In memory of the late great Paradise Garage dj here’s a mystery set that has turned up on Soundcloud and is credited to Levan from the early 80s. Uploader R_co hasn’t been able to locate a playlist, but he has found a list of (nearly) every song played during his run as resident at the Garage - that’s quite a lot of music if you care to have a look. The mixing on this set is a bit hit and miss, but the crowd audibly loves it and the drop into Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face” (from an excellent mystery track) at around 6 minutes in is heavenly:
Larry Levan Live @ The Paradise Garage, New York (Early 80s) by R_co
Of course, Levan was more than just a dj - he was a remixer of no small talent, and some of his remixes are guaranteed dance floor fillers more than 30 years after their release (such as the previously mentioned Loose Joints track, one of my desert island discs). As a special bonus, here’s Levan’s first ever remix, which he mixed as a try-out for the Sesame Street disco album project, and which remained unreleased for almost 30 years:
Cookie Monster & The Girls “C Is For Cookie (Larry Levan Special Version Funky Disco Mix)”:
Thanks to Tara McGinley
After the jump more of Larry Levan’s best remixes, including the Joubert Singers, Grace Jones, Gwen Guthrie and more…
John Peel died seven years ago today.
As mainstream radio in the UK gets steadily worse, as exposure opportunities for the genuinely interesting and different quickly disappear, and as lowest common denominator fodder like X Factor begins to limit the power of music in the popular imagination, he is missed now more than ever.
In the absence of one unifying national media platform it’s unlikely that we will ever see his like again, though I feel that through his influence, and the proliferation of music websites and blogs, we are all a bit Peelie now. Proof of the man’s legacy is that the anniversary of his passing has become an annual day of celebration, with gigs, radio shows, record fairs and even specific releases happening in his honor, every 25th of October. And this is a good thing, a very good thing.
So in memoriam, here’s a clip from a 2005 BBC program where various artists and radio djs posthumously rifle through his (typically eclectic) record box:
John Peel’s Record Box
After the jump, John Peel’s ‘Sound of the Suburbs’, Jimi Hendrix playing a Radio 1 jingle for Peel’s show in the late 60s, Peel on the assassination of JFK (which he reported on from Dallas for the Liverpool Echo), and an interview where Peel talks about the influence of punk, how its natural home is in the suburbs, and how scenes get co-opted by a jaded music press…
This is some serious disco history right here! A recording has recently surfaced of DJ Larry Levan mixing live from the 1979 2nd birthday party of the legendary New York night spot the Paradise Garage. The 4 hour set was broadcast live on NY’s WBLS station (hence the occasional MC commentary from the recognisable voice of Frankie Crocker) and was taped off the radio by producer Lenny Fontana as a kid. He had the foresight to transfer the original tapes to DAT in 1990, and to put the mix away into storage.
Recently unearthed by the BBC’s Eddy Gordon, who has described the tapes as “broadcasting gold”, the set was broadcast on BBC Radio 6 as part of a “A Taste Of Paradise” season, which ran over a series of nights and featured interviews with some of the key players in the Garage’s history. Props to the folks at the Irish disco website isodisco.com, who have uploaded all the interviews to their site - these are worth checking out too as they are fun and informative, and have some cracking underground disco soundbeds.
But the main attraction is Levan’s dj set itself. For many people like me, whose number one time travel destination would be the Garage at its late 70s/early 80s peak, this is as close as we’re ever going to get. You can really feel the party atmosphere in the broadcast - which opens with live PAs from Loleatta Holloway, Dan Hartman AND Sylvester, reason enough to be excited - and Larry’s selection is damn near flawless. Sure, the mixing could be tighter, but this is 1979 fer Chrissakes - just check the massive booming bass on some of these tracks! Obviously dub was an influence, as was the Garage’s legendary PA. If you’re not dancing by the time Tribe’s “Koke” kicks in (arf) at 2:49:10 - straight after Candido’s club classic “Jingo” - then you’re most probably dead.
Here’s the set, as hosted on Underground NYC - skip straight to 01:11:00 for the the broadcast to begin, and 01:52:00 for Levan to take over:
Just to make clear, this is NOT the set released on CD by Strut in 2000.
Ok, so this is kind of cheeky and infuriating, but you have to admit it’s also brilliantly executed. The Dewale brothers, aka Radio Soulwax, aka original mash-up masters 2ManyDJs, recently mixed the intros of 500 songs together into one hour long set and called it Introversy. That’s a hell of a lot of song intros - and the mix is accompanied by animation of all the sleeves of all 500 of the tunes coming to life. Now that’s dedication!
