This week we welcome DJ, record label owner, producer and vinyl fanatic
Jo Wallace to the Dusk Dubs family.
Jo has been responsible for compiling the Soul Satisfaction series as well as Motown Floorshakers, Motown Northern and Motown Love Songs for Motown Records. She is part of the North Street Remix collective, working alongside Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris on remixes for her labels Ramrock, Ramrock Blue, Ramrock Red and F*CLR and other labels – Pete Tong featured one on his ‘Essential’ show in October. Jo created the soundtracks for the Versace and Vivienne Westwood exhibitions at the V&A Museum, closed Glastonbury three times and broadcast on the BBC, commercial radio and most recently on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM with a 2 hour Ramrock Special with Ashley Beedle.
"In this mix, I am laying my musical DNA out like an exhibit in a court case for examination – it’s been a very personal experience and I had real internal tussles with my selections. I felt guilty leaving tracks out and found myself apologising to Ramsey Lewis and Cornelius Bumpus but I had to be ruthless – there was a lot of music to fit in and only the biggest influencers found their way into the mix. Tracks that have supported me through sickness and health; tracks that reduced me to tears; tracks that made me want to spontaneously combust with joy…..that’s what music is all about – that’s why we do what we do. We are just musical conduits.’ [Jo]
You can find Jo HERE:
1) EWF – That’s The Way of the World
2) Main Ingredient – Happiness is just around the bend
3) Johnny Guitar Watson – Lone Ranger
4) Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band – I’ll play the fool for you
To enable me to tell the story, I’m bundling the tunes up into ‘musical parcels’ – in the time frame that they came onto my radar. The first four tracks are my life savers – whenever things get tough, I wheel them out. As a soulfully clued up 15 year old, EWF’s ‘That’s the way of the World’ LP came marching into my collection in 1975 with its soaring strings, tight horns, a bass line to kill for and an impossibly beautiful combination of intricate vocals nimbly underpinned with chords that make you cry and then the sucker punch - Charles Stepney’s production. I was on the ropes and I’ve been out for the count ever since. Sitting next to EWF on the shelf is the Main Ingredient’s gatefold sleeved ‘Euphrates River’ – with the full length ‘Happiness is just around the Bend’. I’d bought the 7” version in ’74 and written on the RCA stock bag, 21 Sept 1974, blissfully unaware that Brian Auger had sung the magnificently jazzy original – but my money’s on Cuba Godding. The strings and his vocals with the incessant drums and bass and backing vocals….tripped out soul. And then Robbie Vincent dropped ‘Lone Ranger’ on his Radio London show in ’75 – that bad boy, Johnny Guitar Watson was right on with the right on – he was off the scale with his gold tooth and gansta swag….how could a girl not fall for his charms? It was Robbie Vincent that blew me away the year after in 1976 with Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band’s ‘I’ll play the fool’ with the beautiful Corey Daye on lead vocals, the Darnell Brothers, Sugar Coated Andy Hernandez – that track drops and I know every crevice, every nuance, every glissade – it’s that long, impossibly hot summer, I’ve just left school, I’m working in a record shop, I’m 16 years old and my life is before me…
5) The Flames – Broadway Jungle
6) Roland Alphonso & Soul Brothers – Independence Anniversary Ska
7) Derrick Harriott – The Jerk
8) Chuck & Dobby – I love my teacher
