WARMER MIXTAPES #854 | by Patrick Forge (Batu) and Christian Franck (Chris & Nina, Smoke City, Christ And Brown, Tate's Place, Batu, ZEEP) of Da Lata

SIDE A | by Christian Franck

1. Nina Simone | Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Live on June 16, 1968 at the 2nd Montreux Jazz Festival)
In my opinion, one of the Greatest Female Vocalists of Our Time. This Version seems to be quite Free and Improvised. That's what I Love about it. Her Delivery of the Melody and use of Harmony is Sublime. So Simple, but at the same time very Deep and Mysterious.

2. Da Lata | Um Amor A Mais (feat. Luisa Maita)
The Opening Track to our Forthcoming Album Fabiola. Luisa has all the Qualities of a Classic Brazilian Singer yet her Interpretation is Unique and Fresh, Setting Her Apart from the Usual Clichéd Female Bossa Style Voice. She Rides the Rhythm Effortlessly Allowing Her Sensuality and the Subtleties in Her Voice to Shine.

3. Graveola E O Lixo Polifônico  | Babulina's Trip
One of the Best New Bands to Come Out of Brasil in the Last Few Years. This track is Reminiscent of Many of the Great Brazilian Funk Tunes of the 1970's, but has a Modern Sensibility which makes it Unique. It has a Swing which only Brazilians are Capable Of when Playing this Kind of Groove. Great Arrangement and Vocals. This Tune puts a Smile on Your Face!

4. Gillian Welch | The Way It Goes
Taken from the album The Harrow And The Harvest. This is all about Great Song Writing. Simple Instrumentation, Soulful Guitar Playing, Great Lyrics and Beautiful Vocal Harmonies.

5. Hiatus Kaiyote | Nakamarra (feat. Q Tip)
This again is about Great Song Writing and Great Musicians. I Love the fact that it's all Live and Played by a Real band. The Jazz Influence is Strong here, but not to the point where it Alienates the Listener. Q Tip's Rap Works Well within the Context of the Tune and By No Means seems like a Token feature.

6. Da Lata | Ronco Da Cuíca (João Bosco's 'O Ronco Da Cuíca' Cover) (Live Session in London, February 2013)
Written by the great João Bosco and Aldir Blanc. This Version features the Da Lata's All Starts Band. Our Extended Family of Live Musicians who are quite Simply Amazing. Pure 100% Da Lata Groove at Its Best. The Energy in this Version Speaks for Itself.

7. Bob Marley & The Wailers | War
What can I say? It's Bob Marley. Killer Groove, Great Horn Arrangement and Lyrics which are As Relevant Now As They Ever Were. Live Version is Amazing too!

8. TiãoDuá | Mint Sun Drops
Another Great New Band from Belo Horizonte in Brasil. There seems to be a Strong Vibe coming from that City at the moment. To Write a Great Tune in a 7/4 Time Signature is Not An Easy Thing To Do. This tune has a Strong Melody, Beautiful Harmonies and a Fantastic Arrangement. Leaves You Feeling Very Uplifted.

9. Tulipa Ruiz | Víbora
Taken from the album Tudo Tanto. Tulipa Ruiz is an Incredibly Talented New Singer/Songwriter from São Paulo. Her Voice is Like No Other and Her Live Performances are Brilliant. I Love the Journey of this Track. Sparse Beginning with Beautiful Strings, Stripped Down Drums and Up Front Electric Guitar. The track Keeps Building and Tulipa just Keeps on Taking It Higher. A Great Performance. The Whole Thing reminds me a bit of Portishead.

10. Da Lata | Um Amor A Mais (feat. Knytro) (Kidse Remix)
Always Wanted to Have a Raw Favela Funk Style Remix of this track as that is Where the Inspiration Came From in the First Place. Minimal Heavy Beats with Great Analog Synth Hooks Running Throughout. Had to get my friend Knytro to Rap on this in order to make that London - Brazil connection once again. This Remix is Heavy!

