Friday, February 25, 2005

Do you remember that Iranian guy behind the counter of that shop.....

Got a call today from Norman Jay today which is always cool. I first met Norman back in February 1993 when we bought him and Gilles Peterson in to NZ to play at the Box. Norman did a couple of radio shows with me on bFm back then, introducing me to a number of soon-to-be-classic records that I will always associate with him (I associate a lot of records with certain people…for example Shay Jones’ “Are you Gonna Be There” is forever linked with Manuel Bundy, and I clearly remember the way he always used to touch it with such obvious reverence), we did a few days record and trainer shopping and generally hung out. He played a set at the Box to less than 100 ecstatic punters (although the number of people who now claim they were there could now fill Mt Smart..ha! you wish….)…I mean…this is the man who actually coined the phrase “rare groove” in the eighties…betcha didn’t know that. Sadly, I can lay claim to having coined the phrase “Future Jazz” for the tag line of the second New Groove comp back in 95 and, despite the fact it’s a totally naff tag (but by the time we did New Groove 2 “Acid Jazz” was even naffer), I’ve gotten some sort of perverse satisfaction from seeing how Mark de Clive Lowe took it to the UK and its been disseminated outwards from there (its even listed as a genre on Discogs fer fux sake)…but it ain’t in the same league, or even planetary system as “Rare Groove”…that’s an establishment phrase for the ages…

I’ve seen Norman on and off over the years and I’ve got some killer footage filmed on the stage at Auckland Domain on February 6, 2003. I just like him as a person, I love his soul, his passion and the obvious love he has for his music. And for the fact that his passion has given us so much.

Today we met at Conch and went for a bit of a drive. Back in 93 we took a ferry ride to Devonport but the weather sucked and we had coffee and came back. This year I drove and we went up North Head, which truly (and I’ve been to a fair assortment of fuckme places) is one of the most magical (and spooked..with all those unexplored tunnels….seriously, what on earth were our colonial leaders thinking when they predicted a bloody Russian invasion looming in 1888..keeping the population tamed by fear obviously predates the Dept of Homeland Security by some years) bits of dirt on the planet and Norman was justifiably gobbsmacked, wandering around with his camera in hand. We then drove through traffic to Albany, across the Greenhithe Bridge and around the Northwest for a fair while. We talked about record shops (like the legendary Bluebird off Edgware Road where I used to buy far too many US funk cutouts complete with gatefold covers and those big thick slab pressings…I found out that Norman was responsible for bringing many of those in from the US…never knew that till today), long lost record labels, the art of djing, the people he’d met over the years (one degree of separation today from Larry Levan), the righteous and deserving death of the superclub and the numbers of formerly “name” djs who are now scraping by with bar jobs, a few mutual friends, about knowing and enjoying your past but not being self-righteous about it, and exotic djing locations.

But mostly we talked about and listened to music. Old Philly records from Lou Rawls, Eddie Kendricks and a whole host of others and lots and lots of Atlantic acts from the seventies, mainly because we listened to this twice, about Betty Swann, Ben E King, pirate radio, Major Harris, Skipworth & Turner, Kenny Gonzalez, the magic of hearing early Chicago jacking house and Detroit techno for the first time and how you never loose that passion for it once it hits you (I guess the thing about music is the ongoing need to strive to get that hit again). And how important house and hip hop and soul and funk and reggae, electronic rhythms and indeed rock’n’roll are to us personally and, I suppose how lucky we’ve been to craft some sort of career out of the stuff. Just stuff, y’know.

And it really hit me how much I enjoy being in the company of people who feel as I do, and, fuck it all, how totally privileged I am to be in the company of someone like Norman Jay MBE discussing these things.

