Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Public Enemy - It Take a Nation of Millions to hold us back - 20th Anniversary

Last night I was lucky enough to see Public Enemy perform It Takes a Nation of Millions to hold us back in it's entirety at the Manchester Academy. This was done to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the albums release (that makes me feel old!)

The album is one of my favourites with the fiery lyrics from the Black Panthers of rap colliding with the layered wall of noise provided by the Bomb Squad. (who seem to have discovered DubStep if their warm-up DJ set is anything to go by)

The album helped me discover the 70's funk of James Brown and many other artists as tracks on the album where chopped up and re-used by Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee and Eric Sadler to create their ferocious sound.

Hank Shocklee

Here are just a few samples of 100's of tracks used by the Bomb Squad on It Takes a Nation. Some you can easily recognise, some not so much as the Bomb Squad would use a tiny portion of record - a horn stab here, a guitar riff there to mold their dense sound

Lafayette Afro Rock Band - Darkest Light (used on Show em whatcha got)

James Brown - I got ants in my pants (used on Don't believe the hype)

The J.B's - The Grunt (used on Rebel without a pause)

Bar-Kays - Son of Shaft (used on Caught can I get witness)


Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Rare Groove

Norman Jay is generally credited with popularising the term rare groove. In the 80’s he played rare (mainly) 70’s soul, funk and jazz on his Kiss FM’s “Original rare groove show” (I’m raving, I’m raving I’m led to believe wasn’t on the playlist – those who were at the 2007 D Percussion will know what I’m talking about)
He also took it to the dancers and ravers at warehouse parties with his “shake and fingerpop” soundsystem, along side people like Judge Jules who would be playing early house music. As a result these “rare grooves” would be heard and danced to by a large cross section of party people. Also the rare grooves would be heard by those passing through the Nottinghill Carnival because of Norman’s GoodTimes soundystem.
As a result rare groove would appear on flyers for clubs in that London and DJ‘s would be competing to make sure they played the rarest of rare grooves. A “scene” developed that had similarities with the Northern Soul scene – i.e. giving quality black music a second chance when it hadn’t had the exposure it deserved first time around.
Now being too northern and slightly too young to have experienced these events someone else was more important in my rare groove education through his compilation albums. This man is Dez Parkes.
In the late 80’s he helped put together a series of compilations that re-issued forgotten soul and funk from the back catalogue of RCA and Ariola. I believe there were 4 of them, I have volume 1,3 & 4. They are fantastic compilations however the pressings aren’t great and they are not very DJ friendly. Apparently the first volume reached number 75 of the album charts.

Because of this relative success record labels rapidly released their own compilations, which you could quite easily pick up, even at Woolworths in Ormskirk!
Dez Parkes also went on to compile volumes 1 and 2 of the Mastercuts Rare Groove series

20 years on you will still see the term rare groove on flyers or compilations of funk and soul. In fact it’s easier to get your hands on these tunes now than it ever was. Obviously there is no scene now but rare groove is a by word for mid tempo funky soul music that is loved by 30 somethings like me as well as younger people exploring soul music heritage.

This a compilation of some of my favourites

Creative Source – Funky Luvah
Rawsoul Express – The way we live
Sisters Love- Give me your love
Voices of East Harlem – Wanted Dead or Alive
Lee Dorsey – Night People
Brother to Brother – Chance with you
Tommy Stewart – Bump and hustle music
Linda Lewis – Elevate our minds
Benny Golson – I’m always dancing to the music
TS Monk – Can’t keep my hands to myself
Positive Force – Give you my love
Erasmus Hall – Just me ‘n’ you
Leroy Hutson – Love the way you make me feel
Jay Dee – Strange games and funky things
Milton Wright – Keep it up
Willie Hutch – Sho give you love