Eclectics has been going now for around five years, during which time the imprint has branched out from digital to physical releases, and thrown the odd cool, bespoke, party. I first bumped into label founder, Grant Williams, over three decades ago, while we were both Flying at The Soho Theatre Club. My contribution to Eclectics expansive mix series is just a bit of fun really. A bashing together of bargain bin bits, a collection of 12s found hiding in second-hand store dollar / pound / 300 yen racks and shelves. A lot of it is dated – of its day. A dilly dally down to the most cobwebbed corners of memory lane`s dance-floor then, and perhaps for Balearic completists only…
Wendy & Lisa – Staring At The Sun (The Orb & Youth Mix) – Virgin – 1991
I bought a copy of Kris Needs and Alex Paterson`s book Babble On An Ting. Predictably I went straight to the discography at the back, and – a big fan of The Orb – looked for holes in my collection. This was something that I never knew about. Willfully wrong-footing ravers with an intro of birdsong, soundsystem samples and rapid, rattling, techno percussion, the tune eventually drops to a levee breaking beat, and surrounds the post-Revolution Prince proteges with sitar strains and uplifting piano. It`s a sort of more strung-out sibling of Zoe`s Sunshine On A Rainy Day.
Pato Banton`s Beams Of Light was another Orb excursion that was new to me. An “ambient-not-ambient” (see their take on Paradise X for a point of reference) collage of looped field recorded tribal drums and chants. Shot out to Tranquility Base, and teasing with flashes of tumbling breaks, before hitting a final mad harpsichord solo. I can picture Alex and Youth in the studio, giggling. Stoned to say the least.
Lomax – Waiting In Vain – ZTT – 1991
Last year, Light In The Attic released the Leslie Winer retrospective, When I Hit You – You’ll Feel It – and already a little obsessed, I tried to track down everything Leslie had done. Leslie was the largely uncredited creative force behind Lomax, a band fronted by her partner Kevin Mooney – ex of Adam & The Ants. Trevor Horn co-produced this Bob Marley cover, which sets acoustic strumming to a bogle worthy of Shabba Ranks. The highlight is Leslie’s husky prose.
Tin Star – Viva (Sherwood Dub) – V2 – 1998
A completely random find. Since postage rates have sky-rocketed, whenever I make a Discogs purchase, I try to add stuff to a package, in an attempt to justify the cost. This means searching the seller`s catalogue with certain terms, one of which is “Sherwood”. Tin Star is a football chant fueled dub, somewhere between reggae and trip hop, from a group that featured a former Sister Of Mercy. It`s a cheap-as-chips chugging production from the ON-U Sound main man, peppered with sonar blips and mock melodica, rocked by rimshot ricochets galore.
Blow Monkeys – The Love Of Which I Dare Not Speak – RCA – 1988
Interviewing people always, always, leads to new discoveries. This came from talking to Dr Robert. A prophetic piece of proto-“baggy”, pukka programmed funky folk, from the WAG Club regulars – Dr Robert shared a flat with WAG DJ Hector Heathcote. The lyrics are a characteristic mix of passion and politics.
Richard Norris had a great story to tell about he and Dave Ball`s remix of Eno`s Ali Click – how the spoken word sample they used was so expensive to license, but that Brian loved it so much that he said, “Leave it in.” The Grid get chunky – a la Weatherall “totally destroying” Deep Joy or the Kwanza Posse remixing Les Negresses Vertes – while Eno does his best Dieter Meier.
Taboo`s Hypnotique is treasure that came from Justin Robertson`s Spice top ten.
Sean Johnston recommended William Orbit`s dub of Shakespeares Sister`s Run Silent – twitching and flickering, the song reduced to a mantra, and the track not a million miles from William`s own Fire & Mercy.
