Happy Birthday José 

Today is José Padilla’s birthday. I wanted to do something to mark the occasion, to celebrate the music that José played, and the difference he made. As a wise amigo recently said to me, “Rob, everyone’s a sunset DJ now.” If that is the case, then it’s all the more important that the “King Of The Sunset”, and his legacy, are not forgotten. If you’re getting paid to spin some of your favourite songs as the day draws to a close, then, ultimately, you have José to thank. 

Whenever I have any spare cash, I still buy records that appear on Jose’s playlists. Picking out the weirder things – not necessarily rare or expensive – but the artists that I’ve never heard of, and then the little known tracks by those that I have, the ones that have you wondering, “Why are on Earth are they on there?” So in a very big way, José’s still educating me. When José died I compiled 12 hours of music in tribute, and then last October I did another 90 minutes for Andy Wilson’s Ibiza Sonica show, to commemorate a year since José’s passing.

In prep for producing a new homage, a new mix, I spent a couple of weeks driving around with the tunes, and I was amazed at how well, perfectly, everything sloted together, even when simply arranged, burnt to CD, alphabetically, not selected by BPM or key. I guess that was José’s genius, and something perhaps that folks don’t make enough of a fuss about, that he had such a wonderful ear for music. 

Another thing that hit me, and really moved me, was the film scores – Betty Blue, Castaway, Cinema Paradiso… Personally, these always strike a super nostalgic note. From the mid-80s through to the end of the millennium, I went to the “pictures” a lot. I was lucky enough to live across the road from the beautiful Hyde Park Cinema in Leeds, and we would watch something there at least once a week. When I moved back to London, prompted by a partner with far greater knowledge, I must have taken in every art-house screening there was. Later, my wife and I, when we first met, would bunk off work to catch lunch-time matinees of old classics, at places like the ICA. Re-listening to José’s tapes, got me thinking that I should pay more attention to movies again. 

José had a real talent for identifying true gems from the merely generic. Some of the music, selected below, some of it you might tentatively tag as “trip hop” – downtempo sample-based jazz – or techno, IDM – classic mid-90s electronica – `80s art-pop, or new wave, jazz, fusion, modern classical, or new age. None of the tunes have appeared in my previous tributes. Many of them were purchased after October 18, 2021. I did think about holding some of the songs back – worrying “What will I do next year?” – but anything can happen in 12 months. Nothing, for anyone, is a given. Several of the pieces are in the “public domain”, associated with José, since he comp`d them: 

Talvin Singh – Traveller (Kid Loco’s Once Upon A Time In The East)

20th Century Steel Band – Love’s Theme

Heavyshift – Last Picture Show

Nova Nova – Tones

A few are lifted from his legendary 1995 BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix:

As One – Meridian

Tura – Reishi

A couple, cribbed from Lilac Camel’s touching Cafe del Mar memoir:

Woob – Wuub

Stina Nordenstam – Little Star (B-zet Mix)

Others are kinda “proprietary”, `cos they`re plucked from pages and pages, lists and lists, that José’s close friend, Phil Mison, was kind enough to share with me. If you’d like to know what they are, any IDs, well then you really need to ask Phil. Perhaps book him to play. That said, if folks fancy a bit of track / train-spotting, then it might be a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, while raising a glass, or two, to José. 

There’s also a radio show, dedicated to José, which was broadcast last night…

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