Saturday, 27 April 2013


It would be easy to pass Downbeat record shop in the street because it didn't have a shop front of its own so to speak - it was actually located in the basement of a retro clothes store in London.
Once you got down the steep steps you ended up in this brilliant Aladdin's cave of a record shop caught in a 1960's/70's time warp!
It specialised in ska, reggae, and R&B in the main, one of the reasons Mods visited it, but as you can see from the interior shots, it also had blues, disco and jazz rarities in the racks.
As well as the records, the shop had all sorts of amazing pieces of period equipment and artifacts strewn around the place making it seem almost like a living museum!
I took these photos of Downbeat in 2003.
The little ad under the snaps shows its whereabouts.
And to accompany the items I have picked out the "Tighten Up vol 2" LP from my own collection because you'll notice on the 2nd photo that this was one of the covers they had up on the wall.
The album itself, which is a ska-rocksteady styled compilation, is dated 1969, although mine was purchased from a 2nd hand shop around the late 1970's/early 80's.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Mr Bongo started up at the tail end of the 1980's and went on to become very well known in the underground dance music scene, not just in the UK, but worldwide.
In 1998 USA magazine, The Source, featured the shop in an article about UK hip hop, recommending it as one of the best record shops in London.
Mr Bongo would often crop up in Bar-F-Out magazine too because they also had a shop in Japan.
Earl Zinger even managed to name-drop Mr Bongo in his amusing jazzy track "Saturday Morning Rush"!
Anyway, the photo at the top is one I took of the shop in Poland Street in 2002.
Some of the items in the window display include various Biz Markie product, a Mr Complex LP, a Chester P & Farma G Task Force 12, a Non Phixion album, the Wild Style soundtrack, plus posters for their Musica De Futebol album, as well as Pure Salsa and Terry Callier.
You can see from their ads what kind of music they specialised in, and the four I have on display above cover the span of a decade.
The first one dates from 1990, a year after Mr Bongo began in biz, and shows their former address.
Next ad is dated 1995 and highlights some of their Brazilian product.
Underneath that is one from 1997 and displays their Tokyo & London address.
The last one is from 2000 and contains various music styles they indulged in.
Mr Bongo shops closed down in 2003 but they remain online and not only still continue with their own record label but they now also release movies from around the world under the Mr Bongo name.
The last item I have is an album I think they may have felt compelled to release on their own label, the Incredible Bongo Band's "Bongo Rock", an album with a historical connection to B-Boy culture of course.
My copy here is a promo CD version.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


Breakin' Point magazine had a lifespan of 6 years - 1997 to 2003.
It covered the main urban styles of music kicking around on the underground scene - hip hop, drum & bass, jazzy grooves, breaks, reggae, leftfield and so on, as well as dabbling in lifestyle stuff such as the latest movies, computer games and street sports.
The music content appeared in the form of artist profiles, gig reports, clubbing updates and of course lots of pages of record reviews. Then there was the added bonus of the free Breakin' Point compilation CD's, 3 examples of which I have included above - Def Jux, Stones Throw and Tru Thoughts.
To give you an idea of their album review material, I have plucked out a write-up from a 2003 issue for the excellent King Geedorah release "Take Me To Your Leader" out on Big Dada.
Incidentally, the yellow item near the top is a promo sticker they had advertising their website address, an online presence which is no longer on the go.

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Sidewinder wasn't a publication you could buy individually from the magazine racks, it was a supplement dished out every so often in Straight No Chaser mag. As a matter of fact, I think the 3 above may have been the only ones that made up the series. If there were any others then I haven't seen them.
Anyway, the idea behind them was to focus on a certain part of the world and give the lowdown on what was happening musically in their underground dancefloor scene.
So the 3 at the top are USA (1991) - Japan (1993) - South Africa (1995).
Extracting a couple of playlists from the USA issue as an example of the contents, here we have the top tunes that were going down at Soul Sauce at Downey's in Philadephia with DJ's King Britt & Jeff Natt. Meanwhile, over in New York, DJ Smash was blasting out his hot selection at Giant Step at the Groove Academy.
To accompany the items I have plucked out a record from my own shelves that appears on both playlists - Snowboy's single "Give Me The Sunshine" being the choice in NYC and the flip side "El Nuevo Latino" the favoured tune in Philly.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Venue magazine started up in the early 80's and was a What's On guide similar to London's "Time Out" but catered for the South-West region. Bristol was its main centre of activity but it also included nearby towns such as Bath, Gloucester, Swindon and a couple of others.
Along with the regular cinema reviews, theatre life, art galleries, local events and so on, music was high on their agenda with lots of coverage in the form of interviews, gig reports, clubbing updates and record releases.
The magazine kept going for 30 years, up until as recently as 2012 in fact, when they stopped the mag format but retained the online version.
The cover at the top dates from 1991 and in this particular issue, not only was there an advert for Massive Attack's "Blue Lines" debut album, there was also a review of it - getting a thumb's up on their home turf.
This was also the time when the band ditched the word Attack from the group name for a short while and the ad above shows this change, while my cassette of it is a reminder that they did of course use the full Massive Attack wording on the album cover.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