Introversy was originally posted on the brothers’ website last month, but as the original was not embedable, here’s a cheeky rip of a ten minute segment that has ended up on YouTube. Yes, the audio and visual quality are not great, but you definitely get the gist, and it’s all the more reason to check out the hour long original which is available to download as a free app on the Radio Soulwax website. Soulwax, their apps and website are all highly recommended - their currently streaming Celestial Voyage Pt 2 mix is a great blend of prog rock and space-disco which also features animated sleeves and is well worth checking out. But for now, here’s a segment from the rather excellent Introversy:
Robert Mapplethorpe image for The Saint’s “Black Party” 1981 via OrangeMercury.
Thanks to Tony Dunne for the sterling work on this - stitching together various tapes to create a four-and-a-half-hour continuous mix of the DJ Warren Gluck from the closing night of the legendary New York nightclub The Saint in 1988. Tony says:
“There may be slight differences from the originals because of the tape endings. Sound quality could of course be better but the recording was taken from cassette tapes.”
The Saint was a members-only gay club opened in 1980 by New York club owner Bruce Mailman (St Mark’s Baths), and the architect Charles Terrell. It gained legendary status almost immediately, due in no small part to the huge planetarium-style dome over the dancefloor (which hosted massive light shows and also served to hide and amplify the club’s sound system) as well as the notoriously permissive attitude to sex in the club, in the upstairs areas and at special events like “The Black Party”. Unsurprisingly the AIDS epidemic decimated the club’s clientele, leading to its closure in May 1988 (a year after both Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage). The Saint never received the acclaim for its music in the same way the Garage did, despite mixes like this proving it was just as excellent (the music may have been different but gays were raving long before acid house). University of East London lecturer, disco historian and author Tim Lawrence sums it up in his thesis “The Forging of a White Gay Aesthetic at the Saint, 1980-84” (a must read for fans of disco, gay history and New York nightlife):
...whereas historians of dance culture have hailed the Garage’s Larry Levan to be the most influential DJ in the city during the 1980s, the shifting roster of selectors who worked at the Saint have merited barely a single mention—an unlikely scenario given that privileged white groups often receive more attention than disadvantaged subaltern groups. Based on numerous interviews with key protagonists, documentary material held in the Saint’s archive and recordings of DJ sets from the Saint, this article redresses the imbalance by outlining the contributions of Jim Burgess, Alan Dodd and Roy Thode, the Saint’s principal DJs during the opening 1980–81 season, as well as Shaun Buchanan, George Cadenas, Michael Fierman, Michael Jorba, Robbie Leslie, Howard Merritt, Chuck Parsons, Terry Sherman and Sharon White… their collective impact was considerable, even if their very collectivity also meant that each was ultimately disposable.
For more information on the history of The Saint, and the ongoing “Saint At Large” reunion parties, visit Saint At Large.com. But for now lose yourself in Warren Gluck’s awesome final dj set at the club:
It’s a Saturday night and I’m feelin’ alright… and this excellent dj mix is just too damn good not to share!
“Boogie” is an often overlooked subset of disco and funk. It peaked in the early 80s when many of the acts from the disco era looked for a new dancefloor style, swapped their guitars for synthesizers and modified their syncopation to suit the popular roller disco phenomenon. Though relatively short lived and with no major artists representing the style in the mainstream (outside of funk-pop acts like Cameo or the more P-Funk-y Zapp) it managed to be hugely influential. It reared its head again for a while in the 90s when many of the original records found themselves being sampled in hip-hop and in particular g-funk, courtesy of producers like Dr Dre. It’s a very West Coast sound, and when it comes down to it nobody knows boogie quite like Dam Funk.
Dam Funk - “Hood Pass Intact”
This native Los Angelino’s name should be familiar to music cognoscenti, as he has released a string of records to much critical acclaim on San Francisco’s Stones Throw label, including the mammoth 2009 5-LP set Toeachizown. A man with a strong fetish for original FM and analog synths, his sound is definitely heavily influenced by early 80s funk and disco and 90s hip-hop, while maintaining a singular sound and atmosphere.
But Dam Funk is not just a talented producer, he is also an excellent DJ, as this awesome set proves. Although he hosts a weekly funk shindig in Los Angeles called Funkmosphere, this recording is taken from the first birthday party of the London night Deviation, and uploaded to Soundcloud by the BBC Radio 1 DJ Benji B. Dam is what is known as a “personality DJ” who is not afraid to get on the mic, give shout outs to the audience, and tell us the names of the tunes he is playing. And damn are those tunes hot - I just keep playing this mix over and over, it’s that good.. You can find more info on Dam Funk (including tour dates, merch and downloads) on the Stones Throw website. But for now just hit play, blaze, boogie and have a great Saturday night:
Thanks to Kelvin Brown for the link.
The original video for Dam Funk’s DJ staple “Dangerzone” by Midnight Express (whose dancing zombies theme possibly pre-dates “Thriller”):