Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
Another Record Store Day release from the other week …
Jah Wobble – Old Jewish East End Of London Dub / Lovers Rock Dub – Jah Wobble Records 2021
I got quite a nice haul on Record Store Day this year. I picked up 6 releases, and after Prince`s The Truth, I think that this is the one I’m enjoying the most right now. Two wonderful slices of leftfield, off kilter, Balearic dubby goodness. “OJEEOLD” is quite a beautiful slice of dub, and slightly more traditional than the flip, but still with plenty of weirdness courtesy of some lovely melodica, Middle Eastern flavours, sirens wailing, and lively percussion. Lovers Rock Dub is as totally out there as it is beautiful. A haunting piano line is accompanied by a repeated chorus singing “My love will last forever, for you my dear…” which is auto-tuned into oblivion and back again to stunning effect. It`s a really incredible piece of music., a beautiful release, on lovely blue vinyl. Cheers to Nathan Gregory Wilkins for the tip!
Another new record that’s floating my boat in a Balearic fashion right now…
Alex Kassian – Leave Your Life / Spirit Of Eden – Pinchy & Friends Recordings 2021
A big thank you to Danny McLewin for the tip on this one. Although a new release, this sounds like some `80s mystery track from Mark Seven`s classic Horse Meat Disco set, or something from an old Jim Burgess live at The Saint tape – proper 5AM Balearic / disco SLEAZE anthem! The fact that it won’t set you back 3 figures on Discogs will come as a huge blessing, as it’s still available at most good record shops. Leave Your Life (Lonely Hearts Mix) is the one for me, and I’m guessing the title gives away the fact that it samples a chunk of Jon Anderson – from Yes` Owner Of A Lonely Heart. I see a big law suite on the horizon! The ‘Dance Mix’ is a nice house version, which also works really well, and doesn’t lose the feel of the original. On the flip, Spirit Of Eden, is a really beautiful instrumental house track which reminds me a little – chord wise – of Pepe Braddock`s Burning, but with a more relaxed, almost reggae vibe to it…and if that wasn’t enough you also get a Bill Laswell Dub Mix. Another great record, in another great package – the sleeve is a pisser – and it even has on obi strip!
Some more 12”s from the shelves … A is for ACID …
Armando – Land Of Confusion – Westbrook Records 1987
A is also for Armando Gallop, creator of not only one of the earliest, but also greatest acid house records of all time. It’s simply one of the most brilliantly executed, squelching, twittering, disorientating, futuristic pieces of dance music I’ve ever heard, still, 34 years later. It’s up there with Acid Tracks, Slam, Nervous Acid, etc. It repeats the same perfect 303 line over and over, but twists and turns it inside out and back again, for just over 7 exhilarating minutes. I first heard this on Stu Allen’s Sunday night radio sow on Key 103 – Bus’ Dis!, and I picked it up on Jack Trax – The Third Album right at the end of 1987, on a trip to Spin Inn in Manchester. That LP is still hands down one of the finest house compilations ever – featuring tracks by Model 500, Rhythim Is Rhythim, Risqué III, Fingers Inc., Pierre’s Fantasy Club and Phuture, as well as this utter beast. I added the 12” to my collection after starting work in Vinyl Exchange.
Armando made some really excellent records in his painfully short career. He died at the age of only 26 of leukaemia and was still releasing music right up until the end.
B is also for ACID?
Bam-Bam – Give It To Me – Westbrook Records 1988
Not far away on the shelves from Armando, and first bought on that same Jack Trax – The Third Album compilation, AND on the same record label, AND also an absolutely classic slice of acid house. This is much more ‘house’ than Land Of Confusion, and less ‘acid’, although it does still have that incessant 303 – for me one of the best bass-lines in house music – it’s more of a piledriver of a tune, rather than the weird, druggy, disorientating type of acid house record that Land Of Confusion is. It also has sexy “Oh!” vocals, and Chris “Bam Bam” Westbrook intoning “Give it to me” and “I’m a man baby” throughout. Nice!
Chris “Bam Bam” Westbrook was also the founder and owner of this label, which means he was probably one of the few early Chicago house producers not to get royally ripped off. Which is also nice. No word on whether or not he took his name from the character in The Flintstones.
