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Baker's Dozen

You Got Soul: Norman Jay's Favourite Singles
Yousif Nur , January 20th, 2016 10:42

After releasing his latest Good Times compilation last year, the DJ talks Yousif Nur through the early musical experiences that shaped his taste, from northern soul nights to crate-digging for 7"s, in picking his top 13 records

"No record comes out on its own and makes a scene." If I come away with anything from my phone call with Norman Jay, it'll probably be that quote, which he says with such emphasis and aplomb. To say that Jay has an encyclopaedic knowledge of black music from the last 60 years would be the grossest of understatements. I spend a good hour-and-a-half on the blower with him talking all things reggae, soul and dance despite him having DJed a house party the night before, stumbling home at 5am.

I go into the interview in the unknown as I have no list to hand, only knowing that he's picked all singles. "It was a difficult thing to consider, and not a difficult thing to consider, if you see what I mean," Norman explains. "I started off by buying 7" singles because albums didn't come out until many years after! It was purely down to economics. Singles were easy to buy and, from about the age of eight or nine, which would have been in 1968, my dad used to give me a five-pound note – which was huge in those days – to trust me to go and buy the records for the Christmas party or wedding reception, family christening or gatherings. Up until then, my dad always used to do that."

In short, as he will explain later on, Jay's preference for singles is simply because they were what educated him in his formative years buying records and listening to music. As he says, "there's something intrinsically special" about the 45. And who are we to argue.

Norman Jay MBE Presents Good Times – Skank & Boogie is out now on Sunday Best Recordings. Norman Jay begins a run of sets in Australia at Electric Gardens 2016 on January 23 in Sydney; for full details and tickets, head here