DJ Derek Presents... Sweet Memory Sounds
April 22, 2006
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 1|
Trojan have been thorough in bringing to our attention foundation (yet low profile) DJ's from previous eras, figures who contributed their knowledge to, and influenced the English musical landscape at a grass roots, localised level.
A year or so ago, Trojan released the outstanding collection of DJ Scratchy's personal favourites -- DJ Scratchy was playing in support capacity to raw r n' b and garage bands on the then burgeoning punk rock scene in London (circa 1975 to 1978), spinning hard roots/Ska classics at a key point in musical history, and later touring with The Clash.
Previously, Trojan had released the Don Letts selection, profiling another influential figure -- albeit, again, in a low profile capacity -- in UK's musical history. (See John Lydon's autobiography for further information on Lett's role in the early punk scene in London circa '75/'76, as well as references to him in various Slits/ PIL interviews online)
Both compilations -- particularly the Scratchy disc -- were essential listening.
It is very surprising however -- that even though DJ Derek is known to have a serious collection of deep vault rarities -- this compilation features, largely, quite easily available tunes.
Having said that, there are some true scorchers here and eccentric rarities.
Derrick Morgan opens with the quite essential "Blazing Fire", a rhythmically aggressive tune yet with a stoic message of detachment, punctuated by a naïvely sweet horns solo. Immaculate! Those of you who loved the contemporaneous "Copasetic" classic will snap this up.
Also excellent is the Wes Montgomery/Buddy Guy/Elmore James/Grant Green "Chicago blues raw power meets Impulse jazz awareness with a distinct JA consciousness" from The Granville Williams Orchestra : "Honky Tonk" -- with its urban confidence and funk/blues insight -- belies its clichéd title.
"Make It Reggae" -- by the wonderfully named Shark Wilson and the Basement Heaters (a moniker that surely conjures up memories of 60's/70's harsh English winters) -- is a confident funk/soul/reggae interpretation of Fred Wesley/Maceo Parkers/JB's "Make It Funky." Sharks' interpretation replaces the original's loping, meditative, absorbed funk power with a raucous Wilson Pickett meets Toots groove.
Even though most of us surely do not need yet another release of "Satta", "Better Must Come" and "Wolves And Leopards" in our collection (why do Trojan keep doing this?) -- this CD is saved by its inclusion of some gems -- gems which express a time when reggae was driven by originality, diverse moods and styles.
DJ Derek is a highly regarded figure in a low profile scene, and is respected for the depths of his record bag -- let's hope Trojan pesuade him to dig deeper next time. THAT would be a true pleasure worth waiting for.
On a final note, why haven't Trojan contacted the highly respected foundation journalist Penny Reel -- a man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre which puts any other scribes in the shade -- to compile a collection? Penny Reel is one of the figures who will surely go down in history as having definitive knowledge of his chosen field, and as a man capable of writing at a distinctly scholarly level.
That, and future releases from DJ Derek, would be well worth the wait.