“So where’s all the modern-day Intergalactic Funk?”, I hear you ask.
Well, wait no longer, it’s here in the form of a new (and exclusive) mix from Manchester’s Davros3000. Like many of our 500MH contributors, Dav prefers to let the music do the talking, which it does wonderfully on this journey into the empty void of Space. I imagine this is what the robots might have on their iPods on an long, unmanned space-flight: silicone nuggets from the likes of Space Dimension Controller, KiNK, Julio Bashmore (and their android pals).
But enough of the fanciful conjecture…here’s the mix:
Bearded types in Internet forums will tell you that Marni has created some of the definitive examples of THAT sound – an unnameable mélange of Cosmic, Afro and Balearic beats, probably best described as JUST GREAT MUSIC. We got in touch with him last week and obtained his blessing to host two absolute classics from a few years ago – mixes that still set pulses racing (and heads-a-scatching over track lists) to this day.
Marni is also shipping some “more dancey” mixes over to 500MH for future posting – which promise to be EQUALLY ACE! But for now…
As mentioned in the recent Salute 2 post, 500MH has long-wanted to pay its own tribute to Disco’s pioneers by giving a permanent home to some genuinely historic mixes (many of which only circulate in the semi-clandestine world of DJ forums). So when we heard that this particular mix had dropped off the radar, we were delighted to present a poignant moment in the ongoing story of New York nite life.
For many, The Saint was the ultimate club: an icon of the NYC gay scene throughout the eighties, it opened in its doors in September 1980 on the site of venerable live music venue, the Fillmore East. With a $4 million budget, and aspirations to match, it immediately became the night spot du jour for the upscale party crowd (membership was $250 per year and sold out immediately). Such was its success that the main competition (12 West and Flamingo) closed down within months.
So…a high-tech paradise and drug-fuelled Bacchanalian fleshpit, but what about the music?
Unlike contemporary nite spots such as The Paradise Garage and The Loft, The Saint was never known for the adventurousness of its music policy. Instead its DJ’s honed a distinct house-style that blended the theatricality (melodrama?) of 1970’s disco with the more contemporary sounds of Hi NRG and Euro-synth-pop. Limahl was a big favourite.
Jim Burgess was a DJ, remixer and sometime professional tenor with a penchant for retirements and comebacks. A resident in the early days of The Saint (along with the likes of Alan Dodd, Roy Thode and Robbie Leslie), he retired in spectacular fashion in 1981, walking out midway though a record at the height of the evening. But a few years later he was back in the saddle and played the second-last set of The Saint’s non-stop 48 hour closing party (leaving it to Robbie Leslie to bring down the final curtain).
Sadly Jim passed away in 1993, but he leaves us with this wonderful 4 hour mix (track-listings in the lyrics tab as usual):
By the mid-80’s, mixing had made its way from the clubs of New York to the more enlightened night spots in the UK. Thanks to the efforts of mixing pioneers such as Greg James, the concept of a continuous musical flow – based on beatmatching skills and vari-speed turntables – was slowly replacing the traditional record-chat-record format of british clubland.
For more info on the evolution of mixing in the UK, see this excellent article by Greg Wilson and associated discussion on DJ History.
But such skills (or indeed, decent music) had yet to reach the carpet-and-chrome clubs that I occasionally frequented in West Yorks – so in 1986 when I got hold of a tape of the winning entries from that year’s Technics/DMC World Mixing Championship it felt like a big deal. Little did I know at the time that the world of competitive mixing was a scene in dramatic transition.
The world championships were only established a year earlier, when Roger Johnson was crowned the winner (more about Roger in a future post). In that inaugural competition – of which little documentary evidence exists – there was little turntable trickery, just “straight” mixing/cutting/blending of the popular tunes of the day.
Then in 1986, DJ Cheese stole the show with a performance largely based on scr…scr…scr…scratching. And lots of it. Outraged runner-up Orlando Voorn exclaimed “What is this, a Mixing Competition or a Scratching Competition?”. The answer seemed to be resolutely “a scratching competion”, the art of the scratch – and associated gimmickry – being the reason d’etre of the championships ever since.
For anyone wanting a round-up of the last 25 years of winners, a surprisingly concise and readable summary can be found over on the DMC site.
But back to 1986, and it’s now time to make up your own mind on the ins-and-outs of that year’s competion, with 500MH’s handy guide:
6. Kris Kastaar (Belgium)
From the opening cut-up of Colonel Abrams, an assured outing from KK – often rocking double copies to good effect. Some ambitious mixes/overlays that don’t quite come off. Very solid – but in this company – 6th place seems about right.
This one always stood out when playing the tape back in 86 – very strong opening, dropping Rappers Delight over Loveride then straight into some Trad Jazz. Even manages to throw in a bit of Roy Ayers at the end. Of all the finalists – the best music selections (just) and the DJ I’d most like to have seen playing in a club. Well done Mick!
