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Maurice White

Maurice White

Memphis born Earth Wind & Fire founder Maurice White died in Los Angeles on Wednesday – he was 74 and had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease since the late 1980’s. White was the bands co-lead singer (with Philip Bailey), their main songwriter and their producer.

Prior to EW&F White had been a session drummer for Chess Records in Chicago, where he moved as a teenager, backing artists including Etta James, Fontella Bass, The Dells and The Impressions, before joining the Ramley Lewis Trio and subsequently playing on 9 albums with the Jazz pianist.

People don’t realize just how big Earth Wind & Fire were during the mid-late 70’s, both on a mainstream level in the US, and on the Funk underground in the UK (eventually coming to mainstream attention here after what many Funk aficionados would consider their most creative period).

From a US perspective, having had a couple of top 20 albums in the preceding years, the whole thing went into orbit for EW&F when their wonderful 1975 soundtrack ‘That’s The Way Of The World’ topped the album chart and was followed to the top spot later that year by the band’s excellent live set ‘Gratitude’. During the next 5 years they’d score another 6 top 10 US LP’s, whilst picking up multiple Grammy awards along the way.

All 'N' All Earth Wind & Fire

I remember going to the Red Star parcel depot at Liverpool Lime Street in 1977 with DJ Terry Lennaine, where he picked up a promo copy of ‘All ‘N’ All’ to premiere on his specialist Funk & Soul radio show ‘Keep On Truckin’’ that evening. It had been sent by the CBS club promotion department in London ahead of US imports being made available, and it was straight back to the station to share in the magical experience of hearing the tracks contained for the very first time, ahead of their imminent broadcast over the Merseyside airwaves. And there were some pretty amazing tracks to be heard on that album – ‘Fantasy, ‘Jupiter’, ‘Magic Mind’, ‘Runnin’’ and ‘Brazilian Rhyme’ included. It was a major musical highlight of the year and the unveiling of these tracks by Terry on Radio Merseyside an eagerly anticipated event in itself – a whole subculture of Soul & Funk enthusiasts throughout the region tuned in.

Outside of the Soul shows on stations up and down the country, Funk wasn’t getting a look in at all on radio in the UK. It was the clubs where EW&F built their following, via a quartet monster dance floor tunes – ‘Shining Star’, ‘Sing A Song’, ‘Getaway’ and ‘Saturday Nite’ (their first UK top 20 hit, just ahead of ‘All ‘N’ All’, which would be their first album to make the UK chart, peaking at #13).

Earth Wind & Fire

Their biggest British hits would be ‘September’ (1977) and ‘Let’s Groove’ (1981), both of which reached #3, and ‘Boogie Wonderland’ (with The Emotions - White having co-written / produced the groups huge hit ‘Best Of My Love’ in ’77, as well as co-producing Deniece Williams’s ‘Free’, a UK #1) and the ballad ‘After The Love Has Gone’, which both peaked at #4 in 1979.

In many respects it’s a shame they recorded ‘Boogie Wonderland’, which was lapped up on a mainstream level, but regarded as a bit of a commercial cop-out by their core audience. It, unfortunately, became their defining track, and has served to obscure their legacy – subsequent generations not realizing that this was, at its pomp, a cutting-edge Funk band made up of brilliant musicians ,who sold millions of records whilst wowing their audience with a stage show that really pushed at the boundaries, packed with illusion and Egyptian symbolism – instead there remains a ‘cheesy disco’ association with the band via this track.

Their more Jazz based recordings continued to fly the EW&F flag throughout the Jazz-Funk days, whilst connoisseurs of black music, never in any doubt of their status at the top table, have listened to and loved their music every since their pre-Hip-Hop heights.

During recent years Earth Wind & Fire’s music has been reworked to great effect by DJ’s like The Reflex, Derek Kaye and Appo, giving some of their classic tracks a new lease of life in the clubs.

Maurice White Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_White

0

20 Choice Edits & Reworks

Greg Wilson photo by Nick Mizen

Secret Life have just published my ’20 Choice Edits & Reworks’ from the last year. It’s the 4th annual list I’ve compiled, with Secret Life providing links to each individual selection (wherever possible): http://secretlifemusic.com/greg-wilsons-choice-edits-reworks-2015/

What’s different this year is that I’ve also put together a podcast featuring each of the 20 inclusions, which runs at almost 2 and a half hours. You can stream here:

What’s clear is that the quality of these reinterpretations is as strong, if not stronger, than ever. There are also more new names making their mark; whereas last year my 20 choices were the work of just 10 editors, this year the same amount is split between 15, including a number of names who haven’t appeared in my previous lists – Shit Hot Soundsystem, DSD, Shreddie Murphy, Raw-Artes, Dot 40, Dr Packer, Todd Terje and Hotbath (Todd Terje being a bit of an anomaly in this context, his genius edit of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ seeing him re-visit the arena where he first made his name a decade ago). These inclusions appear alongside old friends - V, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Fingerman, Luxxury, Derek Kaye, The Reflex and Twisted Soul Collective.

Fingerman

Fingerman (Gregg Holmes) scored a hat-trick of entries, giving him an overall total of 11 inclusions over the 4 years, the most by anyone (Late Night Tuff Guy is next on 10, with 2 in 2015). Via edits from Luther Vandross, Teena Marie, La Pamplemousse, Bloodstone, Seal, Doobie Brothers, Fatback, Steely Dan, Massive Attack, Faze-O and Unlimited Touch, Gregg brings classic / cult-classic tunes back into focus via his un-fussy approach to editing, which never loses sight of the fact he’s working with great source material. This he channels into a contemporary context, providing DJ’s like myself with, as illustrated here, a consistent supply of dancefloor nourishment.

V (aka Muscovite Valique), whose Led Zeppelin ‘Whole Lotta Love’ dub just missed the top spot in 2012, goes all the way this time with his reworking of ‘The Best Of My Love’ by the Emotions (aka The Emoticons). A new take on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Luxxury really gathered steam towards the end of the year and is only going to build further in 2016 – it places here at #12 – the first track to make the lists twice.

How To Edit

20 Choice Edits & Reworks 2014:
http://secretlifemusic.com/greg-wilson-20-choice-edits-reworks-for-2014/

20 Choice Edits & Reworks 2013:
http://secretlifemusic.com/best-of-2013-greg-wilson-20-choice-edits-reworks-for-2013/

20 Choice Edits & Reworks 2012:
http://secretlifemusic.com/greg-wilson-20-choice-edits-reworks-for-2012/

2

The Year Can Now Begin!

