Record Store Day 2015

WNBARB_RSD2015I didn’t go into town for RSD, instead I stayed south of the river, went to smaller, local stores like Rat Records in Camberwell, Casbah and The Music & Video Exchange in Greenwich and The Book & Record Bar in West Norwood (above). Much calmer atmosphere, no crush or crazy queuing, no crowds. I saw some scenes in the centre of London on the day and it looked like Carnival was on. Read what happened to Mr Thing at his set on Berwick St. in the middle of Soho… not cool.

AA_WoO_RSD2015
I went to West Norwood first, got there at 10am, walked in and pulled one record straight away from my list (the Amorphous Androgynous ‘Wizards of Oz’ comp above). No fuss, no crush, no queuing. They also still had records from RSD 2014 in the racks. I will go to Rough Trade at some point in the next few weeks to see what they have but I joined a queue there on RSD about 3 years ago and never again. It’s not for me, I don’t enjoy buying records that way. If people are all looking in one place I want to be somewhere in the opposite direction.
In all on Saturday I did four records shops, only two of which had RSD records, but I got plenty of vinyl, both old and new (plus books, magazines and a CD).

Book2 Book1

Also had time to see an exhibition (Snub 23, see previous post) and meet up with friends and family in the park. A relaxing day that involved going to record stores/shops and helping support them plus the artists and labels. No fretting about whether a record I wanted was going for stupid money on eBay, there’s plenty of time to hunt the one that got away down, I don’t need anything so badly that I have to pay those kind of prices. I should probably also add here, that this is pretty much the same as any number of other days in the year when I go shopping for records rather than making it a one-off.

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Secret 7″ 2015

S715EyesIt’s that time of the year again when Secret 7″ rolls around and shows off its wares to the public before sale day. You know the deal by now, seven bands or recording artists provide a track pressed onto a seven inch record. Hundreds of artists are invited to design sleeves for one of the acts but aren’t allowed any titles on the image.

The records are housed inside their respective sleeves, all one-offs, and the public are allowed to buy them at £50 each, the proceeds of which then goes to charity. You have to second guess the covers if you want a particular song which can be tricky but some are more obvious than others. The two sleeves at the top of the post were lenticular so moved when viewed at different angles.

The venture has expanded this year and moved venues to Somerset House where they have seven prints to add to the occasion now. Another addition is a vinyl cutting booth where you can go and make your own one-off 7″ on the spot, you have 15 minutes to record something and £50 gets your song, message or performance on a unique piece of vinyl. Looking round the designs I saw several that I could quite happily own and there seemed to be different themes recurring: lots of Op Art, many more 3D works, flower skulls popped up at least three times and eyes were prominent. I’ve divided my own snaps into lots: graphic, illustration, Op Art and 3D work.

 

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Record Stores of Soho 1946-1996 map

11082308_871166672942415_1672106194763103349_oFantastic map doing the rounds of all the records shops in and around Soho in London over a 50 year period (click for larger version). It’s no coincidence that last year’s Record Store Day celebrated by holding performances in Berwick Street, perhaps the heart of this map. Read MJ Carty’s blog about the legendary ‘record road’ here. Proud to say I once worked at a store on this street in the early 90’s, Ambient Soho/Worm Interface, right near the bottom, around no.11, close to where Gosh Comics now resides. I must get that added, it used to occupy the old Quaff Records shop site. This map coincides with an exhibition from Leon Parker’s archive which opens on the 11th of April at 2 Berwick Street.

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RIP Leonard Nimoy

Spocks Music From outer SpaceI was sad to hear of Leonard Nimoy‘s death over the weekend. Although I’ve never been a Trekkie his appeal for me was always his voice and I’ve dug out three records from the collection that feature him. The classic is ‘Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space’ album, a direct cash-in LP from the TV show that made him famous. As well as a groovey version of the theme from ‘Star Trek’ it also bizarrely features covers of themes from ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Oliver’ but the gold is in the spacey spoken word tracks were Nimoy shines, especially ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Earth’ and ‘A Visit To A Sad Planet’.

