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!



UPDATE

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.

lundi 1 novembre 2010

Grace J0nes - L0ve 0n T0p of L0ve (1989)

Just updated my re-edit of my favourite Grace Jones track ever (I originally wrote about it here). It used to be at 192kbps, now it's in Apple Lossless! There's an audible difference, with better clarity in both trebles and bass. I just felt the track deserved absolutely perfect quality, and I still love the version I made, one of my earlier efforts. Listen below and download if you like.



I also did a very quick fusion of the two house mixes (it's just one simple paste actually) to make a 15-minute version with an acapella break. You can download that here. The "Garage house mix" is actually available on iTunes, but they force you to buy the whole Bulletproof Heart album in order to get it. Idiots!

lundi 11 octobre 2010

Freedom Williams - Groove Your Mind (1993)

So let's finish off the Freedom Williams story. If his previous single "Voice of Freedom" had got to no. 4 in the club charts, it only reached no. 74 in the Billboard charts, decidedly short of the success C&C had seen. The follow-up single, "Groove Your Mind" (a terrible name for a song, to be sure), showed that Freedom's career was nosediving fast, reaching only no. 33 on the club charts, a very poor show indeed.

Strangely though, it's not a bad track, although once again very obviously a Masters At Work production with a bit of silly rap attached. This time, Freedom's impressive flow - often so fast that you can't even make out what he's saying, not necessarily a bad thing - comes from the fact that the original was at a standard rap tempo and pitched to become a house track. This time though there's no Michael Watford, no India, and the song's definitely less catchy for a mainstream audience.

Nevertheless, Masters at Work came up trumps again, with three sterling mixes, and because of its lesser success, the song is much less well known than "Voice of Freedom". I decided to put the vocal and the dub together (even if the latter is more or less an instrumental of the former) and add on another dub at the end. Although then elements are basically the same, there's always something to keep your interest, and the fact that Freedom's rap only lasts a few minutes (out of the 19 minutes of my mix) is a bonus. Have a listen:



Once again, the track isn't available any more, so I don't feel bad about putting it up here, and although Freedom is still doing the rounds (with dodgy dance tracks), "Groove Your Mind" was his last decent single. The accompanying album in 1993 bombed. Big time. With a career essentially lasting just less than five years, from Nu Groove to C&C, his was a stellar rise and fall. As the man himself says, "being famous is easy, being a star... is a bitch". At least he doesn't have that to worry about any more.

dimanche 10 octobre 2010

Freedom Williams - Voice Of Freedom (1993)

Freedom Williams (Frederick Brandon Williams) was of course Clivilles & Cole's rapper for the C&C Music Project, plus a few remixes (like their epic Grace Jones remix). The three started collaborating in late 1980s with Seduction and The Crew on Vendetta. His combination is gruff monosyllabic rapping and bulging torso made him simple to listen to and great video fodder. In an era when MTV was still developing, that was important.

However, after C&C had had their moment in the limelight, it would seem that the happy threesome fell out. Or perhaps it was their falling out that helped bring C&C to an end? Either way, Clivilles doesn't seem pleased that Freedom continued touring under the C&C name, calling it "part of the biggest insult in the world". Yep, the biggest insult IN THE WORLD. Shocking.

Frankly, I would really really like to know whose bright idea it was to launch Freedom's solo career by pairing him up with Masters At Work. Williams' raps were always more rhyming dictionary than poetry, and Masters At Work had a profile that was voluntarily much more underground than Clivilles and Cole. I suspect that after years of successful pop-dance hits, he was in search of some real credibility with the house crowd. What a terrible idea.

Back in the day, I bought Voice of Freedom on 12" for 99p, a frequent record company ploy to get artists into the charts. The vinyl sleeve was a much more sparse, graphic affair than the CD packshot with lots of Freedom flesh and Freedom muscle, so as not to frighten the club kids. Both sleeves sport the XXXX symbol (check Free's pendant), but I'd be amazed if anyone really knew what it was supposed to mean.

And who would have believed that this oddball project was to to yield one of the best Masters At Work tracks ever? Michael Watford and India on backing vocals, a bit of Martin Luther King, and four very different mixes with Masters At Work making a very obvious effort, with careful programming, beautifully crafted effects and a simple, catchy melody.

Unfortunately Freedom himself seems a little burnt out and in need of inspiration, setting down a blunt and lazy C&C-style rap over a refined NY house track. Examples:

"Wall to wall the price is high, you might meet the type of guy or type of girl who'll rock your world and trade their diamonds for their pearls, leave you standing in a daze, kicking up their sexy ways, you might have to paraphrase, what you call the better days". If anyone has any idea what that's suppose to mean, then they have my respect. But it gets better:

"All in all there is no clue, if the sex is good take two, sometimes I don't know what to do, I might explode all over you, all over you, all over you...". Seemingly saucy, but ultimately meaningless.
Freedom does have a bit of an obsession with sex though. How about this for a chat up line? "Touch me where the sun don't shine. Will you be my concubine?" Guaranteed to get your face slapped in any club.

