Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
This week I’ve listened to some dance records – tunes that I’ve played as a DJ which hold some nice memories, a funk favourite, and a fucking belter of a new release …
A day of firsts and lasts …
Sound Patrol – Tripping Among The Stars (A Necessary Journey) – Organico 1994
This stunning track from then breakout Chicago DJ / producer Derrick Carter sounds as beautiful now as the day I bought it in 1994. I want to say that it was a bright spring day, but it could have been autumn. It was sunny and fresh, which narrows it sown to around 6 to 7 days in Manchester. It was a Thursday, and I worked the morning in Vinyl Exchange, but finished after lunch, as I was off to London for a gig that evening. It would be the one and only time I DJed at The Ministry Of Sound.
As was usual then, I popped over the road to see Richard Moonboots – to see if there had been anything exciting in Eastern Bloc in the last day or so – before heading home to get ready. At this time in my life, I spent pretty much every lunchtime in one of the many record shops in Manchester’s city centre, but at least 2 or 3 times a week I’d pop I to E-Bloc to see what Richard had to recommend. On that sunny day, he sold me this. He might have sold me some other records as well, but this is the one I remember buying. When I got it home, I played it maybe half a dozen times as I got my stuff together. I was mesmerised by the opening track.
Anyway, off I trotted to London for the gig. I was booked to play in the bar area, opening up for Paul “Trouble” Anderson. If I remember rightly, the Ministry Of Sound was hosting a massive drum and bass night called Rampage – I might be wrong here – but we were playing house music in the bar area as some respite to the intensity of the main room. Paul was legendary at that point, but I’d never heard him play in the flesh, and this was the only time I ever met him.
I was used to warming up the nights we hosted in Manchester on a regular basis, with Home in Ducie House being a pretty large room, and I really enjoyed playing that kind of set. As I knew what sort of thing Paul had a reputation for playing, I kept it quite deep and melodic, and thought Tripping Among The Stars would be a perfect track to end on. I knew it was long, as I’d played it loads that day, but I had no idea actually how long. I guessed at about 10 minutes, so with 10 minutes of my set to go, I brought the track in, really excited to be playing this gorgeous record I’d only bought that morning. Imagine my horror 10 minutes later when Paul was ready to start playing and the record was only halfway through! I apologised to Paul, explaining that I’d just bought it that day and hadn’t guessed how long the track actually was – it’s about 22 minutes!) – and said please feel free to cut it off early. Paul said, “Nah man, no problem, it’s a beautiful track”, and he must have let at least ¾ of the track play before seamlessly mixing into it. As I took the record off and put it in its sleeve, he turned to me and said, “Nice set man”.
That was the one and only time I played at Ministry Of Sound, the only time I met and DJed with Paul “Trouble” Anderson, I`d bought this wonderful record – which I still play all the time. To paraphrase Ice Cube: That day was a good day.
California’s nice huh?
One Dove – White Love (Psychic Masturbation mix by Scott Hardkiss) – FFRR 1993
I did an interview with Rob here recently, and as a little addendum to the interview I came up with a shit load of charts, covering a couple of different periods of my past. Lots of this covered the early `90s when I was DJing with LuvDup in Manchester, and everywhere else. As is my disposition, I didn’t just trot off a “Top 10” – oh no! – I gave him lists of tons of records from that era. And it got me digging around and listening to old records that I used to play, many of which I had subsequently sold. I can honestly say, some of those records I’d let go were great then, but I really didn’t miss them, and listening again on YouTube, I could happily live without them. Some however, really started to get under my skin again. Why the hell had I sold them? They still sounded amazing. This was one such record. I know why I sold it. Hardkiss stuff had become very collectable / valuable, and I hadn’t played it in many years, and I didn’t think I’d miss it. Turns out I did though. It was a bit of an anthem for me back then, in no small part because so few UK based DJs had a copy of this mix – it was only on a limited US promo double pack – remember the days of the promo double pack kids? – and so the reaction it got was usually pretty special. Plus it manages to do something quite difficult – take a slow, beautiful, dreamlike balearic pop song, that would have been relegated to backrooms or pre-club warmups, and transform it into a peak night, reach for the lasers, beast of a track! Anyway, we are now reunited, and I’m having a wee dance round my living room and Balearic Wife is asking me to turn it down!
Postscript: Since my original post on Instagram an old customer in Vinyl Exchange got in touch. He bought my original copy when I’d sold it all those years ago, and he still had it. He sent me a photo. It was nice to be reunited fleetingly.
