Incidental moods

•01/03/2020 • Leave a Comment

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I’ve always liked film and TV scores. As a kid I’d set up a cassette recorder next to the TV to record music from cop shows, and I still love discovering gems like the original no-noise Starsky & Hutch theme. Soundtracks and library music later became a big part of sets we played at nights like Back on The Streets and the Jazz Rooms, while some of the more down-tempo tracks made it into mixes I’ve posted before (here and here). But there’s loads of amazing incidental music on many of these LPs that never gets played out, and of course plenty of film scores and library music are purely orchestral.

The mix below is from some of my favorite records of this type. It starts with the sublime opening track from the famous Mindbender LP, followed by the theme that accompanies the gallery scene with Kim Novak in Vertigo. Next is incidental music from Hawaii 5-0, interspersed with an excerpt from The Penthouse, then a piece from Paul Thomas Anderson’s amazing interpretation of Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. For anyone who wondered where Portishead got that loop from, there’s the original from a Mission Impossible follow-up LP.

Guincho is a track from a weird surf movie that Neil once sampled. It’s followed by a Johnny Harris cover and a couple more library tunes. Tropicola is another take/mix of Nino Nardini’s Tropical Call, which features in an earlier mix (worth checking out if you want more in this vein but with a few more beats). The mix ends with a piano-heavy piece from The Thomas Crown Affair and David Shire 45s from two of my favorite films – it only took me 25 years to find The Conversation 7 inch…

  1. Dawn Mists – Stringtronics
  2. Carlotta’s Portrait – Bernard Herrmann
  3. Beach Trips – Mort Stevens & His Orchestra
  4. I Deeply Regret – Johnny Hawksworth
  5. Up Tight– Mort Stevens & His Orchestra
  6. The Golden Fang – Jonny Greenwood
  7. The Danube Incident – Lalo Schifrin
  8. Guincho – Stu Phillips
  9. Fragment of Fear – Sight and Sound
  10. Alternatives – Alan Hawkshaw
  11. Tropicola – Stringtronics
  12. Theme from the Conversation – David Shire
  13. The Crowning Touch – Michael Legrand
  14. Theme from All The President’s Men – David Shire

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Club classics

•10/14/2019 • Leave a Comment

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Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, before the appearance of countless different house music sub-genres, you’d find clubs that would play a bit of house, soul, the occasional hip hop record and even some techno. And of course there’ve always been bars and generic party nights that mix it up. These are the sort of places we’d often end up in with friends who just wanted a night out rather than an evening trainspotting obscure funk/jazz. Everybody’d know a lot of the tunes, and some of these would even chart.

The mixes below put together a bunch of the records you might hear at such mights, falling somewhere between earlier street soul and house/techno mixes. The first is very much a late-80’s mix. It starts with the B-side to the Lucozade-fuelled hit NRG. Adamski used to just show up at raves, plug in his keyboard and start playing. I wasn’t a big fan of NRG, but there were a couple of good tracks on his first LP — M25 was another. Adeva’s Otis cover got a lot of play, while in the days before digital Alison Limerick’s hit was an expensive 12″ because every DJ wanted a copy —and if you hadn’t bought it first time round, you’d have to shell out (Unfinished Sympathy below was another like that). The Bomb The Bass track is the flip to Megablast (first heard on an Into The Dragon cassette Josef played over and over).  People is an album cut I always thought lost something in the 12″ — pretty much the only decent thing on that eagerly awaited Soul II Soul follow up (I even bought the sweat pants…).

Pacific was another track I heard very early and immediately loved. It then blew up and was everywhere but, unlike many times that happens, it never soured for me (I would have used the original version here but put that in an earlier mix). Strings of Life meanwhile is simply one of the best dance records ever made. Derrick May took a loop from a track a friend of his was working on but never completed and the rest is techno history. Promised Land is memorable both for being an early vocal ‘house’ record and for providing a classic example of a great underground record immediately co-opted for a sanitized pop version (in this case by opportunist Paul Weller).