SIDE B | by Patrick Forge

1. Miles Davis | So What
I began to Explore the Tradition of Classic Jazz in my Youth, and though much of the Music I Listened To and Bought Went Straight Over My Head, I Craved its Resonance and Depth. I Could Hear Something, and I Reached for an Understanding and Appreciation that my Tender Years and Inexperience Wouldn’t Yet Allow. So now having spent most of my Adult Life Buying and Collecting Jazz Records maybe it seems Odd to Focus On one of the few Jazz Records that is Widely Known when I could pick Something Far More Obscure and Seemingly Hip. The Fact remains there is No Hipper Music, even though Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue Crops Up in Many People’s Collections, sometimes the Sole and Token Jazz Recording, there are Reasons for it’s Almost Universal Popularity, the Fundamental one being that it is just that Good, a Classic Work of Genius that can hold it’s Own with Anything from the Canon of Classical and Serious Music. Why Do People Love This Tune? Well, the First Thing I Loved about it, and Doubtless the Hook that Grabs Most Listeners is the Head which is really nothing more than a Bass Motif Punctuated by the Horns and Rhythm Section. But what a Line, what a Riff; a Peerless Pearl of Such Consummate Grace, that One Could Spend a Lifetime Trying to Write Something that Could Match it’s Power and Beauty. When I First Heard So What I grabbed that Line and Held On Tight, as I was Generally Adrift in a Sea of Complexities that Were Lost on Me when I listened to Jazz in my Teens, but here At Last was Something so Solid, It Would Become a Cornerstone, Something I Could Build My Taste Around. Maybe the Second Thing that Attracted to me to So What and Kind Of Blue in General was it’s Atmosphere, although I Failed to Appreciate what that Alchemy of Sound and Composition Was At The Time, it just felt so Magical, as though the Door to a New World had Swung Open and I was being Beckoned Inside. Reflecting Back After Years of Study and Appreciation, I Know, or at least I Think I Know, most of the Elements that Combined on This Recording that Make It So Special. Miles’ Band of That Time could easily be described as the Greatest Small Jazz Group to Ever Grace a Stage or a Recording Studio, and as I’ve Come to Realise Over the Years, No Great Band Can Become So Without a Great Drummer, of course the Entire Rhythm Section is Important, but the Bass and Piano must ultimately take their Cue from the Drums. Miles’ Rhythm Section prior to the Recording of Kind Of Blue was based on the Ineffable Pulse of Philly Jo Jones, and completed by the Rugged Grace of Paul Chambers' Bass Playing with it’s Tone as Big and Warm as Castle’s Fireplace, and Red Garland’s Piano who had a knack of Comping behind Horn Players that would Inspire and Free the Soloist to Greater Heights. So Good were this Trio that they were simply known as The Rhythm Section. However although these three had been stalwarts in Miles’ Band for a while, the Master Move that Miles made on Kind Of Blue was Introducing a New Young and Precocious Talent on Piano, Bill Evans. Not only was Evans a White Face in a Band that had Already in a Way Established a Reputation for a Very Black Form of Hard Pop, his Influence and Style was also bringing to Bear a more Lyrical, Romantic, European Sensibility to the Music, with his Harmonic Palette very much built upon a Debussy-esque Aesthetic. Evans is there with this almost Un-Jazz Presence right from the Intro of So What, before that Distinctive Bass-Line kicks in, there’s this Floating Harmonic Drift, that seems to Defy Gravity as it Lacks a Centre, about as Far Away from the Blues as you can get. Of course, So What is a Modal tune, which I only came to recognise later. Miles wasn’t the first Jazz Musician to Explore the Liberating Possibilities of Music that Abandoned the Restrictive Formula of Always Running Chord Changes, however, with Bill Evans as the Harmonic Ringmaster at the Piano and Chambers and Jones Grooving so Sweetly behind him, an Unique Backdrop was created for the Soloists to Parade their Artistry. Miles, of course, is the Dark Magus who sets the Tone and Solos First. On So What his Muted Tone as Achingly Hip and Lean As the Elusive Figure He Struck on Stage, yet for all it’s Spareness and Contrived Elegance - Each Nuance is Packed with Emotion. The two Saxophone Players are the Contrast and Balance to Miles' Minimal Tension and Evans Feminine (or should that be Feline?) Grace. Of course, the Tenor Player is Coltrane, captured on So What as he Begins to Turn the Corner from the Raw and Often Messy Seeker of his Early Recordings When Notes Would Seemingly Spill from his Horn in an Unedited Torrent of Expression, Towards the Spiritual Depth and Ultimate Soulfulness of his Greatest Recordings. 'Trane was still a Junkie when Kind Of Blue was Recorded, but he’s only a Short Step Away from the Transformative Revelations and Epiphanies that Would Lead Him to Make A Love Supreme and the Albums That Followed. Completing the Line-Up, Cannonball Adderley has all the Churchiness, and Bluesy Down-Homeness One Could Wish For in a Saxophonist, however as an Alto Player he brings this Rootsy Feeling to the Brew with a Lighter Sound and a Fierce Virtuosity that Somehow Fills in the Gaps that Miles and Trane have Left Open. The Last Aspect of So What and Kind Of Blue that I’ve more recently come to Appreciate is the Sound, the Amazing Fidelity and Atmosphere of the Recording. Columbia’s 30th Street Studio was a Converted Armenian Church that lent a very Distinctive Splendour to Anything that was Recorded There. The Sound of that Room is so Obvious Once You Focus On It You Can Hear It Very Clearly in So Many Classic Recordings from the Period on the Columbia Label, from Glen Gould playing Bach, to Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Simon And Garfunkel; they all benefitted from this Magical Recording Space. However such was the Size and Nature of the Room that only the Best Engineers could Achieve the Astounding Results that Could be Reached at 30th Street Studio, suffice to say that Fred Plaut, who recorded Kind Of Blue, was probably the Best of All Those Who Worked There. Listening to some of the Jazz Records that were recorded at 30th Street, I just wish that All my Favourite Jazz Albums Had Been Made In That Space, listen to Kind Of Blue or Chartle MingusAh Um which was another 30th Street Classic and then listen to a Blue Note album from the Same Period and You’ll Know What I Mean!!