2016

I’d written most of this post at the end of last month on the flight from Lisbon to Salvador in Brazil, where I played New Years Eve at the idyllic setting of Biopeba Island in Bahia for the Mareh Music Festival. The intention was to post once I got back to the UK on January 3rd, but fate took a turn.

Soft lad here went and left his laptop on the conveyor belt at security in Salvador airport and didn’t realize until I was back over in Lisbon about to make the connection for my flight back to the UK. That feeling when you’re stood at security and go to take your laptop out of your bag only to find it isn’t there, as it played out back in Lisbon, brings on instant cold sweat and sheer horror! Thankfully my booking agents have an incredible lady called Anna Christofides who looks after their travel arrangements, and she was on the case immediately, managing to locate the laptop before making arrangements to get it back to me, which finally happened last week (following a whole heap of bureaucratic hoops we had to jump through to provide the correct paperwork).

So all’s well that ends well, although a few things, like this blog post, have been dependant on waiting to get the laptop back. Now I can finally make a fully-fledged start to 2016 having rounded up the loose ends of 2015 below.

I should add that Biopeba was a magical place to see in the New Year. As is customary in Brazil, everyone went towards the beach at midnight and jumped the 7 waves. I did so myself, and it felt special to share in this ritual before I played. The festival is destined for big things, having grown organically for a number of years, drawing inspiration from the Garden Festival over in Croatia, which, as I mention later, concluded last year (I had played the last 9 events of its 10 year run, and this is where the guys behind Mareh had seen me DJ). The festival included lots of other DJ’s I know, so it was great to catch up with people like Eric Duncan, Tim Sweeney, Graeme Clark (The Revenge), Pete Herbert, Dicky Trisco and Ray Mang. You can stream / download the recording of my NY set here:


https://soundcloud.com/mareh/greg-wilson-mareh-music-festival-bahia-brasil-nye-2015-16

So here’s what I wrote before man and computer were separated at the start of this month:

Here we are at the end of another year – it feels like Christmas came around quickly, yet so much happened for me in 2015. It was a full-tilt year, that’s for sure, where I crammed in pretty much as much as I could.

Lost Paradise Festival 2015

The year has been bookended by 2 festival appearances on different sides of the world, kicking off with Australia’s  Lost Paradise Festival on New Years Day, and concluding in Brazil for the Mareh Music Festival. There have been so many highlights in between, including a US Tour, Glastonbury, the final Garden Festival in Croatia, our 12 hour Super Weird Happening at Festival No.6, the Glitterbox closing party at Space in Ibiza and a series of wonderful home city dates in Liverpool, culminating in my 40th anniversary weekend on December 5th / 6th.

Then, of course, there’s been the launch of the Super Weird Substance, which has taken a huge amount of my time - as I’ve mentioned previously, in setting up the record label, with all the attention that’s been necessary to do so, the blog has often had to go on the backburner. That said, I’ve somehow managed to keep things ticking over in 2015, averaging a post every couple of weeks, but I’ve been aware that a number of things I’d wanted to cover ended up either partly written or completely unwritten in a pending file whilst I had to focus on more pressing matters.

Credit To The Edit Vol 1

For example, I completely missed the 10th anniversary of my first Credit To The Edit compilation back in August 2005. This proved to be a major milestone for me, less than 2 years after I’d started up DJing again, and would be the catalyst for a broadening of my career, prompting offers of gigs overseas and resulting in my first European appearance since the comeback (in Berlin), quickly followed by my New York debut. Here are the album’s sleevenotes:
http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/credit-to-the-edit-sleeve-notes

Hopefully I’ll be able to get a better balance in 2016, and keep more fully on top of things – the blog has become a key part of what I do and there’s so much I want to cover. In the meantime I need to round-up some of the stuff I’d hoped to write about in more depth during recent months.


https://soundcloud.com/super-weird-substance/sets/club-mixes

Rewind to early November when our first album release on Super Weird Substance, which compiled the 8 tracks issued on vinyl and digital since June, was accompanied with various promotional engagements, including a trio of in-store appearances – at Phonica in London, Banquet in Kingston and Rough Trade in Nottingham. Great to meet everyone who turned out - the Phonica in-store was particularly memorable because, on a Thursday evening in Soho, it was more like a sweat box club than a record shop, with a packed room getting down to the Super Weird sounds.

We’re planning to release all the SWS tracks via the new Stems format in 2016. This is where the track is de-constructed into 4 separate audio files / stems (for example drums, bass, keyboards, vocals), making it possible for DJ’s to do their own live mixes. Just as I was about to look into this I received a request from Boiler Room for me to write a piece about the history of editing and remixing, taking things right up to date with what’s happening now. Further to this, Native Instruments, the company behind Stems, hosted a night at London’s Institute For Contemporary Arts (the ICA) featuring a panel discussion about editing and remixing, with the guests being François K / Kevorkian, Benji B and myself (Jonathan Scratchley of Gentleman’s Dub Club was a last minute stand in for Benji, whose flight into London had been delayed).

I’ll write more about this when the logjam of my life clears a bit, but in the meantime you can check out the piece I did - ‘From Segues To Stems – A Potted History Of The DJ Manipulator’, which I must say was wonderfully illustrated by Boiler Room:
https://boilerroom.tv/from-segues-to-stems/

Here’s the footage from the ICA – some proper history from François, I was in my element discovering bits I never previously knew, and great to meet Jonathan, whose band I’d recently become aware of via my son, who’d been to see them play in Liverpool, just a few weeks previous):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU3Hc7yvb-I

So, with the promo on the album ongoing I geared up for another event that would generate further online content – the anniversary of my first club appearance, back in December 1975, which we celebrated over a weekend in Liverpool. I managed to blog about it here – the post includes links to my 5 hour live mix from The Garage plus the following day’s talk at Jacaranda Records, which was filmed:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2015/12/40th-anniversary-weekend-recorded/

The anniversary brought in further media interest, including a request from The Guardian to pick 10 tracks and write a bit about each. As always with these top 10’s I could have picked a completely different selection on a different day, but I think it worked out pretty well as a representation of my career span as a DJ, taking in James Brown, Doobie Brothers, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Undisputed Truth, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa & The South Sonic Force, A Guy Called Gerald, Happy Mondays, Hercules & Love Affair and Todd Terje. The full lowdown here:
http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/dec/08/10-classics-greg-wilson-40-years-behind-the-decks-dj

There was also a mix I did for Vice’s Thump channel, which kept things deep and downtempo, all tracks included being below 100bpm. Thump called it a ‘gloriously  gooey guest mix.’ You can find it here, complete with tracklisting:
https://thump.vice.com/en_uk/track/greg-wilson-has-given-us-a-gloriously-gooey-guest-mix

Parliament - Mothership Connection

One of the biggest highlights of the anniversary was a tweet that popped up from none other than George Clinton, the P Funk mainman and one of my great musical heroes. It said: ‘This past week it was the 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF "MOTHERSHIP CONNECTIONS" @djgregwilson on the album’ and linked to my Living To Music blog post from a few years back, when we featured the Parliament classic ‘Mothership Connection’. This seminal album  was celebrating its own 40th anniversary in December, and it was something of a mindblower for me that he’d connected the two anniversaries. I replied: 'Wow! Now that is cosmic. Blessings George - that album rocked my teenage world. It was a proud moment to DJ for you in Perth' (this appearance was in March 2013 during my Australian tour that year - the poster, which includes my name as support, is in a frame at my home and the occasion is deeply treasured).

