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It’s almost 20 years since Greg Belson and I created The HighTower Set so it seemed like a good time to re-evaluate some of that material.
I met Greg when we were both DJing at regular Thursday night funk and rare groove club ‘The Great Escape’ in Kingston Upon Thames. I was fairly new to DJing and couldn’t get enough of the wonderful world of ‘black music’ I was really only beginning to explore. Greg would DJ from just 7″ singles and the only singles I had seen were from my own childhood (Paul McCartney & The Frog Chorus and Captain Sensible’s cover of ‘Happy Talk’) or my mum and dad’s records; which included Bo Diddley, The Rolling Stones and The Small Faces, which I still have.
Having made music on my own for some time and already collaborating with Jadell, when Greg suggested we try to create some tracks together I was up for it. He came over to my mum’s house the next week and we started sampling some of his records right away. I would program the beats using OctaMED on my trusty Commodore Amiga 600 and then add electric bass or guitar, recording it all onto a Tascam four track tape recorder. Greg would often add various percussion and always come up with the killer samples that more than fired our imagination.
We made a bunch of tracks and took them to Bob Jones (in fact, before that we took them to Greg’s friend and fellow DJ Maura Miller’s husband Kwame Kwaten, but that’s ANOTHER STORY!) and he put them out on his Black On Black label. After releasing two ‘critically acclaimed’ EPs and adding a keyboard player and bass player we recorded an album but it was never released.
I’ve still got the master tapes to that album and have always thought that most of the tracks were pretty decent. So did some of the music press at the time, as promo CDs of the album were actually sent out and got fantastic reviews. Wax magazine called the album “magnificent” and “a journey that you will want to repeat again and again” (10/10), Calvin Bush writing for Muzik magazine called it “a fine debut indeed from B.O.B.’s great white hopes” that “positively oozes confidence” (9/10).
Here’s what I believe was going to be the opening track: a cosmic, jazzy, proto-drum ‘n’ bass workout with a sped up breakbeat and fantastic Fender Rhodes from Julian Chown. Maybe I’ll dig up some more of those tracks…