Friday, 12 December 2014

Emma-Rosa Dias

Shipwrecked and washed ashore on a lonely island in the sea is my latest guest castaway, the wonderfully talented television producer, presenter and director, Emma-Rosa Dias.

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Emma-Rosa moved with her mother to Germany in 1990 and her media career began in the German music industry in 1992. Her first TV media venture came when she was recruited to work for Germany’s landmark children’s TV series 'Die Sendung mit der Maus' for WDR Television. 

Emma-Rosa first found fame from having starred as a cast member in the second season of long running British reality television show, Channel 4’s 'Shipwrecked' in 2000. This was the same year as 'Big Brother' launched in the UK, when reality TV was a breakout phenomenon. Viewed as a social experiment by Emma-Rosa, before reality television became a tool for self-promotion, her experience on. 'Shipwrecked' stimulated her interest in pursuing a career in television production. 

Her television career started by presenting BBC's factual entertainment series 'Dinner Next Door', produced by BAFTA award winning Alison Miller. Emma-Rosa heralds Alison has a mentor and teacher in her television career.

Taking a year out, Emma-Rosa embarked upon a round the world trip and, while working in Sydney, had an unusual and memorable introduction to actor Hugh Jackman. Impressed by Emma-Rosa and recognizing her talent, Hugh Jackman sponsored her to take a three-month intensive television production course at Actors Centre Australia in Sydney.

Returning from her travels, Emma-Rosa began both freelancing as a television presenter for BBC and UTV, and also began a production career behind the camera at Street Monkey TV, Belfast. Her behind the scenes work developed her experience of commercial production, eventually leading to role as an In-House TV producer and Assistant Creative Director at Ardmore Advertising. Emma-Rosa produced commercials for many companies including Subway, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Stena Line and Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

Emma-Rosa fronted the ‘Backin’ Belfast’ campaign, winning the Tourism Think Tank Awards in Berlin, 2013, and the Digital Communications Award, beating competition from over 600 contenders.

Drawing on over 13 years of international experience of producing, presenting and directing, Emma-Rosa founded her own company, Afro-Mic Productions, in September 2013 and her first project was ‘Belfast is Happy’, a unique version of the Pharrell Williams music video Happy, which was shot featuring members of the public in Belfast dancing in the street. 

With her passion for music and subcultures, Emma-Rosa Dias produced, directed and presented a series of documentaries on Mod subculture, including 'Faces In The Crowd' and 'For The Love of Mod: London', where Emma-Rosa's relaxed and warm interview style allowed her to access Britain’s leading players in the underground Mod scene to learn about their life experiences as a Mod. The success and wide reaching appeal of the film led on to Afro-Mic Productions being awarded funding by Northern Ireland Screen for a third and final Mod documentary For The Love Of Mod: Tokyo, filmed recently in Japan.

The series has garnered Emma-Rosa with international acclaim. Despite its low production budget, reviews have praised both the film’s portrayal of what Mods love about their scene and, in particular, have applauded Emma-Rosa’s relaxed, friendly and engaging interview technique that brings out the character of her subjects, which gained her the trust of an underground scene known for a dislike of media attention.

"The ironic thing about doing this blog is that I actually have been stranded on a desert island! Although it was with 15 other people and in front of the TV cameras for Channel 4’s ‘Shipwrecked’ back in 1999 it still got very lonely at times! Having music would have been such a luxury!"

Joan Armatrading - Love and Affection

"I was truly lucky when it came to my early music education as my mum managed a record shop called ‘Blinkers’ in the students union at Queens University Belfast. From 1978 - 1986 (I was aged 4 - 11) I spent everyday after school in the record shop and as soon as my homework was completed in the back office I was able to explore and help my mum around the shop. Pricing the records, changing the posters, counting the concert tickets, and best of all listening to all sorts of music! 

Watching all the customers come and go was an experience in itself at that age - Punks, Skinheads, New Romantics, Goths, Hippies and Mods, it was a place they wanted to come to and hang out so the vibe was always great. My mum brought me up on her own and she really loved that place so I have nothing but fond memories. 
I got to hear thousands of albums like The Sex Pistols, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Thin Lizzy, The Police, ABBA, The Supremes, there's one song that brings back all those feelings and it's by musical genius Joan Armatrading. ‘Love and Affection’, it’s an absolute classic."

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime

"I watched my first music documentary in 1984 (aged 9) when my mum and her friend Ellis brought me to see Talking Heads - ‘Stop Making Sense’ at Queens Film Theatre. 

I’ll never forget that night because both my mum and Ellis feel fast asleep during the film and I watched the lot! Don’t get me wrong it was a little bit out there and loopy for a 9 year old but the energy throughout the film and frontman David Byrne kept me entertained! 