2. Todd Rundgren | Hello It’s Me
As a Young Teenager I mainly listened to Rock, however one of the Records that one of my Older Friends Introduced to Me as a Callow Youth was Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything. Although Rundgren would go to Record some Absurdly Pompous Prog with his band Utopia, Something/Anything is an album that can be Comfortably Described as Pop/Blue Eyed Soul, and it’s also a True Solo Album as Todd played Most of the Instruments Himself. It’s a Funny Term Blue Eyed Soul, what it obviously refers to is a Simple Notion, Black Music Made by White People; though any Student of Soul Music should know that the Black/White Divide in terms of Authenticity is a General Truism, though Not Exclusively So. However I’ve come to think of Blue Eyed Soul marking a more Subtle Distinction, it’s Not Just About a White Singer Recording in a Distinctly Soul Style and Idiom, for example Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis, to me it implies an Influence and Feeling that is Manifest in Music that is No Way Trying to Slaveishly Ape Authenticity, it’s Just There, it’s got Soul, and If You Feel It You Know It, and for me Rundgren has it. To describe Rundgren as a Maverick or an Oddball is Something of an Understatement. There’s a Classic Clip of him appearing on the TV Show The Midnight Special performing Hello It’s Me, ( a song which was Popular with Back Audiences Stateside), he’s introduced by The Four Tops who Hosted the Show that Night, and the Camera Pans to Todd sat at the Piano, Looking like a Perfect Freak. This is 1973 and David Bowie is touring the Diamond Dogs Album and Drifting Towards the Soulful Sound of Young Americans, even he’s dropped the Arch Glam look of Ziggy in favour of Something More Restrained and Less Divisive in an America that was Still Intensively Conservative and Generally Homophobic. But here’s Todd Replete with Heavy Sparkled Eye Make-Up, Wearing Some Kind of Catsuit with Feathers, Singing a Soulful Piano Ballad.... Um!!!! Hello It’s Me is a Song of Infinite Pathos, Lyrically Quite Simple, it’s a Break-Up Song based on the Premise of the Phone-Call You Know You Have To Make When a Relationship is Over, but there is Still Doubt and Considerable Warmth Towards Your Soon To Be Ex-Partner. Of course, it’s a Song Written by a Young Man and Betrays the Naive Arrogance of One Who Thinks He Can Still come around to see you once in a while and spend the night if you think I should, and the song Ends with a Selfish Refrain of think of me... Suffice to say that Great Love Songs are Seldom Based Upon Enlightened Emotions, Great Love Songs Need To Have That Honest, Pure Emotional Core. However All Great Songs Always Transcend the Sum of Their Parts, Analysis is Ultimately Futile, Magic Just Happens! However Hello It’s Me flows from a Classic Major/Minor Pedal that Opens the Song and Creates it’s Harmonic Character, as the words Hello, It’s Me Shift Across a Whole Tone Interval from a Major Seventh to a Minor Seventh, a Fairly Clichéd Chord Change. However what does Distinguish Hello It’s Me is the Way the Harmony Keeps Shifting Whilst the Vocal Melody Remains Quite Static, which Creates an Unusual Tension. Todd Rundgren’s Original Version of the song is Built on Instrumental Textures That Were Fairly Universal in the Early Seventies, it’s mainly Piano and Hammond Organ, though the Trumpet Line in the Bridge provides a Splash of New Colour and is the only Instrument Not Played by Todd on the track. I Love the Flavour of Todd’s Version, the False Start and Count In, and the Way It More or Less Falls Apart at the End rather than Having a Proper Resolution or Fade-Out. Todd’s Lead Vocal has a Wonderful Plaintive Quality, but the Backing Vocals, which Sound like they Could Easily Have Been The Sweet Inspirations or Some Other Chorus of Female Soulsters, are actually all Todd Harmonising in Falsetto. Reputedly, Todd Laid the Whole Thing Down in About 2 Hours, which makes it Ever More Wondrous! Hello It’s Me has become something of a Lesser Known Standard, and has been Recorded Many Times. The Two Versions that Stick Out For Me are The Isley Brothers and Lani Hall who both capture the Song's Essence and Bring Something of their Different Soulfulness to the Tune. Soul, It Comes In Many Shades.

