Wind your way down the stairs at The Book Club in Hoxton and the first thing you see is a pool table and the queue to the cloakroom. Beyond that a crowd has formed and the party is off and going. You have entered the world of Andy Smith’s Jam Up Twist. Instead of the area’s blend of the latest dance music trends, Andy is expertly weaving a mix of great music from the distant past. A blend of rockabilly, jump blues, 60s soul and ska is pulling a crowd, and from the moment I heard it I knew that Andy was once more creating a club night that we at BGP would like to celebrate on CD.
Andy came to prominence working as a DJ with Portishead when they hit the big time in the mid-90s. His inquisitive style of DJing has seen him pull music from all sorts of genres, creating an eclectic fusion that was celebrated in his seminal mix CD “The Document”. Since then he has hooked up with the BGP team for two compilations, including “Andy Smith’s Northern Soul”, which was based around his club night that attempted to introduce great 60s soul to a whole new crowd, and succeeded. We hope to repeat this success with “Andy Smith’s Jam Up Twist”.
Once again Andy creates a seamless mix of tracks from the 50s through to the 70s, but it is his skill as a selector that really catches the ear. In each of the genres covered by the compilation he pulls out gems that are not only great tracks but relevant to a modern dancefloor. The rockabilly and the jump blues are just the sort of sounds that provide the influence for modern acts such as Imelda May and Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, and in cuts such as ‘Let’s Go Bopping Tonight’ by Al Ferrier, Jimmy Carroll’s ‘Big Green Car’, Mickey Champion’s ‘Bam-A-Lam’ or the Sonny Bono-penned ‘Touch And Go’ from Wynona Carr, Andy has chosen the very best.
He is equally at home in the worlds of ska and Northern Soul. From the Northern pile he’s picked longstanding classics from Mel Williams and Toni & the Showmen and joined them up with some more recent finds such as the San Francisco TKOs and Luther Ingram, whose version of ‘Oh Baby Don’t You Weep’ has been one of the great discoveries of the past few years. To hear the Skatalites on a BGP comp is a real pleasure (and apt, as on ‘Malcolm X’ they are in fact covering Lee Morgan’s jazz dance classic ‘Sidewinder’), as it is to hear the voice of the great Alton Ellis.
So let’s hope Andy is as successful in pushing the boundaries here as he has been in the past, because this is as great a blend as we could hope to hear.
By Dean Rudland