Enter the weird and wacky world of Dinosaur L at your leisure. Revisiting Larry Levan’s 1982 reworking of In The Corn Belt proves to be just as satisfying then as now. Still sounding futuristic, genre bashing and clearly mind-altering. Spread across a 7” in two parts Arthur Russell’s alter ego alongside Will Socolov gets treated in the way that the early part of that decade played out fusing Rock, Dub and Dance into a crazy, beautiful realization of itself. Yes.
Can’t get enough of the past? Well, you’ve come to the right place. The legendary Salsoul label earned that accolade for one reason only and that was the music they released back in the 70’s and subsequent 1980’s, closing by 84 of that decade. Soaring songs, sonically reverberating instrumentation and production prowess that helped set the tone for tone for what came next. One glance over the tracklist and you can feel all that history breathing including timeless standards such as Double Exposure – My Love Is Free, which appears here with the Frankie Knuckles remix, plus the Shep Pettibone version of Inner Life – I Like It Like That. Other perhaps less well known tracks also compliment such as Larry Levan’s remix of Sparkle – Handsome Man and The Salsoul Orchestra’s – Sun After Rain with Tom Moulton’s glorious 12″ Mix. The second CD is all down to Dimitri who adds his flair to the affair care off a series of re-edits of additional releases that include the likes of fimiliar gems Love Sensation, Ten Percent, and Just As Long As I Got You. Respectfully yours.
Revisiting rather than reviving this often overlooked number from the past is always refreshing to experience. That and the fact that the original 1986 version remains intact testifying to the strength of the song plus its vocal delivery, alongside the proud production by other vital figures in House history: Boyd Jarvis and Timmy Regisford, while not to forget the essential tag line ‘Mastered by Herbie Powers’. Nobody’s Business was a 1920s blues standard by Porter Grainger and while Boyd Jarvis lifted the refrain and changing some of the lyrics its essence still reverberates from then to now. Typifying the ‘Garage’ sound of the period which was subsequently exported to the UK a couple of years later via now classic compilations the track boasts all of those hallmarks loud and proud: from the rolling drum machines to the soaring soulfully charged vocals – just close your eyes and who knows where your imagination could end up.
The Salsoul Orchestra Story
40th Anniversary Collection
Groove Line Records
WOW! Three cd’s worth of the Salsoul Orchestra. Or, to put it another way, heaven on earth. The clue is of course contained within the title: Salsoul from the infinitely influential record label for a start, secondly the word Orchestra and all of the musical prowess which accompanies the noun. I love that you can simply switch the music on, then get lost in a world of soaring strings, driving beats and bass, and yes occasionally sleazy, though always sensual, uplifting lyrics. At times there’s the sheer romance of it all, at others hard and heavy grooves drive it all home. Needless to say if you haven’t yet experienced the soulful joy of ‘Take Some Time Out (For Love)’ featuring Jocelyn Brown or the classic rhythms of Shep Pettibone’s mix of ‘Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)’ then here’s the chance. A wealth of talent informed the orchestra’s production’s and remixes too from Larry Levan to Tom Moulton to Walter Gibbons. And, with arrangements from the likes of Vincent Montana Jr., Bunny Sigler, and Patrick Adams this newly remastered exploration of their sights and sounds from 1975 to the early eighties is both exceptional and essential.
“Music is the direct access to the soul” sounds like a good a place as any to start this review of Oskar Offermann’s spellbinding new long player. Fuelled by an undulating funkiness the album delves into all sorts of landscapes which reach ambient depths to edgier heights. Sometimes purely atmospheric without the reliance on beats, sometimes up-tempo and energising such as on ‘Carol’s Howl’ there really isn’t any identifiable rule book being followed – good. What you do get is an exciting travelogue of gritty, booming, speech laden, probing, emotive music which embraces funky breaks as much as it does sizzling electronics. Further.