3. Virginia Astley | A Summer Long Since Passed
I recently read Rob Young’s Phenomenal Study of British Folk and Folk-Rock - Electric Eden, which is not only a Comprehensive Study of the Evolution and Development of these Styles, but also Posits a Theory about Essentially English Music that I Find Very Persuasive. It’s not that Young tries to Push this Idea on the Reader, it just Emerges From the Text with a Subtle Insistence. Though it’s Difficult to Define the Idea Exactly, I suppose it’s just the Notion That There Is a Longing for Arcadia, for some kind of Lost Pastoral Utopia that Pervades Much English Music, albeit Vaughan Williams, Pentangle, or... Virginia Astley. A Summer Long Since Passed almost Conjures a Chocolate Box Image of England’s Green and Pleasant Land, the Sound of Peeling Church Bells, and a Choir of Innocent Voices, yet there is a Faintly Disturbing Electronic Undertow which Prevents the Piece from Becoming Maudlin. It’s Quintessentially English but Universally Beautiful, Everything That Ambient Music Should Aspire To Can Be Found Here. Maybe it’s about a Nostalgic Yearning for Lost Innocence, but I Will Always Find This Piece Heavy with Emotional Resonance, even more so as When My Daughter Was Born this was the Soundtrack Which We Had on Constant Rewind, it’s Coco Melody’s Lullaby.