And the positively worst part is this triple whammy of awful cliché, simplistic rhyme and just plain nonsense: "Yes I've got to have your love, you've been sent from up above, you're the one I'm thinking of, if you push me can I shove?" IT'S JUST FRACKIN' TERRIBLE.

So how does he get away with it all? Well luckily, Freedom's very sure of himself, not afraid to put on a Jamaican accent at one point (one of my pet hates) and spout some nonsense about Ramses (perhaps he has some sort of pyramid fixation).

Nevertheless, the track really is so good that it can still be enjoyed it for what it is: a classic piece of house. All four mixes have great stuff in them, and I had a lot of fun putting them together, starting with the Chant mix, leading into the Bass Hit dub (with lots of Michael Watford) which then flows into the main mix which then leads into the amazing Jazzy mix. I also extended a few sections that I thought deserved to be longer. All very very danceable stuff (but sadly not a hit for Freedom). My fusion was a little tricky to do, but it flows really well and the result is nearly 21 minutes of classic Masters At Work, plus a few minutes of silly Freedom Williams. Have a listen, and click the download button if you'd like to keep a copy for yourself because - surprise surprise - Sony isn't in a rush to make it available digitally.



P.S. This was not the last time Freedom Williams and Masters At Work were to collaborate and produce - against all odds - some great music. More on that very soon...

vendredi 24 septembre 2010

Betty Boo - Where Are You Baby (1990)

It is 1990. Americans Deee-Lite are huge, so marketing dictates that England needs its own version. This turns out to be Alison Moira Clarkson to play the role of Betty Boo, replete with high-pitch yank twang, comic-style shenanigans, and a rhyming dictionary absolutely full to the brim with nonsense like:

"Oh why has he disappeared, this feeling is really weird. You're precious and you're dear, can you feel the weight of these tears?" Nonsense. To her credit, she was only 20 years old at the time.

Unfortunately, after her first, very successful single "Doin' The Do", the comic value of Betty Boo wore very thin, very fast. However, her undeniable success - essentially the carbon copy of an American blueprint - made it imperative to... export her sound back to America! And so it was that Shep Pettibone came to work on "Where Are You Baby", toning down the saccharine side of the 'song', stealing a bit of Salt 'n' Pepa bassline for extra cred and finishing up with a half decent version, altogether darker with the majority of the track devoid of Boo's oh-so-amusing rap. The sleeve of the single was toned down too, with less comic-strip posing and more sultry pouting (and extra flesh).

Funnily enough though, the passing of the years has helped me reevaluate the Pettibone mixes, and I can now appreciate them as extremely well programmed, with a lot of extra punch (rather than the original, deliberate soft waddle they had in the UK versions). Have a listen!



The US CD-single is not so easy to get hold of now, so hopefully some people will appreciate finding the Pettibone vocal and dub in good quality from a CD rip (I couldn't find anyone else offering it on the web). I'm including the other US-specific mixes in the package too.

Once again (and I say it so often I don't even know why I bother any more), these mixes are now unavailable to buy. Anyway, enjoy.

To download the American mixes of
Betty Boo "Where Are You Baby" (52MB),
click here.

vendredi 17 septembre 2010

Steve 'Silk' Hurley feat. Risse - Chain of Fools (1989)

Follow me, if you will, back in time, 21 years back. In 1989 Steve 'Silk' Hurley was only 27, (and just 25 years old at the time of "Jack Your Body"). His Wikipedia page calls him a one-hit wonder, which I think is hilarious, as he produced and remixed shitloads of great tracks over a couple of decades. Even if his busiest period (the nineties) is now behind him, I don't think he's going to get bored any day now.

In the late 80s, his "Work It Out" album for Atlantic was an early major label attempt to cash in on the Chicago house sound, and it spawned - or tried to spawn - a couple of singles, notably Chain of Fools with vocalist Charisse Cobb (credited as Risse). However, it would seem that the track didn't really catch on, despite the fact that it very much resembled Hurley's astonishing remix of Roberta Flack, perhaps the finest he's ever done.

12"s of Chain of Fools aren't particularly hard to find, but CDs of it are (it wasn't on Discogs, which is always a good sign, and doesn't seem to have been on any CD compilations). I managed to stumble upon a promo CD almost by accident on eBay, and it wasn't very expensive. As the back cover shows, Hurley produced, arranged, mixed and edited the track. He probably also taught Risse to sing, built the studio and invented the polio vaccine. I suppose that in those days, if you didn't big yourself up, nobody else would.

It's a shame that the CD doesn't contain the House Of Trix mix and Extended mix that are on the 12", but hopefully some people will be pleased to have the track in CD quality at last. You can listen and download below. Enjoy!



P.S. I did send a message to Mr. Hurley via Twitter to ask if he had any more info on Risse (can't find anything on the web). I'll add it if he gets back to me.

Bonus! Chain of Fools acapella (here), found on the scientician weblog, de-clicked and boosted.

jeudi 9 septembre 2010

M0by - M0ve (MK Blades mix) (1993)


It's funny how a track can do nothing for you at one point in your life, and completely blow you away at another.

