Simon Grigg has worn many hats in the music industry – club owner, label owner, DJ, producer, publisher, broadcaster. He helped form The Suburban Reptiles, launched the independent record labels, Propeller Records, Furtive Records, Stimulant, Huh! and most recently was appointed Creative Director of AudioCulture. You can check out his own site here for more on his extensive background. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
Five albums. It’s a tough one. I’m not sure what it means. The five albums I love most? Can’t do that. The five albums I love most at the moment? Could do that but there are more than five. The five albums I most want to listen to at the moment? That sounds better but it changes hourly. So I drew a line at midday today, 23 June, 2013.
And I looked at them and decided I wasn’t very adventurous at the moment as they’re mostly old, and it forced me to ask myself if I’ve finally reached that place where you go on endless loop, playing the same records over and over until you die. Most people I grew up with hit that barrier around 26 and I guess I’m lucky I’ve still remained addictively inquisitive. I guess the jury – even if it’s just a personal jury – on that is still out but I do know that whilst I listen to many old records, many of those many old records are records I’ve never heard before.
1 – V/A, Fac. Dance: Factory Records 12” Mixes and Rarities 1980-86: In other words the stuff on Factory that wasn’t New Order or Joy Division. This far out you forget that Factory was once a thriving non-sombre hothouse of music that made people head onto the dancefloor. All funded by humungous New Order and Joy Division sales of course, but that aside some of it was amazing and some of that amazing is found on these two CDs. There’s lots to love here but IF I was pushed I’d angle for the 52nd Street tracks Cold As Ice (as remixed by Jellybean Benitez) and the amusingly voiced Express, Quango Quango’s addictive NYC club crossover Love Tempo, Section 25’s Looking From a Hilltop (an electro-pulse co-produced by Barney Sumner) and A Certain Ratio’s timeless Knife Slits Water.
2 – P-Money, Gratitude: I told a hipster I loved this and he told me it was hip-hop for old people. Well, that’s me thought I and I put it on again. I used to know a lot about hip-hop, now I know next to nothing – but that next to nothing bit I know is that I love this album. A lot. And given that half the hipsters on planet earth were (briefly) frothing about what was at best an average slightly dated David Bowie album a few months back, I feel comfortable. What I do know is that the ghost of one of my favourite albums, Pete Rock and Cl Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul Brother permeates large parts of this album and Celebration Flow is the best thing I’ve ever heard with Aaradhna’s name on it.
3 – Mark de Clive-Lowe and The Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra, Take The Space Trane: If I’m honest I’ve missed large parts of Mark’s last decade or so. Not for want of wanting to know what music Mark – who was long a resident in my club Cause Celebre – was creating, but more that my circuitous musical acquisitions and ever expanding want lists (nothing changes) meant that I was always meaning to and just never did. And then I saw this album. Actually I saw a Soundcloud link to the first track and pushed play. And then I actively sought this out and bought it at Conch. I liked the names – both the name of the long player which implies so much about the record, albeit mostly incorrectly, and the name of the orchestra which made me think of all those fucking awful gabber records Sample Gee used to play many years back. Of course it sounds nothing like those either. It sounds like happy leftfield big band skewered through the post Future-Jazz electronic filters you’d associate with Mark de Clive-Lowe. And, for the purists, there is an Ellington tune herein – but it’s not Take The A Train.
4 – Alexander O’Neal, Alexander O’Neal: Sometimes you just need to roll over and accept that you are not the tough guy you were always encouraged to be in the playground at school. I fell in love with Alexander’s deep lover’s soul in the mid 1980s in London despite the fact that it has so many of the excesses of that decade’s productions – whomping rhythms, flowering synths, and a tendency to wander off into guitar overkill. That said, this record is from Minneapolis, has the same lineage as Prince, and Alexander’s first two and half albums represent the very best work that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis ever did. Alexander can also sing. He slays you with his massive, dark voice that veers just on the appropriate side of sleazy – like Prince – although he was known to bring a double bed onto the stage as a prop. Killer tracks: the club remix of Innocent, the 12” mix of What’s Missing (both on the bonus disc) and A Broken Heart Can Mend.
5 – V/A, Philadelphia International Records 40th Anniversary Box Set: 10 CDs – and I want to listen to them all at once. That would create a terrible and quite unintelligible noise of course, but you’d almost be able to compensate for that with the thought that you were – all at once – immersing yourself in the soundtrack to the greatest record label of all time. And before you scoff, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philly labels begat disco, which begat hip-hop, house, boogie, techno and drum & bass. It (disco) also merged with dub to give us the extended DJ remix, post-punk, dubstep and much of what we know as contemporary popular music. And it’s all here on this box set. It’s not all great, nor is it all even good, but most of it IS good and large parts of it go beyond great. To fill the picture you also need the recent 4-disc Tom Moulton Philly box, but ten compact discs of gorgeous, slinky, soulful AND revolutionary grooves works for me.