This album brings back a lot of memories for me. Sitting in a bar somewhere talking nonsense with Derek Dah Large as I convinced him to record a one-off single for us, then phoning him up a few weeks later as he was recording to let him know that I’d just walked out of the label. Sitting in the vegetarian restaurant opposite Acid Jazz’s Greek Street office with my friend and sometimes mentor, the late great Marts Andrups, trying to work out a project for his management client Trevor “The Underdog” Jackson. It was supposed to be a project based on Ian Carr’s work with Nucleus but ended up as an ongoing collaboration with The Emperor’s New Clothes that resulted in a series of amazing remixes and a groundbreaking album, that never saw the light of day. This album seems to be made up of a lot of people who I would see regularly for years around London, but that these days have slipped out of my orbit.
Acid Jazz is rightly remembered for the big hit acts that it signed such as Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies, and the live groups with a retro edge who seemed to typify the label for a period. Others such as Mo’ Wax are remembered for being cutting edge and Talkin’ Loud is remembered as being closer to club culture, because with its major label budget it could throw tens of thousands of pounds at major remixers, creating a slurry of versions of each single. With budgets limited when going for chart success, Acid Jazz would have to rely on the strength of the song. Yet as a label it was as capable of being as on top of club culture as anyone. We were instrumental in the development of Mo’ Wax – advising James Lavelle on all sorts of running a label type things, commissioned the first mix by house hero Danny Tenaglia, released productions by Roger Sanchez and were the original partners in his and Marts’ label Narcotic. As owners of London’s finest night club The Blue Note, we also sponsored many of alternative dance cultures biggest nights of the late 90s, starting up a label with club promoters Athletico.
In the grooves you will find Leftfield producing the Sandals for an early single, one of DJ Scruff’s earliest work and a true obscurity on his mix of Manasseh and the Equaliser’s ‘Rasselas’. James Lavelle and Tim Goldsworthy’s UNKLE produce and mix the Emporers New Clothes, whilst Paul Weller’s producer Brendan Lynch takes apart and reconstructs Mother Earth’s ‘Jesse’. Another Paul Weller cohort, the Young Disciples Marco Nelson, hooks up with actor Max Beesley on the infectious ‘Last Night Beats’.
The set is completed with some truly stunning work from label-owner Ed Piller as the Introspective Funk Movement, both as an artist and as remixer; Trevor Jackson later of Playgroup mixing Emperors New Clothes’ ‘Unsettled Life’, a downtempo classic, and Manasseh again with the languid ‘Soul Jah’. Big Beat is represented by Ceasefire man Derek Dah Large on his remix for the James Taylor Quartet and his own Bloodsucka’s cut. It’s an enjoyable ride through a set of high-class 90s beats and grooves as well as a memory-laden collection.
By Dean Rudland