Balearic Mike’s Musical Diets / Week 72

Super Selections and Wonderful words by Balearic Mike.

A random selection of Sunday afternoon listening, but all strangely released in either 1973, 1983, 1993, or 2003…

OK, so starting with the oldest…

Donald Byrd – Street Lady – Blue Note 1973

Balearic Mike Donald Byrd 1

I’ve been listening to this album a lot again recently. Partly because, bloody hell, it’s ace, but also, I noticed that it was being reissued this year, ahead of its 50th anniversary this coming July. It was recorded, quite unbelievably, over just 3 days – June 13th, 14th, 15th, in 1973 – at the Sound Factory in Hollywood, so happy birthday Steet Lady.

What a gorgeous lady she is. Kicking off with one of the greatest tracks in the jazz-funk canon with Lansana’s Priestess, a joyful, uplifting, instrumental which is among the finest examples of this sort of music ever made. The whole LP is in a similar vein, with not a dull moment over its 6 tracks. Donald wisely decided to build on the partnership he formed on his previous LP, Black Byrd, and continued working with bothers Larry and Fonce Mizell, with Larry credited here as producer.

My copy came from Vinyl Exchange in Manchester, when I was working there. I think James Holroyd put me onto it. Although I was aware of other Donald Byrd records, and loved his Places And Spaces, I wasn’t aware of Street Lady. About a minute into track 1, I was hooked. I can see from inside the sleeve that it was £12 shop price. We used to write the location number and price inside valuable items in case customers tried to swap price stickers – we are thieving bastards us vinyl junkies!

It’s a lovely US Blue Note original which even has the original Blue Note paper inner sleeve. The vinyl is spotless, but the beautiful gatefold sleeve had seen better days by the time it made its way to me. The sleeve is stunning though. What a great photo. She looks amazing too – almost ghost-like  – and a ringer for Foxy Brown era Pam Grier. I must admit that I think I’d owned it a good few years before I noticed the second woman on the cover!

If you haven’t got a copy, treat yourself to the new reissue. You deserve it.

Balearic Mike Donald Byrd 2

This is one of the most extraordinary records I own. Totally on its own, defying any attempt to categorise it by style or genre…

Sun Palace – Rude Movements – Passion Records 1983

Balearic Mike Sun Palace

Sun Palace were British producer and guitarist Mike Collins and keyboard player Keith O’Connell. Collins, who had a lengthy and highly successful music career, had already had a minor success in 1981 as part of Brit-Funk act Light Of The World, co-writing and producing their top 40 hit, Ride The Love Train. In 1983 he and O’Connell, armed with a Roland CR78 – the first programmable drum machine, a Fender Rhodes piano and Prophet 5 synthesizer, headed into Utopia Studios in London and produced this, baffling, beguiling, wonderful track.

Although selling 10,000 copies, it was over the Atlantic where the record really took off, somehow finding its way to David Mancuso, who made the song an anthem at his legendary Loft parties. David in turn introduced it to Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Kenny Dope, and a host of other young DJs, who would continue to champion it. It’s testament to how ground-breaking and original the piece is that in the last few years a whole host of cutting-edge dance music producers, including Francois Kevorkian and Moodymann, were all eager to get their hands on it for a remix project on BBE Music. However, none of them were prepared to do anything too radical to a piece of music so close to perfection.

Legendary Mancunian record hound Keith “not that one, the other one” Richard*, had a UK copy of this record with a press sheet – basically a photo copy of an interview from the local evening paper – from 1983 inside, which revealed that the duo behind it hailed from the North of England. However, when I listed a copy on the Vinyl Exchange website, I typed in the wrong town, and a few days later we received and email from Mike saying I had made an error and correcting me. It was Burnley. 

Life changing music!

*Keith Richard, is a legendary record digger and supplier of many rare records to the DJs collectors, and record shops of Manchester. Keith features in many of my tales.

An (almost) lost Balearic classic from this Irish artist…

Trevor Herion – Love Chains (Instrumental) – Interdisc 1983

Balearic Mike Trevor Herion

This record sounds like it should have been huge on The White Isle – a massive club record at Pacha, Amnesia or Ku. It belongs on the soundtrack to the legendary ‘Look De Ibiza’ video*… but it’s not.

