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Ty – Let’s Start (2013)

Ty was a gifted UK rapper and producer who sadly died this year after contracting coronavirus. This track samples Fela Kuti and showcases much of his lyrical and musical skill. Taken from ‘Kick Snare & An Idea — Part Two’.

Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes (feat. Freddie Gibbs) – Nightrider (2020)

This London based duo have probably delivered my favourite laid-back lockdown track so far with a nice guest appearance from US rapper Freddie Gibbs. The video animation fits really well and the album is out on Blue Note.

Milton Wright – Friends and Buddies (1975)

Milton Wright was a talented singer-songwriter and producer who was based in Miami during the mid 70s. This track is remarkable in that it really would not be out of place on any Stevie Wonder album of the same era.

Mamas Gun – This Is The Day (2020)

London based ‘Mamas Gun’ deliver a genuinely outstanding slice of contemporary yet classic soul. Motown would have been proud to release this kind of record.


Bill Withers – Kissing My Love (1972)

Bill Withers died this week leaving a legacy as one of the truly great singer-songwriters of all time. His success arrived later than most and he left his recording career in the mid 80s when he became tired of record label execs. telling him how he should sound…..

This is a live track taken from his outstanding album ‘Still Bill’ (1972) featuring a rhythm section from the mighty Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. If you’ve still got a pulse you have to feel this….and don’t tell me you know a funkier person in a polo neck



Immune Boosting Foods, Herbs & Supplements


In these unusual times, along with basic lifestyle recommendations (ie appropriate sleep and exercise) we can support the immune system via herbs, supplements and gut health.

Firstly, before I go any further, developing some immunity to Coronavirus (your body has generated antibodies to resist the virus) does not mean that you cannot spread the infection. Social distancing at this time continues to be very important

Secondly, you must consult with a doctor before taking any medicinal herbs/supplements if you are taking any prescribed medication.


A simple overview of immunity and the gut without too much theory:


It is well researched and documented that the gut contains trillions of microbes collectively known as the gut microbiota – at least as many cells as we have in our whole body. Their collective genome, known as the gut microbiome, contains approx 150 times more genes than the human genome.

The gut microbiota influences many aspects of human physiology including our immune system and approximately 70 – 80% of the human immune system resides in the gut.

The immune system has two types of coordinated responses – innate and adaptive – which look to quickly destroy damaged or infected cells and also to adapt to more complex threats. Appropriate diet is fundamental for the immune system as imbalances in the gut microbiota (which get most of their nutrients from our diet) may disrupt immune responses and lead to the development of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune dysfunctions.


A simple summary of what we can do:


(a) Eat a diverse range of foods that do not cause any obvious difficulties for you as an individual. This could include:

vegetables, legumes, beans and fruit
fermented foods (ie natural yoghurt & kefir)
prebiotics (whole grain carbs & fibre)
polyphenols (micronutrients – found in dark chocolate, green tea & red wine).


(b) Take immune boosting herbs/supplements including:

1. Everyday Eastern medicinal herbs:

(a pinch of these can be added to hot water for a simple herbal remedy that will also soothe the throat and respiratory tract)

Chilli Pepper


2. Western medicinal substances

(also helpful for throat and respiratory issues)

Olive Leaf Extract (contains several key polyphenols)
Quercetin (a pigment found in many fruits & vegetables)
Propolis (a resin-like material made by bees)


3. Western supplements

Probiotics (pill or powder)
L-Glutamine (an amino acid that supports the gut lining)
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Beta-glucans (soluble dietary fibre)
Monolaurine (derived from lauric acid, a fatty acid)


4. Adaptogenic Herbs

(these support the body during physical, mental, or emotional stress)



The above options have all received some support from clinical trials and/or traditional systems of medicine. Dosages will vary according to several factors but basic, standard daily doses are usually provided by manufacturers or health care practitioners.


Spencer Joseph

Viruses and Immunity

We all have some experience of infection by virus and we are particularly familiar with  annual / seasonal viruses such as the common cold. Recently we have seen the outbreak of new viruses including SARS, zika and now the coronavirus.

Viruses are highly complex and adaptive. An outbreak may end when a virus is unable to find any more people who are susceptible to infection while some viruses may continue to infect people, but without necessarily causing any obvious symptoms

There are actually now four coronavirus strains that commonly infect humans as common colds or pneumonia and the new coronavirus strain may become the fifth.

While we can all take sensible practical precautions (ie carefully washing hands with soap or sneezing into your elbow) we can also support our immune systems by reviewing the care we take with our own health.

Along with the important considerations of diet, sleep, exercise etc….there are many traditional herbs and supplements that may support immune function. Some research from Western healthcare promotes the use of vitamin/mineral supplements such as Vitamins C, D and Zinc while traditional teachings from The East emphasise the use of plants/herbs such as turmeric, siberian ginseng and reishi mushroom. There are many others……

Strengthening the immune system through supplements and herbs is a complex subject as people have differing genetic and immune system profiles (different constitutional / elemental types in traditional eastern medicine). In addition, we all have particular individual requirements that can (and will) change over time according to many variable life circumstances including our psychological and emotional process.

However, in my experience it is worth the effort to regularly review our basic human needs and to explore the help of supplements / herbs as a means to strengthening immunity.


Jitwam – busstop (2019)

Brooklyn via Assam (India). This track from producer/DJ/vocalist Jitwam bumps along with a mix of cross cultural elements and a great video of urban life in India…..

Little Simz – 101 FM (2018)

From the album Grey Area, this track from North London rapper Little Simz says so much….flow, vibrancy and message…….fierce music

The Police – When The World Is Running Down (1980)

The Police had a string of rock/pop hits in the late 70s and 80s but this track from the 1980 album ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’ went a little more under the radar. It’s a fierce track that shows their distinctive blend of pulsing drums (Copeland), sparse guitar chords (Summers) and driving bass/vocals (Sting).