The director Jonathan Demme made the film with such passion during a three-day concert gig at the Pantages Theatre in Holywood and it is still one of the highest rated music documentaries of all time. Therefore my next song is Talking Heads ‘Once In A Lifetime’."

Orbital - Chime

"Now to the start of my clubbing days which was in 1989 (aged 14). Yes, I know, I was far too young! 

My uncle owned a sound & lighting company and DJ duo at the time David Holmes (Homer) & Ian McCready used to hire his equipment for their ‘Sugar Sweet’ rave nights at the Art College. I’ll never forget the first night they brought ‘Orbital’ over to Belfast, it was simply electric the atmosphere was like nothing I’d experienced before. Orbital’s ‘Chime’ and 'Belfast' are the tracks that bring those memories back for me. 

For me the Dance Music days continued for many years after that. My mum and I moved to Cologne, Germany in 1990 and at 17 I left school and started working at ‘Line-Up’ a DJ Booking Agency which was part of an underground techno club called ‘Warehouse’. By 1993 I was managing the German & Austrian bookings for DJs such as Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier and Ritchie Hawtin. 

I remember my friend and very talented house DJ and producer Hans Nieswandt complaining that there wasn’t enough female DJs on the circuit and offered me his old mixer to try it out. He tried to teach me how to mix, but I didn’t have the patience. One of the tracks was 'Bizarre Inc’s ‘Playing With Knives’ which I still have the odd rave to in my living room!"

Ocean Colour Scene -  Lining Your Pockets

"Dance music obviously played a big part in my life as my career very much started in the music industry when it was rife. I went from managing DJs to promoting a indie record label to managing bands and club nights. Great times but by the time I was 23 I’d had enough and went home to Belfast! 

Even when living in Cologne for those 8 years I used to fly home to Belfast every other month or arrange to meet up with all my friends in London and Glastonbury Festival was a must. I was very much in touch with what was going on outside the dance music scene plus I religiously bought NME, remember the times without the internet! 

Ocean Colour Scene, Massive attack and The Stone Roses were constantly being played on the decks at house parties but I never got to see them live until recent years. One band I often seen live though (8 times in total) were Oasis. Yes I was a huge fan but I wasn't heartbroken when they split because I enjoyed what Liam did with Beady Eye and what Noel is producing now, he’s a master of his trade. The best Oasis concert for me was in 2002 at the Witness Festival in Dublin when one of the security guards thought I was one of the singers from the dance tent and I managed to get on the main stage and stand at the side and watch the whole show. The crowd were going crazy and it was nice to experience it all from that angle! 

The big tunes that bring those years back to me are Massive Attack ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ The Stone Roses ‘I Wanna Be Adore’, Oasis ‘Little By Little’ and 'OCS’s ‘Lining Your Pockets’. Simon’s voice in this live version on Jools Holland is simply breathtaking..."

Nora Dean -  Barbwire

"Now I’ve spent the past two years documenting my journey into Mod subculture and that has hugely broadened my music library! 

I’ve been so lucky to have DJs like Eddie Piller, Paul J Hallam and Dave Edwards introducing me to all sorts of music that comes under the Mod umbrella, a’broad church' indeed haha! Jazz, Ska, Northern Soul, Latin, Motown, Rhythm and Blues it’s going to be hard to pick out just one track but I suppose I have to!

My ‘For The Love Of Mod - London’ screening was in Brighton, which was my first ever screening and very special indeed. Eddie played a track for DJ Wendy May Billingsley (Locomotion) that got everyone proper grooving on the dancefloor, it was Jamacian reggae singer Nora Dean and her classic ‘Barbwire’ (Oh Mama)."


The final in Emma-Rosa’s Mod documentary trilogy ‘For The Love of Mod - Tokyo’ is available from Amazon & eBay.

In the final film in her Mod trilogy, producer/director Emma-Rosa Dias explores the Tokyo Mod scene and discovers how a British subculture thrives in the land of the rising sun. 

Emma-Rosa Dias's Mod trilogy comes to an enthralling conclusion in Japan. Exploring the modernist scene in Tokyo, Emma discovers first hand how a British subculture thrives 6,000 miles from its spiritual home in London. Meeting some of the faces in the Tokyo scene, we learn exactly what fashion, music, scooters and the modernist lifestyle means to these people. Stylish, classy and as entertaining as the mods who are featured, this documentary is an honest portrayal of the passionate Japanese Mods.


If you've not seen the first two parts of Emma-Rosa’s Mod documentary trilogy, you've certainly been missing something in your life !

Available now on Amazon, click on the picture below to link.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Penny Lane

From Winnipeg in Canada, my latest guest castaway washed ashore on a lonely island in the sea is DJ Penny Lane : Soul Junkie, Music Nerd, Co-Presenter of 'We Are The Mods' and Host of the mod radio show 'Punks in Parkas'.