The next bundle of tunes ties together the Jamaican influences – the impact that reggae has had on me. In 1971, I was at school and I used to buy vinyl off other pupils for 50p – telling them to go and raid their older brothers and sisters’ record collections. One such haul brought forth the milestone ‘Club Ska ‘67’ LP with its bright pink cover and bullet pointed titles on W.I.R.L. I ran home after school and put the needle on the record – what happened next was like being handed the tablets by Moses – the blinkers were taken off and my ears opened – The Flames aka Toots & the Maytals blasted out ‘Broadway Jungle’ and my life was never the same again. The next track, from the Ska Au Go Go compilation purchased in ‘73, is by the mighty Roland Alphonso – founder member of the Skatalites – here representing with the Soul Brothers and his version of the Beatle’s ‘I Should Have Known Better’ titled ‘Independence Anniversary Ska’ – it’s the only way I can listen to the Beatles! During the 70’s, I’d venture up to Camden Market to the record stalls round by Dingwalls and come away with untold treasures – armfuls of Bluebeat and Skabeat, pristine White Island 7” – and Derrick Harriott’s ‘The Jerk’ was the result of one of those crate digging sessions – his cover of The Larks 1964 hit of the same name is perfect in every way with the rolling piano riffs, punctuating trombone, tight 1:3 rhythm and and Derrick’s delicate vocals enticing you to move your hips – you can see them all sitting in the studio working in synch. And then up comes Chuck and Dobby with their B side to Aubry Adams & the Dudroppers A side ‘Do Du Wop’ on Bluebeat. I got given this 1961 beauty by an ex of my sister back in the early 70’s, complete with mint Blue Beat stock bag. You can hear the influence of Fats Domino and the Sound of New Orleans with the achingly simple delivery of the lyrics and piano – I try to study and get straight A’s….it still makes me smile every time I hear it – if only life could be this simple….
9) Fats Domino – It keeps raining
When the news of Fats passing came through, I was sitting in North Street Studio One with Darren Morris and Ashley Beedle. It was an end of an era and I was in pieces. Fats will always be the man – his rhythms were emulated and imitated by Jamaican musicians during the Blue Beat period and became the foundation of reggae – without Fats and those big New Orleans radio transmitters, we’d have no reggae. The world has lost a true legend – I will be in mourning for eternity.
10) Big Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle & Roll
11) Elvis – Stuck on you
12) Jimmy Lloyd – Where the Rio de Rosa Flows
13) Hank Williams Snr – Move it on over
14) Five Keys – She’s the most
After inheriting a tri centre Bill Haley 7” ‘Rock Around the Clock’ EP from my sister in 1963, I became slightly obsessed with ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ – and then I discovered Joe Turner’s bellowing original about 10 years later. Bill who? If you don’t move to this, you must be challenged in all departments. Slightly earlier from deep in my musical memory is the 1960 release ‘Stuck on you’ from Elvis – this is probably the earliest piece of music I remember around about ‘62/63 along with the Ray Conniff Singers ‘I’ll see you in my dreams’, the Spotniks ‘Hava Nagila’ and The Vampires ‘Swinging Ghosts’ – my sister had eclectic taste. Jimmy Lloyd came later – I discovered his Sun releases in the 80’s and boy, am I glad I did. This is my kinda Country shooting from the hip…combine this with Hank William Snr’s ‘Move it on over’ – you got to love a bit of fiddle – and my theme tune from the Five Keys ‘She’s the most’ – then you’ve got yourself a party in the barn.
15 Family – Burlesque
My life almost took a left turn in 1973 when I heard ‘Burlesque’ but it was only a hiccup in my timeline – but what a blip. Roger Chapman sounding like the Devil’s right hand man…I need me some snake-y spat shoes.
16) Eric B & Rakim – Follow The Leader
17) Main Source – Looking at the front door
Not since ‘That’s the way of the World’ had the musical Martians landed as they did when ‘Follow The Leader’ exploded on the turntables. I was working in Red Records in Brixton and you cannot believe the impact it had – just mind bending. Featuring samples from Baby Huey’s ‘Listen to me’ and the unsettling riff from Bob James ‘Nautilus’, ‘Follow the leader’ is the greatest hip hop track of all time in my humble opinion. Coupling it with the ’91 release from Main Source, ‘Looking at the front door’ was one of the stand out tracks for me on Patrick Forge and Julian Palmer’s seminal album ‘Rebirth of Cool 2’ – what a compilation - a whole generation had their heads turned.
