Given the widespread outrage at the killing of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests on both sides of the Atlantic, I thought it might be timely to post up on Facebook some important songs of the past that brought the struggle of black people into the popular arena, especially during the Civil Rights era. All are classics, loved by millions, but hopefully this will offer some context with regards to the times in which they were made and the weight of their subsequent cultural significance. Continue Reading →
Following the recent passing of Manu Dibango and Bill Withers, another black music icon, Hamilton Bohannon, died last Friday aged 78 – the cause of death, at time of writing, still unknown.
We’ve lost another great. Virginia-born Soul singer / songwriter Bill Withers died in Los Angeles on March 30th as a result of heart complications. He was 81.
COVID-19 claimed the life of the pioneering Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango earlier this week. He died in Paris where he had been based for many years, moving there in the mid-‘60s – he was 86.
Following the re-boot of the A&R Edits imprint last year, the latest 12”, #11 in the series, is now available, coupling Italian DJ Moplen’s edit of mid-‘70s Disco favourite, ‘It Only Takes A Minute’ by Tavares, with a collaboratory take on David Joseph’s ‘You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me)’, the result of my 2011 edit of Moplen’s edit of Larry Levan’s 1983 remix of the track, which now finally finds its way onto vinyl.
This was originally meant as my small contribution to last April’s Cerne to CERN continental Happening, where the Liverpool Arts Lab hooked up with the Cosmic Trigger crew for a magic bus ride into the beyond (in this case Damanhur in Italy, before crossing the Swiss border on route to Geneva to head to the site of the CERN collider).
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).
In the summer of 1978, when I was 18, I went out to Denmark and then onto Norway, plying my trade as an ‘International DJ’, having secured bookings via I.D.E.A. a Copenhagen-based agency specialising in bringing British DJs out to Europe on monthly contracts – of which there were many, Norway seemingly invaded in the process, the English language deemed authentic with the microphone still a DJ essential. Having stopped off in Denmark (via Holland and West Germany) I’d taken the car ferry across to Norway. I wasn’t supposed to head to Skien, the small Norwegian city I ended up in, but after arriving there the police had searched my car on the docks, undoing bits from under the bonnet but not putting them back, which caused problems for someone of my limited ability when it came to the workings of an engine. As a consequence, 50 miles on my car broke down on route to the North of the country, resulting in my agency hastily re-arranged things so I could play somewhere closer to hand while my car was repaired. So, by fate or accident, Skien by default became my destination, initially playing a few times at a venue called Galaxi, whilst I waited to start a one-month residency at a club called Lines (pronounced Lena’s).
The Queen is dead. Aretha Franklin, born in Detroit 76 years ago, and destined to be acknowledged as ‘The Queen Of Soul’ following her late-‘60s breakthrough, was the daughter of minister C.L. Franklin, developing her vocal prowess in the church, before embarking on a secular career in 1960, when she was 18.
I received a copy of the new Late Nite Tuff Guy remix 12” through the post recently. Issued by Salsoul, the classic New York label that unleashed numerous dancefloor gems between 1974-84, including the very first commercially available 12”, ‘Ten Percent’ by Double Exposure (1976). LNTG’s 12” included another Double Exposure favourite, ‘Everyman’, plus ‘Dr Love’ by First Choice, both of which have been huge for me, having received digital copies in the last couple of years – ‘Everyman’ topping my ’20 Choice Edits & Reworks’ selection for 2017, whilst ‘Dr Love’ featured on the 2016 list: