Just wanted to remind all you New England residents that tomorrow there’s a huge outdoor electronic music extravaganza at the Marina Bay Beach Club, just south of Boston. Soul Clap’s opening for all-time house luminaries Junior Sanchez & Armand Van Helden and in honor of this momentous occasion it seemed appropriate to repost some of our favorite Armand moments from the Soul Clap Blog. Listening to these jams again got us fired up for tomorrow and hopefully you will be too, so go get your discount advance tickets now!
After going through these old posts I realize how much more old Armand vinyl must be shared, so expect more treats soon 🙂
For the latest edition of Roots & Future, we turn to Boston based DJ/Producer, former Satellite Records (closed) owner and total Techno brainiac, Pat Fontes. He chose three tunes from his enormous collection (which is partially the back catalogue from the store) that seemed to jump out and say “oooh Pattttt”.
In his words… “K, first the Iam Pooley Jam … [I chose this] one cause i was randomly digging thru crates, and the fact that it was one of my earliest records I ever came to own in the borderline house and techno spectrum. I use to wear that track out, probably played it at every gig from 1996 to 1998.”
“The Dave Angel joint was just another addition to piles, I think I brought all his records home from Satellite [Records] just on the fact that it was Dave Angel, at the point that record was released he was a household name in underground [world of] funky house and techno.
Island (Forth and Broadway is a subsidiary of Island U.K.) Records was a big label to be on and he saw many releases back then and gained a great rep with us connoisseurs. [This track is] funky dirty grooving goodness on wax.”
“Paul Mac‘s, Influenced One is a limited edition 10 inch that is basically his interpetation of his Influences [but] one track … Side A… is like heaven to me. The start with the bassline hitting this pattern that I just feel in love with the 1st time, and believe i could hear it looped forever, yet he puts his signature touch of dirty grinding hi hats and shuffle all over it and adds a preacher in the song that actually states many things of interest or things many don’t think of… that state of our society and religion, etc…”
We thank Pat Fontes for his dope contribution, deep knowledge, and efforts to keep dance music alive in Boston. Pat Fontes only plays vinyl (still!) and you can see him whip out his 12 inches at Rise this Friday with us, Tanner Ross and Matty Dimond from 2a-7a… wa wa wee wa…
Continuing from where we left off, it’s the crack of the 90s, and Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzalez are well on their way to building their reputation as Masters at Work. 1993 saw them release their first album, The Album. A combination of singles released up to that point as well as some new production, it includes some early classics, like Blood Vibes. As remixers, MAW found themselves working with artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Ce Ce Peninston, and Donna Summer, but the best was still yet to come.
Nuyorican Soul – Runaway [Talkin’ Loud – 1997] BUY
Once upon a time, way back when DJs were gathering underground popularity by extending and remixing the pop stars of the time, DJ of DJs Larry Levan had a unique concept. He dreamed of creating a studio album in which the DJ is the maestro. This album would consist of DJ-produced tracks featuring the voices and elements of that DJ’s favorite singers and musicians. In the 1997 album titled Nuyorican Soul by Masters at Work fulfilled that dream. On Nuyorican Soul, MAW celebrate both their Puerto Rican and disco roots and summon the talents of musicians George Benson, Vince Montana, Jocelyn Brown, Roy Ayers, and Tito Puente to create an album that pays tribute to the artists they love. Looking back more than 10 years later it’s more clear than ever that rather than sagging with the overburdening stink of excess stardom, Nuyorican Soul has established itself as one of the greatest dance albums of all time.
This track is a redux of the disco classic of the same name by the Salsoul Orchestra and Lolleata Holloway, Runaway is one of the four singles off of the Nuyorican Soul album. With Louie Vega’s ex-wife La India providing the vocals, they do soulful justice to the original. It was the first single to receive the remix treatment, retouched by 90s greats Armand Van Helden and Mousse T. Armand’s mix (Mogoloids in Space) bumps, and Mousse T provides a more direct dancefloor translation.
