Friday, 29 August 2008

"Let Freedom Ring"

Forty five years ago today in 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech "I Have A Dream" At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Assassinated on 4 April 1968 in the southern US city of Memphis, Tennessee, aged 39.

His words live and resonate on forever!!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A Bitter Pill To Swallow!

I know the music is about spreading and sharing the love, but back in '76-'77 there wasn`t a whole lot of loving going on!!
My own naivety with the social issues of the day was soon to be smashed and in a positive way... I`d always been brought up in an atmosphere of racial and religious tolerance. My father was a left-wing union negotiator in the printing industry and was involved in all the early CDN marches and Anti-Apartheid Movement, with my sister sitting on his shoulders on demo`s in Trafalgar Sq. Of course the events of `76 at the Notting Hill carnival, were still fresh in peoples memories. The anger young black men had been suppressing for years over the notorious "Sus laws" under which anybody could be stopped, searched and held, even if only suspected of planning a crime.....Exploded...(does it have any resonance for today?)

It was a milestone in race relations in Britain. For me, my own experience with the Queens Metropolitan constabulary was to follow...One evening strolling back with the boys to Fitzrovia, after an evening of playing tunes from my bedroom widow to the local urchins below, i used to get quite a crowd out front to the consternation of the neighbours!
Passing the White House Hotel on Osnaburgh Street, two huge PC Plods approached...."Oi, what the fuck you up to N**gers"....screamed one, I could hear Mickey D whisper "Oh fuck, here we go"..."Nothing Constable, just walking home" I Chirped..."Who the fucking hell was speaking to you, you little shit" came the reply from Plod..It was the first time i had had any meaningful interaction with Her Majesty's law enforcement, outside our local beat bobby who knew everyone's first names on the estate and was more like a tough patriarch in a uniform, than a real policeman..

Now i knew something was not right..They grabbed both Timmy and Mickey and threw them up against the side wall of the hotel and preceded to frisk `em...continually barking obscenities at them, me standing there in total shock..after a few minutes that seemed like eternity, i got up the courage to speak.."Whats going on, why arn`t you frisking me"..."cause you are not Black".....said plod, and immediately continued, "But if you fancy it, i can duly oblige, now fuck off and go home"....."No" i return the verbal, "I 'm not going anywhere, I'm going to watch you and report your actions to my old man", (who subsequently wrote a letter of complaint to the chief constable at Albany Street station a week later).....The seeds had been sown, my own education into the oppression the black youth of Britain were experiencing day to day was cemented...The indignation and humiliation felt by my spars overwhelmed me.....Plod, of course finding nothing on three 16 year kids after the shake down, gave a swift boot up the arse to Timmy and told us to watch ourselves.....Then waddled off towards Longford Street.

For a short while we just stood there staring at each other trying to piece together our emotions...Mickey broke the silence, "second time this week". Racism was again on the agenda in British society, the economic climate of despair and discontent, so readily used by the National Front, the British fascist party of the time, to breed hatred and intolerance in the communities was soon to be challenged. The politics and music of a generation that came together as an outlet for change was to manifest itself in the Anti-Nazi League and the Rock Against Racism (RAR) concerts that pulled thousands and was crucial in educating young people especially the punks to anti-racist politics...But we knew the fight had to be taken to the streets and that's where we were heading to Lewisham..

Friday, 15 August 2008

Artist Review: Donald Byrd.

From time to time I will revisit the artists that have made a profound impact on my life. First up is one of the most amazing producers and trumpeters of the modern era and for me personally, the Godfather of the London jazz/funk scene of the late 70`s early 80`s...The first long platter I obtained from "Mr BlackByrd" was "Place & Spaces of course from Groove...I would play this album every night for weeks and simply trip out or have an "Arthur" in my bedroom over the arrangements in the tracks....Fallin´ Like Dominoes, Place and Spaces, Change (Makes You Want To Hustle), Wind Parade, and my personal favorite - You And The Music....

Tracks that would later provided a rich source of samples for the Hip-Hop community. Even though Places and Spaces is an out and out jazz funk classic, It`s just one of his many masterpieces. Black Byrd (1972), Street Lady (1973), Stepping into Tomorrow (1974), Caricatures (1976), Love Byrd: Donald Byrd and 125th St, N.Y.C. (1981), to name a few and that is without going into the Long en`s he produced for the band he put together with the production skills of brothers Larry and Fonce Mizell. The Blackbyrds.
DB was considered one of the finest hard bop trumpeters, before his foray into funk rhythms..His first collaboration with the Mizell brothers was 1972's Black Byrd...and this track - "Flight Time".