  1. I Love Technology – Adamski
  2. Respect – Adeva
  3. Where Love Lives (Sound Factory mix) – Alison Limerick
  4. Don’t Make Me Wait – Bomb The Bass
  5. Dance Little Sister – Terence Trent D’Arby
  6. People – Soul II Soul
  7. People Hold On – Coldcut, featuring Lisa Stansfield
  8. Pacific 202 – 808 State
  9. Strings of Life – Rhythim is Rhythim
  10. Promised Land – Joe Smooth

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R-27279-1121872996.jpgNext up is one I did a while ago that spans later into the 90’s. The Hybrid track I first heard Gilles Peterson play as an instrumental called Slow Funk. Never managed to track that down on vinyl so we get the rap here. Groove On is one I always associate with  Po Na Na for some reason (shout out to Nader). Blacker was a Tun-izzia staple further south at The Devonshire. It got a couple of issues; this is the first. I also have two issues of Unfinished Sympathy: the promo is credited to Massive Attack, but the regular issue is by Massive (in the intervening period the gulf war started so the band name seemed inappropriate). Natural Thing for some reason reminds me of Clau (cassette single in the Golf maybe?), while Mental makes me think of Riots around that time (RIP Chris K). Jack Your Body I first heard at the Opera House – probably the first house music I came across and the only one I liked for a long time. It’s based on a loop from Let No Man Put Asunder (heard here). The Fresh Four track was the instrumental to one of Justin’s favorites he, Andy and I danced to that night in Deptford. Revival is another that used to be kinda pricey for a ‘modern’ record — again there’re a couple of issues, both with great, alternate B-sides. Last up is the B-side to an Izit track that I often played as a warm up and is a bit more chilled out than the A-side.

  1. Sinequanon – Hybrid
  2. Groove On (Perfecto Remix) – Yo Yo Honey
  3. Fascinating Rhythm (vocal) – Bassomatic
  4. Fascinating Rhythm (instrumental) – Bassomatic
  5. Unknown w/l – Groove Armada
  6. Blacker – Ballistic Brothers vs Eccentric Afros
  7. Unfinished Sympathy (Paul Oakenfold mix) – Massive Attack
  8. Natural Thing – Innocence
  9. Mental (instrumental) – Manic MCs
  10. Jack Your Body – Steve Silk Hurley
  11. Smoke Filled Thoughts – The Fresh Four
  12. Revival – Martine Girault
  13. Sausalito Calling – Carmelle Hinds
  14. Make Way for the Solos – Izit

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Here come those beats

•04/14/2019 • Leave a Comment

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It’s been a while since I posted a hip hop mix, so here’s a new one with a few tracks I’ve wanted to put together for a while. No particular theme this time, but as usual it’s mostly funky, old school tracks from the 80’s with a couple of 90’s tunes thrown in – and plenty of well-known samples.

The mix kicks off with EPMD looping Aretha, taking the main riff rather than the big break this time. Then Stetsasonic rework Across The Tracks (best dance record ever), and De La Soul take the bass line from Could You Be Loved that Mr George once told me it’d be sacrilege for us to sample. Along the way Lifer’s from Cal supply a track that includes possibly the best 20 seconds of hip hop you’ll hear. The De La Soul track uses a very dodgy Bob James loop, but 3:6 Philly instead pick the sublime Nautilus for their piece. The sound of UFOs sampled by the FBI is a bridge to the rap version of Genius of Love. Then there’s a bit of the only track from that first Beastie’s LP that ever really cut it  – I remember Wyn making that point at the time as their appeal faded rapidly (though have to say I’ve have warmed to them recently after reading the brilliant Beastie Boys Book – and of course 33% God is pure genius).

Next is some go-go, another track I’ve wanted to put in a mix for ages and one for all those who wondered where Public Enemy got the other break for Rebel Without A Pause. Then Jam Master Jay cuts up another Bob James track, Take Me to The Mardigras (aka “the bells”). Jekyll and Hyde return with Pumpkin, there’s another appearance for Coldcut’s first and greatest – still the best hip hop record to come out of the UK – and the mix comes full circle with first ever recorded rap record.

  1. I’m Housin’ (UK mix) – EPMD
  2. The Real Deal – Lifer’s Group
  3. DBC Let The Music Play – Stetsasonic
  4. Keepin’ The Faith (12″ UK mix) – De La Soul
  5. Straighten It Out – Pete Rock & CL Smooth
  6. The World Still Turns – 3:6 Philly
  7. Do The Right Thing – Redhead Kingpin & The FBI
  8. Genius Rap – Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
  9. Hold It Now, Hit It (Instrumental) – The Beastie Boys
  10. I Like It – Trouble Funk
  11. Peter Piper (Instrumental) – Run DMC
  12. Here Comes That Beat – Pumpkin & The Profile All-Stars
  13. Say Kids What Time Is It? – Coldcut
  14. King Tim III (Personality Jock) – The Fatback Band

