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)

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Idi, igraj!: Forgotten disco from ex-Yugoslavia

This (ahem) bootleg compilation – Idi, igraj!: Funk, soul, jazz funk & disco from ex-Yugoslavia 1969-1987 compiled by DJ Funky Junkie – blew me away when I found out about it from Slobodon Jovanavic’s blog, where it can be downloaded in full.

Like most people outside the former Yugoslavia, my knowledge of the local soul/funk/disco scene is limited to say the least. But on this showing, it produced some gems to rival the rest of Europe, or indeed the USA. Here (in English) are some words on the making of the compilation, presumably written by DJ Funky Junkie:

“At the beginning, I would like to emphasize that I am not getting any financial or other benefit out of this project. Inspired by the work of the great Željko Kerleta and DJ Chile who are pioneers of digging some forgotten and hard to find records from ex-Yugoslavia, I’ve decided to make this bootleg compilation. Beside Mr. Željko Kerleta’s Cosmic Sounds label no one from this area or else payed much attention to these gems. I think that funk, soul, jazz funk, fusion & disco funk records from this great period deserve to be presented to a much wider audience both in ex-YU countries and all around the world.”

As a taster, here’s a lovely – and slightly weird – slice of YU disco-funk:
Kim Band

Download Kim Band – Ljubi Me Brzo, žurim (right click)

I mentioned this comp to my other half – Lady Muck – and it turns out she went to Rovinj (on the Istrian peninsula) back in 1987. One evening she went to “a night club shaped like a pyramid” and danced the night away to what she remembers as being euro-popbut presumably was actually cutting-edge Yugo-Cosmic sounds. Or possibly euro-pop.

Anyway, lots of white jeans, ultra-violet lights and fibre-optics – but sadly no photographic evidence…