So, 2014 is nearly done and once again, the releases came at such a rate that we’ve barely had time to draw breath, let alone sit back and congratulate ourselves on another year of putting out Real Music For Real People…
That’s why we enjoy this little tradition of posting the annual ‘staff picks’ from our own catalogue… it forces us to sit back, relax and start playing through some of that incredible music that we’ve released into a harsh world in the last year.
Don’t think it’s easy … Team BBE can be riven with hissy-fits and sulkiness for a couple of days as personal favourites are out-voted, over-ruled or ruled out over technicalities (e.g. the member of staff who insisted on having every track from the weird and wonderful Strange Breaks and Mister Thing III). But the collective process usually ends in a group hug and a nice warm glow once we playback the final selection.
It’s impossible to let the occasion pass without mentioning some of the ones that got away, though. Despite the plethora of new artists we’ve put out over the past few years we’re probably still best-known for our compilations, instantly recognizable both visually and aurally, and this year saw no let- up in either quantity or quality. As well as the aforementioned Strange Breaks and Mister Thing III, which won plaudits from the most seasoned vinyl junkies for its educative and entertaining qualities, we had Sean P’s personal trip down memory lane to an old-school that few of today’s hip-hop generation even knew existed, Rock It Don’t Stop It. We also had Kev Beadle’s dig around the private press archives for lost jazz classics, resulting in his Private Collection, and the fourth …yes, fourth!.. instalment of Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers, raw rockabilly from one of our longest-serving and most illustrious of collaborators.
Having seen a lot of reissues done very badly, 2014 was the year we stepped up the game with our Masters We Love series. Lavishly packaged and remastered from the original sources, we’ve been able to put legendary albums previously known only to hard-core collectors back into wider circulation. Nana Love, Crystal Winds, Hal Bradbury, Janet Lawson, The Craig Peyton Group were some of the artists in this series who benefited from this exposure but inexplicably didn’t make the cut for our year end round-up … Band X and Dan Mastroianni are two more who did. We also put out the legendary Lost Album from Iron Curtain synth-meisters Rodion G.A.
So what of those new artists? For every one that scraped on this seasonal bonanza, there were a couple more that didn’t … so a big shout-out to Lady Daisy, Morgan featuring Jo Sims, Very Tall Stories,Loretta Heywood, The Grits, Algebra Blessett, Yesking, Duct Tape, Time For T, and DJ Oil, who between them represent just about every kind of credible underground music-making going on right now.
As for those represented on this excursion, there’s no lack of diversity there, either. Old friends like Shawn Lee, DJ Vadim and Mr.Bird jostle for attention alongside Slakah the Beatchild, Anchorsong,, Tricky D, The Excelsiors, Larry Achiampong, True Ingredients, Megajawns, Vaitea and More Like Trees. From the dopest dubbed out downtempo headnodders to the most progressive of up-tempo left-field dance, taking in the flavours of Africa, the Caribbean and the East along the way. 2014 was one helluva ride … hope you enjoy this brief trip back through it alongside.