Broadcasting live on UMFM 101.5 FM, 'Punks in Parkas' hit the air in the spring of 2005. Hosted by Penny Lane, it strives to play the best of the mod genera, from the original groups who rocked it in the early 1960s to the artists today who are reviving the scene.

The Beatles - Abbey Road Medley

Abbey Road Medley : You Never Give Me Your Money/Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came in Through the Bathroom Window/Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.

"Does it get much more beautiful than the Abbey Road Medley? To me, it’s something that perfectly sums up the amazing career The Beatles had and the incredible music they created. The medley takes you from the seriousness of Paul’s songwriting, to John’s sometimes silly yet poignet lyrics, to George’s hauntingly beautiful and almost religious like hymns which is all held together by the steady hand of Ringo’s drums. 

I can get lost in not just the 'Abbey Road Medley', but the whole B-side of the this album and I find myself turning to it over and over again. Over the years it has become my security blanket – that one thing I know that can make me feel right with everything. My fondest memory DJ'ing has to be a few years back when I was asked to DJ a low key event on a Sunday night at a small local pub. The mood in the pub was very relaxed, mellow and I put on the B-side of 'Abbey Road' and just let the album play out. Not only was it a joy to hear that medley, but to actually feel the beats as they pounded through the speakers, feel the vibrations of the guitars hit my legs and skirt from the monitors below my DJ decks – it was bliss for me and cemented in my mind how important that whole album is to me. 

Sure, it’s personal – it’s something that I turned to at a time in my life when I needed some sort of hope. It carried me on when I didn’t think I had the strength to do so myself. It became a warm and comfortable hug from a true and loving friend when I needed it most. 

That medley, which starts on a kind of somber note with 'You Never Give Me Your Money', ends with the most perfect and honest statement to ever come out of rock and roll – ‘and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.’ It’s a journey from a hard place to one of hope, of truth and honesty. How we get there, from this place of break down to this moment of complete understand and peace is just like life, really. It’s not straightforward – it’s a winding path that is filled with humor, hope, joy, anger and in the end, love.

When I have a bad day, when I’m feeling down or depressed or I need something to get me back on track, I listen to the 'Abbey Road Medley' and by the time 'She Came in Through the Bathroom Window' starts, I always feel a little bit better and  start to tap my toes. Then of course 'Golden Slumbers' starts and I want to smile and cry at the same time – ‘boy,you’re gonna carry that weight a long time…’  Truth in rock and roll."

The 006 - Like What, Me Worry ?

"They say that the best revenge is a life well lived. I’m a firm believer in that, but every so often I need a reminder... that’s where this song comes in. Its rash, gritty, its got a great beat and if you listen to the lyrics, you see how cold, disturbing and down-right violent it really is. 

I think we have all gotten so angry that we have cursed someone under our breath. When I need to release a little build up inner frustration (and come on, admit it, who doesn’t feel that way once in a while?), I put on this song, turn it up and let its nasty and vicious lyrics speak for me. I’m not a violent or evil spirited person but even I get a tingle of some odd satisfaction at some of these lyrics:

If you say one more thing about me
When you open up your big mouth
I’ll put my hand in there and grab your toes
And turn you inside out
I’m gonna tie you into a great big knot
And throw you onto the floor
Gonna stomp on and pulverize you
Till you ain’t no more
Like what, me worry? Ha ha ha!

Apart from those fantastically sadistic lyrics, can we talk about the driving beat behind this song? It’ the best kind of gritty garage rock there is – fuzzy guitars, great bass and drum combo and an oddly chip and upbeat tempo that begs you to get up and dance. That’s what first attracted me to this song, the B-side to the only single that Chicago’s 006 ever released, was that fantastic drumming and the driving beat that just begs you to dance to it.

It’s the best revenge song I think I’ve ever heard."

Otis Redding - Coffee and Cigarettes

"My first introduction to Otis Redding was via the movie 'Pretty in Pink'. There is a very iconic scene where Molly Ringwald’s character is in the record store she works in and her boss puts on Otis Redding’s 'Try a Little Tenderness'. On cue, Ducky (the character who is lusting after Ringwald) enters and does the most amazing lip sync routine I think I’ve ever seen in my life. 

This was before I knew what Motown was, before I knew what soul was, before I knew what Mod was. I fell head over heels in love with that song. 

My love for Otis Redding just blossomed from there and it was only a handful of years ago that I discovered the track ‘Coffee and Cigarettes'. To me, it’s the definitive soul song. It’s passionate, it’s heartfelt, honest and pure. Otis has such raw emotion in his voice, such love and respect that it will always send chills up and down my spine and makes all the hairs on my body stand on end. 

