39 Steps, 12 inches

•07/12/2014 • 3 Comments

rich invite_2_2Back in the 00’s, Walker and I used to put on a party about once a year at bar called Positively 4th Street (sadly now gone). It was an interesting venue, with a long bar upstairs a bit like something out of Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood For Love and a candle-lit sweatbox downstairs where the dance floor was. We had some good nights there, and there was always some drama. The two drunkest Swedes ever to walk the earth (quite an achievement) showed up once; a crazy Scot tried his hand at cab-surfing outside; there were occasional tears on the dance floor; and one party culminated in a giant bout of whipping, using bamboo switches conveniently placed around the dance floor. But most importantly, lots of people from back in the day would turn up to drink and dance, and it was always great to see them.

Saul and I always DJ’ed, occasionally joined by McDisco, Robin (see below), Tom or Jankster, playing mainly funk and disco. For these sorts of nights – when it’s a party crowd rather than punters there just for rare 45s/jazz, and the sound system usually leaves a bit to be desired – I always think 12″s work best (praise be to Tom Moulton for his 1974 discovery that the sound is louder and richer when spread over more than 7″ of vinyl). Disco is an obvious choice, but what I really like are funk 12″s, the tracks that sneaked into the new format before the 4-to-the-floor beat took over and the sound became more ‘produced’. I felt this approach was vindicated when someone (Lorraine?) shouted, “Liked your music…much better than that fucking Harry Potter!”

To me, the ultimate record in this category is Catch A Groove by Juice, which has a monster breakdown that only appears on the 12″, but I put this in an earlier mix so haven’t included it here. Similarly, Jim Burgess’s 1978 remix of Herman Kelly’s Dance To The Drummer’s Beat would probably also be there if I hadn’t already put it in an earlier mix, as would The Bar-Kays’ Holy Ghost (in this mix). There were plenty of others to put in though, and it’s always fun working out how to put them together (the complex arrangements and unclicked beats limit you to a few bars for beat matches and/or quick cuts/fades).

In_The_Stone_EWFThe first mix is from a while back and was made to highlight just this sort of 12″. T-Connection’s Groove To Get Down has a monstrous break for a 12″ single and always sounded to me like the funk record Crosby, Stills and Nash would have made (Dark Star notwithstanding). The intro to EW&F’s Africano you’ll recognize from countless sampled records, and maybe it’s sacrilege but I prefer Platinum Hook to George Clinton. If Tony Rallo (thanks Neil) doesn’t make you tap your feet, you have no soul (or at least no rhythm). And remember Dazz = Disco + Jazz,  Cameo weren’t Chic, and Timmy Thomas wasn’t James Brown. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne’s Spank rounds off the mix, the track that would provide the basis for the warehouse classic Sixty-Nine by Brooklyn Express.

  1. I Get Lifted – Sweet Music
  2. Groove To Get Down – T-Connection
  3. Africano – Earth, Wind & Fire
  4. Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On – Platinum Hook
  5. Holding On – Tony Rallo & The Midnite Band
  6. In The Forest – Baby ‘O
  7. Dazz – Brick
  8. Say A Prayer For Two – Crown Heights Affair
  9. We Got The Funk – Positive Force
  10. Good Times – Cameo
  11. Stone To The Bone – Timmy Thomas
  12. Get Off – Foxy
  13. Spank – Jimmy “Bo” Horne

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SAH0360-300x300The second mix is a new one. It’s in a similar vein and again all 12″s. It starts with a cover of Roger Troutman and Zapp’s More Bounce To The Ounce.  Next there’s a Roy Ayers promo (I don’t think this ever got a commercial release as a 12″) and Eddie Grant showing with The Equals he could do much better than Electric Avenue. The Equals track is actually a bit of cheat because it’s an 80’s 12″ (there wasn’t an original 1976 studio 12″) but I had to include it for that fade. Then Barry White shows his original is infinitely better than Robbie Williams’ derivative and the UK’s Armada Orchestra improve on the O’Jays. Esther Williams is the pick of the bunch – a rare Friends 12″, first comp’ed by Louis Flores on Ultimate Breaks & Beats (how I first heard it) in the mid-80’s and 20 years later reissued by Gerald Jazzman (Mark at Resolution Records made me an offer I couldn’t refuse for the original, so now I make do with a Friends repress/bootleg). The Brothers Johnson and Gaz tracks are two other 12″s that later made it onto Ultimate Breaks & Beats.  The mix ends with Jimmy Castor’s classic B-Boy break remixed for the 80’s. The 1972 original is probably my favorite (included in this mix), but Larry Levan still did a great job updating it for 1983.