B is also for Balihu Records …
Daniel Wang – Aphroasiatechnubian EP (In The Street) – Balihu Records 1995
Not far from that Bam Bam 12” is my, fairly substantial collection, of records by Daniel Wang. The first part is all the releases on his Balihu imprint, followed by records on other labels. I’ve picked out this little beauty as it was the first record of Danny`s that we all go into in Manchester. You can imagine the panic on our faces noticing that it was actually the third release on the label and wondering why the hell Eastern Bloc hadn’t stocked any of the first two! This is still probably my favourite of his, mostly due to the fact that the final track on the E.P., In The Street, is a monstrous club bomb of unprecedented magnitude. Simply EVERYBODY who had an inkling of a clue about good music bought and played this record to death. I was still DJing as part of LuvDup at the time, and this record would properly go off absolutely anywhere, from the cheesiest handbag house superclub to the coolest underground party. It was big at Bugged Out for Boggy and Rob, and – when it opened the following year – it was played by The Unabombers at Electric Chair. We all also loved the mystery of the record. Pre-internet we knew nothing about Daniel Wang – simply guessing from his name and label details that he was an Asian American, probably from New York, with a deep love of house and disco’s roots. The label notes are genius too: MYSTERIES of HOUSE: What’s that woof-woof sound in “Love Break”? What’s Arthur Russell singing on “Is It All …”? What’s the guy singing on “Cavern”? What are those white girls doing on the Muzique sleeve? Is “Double Journey” both halves of the rec.? If so, then what do you call just the first half? Who was Billy Frazier now, really …?
Block 16 – Electrokution (BG & DW’s Evolusive Mix) – Balihu Records 2003
Block 16 are Ray Mang, Glen Gunner and Pete Z., and they released the original version of this track on Nuphonic Records in 2000. It’s a really nice slice of leftfield electronic disco which I liked a lot. A year or so later, I was at one of Kelvin Andrews` gigs – possibly his residence at The Bomb in Nottingham – and he dropped this remixed version. To say that I almost pissed and shat myself simultaneously is no overstatement! If it wasn’t for the fact that I was a much younger man back then, and possessed excellent bladder control, it could have been very bad. When I came to my senses, I managed to compose myself enough to enquire what the holy hell this incredible version was, and where could I get one. He’d been sent a promo copy from Nuphonic, which contained this remix from Daniel Wang & Brennan Green. I could usually get sent or pick up promos on Nuphonic pretty easily back then, but this proved impossible to find. Dave Hill had none left at HQ, and none ever made their way into Vinyl Exchange. Sadly, Nuphonic went out of business around this time as well. So, I pined away for what seemed like years, until one day it turned up on this US release on Daniels own Balihu label. To say that this is an ‘epic’ remix is putting it mildly. It clocks in at 13 ½ minutes, and every second has something of value happening. It starts like the original, but somehow it seems more like a live band – as though Liquid Liquid have decided to give synthesizers a go! It flows effortlessly into dubby-disco, into tribal deep house, then becomes a dub reggae track, with melodica joining the synth riff. And it seems to do it all in about 5 minutes, although almost quarter of an hour has flown by. Stunning, and I’ve played it on and off for nearly 20 years now. There are copies from €2 on Discogs now … wow!
A gorgeous new record … thank you to Jan Hammered for the tip off
Mario Rui Silva – Stories From Another Time 1982-1988 – Time Capsule 2021
This is wonderful! Just wonderful! Jan sent me a link to the opening track on this and I’d bought a copy before it was more than two minutes in! That said, the opening track isn’t in any way typical of the rest of the LP. Kazum-Zum-Zum is probably the most ‘Balearic’ thing, in a dancefloor sense, on the album. It’s a gorgeous shuffling, chugger, with beautiful vocals, which give it a very Afro – Brazilian vibe. It would be such a huge Cosmic – Afro tune. The whole LP, however, is simply beautiful.
Not to be confused with Portugal’s Rui Da Silva of massive turn-of-the-millennium epic house fame, Mario Rui Silva is an Angolan musician, and this is a selection of tracks from three albums he recorded during the `80s. The music is a fusion of Angolan traditional styles, as well as Brazilian, jazz, samba, etc. It is so fantastically lovely from start to finish. If you are a fan of the guitar playing of Pat Metheny, Baden Powell, John Martyn, the music of Cesaria Evora or The Penguin Café Orchestra, or African music generally, you will love this LP.
Time Capsule have put the package together beautifully, so if, like me, you knew nothing about this incredible musician before, after reading the extensive sleeve notes – on the transparent obi strip and colour insert – and by the time you’ve let the record play, you’ll have some inkling of the scope and importance of the man’s work.
For more from Balearic Mike you can find him on both Facebook and Instagram – @balearicmike. Mike also has a Mixcloud page packed with magnificent, magical, music.