To mark today’s start of the Giro d’Italia here’s something that I always imagine being played on a wind-up gramophone in a crumbling Venetian palazzo, perhaps while an ageing Conte lies dying in his bed…
Largely thanks to my daughter, I’ve become mildly obsessed with the frothy 50′s pop confection, Mr Sandman.
Though it’s the original Chordettes version that the younger generation seems to favour, those with time-honed digging skills might prefer readings by Anita O’Day, Chet Atkins or even this charming 1961 Brazilian interpretation.
Ditching the melancholic underpinnings, Roberto Carlos (assisted by Astor and his Orchestra) rips through the piece in fine jazz/bossa style.
“It’s one past ten o’clock here at WRKS FM New York. We’re 98.7 Kiss. K-I-S-S: where nobody gives more music. I’m Yvonne Mobley hosting our Kiss Mastermix Dance Party – dance hits of 1980..”
Yvonne Mobley: a name to make many a UK music-obsessive go weak at the knees. And for true fans of vintage New York radio air-checks, the honeyed tones of the great Chuck Leonard can also be heard on this year’s 500MH seasonal offering.
Broadcast over the NYC airwaves on Christmas Day, 1980 this edition of the Mastermix Dance Party brings together the stellar talents of Tony Humphries and Shep Pettibone, though it’s not clear just how they divided up the mixing duties. No matter, the results are predictably splendid and the 500MH spotting team have compiled an (almost) complete track-listing – check the Lyrics tab of the mp3 files.
So the sound quality ain’t great…but hellfire, this is TONY HUMPHRIES and SHEP PETTIBONE. 32 years ago!
All that remains, therefore, is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from 500 Miles High. Postings have been slightly erratic recently and who knows what the New Year will bring, but for now…push back the sofa and party like it’s 1980.
Our recent Sun Ra post referenced the long and (mostly) honourable tradition of DJ’s playing records at the wrong speed…intentionally, that is.
The most committed of wrong-speed merchants must surely be Danielle Baldelli who, in his pomp at the Cosmic Club, seldom played a record at the correct speed. Or so people say.
Actually, the truth of this statement can easily be verified by checking out this huge archive of Cosmic Club mixes. Listening to these tapes, and to other artefacts of the Afro-Cosmic scene, one can appreciate that use of such extreme measures was but one ingredient in the creation of a unique sonic backdrop.
Uptempo pop songs were *cough* re-contextualised by a switch from 45 to 33, whilst slower numbers (such as Yellowman’s left-field reggae classic, Zungguzungguguzungguzeng) could be wrong-speeded in the opposite direction.
All of which leads to this 1979 recording by US-via-Japan jazzfunkers, Hiroshima. A 50p charity shop buy last year, I hadn’t got it home before – via the power of the Internet – I’d been informed that it was a known wrong-speeder.
Lack of a functioning turntable meant that it was a while before I could put this to the test. But I did and here it is…
In DJ-ing circles, the term “cosmic” often signifies little more than playing a Depeche Mode B-side at the wrong speed. Nothing wrong with that of course, but if you’re yearning for something a little deeper, let us transport you back to Provence in 1970.
The Fondation Maeght is an extraordinary art institution nestling in the hills of Saint Paul de Vence, Côte d’Azur, which I’ve been lucky enough to visit on a couple of occasions. Founded by dealer Aime Maeght in 1964, it was described by the Culture Minister of the time as “by no means a palace, by no means a museum”. Suffice to say, if your travels take you to the Nice/Antibes area, it’s well worth a visit.
Celebrated fashion photographer Jeanloup Sieff took the above photo at la Fondation in 1965. The model is wearing a “little white dress” by the architecturally-inspired designer André Courrèges. She is standing behind Alberto Giacometti‘s giant bronze, Grande Tête. Can all this be seen as a signifier of women’s emancipation in France in the 1960′s? If you are at all intrigued by that question, I’d point you in the direction of issue 26 of Tate Etc. magazine, where the debate rages for several hundred words.
One can only imagine the atmosphere at Sun Ra‘s gig there some 5 years later. Luckily the music was preserved, initially – and somewhat bizarrely - on 7″ singles and subsequently via LP and CD.
Ranging from the (by his own unique standards) accessible to the defiantly cosmic, the set is no easy listen…but in a world of instant gratification, all the more satisfying for that.
The selection below registers somewhere in the middle on our trusty Cosmometer™…
500MH has just returned from an all-too-temporary relocation to Barcelona. The above image, since you ask, is an early morning snap of Antoni Llena’s new (and therefore ”controversial”) pubilc sculpture dedicated to the city’s castellers.
In a Catalonian tradition dating back to the late 18th century, these enthusiastic groups of young men form themselves into impromptu human towers on certain feast days…and presumably sometimes just for the hell of it.
All of which has very little to do with Percy Faith’s slightly outre reading of Freddie Hubbard’s classic First Light, other than the timing of the photograph.