In 2022, London label, Emotional Rescue celebrated 10 years of trading, and racking up over a 100 releases to date. To mark the occasion, and to show my appreciation, I’ve picked out a few of my favourites from the imprint`s catalogue. To select just 10 tracks was super hard, because if you’re someone who’s interested in music that dances on that border between Balearic and cosmic, then there are so many things in there that you, honestly, really, really need. Stuart Leath, ER`s founder, was one of the people that I first met virtually, online at the DJHistory.com forum, who later that became a firm friend, in the physical, at Steve Terry and Phil Mison`s Cafe 1001 afternoon sessions, held on Brick Lane in 2005. Stu got his nickname, Chuggy, while digging the slower BPM sets at free parties organized by folks such as Nottingham`s legendary DiY collective, and our musical tastes overlap to a huge extent. Stu, however, has gone on to be an off-the-scale expert, as each signing to the label leads down new and ever more obscure aural avenues. I interviewed Stu – for Test Pressing – right back at Emotional Rescue`s start. It`s high time that I talked to him again.
Bob Chance / Wild, It’s Broken
Bob Chance’s 1980 LP It’s Broken! was doing the rounds in certain circles. Somebody must have found a box of them – I bought one from Jonny Nash, while he was at LN-CC – and everyone, including Andrew Weatherall, was playing songs from it. The album features a 9-nearly-10—minute version of the title track – which is brilliant – but this totally bonkers “Wild” take was exclusive to an elusive promo 45. It was Swiss DJ, Lexx, who found it, when a copy fell out of an album that he was pricing in the store where he worked. This would be Emotional Rescue`s debut release.
A musical mash-up, of slapped-bass funk and what sounds like a banjo from 1983 – with the mighty Prince Far I up front. Somewhere between dub reggae and a bluegrass hoedown, it’s the sort of thing that passed for a Balearic beat, in London, back in 1988. On the Emotional Rescue reissue 12, the vocal and dub mixes are expertly edited together by Stu and Piers Harrison. The two of them would go on to run the “alt. house” imprint, Mysticisms.
The Adrian Sherwood mixed, and remixed, Acid Tabla is another highly recommended Suns Of Arqa / Emotional Rescue release.
I think it was Al Usher`s unofficial edit of Stay Cool, that put this priceless, privately-pressed, LP on discerning diggers` lists, but it`s far from a one-tracker. Inner Fire and International Times are other personal highlights. A stripped-back set of soulful, plugged-in folk, everything on the record calls for love, peace, and understanding – reflecting Jaki & John’s hippie ideals and roots. Mr. Usher later recreated his remix, legit, for a separate 12 (a big big thank you to Paul Whiffin, for sending me a replacement when mine was pinched).
The spoken intro on this track might trick you into thinking that it`s European, but it was actually co-produced by Jahkey B (the man behind the classic `90s house act, Lovebeads) and released on New Jersey label, Dancefloor. A lot more “rave-y” than the music commonly associated with The States at the time, it was part of the Saturday night soundtrack for a Bridge & Tunnel crowd who partied at Peter Gaiten`s Limelight, danced to DJs like Moby, and bought their X from Michael Caruso. In the UK, it was also a big tune for the free-festival folk, such as Stu’s spars the DiY Soundsystem. There are clips of Axis Of Love being played in the first dance tents to appear at Glastonbury, in 1992, where a young Chuggy was in attendance.
Another cut on this particular path of ER`s journey that you should definitely check out is Mr.& Mrs. Dale`s It`s You.
Singled out from Psychic TV`s seminal Jack The Tab / Tekno Acid Beat sessions, Blue Pyramid takes its name from a batch of late `80s LSD, and is a collaboration between Soft Cell`s Dave Ball, and this then-wife, Virginia. It`s “Gini” who plays violin on the track, adding the mysterious Middle Eastern air – something that was a big bonus, a positive boon, among Balearic Beats in 1988.
Rescued from a record originally released in 1990, by the revered techno imprint, Iridal, Ramjac Corporation’s Cameroon Massif rides a stripped back racing electro rhythm. Its rave sirens countered by jazzy, jammed, Sun Ra-inspired, keys. With sampled cicadas, gated chants, and being generally tribally-tinged, it moves and grooves alongside the music of contemporaries, such as the Moody Boyz, Holy Ghost, and the talented people who gathered around Tony Addis’ Warriors Dance.
Treated seagulls and glistening (healing) crystalline new age chords tumble together, tunefully, over a squelchy synthesized disco beat, on this in-demand cut, lifted from the 1989 LP, Lifespring. Completely new to me at the time of its reissue, I later learned that it was a Phil Mison Cafe del Mar favourite. Rain Trek on the flip features a heavenly hardware choir, and more forceful drums, and is, perhaps, all the more Balearic for it. Cheerfully chugging along like Lucio Dalla meets Suzanne Ciani.
Teamed up with Rob Butler’s Be With Records, Stu takes a track from Rare Silk`s 1985 LP, American Eyes, and gives it a 10” repress. An interpretation of a Stanley Turrentine song, the sultry group harmony and sax serenade is set to a slo-mo machine mambo. Holed-up, holidaying in a Wally Badarou-esque technological tropics, I described it as “Manhattan Transfer on Mars”.
Stu established a relationship with British musician Steve Coe, just before Steve sadly passed, which allowed ER to repress sought-after `80s sides from Steve’s pioneering imprint, Indipop. Probably most famous for chart-topping act Monsoon, founded by Steve and his wife, Shelia Chandra, Stu released lesser known stuff, such as The Ganges Orchestra’s The Dream and Jhalib’s Mysteries Of The East. Both of these tracks having been underground hits on both the Balearic and Afro / Cosmic scenes, and absolute essentials in my book. This year saw something even more obscure surface, the official release of East-West’s 1984, previously promo-only, single, Can’t Face The Night. Definitely one of my favourite dance-floor fillers of 2022, it combines, fuses, Bollywood strings, a disco bass-line, and a hypnotic sitar riff.
Another of the places that Stu has carved himself a bit of a niche is unearthing essential gems from the Bristol post-punk scene. The cultural melting pot that birthed The Pop Group, Rip Rig & Panic, Glaxo Babies, Pigbag, Maximum Joy, and, in turn, Smith & Mighty, The Wild Bunch, Massive Attack, Nelee Hopper, and Tricky. This recent compilation of standouts from local label, Recreational Records` back catalogue is brilliant.
You should also seek out Stu’s shufty through the archives of “rival” imprint, Y, and especially Mouth’s mad, mental, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea.
*The following all deserve very honorable mentions – Kevin Harrison’s Pointy Birds, The Jellies, Cosmic Hoffman, Angel Corpus Christi, Javier Bergia, and Ishinohana – while these others would have also been fighting for a place in the “top 10” if I didn’t, of course, already own original copies : ) – Furnitures Loft classic, I Can`t Crack, Jah Wobble`s Lago Years, O Yuki Conjugate`s proto-new beat masterpiece Into Dark Water, Man Jumping, and Woo’s Which Ever Way You Are Going You Are Going Wrong.