Whales Alive

The second album is a 1987 release entitled ‘Whales Alive’ by Paul‘s Winter and Halley with narration by Nimoy. This is essentially a New Age record with voices of Humpback Whales accompanied by Leonard reading relevant spoken word passages. In the early 90’s I used to play selections from this over my ambient sets, one track in particular, ‘Queequeg and I’ extracted from ‘Moby Dick’, was a favourite. Unfortunately the record obtained a scratch at some point and you can hear it during one of my first ever Solid Steel sets from 1993. Near the end of the piece, just as it builds to a crescendo, Nimoy reads, “as he stood…” and the record jumps back to a perfect loop of the line, as I realised what was happening in the middle of the live mix you can hear me quietly fading the line out.

Illistrated_ManLP

Probably the best known use of Leonard in one of the mixes I’ve been involved with though is the Ray Bradbury ‘Marionettes, Inc.’ story used during the ‘Taking of Pelham 123′ section of ‘Now, Listen’. I can’t lay claim to this as it was 100% PC‘s inclusion and arrangement but it stands as one of the most memorable moments of the mix. Someone has uploaded it to the web and it starts at around the 10 minute mark. I can’t recommend this 1976 Caedmon LP enough being that it contains Nimoy reading two other classic Bradbury sci-fi stories. RIP Leonard.

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Early Mo Wax designs by Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift

MW001_SwiftyLogo
I love some of these designs from the first 20 or so releases from Mo Wax by Ian ‘Swifty’ Swift. I’ve purposely excluded the more well known releases like RPM, DJ Shadow, Attica Blues and La Funk Mob that came to characterize the label later and focused on the less well remembered artists. The first 3 releases had stickers like obi-strips on white sleeves and later they were printed on the covers.

MWx15_front

MW001 MW002+003 MWx15_back MWFlower2TheSun_front MWlogoSwifty MWFlower2TheSun_back

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Record Roulette #16: Rodney Matthews 7″ sleeve illustration

Old Pete front
Found in a London basement this week, my eye was drawn to the illustration on the cover of the 7″ sleeve. ‘Sleeve drawing & design: Rodney Matthews, Plastic Dog Graphics‘, it said. I knew Rodney Matthews from hours spent looking at his posters our hip French teacher had plastered around his classroom in the 80’s, numerous record sleeves and Paper Tiger books. But I’d never heard of Plastic Dog Graphics so I looked it up on his website:

“In 1970, Matthews left the advertising world to form an art partnership with Terry Brace, who was an acquaintance from art college days and had played in the same band (Barnaby Goode) for a while. The partnership was related to a music agency and the two businesses were given the name Plastic Dog (graphics and music agency). The name was a joke at first (family dog!), but eventually became official.

Plastic Dog Graphics specialized in design for the music industry; everything from press ads to button badges to record covers, and what started as a company working mainly for local folk artists on the Village Thing label progressed to encompass internationally known artists via companies like United Artists Records, MCA Records, Sonet Records (Sweden), and Transatlantic Records. Rodney’s first full colour LP cover design was for the German band Amon Düül II (Live in London). It was to be the first of many.”

This sleeve dates from a year later so must be one of his first, but I can’t find it listed on Discogs although the label, Saydisc, is there. The content on the record is first person narrative, dodgy stories of the character Old Pete and his misfortunes, probably similar to a Viz of its day, although way tamer, more like pub banter.

Old Pete back

DJ Food added to the 45 Live roster

DJFood_45L_labelI’m very pleased to be added to the roster over at 45 Live – a collective of DJs who spin 7″ only sets. The site was set up by Scott Boca 45 and Pete Issac (Jelly Jazz) as a hub for booking DJs who use purely 45s as their format of choice in their sets. This is becoming more and more popular and playing at Scott’s 45-Live night in Bristol last year convinced me to jump in. The site aims to also act as a magazine showing vinyl-related stories and mixes, a shop and, later, a label. Check out my profile here.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be ditching the Serato and AV sets by any means, this is more for special occasions where I’ll be concentrating on Rock, Psych, Electronic and Break-led sets like my ‘Magpie Music’ mixes, with as much new material as old classics. It’s a different kind of discipline and doesn’t reply on the ease with which digital files mean that every DJ can have every song they want. I like the challenge of that and, now entering my 30th year as a DJ, a challenge can revitalise you in all sorts of unexpected ways.

