mercredi 28 novembre 2012

Raw Stylus - Pushing Against The Flow (1996)

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It's been a long while since I came across any hidden gems, such a long time in fact that I had seriously started to think it was over, that I'd heard every decent forgotten track from my favourite period, and that there was nothing left to discover... and then this popped up.

Roger Sanchez did some amazing remixes in the early 1990s, turning in multiple takes on a song, with great melodic vocals and inventive dubs, often turning a banal song into a club monster.

In the case of Pushing Against The Flow, the tune itself was already pretty good, but Sanchez brought it up to house speed, funked it up, and turned in some incredible, hypnotic dubs. Back in the day, people had more patience. They were prepared to wait for a mix to build and build, because it only made the payoff bigger and better. In this case the crescendo is particularly long with seemingly very few elements, and yet there's always something extra coming in to keep your interest. It just keeps rising and rising.

I have fused together two of the dubs, making a 16-minute mix that really explodes (for me) at the 9'43" mark. I think you need to be in a particular frame of mind to get the best out of it, whether natural or induced, and I can just imagine it being played in a club around 4am.

They don't make mixes like this any more. This is proper house. Listen / download here...

I can't say my fusion was hard to do, in fact it was actually just a simple cut and paste, nothing more, but knowing where to do it was crucial, and you don't feel the transition at all.

I'm so pleased to have found this track, and I've been listening to my version almost non-stop for a week now. Let's hope I never get tired of it.

mercredi 11 mai 2011

J0m@nda - 1 Cr1ed The Tears (1994)

It's strange that Jomanda don't get more credit. They were pioneers of a garage / house / even rave sound (having started in 1988), the lyrics were pretty good (although they almost always revolved around love), they've been heavily sampled (Felix, Micronauts...) and had the cream of the day's remixers on their case. They basically set the scene for a slew of girl groups such as EnVogue, and they could really sing!

You can still find their albums around, but many of their great remixes are now unavailable.

I Cried The Tears was the groups's last single, with E-Smoove making a competent if rather classic effort. However, the big surprise comes from Ralphi Rosario. I had always assumed that he had spent his career surfing on the success of You Used To Hold Me (for me, his only hit), but here he shows how to work a track in different flavours and transform it into something even better (surely the aim of all remixes?).

I decided to take three of his mixes and combine them into one long one. This involved cutting some of the mixes down a little to avoid fatigue, and the blending was a little tricky in spots, but I think the result is pretty good. If you like your piano house, you're going to love it!

You can listen and download below, and I urge you to check out all the other Jomanda singles. There's a lot of classic stuff there.

mardi 5 avril 2011

Tia Carrere - I Wanna Come Home With You Tonight (1993)

I can't believe I haven't posted this one before actually. It was one of my early edits, and is still one of my favourite tunes (after 18 years. Eighteen years!)

Tia Carrere is best known for her role in the two Wayne's World films, and it's probably thanks to them (and her shapely figure that many an adolescent has apparently fantasized about) that she got her album deal with Reprise Records.

I Wanna Come Home With You was the too-saucy-for-radio b-side to State of Grace, which may explain why some bright spark product manager at Warner decided to have it remixed by Masters At Work, to get some club play if nothing else. Firing on all cylinders, and in classic Kenlou style, Louie and Kenny turned in one downtempo mix, a house vocal and two great dubs.

With its repeated "I wanna cum, I wanna cum" chorus, the song - penned by 80s master songwriters Climie & Fisher - deliberately played up to Carrere's slightly slutty image; the Sex Dub had her moanin' and groanin' like mad, so much so that it was not deemed too risqué ro be included on the CD-single.

In fact, it looks like the CD is pretty rare now. It wasn't even on Discogs (I've created the entry now, a long and exhausting process. I love Discogs but it wish it were simpler to use). The Masters At Work mixes are brilliantly crafted, and I couldn't resist putting the dub and 12" version together to make one rather epic 17-minute version. Hope you like it.

