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.

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.

Nana Love ‎– Disco Documentary – Full Of Funk

Without a doubt, the biggest release last year was William Onyeabor’s “Who Is William Onyeabor?” album, which was received rapturously by fans and musicians alike. There is a real sense of wonder at just how advanced the use of electronics in the music are,  a link to an excellent video telling the William Onyearbor story is available here.

There is only one statement one can pass on Nana Love’s “Disco Documentary” and that is you need this!

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One really thought that history had been made with William Onyearbor, but this is Ghanaian disco of the Highest Order. It is better than most of the dance and disco music you have ever heard and singular is its delivery and makes you think, that’s what this person used here or that was the sample used there.

The roots of most disco music always ends up at David Mancuso’s Loft parties, Patrick Adams, Leroy Burgess, Tom Moulton and clubs like the Warehouse with Frankie Knuckles, The Music Box with Ron Hardy or The Paradise Garage with Larry Levan. Africa, for the most part gets side-lined, as there was too much great music coming out of the United States and the UK throughout the seventies for it to ever gain any commercial visibility, a few official and unofficial releases in the last year or so are beginning to show the kind of music people listened to in Shebeens and other illicit bars and clubs across the continent, licencing alcohol sales back then was not what it is today, this is underground African music, that went hand in hand with the way people partied back then.

Original copies of this cost £1000 in mint condition on Vinyl so thank goodness BBE have rereleased this. You can download it from here. If you prefer a Vinyl copy (that comes with the album free on CD) go to your nearest record store.

Verdict: 10/10.