Speakers Push Air

Randy’s Goin’ To Church…
August 21, 2008, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Mixes

I may have told this story before. Out on a beach in southern Italy about 3 years ago, I played roots reggae on the Unsound system all night, and was still going when the sun rose over the sea. It was Sunday morning, everyone was joyously battered and it felt good. So I dropped “Oh Happy Day” by The Edwin Hawkins Singers.

Some people appreciated it, but some – perhaps more – reacted with astonishment, or sarcasm or downright anger. “What are you playing this Christian shit for?” asked one particularly abrasive reveller. The fact that pretty much every tune I’d played in the preceding hours was also “Christian shit” seemed entirely lost on this guy, and many others. I was dumbfounded.

Speaking as someone who thinks Dawkins isn’t enough of a bully, I don’t see a lack – or rejection – of faith as any kind of barrier to a genuine love for gospel music. Aside from the fact that gospel is as much a part of the DNA of most contemporary music as blues and soul (which is just gospel that wants to get laid, anyway), this stuff is beautiful, joyous, uplifting, stunning. I don’t care if what people are yearning for isn’t there, it’s the yearning itself that does it for me.

So, brothers and sisters, I offer up to you my first gospel mix. If there is such a thing as a gospel purist (although that seems unlikely), they might argue that I’ve stretched the definition a tad – there’s New Orleans 2nd line jazz from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, there’s 70s soul-gospel from the Marion Gaines Singers, there’s a lot of blues. But every track is, at base, a gospel track.

Hope you enjoy it.

(click the pic for the mix)


00.00 Aretha Franklin – How I Got Over
04.15 Marion Williams – Packin’ Up
06.22 Elder Richard Bryant – Come Over Here
09.24 Clarence Williams – Old Time Religion
12.12 The Famous Blue Jay Singers Of Birmingham Alabama – Jesus Met The Woman At The Well
14.35 Marie Knight – Gospel Train
16.55 Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Up Abovce My Head (I Hear Music In The Air)
19.17 Blind Willie Johnson – Run To The City of Refuge
22.39 Big Bill Broonzy – This Train (Bound For Glory)
25.35 The Dirty Dozen Brass Band – Jesus On The Mainline
30.47 Sister Wynona Carr – Dragnet For Jesus
33.29 Lavern Baker – Saved
36.18 The Marion Gaines Singers – Grandma’s Hands
38.10 Sam Cooke & The Soulstirrers – Touch The Hem Of His Garment
40.08 The 5 Blind Boys Of Alabama – Hallelujah
42.28 The Sojourners – Run On
45.36 The Abysinnian Baptist Gospel Choir – I Want To Ride That Glory Train
49.08 The Dixie Hummingbirds – Trouble In My Way
51.50 Mahalia Jackson – There’s Not A Friend Like Jesus
54.25 The Edwin Hawkins Singers – Oh! Happy Day

August 20, 2008, 12:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Nine months since we last convened, People’s Republic of Disco is back!!!

And it’s my 40th birthday that day too, for extra mayhem. Hope you can make it.

St James Infirmary
August 20, 2008, 11:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve tidied up my blog links (look, down there, on the left.. ) and in doing so, had a look at a blog that is a real favourite of mine but I’d neglected of late.

Just what every right thinking person needs – 100 plus versions of the evergreen St James Infirmary.

Fill yer boots.

Here Come The Sun…
August 14, 2008, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the most interesting blog entries regarding the attempts of The Sun to ‘out’ Burial – and Burial’s graceful refusal to play along – comes from a man like Eden.

Oh, And…
August 5, 2008, 1:55 am
Filed under: Mixes

there’s a new Randy & Earl mix here too. I shoved it in the mixes digest but didn’t mention it here..

NB: I’ve been in touch with the support team (bloke?) for the boomp3.com site who I’m using for hosting. The download problem (weird file names, missing the file extension etc) are known glitches and he’s working on it. But still better than adheavy alternatives, so I’m sticking with it. So to reiterate, let it save as whatever it suggests, then rename the file as per the title and add the .mp3 extension.. Sorry

The 21 Commandments of Roots
August 5, 2008, 1:36 am
Filed under: Mixes

This mix was made quicker than any mix I’ve ever put together, but took more thought than all the others combined. I’ve been playing around with various roots reggae mixes for a while – looking at themes, chronologies, all that sort of nonsense. But this, for me, is just the motherlode.

After bouncing the tracklisting around in my head for months, I offer up a mix of the tracks that, if someone asked why I love reggae, I’d start rattling off at them (while they’d probably nod politely and scan the room for someone less dull to talk to). There’s a few post-70s tracks, although not many, there’s a little bit of dub, although not much, and there’s mostly pure vocal roots songs that make the hairs on my arms stand up.

