27.05.15

The 10 best ’60s dance party 45s, according to Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian have had a remarkable career over the nearly 20 years that they've been together. Over nine studio albums – and some equally revered EPs – they've developed an enormous and dedicated audience, attained an iconic status within indie music, and earned a place in history as one of Scotland's biggest musical exports.

The strong relationship that they have with their fans probably comes down to the fact that Belle & Sebastian are themselves fans of music – they understand how their audiences think, because they think that way themselves. Take, for example, The Bowlie Weekender, the festival they curated in 1999, which saw the group invite a mixture of influences and contemporaries (including The Pastels, Sleater-Kinney, The Flaming Lips, The Divine Comedy, Broadcast, and cult punk legend Vic Godard) to perform at Pontins Holiday Camp. The event was a precursor to another totemic indie festival, the All Tomorrow's Parties weekenders.

As such, we're happy to have the band on board to curate a selection for our popular 'The 10 best' series. Following the release of their latest album 'Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance' earlier this year, and before the band perform at Spanish alternative music festival Primavera Sound, founding member Chris Geddes has contributed a guide to some of his favourite dance 45s.

"My favourite style of music to play while DJing is a mixture of '60s garage and psych, Northern soul, and gritty early funk," explains Geddes over email, "Here's 10 top tunes from my current DJing box."

01. Eddie Bo & the Soul Finders We're Doing It (Thang)

Chris Geddes: "The record I've waited longest to find an original copy of. I became obsessed by the combination of New Orleans second-line breakbeat drums and fuzz and wah-wah guitar on hearing it back in the mid-'90s on a bootleg compilation."

02. Lee Moses Reach Out, I'll Be There

Chris Geddes: "Rocking cover of the Four Tops classic, with more breaks, fuzz guitar and great vibes and hammond organ work. As a bonus, the other side gives give The Beatles' Day Tripper the same treatment."

03. Ernie & the Top Notes Inc. Dap Walk

Chris Geddes: "In early-to-mid-'90s, I'd been going to a few clubs where I'd heard music that really captivated me, sounding like James Brown but far more raw. One was in Colchester at the Arts Centre, just called Acid Jazz I think, and the other was Divine at the Art School after I moved up to Glasgow. I'd started buying compilations with the word 'funk' in the title in the hope of finding similar stuff, but a lot of them were wide of the mark; too clean and '70s-sounding. 

"Then one appeared called 'Keb Darge's Legendary Deep Funk', and that was it – the sound I'd been looking for. Turned out Keb was a Scot, who'd been a top Northern Soul DJ in the '80s and was now doing a night in a strip club in London playing these amazing heavy sounds he'd previously dismissed as 'shite'. So a few trips down to London to hear him spin were taken, and when this tune off his comp appeared for cheap on a Northern Soul dealers list, I grabbed one. So did Andrew Divine, and we've both been playing it ever since. It has the best spoken intro of any record ever, and reworks Archie Bell and the Drells' Tighten Up rhythm to great effect. So raw you can hear the squeaky kick drum pedal on the breaks."

04. Chris Clark Love's Gone Bad

Chris Geddes: "Unusually for Motown, Chris Clark was a white singer, and Holland-Dozier added some garage rock touches to the usual motown production (fuzz guitar and farfisa organ instead of strings and brass) to come up with a tune that flopped at the time, but sounds just right for the mod clubs now."

05. Roz Ryan You're My Only Temptation

Chris Geddes: "Maybe a bit slow for the mods, this one, but I've recently been obsessed by the brand of soul music know as Lowrider Oldies, as spun by the Southern Soul Spinners in Los Angeles. Their radio show on Dublab is essential listening. One of the crew, Josh Whittemore, played an absolutely blinding set of soul 45s at our recent show in Pomona, including this gem."

06. The Mandels Think Back

Chris Geddes: "And slowing it down even further, this beauty epitomises the Oldies sound, with the guitar high in the mix, heavy rhythm, and sweet group harmony vocals."

07. The Poets Baby Please Don't Do It

Chris Geddes: "Scotland's finest '60s beat group doing a frantic, reverb soaked cover of Marvin Gaye's anguished Motown classic? Yes please!"

08. Hunger! Mind Machine

Chris Geddes: "Amazing organ work, drum breaks, and drug-related lyrics make this Oregon obscurity the perfect psych-rock dance record. Extra marks for the exclamation mark in the name!"

09. Delphine La Fermeture Eclair

Chris Geddes: "A french female vocal rework of the American garage band We The People's In The Past, which was also covered by The Chocolate Watchband. This version gets extra murky, so is my favourite of course."

10. Larry Williams & Johnny Watson with The Kaleidoscope Nobody

Chris Geddes: "Maybe the ultimate psych-soul crossover record, this sees the two well established R&B stars team up with a West Coast psych-folk band, with predictably great results. If only there had been an album. Johnny 'Guitar' Watson had been cutting R&B records since the mid-'50s, and with Larry Williams, The Two W's Too Late is an all-time Northern Soul classic, which fortunately appears with this on the flip of its Dutch single release."

Belle & Sebastian play Primavera Sound, taking place in Barcelona from May 27th to May 30th 2015 (tickets).