Galaxie of stars
The untimely check-out of iconic BBC Radio One personality John Peel - one of the very few radio DJs who played it by ear - was a sad loss for music lovers everywhere, and the issue of Galaxie 500 's fab Peel Sessions from 1989 and 90 is another reminder of just how reliable those ears of his were. Group members Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang would soon split with Dean Wareham to form a band of their own, but not before recording these proto-emo versions of the Sex Pistols ' Submission, Buffy Sainte Marie 's Moonshot and the Modern Lovers ' Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste, written by Jonathan Richman years before becoming a pathetic self-parody. Gilles Peterson is no replacement for Peel, but over the past five years the celebrity DJ has put the old Maida Vale studio to good use, recording some interesting one-offs with rising stars dropping by to plug their latest releases on his Worldwide show. The two-disc Gilles Peterson Presents The BBC Sessions Vol. 1 (Ether) boasts some surprising otherwise unavailable performances by Björk , Beck , Beth Gibbons , Zero 7 , Common , Plantlife ,the Roots and others. Well worth checking.
For the past week or so I've been playing the latest self-released Anonymous Twist 12-inch single Royal Flush for anyone who would listen. While most hiphop fans have been as impressed as I am with his rhyme skills, scratching technique and no-frills production savvy, nobody yet has been able to guess that the man behind Royal Flush's crazy extended poker metaphor is actually a Canuck hiphop artist from Toronto - Owen Chaim aka DJ Apollo . The usual reaction is, "Nah, that's too good to come outta some studio in Etobicoke." Apparently not. www.anonymoustwist.com.
Jazzy side of JB
Romantic ballads are the last thing you'd expect to hear from the hard-shouting James Brown , but back in the winter of 1968 he decided to book studio time with the Dee Felice Trio to cut some soft 'n' sensitive versions of his fave tunes from the Frank Sinatra song book. It sounds crazy, but backed by drumming dynamo Felice and his super tight trio, Brown's masterfully rendered takes of All The Way, It Had To Be You, That's Life, Chicago and Strangers In The Night on the just reissued Gettin' Down To It (Verve/Universal) are wonderfully tasteful and prove that Soul Brother No. 1 had the chops to make it as a credible saloon singer if he was ever so inclined. Evidently, Tony Bennett told Brown privately (perhaps in a coded message) that he preferred his version of All The Way to the Chairman's, but when Brown's jazz foray didn't sell like a Sinatra record, he was quickly back on the good foot.