As usual, there is no legal way to buy the track now, yet another example of music made unavailable by a major for nearly two decades. Listen and/or download below.

samedi 12 février 2011

Urban Blues Project feat. Jay Williams - Testify (1997)

I have to admit I missed this one when it came out. Too cheesy perhaps? Or perhaps the sleeve was just too damn ugly (c'mon, it's a disaster). However, with hindsight (and closer listening to the Roger S. and Mousse T. mixes) it really is insanely catchy.

And after buying all the mixes from (increasingly interesting site) Traxsource, I decided to hook the Mousse T. vocal up with the dub, trim things down a little, and tag on one of the Matthew Roberts mixes to make an irresistible, ever-evolving l-o-n-g version: 16 minutes! Have a listen below.

I haven't put my version up for free download because the tracks are available to purchase legally, but if you contact me with a proof of purchase (from anywhere), I'd be happy to pass it on :-)

Fancy seeing Jay Williams diva it up big style? Check this out...

lundi 27 décembre 2010

Loleatta Holloway - Mama Don’t, Papa Won’t (1992)

Salsoul may have been an excellent disco label, but as soon as the genre’s incredible popularity died out, Salsoul suffered accordingly. The remix collections brought out in the early nineties were an obvious late attempt to milk the catalogue to the max (work subsequently continued by Suss'd), but luckily the material was rich - often with great orchestration and live percussion - and the choice of remixers was inspired. People like Masters At Work, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, Clivilles & Cole and David Morales did exceptional work on tracks that they very obviously loved. Some mixes arguably outdid the originals.

Inexplicably named Tabasko for the UK market (it was 'Synergy' in the US), the remix album started off with Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley’s terrific mix of Loleatta Holloway’s “Mama Don’t, Papa Won’t”, a radically different take that nevertheless made great use of the original strings section and fit the song perfectly, giving it a whole new lease of life.

As well as being included on the compilation CDs, some tracks were released on CD-single, albeit in a rather roughshod manner; there was no front sleeve, artwork was uniformly terrible, tracklistings were often absent or didn’t reflect the actual contents of the CD…

Although I already had the Salsoul CD singles of some other tracks, I didn’t know that “MD,PW” had also been released as a single until I came across it on eBay. Apparently, despite these CDs being pretty hard to find when they were released, nobody else cares, as I was the only person to bid, and got the CD for next to nothing.

Anyway, the CD-single contained a Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley dub that I hadn’t heard before, and although it’s not radically different (as was often the case with his work), there were some sections that strayed from the vocal version, and I’d always wanted his mix to be longer, so… I decided to make my own version! The result gives the track more emphasis on the less vocal side and makes for a welcome surprise for anyone - like me - who knows it by heart now. I think of it as a slight extension, and the new splices sound natural, so I’m quite pleased with it. Have a listen below, and download it if you like…

I’d love to be able to direct you to a legal download site that allows you to get your hands on the Hurley remix and support the artist, but once again it’s unavailable on all the usual sites (unless you know otherwise). Sad.

It's also amusing to note that more time has now passed between the remix release and the present day than between the original disco release and the remix!

BONUS! I combined two of the MAW mixes of “Ten Percent” together to make an extra long mix too. Not rocket science, but I like the way it works. You can download that here.

vendredi 3 décembre 2010

The Be1ievers - Wh0 Dar3s To Be1ieve 1n Me (Roach Motel mix) (1994)

If you've read other parts of this blog, you may know that 1994 was THE year for house music (for me). It changed me forever, and I never quite got over it.

The original of this Roy Davis Jr. track was on Strictly Rhythm. You can buy the original versions here and the 2009 remixes (surprisingly uncheesy, but hardly subtle either) here. However, this vinyl release, licensed for the first ever release on the Sound of Ministry label, contained a classic mix from Farley & Heller (under their Roach Motel moniker) that has never been available digitally.

It's always been a favourite of mine, and although I'd tried to rip it once with my old plastic turntable, the results were not great. Now that I have a proper turntable and sound card, it sounds a great deal better. It may even be the best Farley & Heller remix ever made, together with A Feelin' by Jasper Street Company, although there are plenty of other potential candidates.

