It’s been great to see Classic Album Sundays, the brainchild of DJ and radio presenter Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, grow from strength to strength since its inception in 2010. In July that year I launched the monthly Living To Music series on my blog, with a classic album selected for the first Sunday of each month and the listeners subsequently sharing their impressions online. On hearing about this, a mutual friend had told me that Colleen was doing something similar in a more intimate manner, sitting down after Sunday dinner to listen to favourite LPs with family and friends – these gatherings evolving the name Classic Album Sundays. Living To Music would inspire Colleen to take a more direct approach, putting on audiophile listening events, the first of these held that October at the Hanbury Arms in North London, initially following the same albums I was featuring on Living To Music, but subsequently branching out on its own direction.
Norman Jay MBE is no less than a UK DJ icon. A first generation Black Briton born into a Notting Hill-based Caribbean family, Norman first came to wider attention via London’s mid-‘80s Rare Groove scene, underpinned by his ‘Original Rare Groove Show’ on the city’s then pirate dance music station Kiss FM, having initially set out his stall via annual appearances at the Notting Hill Carnival, where his brother, Joey, re-branded his Great Tribulation Reggae sound system to the Funk / Disco / Soul-geared Good Times Roadshow.
DJ Les Adams, regarded as one of the UK’s mixing pioneers, died suddenly last Monday of a heart attack – he was 63.
The limited-edition A&R Edits label returns to vinyl after a 4 year gap, the last and 9th release in the series appearing back in 2015 – previous edits courtesy of Henry Greenwood, Derek Kaye, Sophie Lloyd, F.A.M.E, Fingerman, Peza and Twisted Soul Collective. The new release, a collaboration between Henry and myself, couples ‘Disco Mondo’ with ‘In The City’, and is available to purchase here via Juno:
Trevor Jackson is something of a cultural maven whose thirty-plus years in the more underground corridors of the music industry has seen him fulfil a number of catalytic roles – starting off as a graphic designer at Champion Records in the late-‘80s, responsible for the S-Express ‘Theme From S-Express’ and Raze ‘Break 4 Love’ sleeves, amongst many other subsequently. Later a recording artist in his own right (Playgroup), a record company owner (Output) and, of course, a DJ, he continues to do his thing in his own inimitable way.
All 4 of my mixes from this year’s Glastonbury Festival have now been uploaded to SoundCloud. It was great to be back after a 4-year absence, and I made up for lost time playing a quartet of gigs in the space of 26 hours, 3 on the Saturday and 1 on the Sunday.
When I was over in Australia last November I was interviewed by Gilles Peterson for his series ‘The Psychology Of DJing’ as part of the Sydney Electronic Music Conference. It was an interview that covered many aspects of my career, much of which I’ve spoken about on numerous occasions previously. However, there was a different context to this – most of the time the interviewer is much younger than me, so they didn’t personally experience the times I’m talking about and the way things worked back then in the specialist areas of black music, whereas Gilles comes from the same roots as me, part of the next wave of DJs that followed-on from the Jazz-Funk era, when I first emerged on the specialist scene.
Another busy summer approaches, dominated, as ever, by a number of festival appearances, listed below, mainly in the UK, but also in Ireland (The Beatyard) and Romania (Electric Castle). In addition, I’ll be heading over to Ibiza a couple of times, for Glitterbox @ Hi on July 14th and La Discotheque @ Ibiza Rocks Hotel on September 9th.
There’s not much more I can say about John Higgs. He’s been a constant source of cerebral nourishment and emotional resonance during these past 5 years, since I read his cult-classic ‘The KLF: Chaos, Magic & The Band Who Burned A Million Pounds’ (2013). I’ve since been enlightened and entertained by his subsequent books, ‘Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense Of The Twentieth Century’ (2015) and ‘Watling Street: Travels Through Britain And Its Ever-Present Past’ (2017). John has a wonderful way of viewing history and culture, making many connections generally missed – I wrote more in depth about this in a piece about John and his work, when ‘Stranger Than We Can Imagine’ was published, called ‘Culture Reconstructor’:
John Grant, one of the UK’s leading black music DJs of the late-‘70s / early-’80s died last month – he was 71. Apart from his family and close friends, his passing went largely unnoticed – his legacy somewhat forgotten. This is because he retired from DJing in 1981, right at what was seemingly the peak of his powers, completely disappearing from sight as he moved to the South coast, as the legend at the time was told, to become a lighthouse keeper, or, in another version, a harbour master (the truth seems to be that he moved to Peacehaven to work for a Hovercraft company).