Greg Wilson’s ‘Credit To The Edit’ release in 2004 remains one of the seminal remix albums of the last 10 years and represents one of the most unexpected musical comebacks ever.
Greg began DJing way back in 1975. He was a pioneer of mixing and remixing in the UK and in 1983 he became the first ‘dance music’ DJ hired for a regular weekly session at Manchester’s now legendary Hacienda club. Greg was also the the first DJ to perform on UK television, the first UK DJ to have a remix pressed on vinyl and even taught Fat Boy Slim how to scratch back in 1983. However, despite this Greg retired from DJ’ing in 1984 whilst at the top of his game. As Acid House took hold in the late 80′s and was superceeded by the super club era in the ’90′s; Greg Wilson’s name was largely consigned to dance music’s history books and was rarely given the credit his pioneering work deserved. Greg’s ‘Credit To The Edit’ release helped rectify that.
Compiling previously unreleased edits and remixes, some of which were over 30 years old and had been made with nothing more hi-tech than a reel-to-reel tape player and a razor blade, the compilation took both familiar and overlooked music from the last 3 decades and re-introduced it to the listener in a totally unique way. Whether it was the sublime extended mix of Chaka Khan’s ‘I Feel For You’ or Greg’s vigorous reworking of Rockers Revenge that gave hints of house music years before the term was even conceived; the work on ‘Credit To The Edit’ showed just how far ahead of his time Greg Wilson really was.
The release of ‘Credit To The Edit’ also coincided with a transition in the fortunes of dance music in the mid ’00′s. A rise in the popularity of darker, more stripped down club music coupled with an increase in digital music vendors which offered an almost unlimited supply of brand new music meant that fewer and fewer DJ’s were digging out old records and recontextualizing them. Greg Wilson’s ‘Credit To The Edit’ flew in the face of this and became one of the catalysts for the rise of the Disco/ Balearic scene in the late ’00′s that saw countless new producers experimenting with their own re-edits of obscure disco, funk and soul tracks.
Thanks to ‘Credit To The Edit’ and a stream of consistently exciting DJ sets and remixes, Greg is now one of the most in demand DJ’s not just the UK but in the world – ranking 91st in Resident Advisor’s influential world DJ poll.
Check out Greg’s appearance on UK TV in 1983. Look out for a totally clueless Jules Holland interviewing the man himself:
After releasing the fantastic ‘Arular’, former Central St. Martins design student Maya Arulpragasam set herself the unenviable target of following up one of the most well received debuts of 2005. While many artists fall into path of radio friendly singles and a more commercial follow up, M.I.A stuck to her guns and crafted another bold, assured collection of songs. Aside from ‘Come Around’, which saw the singer collaborate with Timbaland, ‘Kala’ has no predictable overblown collaborations. The album was largely co-written by M.I.A and producer Switch – who had previously worked on ‘Arular’.
‘Kala’ was written whilst the singer travelled through several countries, something that can clearly be heard throughout. Whether it’s the Bollywood sampling ‘Jimmy’ or the South African rappers Wilcannia Mob lending their rhymes to ‘Mango Pickle Down River’, M.I.A’s backpacking jaunt obviously helped her overcome any second album nerves. The album also displays many influences that are closer to home, album opener ‘Bamboo Banga’ cheekily robs the melody of Jonathan Richman’s ‘Roadrunner’ and snippets of New Order, The Clash and Pixies can be heard across the album.
Combining a mélange of influences, Kala stands out as one of the defining albums of the decade; delivered by one of our most enigmatic and endearing female artists of our time.
How do you follow-up 1997’s ‘OK Computer’, an album universally hailed as the best of the Nineties? In the case of Radiohead, by radically changing their sound and producing a record of similar resonance that, like their previous album, can be considered one of the best of the decade.
After achieving biggest band on the planet status, Radiohead announced they would embrace experimental electronica to reinvent their sound, thus generating rivers of ink and speculation. The band’s rejection of rock’s most conventional element –guitars- got the most traditional part of Radiohead’s fan base nervous. Therefore, ‘Kid A’ was surrounded in controversy from the first moment of its well-documented genesis. Despite this, the bold move paid off well with critics first and audiences later warming up to ‘Kid A’s’ new direction.