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Other Voices 3&4 pre-order from Ghost Box

GBX713and14Steve Moore and two of Friendly Fires join the fray for not one but two volumes of Ghost Box‘s Other Voices series. Jon Brooks once again proves that he never sleeps by teaming up with the two Eds from FF to make the dreamy pop of The Pattern Forms. Check out the trailer video for the B side of Other Voices 03, ‘The Sacrifice’, made by Ed MacFarlane and pre-order HERE

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Food Favourites of 2014

This isn’t a ‘best of 2014′ list – just the things that I liked more than most, they’re not definitive or in an order other than the one I thought of them in.

• New Music:
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia LP (Ghost Box)
Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun LP (Chimera)
Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe LP (Bird)
Heliocentrics & Melvin Van Peebles – The Last Transmission LP (Now Again)
Jeremy Schmidt / Sinoia Caves – Beyond The Black Rainbow LP (Death Waltz)
Jokers of the Scene – End Scene LP (Throne of Canada)
Nico Motte – Rheologia EP (Antinote)
An-I – Kino-i 12” (Cititrax)
The Advisory Circle – From Out Here LP (Ghost Box)
Temples – Sun Structures / Sun Restructured LP (Heavenly)
Andy Votel / Doug Shipton – Polivox Orthodox mixtape (Finders Keepers)
Daniel Haaksman – Duck Rock – A Sonic Essay (mixtape)
tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain 7″ (4AD)
Pye Corner Audio – The Black Mist EP (Front &Follow)
Mac McRaw feat. Audessey & Oxygen – B-Boy Bionics / Dust 12″ (Cold Rock Stuff)
Ukkonen – Change Time EP (Uncharted Audio)
Syd Arthur vs The Amorphous Androgynous LP (Monstrous Bubble Records)

2014 Music

• Reissues:
John Carpenter / Alan Howarth – Halloween III (updated version) LP (Death Waltz)
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Inside the Pleasuredome box set (ZTT/USM) (biased obviously)
The The – Soul Mining box set (Sony)
Z – Visions of Dune LP (Infiné)

2014 reissues

• Sleeves / Packaging:
Astralasia – Wind On Water LP (Fruits De Mer)
Jack White – Lazaretto LP (Third Man)
(Not so much for the cover but for the whole package and vinyl cutting extravaganza)
Joe Mansfield – Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession (Gingko Press)
Andrew Lilies – The Equestrian Vortex 10″ (Death Waltz)
Temples – Sun Restructured LP (Lenticular sleeve) (Heavenly)
Various – Wild Style Breakbeats (7″s + book) (Kay-Dee)
Sage Francis, B. Dolan, Buddy Peace – Epic Beard Men 7″ (Blunt Force Trauma)
Rave Wars 3 – The Return of the Old School (7″ + Star Wars figure) (Balkan Vinyl)
Clone – Son of Octabred (Finders Keepers)
Sculpture – Plastic Infinite
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia LP (Ghost Box)

2014 sleeve art

• Books / Comics:
Prophet – Simon Roy & Brandon Graham / various artists (Image)
B.P.R.D. – Various (Dark Horse)
Punks – The Comic – Joshua Hale Fialkov & Kody Chamberlain (Image)
God Hates Astronauts – Ryan Browne (Image)
Black Science – Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Dean White (Image)
Hip Hop Family Tree 1&2 – Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
Sandman: Overture – Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III (Vertigo)
Discovering Scarfolk – Richard Littler (Ebury Press)
Dust & Grooves – Eilon Paz (self-published)
The Art of Smallfilms – Oliver Postgate, Peter Firmin, Jonny Trunk (Four Corners Books)
Urban Archaeology - 21 Years of Mo Wax – James Lavelle (Rizzoli International)
2000 TC – John Higgs (self-published)
2000ad / Judge Dredd The Megazine – Various (Rebellion)
Moosekid Comics – Various (self-published)
For Whom The Cowbell Tolls – Dan LeRoy (6623) (biased again)

2014_Books_comics

• Films: (I didn’t watch too much this year sadly)
Blade Runner (finally saw it at the cinema)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary with Jodorowsky Q&A
The Cobbler & The Thief with Richard Williams Q&A
Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD documentary with Pat Mills, Kev O’Neill & crew Q&A
The Lego Movie
Ghost Box Night at the ICA
Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys
Jet Propelled CinemaHow Psychedelia Infected Hollywood Sci-Fi at the BFI

