The first Gilles Peterson show I really remember listening to is still one of my favourites.
It was 1994 and a friend at university had been sent a tape of one of Gilles’ Sunday afternoon shows for Kiss which he kindly copied for me (illegal downloads, analogue style). What blew my mind then and still sums up what I love about Peterson’s approach to music is that in the same show, and almost back to back, he played Josh Wink’s acid classic Higher State Of Consciousness and the epic Sayonara Blues by The Horace Silver Quintet.
Whilst I can’t say I still listen to the former much anymore, Sayonara Blues has gone on to be one of my favourite ever pieces of music. It led to me buying quite a few of Silver’s other albums and it’s why I was really sad to hear of his passing, though at 85 he certainly had a good innings, and an eventful one at that*.
The Guardian have started an interesting new feature where they will be highlighting the ten best songs of key artists or genres and launched it with a look at the Isley Brothers.
I always forget just how far back the Isley Brothers go, but it’s kind of incredible that the first song on the list is from 1959 and the last from 2001. What’s even more incredible is just how long they managed to keep up the quality; Shout & Testify, recorded in ’59 & ’64 respectively, are up there with the best of James Brown’s early output, whilst the likes of That Lady & Harvest For The World, from their 70s purple patch, are simply up there with the best records of that decade.
The Spotify playlist above is one that The Guardian put together but I thought it would be interesting to also pull together a video mix via Dragontape, the app that the Brownswood crew used to highlight Gilles Peterson’s favourite tracks of 2013. Which all goes to show, of course, that it doesn’t matter what type of tech you use to listen to it, it’s the music that really matters at the end of the day, whether it’s 5 months or 55 years old.
If you have an interest in finding out about new artists, enjoy listening to someone with an incredible love of music and have seven minutes spare, then this is for you.
Honestly, I would challenge anyone to finish watching that and not be enthused about something you’d not heard of a couple of moments before. Unfortunately voting has now closed, so you won’t be able to pick your own choice for the Worldwide Awards but if you’re in London, you should really try to go.
In the meantime, why not enjoy this rather nifty Dragontape mix of the nominees for track of the year.
Recently I discovered great music via the intersection of Gilles Peterson’s Instagram feed and Spotify; this time around it’s listening to Gilles Peterson’s BBC Radio 6 Music show and then finding free downloads on Soundcloud.
Louis Futon appear to be a hilariously named young duo from Philadelphia who, in their own words, like to bump. I’m not really sure how to describe their stuff. When he played it Gilles described this remix of Shoulda Known by GANZ as
Trappy, beaty, instrumental hip hop
But if you’re still not sure, I’d say it’s like a disco-y dubstep take on acid hip hop. Or something.
Whatever, it’s bloody amazing and is going to my tune of the summer.
In one of those weird coincidences that seem to happen more and more these days, probably due to the network effect of the internet, their record label, Llucid, is Australian. I’m looking forward to hearing more of their stuff, as well as more from Louis Futon and GANZ, particularly as I think the GANZ remix is better than the original, and certainly superior to the (slightly elevatory) Kruisemode version.
I’ve never been a massive gamer, though I’ve always loved arcades and used to have a Pac-Man digital watch that I’m actually thinking about buying again. The cost of buying the consoles, let alone the games, always kind of put me off getting more into them. But the fact that you can now get great games on a tablet for less than a tenner…
So, anyway, I’ve recently started to develop minor addictions to Grand Theft Auto 3 & Grand Theft Auto Vice City. When the new GTA was released one of the DJs who was selected to curate one of the stations you can listen to whilst driving your stolen car between missions to rob or kill people (it’s even more fun than it sounds), was the one and only Gilles Peterson.
This video captures Gilles playing at a GTA V launch party in New York, and features some great footage of him discussing why he did it. To be honest, being part of the biggest entertainment event of all time was probably a no-brainer.
But as he says, the fact that by doing so meant that he might introduce some 15 year old gamer to Donald Byrd, and everything that’s likely to follow from that, was too much for him to turn down. And, as someone who has discovered untold acts thanks to Mr Peterson’s dedication to finding and promoting new music, as well as the best old stuff you’ve never heard of, I almost envy that 15 year old the journey of discovery he’s about to go on.
