Just finished a captivating and, to my mind, long overdue book, which covers the history of black music in the capital spanning (almost) 100 years, the recently published ‘Sounds Like London’. By bringing all the threads together, its author, Lloyd Bradley has made a telling contribution to our understanding of how British black music evolved, following the lineage of its direct influences in the Caribbean and Africa, in juxtaposition with the impact of African-American innovation throughout the 20th century.
June 21st marked the 3rd anniversary of the blog, with 232 posts to date. It’s an integral part of what I do, and has entered a new phase during these past 12 months, attracting an ever-increasing amount of regular readers – significantly up from previous years.
Just over 12 months ago, on October 29th 2011, the TV and radio personality Sir Jimmy Savile died 2 days before his 85th birthday (he was born on Halloween 1926). He was regarded as one of the great British eccentrics, but there were always rumours about deviant behaviour, although nothing proven. Apart from his contribution to broadcasting, Savile was also said to be the first DJ, not only in Britain, but the World, to use twin-turntables, back in the 1940s, making him an unlikely icon to DJs of the modern era. Here’s the blog post I wrote at the time of his death:
EDM (electronic dance music), as they like to call it in the US, has never been bigger, America now fully embracing it, having previously regarded it as a little more than a side-issue, always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Now, the more curious minded dance music enthusiasts Stateside, wishing to avoid the mainstream commercialisation of a previously more underground club culture, are, often for the first time, excavating the mid-late ’80s period, when Chicago House and Detroit Techno emerged (finding far more love at the time in the UK and Europe, than in the country of its origin).
ARTIST: ARCTIC MONKEYS
ALBUM: WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT’S WHAT I’M NOT
This Sunday (October 7th) at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. If it’s not possible to make the allotted time, hopefully you can join in at your convenience at some point during the following week. See update here:
Last month I was over in Chicago chilling out in my hotel room ahead of my first gig in the city, at Smart Bar, a venue with a rich tradition, which opened back in 1982. Chicago is, of course, along with Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, revered as a key US city when it comes to the evolution of dance culture (and, indeed, black culture, with, way before House, a deep heritage in Rhythm & Blues, Blues and Jazz, dating right back to the ‘great migration’ of black workers from the southern states, beginning just over 100 years ago).
Just wanted to give you a heads-up on the new Electronic Magazine, the first issue of which was recently published. The brainchild of Push, who edited Muzik between 1995 and 1998 (having previously been a writer for Melody Maker), Electronic could be described as a Mojo for the electronic generation.
Whilst DJ obsessives in this country could tell you the minutia with regards to New York’s celebrated club culture of the ’70s, I’m often surprised to find that they know precious little about what was happening here in the UK at the same time David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Larry Levan and the other NY legends of the ’70s were bringing Disco to the fore. Maybe they think that there wasn’t much happening here, and that UK DJs were simply following the US lead, whilst, to the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth – go back into the ’70s, before Disco hit its stride, and you’ll find hugely influential figures including Ian Levine, Colin Curtis and Les Spaine in the North, Chris Hill, Bob Jones and George Power in the South – DJs with a wealth of knowledge between them, who made their mark on popular culture here at root level. These are giants, upon the shoulders of which subsequent generations of British DJs stand, whether they know it or not.
One of the sassiest sights of the early ’70s has to be the sheer dynamism of the force of nature that is Tina Turner, with backing singers / dancers, The Ikettes, as they raunchily strutted their stuff on stage to what was the signature song back then for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue – their showstopping rendition of ‘Proud Mary’. I came across this wonderful performance footage of the song on YouTube the other day – not sure where it’s from (looks European), or what year, but it’s a stunning example of one of the greatest live acts of the era kickin’ it up, as outlined in the spoken intro of the song, ‘nice and rough’. Forget all the talent show impersonations – this is the raw-assed real deal:
161 posts on, it’s 2 years today since I launched the blog.