For its main creator to reference a piece I'd written about one of my favourite albums is something I could never have imagined all those years ago as that glorious vinyl blew my young mind. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself!

Greg Wilson DJ Magazine Industry Icon Award 2015

Moving further into December and I got the news that DJ Magazine, in their end of year Best Of British awards, had named me ‘Industry Icon’. I was invited to play at the famous West London venue Heaven, as part of the awards ceremony,: collecting my gong earlier in the night.

The following day I posted a photo of myself with the award on my Facebook page, not expecting anything more than the usual type of feedback, but was staggered by the response, which way outstripped anything I’d put up previously with well over 1000 likes and 100 comments within 24 hours. It reminded me of when the BBC put my Essential Mix online after it had aired in January 2009, and the overwhelming reaction completely caught me by surprise. It was really warming to receive so many messages of goodwill and congratulations.

B. Traits Radio 1 Christmas Party

As things worked out, 2 days later I was at the BBC for a live lounge appearance for B.Traits, who was broadcasting her Christmas party on Radio 1. The resulting half hour mix could be streamed online for a period, but is unfortunately no longer available.

So onwards into 2016. I’m taking things easier in the first few months of the year in order to re-charge my batteries and plan out the next moves for the label  (we’ve already commenced recording the Blind Arcade album and are about to start on new tracks for The Reynolds)– so I’m limiting my club appearances prior to Easter, with the intention of putting together a UK tour in the Spring. My only gig in February is on Friday 5th when I return to The Nest in Dalston, London. However, the festival bookings are already coming in thick and fast, with Further Future in Las Vegas on April 30th and Lost Village in Lincolnshire on May 29th already confirmed as the openers.

It’s a whole new chapter for Croatia this year, with the Garden Festival calling it a day after an incredible 10 years, in which its Adriatic influence has chimed with a new generation. I was a fixture for 9 of those years, with main stage and boat party appearances the norm for me during much of that time. Now it’s all change, and I’ve decided to play at Electric Elephant in 2016, which is held on the same site, where I’ll DJ at the closing party at Barbarella’s on July 11th. This is a first for me and, having heard so much about this fantastic outdoor space, it’s something I’m really looking forward to. All the info is here:
http://www.festivalinsights.com/2015/12/greg-wilson-bicep-electric-elephant/

So that brings things up to speed, and now my prodigal laptop has returned I’m ready to fully embrace 2016. Wishing you all the best for the year ahead – hope to see you at a club or festival in the not too distant.

Prodigal Laptop

2016 Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016

5

David Bowie

David Bowie

Woke up to the news this morning that David Bowie had died from cancer, aged 69, just a few days on from his birthday last Friday when his latest album, ‘Blackstar’, was released.

Like so many of my generation, David Bowie’s emergence in the early 70’s would lead to an obsession with the man and his music. Throughout my early teenage years I played albums like ‘Hunky Dory’ (1971), ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ (1972) and ‘Aladdin Sane’ (1973) until the grooves wore out.

It all began for me with his legendary Top Of The Pops appearance on July 6th 1972 when he performed ‘Starman’. It was a seminal moment in pop music. I wrote about my Bowie awakening when selecting ‘Ziggy Stardust’ for the ‘Living To Music’ listening sessions from a few years ago:

After buying a copy of ‘Starman’ I picked up his previous single, ‘Changes’, from Strothers, a local record shop in Liscard. I can remember being stood in one of the old style listening booths whilst the shop assistant played it for me. ‘Changes’ hadn’t even entered the lower region of the UK chart when it was issued, it had been a total flop (as was the album it was taken from, the now acknowledged classic ‘Hunky Dory’), but I was absolutely blown-away by it, as I was by his next single ‘John I’m Only Dancing’ (not to mention the one after that, 'The Jean Genie', a parting shot for '72 that packed a real punch).

However, despite an incredible run of great singles, the real discovery was the albums. During the school holidays in 1973 I got a job, working in a local amusement arcade, and with my wages I bought a Bowie LP every week, until I had everything available – seven albums in all at the time, dating back to compilations of his early stuff in the 60’s. I was now a total Bowie freak, absorbed in his words and music. I tagged my name using ‘Aladdin Sane’ type lightning streaks for the G’s in Greg, and dyed my hair in Ziggy homage.

Bowie was one of only 3 artists, alongside The Beatles and Pink Floyd, who had 2 separate Living To Music selections – originally for ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and then for ‘Hunky Dory'. Here are the posts:

Ziggy Stardust

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars – Living To Music:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/12/living-to-music-david-bowie-the-rise-and-fall-of-ziggy-stardust-and-the-spiders-from-mars/

Hunky Dory

Hunky Dory – Living To Music:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/10/living-to-music-david-bowie-hunky-dory/

It’s a mark of the times when an artist of this magnitude passes, reminding us that we’re all older, and that the shimmer of the 60’s and 70’s, when Bowie entered our world, initially via a series of false-starts, but culminating in the ‘Ziggy’ big bang, grows ever distant.

David Bowie, or more precisely David Bowie during his Ziggy era, symbolised my youth, as he did for so many others – we’d never seen the like, and will never see the like again, for this was a truly unique artist who represented what seemed like a myriad of new possibilities and attitudes back then. He really did revolutionize popular culture, and certainly impacted on the lives of many individuals, myself very much included. It’ll be weird to live in a world where he’s no longer around.

David Bowie Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie

8

A Couple Of Book Recommendations

The Underground Is Massive - Life After Dark

Meant to give both of these the heads-up in recent months, and certainly ahead of Christmas, but I’ve been so swamped with other stuff I haven’t had chance.

Both books deal with dance culture, but whilst one focuses on more recent developments in the US, leading up to the EDM explosion across the Atlantic, the other uncovers a whole history of clubs, music and dancing here in the UK that dates back close on 2 centuries.