Going through my old vinyl collection, I came across a 12" with this on it, and found it just amazing. Marc Kinchen was on great form in the early nineties, with a trademark sound that never got tired (although not all his mixes were at the same level), somewhere between NY house and almost-cheesy dance. His subterranean Nightcrawlers sound sparked a host of copycat records and soon his mixes became part of the blueprint of what was to become speed garage.

So this mix entirely passed me by back in 1993, and apparently the label didn't think it fit for CD release either (or not in the techno-rave sound they were pushing for Moby at the time), as it only ever featured on an American promo CD... that I found on the web and snaffled up immediately. Since then I've listened to it so much and love it to such a point that it's the only track on my iPhone in Apple Lossless, and I have a shitload of music, believe me.

The track's built out of sparse, carefully combined elements, a killer deep bassline, a few fake horn stabs and a bit of shrieking diva. It's really hypnotic, a great, jacking track that is just as devastating today, 17 years after its original release.

Have a listen and download it if you like by simply clicking the download button. Hope you love it as much as I do. So pleased to have found it on CD. And once again, there's no way to buy the track legally anywhere. Records companies are so dim sometimes...

lundi 30 août 2010

Aretha Frank1yn - A Deeper Love (1994)

In 1994, after a lengthy and fine career, Aretha Franklin was on the decline. Robert Clivillés and David Cole however were at their prime. At the time, dance was hot, soul was not. With hindsight, it seems only logical that the latter would be hired to come to the aid of the former.

Surprisingly, it wasn't a new song that Aretha was to sing, but a cover version of a Clivilles & Cole song that had already had its share of success in 1991, "A Deeper Love". The dance crowd knew it well already, but Aretha's fans probably had no idea that this was an old track being given a second lease of life.

Although the C&C mixes of the two recordings of A Deeper Love are well known (pretty much legendary even) I didn't realise at the time that there was also a CD-single of Morales mixes released after the main ones. Even after having discovering them on the Finest Def Mix blog, I wasn't immediately bowled over.

A year on, it finally dawned on me that the lesser known Morales mixes are at least as worthy of praise as the C&C mixes. It can't be easy trying to breathe new life into the second recording of a track that has already been definitively remixed every which way.

I found a copy of the CD-single on the web, and decided to make my own long version by fusing three mixes together. At the time, I didn't realise exactly how long it would be - over 22 minutes!

I really extended the bonus beats at the beginning (there's isn't even a kick until two minutes in) and there's no trace of Aretha until the four-minute mark. I like the idea of the track starting off like some sort of unidentifiable ambient monster. The main Morales mix was already pretty long, and although the dub that I've added to the end of the vocal mix doesn't have a lot of new things to say, hopefully my extension doesn't get dull. Either way, I think my transitions between mixes are pretty elegant. Check it out for yourself.



Once again, these mixes are utterly unavailable as legal downloads, so I don't feel too bad making my take on the track available.

You can download my 22-minute version of Aretha Franklin's "A Deeper Love" (Deftramental/Bad Yard Club/Bad Yard Dub Fist fusion) (42MB) by clicking the download button on the player above.
Enjoy!

jeudi 12 août 2010

That Dead Bloke - Black or White (1992)

There have probably been endless jokes about the prescience of this track's title, coming from a man who ended up being neither black nor white. By the time it came out, Jackson was way past his best, and the message of racial tolerance had nothing new about it, and the track wasn't scared to bludgeon you over the head with it.

Although his fame was waning, the track did well, spawing some C&C remixes that I didn't take any notice of at the time. Only recently did I relisten to them and find that they were actually a lot more palatable (for me) than the original.

Bizarrely, the CD-single is now a little difficult to get hold of (at a decent price at least), but I found one on eBay and as soon it came through, I started on making my own version. In the process I was amazed to find a least six digital clicks on the Underground Club mix, inexcusable for a release by someone this famous. I checked my CD rip against a file found on the web, and both have the same clicks at the same places. It would seem that no-one listened to the track closely enough to hear them. Luckily, with today's technology, I was able to fix everything.

So my mix takes the Tribal Beats (which aren't tribal at all), the Clivillés & Cole House / Club Mix) and the Underground Club Mix, puts them all together, removes the cheesy rap and a bit of redundant repetition, and ends up being a 14-minute rollercoaster of classic C&C-style house (meaning that it's almost cheesy but actually so well programmed and constructed that "it don't matter", as MJ says). The crossover from one mix to another took a bit of tweaking, but I think it flows pretty smoothly.

Have a listen...



You can download my 14-minute version of
Black or White by That Dead Bloke
by clicking the download button on the player above.
Hope you enjoy it.

By the way, if you still miss Michael, perhaps you could buy this cat toy from Etsy.com? It's made with organic catnip and as your cat relentlessly licks MJ's much-operated nose and moonwalks round the room, it will undoubtedly bring back happy memories of dancing to Thriller in your bedroom.

Less than $8. A bargain.

mardi 27 juillet 2010

Dread Flimstone - From The Ghetto (1991)

Here's another find from my recent eBay spendarama, and another CD that wasn't on Discogs (now rectified, here). I first heard about these mixes from The Soul Vendor blog, which had lots of interesting stuff on it before dying off last October with no explanation. Perhaps they've moved on to somewhere I don't know about.

