This is a first of a few pieces that I’m going to post to celebrate the birthday of Andrew Weatherall. There was a thread on The Flightpath Estate Facebook page last year, where someone threw the gauntlet down – typing something like “Hey Rob, you did all of those dub tribute mixes, any chance you compile all of Andrew`s soul, jazz and funk?” (!?!?!) With a whole lot of able assistance from Jeff Beckett and Martin Brannigan, – and all the other folks in the online group who share their knowledge and memories – I set about picking that gauntlet up. Trawling through magazine articles, interviews, mixes, play-lists, and sample sources, looking for Weatherall mentions and spins, ending up with a roll call of about 150 records, around 90 of which I just happened to own. It goes without saying that I was a hardcore fanboy for quite a good while… and that it was a pretty fucking formative time.
For someone like me, fascinated by history, that was the fun part – cross-referencing all these compiled scraps, making of note of tunes that stayed the test of some 3 decades. The gems that might have ended a set at Venus in 1990, and still found their way into a Rotters Golf Club broadcast – see Ananda Shankar`s cracking cover of The Stones` Jumping Jack Flash. Putting the mixes together was the hard bit. I have to be honest, `fess up and say that when I listened to them back I felt like a bit of a fraud. They are, or at least to me seem to be, a smashing together of a handful of already existing sets – namely Andrew`s essential The Music That Made Screamadelica BBC 6Music show, a damn fine funk-fueled CD, entitled The Chairman’s Choice, that Andrew made as a giveaway for the opening night of Heavenly`s bar / club, The Social, on Little Portland Street, in June 2001, plus a cassette called Weird And Funky World – full wonderful library obscurities, that Weatherall whacked together for a car journey to Liverpool – with Soft Rocks` Chris Galloway at the wheel – in 1998 / 1999, and then there`s Chris` own heartfelt homage, One Horse Shy In A One Horse Town. It should be noted that Chris is the expert, since he sold Andrew a good chunk of the tracks compiled. Also there were some treasures synonymous with the big man that I couldn’t manage to fit in. How could there be no Shuggie Otis?
Most of sides on this first installment though are culled from the Kiss FM “Giving It Up” sessions, that ran during 1993 and 1994. I`d sit up with a bottle of wine, and my head phones on, fingers fumbling between “record” and then “pause”, attempting to edit out the ads and news. It`s those recordings that form this one`s backbone. Storming stuff like The Moonlighters mad, guitar-driven Funky Moon Meditation, and Idris Muhammed`s jazzed-up, solo-stuffed, syncopated take on James Brown`s Super Bad. There’s Clarence Paul & The Members` clipped, “chicken-scratched” Operation Breadbasket, and Marlena Shaw’s low-slung simmering, angry justice-seeking joint, Woman Of The Ghetto. Barry White`s bumping Midnight Groove. The Barkays` harmonica honking Street Walker. Marvin Gaye`s T Plays It Cool is a bit of a fudge on my part. Andrew actually played Bobby Konders` Heads – which only samples Marvin – but back then, once I`d located the source I usually shifted the record that borrowed from it. These old, and often fucking rare, funk tunes were squeezed into late night selections surrounded and sandwiched by largely brand new sides of dub, hip hop, techno and trance. Thirty years later, they still have me wondering where on Earth, pre-internet, did Andrew find all this vinyl?
A handful of tunes come from that Heavenly “compilation”. Booty People`s Spirit Of `76, a call and response cry for unity and revolution. Rosko`s Peacemaker is an almost disco lick of Strauss` Also Sprach Zarathustra, that’s either describing a cross between Shaft and Superman or Robert Oppenheimer`s “deterrent” / destroyer of worlds. I can`t quite decide – too much horror and war on my mind right now. Bobby Rush`s Mary Jane is a morning-after-the-night-before blues dedicated to the devil`s weed, Mother Nature’s magical 13th letter. Joe Quaterman & Free Soul provide punchy positivity in the form of Find Yourself. The 20th Century Steel Band`s Heaven And Hell – an old school Ultimate Break and Beat – is a sublime shot of `70s social commentary.
I’ve segued in a smattering of ID`d samples, such as Timmy Stewart doing the mashed potato through Gershwin`s standard, Summertime – a rollicking righteous roll of the Rs to rival Jackie Wilson`s Reet Petite that was half-inched by Andrew and Hugo for the climax of the Cabin Fever remix of Galliano`s Skunk Funk. The Emotions` I Don’t Want To Lose Love feels so poignant now, and always has these old eyes watering. Packed with memories of dancing to Loaded, while “loaded”, singing, shouting, screaming, its chorus at my then lover. Smiling, beaming, shaking my Charles The First mane. Them laughing back at me, loudly. With Andrew`s passing those innocent daze just seem all the more, well, gone.
There’s cool conscious gear like The Impressions` Check Out Your Mind – spun in an infamous festive season radio “lock-in”, again on Kiss, where Andrew was joined by Primal Scream`s Bobby G. The two of them getting progressively more wasted, and their selections spirally further and further away from the station`s remit and ravers demographic, until they were playing Patti Smith and Johnny Thunders. On the way stopping off to include Freddie Scott’s Southern soul stomper Am I Grooving You?, Tyrone Davis` smooth, swooning mover, Turn Back The Hands Of Time, and Gene Chandler’s Groovy Situation. The latter two tunes being prime examples of loved-up Acid House backroom “Balearic Beats”. The dynamic duo also dug out The Chi-Lites stonking Stoned Out Of My Mind. Matey, I absolutely adore this tune, particularly its clever, cliche-free lyric.
From Chris` tribute there’s the proto-P-Funk of Undisputed Truth`s UFOs, while Dede Soul & The Spidels` Soul Chills was something we know that Andrew added to the menu at a Soul Jazz Saturday Night Fish Fry, and which begs the question, were any of those shindigs recorded? People at Sounds Of Universe, if you’re reading, please say yes.
While the optimism of the closing cut, The Five Stairsteps` Ooh Child – one of the treasures to be found in Andrew`s Black Notebooks – might now be tempered, and forever tinged with more than a little sadness, this mix is meant as a proper celebration, a party-starter.
Billy Stewart – Summertime
Hank Marr – The Out Crowd
The Moonlighters – Funky Moon Meditation
Clarence Paul & The Members – Operation Breadbasket
The Impressions – Check Out Your Mind
Rosko – Peace Maker
The Emotions – I Don’t Want To Lose Your Love
Tyrone Davis – Turn Back The Hands Of Time
Undisputed Truth – UFOs
Idris Muhammed – Super Bad
Chi-Lites – Stoned Out Of My Mind
Bobby Rush – Mary Jane
Freddie Scott – Am I Groovin You
Booty People – Spirit Of 76
Dede Soul & The Spidels – Soul Chills
Latimore Brown – Boogaloo Sue
Sir Joe Quarterman – Find Yourself
20th Century Steel Band – Heaven & Hell
Marvin Gaye – T Plays It Cool
Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto
Love Unlimited Orchestra – Midnight Groove
Benny Gordon – Give A Damn
Barkays – Street Walker
Gene Chandler – Groovy Situation
Five Stairsteps – Ooh Child