Masters at Work – La India Con La Voe (Viva Puerto Rico) (MAW Tribin’) [MAW Records – 1997] BUY
In case the parentheses aren’t obvious enough, this tribal tune is an ode to the island of Puerto Rico. Featuring samples of a cheering concert crowd, nationalist & spiritual cries, and La India’s sweet voice all over a set of lively drums, this track has Spanish Harlem Block Party written all over it.
Kenlou – Gimme Groove [MAW Records – 1995] BUY
Gimme Groove is the B-side buddy to Kenlou’s classic The Bounce (which happens to be amongst Cnyce’s favorite tracks- too treasured to post!). Whereas The Bounce is more lively, Gimme Groove is a deeper, nine-minute mood-setter of a track that can really set the tone for a good night out. Definitely maintains the sexy.
Finally its happening, after 2 years of being washed up by a wave of minimal, techno and electro, HOUSE music begins its triumphant return. Ah yes, a return to the organic drums, organ hits, garage shuffle, jacking Chicago and maybe even (gasp) a vocal or two! How amazing is dance music in 2008? SO amazing.
One of the signs that really caught my attention was back in July 2007 when Spectral Sound‘s Ryan Elliot performed in Cambridge @ the Phoenix Landing. He brought the dopest flavors to his mix. It was like this bouncy techno sound that was littered with House music and Garage accents. Like, one minute he’s playing a brand new release and the next he’s mixing Master’s At Work “The Bounce”, or K.O.T’s “Simon Says Bounce” (wait thats weird, they both have bounce in title… go figure). The point is, in context suddenly these old tunes sounded like they could be new releases.
In 2008 house music was all over WMC. At the underground parties and the after-hours, house didnt dominate like the sounds of tech and minimal (how could it when the headliners are Magda, Anja Schneider and Konrad Black) but at all the right moments, it poked its head out as if to say “hi, remember me, I’m house music, and I’m so damn refreshing right now its not even funny”.
So who’s playing what and what did we hear?
Junior Vasquez – Get Your Hands Off My Man (Sound Factory Mix) [Tribal America – 1994] BUY
The Italoboyz (Mothership, Get Physical) really brought the garage and Chicago sound alive in their DJ set at The Cheap Sunglasses After-hours at PS14. They got on the decks around 11:00am and played with tremendous feeling and originality. Of course they dropped a grip of their own tunes, including the jacking new Mothership release that samples John Coltrane called “Bahia”, but it was an edit of Junior Vasquez’s “Get Your Hands Of My Man” that brought us all back, way back, for an “oh shit” moment.
Track Assassin – Gimmie Da Drumz [Catalyst Records – 2001] BUY
Sebo K (Mobilee, Get Physical) was the other DJ who just absolutely brought the classic sounds to the party. We saw him twice, first at the Mobilee party on the rooftop of the Townhouse Hotel where he was just killing the old school. He dropped Eddie Amador‘s anthem “House Music” on Yoshitoshi, another jam that was so familiar it made us forget, and this DJ Sneak banger, “Gimmie Tha Drumz” under his Track Assassin moniker on Dust Traxx sister label Catalyst Records
Josh One – Contemplation (King Britt’s Funke Mix) [Electromatrix – 2001] BUY
As if one performance from the Sebonator wasn’t enough, the man was back in the spotlight (or should we say sunlight) at Sunday School For Degenerates at Pawn Shop. Sandwiched between a tag team set from Joel Mull & Adam Beyer and then Steve Bug, Sebo brought back the house music bounce, dropping “Gimmie Da Drumz” again as well as an edit of King Britt’s remix of “Contemplation” by Josh One, a personal favorite that I haven’t heard in ages.
Thank the gods its all coming back!
