By Martin Smith | 4 May 2014
I’m off to perform, record and report at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (Movement) later this month. I can’t wait, everyone from Moodymann to Underground Resistance is performing.
So I promise in April’s selection there is no Detroit Techno. Instead in the mix there is some soul, jazz, pop, house and some stuff that mixes it all up.
I was going to include the Cockney Rejects’ I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles but thought better of it.
So here are my 10 favourite releases or reissues of April 2014. I hope you enjoy at least some of them – and thanks for the feedback on earlier selections.
1. DJ Sprinkles, Midtown 120 Blues (Mule Music 2008) CD
In my opinion this is one of the greatest dance albums ever recorded. She has created the perfect fusion of political dance music.
The album was as rare as hens’ teeth and I know some DJs who paid over £200 for a copy of the record. Luckily it has just been reissued – and seriously you need this record in your life. Here’s my review of DJ Sprinkles, with links to a couple of tracks.
2. Todd Terje, It’s Album Time (Olsen Records 2014) CD/vinyl
Norwegian DJ/producer Todd Terje is a magpie; he borrows everything from kitschy euro pop, deep funk, house and Latin and lounge jazz. It shouldn’t work, but it does. This beautiful collaboration with Brian Ferry on the track ‘Johnny and Mary’ is one of the standout tracks:
3. Takuya Kuroda, Rising Sun (Blue Note 2014) CD
This young lion of the jazz scene has recorded a stunning album for Blue Note Records. This is a straight ahead jazz album and the musicianship is of the highest level. I’m not a great fan of covers, but his version of Everybody Loves the Sunshine is even better than the original – sorry Roy!
4. Donny Hathaway, Never My Love; The Anthology (Rhino 2014) CD
One of the greatest soul singers of all time. He died so very young: falling out of a New York hotel’s 15th floor window in January 1979, aged just 33. This compilation covers most of his greatest songs – if you don’t have a Donny Hathaway album, this is as good a place to start as any. Here is his version of The Ghetto… sublime.
5. Dog Ate My Homework, Blacknight (Kompact 2014) 12″
Dog Ate My Homework is a new project from two familiar faces from the ever-burgeoning neo-romantic dance underground Ada & David Hasert teamed up for two wonderfully blissed-out, pop-infused pieces. This is exactly the kind of emotional club music I live for.
6. Vermont, Vermont (Kompact 2014) CD/LP
Vermont brings together two of the most original and exciting producers and musicians right now – Marcus Worgull and Danilo Plessow of Motor City Drum Ensemble fame. They have produced 14 deep soundscapes that remind me of Krautrock bands: the great 70s band Can springs to mind.
7. Donna McGee, Make it last Forever (Red Greg Records 1978) LP
In the early 1980s I spent ages and a small fortune hunting this gem down. Now it’s been re-released. An awesome LP of boogie and soul tunes. It includes the rare groove killer It ain’t no big thing. I’m going to end every set this summer with this track.
8. Ambrose Akinmusire, The imagined savior is far easier to paint (Blue Note 2014) CD
Another little gem from Blue Note, this is more leftfield than the Kuroda album, but is nonetheless very rewarding and slowly sinks into your brain. Atmospheric trumpet playing with a hint towards Terence Blanchard and mid period Miles.
9. Orange Juice, You can’t hide your Love Forever (Polydor)
This album still stands the test of time and is one of the best pop/indie albums of the early 1980s. Edwyn Collins’ songs are witty, cutting and romantic in equal measure. His ballads are heartbreaking (Untitled Melody, In a Nutshell), and Consolation Prize takes the prize for the wittiest lyrics:
I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn’s
I was hoping to impress
So frightfully camp it made you laugh
Tomorrow I’ll buy myself a dress.
I bumped into Edwyn Collins completely by chance about a year ago – I said hello and he gave me a copy of his new album Understated. LOL, and I mean that in the old-fashioned way.
10. Delano Smith, Twilight (Sushitech Berlin 2014) Album
I said I wasn’t going to include any Detroit Techno this month but I lied. This latest offering from Delano Smith is as good as it gets. This vinyl-only release, with 11 previously unreleased tracks split across three slabs of wax has got to be a contender for album of the year. Compared to some of the other household names Detroit has spawned over the last couple of decades, Smith has been almost overlooked. An album where deep house and techno collides. I can’t wait to see him at the DEMF.