I was given a copy of ‘The Underground Is Massive – How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America’ by Michaelangelo Matos by the Paxahau crew whilst I was over in Detroit for the Movement Festival Appreciation Party back in June. It certainly enlightened me to the evolution of US dance culture throughout the past 30 years – the narrative mainly stemming from the emergence of House in Chicago and Techno in Detroit, in tangent with New York Garage.

Michaelangelo Mathos

The same scenario had played out in the UK and Europe, but with totally different consequences. Whilst club culture went mainstream on this side of the Atlantic, the scene remained largely underground in the US. For example, some Chicago DJ ‘s visiting the UK in the late 80’s could command thousands of pounds, whereas back home they might be lucky to pick up a couple of hundred dollars.

Having visited the US on a number of occasions now, and pondered over this anomaly, I can only put it down to the ruthless hatchet job handed out to Disco by Steve Dahl and his ‘Disco Sucks’ ilk. A whole culture was largely thrown into the dustbin of history from a US perspective, and this still reverberates into the here and now, where, throughout vast swathes of America, there’s still a derisory attitude to Disco. Dahl certainly put a satire on the movement, which, on a mainstream level, has been difficult to shake off. As a consequence, House and Techno never gained a proper foothold in their country of origin, and whilst Hip Hop became the dominant force stateside, House and Techno were but bit part players.

‘The Underground Is Massive’ documents an extended period, which hit its stride in the 90’s, when the US Rave scene thrived within the shadows of US society, and as with the movement at source in the UK, continually found itself up against the powers that be.

Nowadays the penny has finally dropped and the American mainstream has at last fully engaged with dance culture – only problem being that it’s taken the largely soulless common denominator of EDM (a marketing term for Electronic Dance Music) to bring about the change.

Matos focuses on the scenes, the promoters and the DJ’s who, during the formative stages, believed when others didn’t, and outlines the factors that finally brought dance to the forefront of US popular culture during these past few years.

Dave Haslam

By way of contrast, former Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam’s ‘Life After Dark – A History Of British Nightclubs & Music Venues’ digs deep into the past, starting off with the Music Halls of the 1800’s, and their 20th century offspring, the Dance Halls, which pre-date the clubs and discotheques of more recent times, before bringing us gradually up to date, hopping around Britain to take in a whole host of towns and cities in the process.

It’s a book that illustrates how the innate nature of people is to gather in spaces with other people to enjoy music and dancing. As Haslam outlines, this isn’t some kind of recent development, but a fundamental aspect of our society – especially with regards to the working classes, who, having toiled all week, greatly valued their precious leisure time.

It also outlines the importance of individuals in creating these scenes and movements – the spark often the bloody-mindedness of a small group of people, be it venue owners, promoters, musicians or DJ’s.

To put such a book together is a real herculean task, with a huge amount of research necessary before pen even touches paper. It would also have been easier to keep things focused solely on the bigger cities, but Haslam takes us off the beaten track too, enabling deeper perspective.

Away from the book, Dave Haslam has recently been in the news having sold his entire record collection, including all the tunes he played at The Haçienda on his legendary Thursday night Temperance sessions, to US DJ Seth Troxler.

Both of these books are highly recommended to those who wish to look beneath the surface of dance culture to discover the whys and wherefores with regards to how things have worked out the way they have today. You can buy via the links below:

‘The Underground Is Massive – How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America’ at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Underground-Massive-Electronic-Conquered/dp/0062271784

‘Life After Dark’ – A History of British nightclubs & Music Venues’ at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-After-Dark-History-Nightclubs/dp/0857206982

0

Streaming The Beatles

Beatles Now Streaming

Today The Beatles made their back catalogue available to stream online. This provides a significant cultural marker for, as in the 80’s when CD was on the rise, the endorsement of The Beatles gives the ‘format’ full validity within the music industry.

Most people these days seem happy to hire their music rather than buy it – streaming sites offering you access to their service at a fee, or free of charge if you’re happy to put up with adverts. It’s more like borrowing from a library than buying from a shop. What’s for sure is that the way we consume music has radically changed in the 21st century.

Some people still, of course, want to buy hard copies of the records they love – the re-emergence of vinyl during recent times a fascinating development. However, the vinyl revival is but a drop in the ocean, and it’s streaming where the major developments lie.

The situation parallels what happened in the early days of radio when the record companies initially received no money for the tracks played over the airwaves, the stations believing that the promotional value of these plays should suffice. The record companies and their artists disagreed and, after negotiation, a license fee that enabled the stations to legally feature gramophone recordings was established, with trade bodies like ASCAP in the US and PRS in the UK collecting these royalties.

Napster

The streaming issue has echoed this, with tracks initially made available online via peer-to-peer platforms like Napster as the 20th century drew to a close. Subsequently, platforms like iTunes, YouTube, SoundCloud and Spotify have revolutionized the way people listen to music – streaming becoming increasingly popular until it outstripped physical sales in its importance to the industry. It was then a case of the record companies monetizing these areas, providing new avenues of revenue.

Now The Beatles are onboard, streaming becomes legitimized across the board, with people who’ve never even thought of this option now becoming aware of the possibility via the blanket news coverage that’s accompanied this announcement. Younger internet users have already engaged with streaming for a number of years, so the fact that they can now access The Beatles catalogue acts as a generational marker, with what’s widely regarded as the popular music era’s greatest body of work presented in a whole new contemporary context.

 

When I first got a computer, at the end of the 90’s, and was able to burn CD’s, I made various compilations to either play in the car or to give to friends. One of these was a compilation of children’s classics by The Beatles, tracks by the band that I felt might appeal to younger kids, whilst providing a solid introduction to their music. This was something I played to my own son when he was an ankle-biter, and copied for numerous friends who had kids of their own.

With Christmas upon us, this seems to be a fitting selection to share, and can now be streamed as a Spotify playlist, featuring many of their more quirky recordings, as well as some big tunes from their mop-top days of the early 60’s.

The Beatles Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles

0

40th Anniversary Weekend Recorded

GW-Freeze 40th Anniversary

The anniversary weekend in Liverpool went off wonderfully, both at the celebratory Saturday night gathering in The Garage and a somewhat more sedate talk session on the Sunday evening at Jacaranda Records.