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Easy on Sunday mornings

•03/02/2019 • Leave a Comment

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I’ve spent a lot of Sunday mornings at car boot sales and flea markets, picking through piles of tat in search of vintage clothes, old electronics, furniture, and of course records. As kids we’d take bin liners with us to lug home our hoards. A few years later, fleets of us would show up hungover on bikes, competing to get there as early as possible for the good stuff. Occasionally the Turk and I would go straight from DJing, wandering through the aisles at 6 am, not having been to bed, beer cans in hand, slowly realizing that the other people drinking had been to bed and were simply alcoholics on their first of the day.

Rare grooves don’t show up at boot sales that often in the UK but there’s always loads of ‘easy listening’ – dodgy crooners, various men and their orchestras, hammond and moog covers – amid the discarded rock’n’pop dross. Easy listening became a thing in the 90’s with club nights like the Karminsky Experience, the release of compilations such as the Sound Gallery, and the realization that the guy behind The Champ also did the music for the Dave Allen Show and Milk Tray ads. We played the odd easy tune at Back On The Streets, but Bobby Champagne’s Sunday Social was where I played more of these, and Robin usually concluded the evening with John Keating’s crazy easy rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar.

The assortment below are pretty much all car boot finds. The mix starts with a latin Boca Loca favorite, followed by the track BBC radio used to count down the top 20. Next is a Chakachas cover our bootlegger friends put out as A Febre Do Mato (I think mine was the copy used to record the boot). Santana and Freddie Hubbard covers follow, more light vocals, then the moog power of Hugo Montenegro, which apparently inspired the music for the Pearl and Dean cinema ads.

hqdefaultA ton of TV/films themes show up on these records. Here we get a breakbeat Batman, a cover of Lalo Schiffrin’s classic Bullitt score that’s as good as the original (still gets my vote for best movie opening sequence), and an easy version of Quincy Jones’s great Mr Tibbs (the original is here). The NBC News theme is one of only a handful of 3/4 and 6/8 tunes I’ve played out (always fun to watch people try to figure out how to dance to those…). Then there’s some great drumming alongside Harry Stoneman, the music for that Cadbury’s Milk Tray advert and one for those who fancy doing a Torville and Dean in their living room (it wouldn’t be an easy listening mix without James Last).

Johnny Pearson returns for the pick of the bunch: the music used for Superstars in the UK and Monday Night Football here in the US. After a lipsmackinthirstquenching…coolfizzin Pepsi from the Hustlers, the mix segues into the same group’s version of Tequila, a track that features on a ton of easy listening records.

  1. Viva (Viva Tirado) – Johnny Pearson & The London Stereo 70 Orchestra
  2. At The Sign of The Swinging Cymbal – Brian Fahey & His Orchestra
  3. Jungle Fever – Big Jim H & His Men of Rhythm
  4. Evil Ways – Johnny Mathis
  5. First Light – Percy Faith & His Orchestra
  6. All I Can Do – The Carpenters
  7. Macarthur Park – Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra & Voices
  8. Batman – Geoff Love & His Orchestra
  9. Theme from Bullitt – The Chaquito Big Band
  10. NBC Nightly News Theme – Henry Mancini
  11. Move In – Harry Stoneman
  12. Night Rider – Alan Hawkshaw
  13. Bolero – James Last
  14. Theme from They Call Me Mr Tibbs – The Chaquito Big Band
  15. Heavy Action – Johnny Pearson
  16. Shout About Pepsi – Dennis Wright & The Hustlers
  17. Tequila – Dennis Wright & The Hustlers

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Let No Man Put Asunder

•02/02/2019 • Leave a Comment

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Wedding receptions typically conjure up visions of mobile DJs playing dodgy pop tunes, getting requests for Abba not A.A.B.B and Coldplay rather than Coldcut, while grandma does the twist with the grandchildren, auntie starts a conga, and that friend of the family the parents demanded be invited leers at the bridesmaids. Hardly the Jazz Rooms or Back On the Streets…so not generally somewhere I fit in. Nevertheless I’ve DJ’d for a handful of friends’ weddings over the years, generally when it’s been a musical crowd or people who used to go to nights we did in the past.

