Ashley Beedle: dancefloor polymath

A DJ, producer, re-mixer, label owner and re-edit king, this Bajan-British dance legend has been a connoisseur of the good groove since his career began in earnest during the 80s. Beedle’s productions reflect his broad-ranging influences and collecting habits, forming a genre-defying patchwork reminiscent of his famously diverse DJ sets, which he continues to perform today. The recent anthology, Message In The Music, comprises an epic and inspiring selection of Beedle‘s reshapes of soul, funk, rare groove and post-punk cuts; an astonishing journey through the wide-ranging appetites of this dance music innovator.

What do you collect, and why?

I collect records from right across the board, whatever catches my ear and eye –titles that are suggested by friends, stuff I hear on radio and things I read about … including in Record Collector, naturally.

How big is your collection?

That’s nobody’s business but my own … but it’s large enough to keep all the ladies satisfied.

What do you think it is worth?

The monetary aspect isn’t really what it’s about for me. These are my war stories and they make up the soundtrack of my life.

How and where do you store it?

They’re stored in a Cold War bunker. without damp problems!

What’s the rarest/most unusual/most valuable item you have?

My most valuable in terms of sentimental value is the Rattlebone & Ploughjack LP on Island from 1976–devised and compiled by Ashley Hutchings of Fairport Convention fame, and signed to my dad with two letters from Hutchings inside the inner sleeve. Dad was a huge fan of Ashley Hutchings/Fairport Convention and it’s one of my most treasured albums.

Any elusive gems that you’re still looking for?

Living Color’s Thank The Lord For Love 7″ on Madhatter … a serious gospel dancer. I know a lady that’s got one, but she ain’t givin’ it up!

What’s given you the biggest thrill?

Having to remix Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Get Up, Stand Up using Damien Marley’s Welcome To Jamrock as the basis for the groove. I have to thank my friend Ross Allen for sorting that one out. I’ve had a couple of great link-ups with the Marley family over the years, but this one was definitely the best. They even put it out on a Tuff Gong 7″ in Jamaica–a huge honour.

How do you track stuff down?

Friends, contacts, dealers and people I’m not going to tell you about. This business is sacred!

What’s your favourite record shop?

In the south, it’s Soul Jazz and Dub Vendor in Soho. In the North, it’s all about Beatin’ Rhythm, Kingbee and Piccadilly Records in Manchester.

How often do you listen to the stuff in your collection?

On a daily basis–it gives me my ideas for upcoming projects, as well as providing the working tools for DJing … It’s also an unadulterated pleasure.

Is the visual side of collecting records important to you?

Yeah, of course! The labels, the inner sleeves, the album covers. Who couldn’t love the look of a Studio One or UK white Island label; or, for that matter, an early Tamla or Motown 7″ with the hand-drawn penny farthing or record player design on the stock bag; or those CBS inner sleeves and legendary Atlantic 7″ covers from the 50s …? The list is just endless.

How will you eventually dispose of your record collection?

I’ll have them all thrown into my grave with me, scattered on top of my coffin like a Viking burial. They’re coming with me, over to the other side … Sorry kids, but that’s your inheritance down the Swanee.

What’s your all-time favourite record, regardless of its value or rarity?

It has to be The 5th Dimension’s Everything’s Been Changed 7″ on Bell, produced by the legendary Bones Howe (he of The Mamas & The Papas fame). But that’s only my favourite record right now, it could change anytime. Ask me again in five years … five hours … or even five minutes.