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All too often, rare records suck ass. Yeah they're rare, and only wotzizname from wherever the fuck has a copy, but they tend to be average variations of well known jams, with their scarcity merely a novelty.

But then there are records like this, popping up out of nowhere only to blow your musically obsessed mind! From a quick scan of the centre label, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is your standard Chicago acid track, desireable only for the posibility of a few motivational spoken word cuts. When you whack the platter on the player however, you experience something very different indeed. A spiritual journey through cosmic keys and subtle percussion, which vibrates at your very core, enriching your soul with every passing moment.

Frustrated at her students' lack of cultural awareness, Miami-Dade public school teacher Dr Mary Sullivan Bain recorded ‘Do You Know Black History’ in 1985, self releasing it as a single for educational purposes. Original copies didn't make it much much further than Florida’s public school libraries and the record has been shrouded in mystery up until now. Produced with no label constraints, this cross-genre grail sits comfortably in many boxes... 808’s, bass synths, deep chords, live percussion and effects dubbed into the mix. The production leans towards the electronic diy framework that informed the local sound on the Miami south side. The vocal side offers an inspirational account of Black history, full of passion and pain, while the instrumental side strolls through outer space and Ibizan sunset, sounding exactly like the kind of sublime ambient cut you'd find on a battered old Café del Mar. Reissued officially for the first time ever by Backatcha, this is a total one of a kind.


12" Info: REPRESS DUE!

Smiles / Astronauts, Etc

Just A Star


    London-based label Backatcha bring together the old with the new with a double A-side 7” single from two separate California bands. One side features the highely sought-after early seventies psych-rock-folk grail, ‘Just A Star’ by Smiles - famously unearthed by DJ Shadow becoming his "most asked-about record in a mix" (Shadow, 2018). The other side features a new cover version of the song heard here for the first time by Oakland-based outfit Astronauts, etc., the project of Toro Y Moi touring keyboardist Anthony Ferraro. ‘Just A Star’ was first recorded in 1971 by Smiles, a fellow-Californian band fronted by Larry Smith and Rich Norkunas, two teenagers living in turbulent Nixon-era America. They financed the project by promising to provide a copy to friends, schoolmates, family and anyone else they could find willing to pay an upfront donation of ten-dollars. They pressed one-hundred 45rpm records and distributed it amongst their benefactors and soon after the record disappeared into oblivion. Three-decades later, DJ Shadow finds a copy in a Minnesota record store and plays it for his BBC’s Essential Mix series in 2002 revealing no names. It soon became one his most coveted discoveries and until recent years, this elusive 45 remained an enigma with few collectors knowing its origins until its title was revealed at online auction with less than a handful of original copies known to exist.  Growing up in a midst of changing social ideas, Smiles were in their mid-teens when they recorded 'Just A Flag'. Norkunas explains - "two young musicians still ineligible to vote collaborated in writing a song that reflected their angst and unanswered questions about what was happening in the world around them.” Wind the clocks forward to present-day and turn-over for Astronauts. etc version and the songs sentiment is as relevant now as it was nearly fifty-years ago. Recorded in January, 2019 in Oakland, Astronauts, etc. frontman Ferraro breathes new life into ’Just A Star’. Last year’s ‘Living In Symbol’ album earned high praise from advocates of all stripes and the comparisons abounded. Whilst nods to David Axelrod, Latin psychedelia, and Canterbury are heard woven into the arrangements, the album opened its doors to a signature sound with Ferraro running in his own lane. His interpretation of ‘Just A Star’ is testament to that, once again carrying the song onto a timeless wavelength. An Exclusive Record Store Day release, both Smiles 1971 original version and Astronauts, etc.'s 2019 version of ’Just A Star’, are made available for the first time on a black-vinyl 7” single released by Backatcha Records.

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    So the ‘Just In’ section is over flowing with new stock, back in stock, reissues and the remaining @RSDUK stock. Ta…
    Thu 25th - 4:36
    .@ianbrown fans. The zoltar will be here until Thurs May 2nd. It’s being taken away on the 3rd so if you arrive whe…
    Thu 25th - 4:00
    Thanks for posting about it. It’s here until next Friday May 3rd btw.
    Wed 24th - 8:58
    Yes! Thanks @NME for the feature. Come and visit @ianbrown
    Tue 23rd - 9:48
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