4. The B.B. & Q. Band | Starlette
Who would have thought that an Italian Production Team would make such a Significant and Lasting Contribution to the Traditions of Soulful Dance Music, or Disco if you prefer; but when it comes to Starlette it should definitely be described as Boogie. Popular Prejudice would probably presume that any Italian Contribution to the Art of Dance would be at the Cheesy End of the Spectrum, but Not So, the Production Team of Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi made some of the Most Sophisticated and Original Music I’ve Ever Got Down To. Their Story is an Unusual One for sure, but in the Wake of the Success of Chic and others these Italians Were Able to Build a Bridge Between their Italian Roots and the NYC Heart of the Scene with groups like Change, High Fashion and The B.B. & Q. Band. I first Fell in Love with their Sound when I spent the Aftermath of my First Proper Love Affair, Shut Away in Bedroom with the First Change Album - The Glow Of Love - as the Soundtrack of my Broken Heart. I Always Imagined they Consumed Huge Quantities of Cocaine Making This Music, the Production Sparkles so Intensely, and, though Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards would be an Obvious Place to Start when Describing their Sound, there’s Something Indescribably Brilliant and Totally Original at Play. Whilst the first two Change albums for me represent their Finest Work, it’s always Starlette that I come back to as the Track that Somehow Represents Not Only their Essence but Somehow the Essence of Dance Music Itself. Essentially Uplifting, Escapist, Mindless Boogie is one way of describing it! Their Best Songs are Always Pervaded by a Ridiculous Optimism, a (Drug Induced?) Notion that the Glass is Definitely Half Full if Not Overflowing. Starlette is a Classic Example of this as is High Fashion’s Feelin Lucky Lately or Change’s Paradise. I Marvel at their Ability to Pack so much Hope and Positivity into a Dance tune, but for me that’s What It Is and Should Be All About, and these Productions have given me so many Transcendent Moments of Bliss. I think of Joe Claussell playing Paradise on a Perfect Summer’s Day in Central Park, I think of the Dancefloor in Yoshihiro Okino’s Club in Osaka, Going Completely Nuts and Losing It to Another Classic Change tune Angel In My Pocket, but more than anything I think of the Legendary Paul “Trouble” Anderson Dancing to Starlette. It was a Fairly Inconsequential Midweek Night at the Now Defunct Limelight on Shaftesbury Avenue, I can’t remember who the DJ was, but what I do hold in my Memory is the Joy of Watching Trouble (not only one of the UK's Greatest Ever DJs, but also one of it’s Greatest Ever Dancers) letting off to Starlette. Starlette has a Completely Bombastic Intro of Poly-Synth Chords that Sound like they Might Belong to a song by Genesis, but the Percussion begins to Ripple Before the Drums Kick In and a Guitar Riff of such Nagging Insistence, it sounds like Nile Rogers on Steroids, and then there’s the Bass-Line.... As I began to Explore the Productions of Malavasi (who was Essentially the Musical Side of the Team) I realised that on Most of my Favourite Tunes the Bass Player Davide Romani would also have a Writing Credit. I feel reasonably Well Qualified talking about Bass Players having spent Most of my Mis Spent Youth Trying to Scale the Heights Reached by Bernard Edwards, Marcus Miller, and this man Romani. His Lines aren’t just Brilliant, they’re also Tricky to Play and moreover he had a Totally Original Sound. I suspect he may be the Genius Who Lifted These Tunes to Such Stratospheric Heights. Percussion also plays an Important Part in giving Starlette its Sublime Momentum, it’s mainly a Cowbell part, and I often feel that the Humble Cowbell has an Essential Role to Play in the Music We Call Boogie. Listen to Universal Robot Band’s Classic Barely Breaking Even with its Unfeasibly Loud Bell Motif, it’s Virtually a Lead Instrument! Likewise the Bell Part on Starlette. To sum it all up I’ll quote from the song You know your Destiny’s right in your hands, oh, baby, reach out and take it while you can!... And What Else Would You Want to Hear While Lost in the Dance?

5. Lô Borges | Clube Da Esquina Nº 2 
Unlike Chris Franck, my partner in Da Lata, I don’t speak Portuguese, and consequently I’ve kept a Certain Distance between Myself and the Culture and Music of Brazil which I have such a Deep Passion for. However I’ve spent enough time Studying the Lyrics of my Favourite Tunes in Translation to Realise that that the Harmonic and Melodic Beauty is often Matched by an Abstract Poeticism which is really very Distinct from much Songwriting in English. I’m also Aware that I have a Tendency to Romanticise Brazilian Music, and there’s one vein of Brazilian Music that for me has taken on this Mythological Quality, the Music of Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges from Minas Gerais. Cut off from the Urban Sophistication of São Paulo and Rio, I imagine this Sound that they Developed as Springing from a Kind of Untainted Innocence, a Love of The Beatles (when Borges first met Nascimento he had a band that played exclusively Beatles Covers) and a Freedom to Explore the Possibilities of Songwriting Unburdened by Too Much Outside Influence. As much as this Fresh and Unique Quality Pervades all Brazilian Music, which is after all a Relatively Young Country that was Able to Quickly Assimilate the Influences of European Romanticism and Africa into Something Completely Unique, this Quality is Manifest with such Intensity in the Minas Sound. This tune that first appeared on Milton’s Clube Da Esquina Album is one of the Most Beautiful Melodies I Know, I’m not sure When the Words Were Written as the Original Version has the Melody sung without Lyrics, the Lô Borges Version appeared on his Album A Via Lactea (The Milky Way) which is packed with tunes that have that Wondrous Harmonic Minas Flavour. Perhaps my Favourite Interpretation is by Nana Caymi who takes the Achingly Beautiful Melody to the Next Level, but its Lô Borges song and he’s the Genius who Deserves all the Respect and Admiration. Milton, of course, has gone on to become an International Superstar whereas Lô Borges' Work is Less Well Known Outside of the Cognoscenti. Somehow Borges always cuts this Slightly Mythic Figure. After the Minas Crew decamped to Rio to Pursue Their Music Careers, it was Milton who Garnered all the Attention and, in fact, Borges went off on an Epic Soul Searching Journey around Brazil. His First Self-Titled Solo Album Bears the Evidence of Those Travels as the Cover Art is a Pair of Battered Hi-Top Adidas Shell-Toe Sneakers, How Infinitely Cool Is That? He was on it Decades before Run DMC! On the back Borges is Pictured Looking Unbelievably Handsome and Moody. In fact, it’s the Cover Art of Their Records Which has Fed my Mythologising of the Minas Sound. The Cover of Clube Da Esquina is probably my Favourite of All Time with it’s Super Saturated Shot of Two Kids. So there’s this Melody that seems to Unwind Forever and the Words - Abstract, but so Powerful... For the benefit of non Portuguese speakers, in Translation:
For he was named Boy
And he was named Road too
On the wings of the Wind
Forget if he ever looked back
After the first step, step, step…

