Bombay Records is a new Montreal imprint started by Patrick Dream and Nav Bhinder, names familiar to most in the city's vibrant music scene. Their focus is house-the deep variety--and they've chosen a fellow leading light to kick things off. Miguel Graca has been creating quality grooves consistently since 1987, and his "Whatchalike" EP is no exception. Remember the chilling "Who Needs Enemies", released on Hi Bias back in 1992? That was Graca working with Montreal music godfather Robert Ouimet. Graca's also remixed the likes of Masters At Work and received bouquets of praise from top jocks such as Laurent Garnier. The man has credentials, he's earned them. The title cut is a swinging Latin percussion number with a filtered female vocal line. "Somesay" is a shuffling shaker with Stephane Cocke helping out, while the flip contains "Can't Stop" (a peppy piece of dance), and a beats version of "Whatchalike". Up next on Bombay is the "I Found Love" 12" from Graca, and then an MG album. Can't wait for that one. On Jon Knorr's Earth label, Graca has recently released the "Realize" EP. The original mix of "Realize" is Nu Yorican style un 4 to the floorness (contrasted by Knorr's abstract take on the B), "Paloora" is downtempo bizzness with a canyon-filling bassline, and "Space Frontiers" is sweet 4/4. Graca sent me a tape a few months back of forthcoming and unreleased material and it was 100% superb. Some of the tracks appear on the above releases, while others are still waiting to find their way to vinyl. Looks like we can expect plenty more goodies from this talented Montrealer.
Speaking of track records, West End has returned. Started in 1976 by Mel Cheren, the label went on to give us classics like the oft-sampled "Don't Make Me Wait", Karen Young's "Hot Shot" (used on Daft Punk's "Homework" album), and "Is It All Over My Face" (filtered and flanged by Carlos "DJ Sneak" Sosa and others). Cheren brings things full circle by starting West End-the second phase-with "I'm Comin;" from Tanna Gardner. It was Gardner who voiced "Heartbeat", an early West End hit, and twenty years later she sounds like a young Loleatta Holloway. This has that sound of old with a dose of the new, complimented with mixes by Kenton Nix and Nicky Siano. We'll definitely be watching further West End developments closely to see what Cheren can whip up this time around. Another big vocal is the latest on Jellybean, an outing with Darrell Martin producing but Muriel Fowler on vocals. "Life" is a powerful mover with a thick bassline and Fowler front and centre on the Church mix, while BOP (Paul Scott and Shank Thompson) turn in disco stabs, horn bits, a drumroll or two, and some backgrounds from Martin solo on the Da Feeling take. Three other versions are included. Best of the vocal picks this month is Too Deep featuring Zhana's "Love & Understanding" 12" on Suburban. This is simply beautiful-in the voice and the music, a single fault cannot be found. Whether you go for the Too Deep vocal or Matty Heilbronn's Blue dub, you're safe either way. It's a cliché, but this really does has "classic" written all over it. For those who prefer the more instrumental side of house, Northcott distributed label Bassline unveils NY's Finest featuring Victor Simonelli & DJ Duke with "Feel Me", and Bassline's Big Big Trax imprint puts Jordan Field, Nate Williams, Duke, Bill Williams, and Rick Preston together for-what else could you call it?-the "Power Traxx" EP. Kimbraily Evans even stops by to add vocals to a couple of cuts.
As can be expected, there's plenty of things happening in Chicago. Tim Baker's Real Estate has two new ones to pick up. "Future House Society Vol. 1" has funky floorfillers from The Fun Police, Baker himself, and new artist Phoenix, while most recent is DJ Jacq's "Ghetto Survival" 3tracker. DJ 2Tru is a name new to me, but destined for housier turntables worldwide from the sounds of the "Love 2 Tha World" EP on Roy Davis Jr's Undaground Therapy, and Mateo & Matos continue their flair for combined productivity and quality deepness with "Passages" on my of my favorites, Large. Release number two from K Alexi Shelby's Medusa label sees Crew 69 mixing up some jive joints on "Come On Jazz", delving into Moodymann territory on "Red Light", and utilizing the late Martin Luther King's most famous speech on "Free At Last".