If Daft Punk can be called supreme rulers of the Kingdom of French Touch, DJ Falcon (of “So Much Love to Give” fame) would be their wise wizard and his cousin, Alan Braxe, would be their solitary knight. Nicknamed after the French region of his upbringing, Brax, Alain QuÃƒÂªme has earned himself a place amongst the filter house elite. His discography starts in 1997 with “Vertigo”, which was released under Thomas BangalterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s RoulÃƒÂ© label. A year later, Bangalter, Braxe and French crooner Benjamin Diamond made house history with a little song called “Music Sounds Better With You”, under the moniker Stardust.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Alan Braxe and co-pilot Fred Falke open up the record label Vulture Music and together dropped another French house classic, “Intro”. From here, Alan Braxe along with Fred Falke (and on the occasion Kris Menace) craft their own brand of 80s synth-drenched tracks like “Most Wanted” and “Rubicon”, even as the French house scene deflated in the early 00s.
The last few years have seen Braxe and Falke build their name as remixers, synthing-up & funking-out artists from a range of genres, including Death From Above 1979, Jamiroquai, Kelis, and Justice. As of late, Alan Braxe has been producing a gutter-grime electro tune here and there, exploring a different sound. One of such tracks, “Addicted”, has found itself on French indie label KitsunÃƒÂ© Music’s KitsunÃƒÂ© Maison Compilation 5, which was released earlier this month.
Alan Braxe Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Vertigo [RoulÃƒÂ© – 1997] BUY
And so begins BraxeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s transformation from a bumbling musician in Paris to a French touch deity. A track with syncopated percussion and a swirly sequencing, it was then converted into a filtered, high-powered hit by Bangalter himself. BangalterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Virgo edit eventually found shine time on some of the BBC Essential Selection Compilations, but BraxeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s original withstands the test of time better.
B.O.C. Productions Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Fall in Love (Alan Braxe Remix) [Chez – 1999] BUY
This pre-Vulture era track is more French touch groove than 80s synth, as evident in the bassline. Essentially a dub of the original mix interspersed with vocal stabs, one can get a sense of the deeper side of French touch popular at the time.
Alan Braxe & Fred Falke Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Most Wanted [Vulture – 2000]Ã‚Â BUY VINYL | BUY DIGITAL
“Most Wanted” was Intro’s b-side buddy on the Running EP, Vulture MusicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first release. The track samples from “DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Stop” by disco-era songwriter, producer, and Guitarist Geoff Barstow. under his K.I.D. project. Braxe and Falke pump a mellow bassline into the sample, filter it, and voila, you’ve got an italo-disco influenced jam for the year 2000.
So the first time I heard “Walking Down The Street (The N Song)” (the song from the video below) was when Mr. Carroll himself dropped it poolside at last year’s WMC. After that, I basically obsessively searched for it for like 6 months and could not find it anywhere, so at some point late last year I gave up/forgot about it all together. Then boom, all of a sudden I noticed a Count & Sinden remix charted on these guys myspace page (which you can listen to on this blog) and was reminded of how psyched I had been when I heard first heard that signature line and couldn’t get it out of my head. A little interweb research later and bang, you’re looking at the official video.
But the story doesn’t end here (and you know that we would never just post a video on Soul Clap without at least a little context for it). More surprising to me than finding the track was who had charted it. J.O.T.S. make and play “electro” music (the international misnomer for hipster’s current dance party music of choice) and Ron Carroll has made his name in the world of soulful Chicago house music. In fact, RC is one of my favorite house vocalists and a solid producer and songwriter to boot. So before this track blows up (which it will, because it’s already been licensed to 3 labels (including international cheesy disco house rulers Hed Kandi and Sinden & The Count played their version on Essential Mix last month) I think it’s important to give all the kids a little history lesson, Soul Clap style.
