Friday, February 11, 2005

Blog Rocking Beats

Nothing like disseminating useless information across the world. Hell, that’s what the web is for, right? In an occasional foray into the world of blogomemes (or, in normal-person-speak, pointless lists and questionnaires of little-to-no importance), I present you all with this:

1. Total amount of music files on your computer:

About four hours worth of music. All of it legally ripped from my own CD collection. So take that, file swappers and copyright violators!

2. The last CD you bought was:

I bought two at the same time: Prince’s Musicology and the Kill Bill Volume 2 soundtrack.

3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?

Since I Left You by The Avalanches. Not out of choice, either. Mrs. AKA is currently obsessed with this admittedly wonderful cut-and-paste slice of uplifting turntablism.

4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

This is one of those questions where the list is totally dependant on the day you get asked the question. These are the five tunes that come to mind right now:

i. Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes.
“He’s a complicated man, and no-one understands him but his woman”. My favourite record ever, and inextricably linked to so many landmark moments in my life. My mum used to play this to me all the time and dance around the house when I was still in the womb. I saw the movie for the first time on my 18th birthday at the much-missed King’s Cross grindhouse The Scala in a double-bill with Superfly. I took (dragged?) Mrs. AKA to see the movie in the very early days of our embryonic relationship. One time, on our first holiday together, we were in a cheap apartment in Portugal with nothing but a crunchy, fuzzy television set in the corner, and I finally got one of the channels to come into focus. The opening credits for Shaft appeared, and the wacka-wacka guitar kicked in. This song is a unique personal talisman for me, and it raises its head in my life whenever a watershed moment of change is in the air.

ii. White Lines by Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel.
A couple of weeks ago, with Buttercup in my lap, I started human beatboxing the whole of this tune. Her little face cracked open into the most glorious big-cheeked grin, occasionally interrupted by full-on giggling. Since then, this has become a perennial sound in the AKA Crib. She particularly likes it when I say “Freeze!” or “Bass!” Never let it be said that my daughter hasn’t inherited my superlative taste for the funk. Old skool for the pre-school.

iii. Groove is in the Heart by Deee-lite.
This chunk of infectious early-90s sampladelia has been bopping around the AKA brainbox quite a lot recently. It never sounds old, it reminds me of a time in my life when I was stone-broke and loving it, and it’s got Bootsy Collins on it. What more do you want? It’s not vicious or malicious, just de-lovely and delicious. A confection of perfection.

iv. Betcha By Golly Wow by Prince.
As good as the Stylistics original, with extra strings for a bit of additional opulence. The aural equivalent of wrapping yourself in silk sheets. As my wedding day got closer and closer, I had no idea what we were going to have playing for the moment when my future wife was going to walk towards me as a single woman for the last time. So I painstakingly combed through my entire record collection looking for the ideal song: A long instrumental opening, melodious, rhythmic, lush and beautiful. Full of wonder and surprise. It suited the moment exquisitely.

v: Love X Love by George Benson.
I used to DJ a bit. Not much, just a tiny little bit. One time, me and one of my boys DJed at a corporate function as a favour to a friend. It was the first and only time we did that sort of thing. We weren’t really that kind of DJ. We just liked to play our favourite funk records in small venues, for fun. This function was at some fancy hotel in London. I can’t remember where now. Chelsea, I think. I’d just finished playing “Love X Love” to resounding indifference from the drunken suits. (As I recall, all the records we played that night were greeted the same way.) Anyway, as the record finished, the friend who had asked us to do the gig told me that George Benson was upstairs in the hotel bar with his wife and daughter, and then he told me to go up there and say hello. So I grabbed my copy of Give Me The Night and headed to the bar. I was sweaty and nervous and tongue-tied. I stood in the doorway of the bar and was about to bolt in awe-struck fear, when Mr. Benson called over. “Hey, what you got there, man?” In barely coherent monosyllables, I muttered something and showed him the LP. He asked me to pass it over and before I knew it he’d signed the cover for me. He then invited me to join his family for a drink. Incapable of rational conversation, I made my apologies, thanked him and returned to safety behind my turntables.

I never, ever get starstruck. I’ve lived in London my whole life and there’s a recognisable face on every street corner. I’ve worked in the media, where you work side-by-side with household names on occasion. I’ve even interviewed the odd name. Never bothered me. Famous people don’t faze me in the slightest. But George Benson is one of my musical heroes. And I couldn’t handle it. The only other time I lost my shit so badly was when Roy Ayers approached me in Tower Records where he was doing a signing. Both men were gracious, kind and friendly, and I was a mush-mouthed monkey in their presence. I know, I’m a dork.

(A small aside to this story: That same night, in the lobby of the hotel, we spotted a shifty and uncomfortable Robert Downey Jr. sitting on the sofa opposite us. In retrospect, I now realise that he was probably waiting to score some drugs. At the time, I just assumed he had a wicked case of jetlag…)

6. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?

Oh, I don’t know. Feel free to either play along on your own blog or in the handy little comments box below.

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