This time round, we say goodbye to old friends, reacquaint ourselves with a more familiar one and make a new friend...
I tried to write this article many times. Firstly, when Lemmy from Motorhead strummed his way to the Jack Daniel’s distillery in the sky. Then when David Bowie went back to his own planet, thirdly when Glenn Frey of the Eagles flew to the Hotel California and finally, when Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White beamed himself into a celestial pyramid.
All in all, the start of 2016 was a pretty poor time for the music world (and the acting fraternity, with notable thespians also shuffling off this mortal coil).
While although I can’t claim to be a big fan of Messrs Kilmister and Bowie, there’s no denying the impact they both had on music in general. Personally, having DJ’d all types of parties (whether small bars or corporate halls), “The Ace of Spades” and “Let’s Dance” are evergreen dance (I use that term loosely) floor fillers which everyone loves. There’s nothing I could write about either of those gentlemen that hasn’t been said, filmed or written already. I did attend a “spoken word” evening with Henry Rollins on the day of Bowie’s death, who regaled the audience with anecdotes from both stars. Providing an entertaining insight into both their lives and presenting what a sad loss both of them will be.
What did intrigue me was the reaction to Glenn Frey’s passing. Whereas the world (quite rightly) mourned at the loss of David Bowie’s creative genius, Glenn Frey was demonised and ridiculed. Again, I’m no fan of The Eagles, but found the juxtaposition of the two public opinions unsettling. It should be noted that Frey died after gastrointestinal tract surgery following many years of ulcerative colitis, which if you’re here means you know someone or possibly suffer yourself from something similar.
Lastly, it’s a big Goodbye to Maurice White, the founding and steering hand of Earth, Wind & Fire from 1969 to 1995. He may not have had the chameleonesque qualities of Bowie, certainly built a rich tapestry of music based on mythology and legends. I’m sure there’s not a single soul out there who hasn’t shook their stuff to “September”. Bizarrely, the band announced worldwide tour dates days before the news of White’s death, as they have continued to tour without him. Hopefully that’ll be a chance for fans (including myself) to celebrate his music.
On to someone who is well and truly still with us, RJD2. I first became acquainted with Ramble Jon Krohn’s first album “Deadringer” while working, suited and booted for a multinational corporation, crunching spreadsheets. Everyone on the office floor would bring in a couple of CD’s and we’d pass them round to listen to, Deadringer eventually landing on my desk. Being a big Hip Hop/Cut and Paste fan, I was blown away by it, as I hadn’t heard something like it since “Endtroducing” by DJ Shadow. “The Horror” EP followed (which is still in my DJ Bag to this day,) then the more prog-synth sounding second album “Since We Last Spoke”, which wins the Flint & Steel award for containing the funniest song title ever “Get Off My Spaceship Bitch” (he’s a notorious analogue synth collector and this album reflected this) and the brilliant Magnificent City, which was a collaboration with rapper Aceyalone. His third solo album “The Third Hand” was where we got onto rocky ground, and the band he formed called Iceberg was where we parted ways. They’re not bad albums at all, but just not the funk/soul and even 1970’s synth inspired melange of previous albums which I enjoyed so much. When a Facebook feed threw up a new track by RJD2 some five years later, I listened with trepidation… But my gosh, it’s good. Really good. With a new album “Dame Fortunes” due on his own label on March 25th, I think we can be good friends again.
Finally, a new face - Boathouse - who on first inspection of his EP cover, I presumed was going to be singing sea shanties for maritime lovers. But no… We’re talking a mix of spacey trap, rap and ambient glitchy/dubby soul. Think of a Chicago equivalent of the UK’s Burial, and you’re near, yet still far off the mark. The best thing to do is download his EP for free and decide for yourself. One to keep an eye for future production greatness here…