Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
I haven’t bought a lot of “new” old music this year so far, but in the last couple of days, 2 very wonderful records have arrived …
Steven Michael Pague – Watch The Ocean Roll / Solarizes – Wonderfulsound 7”s Club 2022
If you aren’t already a member of the utterly fabulous Wonderfulsound Wonderfulsevens Club, then why not? This is the latest release from the bi-monthly subscription series, and it’s instantly one of mine and Balearic Wife’s favourites. The two tracks are taken from a 1980 private press LP, also called Watch The Ocean Roll. These are both beautiful acoustic tunes for fans of folk-funk, yacht-rock, and Balearic beats. Gorgeous piano-led, soulful songs about sitting by the sea in winter as the sun rises. They make me went to wrap up warm and head straight down to Hove beach with Balearic Wife and a cosy blanket, and maybe some booze. Beautifully presented in a gorgeous picture sleeve with a nice little information insert.
Wonderfulsound: DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN!
Sorry, bit of an 80’s advert reference there.
Compiled by Paul Hillery – We Are The Children Of The Sun – BBE Records 2020
Thanks to old Vinyl Exchange fellow counter jockey and music journalist, Steve Yates, for the tip-off about this compilation. I’m embarrassed to say this record wasn’t on my radar at all, but that thankfully I appear to be in a musical minority. Paul Hillery is the man behind the mix series, Folk Funk and Trippy Troubadours, as well as being the tour DJ for The Polyphonic Spree. With those two pieces of information you’ll possibly have a good idea of what this compilation sounds like…but you may not be ready for just how great it is. I have quite a few records right, and I’m deeply into this kind of stuff, and yet here is a triple LP comprising 18 tracks, and the only one I already know is the final track by Guy Maxwell – You Never Sang This Song – which I only recently picked up on the fabulous reissue on Growing Bin Records.
The rest are total revelations to me, and trying to pick a favourite at this early stage – the album arrived yesterday – would be futile. Currently I’m being blown into the cosmos by Ron Drago`s Phase Dance – an incredible guitar instrumental which sounds like Pat Metheny on Ecstasy. Marla Fant provides Land Of Wonder, and all you can do is wonder how this wasn’t one of the best know songs of the `70s singer/songwriter gene, and was instead released only as a private press, after a stint as a singer on a cruise ship.
Scott McGregor Moore’s So Good When It Comes is one of those tracks that as a DJ you wish you’d had in your record box for the last 30 years. Synth drenched, sexy, funk-rock of the most Balearic variety, and that goes for pretty much every track here. It’s a stunningly deep dive into music that has been overlooked by all but the most relentless of diggers. It is superb, and it looks beautiful too, in a stunning gatefold sleeve. Just go and buy it.
Another “Side 2, track 2” special. A ‘Nado classic, and one of Balearic Wife’s favourite records …
Talvin Singh – Traveller (Kid Loco’s ‘Once Upon A Time In The East’ Mix) – Island Records / Omni Records 1998
This is an utterly sublime piece of music. Nestling somewhere between late `90s trip-hop, Café Del Mar sunset vibes, Indian classical music, and as hinted at in the title of the remix, the epic soundtracks of Ennio Morricone, Kid Loco turns in possibly his greatest, almost 6, minutes committed to wax. This record has been played at Aficionado in probably every home that the party has inhabited over it’s almost 25 years, and subsequently, I’ve played it all over the place and continue to do so to this day. Certainly, it was played at `Nado`s first home, Aqua Bar, the venue where Moonboots and Jason were the only regulars. Indeed, I only attended once, to find Jason on his own, playing this record. It was constantly on rotation at Zumbar, `Nado`s first Sunday night slot, and then at other early venues like The Contact Theatre and Poo Na Na, before finding its way onto the decks at Arch Bar. If I had to compile a top 20 ‘Nado classics playlist, this would be one of the first tracks I would think of. It looks so beautiful too. Metallic finish and die-cut outer sleeve, full colour inner sleeve. You’d never get a record company spending that kind of money on a single now. It’s Factory Records-esque levels of excess. The 90s were pretty great really.
There are copies of this 12” for less than £2 on Discogs. Madness.
