Monday, 4 March 2013

the selecter dj kirk

This week's guest castaway is the unofficial mayor of San Francisco, Kirk Michael Harper... the selecter dj kirk.
Born and raised in S.F., Kirk is recognized for his all-embracing knowledge of soul music through the decades, his extensive record collection and for producing events like 'Soul It's the Real Thing'.

Kirk is also part of the Sweater Funk crew at 'The Knockout' and 
with Julius Papp at 'The Revival  : Luxury Soul'.

"I've whittled down the selections... Man, that was tough !"

Tony Clarke - The Entertainer 

"As a young kid that was inspired by the early 80s mod revival, I wanted to learn everything I could about soul music beyond my mom’s pop-soul collection. 

Around 1980, I bought a Chess Records comp for Sugar Pie DeSanto’s 'Soulful Dress' (after all she was a local from San Francisco) but the track that changed it all was 'The Entertainer'. 

I must have played it ten times that first night in my room with the headphones on and ten more times with my penny loafers on. 

It was so different from the up-tempo soul we gravitated towards at the time. It was mid-tempo and we could break out moves, pauses and slides that we learned from 70s Soul Train between the beat. 

Best of all, it opened me up to more styles of soul… mod style soul didn’t have to be limited to 100 miles per hour burners, a Motown beat or a Stax track. 

In addition, as the guy that always played records for friends, the lyrics spoke to me directly : If you’re going to play, perform or dj… the show must go on.

Just gave it a listen. It still inspires me… T.C. forever!"

Patti & The Emblems - I’m Gonna Love You A Long Long Time

"In 1982-85, the influence of Ady Croasdell’s Kent Records compilations was massive in California. Our favorite record shops carried them and they seemed to come out every other month. 

Beginning with, ”For Dancers Only” we eagerly anticipated each release, gave it a listen and settled on our favorites... the next step was to scour dusty old record stores and try and locate some of these gems on 45. We didn’t find very many but our search for rare singles would never be the same.

My favorite comp was “Floorshakers” which contained two of my all-time faves : Margaret Mandolph’s 'Something Beautiful' and Patti & The Emblems 'I’m Gonna Love You A Long Long Time'. 

Patti’s track, in particular, had everything : A super horn intro, a Gladys Knight style call and response and, most importantly, that driving northern beat."

The Impressions - I Loved And I Lost

"No list would be complete without a song from the one and only Curtis Mayfield. As a child, my mom had an 8-track soul tape and whenever “I’m So Proud” would come on, I would sing all the lyrics not realizing that he would become my favorite artist of all time.

During the Bruce Lee-Superfly era in SF, Curtis was our Martin Luther King Jr. of soul, especially the kids of color. He often performed on Soul Train, his message was powerful and his falsetto was tight. He was super smooth, super cool, super fly.

In addition, our older relatives rocked his stuff in their Camaros and Mustangs….nothing was cooler than that. With our Levis wide bell cords, double knits and platform kicks with horseshoe taps, he gave us a bounce in our step…in a word he made us feel like winners.

I chose, “I Loved and I Lost” because of it’s simplicity, his song writing style and the focus on his beautiful voice... plus I needed to include a heartbreaker, slow jam to round out the list and the fact that it’s from Chicago, my music capital of the world,  is just the cherry on top."

G.C. Cameron - You’re What’s Missing In My Life

"When it comes to my favorite era of soul, 70s modern soul, what I most like about the period is the exciting coming together of modern production + super voices + legendary composers. Whether it’s David Ruffin, Levi Stubbs, Gladys Knight or Gerald Alston, matching these artists with the strings, the overdubs, the super producers and composers led the way to crisp and clean recordings…beautiful symphonic soul!

Although I only got turned onto this song in the late 90s, it takes me back to that time of beautiful flowing things…for many it’s just disco, for us it was S-O-U-L with a Don Cornelius accent and it was everything. In San Francisco, KSOL & KDIA were our stations and voices like G.C. Cameron, the former lead singer of the Spinners, ruled. 

'You’re What’s Missing In My Life' has the mid-tempo feel that I love to dance to, the heartache–style vocals that I tend to gravitate towards and it remains one of my favorite modern soul songs... plus it’s credited to two of the Holland Brothers. The pedigree does not get any better than that.

Since we’re talking about being on a deserted island, I am sure I’d be missing a lot of things in my life. If we include talking about fantasy and projecting oneself, then the LP photo seems very apropo : G.C. shirtless, jogging on the beach. I guess I could envision myself waiting to get rescued and hoping folks see me as more like G.C. and less like Michael Henderson’s 'Slingshot'. "

La Voyage - Never Lookin' Back

"Rounding out the list is a soulful boogie track with a special shout out to my Sweater-Funk DJ family. Every Sunday night for 5+ years we share our favorite boogie, steppers and modern soul originals and this track remains one of our favorites and has become one of our anthems. 
La Voyage was an all family group comprised of siblings: Aaron, Al, Vince, Ron and their sister Dee Dee : A perfect combination of voices, musicianship and song writing ability. 'Never LookIn’ Back', released in ’82 was composed by Ronald Broomfield, who is best known for his rare groove classic, 'Gotta Get You Home Tonight' recorded under his later stage name, Eugene Wilde.
With it’s punchy horn intro, soaring synths and Nile Rodgers style guitar it just keeps building yet never seems rushed…boogie perfection!
In many ways, this song epitomizes why we love boogie.  If disco was racing along at a high pace, pushing 130bpm and always four on the floor…boogie came along and said, let’s slow it down a bit, let’s add some funk and bring back the soul. 
Where the late disco era tended to be hedonistic and white-bread…. boogie tended to be more aspirational, more grounded in funk and the focus was back to African-American voice. Even the attire reflected the change in style : Gone are the over the top spacesuits, glitter everything and soft focus covers…..the era of Sweater-Funk had arrived…still very polished but with a casual confidence….for soul fans we loved the Restoration."
"I hope you enjoy my selections. It was so much fun picking and choosing, thanks for including me on this project…cheers Bill and keep the fire burning!"
I betcha' loved Kirk's choices... so try these for size :