Andy Cato (the taller, fair-haired one) and Tom Findlay, who together comprise Groove Armada, have been one of the most successful dance music duos of modern times. Their debut album ‘Northern Star’, first released 16 years ago on Tim ‘Love’ Lee’s Tummy Touch label before being re-released a year later minus trombone-tastic chillout classic ‘At the River’, was Groove Armada at their most Balearic. Veering between deep French house (‘Dr Eiff’ etc), groovy percussive lysergic funk pieces (‘Captain Sensual’) and what was in those days called trip-hop — a catch-all term for mainly instrumental beatsy stuff — it’s an album that’s stood the test of time, and has indeed just been re-released.
Follow-up album ‘Vertigo’ was more commercially-slanted, with its humungous house hits ‘If Everybody Looked the Same’ and ‘I See You Baby’, and by the time of the ‘Goodbye Country, Hello Nightclub’ and ‘Lovebox’ albums in the early noughties they had morphed into one of the biggest acts around — and become a mean live dance band, too. They co-founded the London-based Lovebox festival, which still endures to this day, and as the noughties progressed they toured like crazy and cemented their place in electronic music’s premier league.
Latterly concentrating on their DJing and house music productions, their latest EP for an underground label is the ‘Pork Soda EP’ for Moda Black. The three-track EP showcases their love of jackin’ house styles, the title track — with its burbling b-line and itchy tribal tech stylings — leading the charge. As the plethora of albums — and this Take 10 selection — demonstrate, GA have always been eclectic, so here, in their time-honoured tradition, they split everything 50/50 and give us five of their most influential tracks each…
01. Chris Rea ‘Josephine (Version Francaise)
“The original Balearic classic but surprisingly little heard, it's been the one constant tune in the record box since '89. Few tracks can spread the love like this one.”
02. Last Rhythm ‘Last Rhythm’
“Now on every compilation of house classics, but for me a precise moment in time. Walking into a warehouse in Leeds, the big smiley hanging over the booth just about visible through the smoke. The night was at its peak. Then out of nowhere came the opening break of this record. Thousands of arms went in the air.”
03. Bob Dylan ‘Visions of Johanna’
“On the road in the US during the early days, we ended up in a loft party after playing the first night of our residency at the Tunnel. Late morning, there was the view over the Hudson, and New York hipsters draped around the room. Then someone put this record on and turned it into a movie scene. It's a classic recording. Immediate and uncorrected, it sounds as fresh every time I hear it.”
04. Elton John ‘Rocket Man’
“A tour bus classic and soundtrack to more after-hours euphoria than I'll ever manage to remember. One moment of clarity to this tune was on the way down from Mount Fuji — the sun hanging over Tokyo, a great gig behind us, and adventures in South America on their way. Things don't get a lot better.”
05. Chew Lips ‘Gold Key’
“I first heard this tune walking through a tent at the V Festival. From the beginning, I was rooted. I assumed it was a cover, as it felt like I'd heard it before. But instead it was a modern masterpiece that I'd had the good luck to hear live, with Tigs giving it her all. A timeless song that should be played down the ages.”
06. Richie Havens ‘Going Back To My Roots’
“I still can’t remember the place and time I first heard this record... it’s fair to say it was a while ago in a field outside Cambridge, in the late(ish) ‘90s. I was really into rare groove at the time, so to hear a track with all the best bits about rare groove, but with a rave piano and Richie's amazing voice — well, it blew me away. We went on to play a version of this track live with Richie Havens at Glastonbury, which is one of the finest moments of our career.”
07. Sterling Void ‘It's Alright’
“Speaks to me of everything that was great about '90s house — the un-self-conscious, slightly daft and totally uplifting vocals. It's the sort of track that brought people together. I could put 'Promised Land' by Joe Smooth in this bracket. Life-affirming house music.”
08. Lucy Pearl ‘Don't Mess With My Man (Mood II Swing Mix)’
“I'm a soul boy at heart, and this tune is pure soul. It's soundtracked so many late-night soirees, and is one of those songs that when it's in, it's on. A proper party record.”
09. Azari & III ‘Reckless With Your Love’
“When this record dropped a few years ago, it just felt like the kind of house music I loved was back, and I was thinking 'I'll have a bit of that'. It’s big, but in a good way. It’s not too clever, just all the things you could ask of an underground house BOMB.”
10. ELO ‘Livin' Thing’
“I've been getting a little bit nostalgic about our days playing live. One of the best tours (and certainly the most fun) was the Black Light tour of Australia back in 2010, and this track was the soundtrack to a stupidly good time
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