Never expected to be saying this on 500MH…but here’s a real treat for Martin Luther King Day: an astoundingly good WBLS Saturday Night Dance Party mix by Merlin Bobb that was broadcast to the people of New York just before the very first MLK day, 20th January 1986 [anorak note: the mix went out on Saturday 18th before the holiday on the Monday].
Luckily for us, someone recorded it and the cassette quickly made its way across the Atlantic to our friends at Beard Science. The original tape had a lot of the usual wear and tear of any well-played family heirloom, but it’s now been lovingly restored and presented here for your listening pleasure.
And what a pleasure. The mix is a perfect marriage between disco and early house (proving conclusively that both these genres are drawn from the same musical well) and sounds like it could have been recorded last week rather than 26 years ago.
The many musical highlights include a raucous edit of Labelle’s What Can You Do For Me? and a less well known MLK speech over the long intro of Creative Source’s version of the ultra-paranoid Who Is He & What Is He To You?. The “I have a dream” speech is of course also represented and Merlin works it to provide a real shivers-down-the-spine moment.
Connoisseurs will also appreciate the deep, resonant “WBLS in New York” station IDs – always a pleasure to hear – and Len Brown filling the Yvonne Mobley role from the rival WRKS/Kiss mix shows. By the way, if anyone has tapes of Len’s Quiet Storm slot (“one of the most delightful programmes on radio”), then please get in touch.
So…a flawless, genuinely emotional mix by an underrated figure on the New York dance scene and a fitting way to celebrate this year’s Martin Luther King Day.
Download: Merlin Bobb – WBLS, MLK Day 1986 – Side A (right click)
Download: Merlin Bobb – WBLS, MLK Day 1986 – Side B (right click)