2014 films

• Moments:
Touring the 3-Way Mix with Cheeba & Moneyshot
Cosmic Trigger – The Play
Meeting Brian Eno
Kid Koala‘s ‘Nufonia Must Fall’ show at the Roundhouse
Interviewing Matt Johnson at Rough Trade East
Future Shock gig at the Watershed, Bristol with Cheeba & Tom Lumen
Designing for Frankie Goes To Hollywood / ZTT
Space In This Place gig at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London
Welcome To The Pleasuredome playback at Sarm West Studios
Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican with the family
Visiting underground caves in Switzerland
4 deck AV show at Madrid Espacio with DK
One of my sons getting a drawing printed in the Phoenix comic
Ryoji Ikeda‘s ‘Spectra’ installation in the Queen Victoria Park
Adam Ant playing Dirk Wears White Sox at the Hammersmith Odeon
Crazy DJ weekend in Eketerinberg and Samara in Russia
Mike McMahon finally finishing my Dredd commission after 2 years.

2014 moments

• Heros:
Ben Coghill (agent)
DJs Cheeba & Moneyshot
Philip Marshall (designer), Ian Peel (writer) & Steve Bunyan (USM organiser)
Eilon Paz (photographer)
Carlos Ezquerra (artist)
Rob Williams (writer)
Jamie Smart (childen’s comic creator)

• RIP:
Rik Mayall
HR Giger
Robin Williams
Tony Benn
Idris Muhammad
Bob Hoskins
Hope & Greenwood (East Dulwich branch of the sweet shop)

MUSEUM, ALIEN, EROEFFNUNG, AUSSTELLUNG, SCHLOSS

• Looking forward to:
Renegades of Rhythm tour (DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist)
Mad Max : Fury Road
21st Century Tank Girl book
The Writing On The WallRoger Perry book
John Carpenter – Lost Themes LP
Create A Mess
Trevor JacksonFormat LP
The TheHyena soundtrack
Black Channels
Prophet: Earth War
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dust & Grooves book 2nd edition + postcard set

D&G_2_postcardsThe 2nd edition of the Dust & Grooves book by Eilon Paz arrived just before Xmas along with a beautiful set of 48 postcards, both in sturdy slipcases. Of course I’m biased but the quality in these are beyond the usual and when I say ‘postcards’ it’s a bit of an understatement because these large format cards are only one step away from an actual print in terms of quality. I’d be splitting up a great set if I ever actually sent any out into the world – you can get a set here along with the 2nd edition of the book (with extra Questlove interview) here.
D&G_postcards_boxD&G_postcards_openD&G_postcards

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New Trevor Jackson LP – 12 tracks, 12 formats in 2015

Distilled from over 100 tracks made over the last 14 years, Trevor Jackson has teamed up with The Vinyl Factory to release a version of his next album as 12 different formats.

A version including 12″, 10” and 7” vinyl, CD, Mini CD, Cassette, USB, VHS, Mini Disc, DAT, 8-track and Reel-to-Reel will be available in February with standard vinyl and digital editions to follow. No idea on price yet but more info is here.

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People Like Us ‘Dreaming’ 8″ postcard record


Just in time for Xmas Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us has release an extremely limited edition 8″ postcard record featuring her track ‘Dreaming’ which samples from various versions of ‘White Christmas’. The words slowly change in tone, especially when watched with the accompanying video (see link >>). You can buy a copy here, not cheap but these are all hand cut individually on a lathe somewhere in Sweden. Having made a postcard record myself I know that it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying a machine and making my own.

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Rave Wars 3 ‘The Return of the Old School’

Now the circle is complete. Just in time for the launch of the first Star Wars 7 teaser trailer (you may have heard about that) comes the final installment of the Rave Wars trilogy. You should know the drill by now – 7″ vinyl, this time in Sith Lord black or Tatooine orange, packaged with a random character from the original series of SW figures (nothing after ’83). Two rave tracks with Star Wars themes, this time by Luke Vibert and Killa Productions. Available now from Balkan Vinyl – be quick, very limited!

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DJ Food ‘Influences ’57-’92’ mix liner notes


If you’ve arrived here via the Dust & Grooves site feature on my collecting then the following is an in depth explanation of the mix made especially for that article. There will be some duplication with the D&G piece along the way, hopefully there will be plenty more to hold your attention though.

