DJ Andy Smith’s been in the game for over 30 years – spinning music across all kinds of genres. One of his current big nights takes place at Hoxton’s Book Club where he mixes and mashes up a variety of sounds united by their vintage (1950s – 70s) and their darn foot-tapping irresistibility. The night – dubbed ‘Jam Up Twist’- is always packed and the punters never know what to expect – ‘cept that the sounds will be authentic and varied and here Kent offshoot, BGP celebrates Smith’s selecting skills by allowing him to anthologize a cross section of tunes that he may play down in Hoxton.
The 23 tracker offers all sorts – rockabilly, 60s soul, ska, jump blues and real R&B and though that sounds like a right old rag bag, the aforementioned “authenticity” and the enthusiasm of all the performers gives the set ( and by extension Smith’s Jam Up Twist nights) a unity that lots of compilations lack.
The album’s soul picks are mainly Northern soul dancers, typified by Mel Williams’ ‘Can It Be Me’ and Toni and the Showmen’s ‘Try My Love’. They are classic Northern soul… with the emphasis on “soul”. Southern soul man Luther Ingram gets a look in with ‘Oh Baby Don’t You Weep’ while the San Francisco TKO’s provide the album’s only moderately down-tempo moment with ‘Make Up Your Mind’. Always a favourite at the 100 Club, the tune has a just hint of the Caribbean about it and it sits nicely with the set’s ska selections – notably The Skatalites’ ‘Malcolm X’, the iconic outfit’s twist on Lee Morgan’s soul-jazz classic, ‘The Sidewinder’. Add to all that some great, rockin’ rockabilly from the likes of Wynona Carr and tough R&B from legends like Johnny Guitar Watson and Wynonie Harris and you have an eclectic but always enjoyable compilation.