500 Miles High: End of Phase I

500MH-Insta-450

Four years on from the last meaningful update it can be safely said that 500MH Phase I (2010 – 2013) has ended. As such I’ve now taken down the 100 or so tracks that were previously posted up here for “sharing” purposes. Welcome news for the copyright holders, though it did mean that a few nice bits of original artwork/photography went with them. But even that’s not a problem because…

…the spirit of 500MH lives on in the form of our newly-revived Instagram account, where you’ll find record sleeves, DJ culture, nightlife ephemera, audio nerd-ery, and all the other things that make the Internet such a vital resource.

Longer-term 500 Miles High may well branch out in other directions, but as there have been false-dawns before we’ll take it one step at a time.

Finally a big thanks to all the contributors, supporters and casual browsers over the last 7 years. Some of the classic/historic mixes (all of which are all still very much available here on the site) have proved really popular and will no doubt get an occasional shout-out on Instagram, along with anything else that tickles our musical palette…

Ciao
John LordMuck

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Michael Cook – Sun Haze Blues

Michael Cook Sun Haze Blues

When we heard that this mix is now scandalously “out of print”, having disappeared from the wonderful Claremont 56 website, the 500MH office immediately contacted Mr Cook’s office to rectify matters.

Anyone who has attended a Low Life party, or indeed simply been to a London pub or club, will know Michael Cook as a fearless DJ, agent provocateur and (I like to think) gentleman jewel thief.

Sun Haze Blues is a mix of his from 2008 which was enjoyed by many a bearded Internet-enthusiast at the time.

As Michael said back then “A dusty, bluesy, occasionally swampy and decidedly laid back mix, featuring bits from JJ Cale, Peter Green, The Bees, Map Of Africa, The Black Keys and others”. A full track list is available on receipt of a stamped-addressed envelope.

Uncork a bottle of moonshine and enjoy…

Download: Michael Cook – Sun Haze Blues (right-click)

DJ Rubens – Baia Degli Angeli, 1978

DJ Rubens Baia Degli Angeli 1978

Italy’s Adriatic coast, 1978: where the jeans where white, the sunglasses mirrored and the scooters two-stroke.

Baia Degli Angeli: mythical, white-walled, pleasure-dome for the rich and beautiful; its DJ booth housed in a glass elevator so that the selectors could service all four floors at once, dance-floors that were among the first in Europe to hear New York-style, beat-matched mixing.

DJ Rubens: The “third man” of Italy’s Afro-Cosmic scene (that drugged-out, dubbed-out satellite of the Ibizan Balearic mothership).

Daniele Baldelli and DJ Mozart were the sonic alchemists of this much-discussed, little-understood musical micro-climate…and, once the New York DJ’s had left, the Baia was their laboratory. Baldelli the hyper-prepared disciplinarian; Mozart the looser, organic improviser. Whilst each had their own approach, unpicking their individual contributions is perhaps as fruitless as arguing who was best, Morecambe or Wise?

And yet, some say that DJ Rubens was the brightest star of all – more capable than Mozart but free of the methodological constraints of Baldelli. Sadly an all-too-familiar tale of missed chances and drug-fuelled excess (“He lost it before anyone else” according to Gianni Zuffa, record-supplier to the scene), has relegated him to a minor figure in this beguiling left-turn from the dancefloor super-highway.

Unsurprisingly little survives of his work behind the decks, so we’ll have to make do with this all-too-short set that purports to be from the Baia Degli Angeli (despite him never having held a residency there).

But putting aside any doubts about historical accuracy (this is the Internet after all), sit back and enjoy a 30 minute musicological fragment from a rather special time and place.

Download: DJ Rubens – Baia Degli Angeli, 1978 (right-click)

Snow in Brazil

Lord Muck Snow in Brazil

So we’re rolling again, thanks to that purest of motives: self-promotion.

On the other hand, Lord Muck’s recent mix of Brazilian obscurities could be seen as something of a public service (warms you up, innit?)

Whatever your view, it’s over on Mixcloud or, for the right-click enthusiasts, here.

Get it while the snow lasts.

Obrigado.

WRKS Kiss 98.7 Mastermix Dance Party, 25/12/1980

Tony Humphries Shep Pettibone WRKS Kiss 98.7 Mastermix Dance Party Christmas 1980

“It’s one past ten o’clock here at WRKS FM New York. We’re 98.7 Kiss. K-I-S-S: where nobody gives more music. I’m Yvonne Mobley hosting our Kiss Mastermix Dance Party – dance hits of 1980..”