If you’ve not yet seen the feature and the beautiful photos by Eilon Paz then get yourself over there and check out the wonderful site when you have a spare couple of days.

How to make a mix of the favourites from your record collection? Impossible at best for as soon as you start combing the racks for ‘the essentials’ you quickly realise that half of it is worthy and you’re going to have a 10 hour set on your hands. For my Dust & Grooves mix I set myself a brief of picking tracks that had made a huge impact on me on first listen, shivers down the spine excitement, the shock of the new. Mind blowing sounds that somehow influenced me and fed into the mess of musical connections and contradictions that make me who I am today.

I also wanted to present them in the order in which they were released as far as possible thus making a chronological timeline as my listening habits progressed. This was a ridiculous idea and made the whole thing so much harder but sometimes interesting things happen from constraints and that probably says as much about me as any of the records here. Keeping this down to under an hour was also a tough call and sacrifices had to be made, not just losing artists but also in editing down songs – the essence of the essentials if you like. None of these records or songs are rare (with one exception…) and you will most likely be able to pick any of them up cheaply and easily. This isn’t some showboating ‘look at my rarest items that you’ll never have’ kind of mix, it’s about the songs and sounds that have signposted my early musical input and led to later collaborations both musical and artistic.

DJ Food – Influences 57-92 for Dust & Grooves by Dust & Grooves on Mixcloud

We start with an intro from Ken Nordine, presenting ‘Sound Paintings’ and he’ll be returning throughout as a guide, touring the record bins and opening doors to different parts of the psyche. He has a connection to several people in the selection, Mixmaster Morris (who features later under his Irresistible Force guise) first turned me on to him when we first met and I later went on to work with Ken in 2000 on a version of his ‘The Ageing Young Rebel’. When Eilon from Dust & Grooves came to my studio and I started pulling records he immediately recognised the Word Jazz LPs as Dom Servini had shown him the same when he’d visited his home earlier in the trip. So, even though I didn’t hear Ken until 1993, we start with him for Eilon and already the chronological timeline idea is knackered although it is technically the oldest record in the selection, having been released in 1957.

OK, to the real beginning: Kraftwerk‘s ‘Autobahn’, I probably heard songs before this but I don’t remember a piece of music affecting me in the same way this did. Heard from a tape my dad made of the single in the mid 70’s (I would have been about 5) and it stuck with me because it scared me and signals a love of electronic music. Even more so because the band would go on to become so influential not just to me but for so many.

It’s well known that the band took inspiration from The Beach Boys for the ‘fun, fun, fun on the autobahn’ refrain so I paired the two up with a slice of my favourite Beach Boys song (and there are many), ‘Surf’s Up’. I’m not ashamed to admit that this track has reduced me to tears on a few occasions and I was obsessed with the whole ‘Smile’ saga from whence it sprung as the nineties came to a close. Here I have each band dueting, trading lines in the tradition of all the best mixes, two elements that shouldn’t work together but in doing so create a third. Gary Numan was another electronic pop musician who instantly appealed when ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ climbed to the no.1 spot in the charts in 1979 and I followed his career for a good few years afterwards.

The Queen soundtrack to the 1980 remake of Flash Gordon was the first cassette album I ever bought (I didn’t actually have a record player until I was 13) and I played the shit out of that little tape. In the tradition of listening to one collection again and again I got to appreciate the album as a whole rather than cherry pick my favourites. It was paced the same as the film and included dialogue to push the story along and spoken word has always been a favourite component of ‘music’ for me. The same thing propels the intro to ‘Blush Response’ from the score to Blade Runner, the tense meeting of Deckard, Rachel and Tyrell before the release of Vangelis‘ icy, fluctuating keyboard work. Both of these soundtracks signpost an early love of sci-fi film with synthesiser-led scores (the orchestral bombast of Star Wars never really did it for me).

The Human League, although starting out around the same time as Numan in the post punk landscape were beaten to the punch chart-wise by Gary and the cash-in re-release of their first single, ‘Being Boiled’, post-‘Don’t You Want Me’ success was the track that resonated most. That eerie build up with Phil Oakey‘s, ‘OK, ready, let’s do it’ casually left in before Martin Ware‘s gothic Korg 700 bass line comes in. Listen to the voice of Buddha indeed, so great we included it near the start of mine and DK‘s ‘Now, Listen Again’ Solid Steel mix CD.