And another of those “Side 2, track 2” hidden gems that we all chased after once upon a time…
Jody Watley – I’m The One You Need (David Morales’ ‘Dead Zone Version’) – MCA Records US Promo 1992
The fact that this track is now 30-years old boggles my mind, as I can recall so clearly the excitement it caused, and the convoluted path to actually getting a copy. Jody Watley, who initially found fame as a member of Shalamar, released this rather fine slice of pop-dance in early 1992. It had rather nice Morales mixes on it, but they weren’t really our sort of thing. Then someone passed us a tape of Graeme Park playing a then recent Saturday night set at The Hacienda. Not what we would normally get too excited about, but we gave it a listen, and it was indeed rather excellent. Much darker and deeper than we would have expected, I recall it included The Daou`s Surrender Yourself – as well as the stunning ‘Dead Zone Version’ of this.
Adrian LuvDup managed to find out which mix it was, and what 12 it was on, but that didn’t make things much easier in the days before that there internet. Then into Vinyl Exchange came a nice young lad who was jetting back and forth between the North West of England and New York on a regular basis. I think this young regular customer was Andi Hanley, but my fading memory isn’t 100% certain on this. Anyway, said young man was pretty sure that he could get a copy of this promo for Adrian, but he would want £40 for it. This seemed like an insane amount of money then, but Adey said, “Yes.” A few weeks later the chap returned with the promo 12”.
This story seemed to spread like wildfire. When people heard how much had been paid, they said “Wow!”. When they heard the record, they said, “Can he get me a copy?” He got me a copy soon after, and did a steady trade over the next few months. Probably paid for his flights and rent in NYC! Demand kept building, and eventually DMC responded by putting it on one of their subscription only 12s. I’ve no idea why it never got a full release. It`s a stunning track. It still sounds immense.
It was just under 10 years ago that I first heard this wonderful track, and I’ve been hammering it ever since…
Booker T. Jones feat. Rita Coolidge – We Could Stay Together (Glenn Cattanach Edit) – Hot Classic, Issue 6 1987
I shamelessly stole this track from Balearic legend, and all-round lovely bloke, Phil Mison. He didn’t seem to mind, as he’d first heard Mark Seven play it, and had done exactly the same thing. It was the Claremont 56 fifth Birthday weekend rave in the woods. We`d all danced euphorically to Sean P out in the tent, but now it was late, and we all made our way onto the evening`s venue, to be entertained by first Phil, and then the Idjut Boys.
Phil was playing a complete blinder, when out of nowhere he plucked this beauty, dropping the entire track and letting the Hammond intro play. I danced over-enthusiastically and then ran over to him to ask what it was, hurriedly typing it into my phone. Balearic Wife and I were refusing to slum it, and were staying off site in a nearby B&B, so once back in the land of hot showers and clean sheets I began searching for a copy on my phone. Before sunrise it was mine!
It’s a total beauty, a soulful, building, groove of a track. The edit here really improves on the album version, adding space, and sense of propulsion to an already gorgeous song.
It’s not a cheap record, but you get some other great music as well as the excellent Booker T. cut. Both the Love Unlimited Orchestra and Sterling Saint-Jacques tracks are beautiful, spacey disco tracks with a floaty, European feel, and great set openers.
The real added bonus, though, is the wonderful insert that came with it. I’ve included photos. The info about the mixes is great, but the highlight must be the poem. Read it and weep…
It’s Record Store Day this coming weekend…Cue half the world moaning about it, while the other half are really happy …
Grace Jones – Me! I Disconnect From You / Feel Up – Island Records 2014
This was released on Record Store Day in 2014, as a precursor to the deluxe reissue of the seminal Nightclubbing LP. A cover version of a Gary Numan track from his 1979 album, Replicas, it was recorded during the Nightclubbing sessions, after Gary and his bass player, Paul Gardiner, visited Compass Point Studios to work with Robert Palmer on his LP, Clues.
That this had sat unreleased for 33 years is quite something. It’s an absolutely stunning version, managing to defy any easy genre categorisation, and yet spanning several of them. Propelled along by the impossibly brilliant rhythm section of Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare, and accompanied by the rest of the Compass Point Allstars, it’s so good!
On the flip we get the completely peerless ‘Extended Version’ of Feel Up – and not the Danny Tenaglia version that’s misprinted on the very misleading sleeve. It’s pressed on a seriously hefty piece of vinyl and sounds like it. So, for every moan about ‘major label’ this, and ‘picture disc’ that, you do get some seriously great music getting released on RSD. Swings and roundabouts innit!
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.