Sun Palace – Rude Movements

I guess back in the nineties when music was underground, the quest for most DJ’s was to find great records that no-one else was aware were any good, many club nights were based on this principle, invariably, successful underground clubs had their own sound and culture. I have always been fascinated with the music both musicians and DJ’s have an affinity with – not that the public doesn’t have a great choice mind – there is usually an unexpected perspective, a feeling, a devotion when one hears favourite music being discussed.

Rude Movements by Sun Palace is one of those magical tracks that works across the board. If you appreciate quality music, then you are in for a treat with this Mike Collins a produced, David Mancuso Loft Classic.

There is an excellent write-up on Mike Collins available here. Interesting to find out that he is connected to Bjork’s “Play Dead” another stone cold classic.

Only 10 000 copies were originally released, with second-hand copies seldom being available through the years, so the only affordable version of this track was on a bootleg, so great to see Mike Collins has made available an official release on BBE.

Also worth having a read is the original blog post by Mike before this release.

Masters At Work

What is there to say about the Masters At Work that has not been said already? For me they encapsulate what House Music is all about. I happened to play a mix of “I Get Lifted” by Barbara Tucker for the first time in a while, and the memories came flooding back, tears in the eyes and everything, one truly misses those times!

Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez and “Little Louie Vega are probably the most important dance music producers that emerged in the 1990’s. Their name taken after a Todd Terry produced project “Does exactly what it says on the tin”. Development of Dance Music Culture in the 1970’s and 1980’s is attributed to DJ’s Like David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy and Larry Levan (A childhood friend of Frankie Knuckles).

I first heard the Masters At Work when they Played at the Ministry of Sound around the time they released the classic Sessions Five mix on Limited Vinyl and CD on Sound Of Ministry. What Beethoven, Bach or Mozart are to Classical Music, Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez” and “Little” Louis Vega are to House Music. It’s as simple as that really!

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I guess the element that is easily lost, looking at this music retrospectively, is that it was first and foremost an “Underground Music” culture and was very important to people in the Underground Clubbing Scene, as music back then it was predominantly about the Charts or nothing else (no internet, just radio). The records in this mix are all originals, no anthologies or anything have been used, licentiously demonstrated by the display of two or more copies of a record. It must be known that whenever you saw a Masters At Work record in the shop you always bought it because they never disappointed, the wide array of people that liked Masters At Work and their significant output created a buzz on the Underground that is seldom, if ever repeated.

When Masters At Work emerged on the House Scene, they were predominantly known for their dubs like “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by St. Etienne a record that was on so many cassettes one used to listen to at the time, and “Carry On” by Martha Wash. The first track in this mix “Coming On Strong” by Desiya is as historic as they come, Todd Terry, Louie Vega, Tony Humphries, and Kenny Dope, kick-starting the Magic Sessions in Miami. It really isn’t possible to compare a track like “I Can’t Get No Sleep” with a Track like “Deep Inside” by Hardrive, but “Deep Inside” is the record that every DJ I have ever met swears by. Every Pirate radio station played that track to death.

What really took the world by surprise is that they embraced creating records with Singers and they produced both some of the most underground sounding house records, and also some of the best vocal records like “Too Be In Love”, a record very special to one, as one managed to bag an original import on Vinyl.

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“To Be In Love”, took over two years until it was licensed here in the UK on Defected records, which meant there were only a few DJ’s playing that record out (there is also a rare Special White Vinyl Version), to think nowadays you can just download a track or stream it on the internet, back then, you paid twice, thrice or more for a rare Vinyl record on Import, word got out, and I would pack parties on the premise that people got to hear that record. Magical!

Remember that you can buy their music at http://www.vegarecords.net/ ,  http://kaydeerecords.bigcartel.com/kenny-dope , http://www.traxsource.com/,and also http://strictly.com or https://pro.beatport.com

The Mole People ‎– Break Night

It is an onerous task, to try and choose a Top 50, let alone a Top 10 for the label Strictly Rhythm, a label as important as the Apple label by the Beatles, every home should have a least one Strictly Rhythm record.

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For me “Break Night” by The Mole People (‎a pseudonym of Armand Van Helden) is the perfect 03:00AM to 04:00AM record, before you start playing records by Ron Trent and Chez Damier or Moodymann. It’s a long track that builds and builds, one you can get lost in, it’s the frequency of the bass that gets you on a world class sound system.