To label this as merely ambient may do a disservice to the rather glorious, beautifully textured music that lies within. However, let’s go with Pop Ambient, although as the selection of tracks doesn’t display any melodic resonance perhaps that doesn’t quite accurately describe what’s going on either. Never mind. This 2016 edition of the long-standing series of atmospheric brilliance maintains breath taking standards as distinct layers of sound lift and drop all five senses with immaculate precision. The second track typifies the inclination with who else but The Orb’s epically charged ‘Alpine Dawn’ stretching sonic boundaries via all sorts of expanding ideas. You will also find the caliber of artists such as Stephan Mathieu and Mikkel Metal alongside Max Würden’s deeply involving ‘Unterwasser’. A truly wonderful compilation of music which talks its own melody.
Art Of Tones
Elephants & Flies
Lazy Days Recordings
Ludovic Llorca aka Art Of Tones first release on the label comprises three originals plus one dub version. And it’s all too easy for me to say that title track Elephants is a simply outstanding slice of music that cuts the atmosphere it generates with a knife. I’d be intrigued to know what the Elephant reference is, but in the meantime this captivating exploration of tones sees punchy keys and swirling notes feel cinematic and thoughtful against a backdrop of shuffling rhythms and stinking sounds. The Dub tweaks the elements providing something altogether more dancefloor orientated, although doesn’t capture quite the same emotions. Next Myself, My Body has bluesy voices over tougher beats, bass and accompanying strings, while The Right Movement’s intense, jazzy inflections provide yet another reason to pay attention.
Another Darius Syrossian production, time for another killer bassline. I’ll Do Anything does anything but disappoint with its funky Detroit flavoured bass offset by soulful vocals and abrasive yet seductive drums. Straightforward and straight to the point, how could you not like this? The remix is from label heads Leftwing & Kody and they give it a fresh sheen with snare rolls and infectious House riffs complimenting the original perfectly. Second track I’m Not Weird, You’re Just Normal says all that needs to be said as jazzy keys get lost in another slammin’ succession of big time beats completing a great debut for this brand new label.
Don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting Bonar Bradberry’s vocal to be quite so appealing in such an infectious way, but it is. The title tracks deep, shuffling rhythms underpin it all as the voice intones with a uniquely English quality which provides such a refreshing change here, that of course and that the music’s so hot too. Mario Basanov provides the remix with trademark eighties influences sounding tastefully funky as always, and indeed gives the vocal that extra something. Rollerball doesn’t have the same charm but is none the less is an atmospheric journey through the landscape of European electronics.
Overground/ Underground? Never mind all that. I’d much rather this deeper, funky number in the charts then most of the rest of it. Lifted from their album and with remixes forthcoming their latest single sees Howard Lawrence on vocals sounding rather fine. Judge it all for yourself….
release: August 18
Hold Your Horses – Expanded Edition
You know that expression: beg, borrow or steal? Well, this is exactly what they were referring to. Time to get very excited!! The history bit reads a little something like this: After scoring major dance classics such as Let No Man Put Asunder in 1977 the group went on to record their second album also in part produced by Norman Harris, but now with the additional magic of Tom Moulton and Thor Baldursson was released in 1979. Not only does it include Let Me Down Easy but also the seminal Love Thang with that ‘gets you every time’ vocal delivery from the trio, and Double Cross which both appear here via various remixes including Larry Levan, Tee Scott and Bobby DJ Guttadaro. Once again there a superlative sleeve notes care off Christian John Wikane whose invaluable reading of history is essential.
Interesting question. It’s 1978. I was the lead singer in a band called Milk n Cookies. We had moved out to LA, and after 2 years out I decided to come home to NYC. An ex girlfriend of mine told me I have to come back to New York to go to the Mudd Club. She said they had a great DJ there, and that I should get a job there as a DJ. I had never DJ’d before, other than playing records for my friends in my basement. I had a large record collection, so I thought it wasn’t unthinkable. (photo by bryan mette)
I went to the Mudd Club, fell in love with the place and the DJ, David Azarch, who played everything from James Brown, Punk, Rock n Roll, and Reggae. I thought okay I can do this, and build on the music I heard there and add my own flavor to it. Not long after hanging out there for awhile David asked if I’d like to try it. I did and loved it and Steve Maas, the owner asked me if I’d like to do a night there. So I’d have to say David Arzach was my first inspiration. Not long after I started playing there I met Francois K. and went to hear him spin and was blown away. I had been to Studio 54 and other discos, but what he was doing was on another level. And then in 1981 I went to the Paradise Garage
and heard Larry Levan. Nothing was the same after that.