So, with no further ado, here’s the (almost complete) playlist of Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM from Grand Theft Auto V. There’s a Donald Byrd track in it, I’ll leave the rest as a nice surprise.
It’s kind of like a cross between John Martyn, Terry Callier and Paul Weller; finding out that he was the vocalist in Mother Earth and therefore responsible for the amazing Jesse, made a lot of sense. It sounds like an autumn morning, and would undoubtedly sound great on a sunny afternoon. He’s done a couple of albums since and I’m looking forward to hearing what else he has to say. Obviously, he hardly sells any records. Maybe he should get his foofa on.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my eyes on Twitter and Instagram for more great new music. Which just goes to show…
Terry was the most spiritual person I’d ever come across. Very quiet, shy, humble. He had not had a good time in music, but once he came to the UK and saw the passion and obsession that British kids had for him – which he had no idea about, like so many black Americans who come here to perform totally unaware that they are cultural icons – it blew him away
This gave his music career a second lease of life and he went on to tour and record great music with bands and artists including Massive Attack and Paul Weller. If you want a single album to give you an idea of just how great he was, or why so many people absolutely loved him, I’d suggest Alive, his live album recorded at London’s Jazz Cafe and released on the seminal Soho label Mr Bongo. I was lucky enough to see him at the same venue, as well as at the wonderful Union Chapel, both of which are gigs that will stay with me forever.
If there’s one song that sums up Callier for me, it’s the beautiful Ordinary Joe; its melody, rhythm and lyrics all show him at his best. It’s brilliantly unassuming and makes a magnificent legacy for such a great man.
It must be terrible to be thought of by millions of people as a one-hit wonder if you’re actually an artist who has had a long and varied career with artistic highlights and influential fans in high places, yet been unable to turn any of those things into mainstream success. If, in other words, you’re Omar.
His breakout hit, and most famous tune, There’s Nothing Like This, was released on Gilles Peterson’s era defining Talkin’ Loud label and was, and is, an acid jazz standard. Since then he’s released numerous great pieces of music, including one of my favourite albums of the last decade, the brilliant Sing.
Many musicians have become bitter about situations like this, even ones who have gone on to great success. We all know the bands who will wilfully refuse to play the song that most people want to see them perform (Radiohead and Creep is an old example that springs to mind). But Omar, in what strikes me as a signal of the sort of man he is has, instead, taken an opportunity to revisit his defining moment 20 years later and, if anything, perfected it.
It still sounds exactly like a lazy summer’s afternoon, but this time has more of a Spanish air, has a slightly more pensive air about it, a beautiful touch of brass and is, simply, beautiful. It is an inspiring and heart-warming slice of modern soul.
Thom Yorke was bashing Spotify again this week, and maybe he has a point. But maybe it’s also the case that in the modern world where uniformity is prized over all, and the ability of mediums like radio to break new music is being crushed, we need the Spotify’s of this world to ensure we don’t run out of people like Omar.
The interview is with the equally excellent Ross Allen and was done to promote the launch of Gilles’ Ministry of Sound compilation and mix which more or less sound-tracked a holiday I had in Portugal a couple of years ago. In it Gilles goes into great depth about what got him into music, his fascinating career that started with him setting up his own pirate radio station before he was old enough to drive, and really just gives an amazing insight into the passion for music that inspires me and so many other people around the world.
*It’s definitely worth paying for the premium version.
Needless to say his new track, MSI MUSMID, received its debut play on Gilles’ show, suggesting the split was entirely amicable – presumably in the same way that Jose James left, to find a label can take his career to the next level. Brownswood is turning into the musical equivalent of a tech incubator – finding and nurturing talent.
The track is Ghostpoet at his best; jarring melodies, spooky basslines and mumbled lyrics that blend philosophy and ramblings in equal measure. If you like it, and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you, why not repost it on Soundcloud? As soon as 1,000 people do, it’ll become available as a free download – a nice little promotional trick if ever I heard one, rewarding sharing and advocacy.