Mike LaBirt's New Generation is a New Jersey based label poised for even bigger things if you can judge its future based on the four fine pieces found on Jerry and Ricci Melillo's "Unreel" EP. Taking a trip to the Soutern States, we find Florida's Play It Loud, the progressive sister to the garage-focused SoulShine. They've just followed up Robbie Rivera's "Step Into My Groove Vol 1" and Da Mooch vs. Waterbabies' "Feel It" with "The Scream" 12" from 68 Beats.
I'm super happy to see that Robin and Simon Lee are back as Faze Action. This time they feature a vocalist, Zeke Manyika, in addition to their continued support of live musicians. Trumpet, trombone, saxophone, flute, bass, keys, and plenty of played percussion (including some handslapping from Raj Gupta) give their "Kariba" 12" (UK Nuphonic) a vibrant dose of funk, topped off expertly by Manyika's warm vocals. The main version is paired with a dub, beats, and useful acapella. Word is we can look forward to a new album from Faze Action. Dropping the sung vocals for a snatch first used by Deee-Lite (on their 1990 "World Clique" LP) are the Soundscapers with "What Is Love" on the British Kingpin imprint. Once again, the operative word when talking about the Soundscapers and Kingpin is "chunky". Though the title sample is familiar, this ain't no cover version. The original sashays with energetic brass loops and feverish drum workouts, while the "Love Express" mix strips it down and builds it up with a fat bassline and acidic stabs. Definitely one for the peak hour. Kingpin was started by Sarah Feeney and K-Klass' Paul Roberts. Along with Russel Morgan they've compiled "Prohibition", a K-Klass mixed CD featuring hits from the Kingpin catalog and tracks from Ian Pooley, DJ Sneak, Lil' Devious, Twisted, and the infamous "We Are Love" from DJ Erik. Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go For That" has never sounded so good. The perfect soundtrack for a Saturday night in. "Keepin' It Raw" is the motto of the UK's SouthWest20 label and it's a fitting tag for Chris Low's DJ Dexter on "Da Chillifingers" EP. That "Lookin' For A Rush" could easily be a name check to DJ Rush and that "B.T.F.W." stands for "bang them fuckin' walls" tells you these are dirty jack trax-not afraid to nick a recognizable beat from a classic or two, and not something you'll hear in a deep house set. Perfect, however, for the DJ who's not afraid to mess with a head or three.
The French Serial Recordings have a real winner in DJ Rork featuring C. Minos Alexander's "I Wanna See You Come Down". It's not often you found a soulful vocal that works this well with its accompanying musical bed. In a long full vocal take, plus two shorter versions, this is prime crate material for those who like the vocals and for the jocks who crave more dub-oriented tracks. Apricot records in France has been experiencing severe financial difficulties and might be shut down by the time this goes to print. Grab David Duriez' "The More The Pitch Is Wild", probably the last release on the imprint, and keep an eye open for future Duriez releases. His good friend Ludovic Llorca has made a name for himself on heavyweights like F Communications, and Duriez is now due for some recognition for himself.
"The Chase" is the first single from the forthcoming Terry Lee Brown (nee Norman Feller) album. On the German Plastic City, the title is more of his acclaimed brand of techgrooves, with bonus beats and the similarly flavored "Fever" on the other side. Soon come is a limited edition 10" with further mixes. My comprehension of German is close to nonexistent, but it doesn't take a degree to tell that "Die Menschen Sind Kalt" ,on Hamburg's Ladomat, is a Bee Gees cover. As to which song, though I do have a few Bee Gees albums in the library, I can't place this German rework from Andreas Dorau. Along with the original, you get a pumping Ramon (half of Hardfloor) Zenker remix, a self explanatory Popacid take, and a minimal Forever Sweet version. Speaking of Popacid (which is a mutant Mike Ink project), you might want to check the cover of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" on the same label. Not for the weakhearted, but interesting nonetheless.