Anyway, I came acros the CD promo on eBay for a reasonable price and snapped it up. Not only are there are few very reasonable Freddy Bastone remixes on there, but also two exceptional early Danny Tenaglia mixes. It would seem that they are very hard to find on CD, so I was really pleased! Have a listen...


I have a natural wariness for white boys doing reggae, even if it's reggae mixed as house (and that goes for white girls too), but I have to say that this song is insanely catchy, and I'm really pleased to be able to share it with everyone.

Of course, it isn't available as a legal download anywhere, so you can grab your copy of the promo CD in 256kbps AAC (66MB) here. Enjoy!

vendredi 23 juillet 2010

The Pointer Sister - Insanity (1990)

I've had a bit of eBay spree recently. It means taking time to trawl through things (many of which are deeply disinteresting), but there are still some finds to be had, like this one: a promo CD with Steve 'Silk' Hurley mixes of a song by The Pointer Sisters.

I had a hard time believing it was real to start off with. It wasn't on Discogs. It hadn't been posted anywhere on the web that I could find. A genuine find perhaps? You'd have thought that by now every single CD ever made would be available somewhere on the web, but that's not true. There are still quite a few things that are genuinely difficult to get your hands on.

As a diligent music lover (and sharer, for the better good of mankind), I decided to create an entry for it on Discogs, which turned out to be not as difficult as I had thought, even if you do need to concentrate. You can consult it here.

So what's the story behind this release? Well, in 1990 The Pointer Sisters' massive 80s hits were behind them, and they had become more or less old news. Signed to Motown, "Right Rhythm" the album from which Insanity is taken seems to have been their last. Getting Steve 'Silk' Hurley to remix the track was undoubtedly a good idea, but it couldn't save the song from disappearing into oblivion. Nonetheless, his versions were pretty damn good, perhaps even very good! Have a listen to the club mix. Pretty catchy, and surprisingly fresh, considering that it's twenty years old. Insanity indeed...



As it's rare, I thought you might like to download a copy of the CD. I've left off the album and single versions and just left the Hurley remixes, all in 256kbps AAC (indistinguishable from CD quality). You can get them here (41MB).

The Pointer Sisters are still going by the way. They look mightily facelifted and/or photoshopped on their official site, which is fair enough: Bonnie Pointer is 60 now, Anita Pointer is 62 and Ruth Pointer is 64. Good for them.

mercredi 14 juillet 2010

Miami Sound Machine - Jambala (1994)


Sometimes, the links between music and films are completely mystifying. I've never seen The Specialist, but from what I've found on YouTube, I haven't missed anything. This poorly scripted/acted/filmed piece of nonsense seems to have been aimed at teenage boys who like explosions and the promise of seeing Sharon Stone in a nightie. The trailer is truly to be cringed at.



James Wood hamming it up even more than Sylvester Stallone? Incredible.

Strangely though, the film had a John Barry score that wasn't terrible (even if it sounded very much like James Bond) and someone had the odd but inspired idea to bring out, er, a CD of dance remixes linked to the film. Very odd indeed, but with surprising results: David Morales, E-Smoove, Ralphi Rosario... and Johnny Vicious. Not the most subtle of remixes, but a good line-up to be sure.

I was a big fan of Johnny Vicious' remixes of the time, but strangely his mix of Miami Sound Machine left me slightly cold, and I soon forgot it. Over the years however it's aged surprisingly well, with a certain blunt charm - congas and rave stabs - that I'm now quite pleased to listen to again. Funny how some tracks age well like that.

It was only when trawling through Discogs that I realised that the CD-single had a different mix of his from the album. Both are along the same lines, but with interesting differences, and the Original mix is not as easy to find as the Alternative mix that was on the CD album. So here it is! Press play to liste or click the download button to keep a copy.



Needless to say, neither is now available as a legal download (although you can still get the Barry score if you want).

Fancy seeing some more of the film? This scene brings cliché to a whole new level...

mercredi 16 juin 2010

Pride 'n Politix - Hold On (1991)

Pride 'n Politix were one of many bands of the time that looked like they had potential but were very quickly to sink without a trace. With the requisite number of white/not white band members, some reasonable singer/songwriter talent and a knack for aping the soul/acid jazz sound that was big at the time, they seemed poised for success in the 'States, but actually just released one single, one album and then broke up.

So what went wrong?

1. Uninspiring band name. What did "politix" have to do with their brand of slightly limp R&B? Was it something to do with the attention that apartheid was getting at the time? And "pride"? Presumable not gay pride. In any case, it was a terrible, terrible, awful name.

2. Image. OK, it was nearly twenty years ago, but Robin Smith - the guy on the right - looks like he's more likely to ask you to serve afternoon tea and dismiss the nanny than deliver a decent song.

3. The lyrics. Good grief. House/garage almost always has ridiculous lyrics, but Hold On was particularly nonsense. It's about love - obviously - and "the chains that bind us", with singer Nick Romillie telling his girl "Your touch is warm and exciting" ... "I want you so much / I can feel your spirit move me", which is probably the most convoluted euphemism for getting an erection I've ever heard in a song. Actually, the line "We've got to hold on to my love" could also be misinterpreted by someone with a filthy mind. Like me.

