Posts Tagged ‘Julian Palmer’

Queen Latifah & De La Soul

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Listen: Mamma Gave Birth To The Soul Children / Queen Latifah & De La Soul

I was fortunate enough to meet Jon Baker, owner of Gee Street Records, through the Island UK office. Actually, Julian Palmer from 4th & Broadway in London had signed Stereo MC’s to a singles deal, and Jon, the ever ambitious yet courteous entrepreneur, bugged me incessantly to come over and see a rehearsal, guaranteeing their greatness.

I recall Jon having a picture perfect office setup, basically heaving with records and always jumping. I loved Gee Street. They had released some US hip hop and house independently prior to ultimately signing the deal with Island. On a previous trip, this guy fed my 7″ addiction with serious handfuls of each release. Generous wasn’t near a strong enough term. And his pressings were beauties, thick vinyl, top notch UK picture covers. Jon Baker always did these things classy.

Well last night, ‘Mamma Gave Birth To The Soul Children’ got stuck on repeat as I moved some big boxes around the house, a lucky break. It recalled the time he and Ziggy drove Corinne and I around Chelsea, blasting late night London pirate stations. Some of the stuff played would still rock up any world, and in the mix, on comes Jon’s Queen Latifah / De La Soul record. Kid in a candy shop, it couldn’t have been a better moment for him.

Back to that Stereo MC’s rehearsal. They were red hot, yeah, undeniable. Mission accomplished. We scheduled ‘Elevate My Mind’ as a US Island single immediately. It eventually climbed into the BILLBOARD Top 40, paving the way for a proper Stereo MC’s career run and a full Gee Street/Island label deal.

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.

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.