18) Jimmy Ruffin & Heaven 17 – The Foolish Things To Do
19) Joseph Malik – I Don’t Want
20) Greg Blackman x Duncan Mackay – Never Trust Another Man (Ashley Beedle’s ‘North Street’ Jazz Vocal)
Sometimes, you need a few minor chords sprinkled into your daily grind – just to add to the beautiful melancholy. The next three tracks hit that spot perfectly – all outstanding vocalists, all singing laments and all uplifting my soul. The criminally underrated collaboration between Jimmy and Heaven 17 is as cheap as chips but a track to make you nod with approval; Mr Joseph Maliks’ ‘I don’t want’ from his hugely acclaimed 2002 ‘Diverse’ LP on Compost and then Greg Blackman teams up with trumpet maestro, Duncan Mackay and Darren Morris on piano to make something so perfect, it makes my bones ache – proud to have been in the studio when this happened.
21) David Bowie – Lady Grinning Soul
22) Ronnie Foster – Love Satellite
23) Chuck Berry – Drifting Heart
24) Flamingos – I only have eyes for you
One thing connects all these tracks – fabulous, statement intros – you know what’s coming. My undying thanks to Bruce Brand from The Milkshakes for introducing me to Chuck Berry’s ‘Drifting Heart’ and the one track that reduces me to an emotional wreck every time – ‘I only have eyes for you’ – how did they do it? It’s witchcraft, I tell thee….
25) Yvonne Baker – You didn’t say a word
26) Linda Jones – Just can’t live my life
27) Supremes – Stormy
28) Earl Van Dyke – All for you
Northern Soul and Motown are a massive part of my musical makeup – from Wigan to West Hampstead to Soulgate on Sea and These Old Shoes – clubs and events littered with the very best in breathtaking soul. Yvonne Baker is my #1 Northern tune ever – the Bond song that never was – too close it seems to be talking ‘bout the weather. Couple that with Linda Jones and the high drama ‘Just can’t live my life’ with searing vocals that will rip your heart out, roll it in cat litter and put it back in backwards – you want heartache and misery? I’ll give it to you – and then the until recently unreleased Supremes version of ‘Stormy’. Covered by a host of artists including Dusty and Bobbie Gentry, this is the one that makes grown people cry – Diana’s plaintiff rendition couldn’t be more appropriate. And then Earl – that’s Mr Van Dyke to you – the backbone of Motown’s studio band, the unsurpassed ‘Funk Brothers’ – this will be one of my enders when the time comes – Hammond B3 heaven and mod nirvana.
29) Vic Damone – Time after time
30) Dinah Washington – Cry me a river
31) Hal Miller – Blessing in disguise
32) Jimmy Rushing – How long, how long
33) Dells – Make Sure
It’s just me and Vic in an empty after hours Vegas club with a sparkly curtain at the back of the stage and a pin spot on Mr Damone singing to me alone. Dinah’s the next act on stage with ‘Cry Me a river’ and the ace up my sleeve, Hal Miller comes on and shows you why he’s the King of Beat Ballads with ‘A Blessing in disguise’ – a Bob Crewe production – castanets, tubular bells, French horns, strings, misery – sometimes, a break up is a blessing in disguise *sighs. Mr 5 x 5’ Jimmy Rushing – a blues shouter who was 5ft tall and 5ft wide – hollering the mournfully gorgeous ‘How long’ – I bought the Vanguard blues LP that it came from in 1973 which impressed the manager and that got me my first job in a record shop – a precocious 13 year old claim to fame but it’s true! And finally, when it’s my last goodbye, Marvin Junior and The Dells will be belting this out as I go behind the curtain – because you’ve got to make room for the next act coming on….and that, ladies and gentlemen, is my DuskDubs – I have the full selection on vinyl preserved for posterity in my record room. Thank you for listening and good night.