Recloose's Detroit favourites: Guest Selector

Recloose – Detroit native Matt Chicoine – uncovers eight incredible LPs from the Motor City ahead of his latest, long-awaited record

Feature by Matthew Chicoine | 06 May 2016

I was unbelievably lucky to live in Detroit as a young DJ/producer in the 1990s, soaking up the city’s musical energy at spots like Three Floors of Fun (St Andrew’s Hall), Record Time’s dance room, and Carl Craig’s EMLAS studio. That time had an indelible impact on what I do musically so it seems appropriate to make an oddball mix of (just a few) favourite records also made in or influenced by Detroit.

Joe Henderson – Power to the People [Milestone, 1969]

So Joe Henderson was from Lima, Ohio, originally, and this was recorded in New York City, but there’s little doubt his early jazz pedigree owed a lot to his time in Detroit playing alongside locals Donald Byrd, Yusef Lateef and Barry Harris. There are so many great Joe Henderson records but Power to the People is a favourite, the go-to cool-out record I had on repeat when I lived in Detroit. Featuring fellow Detroiter Ron Carter, not to mention Herbie Hancock and Jack DeJohnette.

Bohannon – Stop & Go [Brunswick, 1973]

Another Detroit transplant, Hamilton Bohannon migrated to the city from Georgia at the behest of Little Stevie Wonder in the mid-1960s. While this album, Bohannon’s first, was recorded in Chicago, I’d argue it's still very much a Detroit record, as most of the band came from the post-Motown talent pool (e.g. The Counts’ Mose Davis and Leroy Emmanuel, 'Wah Wah' Watson, Ray Parker Jr, Travis Biggs). Hands down Bohannon’s deepest full-length, with early disco funk cuts like Stop and Go juxtaposing Alice Coltrane-esque It’s Time for Peace and my favourite cut, Save Their Souls.

Harold McKinney  Voice and Rhythms of the Creative Profile [Tribe, 1974]

Harold McKinney was a cornerstone of the city’s jazz scene and one of its most important music educators (Amp Fiddler and Jeremy Ellis both took lessons from him). This album, on the seminal Tribe label, showcased his considerable vision via cuts like In the Moog and his cover of Freedom Jazz Dance. Detroit-styled spaced-out jazz funk at its best.

Parliament  Motor Booty Affair [Casablanca, 1978]

Parliament-Funkadelic recorded the majority of their material in Detroit at the legendary United Sound System Studios and were a major part of the city’s musical fabric throughout the 1970s. This aqua-themed masterpiece is one of my favourites – so many bombs from the chart-topping Aqua Boogie to the infectious Rumpofsteelskin… So funky. And I’d speculate the water narrative had a lot to do with Drexciya’s later H2O-themed sci-fi output.

One Way feat. Al Hudson – One Way feat. Al Hudson [MCA, 1979]

I befriended One Way songwriter/bassist Kevin McCord a few years ago and as a result really dug into how many amazing songs he wrote. This is probably the best known One Way record, with Kevin penning the unstoppable Music and smash hit You Can Do It. But this is only the surface. Check Alicia Myers (I Wanna Thank You, Say Say Say), Oliver Cheatham (Get Down Saturday Night), many of the stand-out Soul Partners/One Way joints, as well as his under-sung self-released output from the 80s (see Presents and Chance Records). I put the needle to Kevin’s records when I need a lift...

Cybotron  Enter [Fantasy, 1983]

Not exactly Detroit’s techno blueprint, but Juan Atkins’ new wave/electro futurist outfit (with Richard Davis and Jon 5) signalled the sound shift that was about to come (catalysed in large part by P-Funk and radio DJ Electrifying Mojo). Skip the rock joints and go straight for Juan’s songs – Alleys of Your Mind, Clear, Cosmic Raindance, and Cosmic Cars are the bona fide jams here. I can’t hear these cuts and not be transported back to listening to Detroit radio in the 80s.

Psyche/BFC Elements 1989-1990 [Planet E, 1996]

Carl Craig’s earliest output probably had the most direct influence on my own start as a producer. This material really captivated me, bridging the emotional edge at the forefront of a lot of Detroit-based electronic music with more funk and sample-based syncopation that I was also digging in hip-hop production. Essential C2…

Derrick May Innovator [Transmat, 1998]

Derrick never released an album, instead dropping a series of brilliant 12”s through the mid-80s and early 90s and this compilation assembles most (but not all) of his most important cuts. While I’m sure he had his reasons I’d always wished Derrick hadn’t put producing on the back burner – he had so much to say (with words and music) and inspired a new direction for techno music. There is a scarcity of dance music now that captures the same energy, emotion and spontaneity that Derrick was able to with these songs.

Recloose's forthcoming Honey Rocks EP is available via Aus Music at the end of May. Keep your ears peeled –