4. Brilliant club mixes... that sounded nothing like the album. Whoever got Morales to work on this track was a visionary. It's one of his earlier solo efforts, and there's a bit of dodgy editing and mixing in there, but you can tell he's destined for great things, with subtle live percussion and a great feel. Unfortunately, anyone digging the single was going to be disappointed by the album, which was very much more sedate, sultry, syrupy, sloppy (etc.)

Anyway, I had completely forgotten about the track, and it was only whilst going through my old vinyl that I was inspired to look on eBay to see if it was available on CD. To my surprise, I found a promo CD in Turkey (!) with the extended Morales mix that was on the CD-single, as well as the Bonus mix that was never released digitally (rare!). So I snapped it up, and did my own fusion of the two mixes, making an 11-minute track whose length feels completely natural. It's one of the edits that I'm the most proud of, especially as it required quite a lot of work. Have a listen...



Even with its bonkers bad lyrics, you have to admit the track is rather catchy, devilishly catchy in fact. Now that I've put the extended almost Red Zone-style dub section into the middle, it's pretty palatable stuff. Result!

And where are they now? Well, Nick Romillie is still in the business, having quite a bit of success having reinvented himself as broken beat singer Colonel Red. And Robin Smith's website humbly says that he is "one of the most versatile and successful musicians in the world", which even if it were true would be hugely pretentious as an introduction. No doubt he would rather forget the crash 'n burn of Pride 'n Politix now that he's doing string arrangements for Enrique Iglesias. In fact he's so versatile and successful that he hasn't had time to update his site in the last five years, poor thing. Success is a cruel mistress indeed.

You can download my edit of
Pride 'n' Politix - Hold On
(Extended / Bonus mix Fist fusion)
(11'28" - 26MB)
by clicking here. Enjoy!


P.S. Do you think the label EastWest has the track available for legal download? Or the album? Once again, no. Pfff.

jeudi 3 juin 2010

Wop Bop Torledo - Jungle Fever (1989)



UPDATED! (rip quality upped to 254kbps AAC)


1989! This track is over 20 years old, which - I suppose - is like living in the era of the Beach Boys and listening to the Charleston. Whatever.

Wop Bop Torledo were Maryanne Morgan and Gary Stoner and they didn't last very long (a couple of singles and one failure of an album apparently). However, the mixes of Jungle Fever were from Morales & Knuckles, back in the day when they did all their mixes together. With John Poppo et Peter "Ski" Schwartz helping out, it's one of their lesser known classics, so props to the visionary (but cursed) project manager who shelled out his budget for the mixes.

The lyrics are absolute nonsense, and there's a rubbish sultry rap part way through, but for such an early production it's got a hell of a lot of class, and still sound fresh today. A big shout out to the Finest Def Mix blog (now a little dormant) for bringing it to my attention.

As the vocal version was a little short (just over 5 minutes) and a dub followed, I obviously couldn't resist putting them together to make a 12-minute mash-up. Can't say it was very difficult, but I like the result. The track has a great ambience to it, replete with jungle animal noises! Have a listen below, and click the download button if you want to keep it.



And where are Maryanne Morgan and Gary Stoner today? Well, Morgan seems to be doing occasional backing vocals and has written a few songs for, er, Liberty X and Stoner may or may not be an actor now, recently seen playing "Haggis" in Emmerdale Farm. Oh dear. Update: it's not him. Lord knows where he is now.

And needless to say, none of their catalogue (none of the singles, not even the album) is available for legal download. Thanks to Virgin Records. Again.

vendredi 23 avril 2010

Utah Saints - What Can You Do For Me (1993)

One of things I loved about CD singles in the nineties was the difference between UK and US releases, the promise of more track, the surprise of new mixes.

In 1991, Utah Saints were having success in the UK with What Can you Do For Me. Based around three cheeky samples (There Must Be An Angel the Eurythmics, Gwen Guthrie's Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent and Don't Stop Me Now from Queen which didn't clear for the final official version) it was a bit cheap but insanely catchy, plumbing into a scene that major companies were having problems exploiting. A subsequent album release kept the momentum going, and it was obvious that release abroad was also necessary.

But what do you do if you're a product manager in New York with a rave product to sell, and no-one in America knows what rave is? No problem, just have remixed into New York garage!

So far, pretty standard stuff. Remixing has always been partly about catering the sound of a release to suit your market, or several markets, and in this case David Morales was brought in to make What Can you Do For Me palatable to the club kids, an essential tactic to get some buzz going. The Eurythmics sample stayed, the Queen sample was re-sung (by a woman! with an exaggerated English accent!), but why make do with just a sample of Gwen Guthrie when you can have... Gwen Guthrie herself!

And it is here that marketing cynicism met artistic genius. Guthrie came in and recorded expanded new vocals especially for the remixes. Re-booted and boosted with a garage house sound, this was no longer a track: it was a proper song. And it worked wonderfully. Morales had made things more melodic, peppered the soft vocals with some hard percussion, judiciously used the samples, and the whole thing gelled. Two years after the UK single release, what was a crusty bandwagon-jumper had become a NY club monster!

