Internet era music journalists will be familiar with the concept of “the playback”. It’s when a label invites media to listen to a highly anticipated unreleased album in person (to avoid sending the music out before release). Playbacks are often sterile, tepid affairs, heavy with a sense of mutual distrust between “paranoid” label and “potentially leaky” scribe.
But when the album being played is David Rodigan‘s 3 disc semi-autobiographical Ministry of Sound compilation, Masterpiece – at an invite-only launch party at Shoreditch’s Basing House – the atmosphere is quite different. That’s because tonight Rodigan is selecting from a specially pressed box of singles in all their crisp vinyl glory to a crowd of entitled young things and reggae industry legends. Also, David is curator and not the creator of these songs and each track comes with his own enthusiastic reminiscences, exclamations and asides.
Like Gandalf the wizard, Rodigan doesn’t approve of being late. And at two minutes prior to his set’s 8.30pm start time he is on the mic. “My wife is in the house!” he announces to a huge cheer “Give it up for Elaine Rodigan!” adding “I have to play well. You don’t get a forward in your own house!”
“This place is like Gossips” he says of the dark and heaving venue (referring to the West End nightspot where he had a 20 year residence with Dub Vendor’s Papa Face who is in attendance).
While the compilation digs a little deeper than his previous one for rival club Fabric it is ultimately a quality party piece aimed at the general music fan over the reggae nerd squad. However, one of Rodigan’s great strengths as a selector (ignoring his actor’s sense of spectacle and his big box of dubs) is that he knows it’s not what you play but the order in which you play it. Tonight he draws his tunes in a less chronological sequence than the CDs yet the flow is still spot on.Read more…