The Jazz critics of the time slated the album and called Byrd a cop out, but the record was a absolute smash hit,it became the biggest seller in Blue Note history, and just missed hitting number one on the R&B albums chart in the US. It was after he formed the Blackbyrds as his supporting band, grouped together from his outstanding students at Howard University..Together producing more outstanding Jazz-funk classics, this period is held in reverence by myself and I`m sure by so many other funkerters of the time.

Although Mr Byrd went on to record several more albums, none had the infectiousness of his Blue Note jazz-funk outings for me. In 1993 he appeared with GURU on his Jazzmatazz project, which was the only time i ever got to see the great man live at the Town & Country club, in Kentish Town. It was like a pilgrimage to visit an outer world deity..

Monday, 11 August 2008

You got a signal yet?

It was always a struggle for us funk fiends to find the music we were buying and hearing in the clubs, on the radio. Radio One was still churning out its daily diet of sugary pap that appealed as much to your parents as it did to your kid sister, but soon that was coming to an end, for ever!
Although Radio Invicta was nothing new, having started around the early 70`s, we just could never pick up a bloody was either our shitty little cassette radio`s or living right in the center of London with all the concrete to soak up the illicit broadcasts...Then one bright sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to head over to Regents Park from our normal plot hanging and larking out in Fitzroy square. Fitzroy is one of those beautiful squares that London prides itself on surrounded by Georgian houses with Portland stone exteriors, obviously built for the Aristos of earlier times...Regents Park on the other hand offered us a vast expanse of explore, with its fantastic Nash landscape. Really looking back on it now we were very lucky to have such an incredible outlet right on our doorsteps. Passing Gt Portland Street tube station up Park Square east, Timmy`s still dancing along with his brand new Boogiebox bought the week before, we`d enter the Avenue Garden section of the park, always an advantageous position to admire the cuties either domestic or foreign passing by. Finding a spot to plot, it would be on to the dial chasing that frequency..92.4VHF....hissing, crackling...Got it!!!

You hear the jingle 'Soul over London'.....then.

It was the clearest signal we had heard, collectively our minds joined together and so did our eyes, wide open to the potential for taping to the max...."Fuck that does it", We had found another spot to call our own. "Stonehenge" we nicknamed it, due to a rather strange metallic piece of sculpture by some unknown artist, that we used to prop the boogiebox up against, which seem to improve the quality of signal. Sunday afternoon will never be the same again, we could do there what we wanted to do!!

and we did indeed, over the following years and other pirates that came and went most notably, JFM, LWR, Horizon, Solar and later Kiss, who in later years would be the only station to gain a legal status. "Stonehenge" became the mecca for all the funky kids from around the flats...Leeko "mr guitarman", Glug, The Boon, Johnny "organics sax" L, Jinadu, The Langridge family, K,P & Erica Tilly, The Legs Diamond, MD "the pusherman" all becoming one little funky family immersed in the tunes of the times!

And not only on weekends, many balmy hot summer evenings, we`d meet up outside the offy on Robert Street, armed with our sauce of choice, boogiebox and blunts, we`d jump the park gates and head further into the epicenter, so as the circling plod patrol, would never hear the 24 hour sounds...we`d party until sunrise, occasionally crashing because too mashed move.

Too all the dj`s on those stations, thank you guys!

Tribute: Isaac Hayes R.I.P.

August 20, 1942 -- August 10, 2008

Its with great sadness, that today I`ve heard about the passing of the great Soul Singer. Mr "Shaft" Isaac Hayes. I had the pleasure of meeting the great man once, he was introduced to me by Dionne and the man was a colossus and a real gentleman, with that rich baritone voice of his. R.I.P big man, your music will forever be implanted in my consciousness.

Isaac Hayes - along with Al Green, James Brown and Stevie Wonder - was one of the dominant black artists of the early 1970s.
Hayes, a self-taught musician, was hired in 1964 by Stax Records as a back-up pianist and saxophone, working as a session musician for big names such as Otis Redding.
He established a songwriting partnership with David Porter, and in the 1960s, writing hits for Sam and Dave such as Hold On, I'm Coming and Soul Man. This success led on to a recording contract, and in 1969 he shot to fame with the release the groundbreaking album Hot Buttered Soul.

The theme from the film Shaft was a number one hit in 1971. He won an Academy Award for the song and was nominated for another one for the score. The song and score also won him two Grammys.