  1. More Ounce – Bobby Demo
  2. Love Will Bring Us Back Together – Roy Ayers
  3. Funky Like A Train – The Equals
  4. It’s Ecstasy When You’re Next To Me – Barry White
  5. For The Love of Money – The Armada Orchestra
  6. Getting Down – East Harlem Bus Stop
  7. Last Night Changed It All – Esther Williams
  8. Spaced Out – Cloud Nine
  9. Nights Over Egypt – The Jones Girls
  10. Is It In – Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne
  11. Sing Sing – Gaz
  12. It’s Just Begun (Larry Levan remix) – The Jimmy Castor Bunch

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Pop Workshop

•04/30/2014 • Leave a Comment

No this is not an obscure Swedish fusion track. Instead, it’s a departure from the usual funk/jazz, hip hop, disco, etc.: this is a one-time-only ‘pop’ mix of tunes more likely heard in a Top 40 countdown.

The inspiration was a night out with Captain Walker and some friends at The Bedford, my favorite bar in Williamsburg. Normally you can’t drag me near the dance floor if it’s all rock’n’pop, but just occasionally if cocktails, company and, crucially, the right combination of records are aligned, it can happen. This was one of those times and, at the end of the evening, we were the last dancers standing, applauding the two girls who orchestrated the events via Traktor and probably weren’t born when the 12″s that make up this mix came out. It reminded me of a few nights down the years: Swalesey leaping to join Mr George on the dance floor at Paul Darkin’s Cold Turkey (we later scared some nurses with John Coltrane back at Pantonville); monopolizing the dance floor with Saul at Soho Arts club (who was the girl with us who was ‘leaving forever’ the next day?); aggressive lip-synching teen-gays giving me and Tash dirty looks at Shinky Shonky; and, much longer ago, a bunch of teenagers ‘doing the fly’ at the Delfina discotheque in Spetses.

IMGAll the tracks should be be familiar to anyone who turned on the radio in the 1970s and 80s. One is a pretty obscure cover version of the classic Lionel Ritchie track (last played at Love Lee‘s New Year’s Eve bash in Shoreditch circa 1997) and there’s an anachronistic DJ Shadow linker in there (how else can you get from Aerosmith to Art of Noise in just two moves?), but the rest were all on the wall at Our Price and on the air at Capital 194 back in the day. So for all you stool pigeons, dinosaur walkers, ghost busters, and easy lovers, here’s something to keep you dancing all night long in crappy discos from Bracknell to Brooklyn. No track list this time kids…

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Back On The Streets

•02/16/2014 • 5 Comments

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Back On The Streets was probably the longest running regular night I DJ’d at. It was in King’s Cellars, a long, pitch-black basement room under a college, whose walls and ceiling would be dripping sweat by the end of the night. Fresh from DBA, Saul set up the gig (claiming the territory before King Robin could plant a flag as I recall). Together we’d squeeze into the tiny DJ booth that sat like a large cupboard at one end of the room – viewed from the other end of the room, it looked like the DJs were on a giant old TV – and try not to short out the decks as the condensation fell onto the records from above and cigarettes were hastily cast aside in time for for slip cues.

Back On The Streets was every Tuesday. Monday was the big night (house music, courtesy of Anu Pillai), and nothing had ever really worked on a Tuesday. So we gave it a go, with a flyer (thanks Angus) ripped off from one of Heavy Usker‘s nights (pre-Photoshop plagiarism I felt less bad about since Rob himself had himself copied it from a Don Patterson LP), which we’d hand out at weekends in various local bars and colleges. We played Funk 45s, Soul Jazz, a few ‘new’ tunes…and lots and lots of soundtracks. If the sound of the Jazz Rooms was congas, the sound of Back On The Streets was wah wah guitars. It started out with me and Saul. When Saul left, Neil joined me in the booth to ‘fuck with everyone’s heads’, and when he skipped town McDisco swapped the dance floor for the decks. We thought of it as a funk night, but as Neil pointed out once, most people probably came because it was the night ‘they play that weird music’. I guess that’s what happens if you keep ending the evening with the Theme From Monkey or the Superstars music (Heavy Action, aka ABC’s sound of Monday Night Football).

