Balearic Mike’s Musical Diets / Week 64: 05/02/2023

Super selections and wonderful words by Balearic Mike.

A funky foursome that put the ‘Beat’ in ‘Balearic Beat’, from 1989 – 1991…

Edie Brickell – Circle (Remix) – Habitat Productions 1989

Balearic Mike Edie Brickell

Although listed on Discogs as a UK release from 1989, we all know that this lovely little Balearic bootleg actually hails from the fair country of Italy, where they quite quickly came up with the idea of sticking a ‘Soul II Soul’ beat under anything they could.

However, let’s back up a little. The original version of Circle was released on the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians album, Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars, in August 1988. The songs What I Am and Circle were both released as singles, but although they had some success in the US, they failed to chart in the UK. The LP was a bit of a sleeper though, being bought in reasonable numbers by the more musically clued up, and becoming a favourite on the campuses of art colleges. Which is how I first came across it.

I had a friend at art college in Brighton called Nicky Lipstick (not her real surname). Nicky looked far too glamorous and stylish to be an art student. If you’d had to guess you`d have said “Fashion student”, or more likely “Rock star”. She wore all black, always, including black leather trousers, had a razor-sharp jet-black Vidal Sassoon haircut, very pale skin, and very bright scarlet red lipstick. She shared a flat with an equally glamorous and beautiful woman who dressed very similarly but had really long jet-black hair. They used to receive postcards from Primal Scream when the band were away on tour. Anyway, somehow I became close with the incredibly glamorous Nicky towards the end of my first year at college. A few of us would pile round to her flat and spend long evenings drinking wine and listening to records, because, of course, Nicky had a great record collection – which included the Edie Brickell LP. In fact, this album, and a Best Of The Ink Spots compilation seemed to be what we listened to most.

I completely fell in love with Edie Brickel, and The Ink Spots, and bought myself copies of both… but I don’t think I’d ever really expected to hear any of those songs in a club. So you can imagine my surprise, and delight, when one night, dancing at The Zap Club, I heard Edie’s voice floating over a Soul II Soul drum beat. 

I looked and looked, but I could not find a copy anywhere! It had already been and gone over the course of a day in Rounder Records, and in my desperation, I bought a copy of a cheeky Italian cover version which closely followed the bootleg. It was by someone called Michelle, and was released on a Disco Magic offshoot, called Look The Records, the same label that released Paradiso’s classic, Here We Go Again, a few months later. The backing track was identical to the bootleg, suggesting that the Gaggia & Visona production partnership was behind both, but the vocal was a bad Italian impersonation of Ms. Brickell. I quickly regretted my purchase! I no longer have it!

My obsession with finding the OG Italian bootleg probably peaked in one night in November 1989. Monday 27th to be exact. I had just been to see Happy Mondays, supported by MC Buzz B, play at Brighton’s old Top Rank. The after-show party was at The Zap Club, and the DJs were Boy’s Own’s Andrew Weatherall and Terry Farley. They had both just remixed The Monday’s Hallelujah and Rave On, respectively, and I was a wee bit excited. An evening of quite sensational music followed, and they closed their set, and the club, with said fabulous bootleg. I eventually came across an overpriced copy – £10! – at a giant record fair in the Brighton Centre early in 1990. I think Damian Harris found it at a stall and knew I was desperate for a copy, so got the dealer to put it aside for me. To be honest, the Italian bootleg version of Edie’s What I Am, which followed later that year probably works even better than this. I still dearly love them both.

Less Stress – Don’t Dream It’s Over – Boys Own Productions 1990

Balearic Mike Less Stress

1990 was definitely the year it all slowed down BPM wise. You always did get a nice mixture of tempos, but after the huge impact of Andrew Weatherall’s remix of Primal Scream’s Loaded, the floodgates well and truly opened. Which was great, as there were loads of lovely records!

The Boy’s Own Productions label was very much showing everyone how it was done. Following their completely stellar debut single, the chunky anthem, Raise, from house band and Balearic super-group Bocca Juniors, they quickly scored club successes with Jah Wobble’s speaker shaking dub monster, Bomba, before upping the tempo slightly with mellow Italo-house beauty, Here We Go Again, by Paradiso.

For the labels fourth release they were back down to a head nodding 90 BPM, with a stunningly imaginative cover version of the Crowded House’s, Don’t Dream It’s Over. The New Zealand / Australian rock band had scored a hit with this beautiful song a few years earlier, but it isn’t an obvious choice for a dancefloor aimed cover version. It’s pulled off beautifully though, with a sound that is also quite close to that which was emerging from the Bristol, a scene that encompassed The Wild Bunch, Smith & Mighty, and Massive Attack – whose debut single, Daydreaming, would be released later that year.

Balearic Mike Boys Own Hear No Evil

I first bought the Less Stress 12 from Rounder Records, upon its release, but managed to upgrade to a cool Boy’s Own Promo copy when I was working at Vinyl exchange. I have all the Boy’s Own records on promo – almost – but they stopped doing these nice ‘Hear No Evil’ sleeves after the ninth one. Shame.

