March 1998 and I’m over in Dublin for a DJ gig. My flight arrived from Heathrow and I’d spent the last couple of days (between DJ gigs) in serious record buying mode having spent many hours in some of London’s finest vinyl boutiques. There used to be a jazz and blues store near to Covent Garden and I wandered in at the end of the mission to be told they were closing and if I knew what I wanted they could serve me but ‘it’s too late for browsing” The music playing in the shop as I entered was a total revelation. A bluesy piano led, funky 60s instrumental which made my hair (yes I had some once!) stand on end.I immediately said “I want THIS! What is it? It’s amazing!”
“It’s this” said the man in the shop and he showed me the LP sleeve . “How much is it?” I asked .
“It’s an original copy …£50 to you” Well, I’d never paid more than £25 for a record before, 95% of my DJ gigs were house but I was becoming a collector ( I believe this to be the start of me doing more of that kind of thing) but I was in LOVE. “can you play it again?”
“Wellllll….. we are closing, but ok…. It’s this one… it’s called Coffee Cold” The second listen completely had me in bits so I paid the man, added it to my impressive record/carrier bag collection. I took a cab to Paddington where my DJ flight case and bags were, and caught the train to the airport.
Arriving in Dublin , I was met by the promoter who took me to my hotel and recommended we eat at the restaurant next door as the food was very good and they played good music too. That suits me I thought. Anyway, after eating there was a DJ playing excellent music. He looked in his 50s, maybe older but he was playing some great 60s sounds , The Small Faces, The Peddlers he played Rain by The Beatles , and one of my favourite records from my childhood, Cast Your Fate To The Wind by Sounds Incorporated . I wandered over to say hello and asked him if he knew any Galt Macdermot.
“wasn’t that the fella who did Hair?” shot back a croaky Irish brogue.
“erm… I don’t know” (at the time I didn’t) “maybe…” Anyway, I scampered back to my hotel and grabbed the Shapes Of Rhythm LP and got him to play “Coffee Cold” and it became one of my all time favourite pieces of music right there. They say 3 is the magic number and on the third listen I was convinced this was a work of genius.
Galt Macdermot was indeed the fella who did Hair . This 1965 album was the first of several I’d own. I discovered one of my heroes, Bernard Purdie (legendary session drummer) via this and it’s a brilliant listen . Lady You Look Good To Me , swings in a ‘Hang On Sloopy’ style with Macdermot driving home his boozy piano chops in a punchy but sophisticated pop style while Spanish Nights showcases his electric piano alternative with an almost classical baroque jazz approach , all mellow and quirky key changes which is a regular feature of his unique playing. M’babam is a short, strident dance number with Purdie’s effortless snare snap showing why he’s one of the world’s greatest drummers. I’m Through With You takes a frivolous theme and wraps it up neatly in cute phrasing which belies the skill and touch on display. Marsh Gas rides ‘Pretty’ Purdie’s clickety click rimshot and snare pattern with more beautifully inebriated acoustic piano. Galt’s left hand brilliantly sculpting a bass loop while the right punctuates with rhythmic authority the kind of complex chord structures , one can only dream of playing.
The absolute diamond in the pack remains Coffee Cold. Sampled famously by Prince Paul on the Handsome Boy Modelling School album track The Truth ( featuring the vocals of Roisin Murphy no less) It’s one of the most beautiful and plaintiff pieces of music ever made and you need to hear it now.