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A few months in we were getting as many people on Tuesday as they got on Monday. A load of King’s regulars always showed up, among them Robin fresh from his Sunday Social, friends who ran the cellar (shout outs to Jenny and Maria), and various others, among them Tamara from Freeform Five and a young Zadie Smith. Jankster always brought a load of people, including McDisco (then “70’s Man”), to demonstrate hip drops, head touches and leg jerks. The three sharp fisters Love Lee, El Grito and the Turk appeared with Mr George and their entourage occasionally to hurl abuse at their fellow dancers (“Whore!”, she cried..), while sporting back-to-front denim and creative facial hair. Most importantly though, there were a bunch of people I’d never met before at the time but have been friends with to this day.

The first mix below epitomizes the sound of Back On The Streets and could have been called a tribute to the wah wah. Inevitably heavy on blaxploitation records, the mix starts with the Bar-Kays at Wattstax (for anyone who didn’t know where Tim Simenon got the sample for Beat Dis or Chuck D for Caught, Can I get a Witness?), followed by the late father of Go-Go Chuck Brown’s Soul Searchers and a few classic soundtracks and funk instrumentals. It wouldn’t be a Back On The Streets mix if it didn’t include a couple of dodgy charity shop tracks; so I also put in Funky Fever, which showed up on the ubiquitous Sound Gallery compilation of the time, and Jack Parnell’s take on Enter The Dragon (Dennis Coffey’s version appeared in an earlier mix).

  1. Son of Shaft (Live) – The Bar-Kays
  2. We The People (Part 2) – The Soul Searchers
  3. Rated X – Kool & The Gang
  4. Hot Wheels – Badder Than Evil
  5. Willie’s Chase – J. J. Johnson
  6. 99 Baseball – Profile
  7. Gangster Boogie – Chicago Gangsters
  8. Zombie March – Nat Dove & The Devils
  9. Funky Fever – Alan Moorehouse & His Bond Street Brigade
  10. Punch Ball – Alan Parker
  11. Down Underground – The Spirit of Atlanta
  12. Moving On – Dynamic Soul Machine
  13. Vampin’ – Willie Hutch
  14. Hunter Street – The Spirit of Atlanta
  15. Enter The Dragon – Jack Parnell & His Orchestra
  16. Un Homme Est Morte – Michel Legrand

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photoWe reprised Back On The Streets at various other events – Enter The Mingle, The Man From Mingle, Mingle Strikes Back, etc. – and got a bunch of other other gigs as a consequence. The next mix is a really old one from that time, hastily slung together on someone else’s decks (Paul?) and dubbed to about 40 cassettes we sent out as promos to people who might give us DJ work. It was funny to occasionally hear 2nd-generation copies in bars/houses where we didn’t know anyone. This one’s a mix of more soundtracks, classics from the earlier rare groove era, some big breaks and a couple of big cut-ups towards the end. The ones that stick in my mind are Tuane (later ripped off by Galliano as Hungry Like A Baby) and the Sergio Mendes version of Superstition, which always seemed to make everyone go crazy on the dance floor. Vinyl Vultures and Catatonic K wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t also mention the contribution from Norwich’s best private press, Another Bite of Plimsoll Sandwich.

