Der englische DJ Greg Belson ist vor einigen Jahren nach Amerika
ausgewandert, um näher am Ursprung seiner geliebten Musik zu sein.
Ausgehend vom Funk und Soul ist er beim Gospel gelandet und in dem
Bereich eine Autorität geworden. In seiner monatlichen Radiosendung
„The Divine Chord Gospel Show" auf dublab.com
spielt er, seit 2011, seine Entdeckungen und demonstriert die ganze
Bandbreite der Gospelmusik, von Rhythm’n’Blues bis Disco. Auf seiner
ausgedehnten Europa-Tournee kommt er auch nach Zürich und beehrt, zum
ersten Mal, das Helsinki mit seinen Originalschallplatten. Auch für Atheisten ein himmlischer Hörgenuss! ***
Ich habe ihm ein paar Fragen gestellt: (und er hat ausführlich geantwortet;)
What's your name?
Where are you from?
Kingston Upon Thames, just outside of
South London, England.
What are you doing?
I’m a full time vinyl digger, record
dealer and DJ specializing in rare soulful recordings. I’m currently on my
European Tour for 2015, taking in over 50 dates around the UK, Germany, Spain,
Italy & Switzerland.
Who influenced you musically?
I have potentially many musical moments
that I could list as influential….if I had to narrow it down to a single
artist’s body of work, it would have to be Mr Gil Scott Heron. His voice,
delivery, personality and what he stood for as a human being, are truly
inspirational to me. But I could list the work of jazz drummer Art Blakey, the
production technique of Charles Stepney, the beautiful vocal styles of Minnie
Riperton & Althea Davis, the craftsmanship of Terry Callier, the break
through sound of golden era hiphop and likewise drum ‘n’ bass. If I hear
something that touches my heart and soul, then I add it to my ever growing list
What was your first record?
The first record I bought with my own
money was Adam & the Ants ‘Ant music’ 45 in 1980. I was 9 years old.
What are your favorite records at the
Right now, I simply adore the work of
the Little Shadows, a gospel group out of Florida. Their 45 on the Mission
label ‘On judgement day’ is one I’ll take to my grave. For DJ’ing, the rare
soul crowd enjoy Pervis Herder’s ‘Honkey tonk junk’ on Inner Ear, just as much
as I love playing it. And for the gospel disco clubs, Betty Griffin’s ‘Free
spirit’ on Mopres always raises a smile. I’ve been listening a lot to downtempo
beats again recently, and have a passion for Massive Attacks ‘Protection mixed
by Brian Eno on the Wild Bunch label, and also Kathy Diamond’s self-released
‘Miracles just might’. Sometimes you just need to unwind, y’know!
What's your best digging story?
This particular digging story goes back
to the early 90’s, just before Keb Darge launched the infamous dance night
‘Deep Funk’. London clubland was vibrant and rich with so many superb sessions
to choose from; ‘Quiet Storm’ @ Ormonds, ‘Talkin’ Loud’ at The Fridge, The Pig
in Chancery Lane….the list was seemingly endless. One such session I used to
frequent every Thursday at The Wag was called ‘Leave my wife alone’…..a night
routed in Acid Jazz, but over two legendary floors, it was so much more. This
is where I first met Mr Darge, playing behind a high riser DJ booth that you
had to stand on a chair to look into it. Out of all the regular jocks that spun
there (Bunny, Xavier, Russ K and suchlike), Keb’s brand of raw 60’s soul and
funk with a hard hitting back beat is what appealed to me the most.
Tracks that went on to become Deep Funk
classics all got an outing at ‘Leave my wife alone’; in many ways, it was an
essential session for me. Hearing such awesome club oriented music in one of
London’s if not the Worlds iconic venues, has helped shape my approach to my DJ
sets today. And to give you an idea of the kind of cuts that were making the
grade back in ’92 - ’93, here’s a little rundown of heavy hitters, all played
on original 45.
King Midas & the Mufflers ‘Tramp’
Bill “Butter Ball” Crane ‘Stepin’ tall
part 2’ (Key)
Leonard King & the Messengers ‘The
Shelley Fisher ‘I’ll leave you (girl)’
Third Guitar ‘Baby don’t cry’ (Rojac)
Mr Percolater ‘Got a thing for you baby’
Tenison Stephens ‘Don’t rip me off’
Sounds of the City ‘Stuff and thangs’
(Sounds of the City)
Al White & the Hi-Liters ‘Noise with
the boys’ (Tune-Kel)
There was one particular record though
that Keb played every week that instantly struck a chord with me. Right from
the get go, the intro screamed ‘Get on the dancefloor’…..onto a heavy blues
oriented funk instro riff…..some hoopin’ & holler’…..and a bunch of breaks.
Very tasty breaks.