Can you tell us about the Mudd Club, its clientele and what were your best-loved records from that era?
The Mudd Club was the antidote to the uptown scene. The backlash to the disco scene that was becoming more commercialized. The place itself was nothing special. Downstairs was the bar, with the DJ set up at the end of it, and the dance floor. Upstairs was used as a art and performance space. But what made the place so special was the music and the people who went there. You had all the cool, interesting downtown people, artists like Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, the up and coming fashion stars like photographer Steven Meisel and designer Anna Sui, all the kids from the downtown bands coming together. As well as Andy Warhol who brought his crowd of interesting people. Just an incredible mix of coolness that was happening in New York City at that time. When it was affordable for artists, musicians, and creative people to live and flourish here. Favorite songs? So many..but some were James Brown “The Payback”, Trouble Funk “Pump Me Up”, The Slits, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, The Younger Generation “We Rap More Mellow”, APB “I’d Like to Shoot You Down”, Liquid Liquid “Cavern”, ESG “Moody”, Medium Medium “Hungry So Angry”, Derick Laro and Trinity “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”, to name a few.
Which were your favourite clubs that you either frequented or played at in New York, and how would you say the club scene has changed over the years?
Wows that’s tough because I was lucky to have spun at some great clubs. The Mudd Club, and after that I’d have to say AREA, which was the most incredible place. Crowd wise like the Mudd Club taken to the next level, really great sound system, and they would change the whole club around every six weeks. It would have a different theme. Really awesome. . But I also love playing at the Ritz, where they had the most amazing bands play every night, from Kraftwerk, to Human League, to the Sugarhill Gang and anyone else you could possibly think of. I also played at the Tunnel, The Limelight, MK, LIFE, Centro Fly, and more recently I’d have to include subMercer. As far as frequenting, the Paradise Garage was IT for me. Nothing comes close to that experience. Every Saturday night after finishing my own DJ’ing gig, I’d head down to the Garage. Lived for it. After Francois introduced me to Larry, we became friends and was honored to be able to hang with him in that incredible DJ booth and dance for hours and hours to the magic he created. The club scene has surely changed over the years due to many factors. Starting from the Aids epidemic in the mid 80’s, to real estate, to the Guillani era crack down on night life, to bottle service clubs. However it is still possible to have great nights and great clubs in this town. Just have to look a little harder.
Which have been your favorite records stores since you started buying music?
I started buying music very young, like when i was about 7 years old. My dad was an audio love and record lover, so he would take me record shopping with him to Sam Goody which was the big record store chain at the time. I would buy a lot of 7″ singles and some albums. As a DJ, Vinyl Mania was the spot. As well as Downtown Records, 99 Records, Eight Ball Records. So many great ones gone. Still shop for vinyl at Turntable Lab, Rebel Rebel, Halcyon, Dope Jams.
When did you first encounter DJ’s mixing, and how did you learn to mix?
The first DJ who I heard really mixing was Francois K. He was working at Prelude Records at the time, and I heard him Dj at the after hours spot called AM/PM. I was DJ’ing at the Mudd Club, and was just basic playing great records but just letting them play one after the other. Francois opened my mind and ears to how to beat mix records. I would hang out with quite a bit back then and one day i said i wanted to try to do that. He showed me the general concept and I just started doing it. I didn’t have two turntables at home, so I just “practiced” at my gigs. I was working a lot so I got in a good amount of practice. In most all the years I dj’d, and I still do, I never practiced. To me, the magic of dj’ing is putting two records together for the first time and creating something unique sounding, is one of the things that make Dj’ing so interesting and special to me. Hearing great DJ’s like Francois and Larry, Tee Scott, Shep Pettibone, and Bruce Forrest kept me inspired.
Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy (Justin Strauss Remix)
What got you into the idea of producing? How did the initial opportunities come about?
