The Freerange boss serves up an eclective selection of house, soul, jazz, ambient, electro and more
You may know him as Jimpster, you may know him as Jamie Odell; you may know him as Franc Spangler, Audiomontage or, if your dance music memory stretches all the way back to the early 90s, as Loxodrome or Flag. You may know him as the boss of Freerange Records, or as a former member of live dance outfit The Bays. But you definitely know him, because Jamie Odell has been a fixture on the UK house scene for a very long time now.
Mind you, he had something of a head start in music, what with his dad being Roger Odell, drummer in British jazz-funk outfit Shakatak - as you'll read below, Jamie freely admits what a formative influence that was. A teenage breakdancer, by the early 90s he was turning out bleep-inspired techno tracks for Jumpin' & Pumpin' and by 1996 he'd set up Freerange Records, which 20+ years on is one of the UK scene's most respected and longest-running imprints.
Coming up to date, Jamie's seventh studio album Silent Stars dropped on Freerange last week (13 May). Rooted in house but with soul, jazz and ambient/Balearic flavas in abundance, the album sees him working with an array of guest vocalists including Jinadu, Khalil Anthony and Florence Rawlings, as well as renowned session drummer Andy Gangadeen. And to mark its release, we got him to tell us about 36 of his all-time favourite tunes.
Take it away Mr Odell...
SIX EARLY INFLUENCES
Herbie Hancock - Autodrive (CBS, 1983)
"This one was from Future Shock, the same LP as Rockit, which was the big crossover tune that had us all running to the nearest B&Q for an off-cut of lino to cut our breaking moves on! I first heard Rockit on the Streetsounds Crucial Electro compilation in 1984, which was responsible for so many of us home counties teenagers getting into dancing and music, but I always preferred the more piano-heavy, jazzy feel on Autodrive."
Warp 69 - Natural High [Global Communication Remix] (Flagbearer Records, 1984)
"I heard this being played by Matt Thomson late one night on Kiss FM as I was driving home from a gig in Manchester. It must have been around 1995 but I can remember it like it was yesterday. The sheer beauty of the track blew me away, bringing together elements of jazz and ambient to form the perfect fusion. It was a great example of why Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton were such a formidable partnership."
After Hours - Waterfalls [3am Mix] (Strictly Rhythm, 1991)
"This sublime slice of deep house on the legendary Strictly Rhythm label first came to my attention from hearing it on a mixtape a good friend had put together around 1991. I’ve always been drawn far more to instrumental music than vocal tracks, and the combination of lush synth pads, a simple bassline and that stripped-back drum groove sounded worlds away from the deluge of brash breakbeat rave tracks that were omnipresent at that time."
Shakatak - Lumiere (Polydor, 1981)
"I can’t talk about early influences without a doff of the cap to my old man! I would often go along with him to the studio when he was recording with Shakatak and sit in on their sessions, or just sit down with a keyboard or drum machine and play around for hours, making sounds and beats. This is one of my favourites from their debut LP Drivin’ Hard. A late-night, instrumental mood with simple synth melody, spacey FX and warm strings. I sampled this for one of my early Jimpster tracks called Stateside On Monday."
Art Of Noise - Beat Box (Diversion One) (ZTT, 1984)
"Like so many my age, I loved the film Breakin’ which came out in 1984. There’s a scene where the crews are about to battle and the music in the background is Beat Box by Art Of Noise. Even without Shazam it was easy to find it out thanks to the end credits, so off I went to buy the Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise LP which also contains the classic Moments In Love. This would have been my first introduction to producer Trevor Horn, whose music I’d later become obsessed with."
Shafty - Deep Inside Of You (The Deep Creep) (Heartbeat, 1991)
"Italian label Heartbeat had a string of excellent releases in the early 90s, with this one being a personal favourite. Dubby vocal FX and Trevor Horn-esque keys provide the trippy, late-night feel while the fat bass and excellent production made it stand out from so many of the average deep house tracks coming out at the time. Still sounds fresh 25 years on!"
SIX NON-DANCE RECORDS
Minnie Ripperton - Inside My Love (Epic, 1975)
"Can’t remember where or when I was when I first heard this, but I’m pretty sure it was after I’d heard A Tribe Called Quest’s Lyrics To Go, which samples it. That breakdown is one of the most amazing Rhodes chord progressions I’ve ever heard, and with Minnie’s voice holding that note way up high throughout the break..... goosebumps every time!"
