As you know, periodically we here at Gazfunk like to take a little break every once in a while and hand over the blog to one of our friends to write a guest post for us. Over the years we’ve had many djs, bloggers and vinyl enthusiasts give us a little insight into the type of tunes that gets their juices flowing. This year it’s been a little thin on the ground and not as regular a feature as I would have liked, however starting this week I hope to bring you more frequent guest contributions.
So then, on to today’s pop-picker and we’ve got a very special guest digging into their crates for us – Mr Pete Isaac. As some of you are aware, Pete is one half of 45 Live http://www.45live.net/?feed (the other half being Scott Hendy aka Boca 45) which is a collective of some of the UK & Ireland’s top 45 collectors/djs as well as a blog, record label and events organiser.
Pete’s own musical journey started out in 1993 with the launch of Jelly Jazz www.jellyjazz.com – a seminal club night based in Plymouth. The club’s success enabled them to attract guest djs like Gilles Peterson, Mr Scruff, Norman Jay, Quantic, Andy Smith and a whole cast of some of the most respected djs in the U.K. As well as the guest djs, Jelly Jazz also regularly featured many live acts who went on to forge successful careers for themselves some of whom played their first ever U.K. shows at the club.
Well then, I think it’s about time I passed over the baton to Pete. Over to you mate…
The Perfect Circle ‘The Hands Of Time’ (Inner City)
Gaz kindly asked me to write a piece about a record in the collection recently, which I did, but I had replicated one that had already been done before, should have checked I guess! The focus of that story was about the journey a piece of music can take you on, how far that might be and of the connections and impact that a humble record can make. It was ‘Acid Jazz Vol. 1’ on BGP by the way.
So take 2, and I’ll keep to the sentiment of the other piece and focus on the way music unites. Way back in my early days as a promoter/DJ in ’94, I used to call up Soul Jazz Records in London every Tuesday morning to buy as many records as I could to drop the following night at Jelly Jazz in Plymouth. On the other end of the phone a young chap called Chris Goss who quickly became my go-to guy to ask for, he got me sussed quickly and was able to play breaks and grooves down the phone that I would invariably buy. He must have sold me thousands of pounds worth of records over those first few months! Naturally I would tell him stories of our midweek club night deep into the SW, and a DJ booking for Chris soon followed. I wasn’t that far out of art college at this time so was living in somewhat modest conditions, i.e. a tiny room in a shared house with loads of muso’s and hippies, and Chris got to stay on some cushions in a rough-as-you-like basement lounge. But anyway, we didn’t care about such conditions, youth was still on our side!
Typically, the club that night was rammed to the rafters with a bonkers mad-for-it collections of hippies, ravers, musicians and students. We enjoyed that rare commodity of an audience that just lapped up everything and anything you threw at them. This was obviously years before the internet so obscure American funk etc etc etc was just not so easily accessible, so those calls to Soul Jazz each week were invaluable. But the best way to discover music was of course to hear it in a club, so when Chris and a few others like Bunny from Acid Jazz came down with bags of records we’d never seen, Wednesday nights were always punctuated with mindblowing moments. One of the comments we most heard from punters at the time was something along the lines of “damn, what is this music? Where the hell do you get it?”, I pretty much said the same myself to those early guest DJs we had! Chris dropped a killer set that night with hip hop, jazz, jazz-rock etc, but when he dropped ‘The Hands Of Time’, it was one of THOSE moments. Both myself and fellow Jelly resident DJ Griff flew up to the decks to find out what it was before rejoining the packed dancefloor to literally go nuts. What a monster of a track, fusing the best of jazz, funk and disco into a relentless groove punctuated with stuttering breaks and spaced out instrumentation, a phenomenal track from a killer LP. (Sometimes, don’t you wish you could hear something for the first time again?) Of course I had to obtain the record and eventually procured an original copy, signed by the main man George Semper too for added niceness!
Chris pretty much cemented himself as a regular with that drop and set and fast became our favourite guest DJ and played almost every month for years and years, as well as becoming great family friends. Any old school Jelly Jazz fans will well know the regular ‘Goose Fever’ sessions, where Chris would play all night for a few weeks if I was away from town. These days he has of course gone on to run the world’s biggest D&B label, Hospital Records, but for me, he’ll always be the guy that dropped ‘The Hands of Time’! That and our Tuesday morning record purchasing created a lot more than the sum of their parts, a connection through music that became a fantastic friendship and shared passion for records, especially for things like The Perfect Circle, Brian Auger and the like, we both appreciate a damn good red wine too!
I love the way any record will have it’s immediate story, but you can always consider it’s influence further and be surprised at what direction it ultimately leads you in. Chris and I get to DJ together on the odd rare occasion these days, so next time, through these hands of time, I’ll urge him to drop it again, it will be a perfect circle.
