The recent Childish Gambino video to ‘This Is America’ provided a genuine cultural moment, reminding us of the long-standing tradition of the protest song, and how well-chosen words (combined with imagery in this case) can pierce us on a deeper level.
Tag Archives | Tamla Motown
I wanted to do something to mark the 50th anniversary of 1967 – a truly magical, myth-laden, musical year when so much changed, separating old from new and leading to a seismic cultural shift, especially via the recording industry – artists becoming increasingly ambitious, with pop music no longer regarded as throwaway fodder for the kids, but the great artistic statement of the age.
Rewinding 40 years, a new double-album had just been issued that would provide the black music event of the year. 1976 marked the emergence of Punk, but my attention, as a 16 year old DJ working at local venues, the Chelsea Reach and the Penny Farthing in my hometown of New Brighton, was very much geared towards the Soul, Funk and Disco flavours of the time, and the release of a new Stevie Wonder album, let alone a double album (which also included a bonus 4 track EP), was greatly anticipated. It was the first UK release on the newly designed blue Motown label, which had replaced the classic Tamla Motown label that had issued all Motown output here since the mid-’60s, bringing the company’s various imprints (including Motown, Tamla, Gordy, Soul and V.I.P) under one inimitable umbrella.
The second edition of my ‘Discotheque Archives’ series for DJ Mag is now online, featuring more landmarks in pre-Rave club culture:
Today 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.
“Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says ‘treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘but, doctor…I am Pagliacci.’ Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”
Alan Moore ‘Watchmen’ (1987)
Just back from a flying visit Stateside, playing consecutive days in 3 of dance music’s seminal cities – Detroit, Philadelphia and New York. The Detroit and New York parties were both really special, but not all ran smoothly, for sandwiched in between the Philly gods conspired against us.
Dug out my copies of ‘Deep Soul Treasures’, the four volume series compiled by Dave Godin, for a recent road trip. Got me thinking about Godin’s evangelical role in spreading the Soul gospel here in the UK.
Rewind 12 months:
“Launched on his 50th birthday, Greg Wilson compiles a celebratory selection of 7” singles from his formative years. Covering the ’60s through to the mid-’70s, when he started out as a fresh-faced 15 year old club DJ, these records embody the soundtrack of his youth.
With running times of approximately 2 hours, the 12 individual monthly parts will conclude in a full day’s worth of music. Having only pre-determined the opening and closing tracks, Greg will select the rest as he goes along, moving in whatever direction his mood takes him at that given moment. The title, ‘Random Influences’, reflects this arbitrary approach”.
For my 50th blog post, I’m going to return to the ‘My First…’ theme that was so well received (‘My First 12”’ and ‘My First X’, both back in July), and ask an even more obvious question – what was the first record you ever purchased (the one you paid for with your own money, rather than it being bought for you – be it 7”, LP, 12”, cassette, CD or even eight-track)?