It’s something all men and women seem to crave in their life – to find that one person who completes them so perfectly. How many women over the years have listened to this song and wished to hear those words, how many men have listened and wished to feel those words? To me, it’s what love is. It’s being able to want nothing more than to share the most simple and mundane tasks in the world with someone – like smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. 

The song is this beautiful moment of realization. It’s in those simple and often overlooked moments where we really discover love."

The High Numbers - I'm The Face

"If I had to pick one song that really started everything for me as a DJ and radio host, that dubious honor would go to 'I’m the Face' by The High Numbers. 

I used to regularly attend a club night in Winnipeg back in the early 2000's called Loaded Club. Britpop had just hit Winnipeg, bringing with it a Mod revival and this club was our city's weekly Britpop/Mod night. Once I discovered it, I quickly became a regular and started to learn all I could about Mod. I dove headfirst into the one thing I identified the most with – the music. I would spend every spare minute looking up bands, labels and sifting through dusty bins filled with records and 45s. I was a women obsessed. 

The first time I ever heard “I’m The Face” was when I picked up a slightly used copy of The Who’s Maximum R & B box set. That harmonica at the start of the track grabbed me and for two and a half minutes I listened transfixed. I found myself constantly humming the song, singing it in my head and I wanted nothing more than to hear that track at Loaded Club and dance to it.

When I went to request the song from the resident DJ on my next visit the club, I was slightly shocked when he told me he had never heard of it.  I found this happening more and more often... I would discover a fantastic song, have it stuck in my head all week, head to Loaded Club on the weekend, go request the song only to have the DJ tell me he didn’t have it or actually had not heard of it. 

With hopes to strike up a friendship with the DJ, who went by the moniker 'The Invisible Man', I made him a mix CD of all of these tracks that I requested and he didn’t know or have. I opened the CD with The High Number’s “I’m The Face.” That CD has now almost become the stuff of legends, with The Invisible Man not only playing the entire thing the night he got it at the club, but it also helping to forge a lifelong friendship with the DJ. 

The Invisible Man, noting my love for music, insisted a few years into our friendship that I apply for a radio show on the same station he presented his on – 101.5 UMFM in Winnipeg. So in 2005, with his help, I brought 'Punks in Parkas' to the air for the first time. 

The very first track I ever played?

You guessed it – 'I’m The Face' by The High Numbers."

Serendipity Singers - Beans In My Ears

"I didn’t grow up in a particularly musical household. A lot of people find this surprising considering that I work on two music based radio shows/podcasts and that my house is full of records and CDs. This is not to say my parents didn’t enjoy music, it just wasn’t played much, if often, in our house. I have fond memories of listening to late 1950s and early 1960s rock and roll with my dad in his truck and of my mom humming 'White Rabbit' by Jefferson Airplane to herself around the house periodically.

Growing up, I remember this small wire rack that my parents kept in the basement that held about 25 or so 45s. These were dirty, scratched up little records that were missing their sleeves and had obviously seen better days, but as a pre-teen I was fascinated with them. I would escape to the basement, turn on the old Sear’s turntable and play these records. There were the standard 45s by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and of course, as any good Canadian will attest, The Guess Who. But hidden in the rack was this strange record, this silly song that I remembered hearing and singing as a child. 

Did my parents sing it to me? Did they play it to me? To be honest, I couldn’t tell you but part of me remembers being a young child and laughing at this song about putting beans in your ears. It made me laugh as much as a pre-teen as it did when I was little. 

Over the years, when I started to collect my own records and get more and more obsessed with music, I forgot all about that wire rack in the basement, including the silly bean song. It wasn’t until I had been doing 'Punks in Parkas' for a good amount of time that I stumbled across the song while doing research for an upcoming episode. As soon as I heard those wobbly first four notes, I was instantly taken back to being a small child in my parent’s house, laughing with my sister over this silly song and then again to being a pre-teen and discovering those 45s and listening to them over and over again. 

It brought back a flood of emotions and feelings that reminded me my family, my childhood and the first time I discovered how fantastic music could be. It can elevate you, transfix you, comfort you, anger you, speak for you, encourage you and support you... or it can tell you to stick beans in your ears! "


Now you have listened to Penny's 5 great tracks and read where she's coming from, you'll be wanting to hear more from her ... am I right ?

Your starting point must be the Punks in Parkas website, so go to the link below :

Next up is We Are The Mods : Check out the next link... you won't be disappointed !


