Tuesday, 30 September 2008
CLASSIC AUDIO – A NEW BATCH OF GEMS FROM THE ARCHIVES!
Yes, people, it’s classic audio time again, with a handful of new cassette and minidisc rips from deep in the vaults. The last batch got such a good reaction, that it’s only right we now make it a regular part of the website.
Here’s what we’ve mined this month:
MILLENNIUM NIGHT 1999/ 2000, APOCALYPSE, CARDIFF
Another chance to catch the classic New Year’s Eve jam from Apocalypse in Cardiff as the 20th century turned into the 21st. Kid Fury entertains on the mic, while Mark Devlin spins the monster tunes of ‘99, (and occasionally slurs, evidently drunkenly, on the mic.) Check the reference to ‘we made it – the world didn’t end’. Remember all those doomsday prophesies? Kinda an appropriate venue name in the circumstances.
MD’S BIRTHDAY JAM, 2000
A recording from the days when I used to stage Birthday club gigs, (really can’t be arsed any more!) This is a highly memorable one from May 2000 at Colours club in Oxford. First off, The Chocolate Boys dig deep in the crates, with Tony ‘Naked’ Nanton spinning UK garage, weekender anthems and new jack swing, while Danny ‘MSD’ Whittaker puts in some wicked mic work. (Classic quote from Tony – ‘this one’s for people who don’t wear tracksuits to social gatherings.’) Then it’s the turn of Stretch Taylor, ending the night with an imaginative selection of revivals. Wonderful times. Now, THIS is the way to celebrate a birthday!
BLAZING FREESTYLE SESSION, RUBBER SOUL, CAMBRIDGE, 2000
I remember cutting short a mini tour of Germany and turning down a gig in Berlin in order to get back for this session of Rubber Soul, an incredible hip hop session that used to run at The Junction in Cambridge. Listening back to this, I have no regrets about my decision. This night was ON FIRE! Three MCs, the mighty Lethal, Kid Fury, and Master G of The Starlight Crew spit with a vengeance on the mic, while Stretch Taylor and myself juggle rhythms, and straight blaze with some reggae dancehall and hip hop killers. This was one of the livest club nights I’ve ever had the good fortune to be involved with, and the amazing atmosphere really comes across on this. This was cleaned up for radio play a while ago – check the reverse-swear-word edit on Akafella’s ‘Put It In My Mouth’ at the end – it’s nothing short of pant-p*ssingly hilarious!
MD AT STADT PALAIS, MONCHENGLADBACH, GERMANY, 2000
I played regularly in Germany around this time, and this gig happened in Feb 2000 at the big Stadt Palais venue. As I blaze through the joints, an unidentified MC, (forgot the dude’s name – but he’s hot!) handles the mic, before Germany’s DJ Sake steps up on deck duty.
MD & KID FURY RAGGA SEQUENCE, JOINTS & JAMS, 2000
A fondly remembered section of the ‘Joints & Jams’ show that Mark Devlin and Kid Fury used to present on Oxygen 107.9 was the ragga sequence. Here, Fury adopted the persona of his old Jamaican uncle (‘or ‘huncle’ if you say it in a Ja. Accent,) to pass comment on the latest reggae dancehall offerings, while Selektah Devlin spun the riddims. This one’s a classic example of the sort of fooling around that used to go on.
Monday, 29 September 2008
The ten that are blowing up the radio airwaves and/ or rocking dancefloors this month.
DAS EFX: CAN U FEEL IT (White)
The return of one of the hottest and most distinctive two-man crews of the 90s is an event in itself. The fact that this bases itself on the Fat Boys 80s classic of the same name only adds to its authentic good-time feel.
Q-TIP: GETTING’ UP (Universal Motown)
In a perfect world all hip hop jams would have the sublime bounce and flow of this latest offering from the Tribe refugee, proving he’s lost none of his touch for lacing a wicked rhyme. The world’s far from perfect, of course, which is why we don’t. So in the meantime, this is one to be absorbed with full hip-hop relish.
NATALIA Featuring KALIBA MOTES: PERFECT DAY (Upper 11)
This type of bright and breezy street soul bouncer, arriving just too late to be a perfect Summer jam, doesn’t seem to get made much any more at the expense of tunes with tricky beat patterns and dumb filtered vocals. This one keeps it all simple, and is highly appealing as a result.
JOLEON D’AVENUE: CAFE CLOUD 9 (Unique Mood)
Although a bit of a mouthful, JD’s is a name worth remembering. Dubbed ‘the British Barry White’, this East London muso fuses hip hop, soul, jazz and funk to uplifting and inspiring effect throughout his ‘Mellow Defiance’ album, this being the standout uptempo cut. Real music for people who feel music!
