New, Old, Undiscovered or World Renowned; The Five Records You Can Always Turn To
Continuing the series of music articles in which individuals select five records particularly special to them, we today feature Andy Smith‘s own selections and present the latest instalment of Tuck Magazine’s ‘The Greatest Beats of Your Heart’.
When people hear the name Andy Smith most think of Portishead, and righly so given the importance of said band and Andy’s contribution DJ and sample wise to their beginnings. There is so much more however to the man linked to the world famous Bristolian band.
Andy first seriously fell for music in the late 1970s, the vibrancy of Punk and New Wave exploding into the nation’s conscience; this along with Reggae, Soul and Disco making it hard not to become immersed in everything blasting from the airwaves. And then came Hip Hop.
Meeting Geoff Barrow in the late 1980s the two shared their passion for Hip Hop and Breakbeats, Andy imparting his knowledge to Geoff as the latter experimented with a sampler to create new forms of music. Vocalist Beth Gibbons was employed thereafter and the band Portishead was born, their debut album changing music in 1994. Andy provided samples for and toured with the band as DJ during the 1990s, in addition to appearing with The Fugees, Prophets Of Da City and Republica.
It wasn’t until 1998 however that Andy showed the world how versatile he was, being the first DJ to release a mutli genre mix album on a major label, ‘The Doucument‘ being released to widespread critical acclaim. Mixing various musical forms to create a heady stew of irresistible delights, ‘The Document’ wowed listeners around the world eager for diversity in their audible fix. So successful was the collection that a second and third volume were added to the series, each faithful to the original’s theme.
Andy also formed Dynamo Productions with fellow DJ Scott ‘Boca 45’ Hendy, releasing their own funky compositions to delight listeners. Given the success of ‘The Document’ it was no surprise that Andy was not only in demand as a DJ but that too of a compiler by record labels, collections of Soul, Funk and Reggae among others released with great success, the recent ‘Jam Up Twist’ mixing Ska, Rock and Roll, Northern Soul and R & B to great effect, mirroring the eclecticism of one of his DJ club nights of the same name.
Andy continues to electrify audiences around the world with his DJ sets, the sheer variety delighting and opening listeners’ minds.
Here is a further insight into the mind of a DJ and true music lover as Andy shares his five selections with us:
1. Ian Dury and The Blockheads – What A Waste (1978) UK Stiff Records 7″
The record that got me into music in the first place. On a school trip to Somerset the coach driver had the radio on and when this record came on it really stood out as being totally different to anything else being played.
I guess it was Dury’s unique lyrics and delivery that made me sit up & listen (The tight playing from the Blockheads I think I got to appreciate later on).
This was the first 7″ single I ever bought and so goes on this list for the record that alerted me to the joys of music.
2. Grandmaster Flash – The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel (1981) US Sugar Hill 12″
This was the record that changed everything for me. I had been aware of mixing records together (partially due to Alan Coulthard‘s guest spots on Tony Prince‘s Friday night ‘Disco Import’ show on Radio Luxembourg), but this was a record that was credited to the DJ, but was actually made up of all of these parts of records that I mostly knew already!
It wasn’t the first ‘Mixed/Cut & Paste’ record I had heard (that was probably a record called ‘Calibre Cuts‘) but this was credited as being by Grandmaster Flash.
From this point the DJ could be much more than a DJ had ever been before!
3. Run DMC – Peter Piper (1986) US Profile 12″
If there hadn’t been Hip Hop records in the 1980s that sampled other records I think my whole life trajectory would have been totally different! First off, these records were great anyway, but the fact that they had a sample, that would later be discovered, gave them a whole new dimension to me and gave me another musical direction to explore.
The first time I heard this I was amazed by the way it sounded – the rough edge of New York Hip Hop rhymes and heavy scratching on top of a Jazz record! Although I was probably just as blown away the day a friend and me went into ‘Our Price’ records in central Bristol to ask if we could listen to a Bob James LP on the shop’s sound system (more amazing as this LP was in the sale and it was unusual to play ‘sale’ records!) as one of us must have read that the ‘Peter Piper’ sample was by Bob James.
When the original sample (‘Take Me To The Mardi Gras‘) came blasting out of the speakers we were overcome with joy! – Unfortunately there was only one copy so we had to quickly source a second copy for ‘cutting up’ purposes.
4. The Wooden Nickels – Nobody But Me (1966) US Vault 7″
I had heard of Northern Soul a long time before I REALLY got into it. My first ever club residency (Misty’s on Park St, Bristol) had a couple of Mods that came down asking for Northern Soul and I had a couple of Chess records compilations which seemed to keep them happy.. It was really when I went to the US on the first ‘Portishead’ tour (as warm up tour DJ) where I got the opportunity to dig for records everyday in a different city (with a crucial ‘portable turntable’).
I was really looking for samples (for the band) as well as records to play out in clubs. I would listen to records on labels that I recognised hoping for a drum break, but would come across a great soul record.
It was much later on (when I had built up my ‘Northern Soul’ collection – and had dancing lessons from legendary Northern Soul DJ Keb Darge) that this music started to consume me! – this is a track that will always get me dancing, and I was lucky enough to put it on my ‘Jam Up Twist’ compilation that came out on Ace records in 2011.
5. Benny Ingram – Jello Sal (1958) US Bandera 7″
It was around 2005 that I was asked to DJ at the Legendary Madame Jo Jo’s club (sadly no longer open). The night, called ‘Lost & Found‘ lasted for 9 years every Saturday night. I started the night with Keb Darge, and later carried on with legendary Rockabilly DJ Dave Crozier.
The soundtrack for the night changed over the years from Northern Soul, Ska and straight Blues, to Jump Blues, Sleazy Shakers & Rockabilly. I didn’t know too much about Rockabilly when I started but boy did I love it later on down the line!
I’m always amazed how this tune drops so ‘heavy’ even though it was recorded in the 1950s. Again another sure fire tune to get me bopping!
I used to DJ with and supply samples for Portishead and even one for The Prodigy. Now into my 50’s R&B, Northern Soul, Ska & Rockabilly surround me but I still dig all the tunes I grew up with – Old Hip Hop, Disco, Boogie, Reggae, Soul, Jazz & some older pop/rock. I run nights such as ‘Jam Up Twist’ (The ‘Jam Up Twist USA 7 x 7″ 45 box set was out on Record Store Day 2014), ‘Boombox’ & ‘Reach Up’. I also DJ every Friday (‘The Andy Smith Friday Fish Fry’) at Joe’s bar in Camden Town, London (opposite the Roundhouse). I used to DJ every Saturday at Madame Jo Jos in Soho (for 9 tears), London until it got shut down for redevelopment! Often DJ around Europe, USA, Canada & South America and do a weekly radio show on www.sinefm.com (102,6 FM in the Doncaster area) Feel free to join my mailing list via my website or ‘friend me’ on Facebook or Twitter.