüten remix) – Rainer Trüby Trio
  10. Who Needs Forever (Thievery Corporation remix) – Astrud Gilberto
  11. Punky Remix – The Runaways
  12. Whatever Lola Wants (Gotan Project extended remix) – Sarah Vaughn

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80-20 mix

•05/01/2020 • 1 Comment

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The flood of recent “me at 20” Instagram posts prompted me to dig through old 12″s and put together another late/post-80s mix to follow earlier street soul, acid jazz and club mixes. So as you shelter in place, here are a few tunes to reminisce to. They make me think of early evening music in Ibiza, Jez Nelson and Chris Phillips on Jazz FM, tapes of Radio Nova sent over from Paris, and a Galliano T-shirt I had for almost two decades.

The jumping off point is a much earlier track: Sade’s cover of the Timmy Thomas classic. It’s a softer, 80s’fied version that sounds a bit like Working Week. Next is the big Joyce Simms record, which was massive and always reminds me of Ramesh on that Ibiza trip and the lip-synching twins at Ennerdale. The 4 Hero tune’s a bit of an anachronism in this mix, but it kind of fitted in. Little Ghetto Boy was on the first Talking Loud sampler, which I eagerly rushed home to play to hear what would be on Gilles Peterson’s new label. It makes me think of the house in Southmoor Road I shared with Furls, Nicky and Lanka. Meanwhile, Mica Paris played over and over while I kipped at the Greek’s on Portobello, and the D-Influence LP was the soundtrack to revising for exams that summer.  

Fatback’s Feed Me Your Love provided the sample for Slam Slam; Gangstarr brought the rap. Stories was a really big tune and crossed over to the acid house scene. Once I discovered the Chakachas original, it soon eclipsed Izit’s version, but the phased guitar on this remix is pretty cool. Finally, Rob Gallagher raps over what’s essentially a rip-off (like so many Galliano tunes) of Leroy Hutson’s All Because of You. It’s still good though and always takes me back to a great gig at at the Co-Op Hall – small show, Stocks and I (high) right in the middle, and how amazing the light looked when the Vibe Controller scattered glitter all over the crowd. 

  1. Why Can’t We Live Together – Sade
  2. Come In To My Life (Club Version) – Joyce Simms
  3. Morning Child – 4 Hero
  4. Little Ghetto Boy – Galliano
  5. In The Mind (Up Bustle & Out Surface Mix) – Nitin Sawhney
  6. Should Have Known Better – Mica Paris
  7. Good 4 We – D-Influence
  8. Free Your Feelings (Xtra Feeling mix) – Slam Slam
  9. Stories (The Mellow Mix) – Izit
  10. Welcome To The Story – Galliano

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