Ashley Beedle, still looking pretty fresh faced despite over 5 decades on the planet and countless late nights is an undisputed legend of the UK dance music scene. Originating from Hemel Hempstead the 1980’s drew Mr Beedle towards the acid house scene and London. Coming to prominence as part of the Shock Sound System he set his stall out as someone ready to push the new. This was the first crew to play house music at the Notting Hill Carnival. Ashley left Shock and startèd dj’ing in his own right on the burgeoning acid house scene.
Ashley back in the day (above)
Whilst remaining inextricably linked to house music, Ashley wouldn’t be pigeon holed and in the early days, inspired by Norman Jay’s Kiss FM show he became interested in disco. This willingness to blend musical styles has seen him incoporate not just house and disco but also soul, dub, reggae, hip hop, techno, broken beat, jazz and beyond into his musical productions. Ashley also has a reputation for dj sets that are often as much of an education as they are likely to take the roof off venues.
His list of projects is long, from work with the likes of David Holmes, to productions as Black Science Orchestra, Black Jazz Chronicles, with Yam Who, as a Ballistic Brother as well as even appearing on Top of the Pops with David Byrne along with Rocky & Diesel as X-Press 2. Remixes for the Manic Street Preachers, Inner City snd The Other Two, collaborations with reggae aristocracy such as Horace Andy all serve as evidence of his ability to work across genres whilst retaining a sound of his own. What is that sound? Well probably many have their own view, but for me he is a percussionist and his ear for this is what makes his productions distinctive. His disco heritage, paying tribute to the likes of Walter Gibbons along the way certainly adds a dash of dancefloor drama. Finally a blast of bass from a sound system culture brings it all together.
Clearly, Ashley has a enviable discography. He reached number 2 in the UK national charts with ‘Lazy’, topped the Jamaican charts with his remix of Bob Marley’s ‘Stand Up Jamrock’ and was namechecked by Daft Punk in their homage to pioneers track ‘Teachers’. With labels such as Soundboy, Afro Art and Out Hear Audio, his latest imprint Back To The World now up and running and releases on legendary labels like Nuphonic, Junior Boys Own, Henry Street and many more its not easy selecting a top 10. Could be 20, 30… more.
I’ve selected my favourite 10 tracks, some his own productions, some in partnership with others and some remixes that represent his ability to elevate the work of others. You may not agree, I may have missed some that you love, let me know. Salute Mr.Beedle.
Top 10 Ashley Beedle tracks
1. Black Science Orchestra – Downtown Science
2. Ballistic Brothers – Blacker
3. X-Press 2 – London X-Press
4. Ashley Beedle – Jumpin At The Factory Bar
5. Restless Soul – Mama (Deep Love Science Rework)
6. Black Science Orchestra – Headspace Lullaby
7. Black Jazz Chronicles – Hold On
8. Afrikanz On Marz – Din Da Da
9. Gil Scott-Heron – New York Is Killing Me (Ashley Beedle’s Space Blues Rework)
10. Universal Jones – Phoenix Rising
Below is a link to a mix of the above tracks, so you can judge for yourself.
Thanks for having a listen.