Digger’s Island Discs explores the collections of Leeds’ most prolific vinyl slingers and groove bringers to present us with the records they could not live without. This time, Barry’s Here, DJ of all things soul, folk, jazz, and hip hop, is tasked with picking five discs of bravery and courage.
Carl Weathers – That’s Love Calling
I find it hard to think of anything on this earth braver than a heavyweight boxer who also spent time in the boonies battling an invisible force from another planet. Sadly, this gallant soul carked it, on both occasions.
I am talking of course about Carl Weathers. He played Rocky Balboa’s nemesis turned friend Apollo Creed in the boxing saga, getting his clock permanently cleaned by Dolph Lundgren in IV. If that wasn’t enough in the courage department, he then picked himself up, dusted himself down and decided to have a crack at the Predator. Things didn’t work out too well for Carl there either.
So who could blame him if he wanted to take a little down time and record this modern soul stomper, dance floor fuel with horns to take the enamel off your teeth. As far as I can tell this is his only solo release but he packs plenty of fire into it, with just the right amount of synthy cheese. Worth a check but steer clear of the A-side, it blows.
Nina Simone – Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter
When you get to Nina Simone it’s hard to pick a favourite track, as her voice and personality added something essential and painful to nearly everything she sang. As an artist, Nina lent her talent and standing to the civil right movement in the ‘60s, a brave decision at the time of such unrest, and one which she didn’t back down from.
Nina’s popularity was on the wane in the ‘70s and this track, off the 1974 ‘It Is Finished’ LP, is right smack bang in that period. Originally sung by Ike and Tina Turner, Nina makes the track her own.
Riding over an almost tribal percussion sound, her beautiful voice thickens throughout, almost cracking as the hypnotic rhythm builds to a dead stop. Gone is the rich funk of the original as Nina pares the track down to something unique. Sparse and slightly sinister.
Esther Phillips – Home Is Where The Hatred Is
Another cover, this time of the mighty Gil Scott-Heron. Now I am a huge Gil fan, but in this case I think Esther has trumped him. Both of these formidable artists battled with addiction, with Esther dying, aged only 48, in 1984 due to complications connected with long-term drug abuse.
When Esther sings this track, taken from her storming LP ‘From A Whisper to a Scream’, you can feel a real sadness in her voice, a resignation to what has been and what is to come. The voice of someone who has personally seen how much damage drugs can do.
This is a beautiful track. Esther’s voices always smashes it but she owns this song, backed by an incredible band. It is drenched in strings and totally cinematic on the ears.
Donovan – Season Of The Witch
Hands down, witches are scary; not up there with hipster ghosts or the thing from The Thing, but they have their place in the fear factory. Think Blair, Wicked and Eastwick.
So when tousle-haired troubadour Donovan decides to tackle the issue head-on you can only admire his pluck. Obviously this a very tenuous link (wait till you see the next one!) to fit the bravery brief, but however you get there you won’t be disappointed…
He wrote a lot of great stuff Donovan, and lets be clear, some total duffers in his time. But, in my mind, he could have got up one morning, boshed this absolute ocean liner of a tune out and disappeared, never to be heard from again, and he would have still had an amazing career.
Creeps along beautifully and works well with some swirling organ in there as well. Don’t have a clue what the lyrics mean, if anything, but who cares.
Patsy Cline – Walkin’ After Midnight
Country singer Patsy Cline wasn’t afraid of anything, and an evening constitutional well into the witching hour didn’t even rattle her.
That is all I have for this one.
I’d never really listened to her music before but I heard this on an episode of the Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan and have loved it ever since. It would fit perfectly into a James Elroy novel, just when something really horrible happens.