Oh, and post of the day goes to Peter Mac for:

headline reads: "Tsunami suffering may inspire Sting song" headline SHOULD read: "Tsunami suffering continues - Sting writing song about Asian disaster"

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Extended Play 230205 on George

Johnny King & the Fatback Band-Peace Love Not War (Kenny Dope Extended Mix)-Kay Dee-2005 John Davis & The Monster Orchestra-Ain’t That Enough for You-SAM-1978 Crown Heights Affair-Far Out-De-Lite-1976 Chain Reaction-Dance Freak-S.O.N.Y-1979 23 Skidoo-Coup-Illuminated-1983? Eric B & Rakim-In the Ghetto (Extended mix)-MCA-1990 Melle Mel & The Furious Five-Step Off-Sugarhill-1983 KATO-Disco-Tech-Nu Groove-1990 Joey Negro-Do It Feel It (Organic Mix)-Nu Groove-1990 Joey Negro-Gonna Getcha-Better Days Records Inc-1997 Ultra Nate-Its Over Now (Piano Vox Mix)-Eternal-1989 Todd Terry Project-Bango-Fresh-1988 Me’shell Ndegeocello-If That’s You’re Boyfriend (Lil Louis Freaky Mix)-Maverick-1993 Reverso 68-Piece Together-Specialist Interests -2004 Romanthony-Ministry of Love-Azuli-1995 K-Scope-Katerpillar-Tribal-1995 Sydenham & Ferrer-Road to Calabar-Ibadan-2005 Tussle-Sisco D’ora (DJ Spun mix)-Rong-2004 Lori And The Chamelons-Love on the Ganges-Korova-1981 Kerri Chandler-Atmosphere Track 1-Shelter-1993 Ron Trent-Altered States (terrace mix)-Djax-1992 Booka Shade-Cha (remix)-Get Physical-2005 Shaun Christopher-Don’t Stop The Magic (Hitman vox)-Arista-1992 Eddie Kendricks-He’s A Friend-Gordy-1976 Mr Fingers-Stars-BMI-1992 BT-Relativity (Carl Craig Urban Affair Dub)-Deep Dish-1994 Yukara Fresh-Break (Headman mix)-Escaltor-2005 LA Mix-Coming Back for More-A&M-1990...for karlos

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Beat Goes On.....

I’ll be accused of being a miserable old bugger if I say I’m well keen to see all house records with the word sunshine in the title or chorus banned. Forever….ok I’m a miserable old bastard then.

Fact is, with the honourable exception of the un-toppable “Sunshine” by Unit 2, Underground Resistance and Mad Mike at their peak (and after which there was no need for another record to attempt to repeat the concept..end of story), records that wail “Sunshine” over and over again on top of a four on the floor are inevitably incredibly mediocre and do my head in…they sound desperate. Then again if you are sitting in London, which is oddly where most of them seem to originate, with your 350 days a year of dank greyness, it may be seen as an optimistic cry for help I guess. But enough of that…that’s an aside…my fingers typed without really knowing where they were going…..driven. I was, until, I heard “Sunshine……..bompity bompity….” (it was this bloody record…and yes, I know I released it…) coming from a car downstairs that took me off on a tangent. Incidently, talking N’n’U albums, Jake, who was in the TVC for the second volume, has his own blog these days…here

Oh, and massive happy three ohhhh to Jen

I know I had a dig at a Kiwi FM and listening to it rather confirms for me what I said there…I’ve made a real effort to listen and had a few thoughts…firstly hour in hour out of mainstream Kiwi rock’n’pop really illustrates the weakness of the production levels on much NZ pop…still boxy and flat but its getting there and radio play is the key to improving it surely…secondly I have to say how much I really like Karyn Hay and Andrew Fagan in the morning…simply for the fact that they’re intelligent, funny and unlike many other mainstream radio hosts don’t assume that their audience are idiots and talk down to them…they’ve dragged me away from Otis & Mark a couple of days recently. To my mind the other great untapped radio and / or TV talent in NZ has to be young Nick Dwyer, or Nick D to the wider world. Why doesn’t someone give this man a proper TV slot, outside C4…..