"Big Daddy" first hit the magazine shelves back in 1999 and was in circulation for 4 years approximately.
Its main coverage was the independent hip-hop scene and so the mag was loaded with record & label info, historical old school stuff alongside the latest hot produce, artist profiles & interviews, charts & playlists, not to mention showcasing lifestyle items like graffiti, computer games, fashion and so on.
Big Daddy championed other music styles associated with hip-hop too, which meant lots of articles on funk, soul, reggae, latin and leftfield experimental types - all were thrown into the mix.
The magazine cover at the top dates from 2002 and contained a feature on the history of cut 'n' paste.
Some issues of Big Daddy came with a free CD and the item under the cover is one such freebie that came in a later issue in 2002, a compilation called "The Showstopper".
Finally, highlighting that there was more than hip-hop that cropped up in the magazine, here is a full page ad from an issue dating from 2001 for a reggae compilation album called "Studio One Rockers" released on Soul Jazz Records, and the CD to go with it is out of my collection.

Friday, 12 April 2013


Hailing from Madrid in Spain, "Enlace Funk" magazine first appeared in 1996.
Although it is heavily into funk (both the original 70's and the latest contemporary variety) it also touches on various other music styles that come into contact with funk, such as jazz, soul, hip hop, latin and so on.
The cover at the top here dates from 2006 when they were celebrating their 10th anniversary.
Inside this particular issue marking their tenth year, they featured all sorts of "Top Tens" - for example their top ten Jazz albums, top ten Brazilian albums, top ten music books, top ten record labels etc.
So to give you an idea, I have included 2 pages above that contain their top ten bizarre record covers from the soul scene.
The cover in the No1 position is the 1973 Skull Snaps LP and to go with it is my vinyl copy, which is, as you can see, a gatefold sleeve.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


There are plenty of articles on the Internet about the history of UK radio station, Jazz FM, therefore I won't need to delve into that aspect here, so most of the items above relate more to their magazine.
At the very top however, are 2 cuttings that contain news about the launch of Jazz FM in 1990 - the one on the left is from Echoes music paper and the one on the right is out of Straight No Chaser magazine.
Jazz FM magazine started up around the same time as the radio launch and the cover above was their very first issue. Needless to say it consisted of lots of artist profiles, lots of record reviews, gig reports, tour dates, along with a few other features such as a historical overview called "Century Of Jazz".
Their radio station was also given quite a high profile in the mag of course, and the item under the cover is a sample of their first radio schedule that had the likes of Gilles Peterson doing a 4 hour Saturday afternoon spot.
An example of the kind of record review they had in the first issue was the one featured here - "The Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love" released on Caliente.
The album came out the same time as the book and both were reviewed in the mag, with the album getting a much better write-up than the novel, as you can read for yourself.
I didn't bother with the book but did end up getting the LP on vinyl which is the final item above.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


Grooves was an import magazine from the USA that cropped up on the scene at the tail end of the 1990's and continued through to the mid 2000's.
It specialised in electronic music of varying styles - from experimental to dancefloor and so content consisted of pages & pages of record reviews, gig reports, artist profiles and record label overviews. Along with this it also included other bits & pieces of related material such as DVD releases and lowdown on the latest computer software.
Although Grooves ceased publication of the magazine in 2005, it didn't disappear off the radar, it simply just moved onto become an online presentation.
The top image is the cover of the very last issue of Grooves in magazine format.
Under it is an example of a typical record review, this one coming from the same issue.
Accompanying it I have grabbed a copy of the reviewed album out of my collection - this being the CD release of Caro's "The Return Of Caro".