I make no apologies for how ridiculously populist and non-obscure a lot of this stuff is – these are the songs that mean the most to me, and I didn’t want to bear other factors in mind when I put the list together. I make no apologies for the amount of Perry productions – while people fetishise his ‘madness’ and his studio techniques, there’s a massive body of solid roots material that benefitted from his involvement. I make no apologies for the amount of tracks that have appeared on Blood & Fire and Pressure Sounds compilations: when I was starting to really immerse myself in this stuff, both labels were on peak form and struck a rich seam over and over again.

I’ll spare you a commentary too – to me, the quality of each and every tune says enough – but if there’s anything you want to know more about, do get in touch. I will mention three tunes in particular, though:

VC’s By His Deeds is arguably my favourite roots tunes of all time, and I owe John Eden a lot for sticking it on one of his Shake The Foundations mixes and drawing it to my attention. There’s a dignified, measured anger to the song which is really inspiring and has something to say about hypocrisy outside its rasta context.

Sylford Walker’s Burn Babylon was a tune I heard the first time I dared stick my head into the basement of Daddy Kool Records in Soho. I was nervous as hell, knew very little about reggae and about the etiquette of reggae stores. But minutes after I got in there, the guy behind the counter dropped this tune and it absolutely blew me away. He must have sussed my reaction, because about 4 minutes later I handed over what I now suspect was a ridiculous amount of money for a scratchy 7″. I don’t regret a penny of it.

Finally, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Dreadlocks In Moonlight. Back in the mid-80s when I had maybe a Burning Spear album and a copy of that first Ini Kamoze mini-album, I still wasn’t entirely convinced by reggae. But my partner of the time came up with a copy of the soundtrack to the movie Countryman. There was some great stuff on it, but it was Perry’s vocal on this tune – a good a roots vocal as I’ve ever heard – that set me off on all this.

(click the pic to get the mix)

as with all these mixes, you may need to append “.mp3” to the end of the file..

1. Josie Mel & Luton Fyah – Rasta Still Deh Bout 0.00
2. The Chantells – Waiting In The Park 03.50
3. The Mighty Diamonds – Ghetto Living 07.10
4. Johnnie Osbourne – Jah Promise 10.40
5. Sylford Walker – Burn Babylon 14.30
6. VC – By His Deeds 21.10
7. Slim Smith – My Conversation 25.05
8. Half Pint – Mr Landlord 28.50
9. Barrington Levy – Dances Are Changing 31.50
10. The Bluebells – Come Along 35.20
11. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Dreadlocks In Moonlight 38.10
12. Israel Vibration – I’ll Go Through 41.45
13. Rod Taylor – Ethiopian Kings 45.45
14. The Gatherers – Words Of My Mouth 51.30
15. Yabby You / Big Youth – Yabby Youth / Lightning Flash Weak Heart Drop 54.45
16. Matumbi – The Man In Me 57.55
17. Johnny Clarke – Declaration of Rights 61.20
18. The Gladiators – Looks Is Deceiving 64.35
19. Eek A Mouse – Noah’s Ark 66.55
20. Lloyd Parkes – Mafia 70.15
21. Cornell Campbell – Dance In Greenwich Farm (Megamix) 72.45

Everybody Is A Star
August 3, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So I went to my friend‘s funeral on Friday. I won’t dwell overmuch, just to say it was a beautifully done service (memories of his bizarre but infectious laugh, his collection of dried frog corpses, how he had so many pairs of trainers – 100+ – that the collective noun for them should forever be a ‘Clayton of trainers’.) but as much as we all tried to emphasise the celebration, not the loss, when his widow lifted their children up to the coffin to say goodbye, it was like being kicked in the stomach. Hard.

Anyway, the bit I wanted to write about was what happened when we left the chapel: we filed out, quietly, onto the path that ran down into a garden behind the chapel where they laid the flowers. I looked up to the sky and saw a small silver, starshaped helium balloon that must have got away from one of the kids. It was floating slowly upwards and away and I stopped in my tracks and watched it get smaller and smaller till it finally slipped from sight, lost in the clouds.

But then I suddenly felt self-conscious, naff even, because of the association I was making between the balloon and my friend. I looked around, and saw that to either side of me almost everyone was doing the same thing – either staring into the clouds, or pulling back from the moment, perhaps feeling as daft as I did. If it had been in a Hollywood movie, it would have been mawkish, maudlin, sentimental and probably feature a Robin Williams voiceover. But it wasn’t a Hollywood movie, it was my mate’s funeral, and when I saw that balloon vanish, it did feel like he was leaving us and he was a star.

To make this in any way relevant to a music blog, this is what was played as we all filed past the coffin.

The Damned – Love Song
(from the album The Best Of The Damned)