Monday, July 20, 2009

Woolfy & Clubby

NY disco baron Woolfy has finally released his official debut album (he released a Woolfy Vs Projections album last year - more on the dub disco tip). And it brings together cuts that have been floating around for nearly half-a-decade. The Woolfman's name has been linked to the likes of The Glimmers and, more importantly, DJ Harvey. He's remixed the likes of The Voices and The Tough Alliance and had his edits released on comps alongside Idjut Boys and Faze Action. He's been courted by hipster brands from Modular and Plant Music to Permanent Vacation and They Shoot Homos Don't They - and his name can be traced back to releases on Guidance at the start of the decade. The album, "If You Know What's Good For Ya!!" is part-strictly-disco, part-indie-dance... depending which period it's curated from. But it's the deeply disorienting disco that he does best and his 'Odyssey' single from '07 appears here in all its sinew-y stylised cosmic glory. The rest moves through shouty digifunk and the busy Heaven 17-grooves. There's everything from knees-go-elastic rhythms to a lump-in-your-throat ballad. Out on Rong, via DFA, and Stomp in Aus.

Watch the vinyl... it's an 'Odyssey':

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Super Star DJs - There They Go

Sick of all the rock dogs going on at you about how 'fucken awesome' and debauched rock bios like The Dirt are? Well, Motley Crue can go fug off (with their umlauts that I refuse to add to their name coz it's too much hassle) coz now we have our own bible of awesomeness and debauchery to turn too. Ex-Mixmag ed Dom Phillips has put together a tome documenting the rise and comedown of the superstar DJ lifestyle that was spawned by the UK's acid house/rave culture - a lifestyle that, like disco before it (and you can read about that in Hit Men), disappeared up noses on Lear jets. With wild claims like "a disproportionate amount of the major players in 1990s clubs were former hairdressers" and tales of Zoe Ball and Fatboy Slim off chops live on BBC radio, Super Star DJs offers up the dirt on all the DJs we once may have loved and, even better, the ones we definitely loved to loathe. The book is quite respectful of the early scene and treats its subjects without prejudice (for most of the time). And hey, it may well serve as a warning to the nu hedonism sweeping DJ-land.

It hit UK shelves earlier this year and has appeared sporadically in shops here (go check a non-Borders bricks'n'mortar store and order it the old-fashioned way... it's out through Ebury Press). It also serves as a timely reminder as to how important a role the UK played in bringing the sounds of Chicago and Detroit to the world in the late '80s - and how beautifully raw those first UK attempts were at recreating that American sound. Just recently we lost a UK club pioneer in the passing of Ian Loveday. A little known name, he was part of the scene that gave us S'Express/Mark Moore, Baby Ford and Bizarre Inc. He recorded as Eon, RRash, Ian B, Minimal Man and Tan-Ru - released on labels as varied as Hooj Choons and Kitsune. Most importanly, his 'Cuban Jackin' track, released under the guise of Rio Rhythm Band in 1988, is widely considered one of the first UK house tracks released.

Before there were super star DJs:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Death Of A Disco Dancer – Fayette R.I.P.

In a period that will be remembered for the passing of Michael Jackson, some other recent musical deaths may be overlooked. Not only have we recently lost Sky Saxon of notable ‘60s garage band The Seeds but also music executive Allen Klein has passed away – he could not only count The Animals and John Lennon amongst his clients but he was also producer of 1973’s crazy cult psychedelic film The Holy Mountain (many alt.pop and disco acts currently cite it as a major influence). But for disco dancing dabblers, the saddest news comes in the form of the death of Fayette Pinkney. As one-third of Philly girl band The Three Degrees, Pinkney’s biggest success came during the disco era. Wearing flashy LaBellesque outfits, The Three Degrees delivered classy harmonies and choreography. But the ladies were a cut-above the cookie-cutter club kids of the day because they were borne out of the ‘Philly sound’, their funky pop was awash in lavish strings, brass and percussion. Considered by many as Philadelphia’s answer to The Supremes (but “bigger and stronger and melodic” according to Gamble & Huff), they first signed with regional Philly label Swan Records to record local Philly hit 'Gee Baby', working in the studio with musicians who would become the backbone of the Philly soul scene. They then scored a wider hit with 'Contact' on Warner before signing with the legendary Gamble & Huff’s Philladelphia International Records in 1972. Breaking out with disco anthem 'Dirty Ol’ Man', they next achieved iconic status by teaming with MSOB to record 'TSOP (The Sound Of Philladelphia)' as the theme for the definitive black music TV show of the day, Soul Train. International fame followed as they charted globally with disco ballad 'When Will I See You Again' (since covered by Barry White, Boys Town Gang, Love Tattoo, Erasure and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – that last one probably related to the fact that Prince Charles named the trio as his favourite group…). They even got to appear in the Hollywood box office smash The French Connection performing 'Everybody Gets To Go To The Moon'. But with the disco backlash, their career waned – although they continued to do well in the UK – and Pinkney left the group in 1976. After recording a solo album (One Degree), Pinkney returned to study and was most recently working in healthcare, although it is believed Pinkney joined a gospel choir and continued to offer her services as a vocal coach.

Can you keep your hands to yourself during this?