DJ Henry Keen's Top 10News 24 Mar 2023
DJ Henry Keen takes us through ten of his favourite tunes to give a flavour of the music you'll hear during his DJ set at our Visitors' Book Café at Woolwich Works on Saturday 15 April.
I find it impossible to pick a definitive list of my favourite tunes. I have such a diverse collection, made up of many styles, genres or moods - ultimately, if you asked me to pick a top ten, it would vary from day to day or week to week, depending on many factors, such as my mood, the season or weather, time of day or personal circumstances at the time of asking!
So today, I’ve tried to pick ten tracks that are resonating with me right now, from within the general sound palette or selection of genres that I've chosen for my set at Woolwich Works. In no particular order…
1. Miles Davis - In A Silent Way/It’s About That Time
This epic piece is the title track from one of Miles’ most mellow and reflective albums, and features some of my favourite musicians, including Herbie Hancock on electric piano and the late Wayne Shorter on tenor sax.
The listener is taken on an amazing journey, through several moods, and over almost 20 minutes, starting and finishing with the hauntingly beautiful main section which gets me every time.
2. Wayne Shorter - From The Lonely Afternoons
Wayne Shorter is another legend who left us recently. I’ve been listening to his Native Dancer album a lot since his passing. The album has a heavy Brazilian influence, with many of the tracks featuring the words and amazing voice of Milton Nascimento, as well as the rhythms of fellow Brazilian drummer/percussionist Airto Moreira. From The Lonely Afternoons in this context feels both inspiring and bittersweet, melancholy and energetic at the same time.
3. De La Soul - I Am I Be
One of my favourite bands of all time and perhaps the greatest Hip-Hop group in history, De La Soul lost their founding member, Dave Jolicoeur aka Plug 2 last month. I could have picked numerous tracks from any of their amazingly innovative and timeless albums, but today I decided on I Am I Be from their 3rd album, Buhloone Mindstate. This track reminds me of being on the bus to school, listening to it on my walkman and brings back many happy memories, despite the recent sadness of the band’s loss.
4. Erykah Badu - Didn’t Cha Know
Erykah Badu is probably my favourite modern soul artist. Her voice is instantly recognisable and her unique style blends jazz, soul and Hip-Hop seamlessly across her five studio albums.
This track is taken from her second and probably my favourite of her albums Mama’s Gun, released in 2000. The track is produced by J Dilla, my favourite Hip-Hop producer. The track features a sample from the 1977 track Dreamflower by the band Tarika Blue, and was accompanied by a suitably dreamy video on release.
5. Thomas Mapfumo - Shumba
Shumba (or lion in Shona) is probably the most famous track and one of my favourites from the legendary Zimbabwean musician and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo. He pioneered and popularised the Chimurenga (Liberation) style of music, which features modern interpretations of traditional poly-rhythmic Mbira (thumb piano) riffs, played on guitar and set to infectiously repetitive drum grooves.
The power and emotion of this track is undeniable.
6. Arthur Verocai - Na Boca Do Sol
Possibly the most celebrated Brazilian record of all time, Verocai’s classic self-titled album turned 50 last year. I never tire of listening to this record, no matter how many times I’ve heard it and love all the tracks so much.
Sophisticated and psychedelic in equal measure - the sumptuous string parts, and vocals always make my hairs stand up! Today I’ve chosen Na Boca Do Sol (In The Mouth of The Sun in Portuguese) which reminds me of many a happy sunny road trip abroad.
7. Lyn Collins - Think (About It)
This classic from 1972 is one of the greatest and most heavily sampled funk records of all time. The track features Lyn Collins’ incredible voice and empowering lyrics, the J.B.'s band at their funkiest and James Brown’s unmistakeable trademark production. It’s a winning combo and such an influential record. The drum breaks in the instrumental sections of the track have been looped and chopped on countless Hip-Hop and Drum & Bass tracks, many of which I’m lucky to have in my collection.
8. King Tubby meets Roots Radics - London Bridge Special
King Tubby productions always sound incredible. The sound quality on the Dangerous Dub album is up there with his best, particularly how the drums hit in the mix! I’ve chosen the track ‘London Bridge Special’ for it’s obvious geographical relevance, but in truth, he’s been behind so many incredible records that I could have chosen so many.
Tubby was one of those responsible for pioneering the Dub branch of reggae music, using the mixing desk as his own instrument. His approach to sound and creative use of sound effects changed music production worldwide.
9. Minnie Ripperton - Inside My Love
Inside My Love is another incredible soul record from the 70s by an artist with an unforgettable voice, which I first discovered through its sampling in a Hip-Hop record - Lyrics To Go by A Tribe Called Quest.
Minnie was a member of the ground-breaking psychedelic folk/soul band Rotary Connection in the late 60s and also worked as a backing singer for Stevie Wonder before going on to release several solo albums, including 1975’s Adventurers in Paradise, from which this track is taken.
10. Moodymann - Runaway
Runaway is taken from the enigmatic Detroit DJ/Producer’s sought-after album Black Mahogany, released in 2003 via UK electronic label Peacefrog records. On this track, Moodymann skilfully blends live instrumentation and vocals from featured singer Roberta Sweed into a beautifully jazzy dancefloor journey.
I rarely go out to play records without something from him in my bag, especially if I’m hoping to make people move.