15 January 2016
Westbury 2015 highlights
2015 was another great year here at Westbury HQ with the catalogue attracting attention from all areas of the industry, including features on number one albums, leading brand adverts, feature films and of course loads of amazing music.
The first quarter of the year saw the release of Kendrick Lamar’s third album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, this album not only opened with a sample of title track from Westbury’s Boris Gardener’s ‘70s blaxploitation soundtrack “Every N*gger is a Star”. It was scatted with features from the catalogue including production from Stones Throw records artist Knxwledge plus vocals from Dancehall artist Assassin on the lead single “The Blacker the Berry”. The album not only achieved critical acclaim from all platforms but also secured the number one album spot in the UK securing over 100,000 sales.
The summer saw the release of two massive albums featuring vocals from Westbury reggae giant’s Max Romeo and Tarrus Riley. At the start of the summer Major Lazer released the second single “Powerful” from their third album Peace is the Weapon.
This featured a unique collaboration between Tarrus Riley and pop starlet Ellie Golding, breaking down an endearing story of love and lust. The track achieved radio playlist worldwide, charting in all major territories, reaching platinum status in Australia plus securing over 50 million hits on YouTube.
The summer closed out with the sophomore album release from drum & bass collective Rudimental “We the Generation”. Featured a collaboration between foundation reggae artists Earl 16 and Max Romeo on “System” as expected this attracted support from specialist radio in the UK and across Europe. The second single “Lay it all on me” featured a Tarrus Riley version of the song that gathered support from reggae radio.
Westbury songs were not only on your radio but were all over your TV and monitor contributing to the soundtracks of several key advert campaigns. These include national and international campaigns for the likes of MacDonalds, First Direct, Candy Crush, Gillette plus several others.
Both MacDonalds and First Direct used the classic dancefloor anthem “On a Ragga Tip” by SL2 in national campaigns which features vocals from Jah Screechy’s early ‘80s dancehall hit “Walk n Skank”. The MacDonald’s campaign showed a group of kids enjoying the joys of a summer’s day at home that can only be topped off with a Happy Meal
The First direct advert continued the thread of 2014s Platypus campaign but this time the main characters were a highly strung gecko lizard hanging out with a chilled but quite greedy Aye-Aye that happens to DJ. Both adverts reflected the songs, fun and energy adding to the charm of the advert.
1980s pop classic “You Spin Me Around” by Dead or Alive was used as the soundtrack to an exciting international campaign for the super addictive app Candy Crush Soda Saga. The 30 sec clip features a launderette taken over by the fun and joy of Candy Crush Soda Saga, making trouble for all those in its path.
Our titles were not only on the small screen but were found in various major and independent films, these various uses show the depth of our catalogue. The Hollywood blockbuster Run All Night starring Liam Neeson featured the metal version of “You Spin Me Around” by Dope, this was used in one of the films pivotal scenes when things get serious for the main characters.
Brighton based indie group British Sea Power continued their strong bond with independent film as they provided the soundtrack for two films in the last year. Firstly, Captain Webb which tells the story of Captain Matthew Webb, the first-ever person to successfully swim the English Channel in 1875 equipped only with his moustache and doses of Brandy.
BSP scored the award winning documentary ‘Happiness’ directed by Thomas Balmès, this tells the story, when Jigme Singye Wangchuck authorized television and the Internet throughout Bhutan, it had a rapid impact on the country. The film follows events through the eyes of an eight year old monk named Peyangki, praying eagerly for a TV set in Laya, the last village in Bhutan to go through the process of globalization. The film won the ‘Cinematography Award: World Cinema Documentary’ at the Sundance film festival in 2014.
The band continued to have a successful year with the release of the "Sea of Brass" album a collaboration with a 28-piece brass ensemble, revisiting songs from their extensive catalogue. The album was once again well received by critics described as having consistent moments of beauty when the elements of brass and rock combine.
There were many other musical highlights throughout the year including the release of Lau’s fourth full studio album ‘The Bell That Never Rang’ which earned great reviews from the Guardian and Songlines magazine plus supported another epic Lau World festival. New signing Emika released two albums on her own independent imprint, the vocal album “Drei” was a creative success providing the much needed platform for Emika to express herself musically.
One of the reggae highlights of the year was the collaboration between singer Randy Valentine and Westbury’s Joe ‘Ariwa’ Fraser on the album “Keep Pushing”. Joe produced the full album, creating a milestone in UK reggae with a project that fully embodies the new roots movement, generating airplay on Radio 1 and 1xtra throughout the summer.
Finally we have to give a massive Westbury big up to Mr. G for winning Mixmag Star of the Year award, for releasing a consistent stream of quality music throughout the year. And last but not least a huge shout out to our very own Paulette Long who was awarded a CBE for services to the music industry.