Oyster Playlist: Greg Wilson
He tells us his top 15 early 80s tracks.
Two decades out of the game can be a harsh reality for many musicians and DJs, but not for Greg Wilson. This cosmic force of electro-funk floor fillers hasn't skipped a beat in the near four decades he's been spinning discs, and now he'll be touring Australia starting on 2 March. To celebrate, he put together a bunch of his top 15 80s tunes for us, and shared his encyclopedic music knowledge by writing a bit about each track.
1. 'Planet Rock' — Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force
The record that changed everything! Planet Rock literally re-defined dance music. It was dismissed by soul purists at the time, due to its obvious Kraftwerk blueprint, but nowadays is acknowledged as one of the pivotal releases of the 20th century.
2. 'Clear' — Cybotron
Regarded as the first techno single, this Juan Atkins/Rick Davis track might have come out of Detroit, but what's not often mentioned is that its remixer, Jose 'Animal' Diaz, was immersed in New York electro and, as such, this was originally played as an electro release.
3. 'You're The One For Me' — D Train
Nowadays viewed as a disco standard, when this 12" first came over on import it stood apart from all the other club tunes of the time, heralding a new, and soon to be much imitated, direction for dance music.
4. 'The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel' — Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
What can you say? Simply one of the most influential records ever committed to vinyl! As a masterclass of cut and scratch it's still unparalleled.
5. 'The Message' — Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Rap music well and truly came of age with this release. This time Flash only played a supporting role, with rapper Melle Mel to the fore, setting new standards for a genre that had previously been more concerned with rocking the party than poignant social commentary.
6. 'Dirty Talk' — Klein and M.B.O.
The groove around which New Order based their classic 'Blue Monday'. Nowadays revived as Italo disco, but back then it was very much regarded as pure raw electro and first played in clubs like Manchester's Legend and Wigan Pier.
7. 'Hard times/Love Action' — The League Unlimited Orchestra
From the brilliant Human League Dare remix album, Love And Dancing, producer Martin Rushent is at his creative best. It perfectly illustrates how the British Futurist movement would help inspire the oncoming electro era.
8. 'Tee's Happy' — North End
An Early Arthur Baker co-production. Throughout the following year, Arthur Baker would become one of the biggest names on the scene, producing truly revolutionary tracks like 'Planet Rock' and 'Walking On Sunshine' by Rockers Revenge. The vocal side was called 'Happy Days', but the instrumental was renamed in homage to New York Better Days DJ, Tee Scott, who mixed the track.
9. 'Don't Make Me Wait' — Peech Boys
A seminal Larry Levan recording, which inspired a new dub-based approach to dance music. The vocal is by Bernard Fowler, who later became a member of Tackhead. The US 7" version also included what's been cited as the first acappella pressed specifically for DJ use.
10. 'Boogie's Gonna Get Ya' — Rafael Cameron
Shep Pettibone is generally associated with Salsoul mixes of the period, but this was done by another legendary name, Francois Kevorkian, who, alongside people like Pettibone, Larry Levan, Tony Humphries, Tee Scott and 'Jellybean' Benitez, took remixing to new levels of innovation during this hybrid age.
11. 'Riot In Lagos' — Ryuichi Sakamoto
Way ahead of the game! Sakamoto, formerly of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, released this unique record in 1980, but it wasn't until the electro scene began to emerge a few years later that it really came into its own, having been revived in the black clubs.
12. 'Thug Rock' — Sandy Kerr
Nowadays ultra-rare, this sublime groove was an underground classic back in the day and is now achieving cult status all over again, over two decades on. Based around a Brit-funk release called 'Give Me' by I Level, which was remixed in the US by John Luongo.
13. 'Thanks To You' — Sinnamon
From the prolific production and songwriting partnership of Eric Matthew and Darryl Payne, this Shep Pettibone mixed dance opus was huge in the specialist clubs. The duo were also behind other influential tracks, including Electrik Funk's 'On A Journey (I Sing The Funk Electric)' and Sharon Redd's 'Beat The Street'.
14. 'Love Money' — Tw Funkmasters
A British release, originally issued in 1980 on the Tania label, that would provide something of a missing link in the evolution of both New York and Chicago dance music. The champagne version, from the label's Re-Mixture — The Best Of UK Jazz-Funk EP, is the definitive one.
15. 'The Music Got Me' — Visual
A perfect example of proto-house from 1983. The term 'House' might have derived from The Warehouse in Chicago, but New York provided the inspiration. It was co-produced by Timmy Regisford and mixed by Tony Humphries.
Greg Wilson Australian Tour Dates:
Saturday 2 March — The Soda Factory, Sydney
Sunday 3 March — Coniston Lane, Brisbane
Thursday 7 March — Metro City, Perth
Sunday 10 March — New Guernica, Melbourne
You can also check out this mix Greg made for more 80s excellence: