Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Last Night at The Saint - The Genius of Jim Burgess

I honestly think that this might be the greatest live mix I've ever heard. It's Jim Burgess' last set at New York gay super club The Saint, on its closing night 2nd May 1988, where he played the second last set of the weekend before Robbie Leslie. As one might expect it would be, it’s completely drenched in emotion but it is also creatively awesome (and I do mean awesome as per the dictionary definition) and is full of the theatrical drama that Burgess was famous for. In addition to the musical brilliance, from a purely technical DJing perspective, it is utterly, utterly brilliant, in key and perfect beat matching, holding long beat mixes with disco records using live drums and soaring strings almost and 4 and a half hours and there’s not even tweak of a turntable audible. It’s true lesson in the art of disco DJing.

It’s hard to listen to and not image the scenes on the infamous Saint balcony in the sleazy early hours at the club, as the music slowed and the high octane energy of the peak hours was replaced with a more sexual vibe.

This was Jim Burgess’ send ‘last set’ at The Saint, as previously held farewell party on 31 January 1981, when he retired from DJing aged just 28 to concentrate on a career as tenor. In true dramatic Burgess style, who was wearing in a white tie and tails in stark contrast to the Levis and white tee uniform of clone heavy Saint crowd, he walked out of the booth and club at the 6am peak of his set, leaving his last record to out. I’m not sure if the singing didn’t work out but he started DJing regularly at The Saint again from 1986, culminating in this set on the club's final night.

Unfortunately, Jim Burgess died of AIDS related illness on 18 January 1993, joining the long list of hugely talented DJs from that era who were taken too early. Not many others are survived by such a comprehensive record of their ability as Burgess is with this mix. I’ve had in parts for years but somebody has been kind enough to splice the entire 4 hours 20 minutes together on soundcloud.

For further reading on Jim Burgess, check this Disco Disco article, which includes insight from some of his close friends >>here<<

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