This week I had planned to bring you some more pictures from my U.S. Tour but events on Friday night/Saturday morning put paid to that with the news filtering through of the passing of Sharon Jones at the age of 60.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this tribute as it’s something I hoped I wouldn’t have to do, especially not for a long time anyway given Sharon’s young age. Even though I knew that the cancer that Sharon was diagnosed with back in 2013 had returned, like many of you I hoped and believed this strong woman with her indomitable spirit would prevail for a second time. Sadly it wasn’t to be as she slipped away on Friday surrounded by her family and most of the Dap-Kings.
So today rather than feeling sad, I’d like to remember her for her amazing ability, not just as a performer but as a person who lit up any room she entered and always remained happy and positive no what matter the circumstances. She leaves an enduring legacy that won’t have failed to connect with any fan of funk or soul music and a catalogue of songs that ensures her place in the pantheon of the all time great soul artists.
My first introduction to the world of Sharon Jones (and her Dap-Kings) came way back in 2002 with the uber funky “Pick It Up Lay It In The Cut”. This track had everything I was looking for at the time with a fantastic beat, groovy guitar and a horn section coming together to evoke the sound of The J.B.’s. I have to admit – at that time, I didn’t actually realise that what I was listening to came from a modern band – the sound was so true to the 70s funk style that I was starting to immerse myself in that I just assumed that it was from some obscure act from that time.
Shortly after that (maybe a year or so) I heard another of the band’s songs – their groovy take on Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” (a record that we have previously featured here on Gazfunk.) I remembered that this was the same artist who recorded “Pick It Up Lay It In The Cut” and so I set out to find out more about the band. To my surprise I found that they weren’t some obscure 70s funk outfit, but indeed a modern day band from Brooklyn who started out in 1996 as The Soul Providers (releasing a series of singles on the now defunkt Desco label) before joining forces with The Mighty Imperials to create the Dap-Kings, the house band on the new Daptone label.
I quickly bought both singles that I had heard and over the next decade or so bought most of the band’s single and album releases and spent a lot of time extoling the virtues of Sharon and the band as well as regularly dropping some of the 45s into my dj sets.
With the group being from New York and me living in Belfast, opportunities were few and far between for me to catch one of their legendary live shows until 2014 when they appeared at the Roundhouse in Camden. Finally a near decade long ambition had been fulfilled!! I was able to catch the band a couple of times after that and despite her illness, Sharon always performed like the true professional that she was.
So the record I’m going to feature for you today (it really could be any one of a dozen or more) was something that was only given away to a limited number of people who bought a special pack of the “Give The People What They Want” LP. The track is called “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” and perhaps is a fitting tribute to a supremely talented lady who never quite enjoyed the success she deserved. R.I.P. Sharon and deepest condolences to your family, friends and the Daptone family. X
As you know last week was the first update since I arrived back from my U.S. Tour, so this week I’m going to bring you a tune that went down particularly well at the first stop on the road – Funky Sole in L.A. I’ve also got some pictures of the night to share with you during this post to give you a bit of an idea of the club in case you’ve never seen it or indeed haven’t been before.
There’s also a video from the night which you can see on the official Gazfunk Facebook page (wordpress doesn’t allow me to post videos!) by going here : https://www.facebook.com/gazfunkmusic/
In the meantime enjoy this absolute banger from Chubby Checker – something you wouldn’t expect from him at all – and I’ll be back next week with yet more tales from my tour and of course another quality piece of wax. Peace!
So I’ve finally returned from my U.S. Tour and that means I’m able to bring you an update for the first time in about a month. Apologies to those who looked forward to my weekly updates but for a variety of reasons I wasn’t able furnish you with a funky piece of wax, though don’t worry – now that I’m back on “home turf” there’ll be no missing out again – promise!
At some point over the coming weeks I’ll upload some of the pictures from my various gigs and also attach some of the cool flyers but for now I’ll just focus on today’s selection.
This track is a little bit of a strange one – firstly, upon hearing it you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a female singer (if you didn’t look at the artists’ name of course), also it has a few styles going on in there, a touch of r&b, a smattering of Northern Soul, a little dab of funk and a pinch of garage rock. Hope you enjoy it and glad to be back (sort of!!)
Just another quick update (these posts are getting like buses – you wait ages for one then 2 come at once!!). I’m playing tonight on another date on my tour, this time at Capital Soul Club in Austin.
This one will be on a bit more of a Northern tip, so the track I’m bringing for you is one you can expect to hear tonight courtesy of Roy Redmond. This is more on the funky edge of Northern Soul but I’m sure you’ll still dig it. Until next time… https://youtu.be/PD2ci4NweqU
As I’m in the middle of my U.S. Tour you may have noticed a lack of updates over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been without a laptop/tablet so this post comes direct from my mobile phone, with the result being that this update will look a little bit different than normal.