The U.S. single contained three Morales mixes (there were a couple more on the promo 12") as well as a so-called trancey mix by someone else, but I've always had a soft spot for the latter, so I decided to put it together with Morales' 10-minute Klub mix and make a fifteen-minute marathon! It was fairly tricky, as the two mixes aren't exactly at the same speed, nor do they use the same elements. In the end I extended the end of the Morales mix in order to help it blend in better, and the result isn't half bad. You can have a listen here...



Utah Saints are still going, although their sample-based novelty singles got very boring very quickly. If you have a look at YouTube, you'll be able to see them making twats of themselves back in the day on Top of The Pops (pretending to play instruments. Hilarious), and flogging their dead horse at festivals even now. It's strange to think that after recording new vocals in 1993, Gwen Guthrie was to die from uterine cancer just six years later, age 48. Shame.

You can download Utah Saints -What Can You Do For Me (Klub mix / A Trance for the Saints fist fusion) by clicking the button on the player above. Enjoy!

(P.S. Needless to say, these remixes are now imposisble to buy except second hand, another example of wasted back catalogue lingering in limbo...)

mardi 6 avril 2010

EVE - Groove of Love (1994)


I think we can safely say that EVE was never meant to be a quality act. For a start, their name is a rather forced acronym of Ebony Vibe Everlasting. Plus, they were very obviously riding on En Vogue's coat tails and not doing it with very much class; their tracks were available as either anaemic R&B or remixed to destruction into cheesy piano house. It was not good.

Calling a song Groove of Love does not inspire confidence either, and the original version is indeed a sopping wet mess. I mean they even sing "on and on, until the break of dawn". Check out this steaming pile of cliché:



The good news? From this epic train wreck of monumentally cynical proportions came... a rather good remix! With the melody re-sung at house speed (something he often did with Mariah Carey), Morales made an excellent if near-cheesy house track that starts off with lashings of vaguely dodgy piano and then veers off halfway through into more interesting, even surprising dubby territory. There's a bit that starts at 7'29" that gives me goose pimples. How mad is that? Anyway, great stuff.

The bad news? Morales' original mix of 11 minutes was inexplicably edited down - or rather hacked apart - to under 10 minutes for the CD-single release. The intro no longer had the right number of bars, didn't start on the right beat. The passage from vocal to dub had been reduced making it sound tacked on, unnatural. It's amazing what some hasty editing in the mastering studio can do to ruin the feel of a song.

So I reconstructed it. Not a mammoth job, but it now sounds - to me - a lot more organic. Why they couldn't just leave the full version on the CD, I don't know. I can see the point of reducing a track from 10 minutes to 4 for single release or radio play, but 11 minutes to 9, and making a hash of it? Just stupid.

EVE released one more single after this one and disappeared, thankfully. If you can sing, why sing crap? They got what they deserved.

You can download my slight re-jig of
Groove of Love by four women who made fools of themselves and didn't make any money, here (14MB).

dimanche 21 mars 2010

Tito Puente -
Para Los Rumberos (1992) (Masters At Work mixes)

1992 - 1994 were really classic years for me. New York house was at its prime: MAW, Sanchez, Morales, MK, Johnny Vicious, Vasquez, Tomiie... It was a really stimulating time.

Masters At Work's roots in Latino and house gave rise to a few interesting collaborations with Tito Puente at the time, culminating with his contribution to the Nuyorican Soul project, but even before then the MAW boys were taking Puente tracks and housing them up for the club kids, such as Para Los Rumberos for the Mambo Kings soundtrack.

It was a great track that only saw single release on 12", but the Masters At Work Forever blog (during its short life of 9 months) made the Kenlou mix available for download, and I decided to fuse it with the dub available on the first BBE compilation of MAW tracks. The result is nearly 11 minutes of classic Latin house, great percussion (obviously) and added vocals from India. Hard to complain about really.

I cleaned up the vinyl rip, tweaked the sound a little to make the two tracks flow into each others as seamlessly as possible and repeated a bar or two that I especially liked. There's definitely enough going on to keep your interest for 10'45". Have a listen...



And once again, the track's an example of how house music of the time has been orphaned by major labels; released as a club tool to boost the film nearly twenty years ago, no-one has got round to having it released digitally, and the Kenlou mix is - as such - only available on blogs. Proof that major labels are generally just short-sighted money-making machines with no interest in the quality of their back catalogue at all.

You can download Tito Puente - Para Los Rumberos (Kenlou/Puente's Vibe mix Fist fusion)
by pressing the download button on the player above (16MB).

samedi 6 mars 2010

Los Clodettes -
Alexandrie Alexandra (Joey Negro mixes) - 1995

Although moving to Paris in the early nineties made finding some records a real battle, there were - from time to time - benefits. The rise of the French touch, Dimitri from Paris, Daft Punk... it wasn't all bad. And then, in 1995, Sony released Joey Negro remixes of a French disco classic Alexandrie Alexandra, originally sung by French disco deity Claude François. For those who don't know of him (and outside of France, there's no shame in that), he was famous for:

a) wicked/disturbing disco moves and threads (for the 1970s)
b) his backing singers/dancers The Clodettes
c) co-writing the original version of My Way, and
d) accidentally electrocuting himself by trying to change a lightbulb whilst in the bath. True.