10CC - I’m Not In Love (Mercury, 1975)
"This is one of those tracks that I’d heard many times growing up, but it took hearing it in the right time and place to realise just what an incredible piece of music it really is. That time and place was one of the early Big Chill festivals… I think it was Eastnor Castle, around 2002 or 2003. Pete Lawrence was playing a closing set, and everyone was just mooching around on the lawns enjoying the laidback sounds until he dropped this one, and everyone lost their shit at how perfect it sounded."
Pat Metheny - Are You Going With Me (ECM Records, 1982)
"Generally speaking guitars bring me out in a rash, but Pat is definitely one exception. Maybe the fact that he uses a guitar synth to create his unique sound, or just the fact that he’s one of the most mind-blowing jazz musicians to walk the planet. I’ve collected nearly everything he’s recorded, and there’s hardly a single track that doesn’t make me want to shed a little tear at how beautiful it is. When I was living up in Manchester I used to drive back home to Essex nearly every weekend to see my girlfriend and Pat would keep me sane on the six-hour round trip. Blasting Are You Going With Me while crossing Snake Pass in the Peak District was intense and helped keep me energised for the rest of the journey."
Bill Evans - Symbiosis (2nd Movement) (MPS, 1974)
"I’d listened to a fair amount of Bill Evans' music but never known about his incredible Symbiosis LP until my mate Simon (Palm Skin Productions) introduced me to it around 2005. It’s something of a concept LP with recurring themes across the five parts of the two movements, with the Largo section being my favourite. It’s hard to find the words to describe how emotional this music is, especially when you think about Bill Evans’ troubled life, battling drug addiction, his brother and his long term partner's suicides, and ultimately his early death in 1981 at the age of just 51."
Mustapha Tettey Addy - Master Drummer From Ghana (Tangent, 1972)
"A drummer friend of mine at college introduced me to this LP in the early 90s and it was my first experience of listening to authentic indigenous music from Africa. The recording is very lo-fi and I love the simplicity of just one amazing musician sounding like it was recorded with one microphone in a run-down studio in Ghana."
Gigi Masin - The Word Love (Music From Memory, 2014)
"I came late to Gigi Masin, only discovering his music from the Talk To The Sea compilation released by Music From Memory in 2014. Better late than never, though! This is some of the most sublime and tranquil ambient music you’re ever likely to hear."
SIX PERSONAL PRODUCTIONS
Loxodrome - Society Red (Jumpin’ & Pumpin', 1994)
"This one goes way back to 1994 and was the first release of mine that I feel comfortable sharing! It still sounds super-basic, probably due to the fact that I mixed it on a PortaStudio with a mono keyboard amp for monitors, but it has a certain charm and I’m happy to see it going for €100 on Discogs."
Jimpster - You Are (Kudos, 1999)
"This is a track from my Messages From The Hub LP, which features Dave Walsh on drums and Cheyne Towers on bass. It’s got quite a fusion-y vibe going on which makes it sound a bit contrived, but I still love the musicality of it and the fact that we were trying to do something a bit different to a lot of other stuff around at the time."
Jimpster - Knuckle Shuffle (Kudos, 2002)
"Knuckle Shuffle came out in 2002 as part of my Domestic Science LP, and signalled the start of my return to housier sounds. I remember playing this one in fabric’s Room 3 when Tom Middleton had his residency there, and their sound engineer Sanjay came up to me and complimented me on the mix. I’ve not played it out for years but think I’ll give it a go again as it’s got a nice little vibe going on."
Delano Smith ft Diamondancer - A Message For The DJ [Jimpster Remix] (Still Music, 2005)
"I did this remix for Delano Smith on the brilliant Chicago label Still Music in 2005 and I’d say this one was quite pivotal in helping raise my profile in both Europe and the US. The great thing about remixes is that you usually know straight away if whether it’s going to be a strong one or not. When you have one great element - in this case the Diamondancer vocal - to play with, everything just falls into place perfectly. I’m happy to hear this one has just had a repress due to demand, so it’s nice to know it’s stood the test of time."
Iz & Diz - Love Vibe [Jimpster Mix] (Aesoteric, 2006)
"Another mid-noughties remix here, this time for San Francisco’s Aesoteric label and one that I still play out fairly often and get nice comments about. The original had been quite a big track five years previously with its hooky piano chords, strong vocal and percussion-heavy disco vibe. I took things a bit deeper with more of a filtered house sound, which seemed to appeal to the South African heads as it got a lot of love down there."
Solomun - Small Talk [Jimpster Remix] (Dynamic, 2008)
"This remix for Solomun got overlooked at the time and was never really one that I played often, but I've recently come back to it and find the bouncy groove, dubby stabs and floaty flute riff work really nicely and create quite an intense vibe on the dancefloor."
