On Stinky Grooves - a radio institution that runs from 9 till midnight every Tuesday - music is served with the care given to a degustation at a high-end restaurant. Each track is carefully selected and matched with the next, although the proprietor, 'Stinky Jim' (Jim Pinckney) will allow himself some wriggle room in the service of innovation. "I only picked up this track today so this is the first time I've played it right through." He will of course know the artist, the label, the producer, the percussionist and possibly the name of at least three of the fleas on her dog.
It's a bit like that scene in Portlandia, where the guests ask to see the family tree of the organic chicken they are about to eat. If Jim was the waiter, he wouldn't need to ask the chef. Like the best in his game - the DJ as purveyor and curator of sound - Jim is in love with music, and, if you will allow me just one more gastronomic metaphor, he is not unlike a pig in search of the stinkiest truffles.
Remarkably, Stinky Grooves has been on air since 1990, and for many it's been a gateway to the world of reggae, hip-hop, dub, downbeat, or indeed anything with a groove and preferably with a 'stink'. I tried to get Jim to pigeon hole his show, a hopeless task with any artist. "Stinky meaning funky" was as much as he'd comply, but listening to this weekly treat you will likely hear the best of reggae in the early part, moving through hip-hop and other electronic delights and ending up bewildered somewhere down the avant-garde end of the ambient path. The latter part of the show is a nod to an earlier radio outing called Tranquility Bass which Jim co-hosted with Kirk Harding, a kiwi who's gone on to make quite a mark in the music industry in the USA.
The tracks on this exceptional show come from artists with names like Chief Rockas Collective & Dark Angel and Ras G Afrikan Space Program or El Nuevo Sonido De La Kumbia and occasionally, even from the man himself. He'll also drop some Thom Yorke or even Bowie when you least expect, or play the music of local legend SJD, one of the small number of artists on Jim's own record label Round Trip Mars.
He set the label up to release his own music, and his collaborations: Unitone Hifi with Joost Langveld and Phase 5 with Angus McNaughton. It even launched the career of The Naked and Famous. In his 'spare time' he also DJs at bars and clubs and writes a regular column for The Listener. It's a musical life all right, one that began with a love of the bagpipes when Jim was growing up on pig-farm in Warwickshire in England. "Radio was a lifeline" back then, and besides the usual childhood guilty pleasures like "The Bay City Rollers", Scottish marching bands had the young Pinckney's ears standing to attention.
"My mum was Scottish so I was dedicated jock-o-phile". He even recalls chasing bagpipers and drummers for autographs. Punk came next, playing in bands in the Midlands where West Indians were the other predominant "outsiders making cool music", leading to his next obsession, Jamacia. The compressed combo of these forces is released into the atmosphere each Tuesday night between 9pm and midnight, but the music selection is merely the main course. The trimmings are just as important, and by trimmings, I mean language. Jim is one loquacious mofo, and his mish-mash of British, Kiwi and Jamaican patios is unsurpassed. The promo hints at the linguistic treats in store with its promise of "three hours of musical murder-ation" which will be served with "fresh vegetables and crisp biscuits". Next year marks a quarter century of this glorious "spinning of solid hooha".
The radio studio is a holy place for Jim, and younger DJs have entered at their peril.
Visitors are not encouraged. It's Jim, the music and the listener; everyone else would be wise to keep away. The suggestion that he has instilled the fear of god into generation of bFM DJs makes him laugh, he has, I suggest, a rep as a curmudgeon. "I am! And I wear that badge with pride. I never stab people in the back, I stab people in the front. I love this country but there's a politeness that's beautiful but it stops getting things done, if you say you're passionate, you have to be passionate." And, overused and abused as it is, the word "passionate" is apt for the 24 and half years of "luxurious lughole love" that Jim has been serving us.
Has it ever been a chore I ask? Hoping for a curmudgeonly whining-pom response. "Today I've gone through 300 to 400 tunes for tonight's show, it's down to about 120 now. I'll still be adding stuff at 8pm, listening to all that music, how could that be a chore? It's a privilege."
The privilege, Mr Stinky, is all ours.
Stinky Grooves, 95bFM, Tuesday's 9pm to midnight, online via 95bFM.com, and podcasts are available here.