Words & selections by Balearic Mike.
An electronic classic, which blew my mind when I first heard it…
The Coachouse Rhythm Section (Eddy Grant) – Nobody’s Got Time / Time Warp – Ice Records 1977 / Ensign 1981
I can still vividly remember the first time I heard this record. It was an evening in 1992 and a few of us had headed to Dry Bar straight after work in Vinyl Exchange and Eastern Bloc, respectively. John McCready, one of my disco fairy godmothers, was DJing, so a quick after-work pint became several. I can recall that once the intro to this came belting across the room, both Adrian LuvDup and I ran across the bar to ask what it was. Cue total disbelief from us both that it was an Eddy Grant record!
For context, my experience of Eddy Grant until this point was the string of poppy-reggae-lite hits he had in the UK charts, tracks like I Don’t Wanna Dance and Electric Avenue, which I had no time for at all, although I did love Living On The Frontline which is a total banger. I had no idea of his rich musical past, so this track was a shock! I knew the Rockers Revenge version of Walking On Sunshine, but had no idea Eddy’s was the original, and it was only one of a string of tracks considered classics on the underground New York club scene.
I was however delighted to see that tune was on the B-side of a 1981 Ensign 12”, which could be picked up dirt cheap in the wild back then, and it didn’t take long to find a copy. In fact, it became one of those tracks which I’d regularly find for pennies and then flip for decent money by playing it to someone who would be just as gobsmacked as I had been.
It took me a while to realise that the song had been released 4 years earlier, with a vocal version on the A-side, and this took a bit longer to find, even back then. Keith Richards and I used to race to this same dealer at the G-Mex record fairs, who always had a box of MINT UK 12s. I didn’t beat Keith to the box often, but when I did it was a great day!
I love both versions, but Time Warp probably just edges it. It is just mind-blowing that this record was made in 1977 by a UK reggae producer. It still sounds like the future.
I’m thinking of starting a trip-hop revival…
Bomb The Bass feat. Justin Warfield – Bug Powder Dust (Kruder & Dorfmeister Remix) – Stoned Heights 1995
I was lucky enough to get sent the original promo double-pack of this release in ’94. The track itself is an absolute beauty, and the range of remixes were great. You had the Dust Brothers version for your peak-time dance-floors (the Chemical Brothers actually, but this is before the lawyers contacted them), while my favourite was the beautiful remix from La Funk Mob, Phillipe Zdar’s mellow, downtempo side project. I played this to death in many a pre-club or warm-up set that year. Then they sent out a really nice mix by DJ Muggs of Cyprus Hill / Funkdoobiest fame. All was good in the funky garden.
Then the following year the Kruder & Dorfmeister remix arrived, and at that point I pretty much binned-off all the other versions, because this one is about as close to musical perfection as you can get.
The original mix is already great to be fair. The vocal delivery and lyrics from Justin Warfield are stellar. His solo LP from 1993, My Field Trip To Planet 9, is a grossly overlooked classic. His lyrical flow, though, here sits so beautifully in the mellow, jazzy rhythm track that Vienna’s finest funk masters have constructed, with beautiful touches of analogue synths and the odd 303 gurgle bubbling under the groove. The lyrics refer heavily to William Burroughs` Naked Lunch, a novel I admit I’ve never read. I reckon it has a lot to do with drugs though, and that’s what mugwump jism, and the bug powder dust of the title are. This is a killer slice of druggy, psychedelic hip-hop / trip-hop that sounds as fresh now as it did back then.
On this promo you also got the Dust Brothers remix from the previous release, but they had to change their name, as their success must have brought them to the attention of the American Dust Brothers. When Tom and Ed recorded Song To The Siren, just after finishing Uni, they obviously never really thought about becoming hugely famous.
Here’s a couple of recent releases that are floating my boat right now…
Dina Ogon – Dina Ogon LP – Sing A Songfighter 2021
Although its official release date was sometime last year, I don’t think vinyl copies appeared of this album until this spring. I`d never heard of this band until some nice chap called Andrew tagged me and Jason Boardman in a post about it, saying that he thought we might like it. He wasn’t wrong, so thanks Andrew.