BRYN CHRISTOPHER: SMILIN’ (Mafia & Fluxy Remix) (Polydor)
Bryn’s looking like a dude that’s about to enjoy some mainstream success, and his sound, like that of Natty and Roachford before him, isn’t strictly ‘urban’. Nevertheless, this tune belongs on these pages thanks to the lively, skanking reggae-style workout provided by scene veterans Mafia & Fluxy, melding with Bryn’s abrasive vocals to highly striking effect.
GTA: THE WAY (GTA)
Forget London, Bristol and Birmingham. It makes me proud that my city of birth is shining so bright for heavy music in the form of GTA frontman Chima Anya and sidekick Ineffible. Empowering lyrics delivered over a driving beat with wailing backing vocals from Jada Pearl. This one’s got the whole package. OX represents!
BUSY SIGNAL: TIC TOC (VPD)
Has anyone else noticed that genuine club-rocking reggae dancehall joints are about as rare as mother-in-law jokes these days? Here’s one that ticks (no pun intended) all the right boxes, however, riding on a riddim that would have sounded at home during the genre’s glory days of the late 90s. This one’s club-ready.
PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS: THE WIZ (Om Records)
While lyrical themes in mainstream hip hop still seem restricted to the same tired old cliches – flossing, b*tches, packing heat, gold rims, instructions on how to perform retarded little line dances, etc – the underground scene is still showing itself capable of being more imaginative, this one standing as a cool, chilled-out ode to the attractions of being in Australia. It’s all set to a mellow head-nodding groove that could make you swear for a minute that you’re relaxing with a cocktail on Bondi.
MR LIVE: AT THE CROSSROADS (White)
Underground enthusiasts might recall this Fort Greene, Brooklyn resident as one half of the duo Mr. Live and Tony Bones, (‘Placebo’, ‘Splashing Over Monica.’) His remains one of the most distinctive voices in the game, and it resonates to full effect here over a sick, twisted beat that J Dilla would have been proud of.
ESTELLE Featuring SEAN PAUL: COME OVER (Homeschool)
Refusing to be easily pigeon-holed, Estelle slips dextrously into mid-tempo reggae territory on this bright and soulful excursion that – because it’s her – should get felt in all the right places.
Monday, 8 September 2008
Watch out for a weekly show entitled The UK Throwback, on the new Australian radio station www.kseraradio.com
The station is part of the Australia Radio Networks organisation, and is the country’s first dealing exclusively with black and urban music. The UK Throwback airs every Sunday at 6pm Australian East Coast time, (which equates to Sunday 8am in the UK, and 9am in central Europe.)
Each show features an hour’s mix put together by Mark Devlin, consisting entirely of classic hip hop, R&B and reggae dancehall revivals, from the early 90s to the early 2000s. The station’s other internationally syndicated shows are Clinton Sparks’ ‘Smashtime Radio’ and DJ Power’s ‘Outta Control.’
The station is now streaming live at www.kseraradio.com.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
I put in a fair few motorway miles during the course of my job, and by the start of September this had really started to take its toll. The turbo converter on my BMW 320 had given up the ghost, and this, along with a related secondary fault, resulted in the need for an entire new engine. In a month where my Apple iBook, our household boiler, and – less importantly but just as annoying – our video remote control had all packed up, it was, quite frankly, something I could have done without. Owing to a mis-diagnosis on their part, however, I did manage to persuade my BMW garage to install an engine worth around £8K for a little over an eighth of the price which, in the circumstances, was a result. Happily, I’m now back cruising happily on the road, but on Monday 1st, Mrs. D’s VW Golf had to step in to save the day.
Mondays have long been saved from being a complete write-off in clubland by the ever-reliable student market. Que Pasa in Watford runs a promotion every Monday night which, impressively, still draws a strong student crowd even outside of college term time. My first session there was reasonably enjoyable, and free of tedious DJ booth comments. Instead, the most entertaining conversation of the night went along the lines of:
Girl: Can you play some Lionel Richie?
Me: No, sorry
Me: Because I don’t carry any Lionel Richie
Me; Because it’s Lionel Richie
Friday 5th marked the second weekend of the new St. James’ Club operation in Banbury. The monsoon-like conditions outside did little to boost attendance levels, but management have now unveiled plans to book a few high-profile guest DJs to inject a bit of interest, starting with DJ Spoony on 26th September.