For they were called Men
And they were called Dreams too
And Dreams do not grow Old
In the midst of so much Tear Gas
Calm, they remain calm, calm…

And one more day is gone…

All you need is to keep the Beat
All you need is to rely on Yourself
For there’s no wick to the Flame
All and Anything is made a Song
And your heart at the Bend
On the River, River, River…

And one more day is gone…

And the River of Asphalt and People
Pouring down the Hills
Spilling over the curbs
More than a million at the corner
There And Then I want to see the People, The People, The People…

Sometimes I Wonder what if my Tastes are Peculiarly Sentimental, and I suppose I am a Romantic at Heart, and I do have a Taste for Schmaltzy Show Tunes, but so did John Coltrane!! Clube Da Esquina Nº 2  for me Exists on a Different Level of Emotionally Charged High Art, it has the Quality of Great Songs that Transcend Genre and their Historical Context. Like a Great Folk Song, or a Great Protest Song, an Hymn or a Spiritual, it is Wrought from the Very Soul of it’s Culture.

6. Billie Holiday | You’ve Changed (Harry James And His Orchestra with Dick Haymes Cover)
Another of those Great Records Recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio, so a Recording with a Sound as Lush and Luxurious as Any. Billie Always Wanted to Record with Strings, as much as she was the Consummate Jazz Singer, she Craved the Rich and Lustrous Texture of an Orchestral Backdrop and Who Better to Provide It than the Young Arranger Who’d Captured Billie’sImagination with His First Recordings. Ray Ellis was only 34 and still in the first Bloom of his Success, whereas Billie whose Life had been Ravaged by Heartbreak, Abuse and Drug Addiction was Nearing the End of hers. There is such Piquancy in this Combination, the Instrumental Backing is as Elegantly Sculpted as a Tiffany Diamond, it Sparkles in it’s Perfection, yet the Voice is so Lovelorn, Cracked and Stained with a Lifetime of Emotion There Could Hardly be a Greater Contrast. Yet Billie’s Impeccable Swing and Phrasing is as Effortless As It Ever Had Been, she was thoroughly on Top of Her Game and she wanted this Recording to be Great and she Poured a Lifetime of Experience into a Selection of Songs from the Cassic American Songbook she’d Personally Chosen for the Session. You’ve Changed opens Side 2 on the Vinyl, and the Title Explains Everything You Need To Know About The Song, a Common Epiphany, and a Universally Understood Song. I was an Early Convert to Billie Holiday and acquired my First Copy of Lady In Satin whilst still in my Teens, that You’ve Changed should become the Soundtrack to such Young Heartbreak seems Almost Wrong for Surely it’s an Album that Becomes Ever More Resonant the Older I Get. However Billie’s Voice is so Truly Charged with Emotion it Speaks to Love’s Newcomers as Ably As It Does to Those Further Down the Long and Winding Road, and it was that Raw Emotion that Spoke to Me Initially Long Before I came to Appreciate the Artistry of the Album’s Playing, Arranging and Production. Some people may well listen to it and find the Orchestral Backdrop just too Bland, but I would say Listen Again and Appreciate this is an Absolute High Water Mark in American Popular Music. Like Sinatra’s Greatest Recordings or Ella Fitzgerald’s Interpretations of the Songbooks of Cole Porter and others, the Recordings, Arrangements and Execution are of a Standard it’s Nigh on Impossible to Reach in this Day and Age; the Understated Swing and Economical Elegance of the Jazz Rhythm Section, the Sweetness and Impossibly Smooth Ensemble Playing of the String Players, and Ellis’ Genius on this Particular Record, they represent an Absolute Zenith.