I first became aware of Armand Van Helden the summer “Professional Widow” by Tori Amos and “Sugar is Sweeter” by CJ Bolland came out, records that the people of Harrow in particular took a liking to. It was Flowerz however that I liked the most around the time the press were talking about a Sunday all dayer in New York by François Kevorkian and Joe Clausell called Body and Soul, Flowerz was an anthem there, and here in the UK as well, a timeless record.

Unlike a lot of the Vinyl I sometimes play, you can buy this and other classic Strictly Rhythm tracks at their website.

20/20 Vision Recordings Mix

The 20/20 Vision Recordings record label has remained one of the best record labels in the UK for the last 20 years releasing hundreds of 12″ Singles and Albums from Artists all over the world. The general rule of thumb is to avoid anything cheesy, at all costs. Ralph Lawson maintains an excellent blog where he has been putting a lot of people out of their misery by recording mixes showcasing some of the records that were being played at the culturally defining nightclub that is Back to Basics in Leeds.

My take on Ralph through reading news articles and listening to interviews, is that he is always focused on the future, and seldom has time to discuss the past, especially if it relates to music, but for a great many of us, the world wasn’t what it is today where records could be consumed immediately by the entire world. For a great many people, you went to Basics and might find out about a record like ‎”We Are One” by D.J.Q., or “The Day We Lost The Soul / Tribute! (To The Soul We Lost)” by Moodymann, but for the most part, you just remember having the time of your life, even when Ralph was playing on KissFM in Yorkshire, he would start off with a track like Nothing-Stays-The-Same by MD-VS-LR-Feat-Mike-Dunn, fat chance you had of ever finding a copy in local record shops.

The first Ralph Lawson record I fell in love with was “I Remember Dance” by Chuggles, that you would hear on the pirate radio stations in London, as well as at the Ministry Of Sound. House music became quite confusing then, with all the Genres that the press kept coming out with e.g. Happy House, Hard House, Deep House, Handbag House, Piano House and so on but 20/20 Vision Recordings remained one of the most consistent labels just putting out quality releases. I worked with a bunch of DJ’s at the time when 20/20 Vision Recordings  was gaining traction, it was very competitive, so if someone bought of copy of this 20/20 record you had to buy one that they didn’t have, so at one stage we had pretty much every release up till the mid noughties on Vinyl

This is just me trying to pick some 20/20 vision records that you probably have not heard that I still enjoy. Don’t forget that you can get both new and classic 20/20 Vision releases from their website or beatport or juno.

Sharon Redd – Can You Handle It

Every once in a while, one is captivated by the reverence shown in a review for a record, take a look at this one for “Can You Handle It” by Sharon Redd, written by someone going under the pseudonym MaximusMCX;

Once upon a time I was in Scotland and decided to visit the famous little church in Rosslyn. Famous because of its appearance in Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code. Many stories are told about this beautiful little church. It is said that the Holy Grail is buried beneath it. Another story tells the tale of one of the fourteen pillars where Rosslyn Chapel stands on. A pillar standing out in beauty from all the others. The three pillars at the east end of the chapel are named, the Master Pillar, the Journeyman Pillar, and most famously, the Apprentice Pillar. Its name comes from a legend dating from the 18th century involving the master mason in charge of the stonework in the chapel and his young apprentice. According to the legend, the master mason did not believe that the apprentice could perform the complicated task of carving the column without seeing the original which formed the inspiration for the design. The master mason travelled to Rome to see the original himself, but upon his return was enraged to find that the upstart apprentice had completed the column anyway. In a fit of jealous anger the mason took up his mallet and struck the apprentice on the head, killing him. The legend concludes that as punishment for his crime, the master mason’s face was carved into the opposite corner to forever gaze upon his apprentice’s pillar. So, what’s the point of making a Special Remix? To make it better than it was before. Right? Why do so few succeed in that? There is only one man I know who made every mix better than it was before and that’s Larry Levan. A true wizard and master. And then there was the apprentice Francois Kevorkian, who made this mix. A jewel. Four minutes of only intro. Sharon who starts singing, chanting along with the guitar, after those lovely four minutes. All the instruments coming together in one perfect blend of bliss including the awesome lyrics. Do you really think you can …. uhhhh …. Handle IT? I’ve bought this record in 1981 and 30 years later I like it as much as in the beginning. I never get tired of it. I do not know one song where the remix is so much better than the original. Not a bit better, way better! Seek no more, you’ve found the Holy Grail.

