This year sees the 20th anniversary of Kudos Records, a company founded in Kilburn back in 1992 by my very good friend Danny Ryan and his then business partner Mike Hazel (he of the Golden Girls fame).
Twenty years in dance music record distribution is an outstanding achievement and especially the last twenty, when sales of “physical” music (i.e. vinyl and cd’s) have largely migrated to the various digital formats of today. Kudos was one of the few small independents to successfully make the transition from physical to digital and it’s probably the success of the distribution side of the company, that has curtailed the output of the record label side.
So a huge congratulations to Danny and new(ish) partner Jim. I hope they achieve similar success, recognition and respect over the next twenty years, and as my own small celebration of Danny’s huge contribution to the UK’s independent music industry, I thought that as he nominated me the Official Kudos Records archivist many years ago, I would do something useful with my collection.
So without further ado, here are my thoughts on a back catalogue, which at 25 or so releases between 1992 and 2004 is not huge, but which without doubt represents an impressively wide and eclectic spectrum of sounds and artists… some of whom went onto to be almost famous…
To start the ball rolling, a little known production by the Hartnol brothers, otherwise known as Orbital… Mike had the connections (they had previously remixed his Golden Girls track) and Phil and Paul had the tune, and so another techno monster was let loose on the world..
A huge, punishing onslaught of sound heralded release number two… 4 tracks of beautiful noise from none other than Mr. Luke Slater… Set the machines to stun…
KUD003 - Pentatonik: Autonomous – Series One (1993)
KUD004 - Pentatonik: Resolution – Series One (1993)
Two excellent 12′s from Sim Bowring in his Pentatonik guise. Lush, layered sounds taking the label in a new direction. I must admit that when I first got Autonomous, I couldn’t find the RPM, and as a result I played Catalonia too fast until Dan gave me the CD… Autonomous is also the first appearance of the now instantly recognisable flying K logo.
KUD005 - Types: A Kudos Sampler (1994)
KUD006 - The Kudos Digest: A is for Apple (1995)
KUD007 – The Kudos Digest: B is for Brocolli (1995)
KUD008 – The Kudos Digest: C is for Cherries(1995)
Four very fine and eclectic records. The Types sampler contains some of the biggest names of the time including Dave Angel, Sandoz and Scanner… As for the Digests, as I remember it, there really was a plan to get to Z … although I’m not sure what the fruit/ vegetable would have been (zucchini possibly). This series was conceived by Danny & Mike as a way of collecting predominantly 12″ vinyl releases and issuing them on a limited edition CD release.
KUD009 – Jimpster: Perennial Pleasures EP (1997)
KUD009R – Jimpster: La di da – Bullitnut Remixes (1997)
KUD010 – Jimpster: Interconnect EP (1997)
KUD011 – Jimpster: Messages From the Hub (1999)
A quartet of stunning releases from none other than Jamie Odell in his guise as Jimpster, heralded a new high for the label. Jimpster’s star was in the ascendance and spread across these two EP’s, debut LP and a 12″ remix from Bullitnuts were some truly wonderful tunes… deep, intelligent and very satisfying…
KUD014 - Unforscene – The Sulston Connection EP (2000)
The first of a number of excellent EP’s from one of the “nu jazz” scene’s finest exponents. Comprising the core of Will & Ben Bower plus a selection of highly skilled support musicians, Unforscene would go on to become one of the most highly regarded acts from the Kudos stable, and this is where it all began…
Inspired by the success of the timeless collection that is Kruder & Dorfmeister’s K&D Sessions, Danny, Mike and Fila’s label boss Porky collected together as many remixes by Hull’s finest Lazy Beat exponents, Fila Brazillia as they could afford… The result was this outstanding double CD, which apart from their seminal rework of Busta Rhymes “Do My Thing” (unavailable due to greed) is choc full of Fila’s finest work… including Radiohead, Unkle, DJ Food, The Orb and Simple Minds…. Marvellous.
KUD016 – Jimpster: Deep Down EP (2001)
Two more fine offerings from Jimpster. I was a bit of a DJ myself for a while and one of the records that never left my bag was the Deep Down EP. The last track, Jack in a Box was always a sure fire floor filler…
The excellent first Long Player from Unforscene was quite rightly, very well received upon its release in 2001. There are some truly amazing tunes here. The track I keep on returning to is Minus, with its rich, slow first half and more uptown percussive closing section, I think it has a real timelessness.
A collection of “future underground classics” as the man says, with tunes from Jimpster, Baby Mammoth and Masters at Work.
KUD020 – Jimpster: State of Mind (2002)
The final two releases from Jimpster for Kudos, were the eclectic and very well received LP Domestic Science and the single from it, State of Mind. Jimpster had set up his own label Freerange a few years earlier (1999 I think) which he not unsurprisingly, wanted to concentrate all his efforts on.
KUD022 – Unforscene: New World Disorder (2003)
As with Jimpster, and thanks to the exposure offered by their releases through Kudos, Unforscene were gaining a huge reputation and after delivering their New World Disorder LP and the Trying single from it, left to go their own way. My favourite Unforscene track “The World is….” comes from this record, a timeless piece of music and no mistake.
A celebration of Hulls’ finest label, Pork Recordings with a selection of their prime cuts, featuring two of my all time top Pork tracks Fortean Daze by Bullitnuts and Fila Brazillia’s mighty Pots and Pans (a tune that could easily lay claim to being in my 5 favourite records from the whole of the 1990′s)
KUD024 – Nick Luscombe: Flo-Motion Volume 1 (2003)
KUD025 – Nick Luscombe: Flo-Motion Volume 2 (2004)
The final two records that Kudos has bequeathed the world (up to now) were these two fine compilations. Mixed by the ever excellent Nick Luscombe, they offered a selection of some of the best downtempo and groovy vibes from the middle of the last decade…
So all in all a staggeringly impressive achievement, and three cheers to Danny (and Jim & Mike).
Long may Kudos continue to full my life with lovely music…
His abrasive and mocking style in which he attacked amongst other things popular culture, authority, organised religion and politics, was delivered with a conviction and style that I think is sadly lacking in many of the current comedians of today, who seem to have found success telling tedious stories about growing up in their home town, the funny things their kids do and/or looneys on the bus.
Bill on the other hand was different. I have one set where he opens by thanking the audience for their kind welcome, and says that he hopes he can fill their empty lives with stuff they couldn’t possibly think of themselves, straight to the point, sarcastic and funny…
My take on Bill Hicks is that he not only wanted to entertain, but was also keen to get his audience to open their eyes and question the accepted truth of things: i.e. untaxed drugs are not always bad for you, the Government is not always right, and parents don’t always know what they’re talking about. His big thing was smoking, and how all the cool people in popular culture smoked. He was hardly ever seen on stage without a cigarette in hand, having a go at anyone who objected, the sad irony being of course that it was smoking related cancer that killed him (so he was not always right…)
I first came across his work on an album by Hull’s finest Fila Brazillia. Tucked away on the end of a track called 6ft Wasp on 1995′s excellent Maim that Tune, was a brilliant sketch about marketing, which thanks to YouTube you can watch below…. (or listen to it on the Spotify link above with Fila’s wonderful washes of sound as a backdrop)
The other thing that always strikes me whenever I listen to his stuff now is how relevant it all is. Considering he’s been gone for nearly twenty years, his rants about drugs, war and artistic credibility were amazingly prescient and still ring true to this day. Listen to any of the many YouTube clips in which Hicks talks about the 1990/91 Gulf War, and the echoes to the Iraq war and the current situations in Libya and North Africa are scary…