Eno & Byrne‘s world music collage collaboration has never been equaled to my mind and although I didn’t hear it until the early 90’s it’s tucked in here as it was released in 1981 and dovetails nicely with another world music smash and grab by the white man.

Malcolm McLaren‘s ‘Duck Rock’ album had all sorts of ramifications in my musical landscape, not least because it bought a bastardised version of Hip Hop to Europe with graffiti, scratching, rapping and breaking alongside the Westwood fashion and Keith Haring artwork.

I vividly remember first hearing ‘Buffalo Gals’ on the top 40 countdown and almost being disgusted by the mess of it. As a song structure it just didn’t make any sense at all, seemingly random elements all thrown together periodically stopping to be primitively scratched. My 13 year old brain couldn’t comprehend it at all, I still don’t think it’s a great song but the album it comes from is a giant flagpole for things to come, mainly for the production team of Trevor Horn and the early incarnation of the Art of Noise.
Which brings us to a little Zang Tuum Tumb megamix section, full of synths and samplers, sex and slaves, drum machines and ‘Dr Mabuse’. Art of Noise’s ‘Beatbox’ was the first release from the label in late ’83, closely followed by Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘Relax’ (which only gets a tiny look in here unfortunately). Propaganda‘s debut, ‘Dr. Mabuse’ was the third release and appears in extended form before the title track of Frankie’s debut album gets a truncated turn.

Rounded off by a little gem of an unreleased mix of Grace Jones‘Slave To The Rhythm’ by Bruce Forest of Better Days fame. This is where I show off my digging credentials for a minute, this percussion-less mix for voice and orchestra was done on spec in the early 90’s by Bruce and remains unreleased as yet (although I’m trying). For the full story know that this is an edit of the full version and another exists that reinstates a lot more of the EU GoGo percussion. Both were done from master tapes at the Sarm West studios in London and hopefully one day they will see a proper release.

We’re now in the mid 80’s – a turning point for pop music and also for me as I dove headlong into Hip Hop with a passion for the rest of the decade. Without a pause we jump from ‘the Rhythm’ to ‘the Rebel’ (see what I did there?) and Public Enemy‘s classic squealing sax ‘n’ funky drummer smash. I remember the hairs on my neck standing on end when I first heard that transformer scratch after Chuck D roared, “Terminator X!” (even though it was probably Johnny ‘Juice’ Rosado who made the cuts).

I originally had four PE tracks in the mix, starting with ‘Son of Public Enemy’, the B side of their debut under that name and the first I heard played on the radio. The JB’s ‘Blow Your Head’ moog solo was so alien in Hip Hop and with the formless Flavor Flav freestyle over the top it just sounded even more extraterrestrial. This was excised from the mix along with the Terminator X Getaway Dub of ‘Your Gonna Get Yours’ from the A side of ‘Rebel…’s first release but I did also include ‘Countdown To Armageddon’. The opener from ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’ is in there because I was actually at the gig it was recorded from at the Hammersmith Odeon in London and even briefly met Chuck and Flav outside beforehand. Everyone has a few ‘I was there’ gigs and this is one of mine.

Around the same time a couple of self-appointed dance floor hooligans were showing the yanks that they could play the same game and after the Double Dee & Steinski homage of ‘Say Kids What Time Is It?’ Coldcut kicked the doors in with ‘Beats n Pieces’. One of the heaviest sample-led dance floor demolishers to emerge from the UK up until Depth Charge waded into the fray (sadly missing from the line up here) and, unbeknownst to me at the time, set to play a huge part in my musical journey (into sound) during the next decade.

Rewinding a couple of years to 1985 when I had a revelation the first time I tuned into Mike Allen’s Capital Radio weekend Hip Hop show and amongst the unaffordable US imports I would come to covet was Word of Mouth‘s ‘King Kut’. Featuring DJ Cheese who would go on to win the DMC Championship a year later on the cuts, it was everything I wanted to hear at 15 – beats, rhymes and scratches. Cheese’s cuts were hugely influential for me but he never got a chance to shine much after his DMC win although he guested on many tracks, he received little or no credit and fell foul of bad management.