L.T.Y. Featuring UF Force – Funk Express – Metropolitan Police 1990?

Balearic Mike Funk Express

This record is such an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, that even the Discogs database isn’t sure when it was released. I thought it was 1990, but someone on Discogs claims to have heard Danny Rampling play it at Shoom in 1989? Who knows? I’m sticking with 1990, but at the time, it really didn’t matter, because you could not buy this record for love nor money!

For those of you who don’t know this complete beast of a Balearic classic, it is not only one of my favourite dance records, but certainly amongst my most frequently played. It’s a total funk bomb! A massive explosion of disco breaks, go-go beats and samples, it’s a killer slice of cut ’n’ paste frenzy of the style pioneered by Double Dee & Steinski and Coldcut, with its sights set firmly on the dancefloor!

The opening drum loop is stolen from the break in that obscure LA disco classic Family Tree, by Family Tree. That’s joined by another massive drum loop from Trouble Funk, as well as the vocal sample “Pump, pump, pump, pump me up!” There`s a Larry Graham bass part, which comes from It’s Alright, found on the Graham Central Station album, Ain’t No ‘Bout-A-Doubt It… and there’s the brass riff from The Jackson Sisters version of I Believe In Miracles, just to take the roof that little bit further off!

I could not find a copy anywhere! It wasn’t until I was introduced to Oscar from Trax Records in Soho, sometime in 1991 that I managed to get one. Oscar specialized in supplying the ‘under-the-counter’ ‘special-stuff’, but only if he liked you. Thankfully he did – and still does! It still cost me a jaw dropping 25 quid, which at the time was the most I’d ever paid for a 12”! Worth every penny. This record is now so stupidly cheap that it breaks my heart. The current starting price on Discogs is €1.75! I now own 2 copies. Just in case.

Kenny Dope presents The Mad Racket – Supa – Big Beat 1991

Balearic Mike Mad Racket

Balearic hip-hop anyone? This is as big and beaty as you could ask for! This superb 12” from Masters At Work’s Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez is one of those records that totally reminds me of 1991, my first year working in Vinyl Exchange, Manchester, and my first year totally immersed in the fantastic little Balearic club scene that the city had at the time. Most of all it reminds me of my dear friend Richard Moonboots. If this record was anyone’s, it was his, and he rocked many the party with this superb medley of beats, samples, and toasting. He was a total don at finding those odd-ball hip hop instrumentals, and had the funniest habit of forgetting to order more copies for Eastern Bloc, so they were also impossible to find once you did know what you were looking for! 

Head straight to the B-side here for the ‘Deep In Brooklyn Mix’, which is such a joyous mash-up, with the real party starter being the bit pinching Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side, and The Mad Racket doing his ragga chat over the top. This was an essential part of the soundtrack of Manchester’s Balearic clubs in the early `90s!

Just over 45 years ago, a quite amazing young artist released her first record …

Kate Bush – I’m Not Here (Watching You Without Me) (Fred Palakon Remix) – Strobelight Honey 2011

Balearic Mike Papua Kate Bush Strobelight Honey

I just realised that 45 years ago, on January 20th, 1978, Kate Bush released her first single Wuthering Heights. It would chart in early February and spend 4 weeks at #1 in the UK, launching a career that still manages to amaze today.

I decided to pick out something a wee bit more obscure by Kate to celebrate this momentous occasion though. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind its slightly dubious legality. Issued under the alias Fred Palakon – I have no idea who Fred is, anyone? – on the Faith Fanzine affiliated-label, Strobelight Honey, this 12 features two very interesting house remixes. On the flip is a house version of Grace Jones` Feel Up, which is pretty good, although I don’t think I’d ever choose to play it over the Larry Levan or Danny Tenaglia versions. On the A-side though, is a master class in ingenuity, as the mysterious Fred gives the 4 / 4  treatment to Kate’s wonderful, Watching You Without Me. Culled from the stunning The Ninth Wave suite of tracks on the second side of the Hounds Of Love album, the original is a haunting, sparse, masterpiece. Fred adds a very sympathetic drum and percussion track, and some subtle editing, and hey-presto! A Balearic classic!

Released in the summer of 2011, I recall my dear friend and former colleague at Vinyl Exchange, Abs Ward, selling me this when working as counter jockey in Piccadilly Records. I can still see the little glint in her eye as she handed it to me, silently saying, “You’re going to fucking love this cos’ I do.” Thankfully this meant I had the record when I played at Electric Elephant Festival in Croatia for the first time that summer. I have fond memories of dropping this to a great reaction on the maiden voyage of the Down To the Sea & Back boat party. 

Happy anniversary Kate, and thanks for all the great records.

For more from Balearic Mike you can find him on both Facebook and Instagram – @balearicmike. 

Mike has a Mixcloud page packed with magnificent, magical, music, and you can catch him live on 1BTN, from 12 noon until 2 (UK time) every 1st and 3rd Friday.

Balearic Mike 1BTN blue

You can also check out the super silk screen prints of “Balearic Wife” over at @jo_lambert_print

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