1) Peddlers – ‘Whole Lot Of Sunlight’, from the 1970 Philips LP ‘Three For All’.
I picked this up in Avid Records in Oxford in the late nineties, I got a lot of good stuff from them around that time, picking up cheap classic soul, blues and jazz LPs, bargain priced late ‘80s / early ‘90s 12” singles that I’d missed the first time round and just taking a punt on interesting looking sleeves, or bands I’d heard about in sampling cirlces. ‘Suite London’ was the hot crate digger’s favourite from The Peddlers, but the production on ‘Three For All’ is right up my street, with wonderful hammond playing and a killer drum sound. It’s a great album from start to finish. I’ve used tracks on a few mixtapes in the past 20 years, but not this particular one, and with an apt title, it seemed like ‘Whole Lot Of Sunlight‘ was a nice way to kick off my late summer Dusk Dubs selection!
2) Joe McDuphrey Experience – ‘Solar Waves’, from the 2002 Stones Throw 12” ‘Experience EP’.
Madlib made a big impression on me when I first started producing with a sampler and a second hand Hohner Pianet. I really enjoyed this era when he was mixing live instrumentation with the straight up MPC sample business. ‘Solar Waves’ has it all – lolloping drums, wonky synths and tasty electric piano – a super laid-back groove, and is one I rediscovered in my collection recently. Plus, I’m a sucker for coming up with a bunch of aliases to cover all the roles you might play on a record – Madlib is the undisputed champ at that.
3) Paul Weller – ‘That Spiritual Feeling’ (New Mix) from the 1993 Go! Discs promo 12” GOXDJ 102.
My first proper music industry job in the mid nineties was as a radio plugger, and we shared an office building with Go!Discs – home at the time to Portishead, David Holmes, The Beautiful South and Paul Weller, amongst others. There was a little shared kitchen area with a photocopier, and I was busily copying press releases one afternoon on about my 3rd day in the job, when I heard someone making a drink behind me. Turning round I was confronted by Mr Paul Weller himself, impeccably dressed (with an AMAZING tan) stirring his cup of tea. ‘Hello’ he said, ‘I’m Paul – nice to meet you’.
I managed not to swoon or drop my photocopying and introduced myself as the new boy. I worked on radio promo with him across various album projects for the next 4 years, culminating with a week on a tour bus with Paul and his crew doing sessions at radio stations across the country. Story for another time maybe … Anyway – also in that little kitchen area at Go! Discs was their stock cupboard, which I rinsed for releases I’d missed in the years prior to my starting work there. ‘That Spiritual Feeling’ was originally on his first solo release ‘Into Tomorrow’ in 1991, but got remixed and added to this promo, as well as appearing on the ‘Sunflower’ 12” (taken from ‘Wildwood’) It’s got the instantly recognisable JBs on it, with a classic horn arrangement backing up a kinda hypnotic 2 chord groove that just rolls and rolls. I can listen to it for hours.
4). Rhianna – ‘Word Love’ (4 Hero Soul Mix) from the 2002 Sony Soho Square promo 7” XPR 3600.
4 Hero were killing it in the early ‘00s as their productions evolved from the breakbeat mastery of the ‘90s into the wonderfully orchestrated arrangements that saw them covering ‘Les Fleur’, and bringing their deft touch to an increasing number of quality remixes. I don’t think this version of British soul star Rhianna’s ‘Word Love’ – which I loved in it’s original form – ever made it to a commercial release, but it’s something I’ve played out a lot over the years, and it always gets great comments and a bunch of info requests from the crowd.
5) GangStarr – ‘Jazz Thing’ (Instrumental Mix) from the 1990 CBS promo 12” XPR 1571.
I saw Mo Better Blues at the cinema in Australia in November 1990 and bought the soundtrack on cassette the next day. Brandford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard have a superb dialogue across all the tracks, especially on the Canonball Adderley-esque title track. However, Gang Starr’s ‘Jazz Thing’ blew my tiny teenage mind, and I became a bit obsessed with it over the next few years, the samples, the cuts, the live loops – especially after my new college mate Pete made me a tape a year or so later with two extra versions from the 12”, including this, the Instrumental Mix. I finally tracked down my own copy of this import promo in the Soul & Dance Exchange in Notting Hill in the late nineties, and it’s lived in my record bag pretty much ever since.