  1. It Began In Africa (Intro) – Urban All-stars
  2. Shaft In Africa – Johnny Pate
  3. Moment of Truth – Earth, Wind and Fire
  4. The Chase – Merl Saunders
  5. Stepping Stones – Johnny Harris
  6. Dance To The Drummer’s Beat – Herman Kelly and Life
  7. The Champ – The Mohawks
  8. EVA – Jean-Jacques Perrey
  9. Blow Your Whistle – Soul Searchers
  10. Pick Up The Pieces – Plimsoll Sandwich
  11. There’s Only So Much Oil In the Ground – Tower of Power
  12. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf – Jimmy Smith
  13. Superstition – Sergio Mendes and Brasil 77
  14. Hammer – Tuane
  15. You Can’t Even Walk In the Park – Johnny Pate
  16. 33% God – The Beastie Boys
  17. Lesson 3 – Double D and Steinski
  18. I Believe in Miracles – Jackson Sisters
  19. It Began In Africa (Outro) – Urban All-stars

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Excursions 1 – Mojave Beats

•12/22/2013 • 1 Comment

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I was never a big fan of so-called trip hop, and a lot of artists put in that category probably resent the term anyway (just like Acid Jazz). Nevertheless, a lot of great down-tempo instrumental tracks came out in the 90’s. The west coast’s DJ Shadow is probably the best known creator of these. His debut LP Endtroducing was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and it provided the perfect soundtrack to Dark Days, the film that followed the lives of Mole People living in the tunnels underneath New York. Meanwhile, James Lavelle’s Mo’ Wax label was the label that did most to push this sound in the UK. Great stuff came out of Japan, France and Germany too, and of course plenty of dub remixes hide out on the B-sides of regular hip hop 12″s.

The mixes below try to capture some of that sound, without descending into trip hop. First up is a new mix: Mojave Beats. It starts with a track from DJ Day’s new LP. Then there’s the dub mix of Ingrid De Lambre’s Poesies, tracks from Germany’s Simon and Garfunkel lookalikes, Kruder & Dorfmeister, an unreleased DJ Shadow transmission from the MPC era, and Oakland’s Souls Of Mischief still sounding fresh twenty years later. Cut Chemist features on a Jurassic 5 instrumental and then in what I think was his first ever release, as producer for Unity Committee. There’s also a Crazy P rework of Marvin Gaye’s T Plays It Cool, along with one of my favorite Tim Lee tracks, and the mix ends with the intro to an old Coldcut remix played at the wrong speed.

  1. VQ – Day
  2. Le Dub Du Spleen – Ingrid De Lambre
  3. Fuckwit – Delta House Of Funk
  4. Original Bedroom Rockers – Kruder & Dorfmeister
  5. Mama Soul – Day
  6. Ego Trippin’ (Part Three) – De La Soul
  7. A Not-So-Quiet Storm – DJ Shadow
  8. 93 to Infinity – Souls of Mischief
  9. React – Jurassic 5
  10. 3 Play it Cool – Crazy Penis
  11. High Noon – Kruder & Dorfmeister
  12. Java Jam – Love Lee
  13. Unified Rebelution – Unity Committee & Rebels Of Rhythm
  14. Boot The System – Coldcut

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imagesThe second mix is another one from the vaults, made years ago on cassette. It kicks off with Thievery Corporation, the pair behind DC’s Eighteenth Street Lounge (a must on any trip to Washington) and the label of the same name. They also provide the remix to DJ Cam’s Success. There’s also a bunch of Japanese stuff from the magnificent Major Force box set, tracks from one of LTJ Bukem’s Earth collections, and Cut Chemist’s brilliant remix of DJ Shadow (a collaboration I saw them later recreate live). After Busta Rhymes’ tribute to Knightrider, Jazzy Jeff cuts up T Plays It Cool, Donald Byrd, Bob James, Grover Washington, Jr and Bobbi Humphrey. Next a Takagi Kan remix provides the best rework of Light My Fire I’ve heard, and Soon E MC samples Diana Ross’s Brown Baby. The mix ends with Ultimate Dilemma’s Ill Dependents, who basically just add a drum track to Geoff Love’s 3 Days of The Condor (heard in this mix).