The following night saw me heading to Manchester for my first DJ gig there in quite a while. Everything ran smoothly once I reached the venue … getting there was another matter. Lounge 31 is situated in The Printworks, the complex where many of the city’s clubs, bars and fast food joints are centred. It’s well signposted on the main routes from the M6, and on previous visits, I’ve simply followed the signs and sailed through.
On this occasion, Mancunian Way, one of the key routes through the city, was closed without notice. I’d not had the foresight to bring a map, so I spent the best part of an hour getting absurdly lost in Manchester’s maze of streets, screaming in frustration at the never-ending stream of red lights, before finally working out where I needed to be. I was slightly late for my midnight set as a result, but from that point, everything was good. Lounge 31 is owned by the Brown Suga promotions crew who have a long history of staging key urban and student club nights in town, and the session was buzzing and enjoyable. It was 6am by the time I crawled back through my front door. Having worked 15 of the previous 18 nights, I felt a restful couple of days were well in order.
As you may have seen from elsewhere on this site, the latest instalment in my Beatmasters mix series is now here. The ten previous volumes have covered contemporary luminaries such as DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Kanye West and Timbaland, plus an old-school offering from Marley Marl. For this one, I wanted to take it way back to pay tribute to a couple of highly-underrated producers with one of the most distinctive sounds in black music history. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis totally dominated the scene in the 80s and early 90s, producing much of the output from Alexander O’ Neal, The SOS Band and Sounds Of Blackness, as well as just about everything Janet Jackson did from ‘Control’ onwards. The mix stands at over an hour, encompassing 42 of their tracks, but most of the work came from actually finding all the records I needed before I could get started. Almost all were on vinyl, and some have been sitting in dusty archives for many years. I’m very happy with the result, anyway, and it’s now ready to absorb via the following download link:
You can also get a quick glimpse into the chaotic production process with the following short video, too:
On Tuesday 9th, Parveen and myself went to see the new Guy Ritchie movie 'Rocknrolla'. In terms of my verdict, the best thing I can do is point you in the directiion of the review I wrote for the local press, as follows:
A favourite old “Spitting Image” gag had Madonna’s unflattering effigy being asked by a reporter what her new single was like. “The old one,” she replied. And so it is with hubby Guy Ritchie’s latest excursion into London street skulduggery.
If you’ve seen ‘Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels’, you’ve already seen the best that ‘Rocknrolla’ has to offer. The multi-layered plot involves an old-school property villain, his gang of street enforcers, an enterprising Russian immigrant and his hard-as-nails henchmen, a junkie presumed-dead rock star, (half Pete Doherty, half Russell Brand,) and – the film’s only female character - a corrupt femme-fatale accountant, played by Thandie Newton, (the only vaguely familiar name among the cast.) The lines between good guys and villains are blurred in this confusing maze, and no one character emerges as the obvious lead player, top billing going to Gerard Butler’s Scottish beefcake street soldier.
Seemingly running short on inspiration, Ritchie has dipped back into his own archive for tricks and gimmicks. The flashbacks, slow frames and screen captions are here, while the carnivorous pigs from ‘Snatch’ have become lethal Thames crayfish in ‘Rocknrolla’, with a ‘lucky’ missing painting taking the place of the antique guns in ‘Lock Stock’. In a search for something quirky and still original, a gay subplot between two of the mob enforcers is thrown into the mix.
Although engaging in parts, ‘Rocknrolla’ exposes Ritchie as a one-trick director. The real proof of his film-making abilities would be to leave the Mockney rascals alone for once, and try something completely out of the frame.
Most of my live studio guests on ‘Just Buggin’ have come from London, or Oxford itself. So it was good to have Bristol representing on Wednesday 10th, as the MC known as Triggadon alongside his crew T Dot and Big Ceaze passed through. Eventually, anyway. During a very hectic show, I kept in phone contact with Trigg to guide him up to Oxford, after he inadvertently missed his turn off the M4 and went sailing off towards Reading. They just made it in time for midnight, which still allowed for half an hour of exclusives and blazing freestyles. As I now do with all my radio guests, I took some video footage of the sessions, and it’s available to view now in my Myspace Videos, or alternatively at www.youtube.com/markdevlintv
The rest of the weekend involved gigs I now play regularly – G’s in Bicester on Thursday, St. James’ in Banbury on Friday and The Second Bridge in Bath on Saturday. It gets difficult to think of new things to say about these, so instead, I’ll recount another couple of favourite dumb DJ request scenarios. Banbury saw me being asked to ‘play some Michael Jackson’. I obliged by dropping ‘Rock With You’. Two minutes into the song, the woman who’d asked came back to the box to exclaim, ‘When are you going to play my Michael Jackson?’ I asked her who she thought she was listening to and she shrugged her shoulders. Revolver, please. At a later stage, Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ got dropped, at which point a girl came up, (have you noticed that it’s always females?!) to ask for ‘some R&B.’ Just to do my educational bit, I politely pointed out that Aretha Franklin was, technically, original R&B. The girl screwed up her face and said, no, I mean proper R&B like Timbaland or Pussycat Dolls. Public executions really should be brought back in this country for such comments.
