The 7” is arguably one of the 20th century’s greatest art forms (I’m prepared to argue it anyway). What should have been a disposable format, either as the herald for the altogether more serious LP or the truncated version of the extended 12”, ended up at the perfect expression of modern music – tightened up, fat free and to the point.
At some point during a DJ career that’s lasted pretty much the entirety of his adult life, Boca 45 (aka Bristolian Scott Hendy) eschewed all other formats to choose the 7” as his weapon of choice. Embracing and celebrating the limitations of the format (both in terms of record length and the type of music showcased on discs of that size), Hendy set out on a truly singular path for soundtracking parties the world over. In 2015 Banksy personally requested him to DJ with his 45s at the opening night at his Dismal Land Show, now, in his forty fifth year on Planet Earth, he’s made an album that reflects a life well spent flipping through the racks the world over.
Hendy’s musical life began when he started collecting records as a pre-teen. A love of hip hop and electro grew in parallel with the rise of each of those nascent genres. Having harboured ambitions to tackle hip hop’s various elements – MCing, graffiti-ing, breakdancing and DJing – he settled on the latter after being given his first set of Technics decks aged 16. During the ensuing years, Hendy got the breaks, rapidly becoming one of Bristol’s most in demand DJs known for a trippy, rapid fire mix of bone-cracking breaks, b-boy vocals, coruscating garage rock and heavy psych. His first album – 2004’s Pitch Sounds – was released on Manchester’s hugely influential Grand Central Records; subsequent releases include several mixtapes for Ninja Tune / Solid Steel / Jalapeno / Unique / Island and three curveball albums with his acclaimed, head-turning Fabs-meets-Madlib-meets-Morricone-meets-whathaveyougot melting pot duo Malachai for Domino Recordings.
At the advent of Hendy’s 45th year, he decided to hone everything he’d learnt and loved over the years into one killer solo record. A homage to that great art form, Forty Five is Hendy’s life story in twelve cuts; the soundtrack to an immersion in sound set to floor quaking music. It’s a story that takes the listener from darkened Boom Bap West Country Clubs (Energy Boost) to one of New York’s most legendary nightspots (The Roxy); through smoke-filled, semi-paranoid after parties (White, Blue & Red) Heavy Soul & Funk (Soul On Top / Move A Mountain) and finally out of the changing rooms and onto the pitch for a game of 11-a-side in the Bristol Casuals League (Bryan Munich Theme). Musically, it perfectly reflects Hendy’s deep, unshakable love of the kind of music that’s helped power parties for the last four and a half decades (as a precursor/appetite whetter for the album. Prior to this in 2018 Hendy released the incredible Boca’s Club Donuts – a series of five highly covetable, cut & paste/cast iron banger 7” singles built specifically for those kinds of parties – they sold out to a rabid set of collectors via announcement on his own website).
When incubating Forty Five, Hendy pulled together friends, family and footie mates to make a record that would deserving stand as his musical autobiography – that cast list included his Bryan Munich teammates (Geoff Barrow and Billy Fuller from Beak, film composer Ben Salisbury), Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno, NYC MC Emskee, New Zealander soul singer Louis Baker and Malachai bandmate Gee. The first people to hear the record outside of a close circle of friends was titanic U.S. record label Mass Appeal (home to DJ Shadow, Nas, Run the Jewelz and the J Dilla catalogue). They immediately offered on and signed the record in a worldwide deal.
It’s a testament to Hendy’s clear musical vision (and the fact that he’s spent the best part of a lifetime playing killer records to appreciative crowds) that such a diverse cast list and a breadth of styles has produced a beautifully focused record that sounds at home on floor, from the stands or on headphones. Or, stacked up on a Dansette, falling down one after the other has finished.
Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait until Seventy Eight for the next instalment.