I’ve gone on record before, admitting that I’m certainly no house head, and I`ll hold my hand up now to selling tons of 90s vinyl once the 2000s hit. However, in preparation for yesterday’s interview, I took a look back at the 12s that I’ve kept. Another ton of it bears the credit produced, remixed, or edited, by Ashley Beedle. Here’s a very personal top 10, in chronological order…
Black Science Orchestra – Where Were You – 1992
Opening with those enormous, emotional, strings – my arms for sure would have been held aloft – and my mind then blown when Ashley finally reveals their disco heartbreak source. A dynamite, dramatic, deconstruction of The Trammps` The Night The Lights Went Out – an ode to New York`s famous 1977 blackout – which according to myth boosted the city’s birth rate. Led by Mr. Beedle, the Black Science Orchestra tug and tease elements of the OG about a relentless electronic b-line – urged and pushed on by parp-ing brass. At the time I`d – obviously – never heard The Trammps` track. Education was a big part of BSO`s “work”. See also their re-renderings of Billy Paul’s Only The Strong Survive and Wood, Brass, & Steel`s Funkanova. These records made me go seek out the originals.
X-Press2 – London Xpress (The Journey Continues) – 1993
Absolutely bonkers. A mad London make over of DJ Pierre’s wild pitch – this is house born of balearic. A snippet of The Stones sympathy, percussion like hammered typewriter keys, Psycho strings and sirens a la Mantronix` King Of The Beats. From the first bars of crazy cowbell it induced mayhem everywhere, every time. Built around a simple bass throb and snare, the shouts of “Raise your hands!” alluded to allegiance with anthems by Bocca Juniors and Marshall Jefferson’s The Truth. The horns cut in like a Lichtenstein “Pow!” As Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice once said, “Enthusiasm undiluted.”
Gerideau – Take A Stand For Love (X-Pressive Vocal) – 1994
Ashley, alongside Darren`s House and Rock, accompany New Jersey singer, Theo Gerideau, with large, LARGE, loved-up swells and soothing, serene, sustained strings. Mixing musical medicine that elicits a warm, warm, feeling. You know that sensation, where you’ve been dancing with strangers for a good 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, hours straight, and you suddenly open your eyes, suddenly find yourself surrounded by likeminded souls. Love, of course, being the only thing worth taking a stand for.
The Ballistic Brothers Vs. The Eccentric Afros – Blacker – 1994
“Melting pot” is a super cliched, overused, and lazy term….but Blacker really is the sum of so many parts. Effortlessly simmering down soul, jazz, house and hip hop. Sampling the righteous Gil Scott-Heron. It`s a history lesson on wax, and sort of encapsulated the open-minded, open-armed, open-hearted, eclecticism of the day. When Blacker was remixed in 1997, they stuck “4 The Good Times” next to the title in brackets – and listening now, with hindsight, damn that`s right. Even pretending for a moment that there were no pandemic, things seemed so much less complicated then – back when I didn’t feel responsible for anything, rather than everything. Pure sonic summer sunshine.
Ballistic Brothers – A Beautiful Space – 1995
Lifted from the London Hooligan Soul long-player, A Beautiful Space, is indeed…beautiful, and in my semi-retirement of chill out rooms and sunset sets, it still gets very regular spins. Uschi Classen`s big, kinda modal, piano chords – like a sedated Song For My Father – floating amidst gentle percussion, hushed West Coast / Beach Boys harmonies, Spanish guitar, and sultry `80s art house movie sax. It was the first tune out of the bag when I played in tribute Jose Padilla last autumn, at Tokyo`s rooftop Two Rooms.
Blue Magic – Welcome To The Club (Black Science Re-Edit) – 1999
Ashley isolates some sweet Philly soul from Blue Magic’s 1974 debut LP, trapping a slice of electric piano and funky chicken scratch guitar – looped in a locked groove. When I put this on at +8 I swear it sounded like something on Transmat – my teacher now showing me where techno came from. It wasn’t until I read Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton`s book, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, later the same year, that I learnt that Welcome To The Club was a Ron Hardy Music Box staple, and that this edit, Ashley`s homage to one of house`s foundations.
Isaac Hayes – I Can`t Turn Around (King Chocolate’s Memphis 2 Chicago Re-Edit) – 2001
I have vivid memories of playing this edit, hi-jacked from Isaac Hayes` Chocolate Chip album, upstairs in the Medicine Bar, in Shoreditch. Close friends and collected “music biz” associates – DJs, record shop and record label owners – who were sort of shuffling about by the decks all suddenly nodding in recognition when Ashley ditches the song to demonstrate, again, the origins of disco`s revenge. Taking a hypnotic bite of brass and tambourine from Isaac’s horny coda and working it expertly into a totally new track.
The Streets – Weak Become Heroes (Love Bug Vocal) – 2002
It`s not possible for me to put into words just how brilliant this is. For me it feels twinned with Flowered Up`s Weekender. I don’t think anyone has pinned “rave” so perfectly, poignantly, and poetically as Mike Skinner does here – it honestly takes my breath away. Ashley`s production is a piano and string-driven celebration – harking after classics like Ce Ce Rogers` Someday, but pitched up to suit the pitched up times – dancing with those “Darlings on charlie”. It sets my spine tingling as I remember that sense of unity, when we would all smile, when we would all sing. If you don’t understand, then you don’t know what you missed.
Kenny Lynch – Half The Day’s Gone And We Haven’t Earne’d A Penny (Throwback Vocal) – 2020
To be honest, I could have picked any of the recent brilliant North Street West remixes -Lady Blackbird`s Beware The Stranger, Groove Armada`s We`re Free – but there`s something about this song that really gets me. The remix was released on one of last year’s record store days in memory of Kenny, who sadly passed away in December 2019. The OG was a big, big, soul hit – with the chorus girls singing in French, to affect sophistication. Kenny was part of a very British version of Sinatra`s Las Vegas Rat Pack, together with Liverpudlian comedian, Jimmy Tarbuck, and this allusion to the “high life” extends to the record sleeve – babes in bikinis drinking champagne – compromised by the dirty swimming pool, and the cloudy overcast London, East End, sky – Kenny hailed from Stepney. I suspect that this “Playboy chic” was all tongue-in-cheek. Ashley and studio partner Darren Morris respectfully keep the original `80s electro-boogie-lite squelch, add Darren`s rolling house keys, and completely remove all the cheese. It`s something about Kenny’s line, “Life is more than money.”
The Space Between – Ghosts (Black Science Orchestra Remixes) – 2021
The string stabbed original of Ghosts is an old school New York tribal pounding over which Jungle Wonz` Harry Dennis waxes lyrical visions of past jazz greats – lamenting – “Stepping into the light” – of their musical legacy. His delivery a combination of Gregory Porter`s 1960 What? and Those Guys / Ras Baraka`s An American Poem. Sampled horns and keys adding to the swing. For the remixes, Ashley, Darren, and Rob Mello, resurrect the Black Science Orchestra. Their first piece of handiwork honours the legends listed – calming the composition a little, giving the elements more room to breath. Stirring in, swirling almost spiritual, Detroit, techno, details, and extending into an epic highly Black Science orchestrated finale. Their second sounds like the trio let rip and had some real fun. Toying with the horns and twisting them around a funky as fuck Prince-esque wah-wah lick. Boosting the bass to bin busting, blowing, levels. Fleshing things out further with fresh organ grind for the freaks, those into balearic beats.