V/A - Mr. Scruff's Big Chill Classics
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The album has the characteristic cartoon drawing by Andy (Mr Scruff) Carthy and whimsy subtitle, “Big Up Your Tent”. The queue to get into The Big Chill House was impressively long when he did a seven hour set so this fourteen track selection is only a taster of what he can get up to. Even so there’s a good mix of the underground favourites and hard to find gems to make this more than an average collection.
Tracks like Gary Bartz’s ‘Celestial Blues’ (featuring the ever brilliant vocals of Andy Bey) is such a spiritual jazz classic, it’d be easy to criticise its selection as unimaginative. But that would be hasty as the b-side has two reggae tracks that make you feel so good, you’d think you were at the festival itself.
Added to Fela Ransome Kuti’s (Nigeria 70 period) early recording, ‘My Lady Frustration’ it’d be just as at home at the Equator Sound System session (oh, and don’t forget the African Soul Rebel Tour is upon us soon). There’s a great version of Van Morrison’s ‘Moondance’ and who’d have thought Grady Tate (the jazz drummer) would give Bobby McFerrin a run for his money as a vocalist on this classic jazz dancers?
Nothing particularly Chill you might be saying by now. And you’d be waiting for a Jazzanova off-shout called ‘Extended Spirit’. ‘Illicity Pt.1’ came out in 1998 and from their new offshoot project, Thief you can see they’ve lost none of production genius.
The thing is, the misconception about the Big Chill is that it’s all about Big Chill music. Now we know that’s not true and but Scruff keeps the groove mellow with the “obscure west coast soul folk outfit”, Odyssey and the “hazy” blues hip hop of G Love & Special Sauce. Even the late n’ great funk monkey, Rick James is relaxing in his back garden of love waiting for the sunshine.
The set ends with a guy that Nik Weston is always on hand to big up, the Gothenburg jazz-hip hopster, Ernesto. Perhaps the inclusion here of ‘Devil’s Gotta Run’ will give him a little bit more exposure; checkout his myspace site (see links below).
This is a great album if you’ve got a touch of the winter blues and are looking for some summer warmth. Even better, tickets are on sale for the 2007 Big Chill Festival now to really get you looking forward to summer. Chill out ya big tent.
Hectic Mix nominations — ‘Proverbs’, ‘My Lady Frustration’, ‘Moondance’, ‘Summer Brass (The Same Old Same Old)’, ‘Devil’s Gotta Run’
Reviewed: Various — Mr. Scruff’s Big Chill Classics (Big Chill Recordings) Cat. No. FACTOR 17V (3xVinyl LP) Release date: 2006. Compiled by Mr. Scruff
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