I’ve got to hold my hand up – I’m one of them. ‘Them’ being crate diggers, or record collectors / sound experimenters. I have a (mental) list of records I would come close to selling my house for, most of which are obscure Jazz and Punk and Northern Soul Records.
For DJ, producer, record label owner and musician (former Katrina and the Waves keyboard player) Tim ‘Love’ Lee, it was the discovery of a couple of library music albums on the KPM, featuring British session legends Herbie Flowers and Barry Morgan. Morgan also put his name to records by Bowie, Elton John, The Walker Brothers, Blue Mink and countless others, while Flowers had a hand in some of the most iconic basslines in the history, playing Lou Reeds ‘Walk on the wild side’, David Essex’s Rock On and David Bowie’s Space Oddity.
The albums Lee and his musical partner and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee discovered weren’t that though. They were rare 1970’s KPM 1000 series LPs, featuring just Flowers and Morgan laying down rhythm sections, to which the two Lee’s have added splashes of Banjo, Xylophone, Marimba, Horns, Synths, and a myriad of other things, in their efforts to finish the tracks.
What they’ve created is a quirky, funky and fun album, that never fails to spark the interest and surprise. Right from the first track, Barnyard Bam Bam, which sounds exactly as its title would suggest, through the deep funk of the likes of Heavy Stakeout, which is sprinkled with this buzzsaw guitar and Get Carter style horns, to the fantastically inventive Bionic Bossa (incredible bassline in evidence, in case you doubted Flowers quality control) and the brilliant Hong Kong Hang, which turns out every bit as good as its name, there’s enough earworms to keep you going for many months.
We spoke to the venerable Tim Lee about the project, titled New York Trouble / Electric Progression, and other things.
BM: I get the impression that New York Trouble / Electric Progression was a real fun project to do. Is that right? Certainly there’s a real sense of fun about the record as well
TL: Yes, it was a LOT of fun. The backing tracks were played and recorded by some of the best guys in the business back in the 70s, so turning my synths loose over the top of them was like a dream come true.
And it all happened after you found the two KPM albums – Is that right? Have they been like holy grail records when you’ve been digging?
Actually, it was after I found out about the existence of the original LPs and got the tapes form KPM – I still haven’t managed to track down copies of the vinyl !!
And the collaboration with Shawn Lee – how did that begin. Was there a long-standing wish to work with him and vice versa?
I’ve been a fan of Shawn’s since I saw him perform his single “Happiness” back in 2000, and was amazed to find out he’d had EXACTLY the same idea for these KPM recordings as I had. Not too sure what Shawn thinks of me though !
It’s coming out on Tummy Touch – Is it harder these days running a record label than when you started?
Well, the business is tougher but I have a better idea of what I’m doing so I guess they balance out. Music is my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And with Groove Armada releasing a fifteenth anniversary of Northern Star – how does that make you feel? Old? Proud?
Anything planned for the 20th anniversary? Or is that too far away?
Actually, this year is the 20th anniversary of my first label, Peace Feast, and we’ll be doing new releases and a compilation later this year.
New York Trouble / Electric Progression is out on April 7th via Tummy Touch.