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Greg Wilson’s Discotheque Archives #4

Discotheque Archives #4

The fourth edition of my ‘Discotheque Archives’ series for DJ Mag is now online, featuring more landmarks in pre-Rave club culture:

COUNT SUCKLE – One of the founding fathers of UK bass culture, originally a sound system DJ playing Rhythm & Blues, who later introdued Jamaican music to a London club audience.

ZE – Once the height of New York hip, ZE Records famously merged the unlikely bedfellows of punk and funk to create a sound that epitomised the early 80s downtown scene.

COSMIC – Taking its cues from New York’s 70s hedonism, Lake Garda’s Cosmic Club offered up Italy’s own distinctive take on the disco experience.

BUFFALO GALS – Sex Pistols manager and Svengali Malcolm McLaren introduced the four elements of hip hop to a video audience via this electro-funk masterwork.

Discotheque Archives

Read this months column here:
http://djmag.com/features/greg-wilsons-discotheque-archives-4

Read all pieces in full here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/greg-wilsons-discotheque-archives/

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GW Presents SWS – Festival Appearances 2016

Greg Wilson Presents Super Weird Substance

A trio of special festival appearances to flag up this summer, where, apart from doing my normal DJ stint, some of the artists on Super Weird Substance will also be featured – Kermit Leveridge, The Reynolds and the Reverend Cleve Freckleton – under the banner of Greg Wilson Presents Super Weird Substance, following on from the album we released late last year:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com/swscd001-greg-wilson-presents-super-weird-substance

We did a hush hush appearance at a great little private festival in East Grinstead last weekend (minus Cleve) and we’re really happy with how the whole thing flowed. We’re now looking forward to its full debut next weekend at Festival 23 in South Yorks. As I’ve been saying all along, 23 is a festival with a difference – its discordian spirit bringing together a whole spectrum of artists and adepts to share the weekend and ‘find the others’:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com/embracing-chaos-discordianism-counterculture

I’ll be DJing on the Saturday night, with the Super Weird crew on stage the following afternoon. More here:
http://festival23.org.uk/the-experience-2

Next up will be Camp Bestival in Dorset the following Sunday (July 31st), where we’ll be closing the Bollywood tent. Then its on to the Isle Of Wight and Bestival on Sept 11th – I’ll tell you more about this later down the line, but we‘re excited to be curating ‘Super Weird In The Woods’, again on the Sunday of the festival (Sept 11th).

Despite a truly incredible day in Portmeirion at No 6 last September, staging full scale Happenings in a festival environment has proved to be a little over ambitious for now, the costs incurred restrictive, but we intend to get back to this extended format in due course.

Super Weird Substance 03

Thanks to Mal Earl for GW Presents SWS illustration.

Super Weird Summer 2016:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com/super-weird-summer-2016

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Hedonism 1988

HEDONISM LOGO

Whilst London’s Acid House era is defined by nights like Shoom, Spectrum, Future and The Trip, there was also a crucial off-the-beaten-track warehouse party in Alperton near Wembley called Hedonism, which helped define the spirit of the era. Although there were only a quartet of gatherings in all, taking place between February and May ’88 (the event originally intended as a one-off), their impact would resonate throughout the capital.

Key DJ was Colin Faver, who, as I’ve stated elsewhere, was one of the first DJ’s to champion House in London, alongside the likes of Noel & Maurice Watson, Eddie Richards, Mark Moore and Jazzy M, well ahead of the fabled Ibiza excursion in 1987. Colin sadly died last year – I wrote a few words about him here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2015/09/colin-faver/

There’s an in-depth lowdown from veteran club commentator, Phil Cheeseman, including a candid contribution from Simon Gordon, Hedonism’s prime mover, as well as testimonials from other main players. There’s also a wonderful photo gallery, including over 170 shots, the site providing a fitting tribute to a moment in time, when dance culture was flexing to emerge from the Acid House underground into full mainstream consciousness.

Hedonism

Hedonism Website:
http://www.hedonism1988.co.uk/

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Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell

New Jersey born Bernie Worrell, keyboardist and composer with Funk supremos Parliament-Funkadelic, died last Friday aged 72. He’d been diagnosed with lung cancer in January.

As a key P-Funk member, his revolutionary approach to the synthesizer helped pave the way for a new electronic direction in black music. Whilst the more prominent P-Funkateers were founder, George Clinton, and bassist Bootsy Collins, Worrell’s role in the collective was central. Bootsy talks about Bernie here at around 7 minutes in:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoeiaQdSViw

As Bootsy said, Bernie became the sound – it went right through him like an electric shock. Worrell even replaced the world’s funkiest bass player on 1978’s ‘Flash Light’, one of Parliaments most celebrated tracks, connecting 3 Minimoog synths for the distinctive keyboard bass sound that dominates the track.