Ron Carroll – My Prayer (H&F Underground Dub) [Af-Ryth-Mix Sounds 0001 – 1993]
This was the first release on Chicago’s Af-Ryth-Mix Sounds, which was one of many labels M&Ded by 90’s Chicago house stalwart Clubhouse Entertainment. Af-Ryth-Mix only had twelve release and all of them were at least partially produced or remixed by Hula (except ARM-0007) who was also one of the members of The Outhere Brothers of ’90s dance hit “Boom Boom Boom” fame. This particular record happens to be Ron Carroll’s first and with six mixes to choose from it covers a wide range of early ’90s house styles. From the Original Mix’s uplifting Gospel workout, to the NYC vibed King Street Mix (can’t figure out who did this, maybe something to do with the label of the same name), to Ron Trent‘s chopped up Detroit house sounding Hymn Mix and finally to this here dub version. H&F would be none other than Hula & K. Fingers, who along with future grammy winner Maurice Joshua and fellow Outhere Brother Martell formed acid house supergroup Da Posse in the late ’80s. The two also had a grip of house remixes for Jive from ’90-’94 and Fingers aka Craig Simpkins was a member of successful deep house team Blak Beat Niks. I know, I’ve been babbling, and call me a nerd, but all these connections are what make up the roots of the music we hear today.
Ron Carroll – Natural (RC Grooves Big Room Dub) [Music 101 005 – 2002]
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Let’s keep this one simple. This track is a weird stompy, drummy workout that RC produced, but didn’t do the vocals on. It’s def not his most famous work, but we hammered it when it was released and even put it on a mix. Another remix on the record is by the aforementioned Blak Beat Niks, but I don’t like that one as much.
Hardsoul ft. Ron Carroll – Back Together (Classic Main Mix) [Soulfuric 0021 – 2003]
This is one of my absolute favorite house tracks of the early ’00s and Dutch brother team Hardsoul are some of the best producers of this style So emotional, so powerful, so dancefloor. Before the soulful sound starting coming back this year, I would put this track on to pull me out of the dark place that techno can leave me sometimes. If you like this style of “funky” house and you have never heard of Soulfuric, do yourself a favor and go check there depth of dopeness over at Traxsource. Pure class.
M.A.W. in Muzik Mag in 1997
Editor’s Note: this is the first post from our intern Chinua. He’s a big fan of French touch, but we’re trying to teach him all about the history of house and techno too. To start him on the right path we gave him an assignment to learn all about M.A.W. and tell you what he learned. So please give a warm Soul Clap blog welcome to our young gun, ChinChin.
In the late eighties, Carl Kenneth Gonzalez and Luis Fernando Vager, better known as Kenny “Dope” and “Little” Louie Vega, but best known as Masters At Work, first met through mutual friend Todd Terry after Vega took interest in GonzalezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“A Touch of SalsaÃ¢â‚¬Â. The turn of the decade saw the start of a solid repertoire of dance-floor essentials under a number of monikers, starting with their single Ã¢â‚¬Å“Blood VibesÃ¢â‚¬Â. Masters At WorkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s influences include latin, jazz, hip-hop, disco, soul, Larry Levan, David Mancuso, Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, Tony Humphries and even The ClashÃ¢â‚¬â€ in essence, the sounds of the eclectic New York City they knew.
Born in Brooklyn in 1970, Dope took to the emerging hip-hop sound, following radio DJs like Marley Marl, Teddy Ted and Awesome Two. As a teen he worked in a record store and DJ-ed on the side. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t long before Dope founded a DJ crew calledÃ¢â‚¬â€ you guessed itÃ¢â‚¬â€ Masters At Work, doing up block-parties left and right. Nor was it long before Gonzalez crossed paths with Todd Terry. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the deal: Terry borrowed the Masters At Work name for releasing tracks (Alright, Alright & Dum Dum Cry), and in exchange Dope got to play with TerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s production equipment.
Whereas Kenny Dope provided Masters at work with the hip-hop style beats and disco grooves, Louie Vega brought in the latin and soul. Bronx-native Vega was born into a latin music-driven family (his uncle is Hector Lavoe), clearly setting the tone for his music career. VegaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s big sisters exposed the young teenager to clubland, and half a decade later he found himself spinning at the Studio 54, making and breaking latin freestyle records. By this time, Vega and Todd Terry were on vinyl-sharing terms, which explains how Vega hooked up with Dope.