SIX TUNES THAT NEVER LEAVE YOUR BOX
The Popular People’s Front - Principles Of Freakin' (PPF, 2005)
"Popular People’s Front consists of Bill Brewster, Chris Duckenfield and Leo Elstob, which goes some way to explaining why their releases are so bloomin’ good! They tread a fine line between edits and original tracks, taking hefty doses of disco breaks but always adding plenty of house influence which makes them so playable at lots of different gigs. PPF02 and PPF03 both contain lots of heat but my personal favourite that I’ve played out countless times is Principles Of Freakin'. It still works a treat every time."
Aaron Siegel feat L'Renee - Tonite [DD Mix] (Fit Sound, 2012)
"Classic emotive, late-night house from Detroit with a few different versions split across releases on both Omar S’s FXHE and FIT Sound from 2012. This version is fairly clean and polished by a lot of Omar S records standards, but it still has that raw bump which makes it one that you can drop in a variety of gigs. Check out the OG Mix for a slightly more peak- time version, too."
Vincenzo & Duffer Swift - Got To Be [Herbert Remix] (Raw Elements, 1996)
"Herbert absolutely nailed it on this one from the golden era of deep house. It’s incredibly minimal, with a very limited collection of elements, but every individual sound is pure perfection. Probably up there as one of my all-time favourite house tracks and one that effortlessly creates an amazing atmosphere on the dancefloor: it's got just the right amount of drama in the breakdown without ever feeling over-egged."
Chicago Damn - Let’s Submerge (Chicago Damn Records, 2011)
"There’s something a bit magical about this track, which is what makes me never tire of it and why I’m still playing it out frequently, six years after its original release. The breakdown is pretty intense and drawn-out, which creates a lot of energy, but the brilliant thing about this track is that the keyboard sounds drift around a lot tuning-wise, which gives it a very analogue sound."
Da Posse - In The Heat Of The Night (Future Records, 1988 / Freerange, 2014)
"I can’t remember where or when I first picked up this record but must have been around 1990. It came out in 1988 and is produced by Hula and K Fingers, who also did another bona fide classic called It’s My Life [Aluh Mix] the same year. In The Heat Of The Night really grabbed me with the hints of acid and brilliant, raw vocal from Christa Jordan and we were really proud to reissue it on Freerange a few years ago, along with edits from The Black Madonna, Adjowa and myself."
Shimmy Sham Sham! - Shimmy Sham Sham! 004 (Shimmy Sham Sham!, 2009)
"This is an expertly crafted edit of a 1994 Arthur Russell track called In The Light Of The Miracle, which adds the perfect ingredients for a dancefloor killer. Even though the original was a fairly underground release on Talkin’ Loud, this edit gets a great response as if everyone knows the track. The flipside is an edit of Nina Simone which is also brilliant. You need this record in your life."
SIX RECORDS THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE
Stefan Robbers - Foreign Dimensions (Buzz, 1993)
"This track comes from a brilliant compilation of European and Detroit techno called Virtualsex which I picked up in 1993, probably due to the sleeve, which featured a sleazy faux-3D image and came with free 3D glasses! Fortunately the music is as good as the sleeve and I remember being round at my label partner Tom Roberts' house and listening to this on repeat for a whole day. Carl Craig, Rhythm Is Rhythm and Kenny Larkin all delivered what would go on to become techno classics for this comp, but the standout for me was always the stunning, futuristic vibe of Foreign Dimensions. Sublime!"
DHS - House Of God (Hangman Records, 1990)
"I bought this record on my 18th birthday in March 1991, from a shop in Leybridge Road, Leytonstone. I had a house party the same evening and freaked my friends out by playing this record about 10 times in a row. Everyone left for the other rooms but I was more than happy just listening over and over to it. I always thought Jack Dangers from Meat Beat Manifesto had something to with this, as it shares a lot of similarities with his MBM stuff, but after a bit of a scour through Discogs, that apparently isn’t the case."
Ron Trent - Altered States (Djax, 1990)
"Knowing Ron Trent’s musical output following this 1990 release on Dutch techno label Djax Up Beats, it’s quite hard to imagine he’d ever have produced such a minimal, raw banger! But then this was Chicago at the height of The Music Box, and this kind of insane track would have caused complete mayhem. Actually, I don’t remember really hearing this on a huge club system until much later when Mark Pritchard dropped it at a festival in amongst some hip-hop, broken beat and deep house. It sounded incredible!"