6) John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Peter Green – ‘Greeny’, from the 1969 Decca LP ‘The World Of Blues Power’.
Everyone my sort of age with some records is bound to have one or two liberated from their parent’s collection, and this was an album I discovered in my folks collection in about 1987, not long after buying a drum kit. I’d been rinsing their Beatles albums since I was a kid – singing along to ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Octopus’s Garden’, but the World Of Blues Power seem a bit of alien concept until I gave it a good listen as a teen. There’s some classic pyrotechnic stuff from rising Brit Blues stars like Eric Clapton and Paul Butterfield, alongside US veterans like Champion Jack Dupree and Eddie Boyd, who’d moved to Europe in the ‘60s.
Always understated, Peter Green’s playing on ‘Greeny’ is perfect; simple and catchy as hell, but with complete mastery of his instrument.
7) Stanley Clarke – ‘Blues For Mingus’, from the 1979 Nemperor LP ‘I Wanna Play For You’.
This was another ’90s bargain from Avid Records in Oxford, but I first heard it when babysitting in the late ‘80s. The couple who’s kids I was deemed suitably responsible enough to be left in charge of were very happy for me to listen to their small but perfectly formed record collection, and many happy evenings were spent with a pile of C90s taping all sorts of classic jazz and blues. Took me the best part of the next 20 years to find my own vinyl copies of them all mind you. The uptempo jazz rock that Stanley Clarke was known for in the ‘70s is featured throughout the part-live ‘I Wanna Play For You’ album, but this downtempo small group number perfectly encapsulated my idea of what a jazz club gig should sound like; dark, smoky and soulful.
8) Al Green – ‘Lay It Down’, from the 2008 Blue Note LP ‘Lay It Down’.
Is it controversial to call this my favourite Al Green album? I mean, you can’t deny the classic ‘60s and ‘70s hits, but for me, this Questlove produced LP is right up there in terms of songwriting and production. I could have happily featured any of the album tracks here, but went with the title track for the silky strings and restrained playing from Questlove. Something as a drumming producer myself I’m less good at ;)
9) Matt Deighton – ‘Hey, My Mind’, from the 1995 Focus LP ‘Villager’.
This whole album is stuffed full of timeless sounding songs, it’s one I’ve listened to alot over the years and comes complete with alot of happy memories.
Just before I got the plugging job, I’d been working in promotions for (the original) Virgin Radio in London, driving a branded vehicle around town all day. Seems mad and pointless in 2020, but it was fun in 1995, I was young, it seemed to be sunny all the time, I had a free 4WD and it paid quite well. I used the station’s copy of ‘The White Book’ – an entertainment industry directory that cost a small fortune back then – to look up the addresses of my favourite record labels, and spent most days knocking on their doors in an attempt to blag some free records. One of these labels was Acid Jazz, and, having announced which station I worked for, I was rushed in to meet their head of marketing and plied with records and CDs, before someone eventually asked ‘so, what is it you actually do at Virgin again?’. I bluffed my way through the next 10 minutes and agreed to have a chat to the producer of the evening show about getting a session for Matt Deighton. Matt was the singer and guitarist with Mother Earth, of whom I was a big fan, and was currently promoting a new solo album ‘Villager’ – Mother Earth had been a guest on the Virgin show before, and so the producer said yes to a session. I’m sure she would have booked him anyway, but she graciously let me set it up with Acid Jazz, gaining me some vital industry kudos and connections in the process.
10) Money Mark – ‘All The People’, from the 1998 Mo Wax / A&M LP ‘Push The Button’.
Mo Wax were one of my favourite ‘90s labels, having been introduced to them by a college friend sometime in ’93, and I think I tried unsuccessfully blagging my way onto their mailing list in my Virgin days, but later on, after the A&M deal, I had better luck getting occasional freebies. ‘Mark’s Keyboard Repair’ was the record that the genre lo-fi was invented for, with the mix of bit-crushed samples and live vintage keys, but ‘Push The Button’ is a brilliantly rounded record, with some great pop songs. Session legend Jim Keltner is playing drums on this track, which I’d forgotten about until I was reading the sleevenotes while recording this mix – his playing with the likes of Delaney & Bonnie, BB King, Leon Russell, Bill Withers, Eric Clapton and all of the Beatles on their various solo projects has been a big influence on my drumming style over the years. Records I’ve never heard of but have bought just because Jim Keltner is on drums is an extensive section of my collection.