  1. Coming From The Top – Thievery Corporation
  2. Love & Peace – Tycoon Tosh & Terminator Troops
  3. Success – DJ Cam
  4. Going Under – Rockers Hi-Fi
  5. Sofa Rockers – Sofa Surfers
  6. Stargazing – Tayla
  7. Con Quest – Words 2B Heard meets Ad-Ill
  8. Kiss Radio Promo – Tycoon Tosh & Terminator Troops
  9. That’s The Jail – Boy Ken
  10. The Number Song – DJ Shadow (Cut Chemist Remix)
  11. Shaolin Satellite -Thievery Corporation
  12. Angels Never Fall In Love – Common Ground
  13. Turn It Up (instrumental) – Busta Rhymes
  14. A Touch of Jazz – DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince
  15. Koi No Formula – Takagi Kan
  16. Elucider Ce Mystere – Soon E MC
  17. The Shake Up – The Ill Dependents

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New Jazz Rooms mix

•10/20/2013 • Leave a Comment

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Planning a trip to Brighton (UK) next year, I thought I’d post a new successor to the Jazz Rooms mixes, again with the accent on percussion as KPM’s Syd Dale might say. Many of the tracks on this one are things I’ve picked up since I played there, but Russ Dewbury used to play the Malcolm’s Locks cover and he comped The Pipe so I’m guessing that was in his bag a few times at Ship Street.

The mix kicks off with more from the psychedelic jazz/rock outfit Blues Magoos, who also did the great Slow Down Sunset heard earlier). Next we get killer vibes from the late Johnny Lytle, some great funk/jazz from The Soulful Strings that I picked up from my local Grouch Records along with a Blue Note classic from Reuben Wilson (who I was lucky enough to see recently with Mr Love Lee at Smoke). Next is an under-rated vocal gem from Groove Holmes (no singer credited – I wonder who it was). Then the mix gets funkier with some funk/rock and a 45 courtesy of Jay Strongman. There’s the soundtrack madness of vocals played through a wah wah pedal from the great Dennis Coffey and a super-rare European 45 B-side from a band that may or may not actually be Lalo Schifrin. A couple of US and French library monsters follow – I have the guys at San Francisco’s Groove Merchant to thank for Harvey Wallbanger. The mix finishes with three great cover versions and some Brazilian funk to wind things up. Emilio Santiago you may know from Bananeira, which Saul (who incidentally himself has a new Hard On The Horns mix over at Musical Meanders) and I played over and over at Back On The Streets in the 90s; Nega Dina is from the same LP.

  1. Never Go Back To Georgia – Blues Magoos
  2. Done It Again – Johnny Lytle
  3. There Was A Time – The Soulful Strings
  4. Bambu – Reuben Wilson
  5. No Trouble on The Mountain – Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes
  6. Life Is Funky – The Round Robin Monopoly
  7. Nefertiti – Wisdom
  8. Theme From Blackbelt Jones – Dennis Coffey
  9. Dirty Harry – Lalo
  10. Harvey Wallbanger – Edward Simon
  11. Afro Beat 12/8 – Manu Dibango
  12. Wade In The Water – The Pipe
  13. Fever – Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons
  14. Get Up Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Life – Malcolm’s Locks
  15. Ponta De Lanca Africano – Jorge Ben
  16. Nega Do Obaluae – Benito Di Paula
  17. Nega Dina – Emilio Santiago

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Deep Background

•09/10/2013 • 1 Comment

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The first time I remember hearing deep house was not in Chicago but Italy – on a La Spezia radio station. We didn’t change the dial for two weeks and the station became the soundtrack to a crazy summer, staying in a castle with a guy called Elvis who sunbathed in a leather waistcoat. (En route a hotel bed was destroyed in a fight with a 6’9” giant, Pearly and I slept tentless in a Swiss campsite, and some communists we stayed with outside Florence gave us reason to fear the local Carabinieri, but that’s another story.)

I only began paying real attention to deep house a few years later, however, in the mid-90s, when hanging out with people who’d routinely sift through new house imports, rather than just old funk/jazz records, in record stores (London Rock’s Mr George, Nuphonic’s “I can’t believe it’s not Butterfield”, and Apple Crumble’s “Don’t hold back, ‘cause it feels good to Ed” to name just three). Impressed by instrumental tracks by people like Kevin Yost, Aqua Bassino and Solaris Heights, I started checking out what was coming out on Guidance (Chicago), i! Records (New Jersey), Nuphonic (London), Paper Recordings (Manchester) and F Communications (Paris).

