Mr. Scruff now has with four major releases and a slew of singles on Ninja Tune. Hailing from Manchester, England Mr. Scruff is a fixture of the UK club scene. Known for lengthy dj journeys and a broad taste in music that moves, he always sets the crowds ablaze.
His new album Ninja Tuna features a little help from Roots Manuva, Alice Russell, Andreya Triana, Pete Simpson, Quantic and Danny Breaks. The US release of Ninja Tuna comes with a second disc that contains 10 new tracks not included on the UK release. Two great videos, for 'Music Takes Me Up' and Donkey Ride', are floating around the internet. Done in the inimitable Mr. Scruff style of course (think singing lemons and raving donkeys).
A lot of things have happened since a young Andy Carthy started answering to the name Mr Scruff - making a name for himself under the shadow of Manchester's snooty club scene of the mid 90s. A DJ who joined the musical dots others didn't even know existed, not to impress but to maintain a flow for the dancers. A series of smashing EPs which initially seemed quirky but turned out to have a durable musical value, proved that our hero was more than just a DJ. Titles like 'Large Pies', the gloriously cranky 'Chicken in a Box' and 'Camels Foot' (housed in sleeves featuring Mr Scruff's charming scribbles of potato-shaped chaps getting down as best they could), made it clear that though his music was unquestionably cracking, we were not dealing with some pretentious po-faced trance DJ.
Two LPs, a self-titled first in May 97, and 'Keep It Unreal' - released to universal acclaim in July '99 - cemented his status as a maverick with the crankiest tunes on the playground. Even Madonna name checked Mr Scruff, claiming Keep It Unreal had been a regular spin on her hometown Hi- Fi. Big up yerself, Madge.
In the past few years, the Keep It Unreal night, which began in Manchester, has become a worldwide brand with Mr Scruff hosting his own club in cities around the world - allowing him free reign to jumble jazz, house, hip hop, ska, ragga, reggae, dub, blues, soul and rock and roll. At such hoedowns Mr Scruff makes a difference by making his own rules and adhering to Frank Zappa's durable epithet - that 'if music be the food of love, nobody wants to eat cabbage all night'. He will play for as long as seven hours (if he needs the toilet he will put on a Fela Kuti record) and in that time he will be several DJs rolled into one.
But hang on. Maybe you know all this. I was just trying to introduce our hero to the stragglers at the back. This note is really just to let you know that the cavalry, in the shape of Scruff's third long player, is about to arrive. You've heard the 'Shrimp' single' - an inspired fusion of Mizell Brothers cool and Roger Troutman's squelchy funk. Those of us who hate records made by ordinary DJs with no more than a basic knowledge of sampling machinery were fooled into thinking it was a lovely old oddball disco record we'd missed.
The album 'Trouser Jazz' delivered on the promise of that single. Recorded largely in Mr Scruff's newly constructed home studio, it features a collaboration with highly touted homegrown rap talent Braintax on 'Vibrate'.. Homelife's octave defying Seaming To sings on another genre-defying carve up and I see we've not run out of great titles if 'Come on Grandad' is anything to go by. Mr Scruff tells me it's a more rounded affair with a mix of dancefloor dynamite, some Brazilian influences, and further cheeky tunes about fish with commentary from children's TV presenters.