A look back at the life of Isaac Hayes

Ike had recently finished work on a movie called "Soul Men" in which he played himself, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac, who also died on Saturday, It will be released in November 2008..

Monday, 4 August 2008

Was it all it was Cracked up to be?

Our Church, The Temple of Funk, Synagogue of Soul, our Jinja of Jazz.

Crackers 1976 - 1979

It`s Sunday night and i have a meet with the boys.....They would always be found lounging on the railing outside Holcroft Court on Clipstone Street, W1....A short exhange of "Easy yeah...ready" and we`d be off weaving our way through the small streets of Fitzrovia to Oxford Street....Timmy dancing instead of walking and Mickey and me talking toooons.

Destination "CRACKERS" Night club.

We`d finally reach and the queue`s already 50 deep down towards Noel Street, but this never worried us as our mate was on the door...the line of dancers assembled was a who` who of the soul/funk/jazz clubbing fraternity...Shakesy, Mohammad, BP, PF and H, BKS in his deerstalker, Jazz dancers and pineapple studio goers, all ready for the evenings sweat down.
We`d sit on the inevitable parked cars right outside the entrance so we could catch the sounds waffling up the stairs and out into the clear night. Sometimes we`d hear a tune and immediately jump up and start dancing in the road, which would always seem to amuse the doorman, but the other clubbers, used to look at us as though we was off our rockers!! and we was. Totally engrossed with the sounds, we wouldn`t give a monkey`s what people thought and didn`t try to look or act cool...fuck dat, those Basslines were way to good to care....As soon as the Q had emptied we`d head down in the knowledge that this underground cavern was the ultimate in dancing heaven..

Crackers was a shit-hole really, the stench of sausage & chips they included in the price of admittance would overwhelm you, as you descended the last few steps. But the evenings entertainment would be salubrious none the less. We`d make a bee-line for the seats right of the stage area, plonk down our bags, containing a towel, Chelsea boots and change of T-shirt for when you left into the fresh night air. Now, with footwear changed we were ready, grab a juice from the bar and survey the scene.

It`s dark & hot already , the only light is on Stage where the DJ is doing his thang, George P was an unlikely DJ in this setting, a 40 year old Greek guy from Norf london but who was on the pulse of the young soul rebels of London town. Everyone is getting down to the same rhythm and there are no inhibitions. A mixed crowd of 70/30 Black & White and not a fight to be seen, although sometimes getting close. You see, it was the battle of the day, not with guns or weapons, but peoples they slipped, slide and pirouetted there way around the dancefloor...Soon a couple of the faces would start cranking up the moves and a crowd would gather round them, whopping their approval, if you got too close you would be kicked, as the spins came think and fast, or splashed in the face with the sweat dripping off their muscular bodies..It was quite a cliquey scene, many people knew each other, Soulboys & girls from Essex, the West side, Sarf & Norf London, a right melting pot of movement. We always felt a bit intimidated but we were the West End kids and didn`t care too much for that, we was having sooooo much fun...It seemed like a perfect world to be in.

Eddie Henderson - Say you will

And it was, I felt it deep in my own soul...the basslines, horn sections, uplifting vocals and down right dirty drums....The hybrid funk of a generation.
The last tune of the evening would inevitably be a slowie, so whoever had been eyeing each other up all night, could get it Onnn!!! After the needle of the citronic deck slipped off the last piece of warm analogue vinyl, the whole assembled mass, would cheer, whistle and clap Georgie P and scream " more"..but that was it, we`d have to wait until next Friday lunchtime for our next fix of narcotic Soul.

Bobby Womack - Daylight

As the crowd would be ushered out by the doorman, we`d hang back until the very last, savoring the special feeling of tired limbs and drenched to the toilets for a quick douse around the armpits, dry off and change back into my converse for the short walk home. Climbing the stairs, peeps would be saying their farewells as they entered, cool early morning London, hanging around outside, causing a roadblock for the mini-cabs at the top of Wardour Street, discussing other clubs and arranging meets at , Bali Hai in Stratham, The Goldmine & Lacy Lady in Essex, Frenchies in Camberley, these were all suburban clubs, except Gullivers in Mayfair, which we always had trouble to get into being so young, but we did try!.
We never ventured out to those suburban places, not having any wheels between the 3 of us and in no way could afford a mini-cab home, and why should we, we had it all on our own doorstep so to speak and or so we thought....Crackers, Ronnie Scott`s,100 club & Spatz, that seemed enough for us at the time....But that was all about to change. I`d walk back with the guys to their flats and say our "Laters" had been another great fucking evening and with a smile on my face, I`d head back home to hit the sack.....but not before i heard just one more Toon. I`d reach for the cassette radio......Play!