The idea of producing and remixing was something I wanted to do after hearing certain records and playing them out in a club and thinking I could make them better for the dance floor by adding some elements. This was in the early 80’s and obviously you didn’t have the Internet and access to just about anything. You had to be hired by a record company to do so and I was fortunate to be playing at some of the bigger and more popular clubs in the city, and was being inspired by the mixes of Francois K., Larry Levan, and Shep Pettibone, I really was wanting to try my hand at this.
I was dealing with a lot of the dance promotion guys and A&R people at the labels who wanted me to play their records so i thought well let me try to make one of your records better. I teamed up my a friend of mine and fellow NY DJ Murray Elias and convinced an A&R woman from Elektra Records to give us a record to remix. It was Greg Kihn, who just had a hit with his song “Jeopardy”. They were looking for the next single to cross over to the clubs and they gave us the song “Re-United” to remix. That did okay, and one remix led to the next.
How did the collaboration happen between Whatever/Whatever and Beto Cravioto ‘No Social Culture’ (Plant Music). Can you tell us about the process of producing that record?
I had met Beto after he had come down to the subMercer club to hear me spin a few times. We started talking and became friends. I DJ’d with him at one of his Kaviar Disco parties. I loved that here was this young guy, interested in playing only vinyl, and had great taste in music. One day he sent me a rough demo of basically the first thing he ever did. Two of his ideas on the demo really stood out to me, his Rhodes keyboard part and the vocal samples he choose. I played it for my Whatever/Whatever production partner, Bryan Mette, and said I think we can make something really great of of this. He agreed, so we went in to our studio and did the rest of the track and mixed the record. I am really happy with the way it came out and the great reaction it has been getting. I know Beto will do more amazing things in the near future and I am thrilled to have been part of his early success.
Beto Cravioto & Whatever/Whatever ‘No Social Culture’
Do you have any favourite pieces of equipment/ hardware/ software you like to use in making music?
Without trying to sound corny (I hope) I think the best thing you can have to make music is your imagination. I’m not hung up on the equipment. Some of my favorite records were made with some pretty simple basic stuff, but they sound amazing. That being said, I always like to work with keyboards, drum machines and the like rather than computer versions of them. I love my old Juno 60 and 106 a whole lot. And after recording them, what you can do with programs like Logic and Abelton live is pretty amazing.
How would you describe your style as a DJ, and where can people hear you play?
I guess i would let someone else describe it, but I like to play great records, new and old, and find interesting and creative ways to mix them. I still use vinyl and cd’s (I love the Pioneer cdj’s), as that’s what works for me.
What are your future plans for production?
More remix work and original releases from Whatever/Whatever, and I have recently worked on two new songs with Eddie Mars for a new project we are doing called a/jus/ted that will be coming out soon. Very excited about all of that!
One of the reasons Dance have been so very exciting over the past number of years is down to the sheer breadth of music which reside within the House Music bracket. Not that that hasn’t always been the case of course, there’s just something particularly exhilarating about the clash of ideas being generated between the USA and Europe – just as much as the revived sounds of the early 90’s continue to reinvigorate the genre too. What that in mind Scarlett Nina’s amazing sounds and devilish moods fit the bill perfectly. The End, sends shivers along with staccato guitar notes and sinister, tripped-out voices inducing a powerful reaction to this notably original production. As you might expect Tone Of Arc the remix is stunning with pulsating organ and vocal treatments building the tension with typical aplomb, while the Special Case version twists the bass into something altogether more sinister on their equally impressive take. Who Am I To Disagree, explores the same atmospheres with electronic funk and the remix comes from David K Marabunta Remix whose haunting techno also fits the bill.
Waze & Odyssey
Dance, Yeah, How?
This Is Music Ltd
And so the story continues with this killer production from Waze & Odyssey whose deft blend of classic House influences are creatively put to the test. This moves beyond a simple revival of sounds by developing its theme with expansive pads and clever vocal twists that complete the moody yet uplifting arrangement. Love the thumping Kick drum and chiming, deep bass which underpins the rich mood generated by the remaining sounds. Try for yourself.