Like many genres, it’s hard to define ‘deep’ house – everyone has a slightly different notion of what it is, and you’re in great danger of using words like ‘wafting’ (sadly MySpace’s desperate attempt to reinvent itself obliterated that gem from Mr Bojankels’ page). It’s fair to say it has a more ambient feel with less obvious melodies and rarely reaches a climax, but attempting to find the dividing line with other subgenres is pretty pointless. The mixes below are mostly but by no means all deep house and they include some more soulful, disco or funkier tracks (as do a bunch of other similar mixes I’ve posted before).

Guidance RecordingsFirst is a mix of old and new, spanning about 25 years of house music, with a few other odds and ends thrown in. The oldest track is possibly the first house record I heard in a club (as the Chicago sound began to appear in between New York Hip Hop and DC Go Go back at the Mud Club) – Jack the Groove – a digital take on Cymande’s classic Bra break (heard in this mix). The Fresh and Low tracks are definitive deep house to my mind, possessing all the essential ingredients and lacking anything that would disqualify them (banging drums and everything else that makes most house music garbage not garage). The Kevin Yost track is also pretty damn close to the mark, whereas those from the Joey Negro stable (Akabu and Doug Biscuit) drift away from the genre. More distant still are Miyazawa’s Disorient track (Nu Jazz played at the wrong speed) and perhaps the best Jazzanova remix, What’s My Number (left off my earlier tribute to the German collective).

  1. Future James (Jack) – The Ballistic Brothers
  2. On My Way – Kevin Yost
  3. Le Patron Est Devenu Fou! – Minos Pour Main Basse (Sur La Ville)
  4. Stay The Night – Fresh and Low
  5. The Sky Is Not Crying – Tiny Trendies
  6. The Way We Swing – Crazy Penis
  7. Anjo’s Irmaos – Miyazawa
  8. Another Generation – Akabu
  9. Spread Love – Doug Biscuit
  10. Jack The Groove – Raze
  11. Wind On Water – Fresh and Low
  12. I Feel Good Things For You (Kevin Yost Remix) – Daddy’s Favourite
  13. What’s My Number (Jazzanova Remix) – Ian Pooley
  14. Astral Wave – Julius Papp
  15. Once Bitten – Amalgamation of Soundz
  16. Summer Bummer – Crazy Penis

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Next is another found in the loft mix. The first track is a great rework of the old Santana track Singing Winds, Crying Beasts. Then there’s classics of the genre from Kevin Yost and Glenn Underground. The Nu Spirit Helsinki offerings are funkier and more percussive, while the Weekender tracks are again typical deep house. Lost in the Loft I put in an earlier mix but couldn’t resist including again despite its length.

  1. Latin Soul – Turnstyle Orchestra
  2. Natural High – Kevin Yost
  3. Fly With Me – Glenn Underground and Mikkiel
  4. Sunday Session – Weekender
  5. Take It Back – Nu Spirit Helsinki
  6. On The Beach – Marcel
  7. Kasio Funk – Nu Spirit Helsinki
  8. Lost In the Lost – Weekender

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images-1The last two are reposted, but this time with some context. First is one of my favorite mixes. It starts with a Moodymann white label that samples Walter Murphy’s sublime discofied take on Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. This segues into some great French disco house by Alex Kid, an incredible vocal tune by Sheeley Nicole (has to be the only record combining swing and funky house) and a couple of Brasilian-influenced tracks. Also there is probably my favorite deep house record of all time – Starry Night, originally from the Night of A Thousand Drums EP but it also got a release of its own (and a follow up) – along with some great stuff from Nuphonic and Paper Recordings. Funnily enough, I once bumped into Dubtribe buying scooter parts at Cambridge Lambretta Workshop – almost certainly the first time those mechanics’d had customers called Sunshine and Moonbeam…

  1. Black Mahogani – Moodymann
  2. Castlesmadeofsand – Alex Kid
  3. Being Me – Sheeley Nicole
  4. Berimbau De Osahna – Easydelics
  5. Spring Again – Kevin Yost
  6. One Starry Night – Kevin Yost
  7. Solarism – Solaris Heights
  8. Into The Night – Soul Motive
  9. Baby We For Real – Crazy Penis
  10. El Regalo De Amor – Dubtribe
  11. Atmosphere – Soul Motive

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images-2Finally, the mellowest of the three and my oldest deep house mix. It kicks off with a Kevin Yost track that got a lot of play in the late 90s – not just among deep house DJs –and has probably the most recognizable example of his signature guitar. There’s more from i! and F Communications and a great re-use of an old disco track (can’t remember the name) by Black Belt Roberts, which is better than the original, whatever McDisco says. The two Aqua Bassino tracks are from an EP called Wave; I wonder what Antonio Carlos Jobim would have thought.