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Having lived in the sleepy village of Roslin, and witnessed the daily commute by both pilgrims and tourists, this review resonates with one. I guess the aspect that might be missed by a lot of people is just how hard it was to get a copy of this record 30 years ago. Another review I read recently went thus;

if you see this , snatch it fast, put on a bullet proof vest and get your ass home, cause if some other mother f***** sees ya with it, he’s liable to shoot ya down for it!!!

It really is lamentable that this level of passion is lost by newer generations, one loves the fact that whether you are rich or poor you can always get a copy of the music you like using the internet.

I hated going to record shops sometimes twenty or so years ago, because the people that consistently got the best records were people that had money (stands to reason though), so the guy in the record shop would reserve the best records for said person, if one was close personal friend, you knew every couple of months or so you would get a hot record. It is important to note that a lot of dance records were released several times depending on sales, a record could be played in underground clubs for a couple of years before getting a major release, most times the next release would have a newer mix so getting a good record collection was very hard back then. If you happened to have a hot record, and were playing out live, then all to often other DJ’s or the public would time their moment and misappropriate (steal) said record. Music used to drive people to theft, an uncomfortable but necessary observation, this is why a lot of second hand records are worth a lot less, as usually they have someone’s name etched on the record or cover or both.

The thing I love about this record is the sheer sophistication of the voice and the unbeatable production, it almost is the perfect dance record, if someone asks you to name a classic tune “Can You Handle It” by Sharon Redd is head and shoulders above the rest, and one of my all-time favourite dance records, be it the original album mix, or this “Not a bit better, way better! Seek no more, you’ve found the Holy Grail” version.

Kruder and Dorfmeister – The K&D Sessions

Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister completely took the world by storm with their classic 1998 release “The K&D Sessions”. I had first become aware of Kruder and Dorfmeister several years earlier, listening to Gilles Peterson on his Kiss FM show in London in around 1993 with their track “High Noon” that was completely massive at the time. R-170440-1260579320_jpeg Fast forward a few years, I heard their  DJ-Kicks mix CD through  a friend at University, I could not find a copy as much as I tried back then, certainly another release worth trying to get a copy of. R-2951-1310897587_jpeg Listeners of this mix CD were scarcely surprised with their next main offering “The K&D Sessions”, as the DJ Kicks mix CD only made listeners rapacious for more of their music. By the time “The K&D Sessions” came out mix CD’s were “one a penny”, they were expensive but there were a lot of truly dreadful releases that were complete “bubblegum” – lasting fleetingly, if at all. The challenge anyone under the age of twenty has in listening to an album like “The K&D Sessions” today is that they generally don’t have the attention span to really listen to the music from start to finish, if they do, they lack the context and almost religiosity required to listen to an album from the start to finish without skipping, skimming or shuffling. This isn’t a criticism, it’s just that finding music through the internet is more about individual tracks rather than albums, especially with dance music. Listening to a classic album like “The K&D Sessions”  on a website like youtube track by track in any order, is like reading a book backwards and choosing the chapters at random, the recommendation with this release is to listen to it from start to finish. k7 will be releasing this on Vinyl, CD, WAV and MP3 in April and have already started taking orders.

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Unfortunately their first early bird quantities are already sold out (from their website).

That was fast! We’ve already sold out of our initial early bird web store quantity. Fear not though, we have more vinyl on the way, and should be back in stock by end of day Friday 20th of February.

What Kruder & Dorfmeister managed to pull off here was to create a musical landscape unlike no other, much like a good book with a story to tell, it’s a wonderfully programmed, engaging and outstanding showcase of artistry. I guess as the saying goes, “snooze, you lose!”.            

William Onyeabor

William Onyeabor has emerged as one of the most important people in electronic music, making records reputedly as good as the ones coming out of New York at the same time in the mid seventies to early eighties, the golden age of dance music.

William is singular in exciting both musicians and the general public alike. One really does feel quite fortunate to live at a time when music like this has been found, documented and shared using the wonders of modern technology as in the following “cannot recommend highly enough”  mini-documentary.

The brilliant news about the album release, is that it contains all his albums in one package.

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I know the album has been out for a little over a year, but it seems a lot of articles in blogs and news websites seem to have “obtained” their information from the video in this post.