Their playlist (with commentary) proved to be just as rad:
1. Anne Williams, "I've Got a Man" We thought we’d kick things off with this dance floor filler - Miss Annie Williams’ answer to Ray Charles’ hit “I’ve Got A Woman.” We love her raucous R&B style vocal; it’s one of our favorite Ray Charles covers.
2. Yvonne Fair, "Say Yeah Yeah Yeah" This raw, gritty track by Yvonne Fair is one of shared favourites. You can hear a massive James Brown’s influence, as she performed with him before she got her own record deal in the early 70s.
3. Johnny Thunder, "I'm Alive" We play this track, without fail, in every set we do because it’s bloody brilliant. We love the screaming vocals and the whole song is a pretty orgasmic experience.
4. Micki Lynn, "Sure is Something" Iraina’s favourite North Soul song at the moment. Her strutting song…
5. Shirley Ellis, "Bring it On Home to Me" We love Shirley Ellis so picking a favourite of hers is tricky, special mention to The Name Game and The Clapping Song but at the moment, we’re really into her cover of Sam Cooke’s classic Bring It On Home To Me. She really puts her own Shirley Ellis spirited stamp on it.
6. Chubby Checker & Dee Dee Sharpe, "Do You Love Me?" This one is just an absolute banger. The original by The Coasters was featured in the cult hit Dirty Dancing but we love this version: it’s a lot faster and the vocals are more aggressive. This one always gets the guys on the dance floor.
7. The Isley Brothers, "Tango" Goes without saying, everyone knows The Isley Brothers, but this is one of their rarer tunes. Iraina’s dad played her the 45 when she was a little girl and so it’s got a bit of a nostalgic quality. We love the song’s experimental structure – the vocals keep changing, and we love the brass section in the middle. Listen out for the subtle reference to “Twist and Shout.”
8. Ray Charles, "I Don't Need No Doctor" It’s got a bit of gospel quality to it but yet it’s still rock and roll. The chorus is a great call and response – you won’t be able to get it out of your head.
9. The Lyrics, "Pick of the Week" This song is like a journey inside Sam’s head: lots of little thoughts – little bells – bopping around… frenetically… and a rather playful quality to all of it. (And it makes epic use of a cowbell)
10. Frankie Ford, "Sea Cruise" We’ve snuck in a little rockabilly gem here. It’s a real sing-along song with a great boogie piano, and ska beat. Written and recorded originally by another much-loved artist, Huey “Piano” Smith, but Frankie’s version is pretty delightful. Check out his 1959 performance here, complete with a prop ship. He’s got some moves (and guts) and one helluva smile.
11. The Coasters, "Down in Mexico" You know when you listen to a song on repeat… for several days… it instantly became Sam’s all-time favorite. It’s a great end to a set, especially at a festival, when the sun’s coming up. There’s another great cover version by The Boston Crabs but here’s the original. It’s everything a song should be – silly, sexy, and just the right amount of sleaze.
Next, we caught up with The Smoking Guns about their inspirations, influences, and what's up next:
How did the Smoking Guns come together?
We’ve been friends for years and have always shared a love for soul music and drinking late night in Soho. One day, pretty out of the blue, we decided that it was high time we commit to a creative adventure together. Frustrated with the difficulties of pursuing careers in the arts, we wanted to find something we could do together, collaboratively that we would have full control of and have a good time with. We decided to become a DJ duo and play all our favourite music as we found there was a real lack of classic tunes, vintage rock and roll and 60s R&B in the bars and clubs we like to hang around in. We got our first job on the smoking terrace a couple of hours later...
The music. We only play what we love and what we believe in. We’re passionate about the tunes we play and we love sharing rare songs, lesser-known artists with our audiences. We don’t like places or performers who take themselves too seriously; we’re about creating an environment where anything goes, and everyone’s encouraged to let loose, be silly, be stupid, sweat as they shimmy and shake on the dance floor. For us, it’s really all about the fun.
Who are the most important artists working right now?
We’re really interested in artists who work cross-medium, people who are involved in more than just one thing, and are looking to explore a multitude of ways to express themselves and their creative impulses. Both of us are certainly like that – Iraina is a singer/ songwriter, and Sam is an actress/ filmmaker – and we’re both heavy involved in every element of what we create. In the modern day, with technology and social media ruling the world, we’re working in a generation where we have the platform, access and resources to make things and share them and that’s pretty cool and exciting.
What's your Favorite music?
Northern Soul. 60s Ryhtm and Blues. Garage Rock. Ska. Motown. Rockabilly.
Big Mama Thornton. Shirley Ellis. Al Green. LaVern Baker. The Ikettes. Toots & The Maytals. Aretha Franklin. The Sonics. Elmore James. James Brown. Merry Clayton. Otis Redding. The Coasters. Little Richard. Etta James. Tina Britt… just to name a few….
What is the theme of the playlist you have created and why?
These are our favourite feel-good summer tunes - We dare you not to dance!