Here's a good one for the weekend. James Lavelle has compiled a playlist of music from the club that he used to run with Gilles Peterson down at Bar Rumba in London. It's that time when soul, funk and anything with some bottom end went together with the new sounds coming through from Massive, Major Force, Mo' Wax and more. It was a melting pot of sound and if there was ever a jazz version of balearic beat this might have been it. I remember hearing 'Strangers' by Portishead for the first time in that basement. It was one of those musical moments that you never forget. A mind-blowing record gets the reaction it deserves. If you can't remember that track it's below but it was made for a dancefloor that had it going on. It wasn't built for it I am sure but it just so happened that a record that kicks from the start then goes into a one minute vocal break before the drums kick back in was just perfect for that place. The place literally jumped.
Here's Gilles in The Wire in 2019 talking about the club and what made it special...
"It was a club on a Monday in London. I mean, Shaftesbury Avenue, inside the Trocadero. It was a club that I started up with James Lavelle at the time. So we’re talking about sort of mid-to-late 90s. And it was an amazing period of time for both of us in terms of where we were at as people making music or being connected to people making music at that time. You can talk about the beginnings of Mo’ Wax, the golden period of Talkin’ Loud, the magic of drum ’n’ bass, the growth of groups like Massive Attack and Portishead, the scene in Japan. The art scene coming out of the graffiti, New York, post-hiphop and the beatmakers. All of this is happening in this glorious period where you’re beginning to get the influence of the style magazines and Britain is slightly obsessed by Britpop, which is great because we’re kind of in the shadow of that.
The music coming out of this is really significant and powerful. Suddenly you’ve got an element of confidence in British music. And that’s what’s weird about it being on a Monday night, we wanted it to be the hardcore. That’s why I put it on a Monday, the worst night of the week. You went down the steps and there was just this big sound and dark room. We just had to have little jam sessions as well. The Roots, Björk, Bono would all come down. But at the end of the day, James and I would be just be playing all this music. And we were the only ones who would have had it because we were releasing it. You know, DJ Krush records, The Roots records, drum ’n’ bass, Roni Size. I’d come in with dubplate platter of “Brown Paper Bag” then James would come in with a DJ Shadow album, then a Richie Hawtin remix of La Funk Mob or I’d come in with “Bug In The Bass Bin” by Carl Craig.
Then suddenly there’d be “Strangers” by Portishead, or some new, unreleased Massive Attack stuff. People would come to this club because that was where they would hear both James and me playing this music on acetate. We could afford to buy acetate because we were DJing and we had our own record labels. So we were cutting our own plates and almost having a bit of a competition between us. And so this is just the explosive time.
When [Shadow’s music] was released, it was another absolutely humongous record. He was just joining the dots between what we loved about instrumental hiphop productions, with a more experimental, digger mentality to how he was going about his productions. And obviously he’s one of the most highly regarded producers of all time."
Here's the playlist. Quality through and through...
Shout to Mark Nightingale for the heads up. Photography by Peter Williams.