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Rich Beggar

Washed ashore on a lonely island in the sea is my latest guest, hip-hop lyricist, singer, songwriter, aspiring actor and radio personality Prem Sharma... aka Rich Beggar.
Currently presenting 'The Story SOUL Far on Soulstice Radio 24, Rich Beggar is no stranger to the world of radio, having appeared as guest artist, interviewee and talk panellist on many stations including BBC Radio 1, BBC Asian Network, Club Asia, Choice FM and UK Obsession FM. Using the pseudonym 'Just Prem', his first weekly radio show 'The Watershed Show' was broadcast on yesteryears folded Community Radio and  NTL Channel 8 - ACR FM.

Aside from radio, Rich Beggar is an accomplished singer, songwriter, rapper and live performer, with several recordings in genres of music ranging from Hip-Hop, Soul/R&B, Soulful House, D'nB and Asian Desi... receiving critical acclaim, laudatory reviews and chart topping success in the UK as well as Europe, Atlantic Stateside and Asian Music territories alike. 

When signed to Universal Music Group, Rich Beggar featured R&B vocals on the Indian No.1 smash hit 'Dil Jaania' - 'Bombay Bronx 2 album'.

Rich Beggar has recently featured on 'Global Music Unites' a digital-only album of exclusive tracks previously unavailable for download on any platform for release as a limited edition. 'Global Music Unites' brings together artists and musicians from the US and UK to raise funds for three charities - SOS Villages in Zambia,  Mission Direct (also working in Zambia) and The Hunger Project.

A freelance movie actor, Prem was credited as a 'Heavy' in the 2009 BIFA and BAFTA award nominated feature film 'Shifty' (also featuring on the 'Shifty Original Motion Picture Soundtrack' album alongside other guest artists :  Sway, Plan B, Riz MC & DJ Trax).  

Prem was also nominated for 'Best Actor' at the 7th Annual BFM International Film Festival for his debut acting role in the award winning short film 'mORALLY Speaking' made by award winning British Film Director, Lawrence Coke.

"My earliest recollections are of banging on any solid surfaces I could get my hands on around the house, trying to imitate the sounds of drums (be they American funk or traditional Indian) and drowning out loud vocals copying popular songs heard on the radio or from my mothers infinite Indian music cassette collection...  those good old grey and black BASF cassette tapes."

Luther Vandross - A House Is Not A Home

"One of my favourite Luther Vandross (cover/per se) ballads and in my opinion it unashamedly and explicitly defines the sheer delicacy, intricacy, conviction, control & adroit key fundamental elements and embodiment of a ballad, with Luther giving the new listener, fan, peer or student a masterclass performance on how a ballad should be sung and ought to sound like. 

This track has Luther’s inimitable, flawless and dexterous trademark style, stamp, delivery and polished poise written all over it, proving ‘how’ and validating ‘why’ he was regarded as an unprecedented and highly gifted unique singer, vocalist and legendary Soul/R&B icon of 20th & 21st Century for many like myself and no doubt still will be for generations to come.

I’d been first introduced to Luther Vandross in early 80’s by my (then teenage) sister Sunita (notably; ‘Never Too Much’, ‘Forever For Always For Love’ & ‘The Night I Fell In Love’) sowing the Soulful seeds in my psyche during bedtime solitary Sony Walkman wayfarer nights. However, this track holds fonder memories of me beginning to appreciate Luther’s richness, value and the vocal art form that Soul/R&B music had to offer.

A time when I really stopped in my ‘disco/electro/hip-hop/pop/new romantics’ tracks, stood up and paid closer attention to it and caught the incurable SOUL BUG of wanting to listen & explore more and more authentic Soul music... not to mention attempt to emulate Mr Vandross at any given opportunity. 

I still vividly and laughably remember to this day when I was too young to attend his 1986 London Wembley Stadium 'Give Me The Reason' Album Tour Concert by myself or with friends, that I was sanctioned the ‘lame, yet better than nothing’ permission to stay up late on a school night to record it off the TV onto one of my mum’s precious hidden away BASF VHS Video Tapes. Thereafter, I would maniacally rush home in my lunch break (wolfing my sandwiches with one hand, can of Top Deck lemonade shandy clutched in the other, satchel round my shoulder… pegging it down road after road weaving crossroad traffic narrowly avoiding being run over by a Ford Cortina) back to an ‘empty house’ (while mum, dad & older siblings were at work) only to religiously re-enact the recorded BASF VHS concert in the living room with TV on full blast… equipped with my dad’s marble cone shaped Phillips screwdriver (my trusty makeshift mic) trying to hit n hone all the unreachable Luther notes, making Luther facial expressions and striking all the Luther poses & camp choreography.. all the while convincing myself 'I was Luther' and the 'Wall Mirror was my Wembley Stadium'. "