(Incidentally, I was so impressed to learn that the DJ world has a track of its very own which breaks down all these types of situations concisely and entertainingtly, and deserves to be played in every session. Track down Andre Harris’ ’10 Things You Should Never Say To A DJ’ for the therapy. It’s just a shame that it’s a house track, and not an urban one!)
My sleep deficit during mid September had reached almost critical levels – a recurring peril of the job. I’d had only two hours on Saturday night before having to take some relatives to Stansted Airport for a flight on Sunday morning. On Tuesday 16th, I managed only slightly more after my latest Monday night session at Que Pasa in Watford, (which was rocking by the way– a surefire indicator that the newly-funded students are back in town.) Early on Tuesday, I headed back to the airport – Gatwick this time – for a flight to Sardinia. This wasn’t for a gig; it was purely a 24-hour leisure trip to Olbia in the north. I’d clearly picked the right time to go. The island was free of holidaying families, and the temperature had dropped to a bearable 78 degrees with a cooling breeze. Being an Italian resort, the food was right up my street. I kept my eyes open for any clubs, but couldn’t find any – not that I was expecting to. Just a DJ’s natural curiosity!
There’s not many venues this could apply to, but I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad night at The Apartment in Swindon, my touchdown on Saturday 20th. The venue has long made it clear that it differs from the assorted mainstream spots by concentrating on cool, funky, soulful music, and always tends to attract the right type of punter as a result. I took over from resident Stu, dropping all manner of gems I could never get away with elsewhere at peak time on a Saturday night. Prior to my set, I sneaked a look at the upstairs level which was hosting a happy hardcore/ rave revival night. It’s not often I feel young in a club these days, but I found myself among 40 and 50-somethings who probably haven’t had a night out in 15 years, but used to go raving to all this good stuff in the early 90s, and can still remember some of their moves. On the decks was veteran DJ Ellis D, whose name I remember from the time. I won’t embarrass him by revealing the full details, but there was an entertaining incident later in the night where he came far too close to living up to his amusing moniker. Go on Ellis!
My latest visit to the nation’s capital came a couple of evenings later. First on the agenda was the latest link-up of a few of us former Blues & Soul mag staff in what will forever be known as ‘the scuzzy old Dickens’, the pub just round the corner from the old B&S offices in Paddington. There was some business value to our chat as well as the social aspect, and I hope to be able to reveal more on that front very shortly. Watch this space.
Next, I hooked up with Joleon Davenue, a guy whose music I’m loving right now – check his ‘Mellow Defiance’ album for a refreshing alternative to the tired, cliched hip hop around at the moment. The idea was to record a radio interview, the interior of my car being the only place to offer the right acoustic surroundings. Unfortunately, the mic cable to my minidisc had other ideas, refusing to work, so we ended up having to do a phone interview on the following night’s show after all. Well, we got there in the end.
The opening night of 300 at The Regal in Oxford the previous Friday had been rammed, the freshers queuing round the block as early as 9pm. The second event on Friday 26th took far longer to get going, causing some concern. By 11.30 though, the hordes had arrived and it was jumping again. I’ll be doing this one (theoretically!) every Friday til term breaks for Christmas on 5th December, and it looks like it’s going to be a good one.
I began my evening at The Bridge the following night chatting to fellow DJs Justin Winks and Danny Smith about the appalling state of the music coming out in 2008, (Lil Wayne, Akon, T-Pain, Rihanna – I’m talking to you.) Strangely, I felt inspired afterwards. Our little moan committed me towards deliberately peppering the usual commercial selection with a high quota of new bangers and some back-in-the-day classics, where I might otherwise have given in and just played the usual old crap. The gambit paid off and made for a far more fulfilling night than usual. It’s a strategy I’ll be looking to repeat as frequently as possible.
The month finished with another student session at Que Pasa in Watford on Monday 29th – like The Regal, a little quieter than the previous outing.
… and that was September.