With P-Funk taking a hiatus from their touring schedule during the early 80’s, Worrell took the opportunity to record and perform with New York band Talking Heads, contributing to the albums ‘The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads’ (1982) and ‘Speaking In Tongues’ (1983), whilst appearing in the brilliant live concert film, ‘Stop Making Sense’ (1984). Here the band unleash ‘Burning Down The House’:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfr3L0drhS8

He would continue his association with Talking Heads until the group disbanded in 1991, as well as working with artists / producers including Fela Kuti, Bill Laswell / Praxis, Sly & Robbie, Prince Paul and Mos Def, He would also issue a dozen solo albums between 1978 and 2016. A documentary film, ‘Stranger – Bernie Worrell On Earth’, was released in 2005.

Bernie Worrell Logo

Bernie Worrell Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Worrell

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Greg Wilson’s Discotheque Archives #3

Greg Wilson's Discotheque Archives

The third edition of my ‘Discotheque Archives’ series for DJ Mag is now online, featuring more landmarks in pre-Rave club culture:

KOOL HERC – The godfather of Hip Hop, Herc’s South Bronx parties back in the 70’s were the catalyst for what would become a global movement.

PRELUDE – Between the demise of Disco in the late 70’s and rise of House from the mid-80’s, New York’s Prelude was the key label in connecting the two era’s.

CRACKERS – Located in London’s Soho, Crackers would be an essential black music venue between 1973 and 1981, originally with DJ Mark Roman, then George Power.

ROCK YOUR BABY – This multi-million selling Miami produced single by George McCrae helped usher in the Disco era following its 1974 release.

Discotheque Archives

Read this months column here:
http://djmag.com/features/greg-wilsons-discotheque-archives-3

Read all pieces in full here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/greg-wilsons-discotheque-archives/

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Why No Glasto

Glastonbury 2016

So many great festivals for me to look forward to this summer, but you might have noticed one big omission – Glastonbury. I have to tell you, with huge disappointment, that I haven’t been able to arrange anything realistic, so it’s a case of having to give it a miss this year.

I’ve felt this coming for the past few years. Glastonbury has always been notoriously tight when it comes to fees, with a number of leading DJ’s refusing to play there for this very reason. It was only in 2011 that I made my debut there, doubling-up with gigs to make it viable, driving in and out on the same day. It was a memorable, albeit muddy introduction to the festival of festivals, but it wouldn’t be until my next time there, 2 years later, that I had my Glastonbury epiphany. This was brought about by a Thursday night gig at the Stonebridge tent that has subsequently acquired a somewhat mythical status for those in attendance (the tent packed inside and out) and is my most listened to live mix on SoundCloud.

I appreciate great store is placed on the festival’s charitable donations, and I accepted the fact that the fees were going to be low where Glastonbury was concerned, it was the nature of the beast, but I’d been looked after with regards to my transport and accommodation, and had been given a decent ticket allocation, enabling me to enjoy the festival with some friends and family, so I accepted this as the situation, understanding that the promoters were all being squeezed to the max with their budgets. They needed DJ’s to do them favours, or work for free, otherwise they simply weren’t able to book enough to fully programme their areas.

However, the following year there were cutbacks in terms of both fee and tickets offered. The appearances themselves were a joy, but the overall experience of getting less, when you’re already doing it at a massive discount when compared with any other festival, didn’t sit right.

This is the problem – Glastonbury isn’t any other festival, they have a deep history, dating back to 1970, their roots in rock and live music. There’s almost an expectation that people should be perpared to play Glastonbury for the love, given its legacy, and any number of DJ’s and musicians would be happy to do so, if only to have on their CV.

I have no problem with this – if everyone was willing to approach the festival in this spirit I’d be with them all the way, but Glastonbury, although its roots might be in the free festivals of old, has long been a huge financial juggernaut, with weekend tickets this year costing £228 (plus the booking fees the ticket agents add on the top) and a mammoth 135,000 mouths to feed on site. Is food and drink sold at cost price because it’s in the spirit of Glastonbury not to profit from the event – of course not. It’s a line that’s run out to make the performers feel that they should be thankful for the privilege of playing there.

We’re talking about a festival that’s been selling out before they even announce a line-up! In that context we’re all disposable to one level or another. Other festivals have to carefully think out their line-up on the basis of how many people they might attract. This works from the main stage bands and headline DJ’s right down the food chain – it’s basic bums on seats mathematics.