I had to know what this dancefloor
destroyer was the very first moment I heard it, so I shuffled up to the
turntables to learn the goods. It was a sad moment to see Keb had covered up
the label and wasn’t telling anyone the true identity of the tune. Week after
week I tried to find out the artist, and week after week I was shoed away with
a quick glance of the 45, still with the cover-up label attached. Covering up
has been practiced for years and originally came to prominence during the
reggae soundclash golden era, where each Sound System would often scratch off
the label or simply cover it up with some different artwork etc. When you’re
doing battle for musical supremacy, exclusivity is part and parcel of keeping
your set original, and originality will tip the odds to your favour. C/U’s,
used as an abbreviation, were also adopted by the Northern Soul scene within
the UK, and that’s where Keb got into the habit of hiding the identities of his
Thursday rolled around one more time,
and it just so happened that I was heading off to the United States the next
day on a two week buying trip. I bugged Keb again about this record that I only
knew as ‘The Cranberry’ funk instro 45 (check out the clip to find out why),
and mentioned about my trip Stateside. My luck was in that night…..Keb took the
label off and showed me the artwork. Yessir….finally…..the track with all the
beats that made me airdrum in the club and had me shoutin’ ‘James Brown’s been
around!’…..was by The Golden Toadstools, called ‘Silly savage’ on the Minaret
label. During the unveiling, Keb looked at me and said, ‘There ya go laddy,
find me some of those!!’ Armed with the info, I hit the Midwest and got
We ended up in St. Louis, having a look
around Electric Ladyland Records….finding a few pieces, but nothing mind
blowing. I got to the checkout desk where a portly ginger haired gent was
manning the till. The guy looked straight out of Woodstock with a 60’s style
haircut, round rim glasses and sporting a vintage gig tee shirt. He decides to
mention that he’s got a basement full of records that I could look through,
after he shuts up shop. We arrange a time, confirm the location, and it’s on!
His house was out in the ‘burbs, but
looks safe enough…..the basement on the other hand, was pretty harsh. In the
corner stood a dysfunctional slightly smashed toilet throwing out an
interesting aroma…..two of the hairiest cats known to man paraded the floors
and the records, coating most of the discs in cat hair, and areas of the floor
in yacked up fur balls. It wasn’t exactly hazmat territory, but everything was
handled with kid gloves, to say the least.
I get into a lane and find a coupla
things, move across to the second stack, and much the same…..and then it was
onto the middle of the rack. Yeah, go time…..I find one glorious copy of The
Golden Toadstools, minty fresh, purple label stocker. Today was a good day!
Then I flipped past a few more also rans, and stumbled on another copy…..hearts
fluttering. I’ve got two copies of Keb’s cover up!! I keep flipping and copy
number 3 lifts its head, then 4, and onto 5…..I ended up bagging 14 copies. And
the nice little cherry on the cake was a minty demo of Jackson Sisters ‘I
believe in miracles’ on Prophesy at the end of the lane, just to confirm what a
great hit it had been. Then the nerves kicked in…..what was he gonna charge me
for all these? I mean, it’s a huge disc in the UK right now, so surely it’s
gonna break my bank. Nope….2 bucks a piece, and the guy asked ‘Ya’ll need some
more copies of The Golden Toadstools?’ in a thick Alabama drawl. I said ‘Yeah’
but for some reason, we never returned. I just paid pronto and got out of dodge
with the feeling in my stomach that I’d just come up big!
When I arrived back in the UK, I told
him the news over the phone…..which was greeted with a mighty ‘F*ckin’ hell!!
I’ll have those off you!!’ The next day, I drove to Keb’s with 10 copies and we
hammered out a huge trade with him offering me some fantastic (and expensive
45’s) that I still own today. He went on to sell and trade his copies for
undisclosed sums around the globe. Today, you can find a copy of The Golden
Toadstools fairly easily for around $40 mint, but in the early 90’s, this
record commanded some serious attention. A perfect example of right time right
place, and a dig that I’ll always remember that given the context, was quite
possibly my greatest single 45 come-up ever!
What's your favorite format? LP,
When I first started collecting, it was
all about LP’s…..now it’s really 45’s, but I still love a good dig around the
What are your 10 alltime favorites?
Eugene McDaniels ‘Headless heroes of the
apocalypse’ (Atlantic) LP
Gil Scott Heron ‘Winter in America’
(Strata East) LP
What's your most memorable dj gig?
I’m lucky enough to be part of the Block
9 crew who operate a fantastic field at the legendary Glastonbury Festival,
once a year. Every year I DJ at the NYC Downlow stage, it always ends up being
my standout gig of the year. Hot, sweaty, smiling happy faces, all dancing to
100% gospel disco…..some of the most uplifting music to ever hit the
turntables. It’s a beautiful setting, run by some of the most beautiful people
in the business. Honest and pure, and that’s not often the case, these days.
What's the best concert you ever went
That would be hands down the first ever
entire JB’s Family Reunion, at London’s Town & Country Club in 1987. All
the classic band were right there on stage with the exception of Bootsy
Collins….Marva Whitney, Lyn Collins & Vicky Anderson, with Bobby Byrd
conducting the whole show. And what topped it off nicely for me, was getting a
big hug from Vicky Anderson, mid-show. They played live for close to four
hours, just loving the moment. Unforgettable gig.
Where & with who would your dream
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, backed by Jimi
Hendrix, John Entwistle & Mitch Mitchell….plus a bunch of other ‘super
group’ style acts, all voiced by gospel artists. Who knows if it would work,
but I’d have a lotta fun organizing it and finding out. Somewhere secluded,
like Richard Branson’s ‘Necker Island’ or suchlike. With a PA rig the size of
small country…..yeah, something like that.
What's your favorite food & drink?
When I’m in the UK, my favorite food is
always served up at the best Curry House in Surbiton, Surrey….The Red Rose.
I’ve been visiting this place for over 25 years…..just so good! I’m not really
much of a ‘drink’ person, to be honest. Just recently discovered a beverage
called ‘Opihr’….it’s a spiced gin that’s very tasty mixed with tonic water,
when the mood strikes.
Any words of advice?
Be confident in your own taste and don’t
follow too much what others say might be a good record. Listen to it f’sure,
but base your opinion on your own judgement. Music is a very personal journey
and it’ll be a different experience for everybody reading this piece. Make it
yours and don’t ever second yourself into saying something that you like, when
it’s really not to your taste. Listen to your heart, mind and soul….the rewards