jeudi 19 mars 2009

The golden period of Masters At Work

There were a few years in the 90s when no-one could touch the Masters At Work. Ideas, beauty, energy: they were at the top of their form. Equally at home with chugging jeep beats or clickety-skip house, the production was perfect and the music amazing.

I've done numerous re-edits of their various remixes, but here are a couple that are a little different. For "Like An Eagle" by the Neville Brothers and "Nothing Can Stop Us" by Saint Etienne I've coupled the downtempo mix with the house mix. There's an obvious transition because of the different BPM, but I think they flow quite well. Good for a change of tempo during a DJ set perhaps?

By the way, can you imagine being a product manager at Warner in New York in 1992, being handed a UK indie group like Saint Etienne and deciding that it would be a good idea to give two of their tracks to Masters At Work? Inspired or reckless, the results were classics...

The Neville Brothers "Fly Like An Eagle (12" Remix/Slippin dub Fist fusion)"
Saint Etienne "Nothing Can Stop Us (Masters At Work remix/dub)"

lundi 16 mars 2009

Clive Griffin "I'll Be Waiting" re-edit

Oh dear. Pity poor Clive Griffin. Dubiously famous for a second after singing with the pair of weepy bellows that are now Celine Dion. Backing singer for, er, Take That and Kylie. Short-lived solo career that no-one remembers, except for a few 90s house and garage crackpots. Like me.

So, poor guy. On some of his record sleeves he looked more like an Elvis impersonator than a guru of garage. This may explain why he's sporting a Phantom Of The Opera look on "I'll Be Waiting". The song has become a bit of a classic over the years, perhaps less for the vocal mix than the dub, both by Morales. A rave/Hacienda/garage classic that just won't go away, a high spot in a career of low spots. iTunes just has the one album from Clive available. Although he's still singing for cheques to this day, it seems that glory will never be his.

At least we have "I'll Be Waiting" to remember him by. You can find CD rips of it on several blogs. Finest Def Mix posted it last August. Nineties Club CD Maxi Singles followed suit a fortnight later. Neither however served up the killer dub that I found on The Love Unlimited Sound System blog. I put the vocal and dub in a blender and came up with what I think is a rather pleaant Fist fusion (here), and it's a testament to the music that I can listen to it at all, as the lyrics are poor beyond belief. Garage lyrics have never given the poet laureate cold sweats, but the priceless rhyming dictionary pap that Clive serves up here just has to be read to be believed:

Believe in forever, forever more
Keep holding on to all of our dreams
You know we can find a way and we'll find it come what may
Oh hand in hand we're strong.

Starts off badly doesn't it? It gets worse. Clive has a lady singing partner for the song. She's black. You can tell. And even if you can't tell, she and Clive and going to bludgeon you over the head with THE MESSAGE:

And maybe the moon glow will soon show
All the beauty lying beneath our skin
When you touch me in the night I know there's no black and white
Nothing's gonna keep us apart.

Tolerance, love beyond the colour of one's skin, and... trying to chart as highly as possible (don't think it worked). Watch out, here comes the chorus:

I'll be waiting, 'til the end of time
Waiting for the moment to live as one
Anticipating a much brighter day
Waiting for this heartache to end.

Yep, they just rhymed 'waiting' with 'anticipating'. You can't stoop much lower than that. I'm guessing that there's a thinly-veiled allusion to apartheid in there, but what a god awful way of going about it. It's it's not about to finish quite yet...

I'll be waiting, for the sun to shine
Shining on the darkness of confusion
What we're creating, this love is yours and mine
Turning on the light in our heart.

I especially like that line, "turning on the light in our heart". It's terrible isn't it? Imagine Nelson Mandela eating slop out of a wooden bowl, in the dark, turning on the light in his heart. For 27 years. Bless.

And maybe tomorrow, the sun
Will seem a little easier to endure
(Oh I believe)
There's no place for any tear when we lose our darkest fear
Heart to heart we're strong.

That last verse is just cack. Pretty much meaningless. Pollution. Moving swiftly on...

Let's say that salvation just takes its time
Coming oh so slowly on down the line
'Cos with dream that we create and I know it won't be late
Nothing's gonna keep us apart.

Yep, forget dodgy sentence structure and scan: remember that salvation is ever so ever so slow. Indeed it would be a few more years after the record's release before apartheid was finally dismantled, no doubt partly - and inevitably - through the force of those lyrics. The song ends off with:

And maybe someday, some way
We'll find a way, can't you feel it
Won't you hold on to me (yes I will)
We'll find the strength to carry on.

Holding on? Yeah, to a sick bag. And that inspirational message of hope at the end? It's like the report on the skateboarding duck after 30 minutes of depressing news. Personally, the fact that I 'find the strength to carry on' after all that shameless bollocks amazes me. Those lyrics are - I believe - the worst ever for any garage song in history, and that's saying something. And it's a testament to the great Morales remixes that I can wade through nonsense and still enjoy the music.

Anyway, if you want to turn on the light in your heart you can download my Clive Griffin "I'll Be Waiting (Fist fusion) here. Enjoy!

samedi 14 mars 2009

Shirley Murdock - my Frankie Knuckles re-edit

It's always great when you come across something that you didn't even know existed, and that you love instantly. Thanks to the ever-brilliant Finest Def Mix blog (although Tribute to Def Mix had posted a rip of the vinyl last year) I managed to get my hands on a CD rip of Let There Be Love by Shirley Murdock, remixed by Frankie Knuckles.

So who is Shirley Murdock? Well, after a couple of R&B hits in the 80s (such as 'As We Lay', a syrupy number about two people cheating on their partners with a night-long session of boomshakalak). As a background singer for Zapp, much of her subsequent production was produced by Rouger Troutman, and the late eighties/early nineties saw her releasing a few albums that were more remarkable for her shaggy lioness hairdo than for the music they contained.

Unfortuntely her singing career (or at least the visible part) was to take a dive after 1991's Let There Be Love, remixed by Frankie Knuckles. From the four mixes on Finest Def Mix I took the Classic 12", Banji dub and Intrumental reprise and put them together to make a mix that lasts just under 20 minutes! These early Knuckles (& Morales) mixes always had a lot going on in them, meaning that you never really lose interest. My 'Fist fusion' isn't rocket science, but I think it flows pretty nicely. You can download it here.

So what happened to Shirley ? Well, her waistline went south and she found God big time. Although she's still going and still has a great voice, I doubt she'll be singing about the joys of a one night porkfest again any time soon.

Check out the track below. Pretty damn funky, despite the fact that it's about 'The Lord'.

And don't forget to download my Shirley Murdock "Let There Be Love (Classic 12" mix / Banji dub / Instrumental reprise Fist Fusion)" here.