Last year I nearly didn’t play at Glastonbury – the offers once more being less than the previous year. I would have had to pass, but I’d promised my son and his band that I’d take them, and I didn’t want to let them down. With the allocation cut, I found myself a ticket short, and it turned into something of a hoop-jumping ordeal before I managed to finally negotiate one. Given all the additional stress in getting this sorted, I thought never again, and instructed my agent, Matt Johnson, that it would need to be a reasonable offer if I was to play this year, something more akin to what I’d received a couple of years previous (my son and his friends, now Glastonbury converts, bought their own tickets as soon as they went on sale this time).

With this year in mind my prime consideration was, of course, for the people who’ve supported me so fervently during the past 3 years, since the Stonebridge gig. Many of them came to all the 3 areas I played in a day in 2014, and last year, at the Beat Hotel, I watched in amazement as this huge marquee, which was pretty threadbare as I set-up, filled up to bursting no sooner had I started.

Greg Wilson at the Beat Hotel 2015

When we were planning out my schedule I asked Matt to keep Glastonbury weekend clear, and I resisted other enquiries including a festival in Ireland I quite fancied in order to leave the way open for this to happen, even if it went to the eleventh hour, which was seemingly the case when an offer came in late in the day. However, it turned out to be a blind alley – they’d assumed I was already on site and would be up for doing it as an add-on. It transpired they had no budget to get me there, let alone pay me, and no tickets to offer. I pretty much gave up the ghost at this point.

Whether I play there or not is an extremely minor issue in the greater scheme of this sprawling mega-festival, but during the past few weeks a trickle of emails and messages asking me where I’m playing at Glastonbury has turned into more of a torrent. My answer, ‘I’m afraid I’m not going to be there this year’, is met with a further question, ‘why not?’, and this is my attempt to give people some sort of explanation as to my absence.

All I can say is that I really wanted this to happen, and would have happily come in at an absolute minimum to make it work, but when you’re prepared to go more than half-way, but you’re not being met there, but expected to, the way it’s been going, pretty much pay for the privilege, its going to squeeze certain DJ’s and musicians out of the picture, especially when they’re aware that there’s serious money being spent in other aspects of the festival, its performances and production.

I’m fortunate to get some wonderful slots in some stunning spaces, and with appearances upcoming at a whole heap of festivals, big and small, I hope that those of you I’ll miss this time around at Glastonbury will catch me someplace else during the summer.

Fingers crossed I’ll be back at Worthy Farm in 2017. In the meantime here are the recordings from all my appearances to date.

Previous Glastonbury posts:

Glastonbury – The Greatest Show On Earth:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/07/glastonbury-the-greatest-show-on-earth

Glastonbury Trilogy:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2014/07/glastonbury-trilogy-2014

GW Festivals 2016

Greg Wilson Festival Schedule 2016:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2016/06/festival-schedule-2016

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Festival Schedule 2016

GW Festivals 2016

Got a busy busy summer of festival appearances coming up. My 2016 schedule actually kicked off in the desert of Nevada at Further Future on April 30th, the centrepiece of my US tour, and has since been followed-up back home with a main stage appearance at Liverpool’s Sound City, and an in the woods set at Lost Village in Lincolnshire. Festivals are a mainstay of what I do, and as these first 3 of the year illustrate, I’m fortunate to get some wonderful slots in some stunning spaces. Anyhow here’s the full list:

30.04.16 FUTURE FURTHER / LAS VEGAS
28.05.16 SOUND CITY / LIVERPOOL
29.05.16 LOST VILLAGE / LINCOLNSHIRE
02.07.16 DISTRICT 8 / DUBLIN
11.07.16 ELECTRIC ELEPHANT / CROATIA
17.07.16 BEAT HERDER / LANCASHIRE
22.07.16 TRAMLINES / SHEFFIELD
23.07.16 LIMF / LIVERPOOL
23.07.16 FESTIVAL 23 / SOUTH YORKSHIRE
24.07.16 FESTIVAL 23 / SOUTH YORKSHIRE *
30.07.16 STANDON CALLING / HERTFORDSHIRE
31.07.16 CAMP BESTIVAL / DORSET *
06.08.16 LIVERPOOL LOVES / LIVERPOOL
13.08.16 CAMPFIRE CONVENTION / SOUTH WALES
27.08.16 BIG KAHUNA / EAST SUSSEX *
28.08.16 MOOVIN / MANCHESTER
02.09.16 FESTIVAL NO.6 / PORTMEIRION
04.09.16 FIELD MANEUVERS / OXFORD
11.09.16 BESTIVAL / ISLE OF WIGHT *

* GW featuring Super Weird Substance (I’ll reveal more in a later post)

To set the tone for the summer months, here’s the recording from a memorable evening playing Void @ Further Future:

Festival Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival

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Greg Wilson’s Discotheque Archives #2

GWDJ2

The second edition of my ‘Discotheque Archives’ series for DJ Mag is now online, featuring more landmarks in pre-Rave club culture:

COLIN CURTIS – A central figure in three distinct dance music movements; Northern Soul, Jazz-Funk and House, Curtis was one of the most significant DJs in the UK in regards to his role in its development during the 70’s and 80’s.