I can’t seem to get enough …
Charles B – Lack Of Love – Desire 1988
This is one of those records that’s so perfect in every way that it still sounds immense and timeless 33 years after its release. I think I first heard Charles B`s Lack Of Love at the Zap Club in Brighton. I first moved to Brighton in late September / early October 1988 to go to art college. I recall on the second day there was a student fair with stalls from societies and groups: both The Zap Club and The Escape Club had stalls! I got free memberships and if I remember correctly the Zap people also gave me a 3D badge of a blinking eye! I went the following night – a Wednesday – for the first of many visits. There were a couple of good midweek nights I used to go to – one called Frenzy – it might have been spelled “Frenzee” – which was predominantly acid house, nu-beat and Detroit techno – and another more balearic one. I could have heard The Lack Of Love at either of them – maybe even at The Escape Club – it’s all a bit hazy! I would have been wearing a smiley t-shirt, or polka-dot shirt, with a fetching florally embroidered waistcoat over the top, and oversize second-hand 501s.
The next time I recall hearing it was in 1992. A few of us – the LuvDup posse! – had gone over to Liverpool to a club called Smile – which may have in some way evolved in Cream, I’m not sure – where London’s Fabio Paras was the guest. He dropped it in his set that night and it hit me like a train all over again. Working at Vinyl Exchange meant it didn’t take long for me to pick up a copy. There are a lot of copies of this record in Manchester. Oddly, it’s a British recording. Adonis must have been in the UK for something. His records are released on Desire here. Gary Wilkinson engineered it – he did all those Farley & Heller tracks I think – and Mark Saunders – from Bomb The Bass, etc. – mixed it.
It has pretty much never left my DJ record bag since. It’s just a massive, massive sounding record. Really full and powerful, and with a great sing-a-long vocal, and that addictive acid bassline. If someone like Dua Lipa or Harry Styles did a cover of this it would be fucking massive! I should have a highly paid A&R job somewhere!
“Roy’s on vibes, and his singing’s right on too. Dynamite!”
Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Red Black & Green – Polydor 1973
That opening line is from the promotional insert that came with my US promo copy. I think it had originally been taped to the front cover – recommending to radio DJs which tracks to play. It’s not wrong! I picked this up from Fat City, the record shop which for many years existed happily next door to Vinyl Exchange. I think it may have been at a stall they were doing at a record fair in Manchester, but I may be confusing the memory. I do know that it was some time in the late 1990s, when loads of US bootlegs of classic funk and jazz LPs had started to appear. The full back catalogues of Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, James Brown and all the rare JBs LPs, etc., were all readily available for less than the price of a normal album. This had a slightly degrading effect on the prices of original pressings of said titles in places like ours and Fat City, and as a result of this, and the slightly less than pristine condition of this particular copy, Darren Laws let me have this for practically a song. Thankfully it plays a damn sight better than it looks at first glance. And what an LP. It`s my favourite Roy Ayers album, although the one he recorded with Fela Kuti is a strong challenger. The promo sheet recommends 4 of the 6 tracks, and I have to say, they nail it choice wise.
The opener is a beautiful instrumental take on Bill Withers` Ain’t No Sunshine, followed by the excellent Henceforth. To round-off Side 1, Roy tackles Aretha Franklins’ Daydreaming with his vibes. For the uninitiated amongst you, vibes is a cool, jazzy word for xylophone – OK, I know it’s the vibraphone, but you tell me the difference! Roy can get a bit “man with a xylophone” at times, but here’s it’s really beautiful. Side 2 takes no prisoners either. The title track is one of Roy’s funkiest, a cut sampled by Del The Funky Homosapien & X-Clan. Then we have Cocoa Butter – more “man with a xylophone” I’m afraid, before the superb Rhythms Of Your Mind, and a stellar cover version of Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Perfect on this sunny Sunday afternoon. I wish the cover of my copy wasn’t so grubby though.
You look good, You look good, Do you look at yourself and find nothing?
Jane Weaver – Flock – Fire Records 2021
I treated myself a bit this week. I’ve absolutely loved the progression of Jane Weaver`s music over the last 11 years. Since 2010’s The Fallen By Watch Bird LP it seems like she’s really gone from strength to strength. Every album has evolved, and although she’s always kept those esoteric and ‘out-there’ influences – from krautrock to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – the song writing just keeps developing, and she manages to beautifully bridge that gap between avant-garde and pop.
I’ve still only listened to this album a handful of times, but with each play something else reveals itself. The first 2 tracks are obviously great, but so far, the opening side`s closing number Modern Reputation has really grabbed me – it sounds like Stereolab at their motorik, synth-drenched best. Side 2’s Sunset Dreams, as well as having the most Balearic song title ever, is a beautiful piece of summery pop, performed with hubby Andy Votel. I was hoping that he was rapping on it or something, but he doesn’t – probably for the best. The whole LP is lovely, but my current feeling is that Jane saves the best till last, with Solarised – going out on a high.
I pondered a little over which version to buy, as there are a few different options, but to be honest, the Rough Trade exclusive had me at “Tip-On” sleeve. Go on, treat yourself. In a right and just world – or even just in times gone by – artists like Jane Weaver and Roisin Murphy would be vying for a spot on Top Of The Pops alongside huge pop acts like Dua Lipa and Kylie. I’m at a loss to understand why that is no longer the case, although I believe this LP did manage to chart in the 20s.