The Beastie Boys‘Shake Your Rump’ needs no introduction or explanation except to say that most tracks in this mix are just one extract from albums that are cornerstones of my collection and musical education. Several have had to be left out such as De La Soul, Tackhead, Double Dee & Steinski and Foetus because of time constraints and musical shoe-horning for the sake of it isn’t my style. The The had to be in the mix though and I’ve not picked an obvious track for this one, more something that suited the mood and tempo of this particular part of the timeline. ‘Twilight of a Champion’ is from side 2 of ‘Infected’ but I could have picked anything from that or Matt Johnson‘s ‘Soul Mining’ debut. Interestingly the orchestral arrangements on this track were by ZTT artist at the time Andrew Poppy and Art of Noise member Gary Langan mixed a couple of the tracks on the LP.

From here we jump back into Hip Hop with more UK rap from Hijack, giving Public Enemy a run for their money and influencing DJs like Q-Bert in the process with the amazing cuts from DJs Undercover and Supreme. This group were so good they were one of the first UK acts to land a US record label deal, with Ice T‘s short-lived Rhyme Syndicate, whilst they were nurtured by Simon Harris in Britain on his Music of Life label. Note how only a year on from Coldcut‘s game-changing remix of ‘Paid in Full’ they reference it at the start of the track and then rip the needle off the record. So many people started copying the ‘This Is A Journey’ spoken word back then that it got old real fast. Another Brit copping an ear to what the Americans were doing before he moved to the West Coast was Jack Dangers and Meat Beat Manifesto, an early adopter of sampling after starting with more industrial roots. ‘I Got The Fear Pt.1′ from the amazing ‘Storm The Studio’ LP is cut from the same cloth as ‘Hold No Hostage’ being that they both sample from the same source except Hijack beat MBM by a year.

There’s a quick Jungle Brothers a cappella from their criminally undervalued ‘Done By the Forces of Nature’ LP before we hit Acid House territory with Stakker‘s ‘Humanoid’. This is the track were I finally ‘got’ what Acid was about after hearing various bits and pieces and not being too impressed (I was heavily into Hip Hop’s golden age at the time). Also the fact that Brian Dougans – later to become one half of the Future Sound of London – was responsible for this tells you something and I had their ‘Expander’ lined up to go into the mix later but couldn’t make it work.
William Orbit‘s stunning Spatial Expansion remix of S’Xpress‘Hey Music Lover’ follows, search out the full length version as it’s one of the best mixes he’s ever done and a pinnacle of the UK dance music scene of the late ’80s. The Orb had to feature and, were I keeping to the progressive timeline, I would have included ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ or ‘A Huge Evergrowing Brain…’ at this point. Instead I’ve jumped forward a year to ‘Close Encounters’ from their second album as it suits the wind down into the ambience that follows better.

By 1990 I had moved to London to study graphic design and left most Hip Hop behind for electronic ‘dance’ music, the copycat gangsta-isms of Rap beginning to bore me. Madchester and baggy were in full swing but I was more interested in ‘intelligent techno’ as it became known and the emerging ambient scene. The Orb, were central to this along with the loosely affiliated KLF who soon made the jump into the pop charts. The latter’s ‘Chill Out’ LP knocked me out as I’d never heard anything like it spread over a whole album before. It’s pretty difficult to choose a single track from so I’ve just included some moments that stuck in my mind – “rock radio, into the 90’s and beyond” seeming apt at this point.

Another huge champion of ambient music both then and now is Mixmaster Morris aka The Irresistible Force who I met at some point around 1992 and was a huge influence on my musical education for a few years. He played so many artists who are now considered the foundations of the genre to me for the first time. He also gave advice and info including a contact for Matt Black of Coldcut which set me off on the path I would follow for the next two decades. I have much to thank him for and include a section of ‘Mountain High (Live)’ from his unfairly overlooked debut ‘Flying High’ here in tribute. Find a copy, it’s beautiful and this track alone is 20 minutes long.

Since I’d moved to the capital I had access to the newly launched KISS FM station with Colin Favor and Colin Dale‘s techno shows on a Monday and Tuesday night which I religiously tuned in to. This was where I first heard Aphex Twin‘s ‘Digeridoo’ which was like being run over by a steamroller at the time as it was a good 10 bpm faster than everything else. That started a love of his music which continues to this day and nearly rounds out the mix as I’ve chosen to stop at 1992 – a particular turning point in my life as well (a story for another time).

