When it comes to clubland, there are very few goals Frank Tope hasn’t achieved: he’s been a respected music journalist, DJed at huge clubs like Space in Ibiza & smaller music-lovers sessions like Horse Meat Disco, made music (his Wild Geese disco/house/ edit stuff with Dan Foat is amazing) and been a part of some of the wildest parties to come out of the UK in the last 20 years: Rooty (which he started in Brixton with Basement Jaxx and the mighty Tayo), Glint (with the Chemical Brothers), Bugged Out, Bestival… Frank’s been there, got the (limited edition, Japanese-designed) t-shirt too…
So that’s why Tim Sheridan has booked him to be part of the first True South event at Jamm in Brixton on Saturday 23rd March, alongside fellow guests Rocky (X-Press 2) and Colin Dale, one of the UK’s first techno DJs. But as well as being someone who basically defines the cliché ‘DJs’ DJ’, Frank is also a longtime Brixton resident, so we had to find out what his South London manor means to him, via a few fantastic Youtubes. Enjoy!
I was going to put one of Basement Jaxx’s big hits but on reflection nothing sums up the sweaty years of raving to Basement Jaxx in grubby Brixton pubs better than their shameless but brilliant bootlegs that no one could get their hands on at the time and always drove us completely crazy. Takes me right back to being deafened by their siren in the George IV.
Summer of 1990 and the best night in Brixton was Friday night at the Fridge with Soul II Soul. They were fresh off their huge debut LP and every Friday the place was packed with a mix of hip hop heads, raggas and ravers. The music was the best of the current hip hop, heavy downtempo soul, swingbeat house with a smattering of rare groove classics. This was one of the lesser-known tunes that I remember being played down there, but it’s one I was massively into at the time and fit in perfectly with their heavyweight smoky downtempo feel.
I’ve seen so many great gigs at Brixton Academy – just off the top of my head Leftfield, Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Ice Cube, Sounds Of Blackness, the Primal Scream all- nighters, Florence, Franz Ferdinand and Friendly Fires last year all spring to mind straight away. But Lauryn Hill in 1999 was without doubt the greatest gig I’ve seen there – it was a brilliant album, the sense of expectation was huge, the band were phenomenal, the atmosphere was amazing and she had talent and charisma by the bucketload. A fantastic night.
“Drum and bass! Rooooots and culture!” Anyone who’s come out of Brixton tube to see the little Catweazel guy giving out fliers for the ‘University Of Dub’ nights will know you have to have some roots in any Brixton selection, it sounds trite but reggae really is an integral part of the fabric of the place. This is one of the many reggae classics I’ve been lucky enough to find digging through Brixton’s record shops over the years, bought aft years from a great, and now predictably closed down, second hand record shop in a railway arch down Station Road run by a slightly potty old lady.
One of my favourite nights ever in Brixton has to be Simply Boogie that ran for several years in the Bug Bar underneath St Matthews Church. The resident DJs Arv, Linx and Leslie Love, were all brilliant, playing a very diverse, very soulful mix of music for a great crowd of proper dancers and music lovers. I was lucky enough to play there pretty regularly and you couldn’t just show up with a bunch of the latest house 12”s– you really had to be on point to play the right music for the very discerning and demanding dancers or they would most definitely let you know about it. Always a great night and nothing sums it up more for me than this 16 minute spiritual epic (man).