  1. Two Wrongs Making A Right – Kevin Yost
  2. Unpredictable U – Kevin Yost
  3. I Can Feel Like That – Aqua Bassino
  4. Do You Dream? – Kevin Yost
  5. Living Room – Black Belt Roberts
  6. Peace Of Mind – Julius Papp and Dave Warrin
  7. Days Like These – Kevin Yost
  8. All Around Me – Aqua Bassino

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Catch A Break

•04/27/2013 • 9 Comments

 

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A recent post over at Test Pressing, together with the Catch The Beat book that DJ History put out last year, got me feeling nostalgic about the London nightclub scene in the mid/late ’80s, in particular Phillipe Salon’s Mud Club and The Opera House. The Mud Club’s history goes back further of course, but it was the period around ’86-’87 that we used to go. The Opera House was more short-lived, an old theatre in London’s West End with the first few rows of seats ripped out to create a dance floor. Both clubs were seas of MA-1 bomber jackets, DMs and Levi 501s, with a few baseball jackets and flat tops left over from the earlier rockabilly craze, plenty of Boy London and Chanel T-shirts, ’50s suits and ’40s ties, and of course the usual helping of more creatively dressed oddballs (“Going Mud?”, my friend Jiva used to say). As this video from a fashion show at the Mud around the same time shows, there were also far too many people in cycling shorts…

The music was a mixture of Go-Go, Hip-Hop and what was then called rare groove, essentially early ’70s funk records (the term has since sometimes taken on slightly different meanings) – House music was yet to take hold in London, much to everyone’s relief. The scene made a lasting impression and kick-started a vinyl addiction that has lasted to this day. After paying tribute to the Jazz Rooms in an earlier post (my ultimate ’90s venue), I thought I’d do the same for the Mud Club (my ultimate ’80s venue) and collect together some mixes incorporating tunes played there and around the London warehouse party scene. Jay Strongman, the Mud Club DJ (along with Mark Moore of S’Express) recently did the same for DJ History.

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The mixes below are a bit light on Hip-Hop, since I’ve featured most of the big tunes I would have put in in earlier mixes; so there’s more ‘rare grooves’. Many of these we have to thank Louis Flores for pointing us to with his Ultimate Breaks & Beats series on Street Beat Records. And like Street Beat, it was the Urban reissue label – rather than Polydor, King, People or Brownstone – that first introduced most of us to the extended James Brown family.

Of the first mix, I’ll just say that Blow Your Head really did blow my head when I first heard it (at a warehouse party in west London a guy from my school, Noddy, was DJing at) and it still sends shivers down my spine. It wouldn’t be a Mud Club mix without Public Enemy; so I sneaked in the intro from Public Enemy #1 first. Melting Pot and Apache are of course the big B-Boy records, while It’s Just Begun provided the music for the breakdancing scene in Flashdance. Small Saul reminded me recently that Are You Ready To Do The Bus Stop was pretty much the soundtrack to London’s Kiss FM. Meanwhile, many first heard Jungle Jazz (an instrumental take on the earlier Jungle Boogie) as a Coldcut and M.A.R.R.S. sample at the same time it was getting play on the rare groove scene.

