jeudi 17 septembre 2009

Color Me Badd - Heartbreaker (1992)

Although I initially found this through the extremely respectable (but currently slightly dormant) Finest Def Mix blog, there were a thousand reasons to not like it:

1. Group name with deliberate spelling mistake, 'cos dey from da streets.
2. And it's gibberish (anybody care to explain?).
3. Obvious major label product with token black person to maximise sales over a wide demographic.
4. Shameless use of the word "sex" in their major (only?) hit.
5. This particular track took the UK charts by storm, shooting up as high as number 58.
6. Terrible lyrics, including the gem:

"I’ve got my eye on you / And I know just what you are / You’re just a user, girl / And you drive me like a car".


Indeed, the Uncyclopedia article dedicated to the group (recommended) says "Color Me Badd was an R&B quartet that wrote songs during the early '90s, widely considered the low water mark of R&B. And Color Me Badd are the reason why."

And yet, even though the group's blatant intellectual bankruptcy earned them general ridicule and a thankfully rapid career nosedive, this particular track actually has quite a bit going for it:

1. A slew of remixes by Frankie Knuckles in his prime.
2. Stolen sample from the Bar-Kays (to distract your attention from a weedy rap).
3. An 'instrumental' version that actually has loads of great piano improv.
4. And most of all a surprisingly sweet groove. No wonder it didn't sell.

So, I took the vocal version and added the instrumental to the end to make a rather sweet version that lasts nearly 11 minutes. Not rocket science for sure, but a pleasant listen nonetheless. Check it out here...

Anyway, I liked the track so much, I bought a copy on the web so I could get a high-quality rip. Thankfully, once I tidy it away in my collection, I won't have to look at those pug ugly posers ever again!

You can download Color Me Badd - Heartbreaker
(Heart Attack / Instrumental mix Fist fusion) here (24MB)

jeudi 10 septembre 2009

Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson - The Best Things In Life Are Free (1992)

I think Mo' Money was probably a terrible film. Lord know how they managed to get so much great music on there: Caron Wheeler (with great remixes by Tenaglia), Sounds of Blackness (with remixes by Morales) and this, the motherlode, one of the greatest garage tracks ever and one of my most favourite memories of being on a dancefloor during the nineties.

Bot the vocal and dub versions were amazing, inventive, joyous, hypnotic. It's garage as it was meant to be: uplifting, ridiculously uplifting even, a masterpiece.

Can't say I liked the later remixes from 1996 - despite coming from Sanchez and MK - so I went back to the source: from the US CD-single, I used two of the classic CJ Mackintosh mixes and one Morales mix, moving from the dub, to the vocal and back to a dub, making one long epic that lasts - unbelievably - nearly 25 minutes! It's a mix that dares to take its time (there isn't even a beat until 1'30") and it's consistently interesting and different.

Check it out here...

This is one of the first edits I ever tried, I still love it, and I've just re-done it in better quality for you to enjoy! The mix sounds deceptively simple, but there was a fair bit of tweaking involved, and my favourite bit is around the 16-minute mark (in case you're wondering).

You can download
Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson
The Best Things In Life Are Free
(CJ's Fxtc dub/UK 12"/Def version Fist fusion)
here (48MB)

dimanche 6 septembre 2009

Eighth Wonder - I'm Not Scared
(Little Louie Vega mixes) - 1989

I only very vaguely registered Eighth Wonder at the end of the eighties for this - their only decent hit, penned by the then blazing Pet Shop Boys, before they went utterly rancid.

What I only just found out however is that the track was remixed for the American market by a certain... Little Louie Vega, pre-Masters At Work and still very much in Freestyle mode. I knew that Vega had been very active on the New York freestyle scene, and yet it has only just struck me that freestyle's position as part way between house and hip hop was the perfect preparation for the Kenlou mixes that were to follow a few years later, with both club and jeep beats handled with precision and intelligence.

Although a shortened version of Vega's main mix of I'm Not Scared was released on CD, the full mix (and dub) were only available on 12" promo. I'm not really up for paying a lot to find a copy, but I did manage to find half-decent rips of both mixes that allowed me to whip up a quick fusion. And here it is.

And if anyone has a good rip of the full, 7'17" vocal mix, I'd love to have it.

You can download
Eighth Wonder - I'm Not Scared
(Little Louie Vega mix/dub Fist fusion)
here (11MB)

mercredi 2 septembre 2009

Karyn White - Romantic (1991)

Stone me, 18 blooming years ago. Frightening.

I missed this one the first time round, then came across it on a blog and really liked the sultry feel of the Shep Pettibone mixes. For some reason, Shep doesn't seem to be getting us much blog love as he should, despite having played a pivotal role in disco and then house. Some of his remixes are legendary and I reckon it's only a matter of time before his classic stuff gets remembered (a compilation would be a good start).

Anyway, the versions I had downloaded weren't very good quality, so I snapped up the CD-single second hand on the web and cut up two of the mixes to make my own version. It now runs for over 10 minutes with a long dubby beginning that finally runs smoothly into the vocal version. The production is excellent and I never tire of listening to it. That woman has an amazing voice and the groove is irresistible.

Have a listen here:

There's a discography of all of Shep's remixes on his site, a great resource if you're trying to catch up on some of the harder to find stuff. For info, Shep turned fifty a month ago and now owns the Empress Hotel, which Wikipedia says "is very popular among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender travellers in New Jersey". Gosh!

You can download Karyn White - Romantic
(Candlelight/Sensuous mix Fist fusion)
as a high-quality AAC file here (20MB)