Letter #3

Hello.

What a week. We hope you’ve had a cracker.

As usual, the letter is split into two parts. The first section is the link to the thing that you’re here for – the playlist. The second section is the thing that we’re here for – the rambling notes, links, and explanations on why certain tracks were chosen. This week it’s a bumper, but definitely worth a skim.

–  🎼 –

With marginally less saxophone this week (probably), this week has more vocals, some guitars, and lots of stolen samples. We also cover more ground this week – soul, funk, hip-hop, jazz, classic disco, modern disco, some modern classical, a bit of house, some ambient, soundtrack stuff, a folk song, and finally a crazy piece of avant garde jazz / improvisation. It’s been brilliant putting it all together this week. More on that below, because I’m definitely rambling already.

You’ll find the playlist this week – here.

– ✏️ –

Music this week comes from RBMA, Juno (work has been too hectic to escape into Soho), BBC 6Music, my excellent Mother-in-Law, and Glastonbury. Oh, and a genuinely astounding story from work. More on that later.

So, first up there are lots of instantly recognisable samples this week. No real motivation behind this other than I seem to have come across a lot of songs this week where I’ve spotted things and found that I prefer the original. The opener was sampled by Jamie XX on I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times). Side Effect’s Always There has been sampled so extensively, that it’s difficult to name a definitive lead sampler. I’d probably have to say Brothers in Rhythm’s Such a Good Feeling (from ’91). Then there’s Tribe’s Everything is Fair, which lifts from Funkadelic’s much slower Let’s Take it to the People. The Crusaders Street Life has also been picked at a lot – everyone from I:Cube, to 2Pac. But then it is a classic…

Now, I never need an excuse to include a Stevie Wonder song, but this week gave me possibly the best reason I could imagine. Bear with me, this is worth it… I work with a gentleman called Simon. He’s probably the nicest man in advertising, very kind, and softly spoken. Lovely man. We’ve worked together for a few years, but only recently on the same account. For the last four years I’ve been itching to ask him something. Something about his father. His father is a bit of a hero of mine, but as I’d never spoken to him about it, I thought maybe the people that I work with had been winding me up, so I never broached the subject. Anyway, this week we were sat waiting for a meeting to begin and I thought I’d just ask.

“Simon, I’ve got to ask. Is your dad actually Tony Blackburn?”

”Yes, he is”

“That’s crackers, I know it’s weird to say, and probably annoying, but alongside my dad, and John Peel, your dad is one of my musical heroes!”

I started blabbering on about how I still listen to old shows of his now to find new music, and I explained how I’d come across loads of Stevie Wonder songs through his dad. He said he’d met him, and told me the following amazing story…

When Simon was nine or ten, his dad asked him if he wanted to meet Stevie Wonder. Obviously, Simon said yes. So Tony took him along to the show he was presenting, where Stevie was appearing, and took him to the green room. After a little while, Stevie came backstage and Tony introduced Simon to him. Handshake and a hello, Simon totally star struck. Then, while Tony was chatting to someone else, Stevie Wonder leant in to whisper in Simon’s ear and said…

“Your father is a very important and special man – without him, my music and a lot of black music would’ve never made it out of America. He’s a great man, and you should be very proud.”

My eyes were absolutely streaming. Imagine. Just IMAGINE.

So, this week I’ve included one of my all time favourite Stevie Wonder songs – As. The lyrics are beautiful, but there’s one line that always leaps out; “just as hate knows love’s the cure”. I think it’s my favourite lyric of all time. It’s perfect.

A few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me and my partner her father’s record collection, and a few of her own. This is always a massive deal for me, as record collections give such an amazing illustration of someone’s life story. My partner’s grandfathers collection was immaculate – both in condition, but also in taste. I would have loved to have met him. In amongst the records that my mother-in-law gave us of hers, were a few Carole King records, who I hadn’t heard of. Until I started listening to them an instantly recognised soul classic I Feel the Earth Move. It’s been on heavy rotation ever since.

There’s quite a bit of hip-hop this week, after I watched the Madlib RMBA lecture last weekend. He can come across as a bit much, but to be honest, given his contribution to music and culture, he’s probably earned it. I mentioned last week I’m a late starter on hip-hop, but a combination of the excellent Questlove biography and the story of Def Jam, has opened up so many new avenues for me. Both are compulsory reading.