Big thanks to all the crew at Freeze / The Garage in promoting / hosting what was a very special night for me personally, and in such a great get down space. It was a fantastic turn out and full-on party vibes as I worked my way through a marathon 308 minutes of music in all, with many a classic mapping the way. I managed to record the whole 5 hours and a bit, which you can now stream / download via SoundCloud.


https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/5-hour-40th-anniversary-the

Jacaranda Records is a café / vinyl record shop managed by Dash O’Brien, who some will know via the Autocycle edits. It’s above the famous Liverpool bar, The Jacaranda, which was once run by Allan Williams, forever remembered as ‘the man who gave The Beatles away’, relating to his role as their first manager and booking agent (it was Williams who booked them into the Hamburg clubs where they honed their sound). John Lennon, and original Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe helped paint a mural in the cellar of the building.

So, with a sense of history to the surroundings, I talked about what it was like to be a DJ 40 years ago, back in the mid-70’s. Dash, along with Dave McTague and Richard Vegas (who were behind last August’s illuminating Next Stop New York event in Liverpool, which I was involved in) helped put the event together. It was invitation only, given the limited space,  and filmed by Robin Clewley.

You can see the talk in full here:


http://po.st/GW40Jacaranda

I’m really happy to be able to share these recordings with those who were unable to make the actual events, as well, of course, as those who were there to share in the occasion with me. Thanks to everyone who’s danced to the tunes I play, or listened to recordings of my mixes, during these past 40 years. Looking forward to seeing some of you before the end of the year and on into 2016 and beyond.

40th Anniversary Weekend Blog Post:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2015/10/40th-anniversary-weekend/

The Guardian - Greg Wilson selects 10 classics from 40 years.

 

3

Proto Disco Days

Greg Wilson Time CapsuleToday marks the 40th anniversary of my first club appearance. Last night I played for 5 hours at The Garage and tonight I’m at The Jacaranda to conclude a celebratory weekend in my home city of Liverpool with a talk about what it was like to be a DJ back in those proto-Disco days.

The piece below, First Impressions, written 10 years ago to mark the 30th anniversary, and the Time Capsule podcasts that followed, provide a window on how things rolled for a DJ back then. The text accompanied a selection of music that, as I put it, I would have had in my record crates that night, released in the UK during the previous months. You can listen here – to give you a taste of the time, artists included Ohio Players, Earth Wind & Fire, Roxy Music, Al Green, David Bowie, Fatback Band, Isley Brothers, Four Seasons…

https://www.mixcloud.com/gregwilson/greg-wilson-first-impressions-a-30th-anniversary-selection/

First Impressions begat Time Capsule, which turned into an epic 21 part month by month series, initially hosted by Samurai FM, later by Six Million Steps, and now all available via Mixcloud. As with First Impressions, it combines music and text, archiving the period from both objective and subjective viewpoints – looking at the records played and the backstories behind them, whilst outlining my own development as a DJ in that first year and a half or so that I started playing music for a living. You can listen to the full series here:
https://www.mixcloud.com/gregwilson/playlists/greg-wilson-time-capsule/

First ImpressionsFIRST IMPRESSIONS

On December 6th 1975, I made my debut as a club DJ at the Chelsea Reach in my hometown of New Brighton, Merseyside. Three decades on, to mark the occasion, I put together a selection of 25 of the tracks that I would have had in my record crates that night.

Resonance - 'OK Chicago' (Bradleys)
Crystal Grass - Crystal World (Phillips)
Natalie Cole - This Will Be (Capitol)
Trammps - Hold Back The Night (Buddah)
George ‘Bad’ Benson - Supership (CTI)
Isley Brothers - Fight The Power (Epic)
Roxy Music - Love Is The Drug (Island)
Al Green - Full of Fire (London)
Ohio Players - Love Rollercoaster (Mercury)
Faith Hope & Charity - To Each His Own (RCA)
Peoples Choice - Do It Anyway You Wanna (Philadelphia Int)
Calander - Hypentention (All Platinum)
David Bowie - Golden Years (RCA)
Crown Heights Affair - Dreaming a Dream (Polydor)
Dooley Silverspoon - As Long As You Know Who You Are (Seville)
The Joneses - Sugar Pie Guy (Mercury)
Tavares - It Only Takes a Minute (Capitol)
Banzai - Chinese Kung Fu (Contempo)
Fatback Band - Yum Yum (Gimme Some) (Polydor)
Silver Convention - Fly Robin Fly (Magnet)
Stretch - Why Did You Do It (Anchor)
Four Seasons - Who Loves You (Warner Bros)
Esther Phillips - What a Difference a Day Makes (CTI)
Impressions - First Impressions (Curtom)
Earth Wind & Fire - That's The Way of The World (CBS)

'First Impressions' (named after one of the tracks included) is something of a time capsule, providing a snapshot of what many would describe, with hindsight, as the Proto-Disco period, before the 12" single became commercially available, although, for those who were there at the time, the Disco age was already well underway. Donna Summer, whose breakthrough single, 'Love To Love You Baby', wouldn't be released in the UK until the following month, is widely regarded as the 'Queen Of Disco', but the original title was bestowed on Gloria Gaynor and this was still very much the era of her reign.

Gloria Gaynor

The number one Soul single in the UK that week was 'Hold Back The Night' by The Trammps, with 'Best Of The Stylistics' the top album, whilst, on the Pop side, 'Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was the best-selling single, with Perry Como's '40 Greatest Hits' at the summit of the album chart.

In compiling 'First Impressions', I've presented the music not as a mix, but a reflective selection, with each track played in its entirety (some from 7", others via the full-length album versions). This, I feel, was the right approach, because we didn't mix in those days - the closest we got was 'three in a row' or a 'Motown spot', uninterrupted by the usual verbal interludes. For DJ's in this country, the microphone was an essential tool of their trade and it wouldn't be until later in the decade that UK DJ's began to experiment with mixing. Even then, the overwhelming majority dismissed it as a US fad that would never really catch on here. Although I'd eventually become known for my mixes during the early 80's, both on the radio and in the clubs, it wouldn't be until the Rave explosion, later in the decade, that mixing really began to take off with the majority of British DJ's.

* for a detailed account of how mixing evolved from a UK perspective check out the post ‘From Garrard To Technics – How British DJ’s Began To Mix’:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/08/from-garrard-to-technics-how-british-djs-began-to-mix/

Garrard and the later Technics turntable

In 1975, we didn't know the first thing about mixing - we'd yet to see a vari-speed turntable and it would still be a number of years before we began using slipmats, DJ's starting their records via on/off switches for each of the decks. The equipment we used was very basic, the sound system usually being an afterthought in most clubs. Club managers would often talk about DJ's being 'ten a penny'. It certainly wasn't considered a serious career move back then, 'any fool' apparently ‘could play some records'! For many years, when people asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was a DJ, I could put money on their next sentence being 'yeah, but what's your proper job?'