Disco was not taken very seriously at the time (François was sometimes called "the favourite singer of the under-10s) but he is is mourned to this day by a bunch of nostalgia-obsessed loonies, and his hits are heard all the bloomin' time on French radio. To be fair, he more or less brought disco to our shores, which I suppose is not a bad thing, had an amazing ear for a hook and danced like a wigged out motherfracker. Check out his legendary moves below. The video is from 22nd January 1978. Two months later, François was dead.



The Clodettes' version of Alexandrie, Alexandra seems to have originated on Joey Negro/Dave Lee's Z Records label, but licensing it to Sony France was a masterstroke. It's rare to see a well known tune like that get released through a major with remixes by such an underground name.

Whether the releae was success, I don't know. 16 years later it's not even available as a legal download, a bit of a shame seeing as the CD-single had four great mixes and a total running time of over 45 minutes. A bit of a classic.

I had a bit of fun putting two of the mixes together (a vocal and rather daring acid-laced version), making an 18-minute version that's part cheesy, part surprisingly catchy, a guilty pleasure if you will. Not sure what sort of club would play it (first part's too cheesy for the underground crowd, second part's too 'strange' for the mainstream crowd) but although it almost makes me cringe, I do have a soft spot for it.

You can download Les Clodettes - Alexandrie Alexandra (Joey Negro/Parallel mix Fist fusion) here (33MB)
(and the whole CD single can be had for 3 euros here!)


UPDATE: there's a legal download available (of the Z Records 12", with some of the CD-single mixes + acapella and bonus beats) here. Thanks Konstantin!

mercredi 10 février 2010

Ultra Naté - Party Girl (1995)

Just a couple of years before the abominable 'Free' - probably the song that single-handedly made crap garage popular - Ultra Naté was still making great records. This one was part of the soundtrack for indy film Party Girl starring Parker Posey, the story of a clubber who becomes a librarian to prove to her aunt that you can dance all night and still master the Dewey Decimal System by day.

I don't think the film was a great success; it's not even available on DVD outside of the USA, although there was a spinoff TV series apparently. Funnily enough, the director, Daisy Von Scherler Mayer (I'm not making this up) recently directed an episode of my favourite series Mad Men. Take a look at the trailer...



Lord knows what goes on in the film that is forbidden for under-17s. Anyway, you can hear the Ultra Naté track in the background near the end, and the Satoshi Tomiie mixes that I've tinkered with mix old school piano-driven garage with hard house elements very cleverly. It's almost a little too hard for me at times, but I think the track has stood the test of time, and the slightly hysterical elements reflect the theme of the film pretty well.

I took the vocal mix and the dub to make a 16-minute track that starts hard, goes vocal, then goes hard again. Tomiie isn't afraid of an old school breakdown, although back in 1995 I suppose it was just 'a breakdown'. Check out my version below.



You can download Ultra Naté -
Party Girl (Satoshi Tomiie Interpretation/Hardshell Fist fusion) (32MB) by clicking the download arrow on the player above.

mercredi 3 février 2010

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam - Let The Beat Hit 'Em (1991)

 

This has to be one of the greatest club tracks of all time, with Clivilles & Cole at their zenith, showing how effortlessly they could deal with funky rhythms or house tracks with equal genius. The production's tight, the ideas in abundance, the beats... irresistible.

Both Lisa Lisa and Clivilles & Cole were from a freestyle background. Emerging from hip-hop, freestyle would soon turn into electro and house, and being on the cusp of those worlds in a time of change certainly produced some memorable music.

Clivilles & Cole liked to do long mixes (cool!) and lots of them (extra cool!). I hadn't listened to the house mixes for quite a while, but going back to them was a pleasure, especially as there were three mixes all with different elements that I could combine into one. It's a track that knows how to take its time and always throw something new into the mix (and at 13'20", that's probably a good thing). Have a listen:



If the house mixes weren't too hard to combine, the funky mix was more or less perfect, but I couldn't resist extending it just a tiny bit too. Hard to believe that this track will soon be 20 years old. Yikes!


So here are my two mixes of Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam - 
Let The Beat Hit 'Em for you to download.


The house mix (L L With Love R C / Club-Dub / Paradise Garage Club mix Fist fusion) can be found here (25MB)

and the funky mix (The Brand New Super Pumped-Up C&C Vocal Club mix Fist retouch) is here (12MB).

samedi 23 janvier 2010

Juliet Roberts - Free Love (1992)


Of all the stories of lost garage classics of the nineties, few are as tragic as Juliet Roberts. From a jazz background, she had a string of chart hits in the early nineties, with some absolute classic remixes:

- I Want You, with ace mixes from Dancin' Danny D, K-Klass, Roger Sanchez, Junior Vasquez...

- Caught In The Middle, with stunning mixes from Roger Sanchez, Farley & Heller, David Morales,  Dancin' Danny D, Murk, and

- Free Love, with classic mixes by Dancin' Danny D and David Morales

Rarely has a dance artists had so much money poured into so many mixes by so many big names, and rarely has so much mainstream success followed. And yet, if you want to buy any Juliet Roberts remixes these days... you can't. None of the legal download platforms have them. How can labels spend so much money on tracks and then just leave them to rot in the vaults? It's a crying shame, unbelievable, baffling.