Herbie Hancock gets another track in this week, this time less jazz and more disco. Hancock’s discography and ability to create absolute gems across so many genres is mind-blowing. No wonder Gilles Peterson is such a huge fan. This week I’ve put Stars in Your Eyes on, after it got a repress on Columbia (the b-side, Saturday Night is worth a listen too).

This week the latest Dekmantel Selectors series was launched. This was number three in the series, this one from Marcel Dettmann, which I think I’ll probably pick up tomorrow from Sounds of the Universe. Number two (from Young Marco – here) was good, and the first from Motor City Drum Ensemble (sampler here) was an amazing collection – one of the highlights being Raphael Green’s Don’t Mess With the Devil. Maybe a bit insensitive to put it next to Betty Griffin’s love letter to God…

Purple Disco Machine’s Street Life. This is best heard either loud, or through headphones. The key change halfway through never fails to give me goosebumps. It’s such a simple track, but that key change creates pure elation.

It wouldn’t be a Love Will Save the Day Letter without some mention of the Peckham jazz scene too – this week I’ve included my favourite album of the last twelve months (Yussef Kamaal – whole album here), and Shabaka and the Ancestors (album here). Both albums are worth buying on vinyl (to listen to, but also as collectors).

The Black Madonna make her first appearance with highly sought after He Is the Voice I Hear, which got a third repress recently. She’s an inspiring DJ; campaigning for greater diversity, and a better understanding of mental illness in dance music, and having already contributed an enormous amount to the culture. Her Resident Advisor Between the Beats episode is inspiring, and if you like that, her RBMA lecture is good too.

Nils Frahm. Now, this might feel like a strange inclusion, especially at the point in the playlist that it comes in, but it’s for good reason, I swear. I think that put in at the right time, classical music can be incredibly powerful. It gives a proper break in rhythm, but gives such a sense of drama, and alongside Olafur Arnalds, and Max Richter, Nils Frahm is one of my favourite modern composers. This is a super short interlude on piano, and leads (I think) really well into the following track, but his discography is worth listening through (one of my favourites is Spaces).

Finally, the final two tracks. I think that they’re both a bit challenging, but in different ways. The first James Yorkston’s Woozy With Cider is part folk, part poem, part Transpotting-esque monologue. It’s not the sort of thing that I’d usually include, but following on from the Floating Points track, it felt like a very natural fit. The Asa-Chang & Junray track after is challenging for different reasons. It’s long, it’s part avant grade, part improvisation using traditional African instruments, with a huge part jazz. It’s so, so strange, but I think it’s beautiful. Please give it a go.

This has been a very bumper ramble, so as always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.

– 📄 – 

  1. The Persuasions – Good Times
  2. David Bowie – Right
  3. White Denim – Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)
  4. Charles Bradley – The World (Is Going Up in Flames)
  5. Carole King – I Feel the Earth Move
  6. BadBadNotGood – In Your Eyes
  7. 6th Borough Project – If the Feeling’s Right?
  8. A Tribe Called Quest – Everything is Fair
  9. Madlib – Montara
  10. French Touch 2 – Movin’ Up
  11. Stade – Stadium
  12. Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus
  13. Stevie Wonder – As
  14. The Crusaders – Street Life
  15. Herbie Hancock – Stars in Your Eyes
  16. Raphael Green – Don’t Mess With the Devil
  17. Betty Griffin – Free Spirit
  18. Ibibio Sound Machine – The Talking Fish
  19. Central Line – Walking Into Sunshine (Larry Levan 12” Mix)
  20. Side Effect – Always There
  21. Folamour – Cult of Operator
  22. Purple Disco Machine – Street Life
  23. Prequel – Saints
  24. Shabaka and the Ancestors – Natty
  25. Nils Frahm – In the Sky and on the Ground
  26. The Black Madonna – He Is the Voice I Hear
  27. Dauwd – Theory of Colours
  28. Floating Points – For Marmish Part II
  29. James Yorkston – Woozy with Cider
  30. Asa-Chang & Junray – Hana

See you on the dance floor.

Love Will Save the Day.

P.S. After missing last week (sorry), there will definitely be a live stream this Sunday early evening (7pm), available here.

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