Glen Jones - Show Me

"Albeit a smash hit and his signature tune... this song is my absolute all-time favourite, heartfelt and most cherished of all Glenn Jones songs as it once again holds such fond and fun memories of my coming of age adolescence.
I was introduced to 'Show Me' by my older brother Rav (Ravi)... it featured on one of his Soul Searching Volume One album cassette tapes released by Jive back in 1987, which he so kindly passed down to me (that’s after him buckling to years of my begrudging, begging, bribes & blackmail) along with Volume Two that I still sentimentally own both to this day as priceless prized possessions.
I fell in love instantly with 'Show Me' from the intro adlibs and opening bar on verse 1; “I’ve been watching you just to see how far you would go”… His voice was (and still is) so uncontrovertibly rich, real, explosive, powerful, thick, pure and sure in tone, texture and timbre that it grabbed me straight away. Not to mention his dizzying heights high register falsetto that was humanly inconceivable and seismically off the Richter scale, insane and unimaginably achievable for my impressionable, pubescent and explorative ears at that time.

I would rewind, replay and imitate any of his falsetto parts with a loud squawk for hours on end until I realised my parents had been yelling “vill ju please shuuut uuup Prem” from downstairs, neighbours banging our bedroom walls with “turn it in’.. will ya!”, my underdeveloped deep voice more confused and abused than ever and my treasured Soul Searching cassette confiscated and hidden once again by my beloved browbeater brother leaving me bereft, blubbering and blue pining for its return back to the tape deck.

I have had the honour and absolute pleasure of sharing this story on a few occasions with Glenn Jones (or ‘The Ambassador of Voice’ as I’ve personally dubbed him) while swilling a few glasses of wine and discussing our favourite vocalist and songs. That on the last occasion, much to my delightful surprise, while rapping new material and then singing an impromptu 'Eye of The Sparrow' acappella backstage at one of his concerts, he serendipitously joined in mid-way all the way to the end until we both finished the very last note together with a jubilant and celebratory hi-five. It was definitely one of the most memorable moments in my life which I’ve jarred forever and cherish.

So this song would without a doubt would be one I’d regularly listen and sing along to on my deserted island and perhaps one with its eardrum piercing ultrasonic falsetto might even invite some unannounced game for me to hunt and feast on! "

Mint Condition - Pretty Brown Eyes

"Mint Condition is unquestionably my best-loved band of all time and will continue to be for many more years to come!

Those who know me well enough and long enough can testify that I’ve always been an ardent die-hard fan, loyal FOOM and staunch supporter of their sound, style, movement and almost underground cult following since their impacting debut “Meant To Be Mint” import album hit our UK shores & specialist stores back in 1991 on Perspective Records.

Their soulful Sheppard and crooning Chieftain; lead singer Stokley Williams is my most influential and revered (‘desert island’) vocalist of vocalist’s… given a choice to be stranded with only one vocalist on our planet, without any hesitation it would definitely be Stokley who I’d select and study under close aural observation and Stroboscopic analysis. His ‘Lyric Tenor’ (G2-G#5 3 Octaves & 1 Semitone) earth, glass & Wurtzite Boron Nitride shattering range, masterly command of pitch, vocal register, resonance, pupil dilating jazz scatting contortionism and breath defying control - coupled with each band member’s musicianship of an authentic animated unfeigned and uncompromising high calibre makes them an unsurpassable SOULsonic force and consummate ensemble yet to be second and reckoned with.

Their eclectic Soul, R&B, Jazz, Rock, Indie, Funk, Salsoul, Hip Hop, Soca sounding gumbo genre they single-handedly created, carved, coined and still cater for salivating Mint-Head’s on bended knees devotees like myself …“served over wild rice with a hint of mint sauce” – (as they so aptly describe it on their 1992 “From The Mint Factory” album’s “Gumbo” interlude). As for “Pretty Brown Eyes”… well it was just the first of their songs I heard that got me hooked in perpetuum after stumbling over it on a quotidian looking half snapped shabby cased TDK D60 muffled sounding cassette mixtape that my Soulboy friend Shyam lent me that he’d acquired from his hometown of Harrow, West London. 

Le reste est de l'histoire!!! "

Gary Taylor - Take Control

"I first discovered Gary Taylor in the fall of 1994 while studying at Kingston University in Surrey. At the time I was dating an overseas fine arts student, Deborah from Trinidad. While she was brushing her canvass and fervently yapping away in her colourfully oscillating thick Trini accent, I had one ear on mute and one eye inconspicuously fixated in the direction of my trustee tape deck’s pause & record button transitorily pressed down with my twitchy index finger by my side stealthily lying in wait on standby mode for any ephemeral soulful gems and bewitching biscuits to appear amongst the irksome and invasive vines of predictable poppycock bubble-gum diluted R’n’B drool that ‘was and still does’plague the radio (commercial compulsory popular playlist driven stations ONLY) for me to advance, attack & claim as a cassette classic.

