Posts Tagged ‘Big Life’

The Orb

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Listen: Toxygene (7″ Edit) / The Orb
Toxygene (7

Even though I’d left Island during ’92, I still had loads of friends there, and would visit the UK office in St. Peters Square a lot. The company was always putting out tons of great stuff, and I needed all those promo only pressings in a bad way.

On one such visit, a new scout had just signed The Orb off of Big Life, and cornered us insisting we hear ‘Toxygene’, their forthcoming single. It was the end of a fun Friday. Gary Crowley was driving, so we passed through to collect Julian Palmer for drinks. Turns out the Island canteen was hopping as the staff would always hang late when the energy swirled into one of those fun nights.

Lord knows I wish I could recall who this A&R fellow was, I think he moved on to Universal Publishing. I thank him to this day.

We flipped for ‘Toxygene’. In our then current state, and played really, really loudly on that initial unveiling, the car and train sound effects embodied real live paranoia. Against band, management and company policy, he burned us a copy, making Gary promise not to play it on his Radio London slot that weekend.

Promises unbroken, Gary kept in under wraps, and quite frankly, the cdr didn’t leave my sight for weeks. ‘Toxygene’ eventually became a well deserved #4 smash in the UK.

On a 7″ pressing, it’s almost as hard to find as it would be to recreate the fantastic memory of that Friday.

The Orb

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Listen: Perpetual Dawn / The Orb
Perpetual Dawn / The Orb

From a time when every single planned for release was still pressed up on 7″. It wasn’t to last long, especially for the dance titles. No doubt, this format sold few and is now becoming really scarce. As with hip hop, the value of dance/electronica/techno 7″ pressings have proven a good investment.

Who knew at the time is was all about to change? I was, still am, happy with a manageable 45 in a company sleeve even. Picking them up was more an involuntary human reaction more than anything else.

Luckily, the pack rat in me meant any and all related one sheets, postcards or promo hype (click to enlarge) got saved. Such fun nonsense to read twenty something years later.

De La Soul / Steely Dan

Friday, March 11th, 2011

delasoul, De La Soul, Steely DanBig Life, Tommy Boy

Listen: Eye Know / De La Soul
Eye Know / De La Soul

When I worked at Island in the late 80′s, the whole UK office were nuts about hip hop, most of them that is. When they’d visit New York for CMJ, or maybe it was called the New Music Seminar then, it would be straight to lower Broadway to buy sneaks and the East Village to see bands, all the while thinking they were steeped in hip hop culture. Pretty funny. Grass is always greener. I was just as guilty of acid house, or Brit pop as it cringingly got coined. De La Soul was top of the list for them all. They’d go on about De La this, De La that, like De La clothes and De La haircuts. It was a bit embarrassing. I suppose the lure of ghetto life was no different then than my attraction to it ten years earlier, whether it be Blaxploitation or funk. So fair enough.

steelypeg,  De La Soul, Steely DanBig Life, Tommy Boy

Listen: Peg / Steely Dan
Peg / Steely Dan

I tell you what, my effort to avoid them failed, and De La Soul became a bit of a guilty pleasure. A double pleasure really, as it got me to lower my guard against Steely Dan. During their heyday, I was way more interested in The Buzzcocks or The Heartbreakers than all their polish. Taste changes with age, mine widens in fact. Because of ‘Eye Know’ I suddenly realized my affection for the sampled hook from ‘Peg’.

And I found I do love a nice UK pressed Steely Dan 7″, especially the promos.

Mica Paris

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

MicaYoungSoulPS, Mica Paris, Big Life

Listen: Young Soul Rebels / Mica Paris MicaParisYoungSoulRebels.mp3

Lucky Mica Paris, the credibility maintained despite most of her output becoming dated pretty quickly. It wasn’t for lack of effort. Julian Palmer, RnB obsessed A&R guy, tried matching her with US producers, getting even Prince on board, all in an attempt to spread voice and personality to worldwide attention.

Nope. Mica was desperately rooted in that UK version of US soul. Despite being so ahead of the curve and/or completely in tune with the times, the English never quite coined the pure American black sound. UK rap being especially embarrassing, every last bit of it. Okay, some of it’s funny.

No matter, the dated ball and chain ended up framing Mica’s stuff nicely as period pieces. Time heals many things. You see, I for one quite liked a lot of the soggy UK soul attempts.

‘Young Soul Rebels’ has a track humbly reminiscent of Diana Ross’ ‘Love Hangover’ atop a perfectly sterile Soul II Soul drum pattern, all ‘feel the beat beneath your feet’ stuff. My first listen to her trail-off inflection on that initial “fighting for the right to be free” lyric in the chorus and I was sold. Besides, it’s the theme to the film of the same name – which although unseen to these eyes, hopefully is an amusing self celebration of and by UK soul fans. Fingers crossed that image won’t be spoiled by getting a copy.