11) Bedouine – ‘Summer Cold’, from the 2017 Spacebomb Records LP ‘Bedouine’.
Spacebomb are one of my favourite contemporary labels, with a studio sound and ethos that I aspire to greatly as I enter my third decade as a producer, and I’ve been picking up their releases since hearing label owner, and talented artist, Matthew E. White interviewed on 6 Music back in 2015. LA Based Syrian born Bedouine put out one of my most listened to albums of 2017 (and since!), and I would have featured any of the tracks in this mix, but something about the found sounds at the end of ‘Summer Cold’ seemed to work very nicely with the start of the following song from Emily King. Bedouine’s vocal and guitar sound is wonderfully distintive, and beautifully enhanced by the sympathetic Spacebomb Horn and String arrangements – get yourself the LP!
12) Emily King – ‘Distance’, from the 2015 Making Music Records LP ‘The Switch’.
I didn’t listen to many new records while I was producing Izo FitzRoy’s debut (track coming next!) – I think I thought I’d find it distracting, I suspect that wouldn’t have been the case, but once Izo’s record was in the can, I gorged on releases I’d missed and found things that have become all time favourites. Most of them seem to be by women with a very different sound to Izo, but equally captivating writing and energy. Emily King is one of those artists, along with Bedouine, Jane Weaver and Aldous Harding amongst others. ‘Distance’ is such a great song, and I love Emily’s voice and guitar playing, plus the production and feel too – ticks all the boxes for me.
13) Izo FitzRoy – ‘Heads Held High’, from the 2017 Jalepeno Records LP ‘Skyline’.
This was one of my favourites from Izo’s debut that I produced and played on a few years ago. A great lyric and performance from Izo over a groove that we worked hard to sound like a mix of samples and live instruments, but was in fact all recorded and produced in my studio at home. Initially Izo and I were writing on some tracks that I’d already recorded with a view to them going on a Dr Rubberfunk album, but it was pretty clear after we’d written a few things together that she had so many great songs that the project needed to be an album for her. Even at a few years distance, I’m still really pleased with how the record turned out, with a ’studio sound’ I can call my own, and one that I’ve been able to carry over to my recent ‘My Life At 45’ LP – on which Izo turns in another couple of killer performances!
14) Urban Species – ‘Blanket’ featuring Imogen Heap, from the 1998 Talkin’ Loud LP ‘Blanket’.
Along with Acid Jazz and Mo Wax, Talkin’ Loud were another label I was madly collecting everything they released throughout the ‘90s and beyond. Having DJ’d in support of Urban Species at my college in 1994, I was already a fan, and their second album ‘Blanket’ is one of my all-time favourites by any artist. It features two great collaborations with Terry Callier, and two with Imogen Heap, including the title track featured here. Great writing and production, I was very influenced by this record as I started working with vocalists. Always love the guitar solo over the fade out too – if it exists, I’d love to get my hands on the full version without the fade!
15) Routes In Jazz – ‘Out In The Jungle’, from the 1992 Concious Records 12” CON 999.
Another sure shot from my days as a nascent DJ at Froebel College in West London in the early ‘90s. I was fortunate to have the support and encouragement of a couple of older students as I joined the Student Union and started organising events, and one of them – Lee – actually let me borrow his records to play out with a few times. Cheers Lee! This was one he used to play in warm up and bar sets, and I loved the double bass loop and ear worm horn sample (I never have worked out what it’s from), so had to get a copy. In some ways it’s a very 1992 record, but has stood the test of time in terms of production as far as I’m concerned.
16) DJ Krush – ‘Yeah’, from the 1994 Mo Wax LP ‘Strictly Turntablized’.
Early Mo Wax classic, from before all this sort of thing was considered ‘trip hop’, it was just killer instrumental hip hop as far as I was concerned, and DJ Krush, along with DJ Shadow, was right up there, leading the way. Another big influence on me when I eventually got a sampler – tough drums: check, swinging bass sample: check, jazzy horn and vocal samples: check. Love it.