Ramp - Daylight

Hear Mark Roman's 3 part Crackers Story..

To Catch A Groove!!

On the corner of Bateman & Greek street in London`s Soho stood Groove records.....There of course were other good import record stores in London like Contempo Records in Hanway Street, or City Sounds, but for us Groove had it all...A small shop that if you had 10-15 people in there you couldn`t move, with wall to wall tunes stacked everywhere.....Our thing then was, after closing at the 3 C`s youth club around 8pm, we`d mingle outside for a while chatting up the girls, Tim in his resplendent silk strides and plastic sandels always seemed to be able to blag the best of the lot, even though he was more effeminate than either Mickey D or myself. Once the youngest of the priests had locked the front door we`d head off through the small streets and alleys towards Soho. We knew every nook and cranny, `cause residing in W1 & NW1 this was our playground....passing wineos, prozzies and urine smelling doorways, we never flinched an inch `cause we was on a mission to Catch that Groove.

Passing Soho Square our adrenalin would start to pump, wondering what goodies we would discover tonight..Every now and then we would see the white distributors van pull up outside the shop loaded with the freshest American black music imports.
It was then a race. 3 kids running down the street pulling, bumping and jumping each other to be the first inside and reach the counter where the guy`s would be shifting though the vinyl,like a poker player dealing out the cards....5 of that, 10 of this, 20 of that, as ML the shopworker called out his restocks...We just couldn`t wait until this was over and the real fun would begin, the New Stuff!

Mickey D, would always have a piece of paper and pencil at the ready as ML would listen through the LP`s first, followed by the 12" extended mixes and then the 45`s, with Mickey leaning over the counter scribbling away, he was always a bit more trainspotterish.....Timmy on the other hand would be practicing new dance moves at the back of the shop and me digging through the shelves in case I`d missed something from the day or week before. Once the vanman had left, ML would go through them all again. This time listening all the way through the tracks, with 2 beady eyed kids leaning over the counter to look at the centre disc`s spinning around..
Wass zat! I`d say, still digging...."New Johnny Hammond", Mickey would bark out, "I want that", I`d bark back. This would go on until everything had been heard and documented..

It would be getting close to midnight and i`d have to get home before my dad finished one of his early shifts in the print on Fleet Street....We`d calculate how much cash we had between the 3 of us and buy, what we considered the best tune. It was an arrangement we had, but Mickey always got to keep the tune for the first few days....What we did was record the track on to tape, either one already in progress or a brand new one, these we used to sell, like our own 3 amigo compilations.....We`d all take turns to have the tune, until Mickey payed us back our share, then we would purchase our own copy. A major discovery in Groove for me was this track by an artist I`d never heard before.

With the pubs of Soho kicking there customers out for the evening and the nightpeople jostling in queues to their favorite haunts...we`d be off walking back norf, hopefully not bumping into the old lady that actually owned Groove. An unlikely large matriarch, with tights rolled down around her ankles, curlers in and oversized red cardy, who ruled her roost from the small office behind the counter with an iron fist. Happy in the knowledge that we had secured another killer track, tucked up under our arms.

We`d sometimes pass by Ronnie Scott`s to look at the people outside and check what artists were playing and other times step pass another club at the top of Wardour Street, to say hi to the doormen who know us by name.

This club would become our church of all things

Sunday, 3 August 2008


And what a scorcher it was. the year of the endless summer, months of temperatures in the 90`s but as the sun shone the economy was crumbling along with the dried-up riverbeds, not that i noticed that much cause in my world there was only music, football and of course my final school exams..I was 15, sitting in those large Victorian halls sweating balls of, not over the difficulty of the tests but the heat was the end, with about three papers to finish i could take it no longer, during geography i upped sticks and just walked out, never to set foot in the place ever again. At first there was trepidation, what have i done, what`s my parents going to say...but as i was slowly walking passed Lord`s cricket ground, in St. John`s Wood where my school was situated, another feeling came over me.....A feeling of Freedom!!.


It was about the same time I was outliving the 3 C`s youth club and it was time to venture out...The two good friends i met there were also in the same frame of mind...Timmy, born of a Swedish mother and Jamaican father and Michael Darko of Nigerian decent and me born of parents who were themselves born in London, but having Irish/Sephardim Jew on my fathers side and Scottish/French on my mothers side....A right old cocktail of ethnicity, but to these unlikely 3 amigos...we were just London inn't!! 