I hadn’t DJ’d at a wedding for a while but played at two fairly recently – Love Lee‘s upstate and Rvrman‘s the other side of the pond – both great fun. Since a couple of people asked for a track list at the last one, I recorded a mix below* before putting the records back on the shelves.

Not really knowing the crowd, I’d taken music that would hopefully get people dancing and sound familiar, without them necessarily knowing the records. So there are a lot of covers (from the Beatles to John Williams), a few tracks that might ring bells (songs featured in movies or adverts), original versions of tracks sampled by other people (e.g. Beyonce), the odd mash-up, lesser known versions of songs (e.g. James Brown reprising Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag with a big band), along with some obvious favorites (Stevie, Bowie, Prince, etc.). If Jazz Jay can play the Grease 45 in Brooklyn, I can get away with it a wedding – and I wonder how many other people have played Grease, My Favorite Things and the theme from Star Wars in one set…

  1. Light My Fire – Stevie Wonder
  2. Why Did You Do It – Stretch
  3. You Haven’t Done Nothing – Stevie Wonder
  4. Golden Years – David Bowie
  5. Are You My Woman – The Chi-lites
  6. A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley
  7. Fever – Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons
  8. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown & The Louis Bellson Orchestra
  9. What’d I Say – Ray Charles
  10. Favorite Things – Sergio Mendes
  11. Get Back – The Deidre Wilson Tabac
  12. Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Thelma Houston
  13. The Sunshine of Your Love – The Fifth Dimension
  14. Superstition – Sergio Mendes & Brasil 77
  15. Grease – Frankie Valli
  16. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
  17. I Hear Music In The Streets – Unlimited Touch
  18. Standing On The Verge of Getting It On – Platinum Hook
  19. Holdin’ On – Tony Rallo & The Midnite Band
  20. 1999 – Prince
  21. Main Theme From Star Wars – Dave Matthews

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*Not everything fitted into this mix. So here are a few other things I played for those who asked: Gimme Shelter by Merry Clayton, K-Jee by the Nite-liters (the original of the MFSB cover featured in Saturday Night Fever), Sneakin’ by The Vibrations, I Believe In Miracles by The Jackson Sisters (heard here), Machine Gun by The Commodores, Outa-Space by Billy Preston (heard here), Dance To The Drummer’s Beat by Herman Kelly & Life (heard here), Happy by Pharrell Williams, Get Down Tonight by KC & The Sunshine Band, and Breathe & Don’t Stop (Michael Jackson vs Q-Tip mash-up). Inevitably I forgot to put that First Choice 12″ in my bag.

Jazz-Funk Carnival

•12/08/2018 • Leave a Comment

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Jazz-funk is a pretty broad genre, spanning everything from downtempo funky early 70’s cuts by jazz artists like Donald Byrd to uptempo early 80’s tracks that are pretty much disco. There’s less improvisation than jazz and typically more electronic keyboard/synth arrangements, making it softer than funk. There’s also a helluva lot of crap…but amongst the dross are some great tunes.

Snowboy draws a direct line from jazz-funk to acid jazz, and I guess some of the rediscovered ‘rare groove‘ tracks I first heard were jazz-funk. But it was hearing Lonnie Liston Smith’s Expansions on a Jamie Byng Chocolate City tape (thanks Stocks!) that really introduced me to the sound (as well as revealing where that Stetsasonic 12″ Justin and I played over and over got the hook from). We saw Lonnie live once (Town and Country Club I think – who else was there?). Then came Mizell-Brothers-produced Donald Byrd LPs, Roy Ayers gigs (once sat next to him in a pizza place), Columbia-period Herbie Hancock, etc. Paul introduced me to Atmosfear’s Dancing in Outerspace (source of a Stereo MCs sample), which is the jumping-off point for the mix below. I’ve put versions of it in several mixes before (MAW’s beefed-up mix, their amazing dub, and Francois K’s more subtle treatment) but this is the original I had long before getting those, as is Motivation (the Dimitri From Paris remix is here, and it was also looped by the Bucketheads).

Trip To Your Mind is a rare UK 12″ (sampled by Chubby Chunks here) and blends into a track everyone will know. The earlier Warner-period Earth, Wind & Fire is more my thing but it wouldn’t be a jazz-funk mix without Columbia-period EW&F. Next is Runnin’/Brazilian Rhyme, which I prefer to the slower Brazilian Rhyme on that LP (who was that girl I gave the Gazillion Rhyme 12″ to after Strawberry Fair one year?). The trumpet madness of Maynard Ferguson is one I got from the Turk, here edited especially for Gav 25 years after he complained about the ‘middle bit’ when I played it the first time we met.