Release: exclusive to Beatport Sept 24. October 8 on general release
Gently side-stepping Dance music for the duration of this limited 7” vinyl and digital EP we revisit Maigret Jnr once again purely because this is so f**king good. For lovers of slightly melancholy, though conversely, uplifting music will greatly benefit from what’s on offer. You may already know the anthemic beauty of Always Again, which starts with the prophetic line ‘Silence is Golden’ but if not its swirling strings and heart beating drums are a joy to behold. New track, Breathe feels every bit as good covering the same territory emotionally, with poignant piano and rich baritone vocals sounding just as impressive. While the title track, Sick Friends dares to lift the sound with a heavier beat and bassline, although while this doesn’t have quite the same impact it still works neatly.
Love Is The Message
Philadelphia International Records/ bbr
If this album only contained two tracks it would still be worth its weight in gold. For within just under eleven minutes of music this 1973 release went a long way to define what became known as the Disco sound. The first track Love Is The Message is simply a seminal classic featuring Early Young’s masterful drumming, who alongside the striking keyboards, emotive Strings, strident Bass and blazing Saxophone cumulates into a sequence of one of my (and many others) favourite all time dance grooves. It all sounds so effortless, yet so completely stunning. The second track TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) featured for a time as Soul Train’s theme and also provided a hit single for the label. Again the instrumentation is flawless, supremely funky and must have felt oh so good way back then, as it also does right now. Plus of course, it featured the sassy vocals of The Three Degrees. Both tracks appear in their original, and more importantly, their extended form with Tom Moulton’s epic reworking of ‘Love Is…’ adding vocals from The Three Degrees while highlighting the keyboard and rhythm section with devastating flair – a genius at work. While TSOP again expands the rhythm section into something seminal and heavenly. It really doesn’t get much better.
TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) Original 12″ Version with Soul Train dancers…
Earl Young drums…
Salsoul Records/ bbr
Next to Philadelphia International Records, Salsoul was the other 70’s American dance label which had the greatest impact and influence both then and today. Their debut album featured the powerhouse vocals of James Williams, Joseph Harris, Charles Whittington, and Leonard ‘Butch’ Davis whose range spanned the very depths of Soul to the dizzying heights of explosive Disco. Produced by one time Philly producer (the legendary) Norman Harris the album features three timeless cuts that defy history: Ten Percent, Everyman, and My Love Is Free. All of which pack more emotional punch then most music can muster today in terms of emotion vocally, alongside poignant funkiness. Although, that’s not so surprising as the players included Early Young, Vince Montana Jr. and Bunny Sigler amongst many significant others. The package also contains the first commercially available 12” single (1976): the superlative Walter Gibbons version of the title track which sounds every bit as powerful as production does today, along with Tom Moulton’s gorgeous mix of My Love Is Free, and Joe Claussell’s remix of Everyman. Despite the fact that these tracks overshadow the remainder of the songs that shouldn’t deter you from soaking up the rest, as they all display those wonderful voices and sumptuous grooves in their full glory. A truly classic album.
The original Walter Gibbons 12” Mix of ‘Ten Percent’
Double Exposure ‘Everyman’
Salsoul Records/ bbr
And last but certainly not least this week is this gem from Instant Funk which also appeared on the Salsoul label. Released in 1979 their second album again contains a classic which defined the band: Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl). Appearing both as the album version and with the full Larry Levan remix, which clocks in just shy of ten minutes, this proves to be peerless funk. Everything about this production is just right from the fanfare of Horns which intro, straight through to the sassy percussion, and devastating bass and guitar combination upon which the soaring vocals aim skyward. Again, the remainder of the album has plenty of other gems such as Crying and the hard-core Don’t You Want To Party, while they explore notable Jazz-fusion on Wide World Of Sports. The band also played on the likes of ‘Shame’, Archie Bell & The Drells ‘Let’s Groove’ and South Shore Commission ‘Free Man’ so the familiarity of their playing just goes to prove how good they where/ are. A classic production from Bunny Sigler and engineered by Bob Last.