Speaking to Paul Doherty revived Djum Djum`s Difference – a real Balearic beat from 1990 that still kicks. Maybe over-rinsed at the time of release, it feels irresistible again now. Shot through with a sort of innocence, and memories of saucy summer holidays / daze. It`s clearly the blueprint for Leftfield`s Not Forgotten.
I dug out Jet Free`s Harphead in prep for a call with Hugo Nicolson. While perhaps best known for “ably assisting” Andrew Weatherall, this is one of a fair few boss balearic beats that Hugo created alone. See also Julian Cope`s Beautiful Love and That Petrol Emotion`s Hey Venus.
Leo Mas, who, since I interviewed him around a decade ago, has gone on to be a dear friend, sent me a copy of Edoardo Bennato`s Abbi Dubbi – possibly Leo`s first remix – off the back of Bottin giving it a recent re-edit. It scratches in samples from a whole load of then White Isle staples, including, I think, Stone Fox Chase.
Quite a few of the things here are down to a long-term fascination with Andrew Weatherall. I guess demonstrating the extent of my fandom.* General Public’s Dishwasher, from 1984, is a record that was short-listed for the 9 O`Clock Drop comp, but didn’t make the final cut. A rock instrumental with crunchy guitar and cracking, almost Jesus On The Payroll, piano. It`s worth noting that Mick Jones nearly joined General Public when The Clash, post Combat Rock, fell apart.
Whoa!`s Atmosphere, Ashley & Jackson’s W.I.L.D., and Savannah, are all cribbed from a very early nationally published top ten. The former is unhinged, Loony Tunes sampling housed-up hip hop, a little like early Coldcut, with the E-ed up enthusiasm of Jim & Gene`s Shake. The one in the middle is kinda cute, second summer of love acid house, co-produced by Steve Cobby. Savannah finds Richie Fermie – of Adrenalin MOD fame – getting busy with a Spanish guitar. All date from late `89 or 1990.
Two come from 1993 / 94`s Giving It Up / Sabresonic Kiss FM radio shows. Massonix`s Just A Little Bit More is 808 State`s Graham Massey, with an electro / street soul cover of Barry White. Its riff is instantly recognizable – I think the OG was used in an ice-cream ad, that ripped the piss out Mickey Rourke & Kim Basinger`s fruity, fridge-emptying, 9&1/2 Weeks. It reminds me a bit of a track by Massey`s earlier band, Biting Tongues, the blissed-out, Boys Own-endorsed, I Surrender, and also 808 State`s own Ancodia.
Discositdown is lifted from Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns album, The Final Blow. A Parliament / Funkadelic-like throwdown, with Bootsy Collins on bass, and turntablist touches. A totally unexpected TB-303 turnout.
A Certain Ratio – Love Is The Way – A&M – 1989
The slapped bass b-side of the classic, The Big E (a tune later remixed and re-released as I Won’t Stop Loving You).
16 Bit – Hi Score – Ariola – 1989
Floating a gated Indian sample (very possibly Sheila Chandra) over Clyde Stubbefield`s Funky Drummer break, this is German producers, Luca Anzilotti and Michael Münzing, before they were Snap! Something for my fellow South London “teds” and toughs who partied at The Downham Tavern, where Tony Wilson was at the controls.
Wilsden Dodgers – Gunsmoke Breakout – Jive – 1984
Totally bonkers UK electro that runs to an epic 11 and a half minutes. A mix of Spaghetti Western whistles, and big synths straight out of a Visage record (think Pleasure Boys), that builds, breaks down and builds again. Picked up for pennies when I was researching a piece on Electro for Electronic Sound.
The Beloved – Your Love Takes Me Higher (Simply Divine) – Atlantic – 1989
A Frank Tope tip. I`d never heard this version before – only the Apache-riding Calyx of Isis. With a Larry Heard What About This Love? b-line, and balearic bongos a-go-go, this was a super nice piano-tastic surprise.
*If this sort of thing fascinates you too, do yourself a favour and sign up to The Flightpath Estate.