Monday, 26 November 2012

DJs: Al Kent


Al Kent was born Ewan Kelly in late ’60s Glasgow where his introduction to music came early with gifts of kids’ albums from his record loving dad. He helped himself to piles of his dad’s records too, which were probably rubbish, but to his young ears they were ace; It was the vinyl as much as the music he loved. Soon he was taping stuff off the radio, making little compilations, and buying his own records. The weekly shopping trip to Tesco always meant a cheeky half hour in the record department while the rest of the family stocked up on washing powder and cat food.
On one such trip he found an album called “20 Mod Classics” on a label he didn’t know called “Tamla Motown”. It took a couple of listens, but he was soon in love with songs by the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, The Temptations and The Marvelettes. The fact that the coolest guy in school, the guy with the best records, gave it his seal of approval only made it more of a discovery. And so, his love affair with “black music” began.

Al Kent (Ewan Kelly) was born in Scotland. His father was an avid record collector and had a cabinet full of them. And Whisky. Everything from Abba and Elvis to the Glitter Band and Buddy Holly was in there. What a load of shit they were. 
In 1976 Al ran away from home to live in New York. Here, at the age of 8 he started attending the Loft and hanging out with Nicky Siano and a whole bunch of cool New York DJs with Italian names. In 1978 he was arrested for possession of PCP while guesting at Better Days with Tee Scott and deported back to Glasgow, where his dad was now getting into a bit more David Essex. He was shit too. 
So Al opened.his own club in Glasgow, based on his experiences in New York. With his pocket money he flew Richard Long over to kit it out and had Walter Gibbons DJ at the opening party. 
 since then he's bought lots of records, done the deejaying in lots of places, and recorded an orchestra too. 
For the full story of The Million Dollar Orchestra see the biography, in short the album was recorded in the traditional way, mostly one take, in an analogue studio. The Sound is rich , lush, string laden, beautiful disco music, full of joy with phenomenal musicianship. It is Al Kent’s biography told in Music. Al is currently working with Lynn from Ebonycuts on a time machine. This project should be completed soon, at which point the two will travel back in time and buy lots of records...

Al Kent - Disco Love Mix
(Downloadable-linked by permission-visit the BBE Rec. Site)

Pubblicato da Cheeseandfine

A few years later he began meeting other people who loved this music too, except they called it northern soul. And they weren’t listening to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, it was Steve Mancha, Al Kent, Linda Griner, Darrell Banks – people he’d never heard of in his life. And these guys could dance!!
Around the age of fifteen, for some unknown reason, he and some friends hired a local community hall and a set of turntables and put on a party. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t well attended, but the few people who did show up actually danced to the records he was playing. So that was him a DJ! The occasional community centre parties continued over the next few years while he made his way around the country attending all nighters and spending way too much money on records, and stuff.
When he was eighteen he was asked to play in a real club. And got paid! Amazing! More money for records then. And the community centre parties turned into occasional all nighters. With guest DJs and everything. Somewhere along the line he discovered that soul music didn’t end in 1969 and got a taste for 1970s releases, including things like Rare Pleasure “Let Me Down Easy”, Bileo “You Can Win” and Four Below Zero “My Baby’s Got ESP”, the latter of which he had to buy on 12 inch as he couldn’t find it on 45. It was very big, and had a bright sleeve with the word “Disco” on it. Hmmmm. Disco eh? So more of that stuff was bought and names like Walter Gibbons and Bobby DJ started to become familiar. Soon he was obsessively collecting disco 12 inches – an obsession that continues to this day.
Fast forward a few years to the late ’80s at a soul event put on by Yogi Haughton in Edinburgh with two rooms – one northern soul and the other house. Ewan ventured into the house room at some point and was totally blown away by what he saw and heard. This was another world altogether, and he was soon visiting more and more of these kind of clubs, adding some of the records he was hearing to his collection.
Around this time a local club was looking for a DJ to play this type of music, and since he was probably the only person with any records that they knew of, Ewan was called in for an audition. Having never mixed before, other than with a cassette and pause button, he had to bluff his way through, but, much to the annoyance of the resident DJ, he got the gig, and played every Friday. And got paid! Yay. More records.
Over the coming years he kept up the deejaying, moving up from the local club, to slightly bigger clubs in the city and beyond. And then, like most DJs, he got the urge to make music. His first attempts were rubbish, until he heard things like Azuli’s Chocolate Fudge ep and Disco Elements and realised that those old disco records could actually be sampled and put on top of house drums. And people would buy these records. And so, Million Dollar Disco was born as an offshoot of Glasgow’s Solemusic.
One of the early releases contained a really obvious sample, so to avoid legal issues, Ewan stole a name from one of those old northern soul records – Al Kent, and it kind of stuck. The label had some minor successes, including tracks being licensed to Azuli, Defected, Z Records and Hed Kandi. But after a few years it got a bit boring. There’s only so much you can do with a disco sample, and the records he was playing as a DJ weren’t really doing it for him any more. So, he dug out those old disco records again, and started playing some of them in his sets, then playing a few more, and more, until he realised that his heart wasn’t really in this house music thing and that disco was the way forward. Over the years he’d been mucking about re-editing, and when he discovered you could burn audio CDs on a mac, he started playing some edits in his DJ sets. And he did some more, and then some more. Till he was playing nothing else.
Since then the DJing’s picked up quite a bit, seeing Al guesting all over the UK and beyond, always sticking to the music he loves; pleasing the purists with plenty of obscurities, while keeping Mr and Mrs Average happy with the odd “classic”, and always surprising the uninitiated who suddenly realise they DO actually like disco!


