Byron Stingily had quite the challenge ahead of him when it was decided that Nervous would start the new year with Stingily's cover of Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)". The song has continued to be an anthem since its release on the famous Fantasy imprint exactly twenty years ago and represents the pinnacle of the writing partnership of Sylvester and Tip Wirrick. And how does Stingily fare? Admirably. Stingily has the voice and is undoubtedly the one to be taking on such a task. The result is simply fantastic. Don Carlos retains the energy of the original on his Club mix, with a full vocal and nods to Sylvester's "Do You Wanna Funk" and Ten City's "Devotion" riding a bed of the original's hook. The rest of the mixes are content to repeat the title and key phrases. Carlos does Dub and House mixes, while Claudio Coccoluto and Savino Martinez get super spacey. A separate twelve sees Victor Calderone using a new musical track and bringing in Mac Quayle to lay down some stabbed keys, while Damien Mendis and Stuart Bradbury of Flava for Y'Ears go for the sound of sub bass, backspins, and the timestretch on the flip.
Club Artists United's "Sweet Chariot" (US Nervous) is definitely doing the business and deservedly so. Featuring Gerideau (of whom we don't seem to hear enough), Kenny and Susu Bobien, Eddie Stockly, and Jazmina, this is a flawless slice of quality garage in all its forms. Soul Creation's mix is classic piano and strings, while Booker T's two versions pump in all the right places. Tuff Jam drop the vocals on their look, chopping up just a line or two and bringing it into a new light. Speaking of Karl "Tuff Enuff" Brown and Matt "Jam" Lamont, a new one for London's Azuli sees the duo performing as Pepper Mache. The aptly titled "Happiness" has a powerful uncredited female vocal over a top backing with two vocal mixes (though one is titled the Dub mix, it's a bit sparser but retains the full vocal), and a useful instrumental and acapella. If only labels would get back to including more acapellas on records such as this.
Twisted America out of New York are back with three new ones. Transplanted Austrian Peter Rauhofer and France's DJ Wild get together for the stark, electrofied title-repeating "Magic Orgasm". From The Jackal soundtrack comes DollsHead's "It's Over (It's Under)". Tom (Superchumbo) Stephan with Rob Di Cradle, Portugal's Kult of Krameria, and Victor Calderone turn in the beats, while David Anthony provides the Vocal mix. Dark and druggy. The winner of the bunch is Club 69's "Much Better" featuring Suzanne Palmer and a song written by Stonebridge. Future Shock Make It Better with sustained strings and fat, chugging bass, Boris Dlugosch brings on his Funky Gruv with filter action and just a snatch of the title in the extro, while bright piano prods Rauhofer's Classic Club and Extended mixes. The UK's Kingpin has licensed Pump Friction's "That Sound" from King Street for a refreshing revamp. The original, written by London's Alan Hawkshaw and Lewis Dene (he of Blues & Soul magazine), was loosely based on the classic "Here Comes That Sound". The original artist escapes me; Simon Harris did a forgettable cover back in the 80s. The Soundscapers Funk Dat Sound mix has Jay Forrester and James Ryan toughening up the rhythm and using more disco string stabs and vocal loops. Definitely the best Kingpin release thus far.
If you haven't been hammering the import since October, you can now grab "Better Day" from Presence domestically on Pagan America. Without a doubt, this was the best deep house vocal released in 1997, and the dubs aren't too shabby either. If you haven't heard it, think Berlin's Mainstreet Records (the vocal companion to Basic Channel) and you're in the right league. Charles Webster, Mr. Love From San Francisco, has outdone himself here. Written with Delroy Joseph and featuring the sublime voice of Steve Edwards, this is a song that will stand the test of time. Producers take note--with quality instrumentation, meaningful lyrics about a universal subject, and the perfect vocalist, you've got material that will sound great ten years from now. Webster seems to be just hitting his stride now. He's got a number of releases out or coming soon on a variety of labels under numerous names and we can't wait for the Presence full length.
The disco vibe lives with more musicians picking up actual instruments and jamming before sitting down in front of the computer. Bravo to Global Communication's Tom Middleton and Mark Pritchard for not only bringing to light many talented artists on their labels, but also continuing to release wonderful material themselves. One such example is "The Groove", a jazzy affair with real bass, drums, Rhodes, trumpet, flute, and Marilyn McFarlane's "you've got to move to the groove" refrain. The lengthy original is paired with a bottomless Modwheel mix and the Extended Skit, which drops the four on the floor for total headnoddin'. Essential.
Germany's Ladomat are back, this time with ZIMT's "U.O.A.A. Shake It!". The Original is throbbing bass with a quirky male vocal, while the Jurgen Paape remix and busy backgrounded Version 2 float bits of the vocal over a stripped down dubby rhythm a la Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald. A late night killer for sure. Congratulations to Hamburg's finest for taking a chance with this grower.
Raj Gupta is setting himself up for an incredible 1998. Recording with Crispin J. Glover as Motif, Gupta takes us way back to the mid 80s for the "New Booty" single (UK Matrix). Think hot summer nights in the Big Apple, getting it on at Jellybean's Funhouse. The title is a potent piece of funk with it's wiggly Yamaha DX 7 bassline, while "Slide" drops the tempo for a sexy Sugarhill vibe that oozes class. Get into the groove. But that's not all. Gupta's also doing it solo on "Squawk Talk" (UK Spectrum). This comes on like some forgotten Shep Pettibone dub with Andy Wallace laying down a live key line. Emulating the Matrix twelve, "To And Fro" slows it, and sounds like Adrian Sherwood mixing down his latest project in the midst of a carnival. Wonderful with a capital W. There's more vinyl from this man out there now and plenty more to come, so keep your eyes open.
Another must-have to spark up the floor is Cricco Castelli's "Batucada Soul" (UK S.I. Project/Adelphoi). With yet more live instrumentation, we have trumpets galore on the lazy main mix, while the boys out of Toronto, Dino and Terry Demopoulos tighten things up for their Crash Brass Action mix. This is the one to play, plus there's a nice bonus beats included.
Remixes of "You Can Do It" are out soon from Terrence Parker's excellent "Detroit After Dark" 2 X LP (US !K7). Not only does Parker know how to craft a nice slice of wax, he's pretty damn handy on the tables as well. Check him out soon on Andrew Duke's In The Mix as he makes a return appearance to work his way through another exclusive slammin' set of classic house. Another busy Detroiter is K Hand. The 37th release from her Acacia imprint is the four cut "Spice" EP. "Everybody" is a dark thumper that first appeared on the "Acacia Classics" compilation, A2 works the "there's not a problem that I can't fix" vocal from Indeep's "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" (US Sound Of New York 1982), while B1 transforms the instrumental intro to "We Are Family" from Sister Sledge (US Atlantic 1979).
More disco loop/hard house action and NYC atmosphere can be found on the sophomore release on Montreal's Sonic. MG (Miguel Graca) and DJ XL team up as M-X for the "Soul Sonic" EP. Graca's discography is short but sweet. He did a mix of "Voices In My Mind" for Masters At Work a few years back, was responsible for the underappreciated, ahead-of-its-time Red Light on the Canadian Hi Bias label (do you remember where you were when you first heard "Who Needs Enemies"?), and received massive props for the more recent "Up To The Sky" on Russ Gabriel's Ferox ("absolutely beautiful, I will hammer it. Definitely one of the best tracks in my box" according to Laurent Garnier; not a bad name to be dropping). He's been busy on the DJ front as well, as has XL, whose tag graces many a flyer in upper Canada.
1. Glenn Underground Presents The S.J.U. Project--"Future Parables" 2 X LP (UK Defender)