STREET SOUNDS – Morgan Khan’s Street Sounds label was instrumental in bringing the fresh and exciting sound of the US underground dance and hip-hop scene to the UK’s mainstream via it’s affordable compilations.

THE MUSIC BOX – Chicago’s lesser-known but equally important House music club inhabited the same space where the more famous Warehouse had been. As Frankie Knuckles made way for Ron Hardy, the venue took on a new name and new life on the rougher, rawer side of House.

THE TEARS OF A CLOWN – A classic single that almost never was, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ ‘Tears Of A Clown’ is now regarded as one of Motown’s seminal hits, yet it was overlooked by the label as a single initially, until the UK-based Tamla-Motown showed them its worth.

Discotheque Archives

Read this month’s column here:
http://djmag.com/features/greg-wilsons-discotheque-archives-2

Read all pieces in full here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/greg-wilsons-discotheque-archives/

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Spotify Playlists

Spotify
Technology is often a double-edged sword, announcing on the one hand exciting new possibilities, but on the other a break from a tradition you once thought was always.

People consume music very differently now to how they did in our not too distant past. The demise of the record shop, an almost mythical meeting place where life-defining tunes were first heard, then eagerly bought and brought back home for more intimate exploration, is sadly lamented by many, and this been a factor in the recent vinyl renaissance – leaving all that black gold behind us was just too much to bear.

Although a healthy amount of younger heads have nobly hooked-up a record player, the overwhelming majority of people nowadays listen to their music online, via platforms like iTunes, YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify, which has now amassed an impressive history of recorded music to select from, confirming the ever-escalating trend for people to move away from buying their music, instead listening via a sonic library. We now loan what we used to own.

Greg Wilson's Time Capsule

On the flip side, as an archive Spotify is immense. I’ve been impressed, for example, with the amount of tracks I was able to find from my Time Capsule series, which covered the music I was playing in the clubs back in 1976 and 1977, some of it pretty obscure. Granted, there are still frustrating omissions, but overall I’ve got to say that if you’d told me, back in 1976, that there would be the possibility of hearing a great deal of the music I owned, and would subsequently own, not to mention all the stuff I could never find time to hear if I lived a dozen lifetimes; and all there at my fingertips, all accessible within my own home (or let’s make it anywhere I want to be), I’d have signed up to the future there and then. What an incredible resource this is.

I suppose that, moving forward, and given the unlimited choice now available, the need for curation grows ever-stronger, people utilizing trusted sources in order to access the ocean of recorded history now available.

It’s in this spirit that I’ve approached Spotify, which provides a solid platform for my more documentative projects, like the Random Influences and Time Capsule series’, whilst also enabling me to create playlists from genre selections I have on SoundCloud and Mixcloud – Electro, Northern Soul and the early to mid-70s Soul, Funk and Proto-Disco tracks that feature in my Music Played In Discotheques mix.

The Beatles/Bowie

Then there are artist compilations, my Bowie tribute following his death earlier this year, and a Beatles Children’s Classics playlist taken from a CD I’d put together for my son back in the late 90’s, and then burnt off for friends along the way, so they could play to their kids – I put this on Spotify when The Beatles back catalogue was made available to stream:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2015/12/streaming-the-beatles/

There are also playlists containing my remixes, production & edits and one for the releases on my record label, Super Weird Substance, but whilst SoundCloud and Mixcloud are more related to what I do as a DJ, Spotify is more akin to the blog, taking in a wider-range of music and influences.

Random Influences

What’s been particularly pleasing is that Random Influences, which has had, and continues to have, a number of homes since its inception in 2010, has finally found its most suited abode. Whilst I didn’t have a way around it at the time, the 12 part 24-hour long series was compromised by even being in a fixed running order. It features a days worth of 7” singles I knew and loved during my formative years, and Spotify finally allows me to present the series in a way that’s befitting of its name, all the tracks in a single playlist and the shuffle function enabling the randomising I’d initially envisaged for the selected tracks, but had no realistic way of achieving until now. This can, of course, be done with any playlist, but it’s the perfect way to consume Random Influences.

So have a look for yourself, plenty already there to explore and lots more to come. Check in here:
https://open.spotify.com/user/djgregwilson

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