Al was honoured to be asked by Dave Lee to play at Z Records’ first (and only) party in London, even more honoured to be invited by Dimitri From Paris to play at Respect’s Ete d’Amour afloat on the Seine, and in 2006 was proud to play at Southport Weekender, which kind of took him full circle, playing to the soul crowd he was once part of. And then he was asked back in 2007. Then in 2009 he was asked back again – not to play Connoisseur’s Corner as before, but to play the Powerhouse – Southport’s main room, holding over 2000 people. Normally dedicated to “soulful house” music, Al was genuinely flattered to be asked to play at their “Disco Extravaganza”! In between he’s made regular appearances at London’s Soul City, Edinburgh’s Ultragroove, Bam Bam in Birmingham, Society in Sheffield, Loose Joints in Aberdeen, Melting Pot Glasgow, Powder Room Barcelona, Legacy Berlin, Club Disco in Paris amongst many more, as well as running his own parties from time to time in Glasgow venues such as the Sub Club, Mas, The Buff, and the amazing Big Joint. And now he’s resident DJ at Northern Disco in Manchester, playing alongside some of the world’s best – Kon & Amir, Dimitri, Monk One, Sean P, Rahaan….
Al’s also released some of the edits he spends so much time making – three volumes of Brown Brothers releases on the Real Thing label, two on Jisco Music and a further two on Kat, with plans to release more on at least three different labels this year. He’s compiled four volumes of the highly popular “Disco Demands” series, volume one of the “Northern Disco” series, and a special Brown Brothers compilation, all released on Million Dollar Disco.
His most ambitious project happened in 2005: totally bored with chopping up loops, but still in love with producing music, he got together a few musicians to play some parts for him to use instead of samples. From humble beginnings in his spare room, the project soon grew wings and became the Million Dollar Orchestra, involving more than twenty musicians and taking the best part of three years to complete, with the addition of full string and horn sections, and lengthy recording sessions using fully analog equipment. The project was finally released as “Better Days” on BBE in 2008.
In 2009 BBE released a second album, “Secret Sounds”. Recorded without the timescale or budget of MDO, it’s a more stripped down, Backstreet kinda thang, recorded at home, but again treated to some full analog sessions to give it a far nicer sound.
Due for release at the time of writing is “Disco Love – Rare Disco & Soul Uncovered” – a mixed CD (with DJ friendly unmixed CD too – AND a very limited vinyl package!), featuring some rare gems.
On top of all this he’s managed to squeeze in writing reviews and a couple of articles for Keep On and Faith magazines, with requests for more disco articles for magazines and sites in the pipeline, he’s provided guest mixes for the likes of Six Million Steps, DJ History, Ministry of Sound, Galaxy Radio, SSRadio, Deepsoul3, Love Unlimited, Test Pressing, Keep-It-Deep and Inhale, and of course single handedly runs the Million Dollar Disco site.
From ShiftLondon

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Very thanks to Al Kent for his friendship and kindness...he's really a great DJ, internationally known, in peak from a lot of years. He is a friend of us and a good person. 

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