Luckily, music lovers such as Nineties Club CD Maxi Singles, Finest Def Mix, Burning The Ground and especially Hard To Find Trax do (or have done) a tremendous job of archiving and preserving these tracks.

It is completely illogical for major labels to complain about illegal downloading whilst large slices of their catalogue deliberately remain unavailable. Once people get used to searching for their favourite tracks on blogs, they'll keep doing so, rather than use the legal download platforms.

The blogs above are doing important archive work that the label itself should be looking after. They should be saluted, not vilified and erased.

Anyway, thanks to Hard To Find Trax, I picked up a Morales dub of Free Love that has never been released on CD, and added it to the end of the Morales mix. The end result is only a couple of minutes longer, but the two fit really well, and it gives the track extra energy to go just that little bit further. Extending tracks isn't necessarily about making them as long as possible, it's also about giving them a natural feel and making sure they don't outstay their welcome.

You can have a listen to my Fist fusion here:



Juliet has moved on (or back) to more jazzy territory now, and her website looks like it was made in 1994. It hasn't even been updated in the last three years and says you'll need Flash 6 to see it! Cooltempo is now reduced to nothing more than a grotty Myspace page which promises re-releases but fizzled out after a month and hasn't been updated since April 2008. Their Facebook page is completely dead too.

These remixes deserve to be available. How expensive can it be to get them out again digitally? What is the problem? I just don't get it.

You can download Juliet Roberts - Free Love (Morales Classic 12" / Club Eclipse Fist fusion) here (13MB).

(and if EMI isn't happy, then they should get their act together and make the mixes available legally. Idiots.)

mercredi 13 janvier 2010

General Public - I'll Take You There (1994)


1994, hell yeah! How can you possibly go wrong with Satoshi Tomiie remixing, aided and abetted by Johnny Vicious and Lem Springsteen?


Nevertheless, it could have been a disaster. This dodgy cover of a Staples Singers classic got a cod reggae treatment for the soundtrack of slightly dodgy-looking 90s film Threesome. The film's French title was "2 boys, 1 girl, 3 possibilities" a less concise title that accurately describes the plotline.

Anyway, after having a track on the Weird Science soundtrack and Ferris Bueller's Day Off,  General Public seemed a natural choice for Threesome; black but not too black, singing a cover version... both the tracks and the films had only mitigated success, but at least they gace us some rather ace remixes.

At the time, Sony often released 12"s and CD-singles with different mixes on each (the 12" catering more for the club crowd). Although the Hoya Tribe Trip is easy to find on CD, the Satoshi Tomiie Experience has never been released digitally, so I did a vinyl rip and cleaned it up for you. The mix is subtly but significantly different, although it also contains a slow-it-down-speed-it-up-again section, very much in fashion in the time. I have to admit it's one of my favourite tricks in a house track. Have a listen:



The Satoshi Tomiie remixes manage to turn what could have been a a train wreck into a decent piece of music. Not an absolute classic perhaps, but a commendable salvage job to be sure. Unfortunately, as is often the case for unsuccessful singles from defunct groups, it's only available second hand (which doesn't earn the label or the artist any money), so I think it's legitimate to let you download the two mixes in question in high-quality AAC.


You can get General Public's
 I'll Take You There (Satoshi Tomiie Experience) here (18MB)
and I'll Take You There (Hoya Tribe Trip) here (15MB).

mercredi 6 janvier 2010

CeCe Peniston - My first YouTube audio-only video


Gosh it's tough finding time to blog at the moment...

When I'm looking for music on the web and can't find it at Juno Download or Beatport, I inevitably try a Google blog search which will often lead me to the track on some nice person's blog.

Or not... in which case I revert to doing a standard Google search. This often brings up YouTube videos of tracks, which I always used to think was weird, but I've finally worked out that it's a whole parallel network of music lovers trying to share tracks, sometimes even identify tracks with the help of others.

Up until now, I've always posted tracks here with a link to my Soundcloud account, but the free space there is running out, and it seems no websearch can find the tracks (yet). Youtube is Soundcloud for the masses - with no downloads possible - and now that their sound quality has been hiked up, the quality is as good as a Soundcloud stream (which is 128 kbps).

So, after finding no way for people to listen to a brilliant Morales dub I recently found on the (intermittently great) Only 320 blog, I thought I'd try my hand at a YouTube video. Seems a bit of a waste of time having a fixed image attached to a track, but why not eh? The track in question is the D-Max dub of Hit By Love by CeCe Peniston, released in 1994. It was only on the US CD-single, which explains why I hadn't heard it before, and the standard vocal of the song is a bit too sugary for me now, so this came as a breathe of fresh air; concise, well-produced, hard-edged, it turns the track into an ever-evolving dubby percussive monster. I considered extending the mix, but in the end I think it's fine as it is.

Have a listen to it below (in high quality, of course). If you like it, Only 320 has it to download with the rest of the CD-single remixes here.