Fred Myrow’s ‘Furniture Party’ from his soundtrack to ‘Soylent Green’ followed by The Focus Group’s ‘Colouring Toys’ proved a perfect pairing whilst doing the MP3 Shuffle this morning. Don’t you love doing The Shuffle? The Harlem, or MP3 version are both are very fine although, despite having listened to Bob & Earl’s gem a million times, I’ve yet to actually perform the dance.
Meanwhile, dancing in my head courtesy of my little technological friend, I still marvel at the perfect combinations and crazy juxtapositions it comes up with. Strangely, this morning, it kept wanting to play tracks by Joel Vandroogenbroeck, which started me thinking that it has a mind of its own, and preferences, just as we do.
This freedom from having to choose is, perhaps, the ultimate manifestation of the modern medium making us lazy. You can store zillions of tracks, get them for free, and you don’t even have to consciously select them.
As a DJ I enjoyed forging links between different genres to prove to myself, if no-one else, how clever I could be and the extent of my knowledge. The trick was to do so in a way that kept people dancing, and that did depend on the crowd’s taste being as eclectic as mine. I used to boast (to myself) about being able to get from Jungle to Jazz in five moves; the route went something like this: dubby, percussive Jungle, Dub, Funky 70s reggae, a Funk-Jazz groover and, you guessed it, George Melly...or was it Herbie Hancock? Probably the latter.
Years later I’d be freed from the tyranny of the ‘floor as resident at a bar where I could throw Stockhausen, DJ Shadow or Tangerine Dream at the punters. Some stayed for more than one drink, amazingly.
I partly envy laptop DJs although they’re detested by ‘proper’ exponents of the art; you know, those playing CDs – ha-ha. I recall being dead against CDs as a DJ tool in the mid-90s. God knows why. It meant a fellow DJ at the Rumpus Room could play some rare electronic Herbie Hancock, so perhaps this luddite was secretly jealous. More likely I was afraid of venturing beyond putting a needle to the groove. It had taken me ten years to learn how to do that.
To have your digital library to hand whilst DJ-ing must be mind-boggling. Only purists in the crowd would object, surely, and they shouldn’t be there in the first place. Clubbing and music collecting in general is no longer the preserve of the purist, they say, although Taste, whilst having expanded, is still not something that comes at the click of a button. Perhaps fashion is a good comparison. Yes, you can buy all those clothes cheaply courtesy of children sweating in distant lands, but you’re not buying Style. I’m not sure how you get sartorial Style, exactly, but like music, I suspect it comes from a degree of knowledge (fabrics, colours, cuts etc).
Today’s vast online music library may provide opportunity, but taking it is another thing. I wonder if there’s a site specialising in 70s Pop sharity? Very rare Showaddywaddy cassette/demos and the like. Talking of cassettes, the desire for obscure cassette-only hip-hop mixes makes me wish I’d kept my tapes made from the Radio One Sunday night chart show. I’m sure they’d be popular. Cult items, definitely, complete with snippets of the DJ talking over the end of every track.
No idea who this is doing the 'Harlem Shuffle', but the footage is a 'groove sensation' ((c)Stewart Home).
Fred Myrow's quality opening piece for 'Soylent Green'...