The indisputable influence of classics tracks such as ‘Idioteque’, ‘Everything in the Right Place’ or ‘The National Anthem’ has helped reshaping the sound of mainstream rock.
Kid A’ arrived in 2000 kick starting another hugely successful period for Thom Yorke and co. More recently, after parting ways with their label, their album ‘In Rainbows’ stirred a musical revolution; this time for offering a new “pay as much as you like” download model that’s been mirrored in all corners of the arts as the potential way forward.
In 2001 Daft Punk released ‘Discovery’, an album that continues to influence countless other artists. A leaner affair when compared with their 1997 debut, ‘Homework’, on this album Daft Punk embraced an 80’s synthpop feel, rather than the Chicago House sound of their early work. While it took Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo six years to craft the album, for many it was well worth the wait. Opening with the stomping ‘One More Time’ ‘Discovery’ immediately grabs the listener and engages them through to the final chords of epic album closer ‘Too Long’.
The album was also accompanied by an animated film, Interstella 5555, in which the songs were juxtaposed against the adventures of a band in a parallel galaxy. The album also featured Daft Punk’s first ever collaborations, with American DJ/producers Romanthy and Todd Edwards on ‘One More Time’ and ‘Face To Face’ respectively. The album would go on to be a huge influence on the likes of Justice, Soulwax and LCD Soundsystem – who penned the track ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ in tribute to the French duo.
Those who like their music new and ground breaking will find little trouble at choosing their band of the decade: Animal Collective’s achievements clearly outdo any competitors.
The band’s evolution has run in parallel to that of cutting edge music in the States. From the masked live shows and psychedelic freak-folk of their beginnings in Baltimore to recently breaking into mainstream acclaim, Animal Collective encapsulated like no other the most creative sounds the last ten years had on offer. Drinking in sources as diverse as LSD induced tribe-like chants and percussion trips, Krautrock loops, sound samples, noise and drone to create intense aural landscapes.
The group was originally formed by Avey Tare and Panda Bear; with Deakin and Geologist joining shortly afterwards – a mobile line-up that has seen every member coming and going through their output. Their fifth record ‘Sung Tongs’, recorded by the Avey Tare/Panda Bear initial core, shaped their experimental ways into tracks resembling fully fleshed out songs, spawning cult classics such as ‘Who Could Win A Rabbit’ or ‘Leaf House’. It was this moment where they began gaining international notoriety, as their reputation earned them a deal with British label Fat Cat. Next giant step came in 2005 with ‘Feels’, where the embellishing hand of Dave Fridmann helped on production; in a move that was considered Animal Collective’s expansion towards more established indie circles. Read more…
The Montreal based Arcade Fire released their debut album in 2004 to a cacophony of critical praise – and quite rightly so. Taking in a wide range of influences including pop, post-punk, opera and disco; ‘Funeral’ is a staggering, assured debut. Fronted by husband and wife Win and Géraldine Butler, the album was influenced by the deaths of several band members’ relatives. Naturally the influence of these events had an effect on the band and their music and ‘Funeral’ gave them an outlet for this grief and frustration. It would be unfair to categorise the album as a depressing listen, however it’s clear the events had an influence on Butler’s reflective lyrics.
With tracks as varied as the rabble rousing ‘Wake Up’, to the slow burning ‘Crown Of Love’- a track that starts out as a lush orchestral number and gives way to a storming disco beat – the album isn’t never predictable and entices the listener back again and again. While the band would go on to release another album in the decade, 2007’s ‘Neon Bible’, it’s ‘Funeral’ that stands up as their essential album. The band have recently confirmed that they’ve completed work on their third album, due for release in May 2010.
