THE NINETIES 8: Relief Records pt. 1

Green Velvet in Muzik Magazine from 1997
Green Velvet in UK’s now defunct Muzik Mag in 1997

Awhile back we posted one of our favorite tracks ever on Relief Records. It was DJ Sneak’s banging remix Green Velvet’s most famous song Flash and it was thrown in as a footnote to our report on DOTC4 & U.B.H/T.W. because it totally re-captured the energy of that party/week (aka the energy of mid 90’s rave parties). Looking back now I realize that that track and the amazing label it’s on can never really be a footnote to anything and seeing as December’s O.P.P. edition of 90’s Jam is tonight and we haven’t done a proper post in months, it’s probably as good a time as any to begin our series on Curtis Jones’ (aka Green Velvet aka Cajmere) legendary Chicago house/techno stable.

While some of the releases on Mr. Jones’ first label Cajual Records (which launched in 1992 with seminal house classic “Brighter Days” featuring Dajae) were bigger house hits, it was Relief (launched in 1993 with “Preacher Man”) that fostered Chicago’s second wave of young producers and took the tracky Chicago house sound in down new and distinctly techno influenced path that is still being explored today. This split make sense if you’re familiar with the 2 sides of Mr. Jones himself, as Cajmere he releases his vocal and housey productions on Cajual, while as Green Velvet, he drops tripped out techno creepers on Relief. As you can see I can go on about these labels forever and that’s why we’re doing a multi-part series on each label starting with Relief, because even though Cajual came first, we’ve been ripping and playing a ton of old Relief tunes lately. Enjoy.

DJ Sneak – The Lights part II (RR707 – 1994) DOWNLOAD
Let me start our reviews wit a disclaimer: unfortunately, we don’t have every release on Relief Records. We wish we did, but given that we didn’t start buying records until after Relief was born it’s damn near impossible to find alot of the early stuff, we may never actually complete the collection. Second most important fact: RR701, Green Velvet’s “Preacher Man” is necessary listening for sure, and you’ve probably heard the track with the evangelist preaching to his congregation about the dangers of “playing house” before, but if you haven’t, go buy it here. So back to this release. It’s one of DJ Sneak‘s really early ones and is totally insane looped out techno music. By 1995 Sneak had gone much more in the disco house direction so it’s a pleasure to here his early experimentations. To hear “The Lights part I” goto Corporate Bloggin’s great Sneak post from a couple months back and read it too if you can read french!

GU – Smok’en Indo (RR714 – 1994) DOWNLOAD
Here’s another early track from a producer that became very important. GU aka Glenn Underground is often credited for carrying Larry Heard‘s torch through the 90’s with his new brand of disco and soul sample laden deep house, which would be the blueprint for Chicago’s sound in the late 90’s on labels like Guidance and Large. But, back up for a second, because like “The Lights”, “Smok’en Indo” is a crazy techno monkey that makes you do wierd dances and illustrates how important Relief was in the early development of these young producers.

Green Velvet – Explorer (RR730 – 1995) DOWNLOAD
Alright so this is on the Portamento Tracks EP which also included the more known “Flash” and “I Want To Leave My Body” so it’s pretty much overlooked, which is a HUGE mistake. While the beat is similar to “Flash” Velvet laces explorer with much more aggressive synths that rip open your ears while he talks about the king of the jungle. Wierd, but true.

Oh yeah and if you didn’t know: after a brief hiatus from ’98-’00, Relief is still alive and kicking. You can check ’em on myspace and also purchase many releases on their website. So make sure to support the roots and the future of our dance music!