This might well be my favourite LP of the year so far. I can’t stop listening to it. Dina Ogon are a 4-piece band from Sweden, and this is their only LP to date. The band’s name apparently translates to “Your Eyes”, which is a bit creepy. It`s a wonderful, weird, beautiful album of trippy, woozy, psychedelic tinged folk-funk. Ethereal, dreamlike vocals float over minimal, sun-kissed instrumentation, driven along by hip-hop quality breakbeats and jazzy shuffling grooves.
If you were going to soundtrack some disturbing folk-horror film, this would be the perfect soundtrack to the nice but disquieting early part of the movie. Like the first half of that movie, Midsommar, with Florence Pugh, from a few years ago. That said, it`s a gorgeously uplifting listening experience, and is uber-Balearic. I’ve already played the tracks Tombola 94 and Mellanrum on my radio show over the last few weeks, and I’m going to keep playing more until you all love it. Track it down, you deserve it.
Sven Wunder – Sun-Kissed / Variations In Rock – Piano Piano 2022
More from those clever Scandiwegians! What an absolute joy of a record this is! A gorgeous little 7” single, which sounds even more gorgeous than it looks. On the A-side we have the aptly titled, Sun-Kissed. From its opening gentle sitar strums and beautiful brass riff, you’re gently eased into the track, before all hell breaks loose and you find yourself flying off into the stratosphere propelled by this joyous music. Imagine Young-Holt Unlimited’s classic, Soulful Strut, but played by a drug-fuelled supergroup formed of Funkadelic and Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, with additional brass from the Memphis Horns, and that’s a pretty good approximation of what you have here.
On the flip, Variations In Rock provides some heavy duty library-style break-beat funk. Driven along by some granite-hard drums, woozy brass stabs, and wah-wah guitars. It’s also totally brilliant.
I’ve only previously bought one other record by Sven, the brilliant 2020 LP, Wabi Sabi, and have noticed that another track of his was sampled on the recent Czarface album. I will certainly have to investigate more deeply.
Conrad and Dan have a new record out. It’s as bonkers as it is amazing, and I wrote some stuff for the press release…
Idjut Boys – Speedball – Droid 2022
“Droid is a label designed initially for straight up machine-funk, dubbed-out bass-lines and fierce drums – electronic body music to work dancers into a frenzy. If you are expecting to hear disco in any conventional sense of the word, then you`re in for a surprise. From the opening synth of the Full Whip Version, it’s clear that we`re venturing into rarely explored territory. Although the obvious comparison is with the arpeggios heard in Italo-Disco, there`s something stranger and more experimental going on here, and the initial impression is closer to the sounds of German kosmische music, the drama of progressive rock, or the more out there examples of early UK synth-pop – bands like Rusty Egan’s Shock, tracks like R.E.R.B., or Dream Games.
As the track propels itself into orbit at a thousand miles an hour it immediately suggests the spirit and intensity of Ron Hardy’s Music Box. But this is Ron Hardy at his most adventurous – at the point in the night when the dance-floor is losing its collective mind to the music, dropping those deep and wild records no one else had the balls or imagination to play – ike Visage’s Frequency 7, or The Residents` Diskomo. This is dance music pushed to its extremes, and all the more exciting and dynamic for it.
This is music to be played long after dark, in those very small hours when the dance-floor is at its most intense and insane. Whether it’s a sweaty Manchester basement, with a red light, a smoke machine and a killer sound system, the Panorama Bar of Berlin’s Berghain at 4AM, or dancing under the stars in Barbarella’s, Croatia. Think of Klaus Schulze’ cosmic disco epic Macksy, or Harry Thuman’s ecstatic classic, Underwater, but they’re both on a two-day amphetamine fuelled bender, and don’t ever want to stop dancing.”
Hard music for hard times. Thanks for the record chaps.
You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print – personally I think they’d make damn fine record sleeves / disco bags.