When Amy Winehouse released her debut album, ‘Frank’, she failed to make too much of a splash and was widely compared to successful jazz influenced singers of the time such as Norah Jones and Katie Melua. While the risqué lyrical content of some tracks helped separate her from the pack, no one was quite prepared for the jump she would make with her follow up. ‘Back To Black’ was the perfect answer to any fears of the dreaded second album syndrome. ‘Rehab’ – the first single and album opener – perfectly sets the tone for one of the most brutally honest albums of the decade. While the singer’s private life has been well documented, to a level that has threatened to overshadow the singer’s talent, Amy Winehouse isn’t one to shy away from the harsh realities of life and she displays this perfectly through her music. However ‘Back To Black’ is by no means a morose, reflective record. Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi’s production gives the album a distinctive Motown feel that juxtaposes perfectly with Winehouse’s lyrics. Tracks such as ‘You Know That I’m No Good’, ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ and title track ‘Back To Black’ are arguably some of the finest pop songs produced in the 00’s. Standing up as one the defining albums of the decade, ‘Back To Black’ established Amy Winehouse as one of nations most talked about stars. It’s the sound of an artist truly hitting their stride, but hopefully not their peak. While many know Winehouse as a tabloid fixture, let’s hope ‘Back To Black’ isn’t the zenith of the singer’s career.
Ever the one for high concepts and pushing new boundaries, Richie Hawtin’s ‘Closer To The Edit’ was a startlingly ambitious project that that fused the role of DJ and producer like never before. The compilation combined elements of over 123 tracks, mixing them together live at a furious turntablist-esque pace using Final Scratch: a then brand new computer program that allowed DJ’s to play digital files on vinyl like never before. Much of the time only tiny snippets of records were used in the mix, perhaps a hiss of high hat or rumble of sub bass, but the overall effect was to create a seamless collage of spacious futuristic techno. Many of the tracks played on the album where edited by Hawtin himself before they were played – further blurring the lines to whether ‘Closer To The Edit’ can be called a DJ mix album, remix album or entirely original composition. Although ‘Closer To The Edit’ was highly conceptual and faced criticism from some vinyl traditionalists at the time; the move to digital DJ systems was one of the key factors that drove dance music on throughout the noughties as programs like Ableton helped DJ’s and producers perform their music in ways unimaginable in the ‘90’s.
The music too on ‘Closer To The Edit’ was an interesting turning point in the evolution of electronic music. Featuring much slower Techno sounds than Hawtin’s previous album, ‘Decks EFX & 909’s’, the shift to more sparse, hypnotic and stripped down sounds would pre-empt the minimal techno surge of the mid noughties which would see acts like Ricardo Villalobos and Matthew Dear become some of the most world’s most celebrated underground artists. Released in 2001, ‘Closer To The Edit’ perfectly encapsulates Techno’s love of the forward thinking and helped mark Richie Hawtin as one of the shining lights of the electronic scene for the next 9 years.
From the fringes of the anti-folk movement and blessed with a peculiar high-pitched voice that easily induced a shocking early impression - rather similar to the first time we heard Kate Bush - this angelic harp and piano player from Nevada produced arguably the most ambitious album of the last 10 years.
‘Ys’ was a giant step from Joanna Newsom’s first official album, ‘The Milk-Eyed Mender’. With only five lengthy tracks, the shortest being the seven-minute story ‘Cosmia’, it resembled at times a classical suite divided in five movements. The record expanded beyond the limits of traditional songwriting into a world of poetic storytelling and creative instrumentation defying all rules in current pop music.
Helped by a holy trinity of alternative collaborators – Steve Albini engineering, Jim O’Rourke producing and the legendary Brian Wilson arranger Van Dyke Parks at the orchestrations - Newson impressed critics and audiences alike, leaving the seal of a true original. The world eagerly awaits her new material that’s rumoured to be delivered sometime in 2010.
Dizzee Rascal’s self produced debut ‘Boy In Da Corner’ crystallised all that was urgent, raw and relevant about British urban music in 2003. Springing from East London’s grime scene – which itself was a brand new musical mixture of hip-hop, 2 step garage and drum & bass influences – Dizzee managed to combine the starkly raw electronic sounds of grime with a viscously witty, often aggressive but always heartfelt delivery. Tracks such as ‘I Luv U’ and ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’ painted a vividly dark picture of urban life but were delivered with shades of social critique and old school rap braggadocio that gave his album a wider appeal. Unlike albums from his contemporaries from the grime scene, ‘Boy In Da Corner’ managed to achieve both critical and commercial success without diluting the jarring electronic sound of the genre at all. The album remains a critical high water mark of Dizzee’s career despite the fact that the rapper has now gone on to achieve more wide spread acclaim with pop influenced tracks such as, ‘Dance With Me’ and ‘Bonkers’. Winning the Mercury Prize in 2003, the album remains one of the best examples of UK hip hop ever produced.