Daft Punk are sitting pretty at the top of the UK singles chart for the first time. The track in question, ‘Get Lucky’, taken from their forthcoming album, ‘Random Access Memories’, came as something of a surprise, for instead of hitching itself to the current EDM juggernaut that’s sweeping America, the French duo have completely bucked the trend by drawing their influence from Disco, featuring its most celebrated guitarist, the great Nile Rodgers of the Chic Organisation (as well as R&B vocalist, Pharrell Williams). A media sensation, it’s everywhere at the moment – on the radio, on the TV, in the clubs and, of course, all over the internet, becoming the most streamed new release in Spotify history. It’s already been re-edited by a whole host of DJs, myself, via Richard Lee, included (www.gregwilson.co.uk/2013/04/just-plain-daft/), and is pretty much nailed on to be the single of the summer.
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Exactly 30 years ago today, on 25th February 1983, I appeared on Channel 4’s influential music show, ‘The Tube’, demonstrating mixing for the first time on live TV in the UK – just my luck that the very point I was encapsulated in a cultural moment, it coincided with a brief phase where I looked like an extra from the Hair Bear Bunch, but that’s the way the mop flops. The footage is nowadays fondly regarded as part of British dance heritage, illustrating how the New York innovation of mixing was finally finding favour on this side of the Atlantic, where the microphone was still a key component of the DJs approach. For a full account of how UK DJs gradually put down the microphone and embraced mixing, check out ‘How The Talking Stopped’, an in-depth step by step account of its British evolution:
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).
A whole new generation has come to know Edie Sedgwick via the flawed ‘Factory Girl’ biopic (2006). Dismissed by NY’s Village Voice as ‘Edie for dummies’, the film was widely criticised for lapsing into fictionalization in the name of ‘artistic license’, but there were still many people, unaware of the rumpus, who took it at face value and have no reason for regarding the portrayal of Edie as anything less than authentic. For me this is the curse of the biopic – it’s a quick fix for someone to gain a bit of passing info about someone of cultural significance, so they can tick them off their ‘I know who that is’ list and drop a cool name in the right company, but, as we know, fast food isn’t all that nourishing, especially when what’s in the bun isn’t exactly a burger.