I hope your week has been wonderful, and that the weekend holds untold pleasure and joy.
I’m currently finishing the week working at home, with the window wide open, drinking iced coffee and blasting out this week’s playlist ❤️.
I think it’s a goodie, if I do say so myself.
As ever, the letter is split into three parts. The first; the playlist. The second; the rambling notes. The third; the tracklisting.
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This week’s list runs all the way from The White Stripes to weird african electronica – covering a lot of ground in-between. I think this week might be the most experimental week yet. Hopefully it’s all strung together in a way that means that nothing stands out for the wrong reasons, but everything stands out for the right reasons 😃.
No Prince this week, but we have our first proper request, Kendrick makes his first appearance, as does Sylvester (it’s the best one), Josef Leimberg brings the jazz, Moodymann makes a reappearance, three of my favourites appear for the first time (Nebraska, Fouk, and Young Marco), and we have a new track from a friend of mine too!
As always, I’m rambling.
You’ll find this week’s playlist – here.
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I’m not sure what’s happened, but the programming took a lot longer than usual. Maybe there’s less that strings the thirty tracks together than usual, or maybe it just pulls from a broader base of influences. It’s difficult to quantify, but I feel like there’s a general feelingthat’s the thread through everything this week. That sounds ridiculous, I know.
The White Stripes make an appearance this week, and it’s a cover of a ridiculously influential blues track by Cab Calloway. There’s some crazy historical route back to an English hospital, but you’ll most likely recognise it from the Louis Armstrong version in the mid 1930s. This is from their debut album, but I didn’t really get into the White Stripes in a big way until White Blood Cells in 2001, when two of my best friends (hi Ben! hi Adam!) played it to me after we’d been taking in turns to play each other an album while drinking White Lightning (give me a break, we were 15). At this point I’d been exclusively buying electronica and dance music for about three years, and despite being named in tribute to Led Zeppelin (long story), I had a pretty wobbly relationship with rock and roll. White Blood Cells changed that dramatically. All of a sudden I’d found another world that had that guttural feeling I’d been finding in dance music. Turns out that that primal, animal feeling didn’t just belong to electronica!
There was a new artist and album that one of our family recommended this week (recommendations are encouraged, but not always redeemed – terms and conditions are available upon request). I knew the (artist) name Taj Mahal, but had never heard anything, and Mark… Well, it’s best that I let him tell the story:
“This was my mum’s go-to album for Sunday mornings when I was growing up. Released in 1971, it’s almost as old as I am, so from the age of two until my teens I heard the album once a week… It woke me up along with the smell of cooking bacon wafting up from the kitchen. Much to the amazement of everyone in the office, I therefore know all the words to every song.
It’s an amazing album. A live band featuring four (count ’em) tuba players!”
I listened the album on the way home that night, and while there’s a few country and western tracks (my kryptonite), there were some absolute gems – the one I decided to include was Sweet Mama Janisse, as it has a really nice bluesy feel, but doesn’t feel out of place with a bit of soul next to it. Listen to the whole album here. It’s definitely worth a run!
I’ve been holding back including tracks from Kendrick Lamar, and Tyler, the Creator, but this week was the straw that broke the camels back. While Kendrick has definite echoes of love, and (usually) all the jazz nods I need, Tyler is a slightly harder sell. Goblins is an incredible album (if you ever need some pep music, listen to Radicals), but it’s always going to be difficult to include anything from those first two albums when there’s so much anger in each track.
Before anyone jumps me, I know there’s a huge element of characterisation, and I don’t want to get drawn into one of those chats, but that’s exactly why it’s always easier to avoid including anything. Garden Shed, however has elements that I’ve not heard before from Tyler. Maybe it’s a parody, and I’ve properly fallen for it, but this track is immense. Then with Kendrick, it was difficult to pick something from DAMN., given everything is pretty spectacular, but PRIDE. felt like the most fitting track (HUMBLE. was a very close second).
On that note, I wanted to explain another thing. Last week I nearly wrote about this, but then remembered I’d promised to be a bit more laconic than usual. Music with a religious or spiritual side. Right. I almost nearly always include at least a few tracks that have a spiritual or religious aspect to them – this is not because I’m trying to slowly convert you all to Buddhism or some crazy cult. I’d have you all set up direct debits before doing anything like that. Got to have cash flow for a cult.
No, the reason there’s often music with a bit of the old faith in is that when people make music with that faith in their heart, you can often tell. It feels authentic. It feels like an aural representation of that happiness and joy and hope. I am, for the most part, half rational-Buddhist, and half optimistic-atheist, but the one thing that I have total and utter faith in is love. So songs that celebrate love are all good in my book.
Right, I’ve rambled for far longer than usual.
You’ve got a weekend to be getting on with.
I’ll crack on.
Most hardcore disco geeks dislike Sylvester. He’s seen as an artist that was derivative of disco, rather than additive. I think he had some absolute bangers, and I Need You is one of the best of his. You might also recognise this track from Bini & Martini’s early 2000 Ibiza classic Happiness. This is most certainly where I knew it from, and this was one of the tracks that brings back memories of sneaking into clubs far, far too young.
Finally, there’s one track on here that deserves very special mention. A friend of mine (hi Luke!) signed to Lobster Theremin a few years ago and that work was amazing, but his latest release on Workshop is incredible. I mean, everything he’s done to date is worth your time, but Orbit 416 is just… Special. Get it here.
As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.
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- Unspecified – The Mating Call of the Bullfrog
- The White Stripes – St. James Infirmary
- Thomas Meloncon – Ain’t Gonna Wait Too Long
- Taj Mahal – Sweet Mama Janisse (live)
- Darrow Fletcher – Now is the Time for Love Pt. 1
- Shirley Nanette – Sometimes
- Tyler, the Creator – Garden Shed
- Oscar Jerome – 2 Sides
- Kendrick Lamar – PRIDE.
- Clams Casino – Wavey
- Dirty Art Club – Fires
- Josef Leimberg – The Awakening
- Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Spirits Up Above
- Mary Frazier Jones – Oh, I Feel Good
- The Brothers Johnson – Strawberry Letter 23
- Cloud One – Spaced Out
- Sylvester – I Need You
- Moodzman – Don’t You Want My Love
- Ditongo – Kikujiro
- Nebraska – Emotional Rescue
- Fouk – Coconuts
- Young Marco – Biology Theme
- Colleen – Separating
- Ozel AB – Orbit 416
- Bullion – Blue Pedro
- Boddhi Satva – Belma Belma
- Nubian Mindz – Black Science
- Msafiri Zawose – Nzala Urugu
- Khruangbin – Mr. White
- Lord Echo – I Love Music
See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day.
PS. Watch out here on Saturday late afternoon for a long drawn out live summer set.