I only came across this record because of Mancunian clubbing institution, Aficionado, and its resident DJs / hosts Richard “Moonboots” Bithell and Jason “Before I Die” Boardman. Jason unearthed this beauty, taking a punt because of the cover. The sleeve does have a very lovely Factory Records / Peter Saville aesthetic to it, and that’s because it is designed by an uncredited Saville. It was Jason who played it first at Aficionado’s first home of Aqua Bar. Moon then proceeded to play it to death also. I searched for a copy for years to no avail. It wasn’t until I discovered the delights of that I finally tracked one down. 

It’s just sooo Balearic. It has to be the Instrumental mix I’m afraid, but it’s a floaty, warm, electronic beauty. All programmed drums, electronic handclaps, gorgeous synth pads, and a sinuous bass-line. I’m always surprised that this track isn’t held in higher esteem and more widely known. I just adore it.

Trevor was part of the Irish post-punk and new wave scenes in the late `70s and early `80s, and was in a few bands, including one called The Fallout Club, alongside Thomas Dolby, before a brief solo career. Sadly, Trevor committed suicide in 1988 at the age of just 28.

This is a lovely record.

*Look De Ibiza is a promotional video made by the Ibizan Tourist board in conjunction with the nightclub, Ku. It is ridiculously Balearic. Kenneth Bager – founder of Music For Dreams – had a copy, and gave a copy to Phil Mison, who subsequently sent copies to us all.

“Mañana comenzará otro sueño.”

A completely sublime E.P. of deep, gorgeous… what exactly? It’s not house, it’s not really ambient, it’s just unclassifiable, beautiful music….

Orange – Quarter EP – Fnac Music Dance Division 1993

Balearic Mike Orange

Orange is an alias of French producer Shazz, a.k.a. Didier Delesalle, and on one track here he collaborates with Ludovic Navarre, of St. Germain fame. Both are normally know for deep house music, and this E.P. certainly is deep. It’s a wonderful collection which floats somewhere in between genres. Warm synths, tinkling pianos, even the drums and percussion are somehow soft and gentle.

My partner in Down To The Sea And Back, Kelvin Andrews first played me this record. We were on Pargeter Road, at the house in Birmingham where our friends Graeme Fisher and Nathan lived, which even earned its place in Mixmag’s top clubs chart one year! People were quite ‘refreshed’ as we were into the very small hours – possibly the next day – by now, and Kelvin cued up this beautiful record. He seemed VERY into the fact that the 4 tracks are all named after different parts of an orange. This somehow seemed very important at that moment in time!

Every second of the E.P. is beautiful, but I do play Quarter 1: La Couleur and Quarter 2: Le Fruit most often, and I have played them pretty constantly over the 3 decades since it was released.

My friend James Holroyd worked the summer of 1995 as Jose Padilla’s alternate at Ibiza’s Café Del Mar, and Jim told me that he would never have been able to play all summer without this record, or Larry Heard’s Sceneries Not Songs. High praise indeed.

Vive la France!

Released April 2003, so 20 years old…

Cesaria Evora – Angola (Carl Craig Remix) – Lusafrica 2003

Balearic Mike Carl Craig Angola

Oddly this is listed on Discogs with Carl Craig and Pepe Bradock as the artists. They are in fact the remixers of global musical giant, the ‘Barefoot Diva’ herself Cesaria Evora. Hailing from Cape Verde, a island nation off the coast of Senegal in the North Atlantic, and singing in both Cape Verdean Creole and Portuguese, Cesaria Evora is famous for taking the styles, Coladeira and its lower-tempo derivative Morna (songs of sadness) to a global audience. Winning a Grammy in the process, in 2003.

The original version of Angola is a delightful, jaunty little number, beautifully combining elements of Brazilian, Latin, and African music, and the Pepe Braddock mix is a nice wonky, weird, chilled thing as well. However, this might be Carl Craig’s greatest moment. I have a lot of Carl Craig records and remixes, and this is in my top 5! It’s easily one of my most played. He transforms the song into a dancefloor destroying Balearic-Techno monster!* Honestly, magic fills the room when this track takes hold! It’s hypnotic, building, percussive intro, with its insistent handclaps, fierce bongos, and brilliant accapella vocal takes the dancefloor into a trance / frenzy. By the time the bass drum hits, and that savage, electronic bass-line starts, there`s no way back! I played this at my first gig out in Athens in 2014, and I swear people in the crowd were caught in some kind of voodoo ritual! People were levitating! I was levitating – sort of! Total madness!

*OK I made up the phrase Balearic-Techno for music like this, and tracks like Fini Tribe Jim’s De Testimony, Anne Clarke’s Our Darkness, and Nitzer Ebb’s Join In The Chant. I stand by the genre!

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 black

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


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