Greg Wilson age 15 photo by Derek Kelsey

30 years ago I was 15 and still at school (I wouldn't leave until the following summer). At the start of the 70's I'd 'inherited' my brother and sister's 7" singles. I was extremely fortunate that my older siblings were blessed with such good taste, as the majority of these records were by Soul artists, on labels like Tamla Motown, Stax and Atlantic, with a smattering of Trojan Reggae for good measure. At 11 years old I began to spend all my spare money on vinyl, so by 1975 I already had a healthy collection.

Before this, from 1966 until my Father died in 1974, I'd lived in a pub that also housed two functions rooms (located next door to the Royal Ferry Hotel, which, in 1971, would become the Chelsea Reach). Pretty much every weekend there would be wedding receptions and 21st birthday parties held in one, or both, of the functions rooms, with mobile discos booked to play the music. It was in this environment, spending countless hours sat behind the bar with my Mum, bottle of coke in hand, that I would have, at one point or another, got to hear most of the mobile DJ's on this side of the River Mersey. Even when I went upstairs to bed I could still hear the muffled rhythmic thud coming through the floorboards and make out what tunes were being played.

Often the DJ's would leave their equipment at the end of the night, still set up, to pick up the following day, and, in the morning, I'd sometimes seize the opportunity to have a look through their records and spin a few tunes, turning on the microphone and playing DJ!

spider adaptor

Further to this, there was a jukebox in the bar, which my Dad used to give me the odd shilling for so I could put some records on. When the 'Jukebox man' came to change them, I'd hang around and, if I was lucky, he'd let me take a few of the ones he was replacing. Ex-Jukebox singles were sold in quite a few record shops back then (and through to the 80's), costing about half the price of a new single. The centres were obviously dinked out and they'd have a bar through the middle of a row of records, to stop people pinching them (although, having said that, where there's a will there's a way).

Even when I wasn't at home, music was all around me. New Brighton was a seaside town, a kind of poor man's Blackpool back then, with a pier and fairgrounds, as well as the largest outdoor swimming pool in the country. Everywhere you went you could hear great Pop or Soul playing from a fairground ride or a radio, so, as a kid growing up in the 60's and early 70's, I was like a sponge, absorbing it all.

Then when I was 11, I became friends with a lad called Derek Kelsey, who would go on to DJ under the names Dee Kay and Derek Kaye. We went to the same school and initially hadn't seen eye to eye, almost coming to blows on a couple of occasions, but once we'd discovered we had a mutual love of records, we were virtually inseparable. Not only this, but Derek, who, unlike me, is technically minded, actually built his own mobile disco! It was more or less two old turntables in a console made out of a wooden drawer, with a switch, so you could change between them - hardly the height of hi-tec, but, nevertheless, I thought it was all extremely inventive.

Sound Machine Mobile Disco

Derek, with help (as well as hindrance) from his Dad, would go on to upgrade his mobile, adding an impressive 'lightshow', and begin to take bookings as Sound Machine Mobile Disco. I'd actually make my DJ debut with Sound Machine 1973, but I wasn't content with simply joining Derek behind the decks from time to time, what I really wanted was my own mobile. Getting the money together to do this myself wasn't possible at the time, but in 1975, when Derek invested in a new console (by this point his third), I, along with another school friend, Paul Bernard, bought the old one with the help of a loan from my Mother, changing the name to Dancin' Machine, after the Jackson 5 track. With the help of another friend, Timmy Collins, we built some light boxes and, working after school in my Mum's garage, got everything set up and ready to go. Eventually we printed up cards to hand out and put in shop windows, securing our first booking at a party upstairs in one of the functions rooms at the Chelsea Reach on Sept 20th 1975.

Dancin' Machine Mobile Disco

In the summer of '75, around the same time that Paul and I were setting up Dancin' Machine, Derek landed a weekly residency at the Chelsea Reach, not upstairs with his mobile, but downstairs in the main 'Disco' room, playing every Monday and Thursday.

The Chelsea (as we called it) was somewhere both Derek and I had been managing to get into since we were 14 - we obviously looked older than we were, passing for 18. Back then nightclubs on Merseyside had a 2am license, with pubs having to close at 10.30pm. The Chelsea Reach was open until around 11.45pm and, as such, was extremely popular - I suppose it was an early example of what would later be termed 'Disco Pubs'. It opened every night, and was usually full. To our young minds, it was the place to be, especially as most of our contemporaries couldn't dream of getting into anything more than a youth club.

When I was asked to fill in on that first Saturday night by the manager of the Chelsea, Bill Traynor, following a further mobile booking upstairs, it was an opportunity, although pretty daunting at the time, that I made the most of. I'd be asked back the following week and would end up working there until 1977.

* below is an advert from 1976, informing of the re-opening of the venue after it had been flooded during high tides, being on the promenade in New Brighton.

chelsea reach grand reopening 1976

Eventually I'd make my mark along the promenade, as the resident DJ at the Golden Guinea (1977-1980). It was here that I really flourished, building my reputation not just locally, but throughout the Merseyside region, as a Disco, Funk and Soul specialist. Apart from a short stint in Scandinavia, my life, throughout the late 70's, revolved around the Guinea, where, as I've previously put it, 'I became a big fish DJ in a small club pond'.

The new decade emphasised the need for fresh challenges, and I finally left the Guinea and New Brighton for good, heading overseas once again for a few months, before getting my big break as resident at Wigan Pier, one of the most impressive clubs in the country back then. I'd go on to develop the North's leading black music nights of the era, at the Pier and Legend in Manchester, whilst later launching the first specialist dance music night at the now fabled Haçienda, before retiring from DJ work at the end of '83 to concentrate on production and the management of the Manchester breakdance crew, Broken Glass.

Ticket Penny Farthing New Brighton 76

But back to 9 years earlier, when I was about to embark on this DJ adventure, receiving the princely sum of £6 for my club debut at the Chelsea Reach. The following month I was also approached to work at another local nightspot, the Penny Farthing Club, run by brothers Danny and Tommy Tsang, and by the time I left school I was deejaying most nights of the week. This had become my career and I was probably the youngest professional DJ in the country at this point in time. It's funny nowadays when people show surprise when they find out my age - exactly the same thing happened back then, but in a completely opposite way!