Low and behold, a bolt from the blue and total game changer came along to literally whisk me off my feet and it took the form and title of 'Take Control'. From the attosecond of its opening signature slow-jam laden much favoured sound, gut winded kick drum & unusually echoed esoteric snare, I remember entering into an instant tunnel vision trance state and leaping off the bed in lightning-speed diving for the pause button like a death-defying goalie about to save a closing penalty shoot-out for the world cup final. The dive was a success (minus a superficial carpet burn to my knee & funny elbow crash into the corner of Deborah’s unforgiving mahogany oak wooden study desk) and I managed to record a momentous song which propelled my love for Soul Music into an even more deep-seated state and riveting realm that has since dictated and governed my sweet-tooth compulsion and passion for “mature meaningful grown-folk adult soul”.

Moreover, in stark contrast to my last two adored and admired vocalists, I find Gary Taylor’s voice to be more gentler, controlled, comforting, cosy, cushiony, affecting, poignant, patient, effortless, subtle, soothing, sensual, spiritual and even hypnotic to the point you forget your even listening to a singer singing a song on a CD, as he reaches so deep inside your own soul that you feel as if the internal monologues of your inner voice inside of you have now been given a vocal cord & tongue that’s managed to crawl from out of your ears and is now sat on the crown of your head audibly narrating the same sentiments your subaqueous sub-consciousness silently shares, thinks, analyses relates and feels, yet seldom ever announces or addresses them in such a categorically evocative, eloquent and articulate way that Mr Taylor manages to. His allusive lyrics, haunting chords,seductive synth effects and uniquely undertone stylised voice are like a 60 minute mawkish soul cleansing shrink session with profound, philosophical, reflective, infectious, mesmerising & uplifting holistic healing qualities that I always benefit from listening to GT. My all-time favourite lyricist/songwriter on planet earth... hands-down! 'Mature Adult Soul' at its very finest of the highest calibre anywhere to be found, heard, experienced and appreciated.

I wholeheartedly thank you and salute you Gary Taylor and let’s hope the long awaited 9th album (8 years in the waiting) 'Acoustic Therapy' is released before I’m stranded without a disc on Bill Fordham’s deserted island that silently awaits me! "

John Klemmer - But Are You Beautiful Inside

"I stumbled upon this stunning and sublime (yet equally sombre and sorrowful) sax solo, again back in the fall of 1994. It was the legendary transatlantic Soul & Funk DJ/Radio Jock Greg Edwards who played this very late into the night on his then ‘The Bridge’ show on Jazz FM. 
All I can succinctly say on this is that every second of John Kelmmer’s saxophone adds up to the sum total of my life thus far. For when I am no more and expire on either home ground soil or the sandy shores of a deserted island, I would wish this and only this to be played in my remembrance as a musical elegy."
The 'Global Music Unites' album featuring Rich Beggar is available through iTunes and you can use the album cover link below to get it from Amazon :
Check out Rich Beggar's Story SOUL Far on Soulstice Radio 24 :
Catch up on the latest and past show podcasts from Prem's Rich Beggar Mixcloud site :
Also, well worth checking out is the Rich Beggar website :

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mark Baxter

My latest guest to be washed ashore on a lonely island in the sea is writer Mark Baxter... a former shop and club owner with a passion for '60s clothing, Tubby Hayes and Millwall Football Club.
Whilst employed in a succession of admin jobs in the newspaper and property industry, Bax has also lead another life as a DJ, event organiser, managing musicians and writer. 

"My mentor in the world of writing is Paolo Hewitt. I first met Paolo properly in 2000. Since then we have collaborated on three books. The first, 'The Fashion of Football', was voted as one of the top 50 football books of all time by 442 magazine. 

Our second book, 'The Mumper', has been made into a feature length film, called 'Outside Bet' which hit the cinemas in the UK on April 27th 2012. Starring Bob Hoskins, Jenny Agutter, Calum MacNab and Phil Davies. Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Our third book was published through Prestel in May 2012 and is called 'The A-Z of Mod' with a foreword by actor Martin Freeman

I have also had a local history book published called 'Walworth Through Time' written with Darren Lock. This looks at the area of SE17, and has sold extremely well locally. A second volume was published in June 2012 and a new third volume is due at the end of 2014

A six month exhibition based on our book The Fashion of Football run at The National Football Museum in Manchester til August 2013.

A new novel called 'Elizabeth, Peter and Me' was published on November 18th 2013 on Mono Media Books."

Tony Bennett - The Best Is Yet To Come

"My exposure to music in the first place, would have been through my dad. On Sunday mornings, he would put on the songs as he got ready to go out for a few pints of the lunchtime and among the tunes I would hear back then ( I was born in 1962)  would be the 'pop' sounds of the mid late 60s, such as The Beatles and Motown with all the stops in between. 