7. Fela Kuti | Shakara (Oloje)
This must be one of my Most Played Records Throughout my DJ Career and it provided the Inspiration Behind Da Lata’s Arrangement of João Bosco's Ronco Da Cuíca, so it’s a Tune I Owe Much To. Fela Kuti is one of Music’s Quintessential Rebels, like having Bob Marley, Gil Scott-Heron, John Lydon and James Brown All Rolled Into One Bundle of African Energy. I remember Reading an Article about Fela and his Kakakuta Republic, his Copious Number of Wives and his Defiance of the Nigerian Government. And if all that wasn’t Impressive Enough, his Work Ethic with his Band and the Epic Nature of his Shows were all Nuggets of Inspiration that Predisposed me to Like his Music Even Before I’d Heard Much Of It. The first Fela Record I actually remember Buying was African President which got a UK Release, and it didn’t Disappoint, in fact, the Wonderful Sorrow Tears and Blood from that Album remains a Favourite. I bought every Fela Record I could find after that and Shakara popped up quite Early along that Road of Discovery. And, out of all Fela’s Amazing Tunes, it’s Shakara that is perhaps the Most Original, such is the Outrageous Power and Exceptional Brilliance of it’s Groove. I might have readily bought into the Myth of Fela Kuti in some ways, but there was no Mistaking the Power of this Music, and it’s Ability to Coalesce a Dancefloor with it’s Hypnotic Relentless Funkiness, It Never Fails To Excite. Shakara is All the Reasons Why Organic Dance Music Can Be as Powerful and indeed Transcend Anything Rendered Electronically, this Record not only Sounds like a Savage Beast on a Good Sound System, it Breathes and Pulses in a Way that Only the Greatest Bands Have Achieved, the Essence of the Verb To Groove.

8. Gil Scott-Heron | I Think I’ll Call It Morning
When Gil Scott-Heron died I felt as though I’d Lost a Close Personal Friend, though I’d never met him Personally, his Music and Words had Touched me Deeply Since I was a Teenager. I saw him Perform Only Once in the Full Bloom of his Success, following the Release of Reflections, which had provided a kind of Mini Renaissance in his Career. It was at London’s Commonwealth Institute and it definitely ranks as one of the Best Shows I’ve Ever Witnessed. I’m glad I can remember Gil in that way, Smiling, Healthy and Positive with his Amazing Band Firing on All Cylinders. Later in his career, as Gil Succumbed to Substance Abuse, I would hear tales of Gil’s Irregular Antics from Various Promoters Around the World, and, though I was Saddened by his Demise, there was Something All Too Human about Gil and maybe he’d Cast just Too Heavy a Role for Himself, as a Commentator on the Political Ills of America, Gil remains the Ultimate Exponent of the Art. Godfather of Hip-Hop he may be, but No Rapper Has Ever Equalled the Insight, Wit and Grace of his Political Music. However much as Gil could Summarise the Status Quo to a Beat Like No Other, his Tender Soulful Side spoke with Equal Volubility. His Honeyed Baritone could Wrap Itself Around the Softest Emotional Nuance, his Song to his Daughter, Your Daddy Loves You Twinkle Eyed Understatement, Gil didn’t have to Reach for Emotional Paydirt with an Obvious Soulfulness he could just Let It Slide On Through. However on the Pieces Of A Man, his First Proper Album, there was an Earnestness and World Weary Anger that belied Gil’s Relative Youth, and his Vocals do sometimes Strain at the Leash as much as the songs like The Needle’s Eye and this one Try So Hard to Get to Grips with Life’s Complexities, there’s All the Searching Qualities of a Young Man’s Perspective. Yet Gil displays such Wisdom and Perception in this Lyric, it’s a Beautifully Expressed Paean to Positivity that tells us that Happiness is a Choice and the Key is Always There in Nature Itself. Gil’s Writing speaks Eloquently to All Our Concerns both Politically and Personally, that he becomes a Great Companion on Life’s Journey, a Friend I’ll Always Miss.