At a time when I should have been revising for my O Levels, I'd more or less totally stopped attending school. When I did make the effort to go I'd be falling asleep in class, having worked the previous night. When I could no longer continue to burn the candle at both ends, I simply abandoned the final months of my education. Needless to say that I left school with next to no academic qualifications, failing to even turn up for some of my exams - not that I'd need them for the path I'd chosen. Before things began to take off for me as a DJ, I remember telling the Careers Officer at school that I was interested in doing some journalism, and was told to forget this, unless I seriously applied myself to studying for the necessary qualifications, yet, in April '77, I became the Youth and Pop Music columnist for the local newspaper. I'd later write a Disco column for another local newspaper, following on from the commercial success of the movie 'Saturday Night Fever' in 1978.

The O'Jays

Back in 1975 Disco music was almost exclusively black music, Soul and Funk being the mainstay of a nights dancing. Disco wasn't regarded as a specific genre at this point, but a catch-all title for the type of music played in clubs and discotheques. From a UK perspective, the dawn of the Disco era can be pinpointed to July 1974, when George McCrae's 'Rock Your Baby' topped the chart and was accordingly dubbed 'the first Disco hit'. This was obviously debateable, as the Philly Sound was already in full swing by this point, laying the blueprint for Disco music as we'd come to know it, although we still regarded acts like The O'Jays and Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes as Soul. When 'Rock Your Baby' was replaced at number one in August by the Three Degrees and their Philly classic, 'When Will I See You Again', it was clear that change was in the air. This feeling was cemented the following month, when the British produced 'Kung Fu Fighting' by Carl Douglas made it a third club geared UK number one in as many months, whilst going on to top the US chart as well. As a result, the London based record companies would begin to take club promotion much more seriously and, before long, most were mailing out singles to club DJ's nationwide in advance of their release.

Being already grounded in black music, I'd begun to buy Blues & Soul magazine. This was not only the premier Soul music publication, but reported on the specialist black music clubs - it was pretty much regarded as the essential DJ magazine until the mid-80's, when a new generation of dance publications, led by Mixmag, the Street Scene and Jocks, began to erode Blues & Soul's once all-powerful influence.

I was also tuning into Terry Lennaine's Monday night Soul show, 'Keep On Truckin'', on our only local radio station at that time, BBC Radio Merseyside. Later on I'd get to know Terry, plus Liverpool's leading Funk and Soul DJ, Les Spaine, whose nights at The Timepiece, one of the most influential black music venues of the 70's, were an inspiration to many Merseyside DJ's, myself included.

Arthur Baker's Keep On Truckin' cassette

* you can read more about Les and Terry here: http://www.electrofunkroots.co.uk/articles/when_funk_held_sway.html

**my ‘Music Played In Discotheques’ mix documents the 1972-75 period – the period leading up to the ‘First Impressions’ selection – this was the type of music played by Terry Lennaine and Les Spaine in the years before I set off on my own DJ career:

https://www.mixcloud.com/gregwilson/music-played-in-discotheques/

The Northern Soul scene never took root in Liverpool. Whilst half an hour along the East Lancs Road, Wigan Casino was playing obscure 60's stompers, the clubs where I started out were more about Funk and contemporary (rather than retrospective) Soul releases. We might have played some of the chart hits that had broken via clubs like the Casino, but that was pretty much the extent of it. The Northern Soul movement itself was experiencing a schism at the time, with DJ's Ian Levine and Colin Curtis causing controversy amongst the purists by beginning to include new US Disco releases on their nights at the Blackpool Mecca. A number of these records were also being played in the black clubs, like The Timepiece, giving two otherwise contrasting scenes a new common ground.

Colin Curtis would move away from Northern Soul, becoming one of the big names on the North's Jazz-Funk scene during the late 70's / early 80's. Our paths would eventually cross following the success of my weekly Jazz-Funk night at Wigan Pier, which elevated me onto the All-Dayer circuit, playing alongside Colin and other leading Jazz-Funk specialists throughout the North and Midlands. But this was all to come.

Slow Dance

The opening track on 'First Impressions', 'OK Chicago' by Resonance, is included as much as anything else in recognition of my great friend Derek Kelsey, for he used this single as an alternative to his usual opening tune, Chiquito's version of the 'Hawaii Five-O' theme, before I picked up on it myself. Derek had first heard it played by a popular Liverpool DJ of the period called Pete Crystal. This is the only track from 'First Impressions' that wasn't current in December '75 (having been issued on 7" in the UK the previous year). However, at the time DJ's used instrumental 'theme tunes' at the start of the night when they went on the microphone to welcome people to club, talk about what was happening during the night ahead, invite requests and dedications etc, and 'OK Chicago' is a perfect representation of this. Other opening tunes I particularly favoured during the coming years included 'Lipstick' by Michel Polnareff, 'Satin Soul' by Gene Page, 'Blue Eyed Soul' by Carl Douglas and 'Inside America' by Juggy Jones. Years later, I was intrigued to discover that 'Yellow Train' by Resonance, the flip side of 'OK Chicago', had gained classic status at David Mancuso's seminal Loft parties across the Atlantic in New York.

I've also made a symbolic selection for the closing track, one of the greatest 'slowies' I ever had the pleasure of playing, Earth Wind & Fire's 'That's The Way Of The World'. Slowies were an integral part of a DJ's playlist, for this allowed the guys to get right up close to the girls in what was a nightly mating ritual played out to the sweetest Soul. Outside of the black clubs, and specialist scenes like Northern Soul and, later, Jazz-Funk, guys only generally took to the dancefloor when they were trying to move in on a girl they liked (or when their girlfriends dragged them up). Most white guys suffered from a notorious lack of rhythm, looking extremely awkward when dancing, so shuffling around in a circle holding onto a girl, which is basically what a slowie entailed, was pretty much manageable for anyone. The smoother guys would bring a little grind into play, along with the obligatory 'wandering hands'. If the couple hit it off, some pretty full-on kissing (or, to use a term from back then, 'knecking') might ensue, but with the lights down low and the music slow, inhibitions were put aside. Slowies were always played at the end of the night, usually in sets of three or four tracks, but also with an hour or so to go, giving the girls and guys a chance to get together ahead of the final hour, when the DJ built back into a more uptempo vibe, before bringing it right back down again - the DJ's constantly moving the music around back then, not sticking to one groove or tempo for too long at a time (as reflected in the programming of 'First Impressions'). Other slowies I may have played on that December night included then current releases like The Chi-Lites 'It's Time For Love', Gladys Knight & The Pips 'Part Time Love' and 'Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time' by The Delfonics (which had been re-issued).

The reason I'm able to be so precise about what I was playing is because I still have the issue of Blues & Soul from that very week (B&S 174 Ramsey Lewis front cover), so I know exactly what records were released in the UK at the time. It wouldn't be until the following year that I started buying US imports, but I'd be in the record shops buying the latest Funk and Soul singles as soon as they were released over here.