The Cover Girls – Wishing On A Star (Magic Sessions Vocal Dub) [Epic – 1992]
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The Cover Girls, one of the first Latin freestyle acts to make it big on the charts in the early nineties, released their version of the much-covered “Wishing On A Star” in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢92. The single went on to place ninth on the Billboard Top 10, making it kind of a big deal back then. It was around this time that Masters At Work started churning out remixes of pop artists, converting radio music into minimal, dubby, dance floor beats.
Masters At Work – The Ha Dance (Ken/Lou Mixx) [Cutting Records – 1991]
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Cutting Records, which has fallen off in recent years, was once an integral part of the electro (that is, real electro), house and and freestyle scene in the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ80s and early Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ90s. They are responsible for putting out the electro classic, “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)” by Hashim. Cutting Records also released many of Masters At WorkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s early tracks, including their debut single, Blood Vibes, as well as their debut album, titled The Album. The Ha Dance (Ken/Lou Mixx) accompanied their Blood Vibes release, and includes a sample from this classic comedy. Can you find it?
Chris Cuevas – Hip Hop (Masters At Work Dub) [Atlantic – 1991]
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Who the heck is Chris Cuevas? I don’t know either, but the stripped down skippy beats and chopped up piano synths on this track embody the early M.A.W. sound to a t and helped lay the foundation for the whole Strictly Rhythm NYC thing and later the UK garage thing. So listen, understand, download, and play for dancefloor destruction, even today.
A picture taken by a friend on his recent journeys in the southern U.S.
So we should have had this post up this morning, but we had a busy day reflecting. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazingly important man to the history of the U.S. and without his massive contributions to the country’s civil rights movement there would probably be no such thing as disco/funk/house/techno/any underground dance music that we listen to, blog about, make and play. Furthermore, Dr. King’s speeches were sampled on tons of house and techno tracks in the 80’s & 90’s, partly because of the importance of his words to the early producers in Chicago and Detroit and partly because his messages of unity and inclusiveness fit so perfectly with the idealism of the early rave movement. The most famous of these tracks is Fingers Inc.‘s “Can You Feel It,” which had a spoken word version that sampled Dr. King’s famous I have a dream speech (this track has already been posted all over the place if you want it). If you were around in the rave days then you probably remember throwing up your hands and feeling like everything was amazing as you heard the words of Dr. King fill the room, it was a powerful experience and we hope you feel what we’re talking about when you hear these tracks today.
Reese & Santonio – Truth Of Self Evidence [KMS 1988]
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No one can do it quite like Kevin “Master Reese” Saunderson, who along with Derrick “Rhythm is Rhythm” May and “Magic” Juan Atkins is one of the creators of techno music. The one they call Reese started his KMS imprint in 1987 and released this early underground techno anthem on KMS 017 just before his first release as Inner City, the all-time classic “Big Fun” (which will get posted here, along with more on the godfathers eventually).
Octave One – Blackwater (TP‘s Spirit Of Detroit Mix) [Concept Music 2002]
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Originally released on their own long-running Detroit imprint 430 West in 2000 to widespread acclaim, Blackwater became one of the songs of 2001 after Concept picked it up for distribution. But it wasn’t until Detroit 2nd waver and early 430 West releaser Terrence Parker did this remix in 2002 that Dr. King’s voice turned this already powerfully positive track into an even more uplifting party shaker. Both Octave One and TP are hugely important figures in the history of Detroit dance music so expect pieces on both soon…
Bobby Womack – American Dream [Motown 1981]
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Even though it’s not electronic dance music, an old school soul track seems like it fits here. I’d never heard this track until we started our research on tracks that sample MLK so this is actually an exciting find, first because it’s such powerful song, but also because it’s gotta be a one of the very first tracks to use sampling (if anyone knows more about the history of sampling please let us know)!