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 Balearic 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 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)

Roberto Carlos – Mr Sandman

Roberto Carlos Louco por Voce

Largely thanks to my daughter, I’ve become mildly obsessed with the frothy 50’s pop confection, Mr Sandman.

Though it’s the original Chordettes version that the younger generation seems to favour, those with time-honed digging skills might prefer readings by Anita O’Day, Chet Atkins or even this charming 1961 Brazilian interpretation.

Ditching the melancholic underpinnings, Roberto Carlos (assisted by Astor and his Orchestra) rips through the piece in fine jazz/bossa style.

Lovely!

Download:  Roberto Carlos – Mr Sandman (right-click)

Ferrante and Teicher – Cristo Redentor

Ferrante & Teicher Christo Redentor

Looking for a vaguely appropriate musical treat for Good Friday?

Then check out Ferrante and Teicher’s 1974 twin-piano assault on Duke Pearson’s God-fearing hit for Donald Bird, Cristo Redento.

Ferrante died in 2009 (outlasting Teicher by 12 months) but not before he had clocked up 88 summers, thus achieving his aim of one year for every piano key.

Happy Easter!

Download: Ferrante and Teicher – Cristo Redentor (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)

Sun Ra – Nuits de la Fondation Maeght

Jeanloup Sieff Fondation Maeght

In DJ-ing circles, the term “cosmic” often signifies little more than playing a Depeche Mode B-side at the wrong speed. Nothing wrong with that of course, but if you’re yearning for something a little deeper, let us transport you back to Provence in 1970.

The Fondation Maeght is an extraordinary art institution nestling in the hills of Saint Paul de Vence, Côte d’Azur, which I’ve been lucky enough to visit on a couple of occasions. Founded by dealer Aime Maeght in 1964, it was described by the Culture Minister of the time as “by no means a palace, by no means a museum”. Suffice to say, if your travels take you to the Nice/Antibes area, it’s well worth a visit.

Celebrated fashion photographer Jeanloup Sieff took the above photo at la Fondation in 1965. The model is wearing a “little white dress” by the architecturally-inspired  designer André Courrèges. She is standing behind Alberto Giacometti‘s giant bronze, Grande Tête. Can all this be seen as a signifier of women’s emancipation in France in the 1960’s?  If you are at all intrigued by that question, I’d point you in the direction of issue 26 of Tate Etc. magazine, where the debate rages for several hundred words.

One can only imagine the atmosphere at Sun Ra‘s gig there some 5 years later. Luckily the music was preserved, initially – and somewhat bizarrely – on 7″ singles and subsequently via LP and CD.

Ranging from the (by his own unique standards) accessible to the defiantly cosmic, the set is no easy listen…but in a world of instant gratification, all the more satisfying for that.

The selection below registers somewhere in the middle on our trusty Cosmometer™…

Download: Sun Ra – Spontaneous Simplicity (right-click)

Percy Faith – First Light

Anoni Llena Castellers

500MH has just returned from an all-too-temporary relocation to Barcelona. The above image, since you ask, is an early morning snap of Antoni Llena’s new (and therefore “controversial”) pubilc sculpture dedicated to the city’s castellers.

In a Catalonian tradition dating back to the late 18th century, these enthusiastic groups of young men form themselves into impromptu human towers on certain feast days…and presumably sometimes just for the hell of it.

All of which has very little to do with Percy Faith’s slightly outre reading of Freddie Hubbard’s classic First Light, other than the timing of the photograph.

Download: Percy Faith – First Light (right-click)