Above you will see a pretty cool flyer for my next gig (tomorrow night) in San Antonio alongside my buddies at Alamo City Soul Club. It’s gonna be a great night in what I hear is a cool venue, so if you’re in the area…
To that end I’m bringing you a track that may well featute in my set tomorrow. This one is by Lynn Minor and has a very heavy JB’s vibe going on and is perfect for the dancefloor – in fact this went down a storm when I played it at Funky Sole in L.A. a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy. https://youtu.be/p4mUL_14hcE
So I’ve finally managed to pull together an itinerary for my U.S. Tour next week. As I mentioned during my last post a week ago, thinks kick off on Saturday 24th September at Funky Sole in L.A. The rest of my gigs will be in Texas with the possibility of another guest spot and a potential gig in Mexico City. I will of course update the Facebook page if any further slots are added. For info, I’ve attached a copy of my tour poster below:
So with the tour details done and dusted it’s on to today’s musical selection. I’ve chosen this particular track because it’s comes from a group who were considered one of Texas’ most legendary funks bands – Mickey & The Soul Generation.
The band formed in San Antonio and were active from 1969 until their official split in 1977. In spite of such a short career that only spanned 4 singles, the group’s output found favour with many funk collectors and this culminated in the 2004 release of Iron Leg – a compilation put together by one of their biggest fans, DJ Shadow.
So, last week I mentioned that I am about to undertake another U.S. Tour. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer for the poster as I am still finalising some of the dates. However one gig that I can confirm is that I will be joining Miles Tackett (he of Breakestra fame) and Clifton James Weaver III at their week L.A. club, Funky Sole on Saturday 24 September.
Those of you who live in L.A. will probably be aware of the club and it’s reputation as one of the best funk & soul nights anywhere in the world. I’m delighted to be joining the guys and following in the footsteps of a number of heavy hitters behind the decks including Dj Shadow, Cut Chemist, DJ Nu-Mark, Keb Darge, Greg Belson, Skeme Richards & Keith Shocklee.
With that in mind I thought it only appropriate to bring you a track by a group that many consider to be the best funk outfit to come from Los Angeles – The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
If you’re on this blog then you’ll unquestionably know the iconic Express Yourself that has featured on many compilations & tv commercials, not to mention how often it has been sampled – most famously on N.W.A’s Express Yourself.
Today’s selection is a little less well-known, but still a quality piece of instrumental groove in its own right. The Joker was released in 1974 in what proved to be the final 45 that the band cut. If you think of Booker T & The Mgs being a touch funkier, you’ll get the vibe of what we got going on here.
Much like last week, today’s chosen piece of wax falls into the type of category that I don’t often feature on Gazfunk – R&B. Now, it’s not that I’m not a fan of the genre (I do like it for what it’s worth) but I find that there are a lot of records out there that are too “samey” with very similar tempo and rhythm. Coupled with the rising cost of R&B records these days (due in no small part to the huge interest in recent years of the mod scene), this means my collection would be a bit light on the genre in comparison to soul, funk, hammond, latin etc.
The record I bring you today is definitely one of my favourites though and in my humble opinion is good as anything that I’ve heard that costs ten times the price. This is one of the staple tracks within the R&B/mod scene and may well be considered by some to be somewhat overplayed these days – I don’t mind though as it’s something a little different for me to share with you on the blog and variety is the spice of life, right? I’m sure you’ll all agree when you hit that little play button.
Just before I leave you this week, I have a little bit of news to share with you regarding some more upcoming gigs. I’ll be undertaking another U.S. Tour from late September through to early November with 5 or 6 shows lined up. I hope to be able to bring you a little tour poster next week with all the dates confirmed – and some of the events I’m really excited/honoured to be playing at! Watch this space…
It’s not too often that I dip into my collection and pull out a gospel record to feature, so today’s selection is something a little different from that which I normally bring you. Even though the track itself is a gospel song, it’s heavily drippin’ with funk and probably one of the best known/well respected tunes in the gospel funk genre.
The Stovall Sisters featured 3 sisters (Lillian, Netta & Joyce) who were born in Kentucky along with 19 other siblings – yes 22 children born to the one group of parents!! At one time or another pretty much all of the children had a stint as gospel singers but it was the aforementioned sisters who went off on their own to achieve recognition.
They had a career as both studio & touring backing singers where they performed with artists including Al Green, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke and countless other well-known acts in the r&b world. Few people knew, but they also provided the backing vocals to Norman Greenbaum’s massive ’69 hit “Spirit In The Sky”
The sisters growing profile and popularity encouraged Reprise Records to allow them to record an eponymous album in 1971 (their one and only album) This LP yielded three singles – one of which was a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s classic and the rest as they say is history…
For those of you eager to hear more than just one track, I’ve uploaded a new mix to my mixcloud page entitled “Funky Popcorn”. You can check it out here www.mixcloud.com/gazfunk (along with my other mixes)