La Funk Mob - Motor Bass Gets Phunked Up (Mo' Wax, 1994)
"It’s safe to say Mo' Wax was pretty much the inspiration for us starting up Freerange. What James Lavelle did with that label was incredible, bringing together such a diverse range of styles under one beautifully designed roof. House, techno, trip-hop, drum & bass, hip-hop, all sitting side-by-side, seems to sum up that period of the mid-90s as one big melting pot full of great music. Motor Bass Gets Phunked Up sounded like nothing else, like something beamed from outer space, and would still sound ahead of its time if it was released today."
Mark Stewart & The Maffia - Hypnotized (Mute, 1985)
"In my home town of Braintree, Essex there was a group of slightly older guys who were picking up on some of the more industrial, sample-heavy sounds from the likes of Tackhead, Nitzer Ebb, Skinny Puppy, Meat Beat Manifesto and Renegade Soundwave. A friend had a sister who worked at Mute Records, so she was getting hold of tapes of upfront stuff ahead of release, which we were eagerly soaking up like sponges. Hypnotized was another one of those tracks that spearheaded a new sound and influenced a whole wave of underground music."
Grace Jones - Don’t Cry, It’s Only The Rhythm (ZTT/Island, 1985)
"The whole Slave To The Rhythm LP was a complete game-changer for me. I must have listened to it 100 times when it first came out, and countless more times over the years. The genius, trailblazing production of Trevor Horn, the incredible musicians involved and then the charismatic Grace Jones being the icing on the cake made for an experimental pop LP which appealed to everyone. This particular track still freaks me out today, with the bold panning, stereo effects and beautiful lush synths."
SIX AFTERHOURS RECORDS
Fred P - Emotive Vibrations (Finale Sessions, 2012)
"If you’ve never heard this and you like your house music deep as fuck then you’re in for a real treat! Fred P completely smashed it on this one and created a classic in the process which will stand the test of time. It will always be one to reach for at those afterhours sessions when people are ready for something extra-special.:
Sergio Mendes - The Real Thing (Elektra, 1977)
"No afterhours session is complete without a bit of Stevie Wonder, so here’s an incredible slice of soulful disco he wrote for Sergio Mendes for his New Brasil ’77 LP. The chorus is a thing of beauty: it never ceases to put a smile on my face and makes me want to dance around like a lunatic. Apparently a Music Box classic played regularly by Ron Hardy too. What I wouldn’t give to have been able to experience that first hand!"
Scott Grooves - Movin' On (Natural Midi, 2014)
"Detroit native Scott Grooves is someone whose music I’ve followed ever since discovering his Mothership Reconnection in 1998, but as it turns out he’s been quietly cooking up gem after gem since 1993. There’s hardly a set of mine goes by without one of his productions getting spins, most recently his remix for Soul Clap on Classic, but I always keep coming back to Movin’ On, especially for afterhours or daytime parties. It’s such a sweet and soulful house track but with a raw, Detroit attitude that makes it sound incredible on a big system. Thank you, Scott, for all the great music!"
The Detroit Experiment - Think Twice (Ropeadope, 2002)
"I find the best tracks for the afterhours are those with a heavy groove but with a warmth and an uplifting vibe to keep people smiling. Here’s Carl Craig’s take on the Donald Byrd classic Think Twice, which came out in 2002 and was later remixed to great effect by Henrik Schwarz."
OutKast - Prototype (Arista, 2003)
"Drop this when everyone is feeling the love in the room and watch people throw shapes they never knew existed!"
George Duke - I Want You For Myself (Epic, 1979)
"A bona fide wedding set classic which I’ve even got away with playing at clubs like Trouw and Watergate, this 1979 slice of disco heaven from George Duke never fails to lift the spirits and make you feel glad to be alive. Pure joy on wax."
Silent Stars is out now on Freerange Records
Tags: Jimpster, Jamie Odell, Freerange, Warp 69, Shakatak, Shafty, Art Of Noise, Herbie Hancock, After Hours, Minnie Ripperton, 10CC, Pat Metheny, Bill Evans, Mustapha Tettey Addy, Gigi Masin, Loxodrome, Delano Smith, Iz & Diz, Solomun, The Popular People's Front, Aaron Siegel, L'Renee, Diamondancer, Vincenzo & Duffer Swift, Chicago Damn, Da Posse, Stefan Robbers, DHS, Ron Trent, La Funk Mob, Mark Stewart & The Maffia, Grace Jones, Fred P, Sergio Mendes, Scott Grooves, The Detroit Experiment, OutKast, George Duke