17) Freak Power – ‘My Heart Sings’, from the 1994 ‘In Dub – The Fried Funk Food EP’, bonus album with some vinyl editions of the ‘Drive Thru Booty’ LP
They say never meet your heroes, but having meet and worked with both Norman Cook and Ashley Slater, the creators of the Freak Power project, I’d have to disagree. Naturally, if you’ve read through the tracklisting this far, you’ll have worked out there’s another showbiz story to go with this selection, and there is, but I’m saving it for another time, ‘cos it’s LONNNGGGG. Suffice it to say, ‘Turn On Tune In, Cop Out’ was a massive tune in ’93, and when the album dropped the following year I was straight down the record shop on release day. I wasn’t expecting a bonus ‘Dub EP’, much less one with almost unrecognisable remixes of the album tracks, but I was very happy to have it included. Some of the best downtempo beats Norman has made I think, and the drum programming on the second half of this track had me scratching my head in my pre-sampler owning days and wondering how the heck it was done. Fabulous sample choices, and nice and long too – handy for those DJ set comfort breaks.
18) John Martyn – ‘Sunshine’s Better’ (Talvin Singh Mix), from the 1996 Go! Discs promo 12” SSB1.
Talking of long tracks, here’s 10 minutes plus of John Martyn and the balearic classic ‘Sunshine’s Better’ reworked beautifully by Talvin Singh. John was another of the artists on Go! Discs when I was plugging for them, and I think it’s widely accepted he was a challenging character at that stage of his career. Still an amazing songwriter and performer though, and sounding as good as ever on the album ‘And’ from which ‘Sunshine’s Better’ is taken. Phil Collins on drums too.
19) Incognito – ‘Out Of The Storm’ (C’s Planet E Mix), from the 1996 Talkin’ Loud promo 12” TLDJ54.
If you were putting together a downtempo set in ’96, and you had ‘Sunshine’s Better’, you needed this Carl Craig mix of ‘Out Of The Storm’ for sure. Hip hop drum loops, swirling synth pads, a wobbly flute sample and some perfectly placed little bass guitar fills and turnarounds made this perfect in so many ways. I was VERY excited to get a promo copy, and definitely felt I had ‘arrived’ as a DJ when this came through the letterbox one morning.
old DJ voice “Those were the days.” LOL.
20) Freddie King – ‘Gambling Woman Blues’, from the 1977 RSO LP ‘Freddie King (1934-1976)’.
In case you were worried I’d skipped over my love of the blues with just one track, here’s a less well known number from Freddie King, recorded during sessions with Eric Clapton and his band in the early ’70s, just a few years before King’s untimely death in 1976. I’ve got plenty of albums by the ‘Three Kings’ (Albert, B.B and Freddie) and they all had some very funky moments in the late sixties and early seventies. This posthumous compilation album was also in the collection of the family I used to babysit for, another tape that had pretty much worn out before I could track down my own vinyl copy, which, as you can hear, has been well played too. Again, a track that seems to fade just as it’s getting going, but fear not – there’s a 20+ minute version on some of the popular streaming services.
21) Donny Hathaway – ‘What’s Going On?’ from the 2014 ATCO Records LP ‘Live At The Bitter End 1971’.
I heard Gilles Peterson play tracks from this album on his 6 Music Show on Record Store Day in 2014. RSD often falls on my birthday weekend, so I thought I’d treat myself to this re-issue (with previously unissued tracks) of Donny Hathaway’s 1971 shows at the Bitter End on Bleecker Street in New York City. Although there aren’t many artists that can make a convincing go of covering Marvin Gaye, Donny is definitely one of them, and ‘What’s Going On?’ sounds just as relevant today as it ever did. I felt it was an appropriate choice, given the state of the world today, my love of black music and the fact that my whole music career is based on it. Once more, for the people at the back, BLACK LIVES MATTER.
22) Wes Montgomery – ‘Sun Down’, from the 1966 Verve Records LP ‘California Dreaming’.
3 quid from, you’ve guessed it, Avid Records. Bargain. I listened to an absolute ton of blues guitarists in my late teens, but it was a few years later that I started going sideways into jazz guitar, falling in love with the soul jazz / acid jazz sound of Grant Green and Ivan ‘Boogaloo Joe’ Jones, before finding the earlier generation – the likes of Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery. Tricky to pick between them to be honest, but it seemed this upbeat and optimistic big band number from the 1966 ‘California Dreaming’ album by Wes Montogomery, a mixture of contemporary pop covers and jazz standards, with Herbie Hancock on piano, and engineered by Rudy Van Gelder – two more heroes of mine – was a good way to close out my Dusk Dubs choices.