I'm guessing that these mixes aren't available because Strictly licensed the track to Ministry, who paid to have the track to be remixed for the UK, and now neither of them knows who owns the rights or where the masters are. I'd love for them to be brought out digitally sometime, but while we're waiting (it has been 16 years after all), I thought you might like to listen and download my rip. I've tweaked the sound a bit and de-clicked the vinyl, and I think it sounds pretty good. Tell me if you agree!


This track was removed from Soundcloud upon the request of Strictly Rhythm, the owners of the original track. The remix posted here however was never released by Strictly Rhythm, has not been released by them since, has not been made available digitally by them ever and hasn't been licensed by them for any other project or use since it was released by Ministry in 1994.

Soundcloud allowed me a 'right of reply', in which I explained this. My point was essentially, that posting about a song that is impossible to buy legally doesn't infringe anyone's copyright. Furthermore, I suggested that even Strictly Rhythm don't really know if it's theirs or not, otherwise it would have been released by them by now.

I also suggested a more intelligent approach than a simple takedown, such as putting a link on the track that would lead people to a legal download site (for the original). I also said that I would love them to release this mix, and that - unlike many tracks - I would never make a track available for download if it were available for legal purchase elsewhere. I think it's essential to encourage labels to re-release old tracks, and that the artists get their share.

Also, ironically, the track has been available on Youtube for two years now, and no-one at Strictly seems very bothered about that. They haven't even put a link on those videos so people can go and download the track.

Anyway, Soundcloud gave me two days to refute the takedown by Strictly. I replied immediately with the above, and asked for proof from Strictly that this mix was their property. After all, you can't just remove content without proof of ownnership, can you? Well apparently, you can; after a week, no-one replied, the track remained banned, so I just uploaded it again with figures in the title instead of some letters, and my guess is that they won't find or bother me again.

What's the lesson of this story? That labels prefer to keep music orphaned rather than try to make it available, that they have the clout 'n' shout to shut some things down, but not the motivation to keep the music alive, that this sort of blinkered attitude is doing nothing to encourage people to turn to legal download sites, and that much music that is still unavailable may stay that way for a very long time to come.

jeudi 11 novembre 2010

Johnny Vicious - Grind (1994)

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present one of the worst CD covers ever, for one of the best compilations ever. It may even be one of the worst covers of all time. Let's take a look at the evidence.

1. Near-naked skank that has probably never danced to house music in her life.
2. Use of every colour under the sun, terrible layout and cogs (?).
3. Says "all night house party", then says "Over 60 minutes of non-stop music". That's a very short night.
4. Use of the word 'mixmaster'. Not cool.

and finally

5. The title. "GRIND". Not Grind, GRIND, like an order. Whoever looked after this knew nothing about subtlety (or house music), and was still on the first chapter of Photoshop for Morons. Needless to say, any discerning house lover would probably run a mile.

Which makes it all the more surprising to learn that this is probably one of the best house/garage compilations of the nineties. 1994 was Johnny Vicious' golden year, still fresh and full of ideas, and the selection on here was surprising even for him.

No house/garage lover can argue with Blaze (twice!), Bas Noir, Jomanda, Kerri Chandler... and if the mixing style is abrupt near the begininning - basically cutting directly from one track to the next - things soften out quickly, with overdubs and effects livening things up. Listen to "My Love is Magic" by Bas Noir, and you'll hear the title sampled and incorporated into the next track, Vicious' trademark odd sounds float across other tracks, and many of the garage numbers here are impossible to find elsewhere in decent quality.

It's not perfect, there are a couple of fillers, and the tracklisting has some puzzling errors (does "Trailer Ends" by Running Around really come after a track called "Running Around" by Trailer Ends?) but there's a lot of really great stuff on here, including quite a few tracks culled from seminal label Downtown 161.

The only thing I would take serious issue with is the last track, a dodgy cover version of "I Feel The Earth Move" that sounds like it was added on after the mix was finished. So I decided to edit it out. It was awful.

The CD can still be found on Discogs or eBay if you look, and it's not expensive. I think it's essential. Listen or download below to see if you agree.