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The Late Night Tales series was established in 2000, by the Azuli independent record label. In a nutshell, a recording artist/band/producer is asked to offer up their 'favourites of the favourites' from their music collections; the tracks that really got under their skin and inspired them to make music. A pretty simple idea - but as we know it tends to be the simplest ideas that are the best!
First up in 2000 was the mighty Fila Brazilia, mixing up a stormer of a debut for the series that GQ christened "The Rolls Royce of Compilations". Since then some of the world's best artists have delved deep to create their ultimate 'late night' selection for our listening pleasure. And boy oh boy, is it a pleasure!!!
The series now features over 20 albums, with everyone from Arctic Monkeys, to The Flaming Lips, to Cinematic Orchestra to Belle & Sebastian getting in on the action.
As well as giving us an insight into their musical inspirations and aspirations we are also treated to an exclusive cover version created by the artist themselves to complement their personal compilation. Many of these tracks are 'hidden' on the albums so I'm not going to give anything more away! And, as an added quirk, they also feature a selection of short stories, narrated by the likes of Will Self and Brian Blessed.
The offering I'm reviewing here has been put together by our very own pocket rocket - the musical maverick with a love of all things millinery, Jay Kay - front man of Jamiroquai. This album was released in 2003 but is still a firm favourite in my music collection. It just doesn't date -it's fresh, funky, relevant - and very, very sexy.
The track listing is as follows:
1. Pointer Sisters - Happiness
2. Commodores - Girl I think the world about you
3. Rufus & Chaka Khan - Once you get started
4. Johnny Hammond - Fantasy
5. Ramsey Lewis - Whisper zone
6. Leon Ware - Whats your name
7. Ashford & Simpson - Stay free
8. Kleeer - Tonight's the night
9. Dexter Wansel - Never forget
10. Sister Sledge - Pretty baby
11. Jose Feliciano - California dreaming
12. Skyy - Here's to you
13. Dexter Wansel - Life on Mars
14. The Real Thing - Raining in my sunshine
15. Lalo Schifrin - Theme from Enter the Dragon
16. Marvin Gaye - Here My Dear
17. Patrice Rushen - Music of the earth
18. The White City, Part 3
Jay Kay's influences lie solidly in classic soul and funk along with a hefty dollop of old skool disco. You can almost imagine yourself getting your groove on in Studio 54 to some of these tracks! It's definitely more upbeat than some of the other Late Night journeys but is geared to an 'after hours' chill out session in my opinion - think post-clubbing; lots of subdued lighting and lolling around on cushions!
In the albums notes you can find a short explanation as to why each song was chosen, written by Jay Kay. Although he chose all the tracks himself, some of them were introduced to him by other band members. I think the notes are another lovely, personal touch, and can be very revealing. Jay Kay's comments give you the distinct impression that our pint-sized funkster is a true traditionalist at heart.
The last item on this album, part 3 of The White City, was written by Patrick Neate and is narrated here by the wonderful Brian Blessed, whose dark, brooding voice complements the story perfectly! Instalments 1, 2 and 4 they they can be found on the Nightmares on Wax, Sly & Robbie and Turin Brakes offerings, respectively.
I own quite a few of the Late Night Tales series and I love them all - they're all very different and very special in their own way. I call it my 3am collection - perfect for the wee hours of the morning when time and space just seems to 'shift' a little and the world at large takes on a slightly different dimension...
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Pointer Sisters - Happiness
2 Commodores - Girl I think the world about you
3 Rufus & Chaka Khan - Once you get started
4 Johnny Hammond - Fantasy
5 Ramsey Lewis - Whisper zone
6 Leon Ware - Whats your name
7 Ashford & Simpson - Stay free
8 Kleeer - Tonight's the night
9 Dexter Wansel - Never forget
10 Sister Sledge - Pretty baby
11 Jose Feliciano - California dreaming
12 Skyy - Here's to you
13 Dexter Wansel - Life on Mars
14 The Real Thing - Raining in my sunshine
15 Lalo Schifrin - Theme from Enter The Dragon
16 Marvin Gaye - Here My Dear
17 Patrice Rushen - Music of the earth