B&S 174

Alongside the Soul and Funk, I also played the more danceable Pop tracks, David Bowie and Roxy Music being particularly popular, eventually generating a whole new 'Roxy/Bowie' scene, which in turn would lead on to the New Romantic and Futurist movements that followed later. Being so much into black music, I was never directly a part of this, although there'd be some cross-fertilisation in the early 80's, with the emergence of cutting-edge New York Electro, a black technological mutation inspired by the innovative electronic grooves of the German band, Kraftwerk, whilst, running parallel in the Big Apple, Punk and Funk were being combined to create a further NY hybrid, No Wave.

*more about the No Wave scene in the post ‘Mutant Disco’:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2014/10/mutant-disco/

Some clubs, like now, were obviously a lot more commercial than others - dress restrictions applied in most places, with guys only admitted if they were wearing jackets, and often ties. As a DJ, you had to cut your cloth accordingly; it was all about putting people on the dancefloor and keeping them there. If a DJ couldn't achieve this, they'd quickly be shown the door, DJ's, don't forget, being 'ten a penny'! The trick was to blend the familiar with the unfamiliar in such a way that you gained the audience's trust. If you played it right they'd stay on the dancefloor when you introduced a newer tune, in the knowledge that the next record was likely to be a well-known favourite. Eventually, working in the same club with the same audience week after week, a good DJ could really begin to mould the dancefloor around their own musical taste, becoming increasingly 'upfront' (playing new music ahead of other DJ's, US imports being the most upfront releases of all).

Greg Wilson Outside Of Chelsea Reach 2003

In 2003, the Chelsea Reach finally shut up shop (the building is now converted into flats). I hadn’t been in there since the 8o’s and wouldn’t have been aware that it was just about to close, but for the fact that Derek (who continues to DJ on Merseyside, right up to this very day) rang me on the actual night to let me know. He was deejaying at RJ’s, where the Golden Guinea used to be, so I headed over from Liverpool and we went along to the Chelsea for the last hour.

It was strange to be in there again, especially as there were a few people who'd turned up for the final night who I hadn't seen in eons! I'm glad I went, especially as it was with Derek, which seemed perfectly fitting. In a sense, it marked the completion of a full cycle for me on a personal level, taking me back to the venue where my DJ career began, just as I was about to enter on a whole new phase, starting out all over again, embarking on a new DJ odyssey.

Greg Wilson - December 2005

Teenage DJ Logo

Vinyl Factory piece I wrote for the anniversary outlining my love affair with the 7” single:

1975 Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975

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Cynthia Robinson

Cynthia Robinson

Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter / vocalist with Sly & The Family Stone, died last month aged 71. She was part of a band that truly broke barriers back in the late 60’s / early 70’s, being both multi-racial as well as consisting of male and female members.

Sly & The Family Stone’s unique brand of Psychedelic Funk drew from the Hippie ethos of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. Hits included ‘Dance To The Music’ (the opening ‘say, get up and dance to the music…’ vocal belonging to Robinson), ‘Everyday People’, ‘I Want To Take You Higher’ and ‘Family Affair’. Bassist, Larry Graham, invented the slap bass playing style, adding to their distinctive sound, and the group would make a triumphant appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969.

 

Bandleader Sly Stone had been a DJ on SF radio station KSOL, who was happy to include white artists like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, amidst an otherwise black music playlist.

In 1995 Robinson, along with other Family Stone members, was interviewed for the BBC documentary ‘Make It Funky’, which was part of the ‘Dancing In The Street’ documentary. The interview starts around the 17 minute mark here:
https://vimeo.com/16178323

LordBuckley

In the documentary she paraphrases a jingle that Sly Stone used to play at the start of his radio shows; ‘listen all you cats and kitty’s sittin’ out there whippin’ and wailin’…’. It was only later that I realized that this was taken from a 1952 recording by Lord Buckley called ‘The Nazz’. Buckley, who might be described as a hip beatnik aristocrat, was praised by Bob Dylan as ‘the hipster, bebop preacher who defies all labels’. When I put together the ‘Blind Arcade Meets Super Weird Substance In The Morphogenetic Field’ mixtape, I sampled both the Cynthia Robinson soundbite (24:05) and the Lord Buckley original (52:48) – you can check it out here:
https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/blind-arcade-meets-super-weird-substance-in-the-morphogenetic-field

On the back of her sampled inclusion on the mixtape, Robinson was one of the characters illustrated by Dominic Mandrell on the 12” sleeves for our Super Weird Substance releases this year:
http://www.superweirdsubstance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/SWSBOX001.jpg

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 21.09.57

Cynthia Robinson Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Robinson

 

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Psychemagik Edit

2.Mink & Shoes

I first met Dan McLewin and Tom Coveney from Psychemagik when we were on the same line-up at Fabric in London at the start of 2011. They’d just pressed up their now classic edit of ‘Everywhere’ by Fleetwood Mac, and they’d subsequently credit Tom Middleton and myself with helping the record blow up big style on the following summer's UK festival circuit, as well as over in Croatia at the Garden Festival, where it quickly gained anthemic status.

Their transformation of Paula Cole’s ‘Feelin’ Good’ was also huge for me that year, and we cemented our association when they asked me to remix ‘Valley Of Paradise’:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EMTZFvkLGg

It was clear to me that Psychemagik had their own special touch and were definitely up and coming, so I recommended them to my agents, The Pool, who they’d work with for a period. They’ve since lived up to expectations accessing a global underground into which they’ve found an appreciative following. These days I generally bump into Dan & Tom outside of the UK, most recently over in Australia.

Tom & Dan Psychemagik

I’m really into their latest single, ‘Milk & Shoes’, which features vocalist Navid Izadi over a solid mid-tempo acid groove – a section of the track originally surfacing on an ‘anti-hipster’ Smirnoff Vodka advert last year. It’s an impressive production and would certainly get my vote as one of the best dance tracks of 2015.

I put together my own edit to play out, as is my wont, which Dan & Tom were happy for me to share on SoundCloud. It’s just a combination of vocal and dub versions really, plus some additional ambience via a scattering of samples I’ve introduced – that’s pretty much it, a less is more approach.

https://soundcloud.com/gregwilson/psychemagik-mink-shoes-greg 

There’s also a nice alternative mix from Richard Norris that I first heard Bernie Connor play on his new weekly live stream Fresh Garbage – there’s a free download available here: https://soundcloud.com/psychemagik/psychemagik-mink-shoes-richard-norris-psychoactive-mixx-1

Psychemagik Website:
http://www.psychemagik.com

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