  1. Public Enemy Number 1 (intro) – Public Enemy
  2. Blow Your Head – Fred Wesley and The J.B.’s
  3. Still Smokin’ – Trouble Funk
  4. Apache – The Incredible Bongo Band
  5. Are You Ready To Do The Bus Stop – The Fatback Band
  6. Melting Pot – Booker T and The M.G.’s
  7. Melting Pot – Boris Gardiner
  8. Eighth Wonder – The Sugarhill Gang
  9. Catch The Beat – T. Ski Valley
  10. In The Mix – Slim
  11. Holy Ghost – The Bar-Kays
  12. Gettin’ It On ’75 – Dennis Coffey
  13. My Thang – James Brown
  14. It’s Just Begun – The Jimmy Castor Bunch
  15. Jungle Jazz – Kool and The Gang
  16. Jungle Boogie – Kool and The Gang
  17. King Kong (Part 2) – The Jimmy Castor Bunch

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The second mix I’ve posted before. There’s a bunch of cut-ups in there mixed in with the old-school Hip-Hop and rare groove. Personally, I think my current home city’s T.S.O.B. is the best old-school rap record there is, and Rapture’s the best rap record that wasn’t. Bad Place To Get Hit deserves a mention just because I had it on a cassette 20 years ago and never knew what it was until Catch The Beat came out. The Mohawk’s Champ would have been in this one too rather than Faze 1’s much lesser version if I hadn’t put the original in an earlier mix. I confess there’s a couple of anachronisms in there: I’ve heard all the classic James Brown cut-ups (the Froggy mix, Lesson 2, and Feelin’ James) one too many times and so DJ Format’s more recent cut gets a look-in instead; similarly we get the Scratch Perverts’ remix of Flash’s adventures rather than the original (which I first heard in the Greek’s Vauxhall Viva a long, long time ago…).

  1. Intro
  2. Rapture (disco mix) – Blondie
  3. Another One Bites the Dust – Sugar Daddy
  4. Adventures On The Wheels of Steel (Scratch Perverts mix) – Grand Master Flash
  5. T.S.O.B (The Sound of Brooklyn) – Master Jay and Michael Dee
  6. If You Don’t Work, You Can’t Eat – Bobby Byrd
  7. Bad Place To Get Hit – JC001 & DJ D. Zire
  8. Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em – Eric B and Rakim
  9. Once In A Lifetime – Talking Heads
  10. Bustin’ Loose – Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers
  11. Catch A Groove – Juice
  12. Feelin’ James (Instrumental) – uncredited (probably Danny Krivit)
  13. Stealin’ James – DJ Format
  14. Fusion Beats Vol. 2 – uncredited (probably Afrika Bambaataa, Afrika Islam and Jazzy Jay)
  15. Bust The Champ – Throwdown & Faze 1
  16. Fusion Beats Vol. 2 – uncredited
  17. Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man – Dyke & The Blazers
  18. I Know You Got Soul – Bobby Byrd

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Roadblock starts off the third mix. There are a ton anecdotes about who did or didn’t fall for the line that it was actually a super-rare funk track from the ’70s. I don’t know whether to believe all the stories about people claiming to have the original (the ’80s drums were always a dead giveaway to me); I just remember that it was played a lot at the time. Cross The Tracks was probably even more ubiquitous than Are You Ready To Do The Bus Stop, and for a while in the late ’80s, Bobby Byrd’s Hot Pants ran Funky Drummer and Think About It by Lyn Collins close for the most sampled JB-family drum break. Finally, I couldn’t resist slipping in Fade To Grey (first heard Paris, years earlier, and a nod to earlier Mud times) – and Urgent at the end, once I found Tim and I share an affection for it with Afrika Bambaataa (courtesy of his Roxy playlist in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life).

  1. Roadblock (Dub Edit) – Stock, Aitken and Waterman
  2. Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel
  3. Jack of Spades – Boogie Down Productions
  4. Eye Know (Remix) – De La Soul
  5. Doin’ Our Own Dang (Remix) – Jungle Brothers
  6. Let’s Get Small – Trouble Funk
  7. Good To Go – Trouble Funk
  8. Cross The Tracks – Maceo & The Macks
  9. Bra – Cymande
  10. Super Sporm – Captain Sky
  11. Bus Stop – Oliver Sain
  12. Hot Pants (I’m Comin’) – Bobby Byrd
  13. Joyous – Pleasure
  14. Scratchin’ – Magic Disco Machine
  15. Rock The House – Mr K. & Special G
  16. Fade To Grey – Visage
  17. Urgent – Foreigner

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