However, he was also a well known pub/club singer in and around South East London where I grew up and he loved the likes of Sinatra/Tony Bennett/Eddie Fisher and especially Nat King Cole. I would often end up at his  venues with him as a kid and was soaked in the standards that he would sing. A group of his pals would always be there and one song that has stuck as a sort of anthem for those days is 'The Best Is Yet To Come' by Tony Bennett, a song I still love and one that reminds me of the old man immediately (Sadly he died in the year 2000).  I constantly thank him for that musical education."

Gladys Knight & The Pips - Giving Up

"I have a distinct memory of running around my school playground in the late 60's singing 'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch' over and over again, and songs like that one and others from the Motown stable still get me every time to this day when I hear them. 

One artist who I'm particularly fond of is Gladys Knight who along with her Pips, made some crackers, one of which I'm having as track two. 'Giving Up' is a song I have seen them do live (from gig in Harlem in 1969 I believe) and everything about it, from the dance routine, to the suits The Pips are wearing, to the vocal performances are different class. Great song too."

The Jam - Butterfly Collector

"By 1979, I was finding myself immersed in the second generation Mod thing. We saw Quadrophenia at the cinema and then I was identifying with the sounds/look and ultimately the lyrics of The Jam. 

Paul Weller became like the older brother I didn't have and I read anything about him in print religiously and through that I picked up on his nods towards other music and his influences, like The Small Faces and The Who. 

When I think back to The Jam though, it isn't the obvious songs I remember however, like 'Going Underground', 'Tube Station' or 'Eton Rifles'. I seem to think more fondly of 'English Rose' and my third choice 'Butterfly Collector'. Clever lyrics that showed a deeper depth and a sign of what was to come from PW in the future."

Tubby Hayes - Dear Johnny B

"I was by now also discovering Jazz and Northern Soul, being often tipped off on a tune by older lads I was now dodging about with and I was buying as much as I could afford. 

I became a member of Ronnie Scott's Club when aged 23 I think and saw many of the jazz greats there and at other venues. People like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey.

Jazz takes care of my third choice and I've gone for a UK player. I just love the sound of our guys. Ronnie Scott himself was a tremendous tenor man. Phil Seaman was an amazing drummer and Stan Tracey was a genius on the piano (please check out 'Starless and Bible Black') But for me the true great to come from these shores is Tubby Hayes. 

I discovered Tubby on a Paul Murphy compilation album in the mid 80s and have steadily bought his vast back catalogue ever since. His ultimate album is 'Mexican Green' and the tune from that, that I used to play at full volume on my early shifts when I was working in a West End mail room is 'Dear Johnny B'. 

I am in the middle of making a documentary on Tubby to coincide with what would have been his 80th birthday in 2015."

Sam Fletcher - I'd Think It Over

"I always love hearing a new Northern track and I heard my final choice when I saw the play 'Once Upon A Time In Wigan' at The Greenwich Theatre a few years ago now. I knew a lot of the tunes in the show, but 'I'd Think It Over' by Sam Fletcher hit me like a bolt out of the blue. I love the simple but oh so plaintive arrangement and the sumptuous strings backing that great vocal. I NEVER grow tired of it."

'Hello, my name's Vinny, Vinny Hawkins. I'm an old man now, in my seventies and live in sheltered housing, but when I was twenty-one in 1962, I was out and about, ducking and diving. One day I was dodging about in Soho back then and bumped into an Italian hotel porter mate of mine who told me about this world famous actress who was well known for being, shall we say, casual with her jewellery. Always leaving it all over the place she was. Anyway, up a drainpipe I go and I managed to get my hands on some of those gems. This was the best result I'd ever had. These beauties were worth a fortune and would be my pension. Only, things then went all wobbly on me. All going well and then bosh! My 'fence' has a death in the family with his old mum passing over and my gems seemingly going with her... I got my collar felt for a previous job that earned me a ten stretch and me and that jewellery parted company. When I left prison, I went straight, then retired and moved in here. But, fifty years later, those gems suddenly became important to me and I need to get my hands on them again. To do it, to get them back will involve grave robbing and cracking a safe, but you know what? I think I can do it... The question is, do you?' 

'Elizabeth, Peter and Me' is published by Mono Media Books and is available from Amazon and other major booksellers...  follow the link below :

Mark continues to PR for Bar Italia, Threadneedle Tailors, Delicious Junction Footwear, Gibson London clothing, John Simons Apparel Company, Gama Clothing, Peckham Rye clothing and Nicholson and Walcot 'Hand Made In London'. He also specialises in Brand awareness through the use of social media on various short term contracts.