Another 500MH favourite – Roger takes some of the the biggest dance tunes of the day, gives them a sprinkling of magic hip hop dust and weaves a very compelling mix. In ’85 he might have won with this – we’ll never know.
“For the Great Britons of this world”, Chad serves up a creative set that embraces the new school methods and which laid the groundwork for his winning performance the following year. Early signs of the gimmickry and visual showmanship that would come to characterise the scene (see Youtube for his 1987 set: WWII flying helmet, scratching behind back etc.).
Dense, percussive and simply more “street” than his rivals, Cheese ushered in the concept of turntable trickery as an end in itself, rather than a means to stitch records together. Later this would lead to the empty theatrics of Germany’s DJ David doing handstands on a spinning Technics. But would also give us the astonishing minimalist expressionism of DJ Kentaro.
500 Miles High is delighted to host an exclusive guest mix from DJ, edit maestro and impoverished new father, 45 Badger (Beard Science). But the Badger is still digging and has swapped high-stakes eBay bidding wars for car-boot sales, unearthing some amazing bargains along the way, a few of which are shared here (no track-listing as yet, but we may get it out of him).
If ever a mix summed-up what the 500MH blog is all about, it’s this one: forgotten treasures from around the world and funky as hell:
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that this blog’s musical content is hosted on the mysterymix.com webspace. Mystery Mix is a site that I knocked up couple of years ago to preserve the older mixes in the near-legendary DJ History Mystery Mix series. Not altogether an altrusitic exercise – check out No. 46 *shame-faced smiley*
Last year it got mentioned in The Guardian – that certainly boosted the traffic stats – not expecting quite the same results by mentioning it here.
Stop press: Rohan recently got in touch to tell me that the DJ Sunshine mix (No . 51) was incomplete. I’ve now fixed this – and it’s a great mix – so get over there and give it a listen.
500 Miles High is now on holiday for a week or so…
In a shoddy bid to get some content on here quickly – here’s a mix done last December as part of the DJ History’s annual Secret Santa thingy. Due to technology failure, it’s was an all vinyl affair – but none the worse for that. Arguably.
01. The Carpenters – Road Ode
02. The Crystal Mansion – Boogie Man
03. Beard Science – Sun A Go Down (Badger’s Raabadub)
04. Talk Talk – Does Caroline Know?
05. Au Pairs – Don’t Lie Back
06. Fist of Facts – Industrial Dub (Mudd Edit)
07. Compass Point All Stars – Peanut Butter
08. Grandmaster Flash / Roots Manuva – The Message
09. Rondenion – The Beautiful Memory
10. Eddie C – You’re Welcome
11. Mr Brown – There Was a Time (KD Mix)
12. Valeria Lobao – Cravo e Canela
13. Go West – We Close Out Eyes (Lord Muck Dub-In-Progress)
14. Eddie Kendricks – Body Talk
15. Darwin’s Theory – Keep On Smiling
16. Coke Escovedo – I Wouldn’t Change a Thing
As a spurious, and wholly unofficial, World Cup tie-in, I’ve just done a mix of Brazilian music. It consists of tracks solely from the excellent Philips MPBC series (Música Popular Brasileira Contemporânea), which consisted of just 11 LP’s released in Brazil between 1978 and 1981. The series covers a lot of musical ground, but there’s a lovely jazz-fusion vibe to much of it, which is what I’ve focused on for the mix – using something from each of the albums.
01. Robertinho Silva – Falange Dos Tambores [Philips MPBC 6328 229 Série Azul]
02. Celia Vaz – Mar à Tona no Leblon [Philips MPBC 6328.300 Série Azul]
03. Nivaldo Ornelas – Ninfas [Philips MPBC 6349.375]
04. Octávio Burnier – Dança Infernal [Philips MPBC 6349.402]
05. Djalma Côrrea – Baiafro [Philips MPBC 6349.377]
06. Marcos Resende & Index – Terra de Vera Cruz [Philips MPBC 6349.374]
07. Túlio Mourão – Pedra e Paixão (Para Aleijadinho) [Philips MPBC 6349.447]
08. Celia Vaz – Mutação (feat. Pat Metheny) [Philips MPBC 6328.300 Série Azul]
09. Luiz Claudio Ramos – Patati Patatá [Philips MPBC 6349.446]
10. Djalma Côrrea – Os Quatro Elementos Part A – Aqua/Oxum [Philips MPBC 6349.377]
11. Nelson Ayres – Dois Tempos [Philips MPBC 6349.376]
12. Octávio Burnier – Dança da Lua [Philips MPBC 6349.402]
Outro: Aécio Flávio & Quartesanato – O Menino Azul [Philips MPBC 6349.448]