In those days as you can image there wasn`t much dosh around, the average wage was around £72 a week then....both Timmy and i had P/T jobs on weekends, he at Wimpeys the burger bar of choice before the American invasion and me on my uncle Peggy`s stall in Piccadilly Circus, that sold dolls & postcards to tourists, It`s still there today right outside Tower records.

Coming from Central London, the boys from Cleveland Street, right under the GPO tower as it was known then and me from across the Euston Rd on the Regent`s Park Estate, we were well positioned to take advantage of all that was on offer and there was plenty.

The soundtrack that was waffling across the airwaves that summer that had any interest for us was "
Tear The Roof Off The Sucker" by Parliament, "Young Hearts Run Free" - Candi Staton, "Getaway" - Earth, Wind and Fire, "Wake Up Everybody "- Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, Brass Construction - "Movin" and a gem from Johnnie Taylor called "Disco Lady". But i was digging a sound from 3 years earlier.. 

Bobbi Humphrey - Harlem River Drive

There was, "I Love Music" by O'Jays, "Play That Funky Music" - Wild Cherry and the Seminal and sexy vocal of Donna Summer and "Love To Love You Baby", Boz Scaggs, "Lowdown" and the wonderful "Love Hangover" by Diana Ross, later to be remixed into a stomper of a chugging house number remixed by Frankie Knuckles. But the tune that was rocking my world was this classic by;  
Crown Heights Affair - "Far Out"

Disco was in full swing but we was looking for that elusive Groove and we knew where to find it!

"The Way Of The Dub" Vol.1

A recent Mix i did for my friend Jez`s music blog, go over there and get it while you can (its deleted there now), so download it from the links below....It was a joy to make and very pleased that Jez thought it worthy to host on his wonderful site.

sine of the dub - kode9 & space ape
don’t test wu stallion - suga bang bang
jehova - rusko
dis ya one - more rockers
push push(original version) - original rockers
reverted - cari lekebrusch
one million man dub - mad professor & jah shaka
400 years - jimpster remix
dancehall operator - transglobal underground
smiley - skream
om namah sivaya - apache indian
peace in de ghetto - johnny clarke

Saturday, 2 August 2008

She got her man..

You know when its time, when a lady crosses your path and you just can`t get her out of your mind....I had held out for 40 years, but eventually she got her man...
This track is the one we danced too after cutting the cake at our wedding party held in Otaru, Hokkaido in August 2004.I hope it brings you as much joy as it did us.


Let me Down!

This is a track I will always remember from the 3 C`s youth club, that I cut my teeth, dj`ing at back in the day. Punk was exploding in London towards the end of `76, but in a small corner of Fitzrovia, just off the Euston Rd, a small youth club run by Catholic priests was in Soul heaven.

From 1973 with the bass line on this tune played by William Murphy, off the LP "At Memphis" on Stax Records. Inez and her brother Charlie Foxx toured extensively in Europe and their music played a key role in the development of the Northern Soul movement at the Wigan Casino in the North of England. In 1978, Wigan Casino was voted the world's number one disco by the American music magazine Billboard. This was during the heyday of the world famous Studio 54 nightclub in New York City, and only a year before the cities' equally renowned Paradise Garage was awarded the same accolade.

Bella Spurs babe.

Seeing as the new football season is about to kick-off in the UK, here`s a little gem of my bella daughter doing her thing in her Spurs shirt! Yes her daddy is a mad supporter of this grand old team from N17.

Emmilee aged 2 and 5 months...Go Girl!!

Friday, 1 August 2008

Where did this come from?

Hello, g`day, konnichiwa, ciao, as salam alkum ....So here it is at last...I had been thinking, you know the kind that takes a while about starting my own Music/Vid/Gob Blog, but just hadn't found the inclination (laziness) or time...But that's all a changing in the wind.

I must say a big thank you to a friend of mine who without doubt has inspired me to indulge in the world of the bloggosphere, his name is Jez over at Innersounds... respexx my man,although his blog has passed on now show some love on his twitter page;

I will be dropping some tunage on you from time to time, some life stories, thoughts and perspectives of my life past and present!


Hit it up Selecta!

Stanley Cowell - "Travelin' Man"

From the 1976 LP "Regeneration" with Marion Brown (wooden flute), Stanley Cowell (mbire), Charles Fowlkes (vocals),Jimmy Heath (flute), Billy Higgins (miscellaneous percussion), Kareema (vocals), Bill Lee (acoustic bass), Nadi Quamar (mamalekimbe).