9. Ultra Naté | Divine Love (I Hear The Voices)
Ever since Ray Charles borrowed the Joyous Stomp of Gospel and brought it into the Secular Domain with What’d I Say, Soul and Dance Music have owed an Immense Debt to the Church. The Church was the Training Ground for so many, not only Singers, but also Drummers and Instrumentalists Cut Their Teeth Playing Gospel. The Church that is at the Root of Everything. However when Soul and Dance Music takes those Secular Innovations Back Home to Praise the Creator there is a Purity there that is so Elemental Grooving for the Grace of God, has a Power That Can’t Be Denied Whether You’re a Believer or Not. I’ve long Loved Records that Can Lift Up a Dancefloor, Getting Down is in my Book a Form of Worship. Even in this age of EDM, there is something so Ritualistic about People Coming Together to Share an Experience and Immerse Themselves in Rhythm. Even Though the Hedonistic, Gay Roots of Disco are Indisputable, it’s also True to Say that There’s Always also Been a Spiritual Dimension, it’s something that’s just Fundamental to the Whole Process of Clubbing, it Answers a Craving for Communion. So Gospel Dance tracks make Complete Sense to me and the best of them are just some of the Most Joyous, Uplifting Music You’ll Ever Get Down To. You Don’t Have to Agree with the Sentiments to be Swept Up in the Tide of Emotion. My Two Favourite Tunes that Embody This Spirit would have to be NYCC’s Make Every Day Count which does it with Steve Gadd’s Impeccable Groove Providing the Backbeat and this one produced by Masters At Work. Kenny Dope and Louie Vega have made so many Seminal Records it’s Easy to Take Them for Granted, they’ve become almost Part of the Furniture in Contemporary Black Music. This Soaring Gospel Song sung by the Stylish Ultra Naté is one that is Often Overlooked, I suppose Rhythmically it’s about as Subtle as House Music Ever Gets, as the Drums Never Overshadow the Importance of the Vocals, and maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s Less Lauded. However for me it’s just one of the Best Dance Tracks I Know, the Power is in the Emotion and Everything Grooves and Moves to Lift the Song Higher and Higher, Culminating in the Drop into the Scatted Vocal Hook that Forms the Tune's Finale. I’ve had some Ridiculously Transcendental DJ Experiences playing this, particularly in Japan where I often feel that, despite the Language Barrier, there’s often a Stronger Connection with the Emotional Essence of a Song.

10. Van Morrison | Madame George
Astral Weeks is such an Unique Record it occupies it’s Own Special Place in the History of Popular Music, it’s Beyond Classification, though in Equal Measure it’s both a Folk and a Jazz Record, it Transcends any kind of Analysis as To Where It Comes From. Back in my Youth when I was Intent on Going In Over My Head Buying the Records, I’d Read About and Knew To Be Important, Astral Weeks was an Album that Both Beguiled and Perplexed me. Van’s Celtic Wail took some Getting Used To and the Music was so Ethereally Abstract in Places it Seemed Difficult to Get a Handle On. Over the years it’s Come to my Rescue on Many Occasions when I've found myself In Extremis Strung Out on Someone or Something. As the whole Album seems to be Rooted in the Experiences of Morrison’s Early Years in Belfast, it always feels like a kind of Coming Home, and maybe something of my Innocence and Idealism is Forever Rekindled by it’s Magic. Although the Whole Album is a Journey Best Experienced in Total, I’ve chosen Madame George as it represents Astral Weeks at it’s Most Delicate and Poetic, a Narrative that Unfolds with a Deft Lyrical Grace Over Ten Minutes, Running Simple Changes that are Embellished by a String Quartet and Meandering Gypsy Violin and Jazzy Flute. However as is True of the Entire Album, it’s Richard DavisAcoustic Bass that Articulates the Sentiment and Pathos as much as Morrison’s Voice. The Mystery of Exactly  Who Was Madame George is part of the Song’s Charm, though Describing her as Playing Dominoes In Drag, Morrison has Denied it’s About a Transvestite. For me it Doesn’t Matter, the Song is a Reverie, an Almost Dreamlike Visit to some Transformative Experience, the Revelations of Youth, the Burgeoning of Sexual Knowledge, the First Encounters with the Dark Side of the Adult World, are the Themes which seem to Underly the Story. It’s Poignant Centre comes with those Eternal Lines... Hey Love, you forgot your Glove, and the Love that Loves the Love that Loves the Love that Loves the Love that Loves to Love the Love that Loves to Love that Loves... The song then just Refrains Riffing on the lines Say Goodbye to Madame George, in the Backstreet, Dry your Eye, Wonder Why, and the Love that Loves... (Etc.)... Finally he sings Get On The Train in Valedictory Resignation.