For the final track (the encore if you like) I’ve chosen a song from an artist I’ve held in high esteem for decades and one which most would have assumed should have kicked off the mix rather than ended it. Adam & The Antz’ ‘Zerox’ was the first record I ever bought – four years after it was released it has to be said – and the band were the first I would hold up as being crazy about. From the moment I heard their first chart entry, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, on the radio I was in love with this group as an impressionable 10 year old and as soon as I got a turntable their back catalogue was the first one I collected. For me their early post punk period that this hails from stands the test of time the best and I finally saw Adam live only last year. Ending where I began seemed to be the best option for a 140 bpm punk single rather than try to sandwich it between Kraftwerk and Queen, it’s rightly home on the timeline.

So, that’s a little trip back in time through the tracks that impacted upon my impressionable mind for the first 20 years or so of my life, maybe one day I’ll do an ‘Influences Pt.2′, kick off from 1992 and see what surfaces. It’s funny reading all this and the D&G article back (originally done about 18 months ago) – this is where I’ve been and although I still hold many of these records dear there’s still a long way to go until we arrive at where my head’s at today.
The new edition of the Dust & Grooves book is about to ship out as of writing – you can buy it here.

Factory Road 45 adaptor Xmas cards + GID dinks

It’s almost that time again, you know the one, if you’re organised and on top of things then these will not be left by the time the 25th rolls around. Sarah and Leigh at Factory Road have now added glow in the dark dinks (GIDD?) to their 45 adaptor arsenal (great stocking filler) and have updated their Xmas card range featuring different coloured dinks.

They are also hosting a spoken word poetry performance by Buddy Wakefield in Leicester on Dec 1st at the Silver Arcade. £10 entry gets you in the door, a free cup of hot cocoa and a £5 voucher to spend in the arcade.

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Dust & Grooves DJ Food mix competition

I’m doing a mix for the Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting website to accompany a big profile on my record collection that they’re going to run soon. The mix is based around records that aren’t necessarily rare but that made a big impression on me when I first heard them and influenced my career etc.
I’ve made the selection, I just have to mix it – what I want to know is how well you think you know my tastes?
Which artists will feature? That might be pretty easy for some of you…
Which tracks from those artists might feature though? Bit trickier.
These will be artists and songs that blew my mind on first hearing and changed the way I thought about music.

Whoever guesses the most correct artists / tracks featured gets a mystery bag of records, comics and other bits and pieces I want to influence you with.
Put your answers in the comments below and I’ll pick the person with the most correct guesses after Nov 21st when the piece will be published. You can guess as many times as you want. You might have an unfair advantage if you know me personally but there will be no favouritism :)

Also, if you’re waiting on the 2nd edition of the Dust & Grooves book it’s almost here and they have a nice little boxed set of 48 postcards available to pre-order (which I’m also featured in, see if you can spot the photo in the video). They’d probably make excellent Xmas cards.

‘Inside The Pleasuredome’ – released this week

At long last, after 8 months of work (off and on) the Frankie Goes To Hollywood box set ‘Inside The Pleasuredome’ was released on Wednesday 29th – 30 years to the day from its original debut. Back in November 2013 I was asked if I’d be part of the team that would put together the 30th anniversary set of Frankie’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’ album, for release in Autumn 2014 and this is what writer Ian Peel, designer Philip Marshall and myself came up with.

To put this is context, this was a big deal, a very big deal indeed. Frankie and by extension Zang Tuum Tumb records were a massive formative influence on me in my early to mid teens. The band and label created a phenomena in 1984 which I’ve still not seen the likes of again and, alongside Trevor Horn and his team, the group made some of my favourite pop songs ever.

The album was the most eagerly anticipated of the year and, while being uneven, contains possibly the greatest side A of music ever issued in the 17 minute long title track. The design of the label greatly influenced my own aesthetic for record sleeve graphics although I didn’t realise this until years later and I started the Art of ZTT website as an online archive of the old material which I feel has been neglected in the history of music design.

This set is officially sold out now as it was a Pledgemusic production but I’m told a quantity have been kept back of the 2000 made (never to be repressed) and will be available from some distributors to those who couldn’t pledge due to the restrictions of licensing territories.