I’m going to start this story about one Detroit institution by citing another one. Pirahnahead – one of electronic music’s great brahmins, and a walking encyclopedia of liner notes and personal experiences filed away for later reference – once told me a story about The Electrifying Mojo, the great radio DJ who was known for dancing eccentric circles around his contemporaries, and how this related to the contemporary Detroit scene.
“When Theo Parrish came here, Chicago’s records were his base,” Pirahnahead told me. “For Kenny Dixon, it was whatever. That man could play Peter Frampton five times in a row. I’m serious! I just saw him play here a minute ago and his biggest record was ‘Mesopotamia’ by the B52s. Because that’s how Mojo used to play. Mojo didn’t play Chip or Marshall or anything – he actually played everything except the ‘original House.’ He played the B52s, Nitzer Ebb…”
Moodymann has made a career of it now – following gut instincts that are better calibrated to the times than the most calculating manager’s data-driven plans. His records (and this counts as one) are a high wire act, played out year after year, in an effort stay ahead of the legion of fans, freaks and full-blown acolytes behind him. Like with Moodymann, his 2014 album, he once again make it across unscathed.
The styles showcased on his DJ-Kicks compilation branch out from the usual dialect of soul, blues, funk and jazz to an abandoned attic’s worth of treasures from the recent past, from “Can’t Hold Back” remixed by the Pied Pipers to Dopehead’s “Guttah Guttah” and Les Sins’ “Grind” – the most gritty of Toro Y Moi’s dance project’s output. “Grind” is one of the ten tracks on here edited by Moodymann himself, though often with a feather touch. The tempo climbs as the album record unspools down to the end, with a recent Sandy Rivera track slamming headfirst into Anne Clark’s 1984 retrofuturistic dancefloor leveler “Our Darkness.”
Published first in 5 Mag Issue #128, featuring Chicago Skyway, the Euro-Disco of Voyage, Getting Started in Vinyl, Ortella, Moppy & more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music.