Yvonne Mobley: a name to make many a UK music-obsessive go weak at the knees. And for true fans of vintage New York radio air-checks, the honeyed tones of the great Chuck Leonard can also be heard on this year’s 500MH seasonal offering.

Broadcast over the NYC airwaves on Christmas Day, 1980 this edition of the Mastermix Dance Party brings together the stellar talents of Tony Humphries and Shep Pettibone, though it’s not clear just how they divided up the mixing duties. No matter, the results are predictably splendid and the 500MH spotting team have compiled an (almost) complete track-listing – check the Lyrics tab of the mp3 files.

On a technical note, and unlike our previous Mastermix Dance Party re-presentation, this one had already been digitised from cassette when it arrived, and not to the highest standard.

So the sound quality ain’t great…but hellfire, this is TONY HUMPHRIES and SHEP PETTIBONE. 32 years ago!

All that remains, therefore, is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from 500 Miles High. Postings have been slightly erratic recently and who knows what the New Year will bring, but for now…push back the sofa and party like it’s 1980.

Download: Mastermix Dance Party, 25/12/1980 – Side A (right-click)

Download: Mastermix Dance Party, 25/12/1980 – Side B (right-click)

Hiroshima – Lion Dance (@ 33)

Hiroshima Lion Dance

Our recent Sun Ra post referenced the long and (mostly) honourable tradition of DJ’s playing records at the wrong speed…intentionally, that is.

The most committed of wrong-speed merchants must surely be Danielle Baldelli who, in his pomp at the Cosmic Club, seldom played a record at the correct speed. Or so people say.

Actually, the truth of this statement can easily be verified by checking out this huge archive of Cosmic Club mixes. Listening to these tapes, and to other artefacts of the Afro-Cosmic scene, one can appreciate that use of such extreme measures was but one ingredient in the creation of a unique sonic backdrop.

Uptempo pop songs were *cough* re-contextualised by a switch from 45 to 33, whilst slower numbers (such as Yellowman’s left-field reggae classic, Zungguzungguguzungguzeng) could be wrong-speeded in the opposite direction.

All of which leads to this 1979 recording by US-via-Japan jazzfunkers, Hiroshima. A 50p charity shop buy last year, I hadn’t got it home before – via the power of the Internet – I’d been informed that it was a known wrong-speeder.

Lack of a functioning turntable meant that it was a while before I could  put this to the test. But I did and here it is…

Download: Hiroshima – Lion Dance (@ 33)  (right-click)

Dana Andrews – Monastery, Seattle, 1983 Red Party

Monastery Sanctuary Seattle Dana Andrews

There’s nothing we like more at 500MH than wandering off the well-trodden path and discovering something interesting in the disco undergrowth. So whilst it’s great to hear tapes of classic New York radio shows and clubs, what (you may ask) was happening in early-80’s gay Seattle?

That question can now be answered in the form of a storming set by Dana Andrews, recorded at The Monastery club’s 1983 Red Party.

A quick trawl of the Internet reveals virtually nothing about this amazing looking Seattle venue – The Munsters meets Paradise Garage? – but what scant info there is on the long-demolished Monastery (aka The Sanctuary) can be found over at the ever reliable discomusic.com, for example:

“So many crazies: the naked dancing men, the glitter girls, the fashion fags, the leather gang-honeys, they were all there…”

But enough of the clientele, what was the music like? On this showing a fascinating mixture of what you might expect (multiple Patrick Cowley tracks) to things you wouldn’t (a very long and spacey version of the Gap Band’s You Dropped a Bomb on Me).

Oh and a lovely sequence where Nick Straker’s Straight Ahead is mixed seamlessly into Glad to Know You, which sounds like it could have been recorded in Shoreditch (or Oslo) last weekend.

Support, perhaps, for Alice Echols’ subtext in Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture that the “real” story of disco was being played-out away from the twin-centres of New York and San Francisco?

Or just a bloody good listen?

As ever, you decide…

Download: DJ Dana Andrews – 1983 Red Party – Part 1 (right-click)

Download: DJ Dana Andrews – 1983 Red Party – Part 2  (right-click)

The Cannibals – She Knows

The Cannibals Put Your Dancing Shoes On

A quiet weekend at 500MH Towers after Friday night…but we can’t leave you without your fill of early-80’s South African synth-driven contemplative disco-boogie.

From the 1981 LP, Put Your Dancing Shoes On, this is a tasty down-tempo groover that echoes the production sensibilities of New York, but with a distinctively SA twist.

Or something…

Download: The Cannibals – She Knows (right-click)