Incidentally the Kiwi FM web site loads erratically on my Laptop, and the front page branding which I hear may or may not have been somewhat “borrowed” from Wellington’s pioneering Radio Active, usually freezes to read “42% New Zealand Music”…which I think is rather funny. Then again, appalling, user unfriendly web sites seem to be something of a trademark for NZ radio and TV…only the indies seem to get it close to right

On Kiwi, I discovered the new Katchafire single (god I don’t even know its name and their web site is no help) which I really kinda like….from being an average Marley tribute act (but I’m confused by the Wailers support thing…surely, of the three people who were the Wailers core, 2 are dead and one ain’t in the band..whats that all about then?) they’ve matured into quite a pop act. I have to admit NZ’s obsession with all things Marley confuses me though…his best work was behind him by 1975 and Jamaica was producing mountains of superior music in the next few years, but for NZ, Bob it is…….

Favourite records this week, old and new: the Brennan Green remix of the 1983 vintage Liquid Liquid track “Flextone”, gnarly disco punk that’s fairly timeless; Eddie Kendrick’s Philly produced (with Norman Harris production and all the MFSB crew intact, including the great late Ron Kersey) “He’s A Friend” (for 3 bucks!); Yukari Fresh’s seriously limited “Break”, (in a hand stamped sleeve) complete with a Headman mix that sounds like the New Order record that you have when you don’t have a New Order record; but….fortunately we have one of those too…”Krafty” is as New Order-ish and as naïve and as wonderful as you’d want, complete with the sort of terrible lyrics only NO would even try to get away with, and do; Booka Shade’s remixes off the lovely (I guess that’s the right word is lovely..its a non word but it implies things quite well somewhat) “Memento”, Ada’s mix of Vertigo being the bizz; the Rolling Stones mid period comp “Thru The Past Darkly” which I grew up with and sums up the their slightly nutty and wonderful try-hard and in the shadow of the Fab Four period (before they became 70’s rock gods and a bit sad in the 80’s and thereafter)

and ………………………..have I mentioned that Carl Craig is coming………..

What this blurb was going to be about was a muse following the six hour dj set I did on Friday night for the Kaleidoscope post Xmas party, which was fun. I did it for Esther Watkins, who helps run the company (and is almost family), and because, if I’m gonna DJ out (which is rare these days) I like to do it for a decent stretch (at least three hours but up to eight) and I like to be able to play what I want and go on some sort of a journey. I love playing records to people but I really like to take it somewhere and the brief here was kinda cool…anything, you chose..and in six hours you can take it places. Especially to a drinking social, convivial and reasonably musically literate crowd, as this was, and getting more twisted by the hour. To be able to play Orange Juice, Television, The Clean, Sandy’s Gang, Herb Martin, Eric B & Rakim, The Kane Gang, Inner City, Alexander O’Neal, The Meters, Lindstrom, and yes, Carl Craig, (and a whole lot more in between) all in the same set is fun, and it occurs to me how boring it must be to be a DJ who, week in week out has to be stuck in the same style..and by extension, being defined as someone who plays such. I’ve watched genre wars online in recent days and its all a bit pointless…it must be bloody scary to be so pigeon holed…”I play breaks” or “I play hip hop”….Francois K puts it really well here

I always DJ with a camera in hand too, however I’m not going to publish any of the photos here…after all, many of these people are my friends….

I tried to go to Ben Watts at The Studio afterwards but not being a real fan…he’s just too polite for me…I ended up at Ink to see a bit of Churchill, whom I haven’t listened to for a while, and that was worthy as always but after six hours bending over crates my legs gave out……

And finally and most importantly, this week we lost my friend Karlos. We weren’t close but we’d known each other for a good few years and I really always liked him a lot. Few people always have a smile on their faces and an unassuming kind word for everyone but Karlos did, no matter what. Karlos was always there, grinning, and I always assumed he always was going to be, but sadly that is not gonna be the case. I remember (vaguely) a night about eight years ago when I was in a particularly non sensical mode at Cause Celebré, we talked and laughed for about an hour, until my staff said I’d better leave (whoopps…getting tossed out by my staff was not easy)…he knew exactly what where I was coming from..or at least I thought I was coming from and told me a day or two later he’d really enjoyed the conversation …then again maybe he was coming from the same place that night…whatever…Karlos you’ll be sadly missed…sleep easy buddy.