The Charles Earland track is a departure from the earlier Prestige sound that inspired acid jazz and this was the soundtrack to my recent record room revamp. In The Middle is the flip to I Hear Music In The Streets (heard here), while Groovin’ You is the original for that “Bom, Bom, Bom, Bom, Bom, Bom, Bom, Bom” tune that was everywhere in the 90’s. The mix ends with a Bill Brewster favorite that’s surprisingly expensive on 12″.

  1. Dancing in Outerspace – Atmosfear
  2. Motivation – Atmosfear
  3. Trip To Your Mind – Hudson People
  4. Jazz Carnival – Azymuth
  5. Biyo – Earth, Wind and Fire
  6. Runnin’/Brazilian Rhyme – Earth, Wind and Fire
  7. The Fly – Maynard Ferguson
  8. Good Question – Charles Earland
  9. In The Middle – Unlimited Touch
  10. Groovin’ You – Harvey Mason
  11. Once I’ve Been There – Norman Connors

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1980’s: Soho Stories

•10/07/2018 • Leave a Comment

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Somewhere I have a Sound of New York record that’s called simply “Punk 1980’s”. The 1980’s conjures up a different picture for me for though: Ray-Ban Wayfarers and Matinique T-shirts, walking down Dean Street, eating at the original Pizza Express in Soho Square, Bacardi adverts, cocktails at Fred’s and Golf GTIs playing music you might hear on the way to The Wag rather than at it – poppier sounds like Grace Jones and Trevor Horn productions as opposed to Hip Hop and rare groove – and coffee shops full of pretentious music video producers like Keith Allen’s character in The Yob.

Much of the music in this imaginary soundtrack (reality of course was much drearier) is from 12″ singles. Although these first appeared in the 70’s, they came into their own in the 80’s with regular punters becoming interested in extended versions and remixes, not just DJs after louder pressings and dubs. As skint teenagers, Raj, Wayne and I had a system: buy a 12″ at Our Price, record it onto a TDK SA-90 cassette (‘high-position chrome’), take the record back to a different store claiming it was an unwanted gift, exchange for another 12″, then repeat (the Sledgehammer 12″ here was the culmination of one such chain). You tend not to hear these long versions much on iTunes/streaming playlists so I thought I’d base a mix around some of them.

The mix features a lot of Grace Jones. Her Sly & Robbie period really defined the best of the 80’s sound for me, and the Libertango rework featured in that great 80’s movie Frantic. Working Week, meanwhile, is classic 80’s jazz-pop. Guitarist Simon Booth would go on to be part of the Acid Jazz Alliance. He also did the soundtrack to another Comic Strip film, Supergrass, which coincidentally features a couple of tunes in this mix, most memorably Two Tribes accompanying Robbie Coltrane’s march down the pier.  The Sade track is one I used to infuriate Pearly with by putting on every time I walked into his room. After that Malcolm McLaren reinvents himself for the 80’s with a New Jersey DJ crew. But it was his producer, Trevor Horn, who was really “the man who invented the 80’s” and Horn’s behind the next three tracks.

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 8.44.23 AMThe single release of Paranoimia featured another 80’s icon, Max Headroom, but I never liked it as much as the LP version, so that’s used here. 1984’s 1984 provides a track that reminds me more of Nicky Horne on Channel 4 than O’Brien for some reason. Then the mix ends with long versions of Bowie and Prince tracks. U Got The Look was on permanent rotation in that basement flat in Westbourne Park – I can’t be sure but it was probably playing that night Wyn, Chloe, Jiva and I finished off the ‘lizard drink’ and Kamal ate the lizard…

  1. Private Life (dub mix) – Grace Jones
  2. I’ve Seen That Face Before (long version) – Grace Jones
  3. Venceremos – Working Week
  4. Slave To The Rhythm (blooded mix) – Grace Jones
  5. Paradise (extended remix) – Sade
  6. Buffalo Gals (special stereo scratch mix) – Malcolm McLaren & The World’s Famous Supreme Team
  7. Paranoimia (LP version) – The Art of Noise
  8. Two Tribes (carnage mix) – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  9. Doubleplusgood – Eurythmics
  10. Let’s Dance (long version) – David Bowie
  11. U Got The Look (long look version) – Prince

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