After kicking off with the amphetamine jack-tracking of Mike Dunn’s ‘Magic Feet’, CD3’s Children Of The Night careers further into the darkness with more extra-terrestrial Fingers foraging (‘Ecstasy’), Farley Jackmaster Funk’s superbly deranged Phuture answer record ‘I Need A Friend, Phuture’s own ‘Slam’ (the booming acid assault which named Glasgow’s venerable techno duo), Jack Frost’s 303-whooping ’Shout’, Mr Lee’s melancholy classic ‘I Can’t Forget’ and Victor Romeo’s hallucino-pummeller ‘Acid Rain’. Further illustrating the point that house music wasn’t always happy smiley people, Chris ‘Bam Bam’ Westbrook’s ‘Where’s Your Child?’ is a masterpiece of claustrophobic paranoia with Satanic cackling, wired acid, screaming baby, car and breaking glass effects over malevolent groove (although his ‘Another World’ is a leaping proto-house piano riffer topped with ghostly keyboard lines). This disc also features Sleezy D’s ’I’ve Lost Control’, Marshall Jefferson’s early acid excursion using a club-crazed buddy’s bone-chilling screams over the acid as the voice of a madman declares how he’s losing it. The point has to be made that many of these tracks were originally pressed from Trax Records’ infamous vat of compressed horseshit (while some sleeves were cereal boxes turned inside out), so it’s fantastic to have them remastered in crystal clarity.
This disc does have its party-starters, including Kool Rock Steady unveiling hip-house on Liddell Townsell’s contagious ‘I’ll Make You Dance’ and Phortune [Pierre again] with the granite slam piano house of ‘String Free’ presaging the early 90s house sound. That was on Hot Mix 5 and so was the same-named original radio squad’s Ralphi Rosario, whose ‘In The Night’ is another sweaty electro-flecked steamer with effective Latin piano.
By now, it should be fairly obvious that this wasn’t easy listening or even ecstasy-friendly floor fodder. Playing several of these tracks in the 90s would often send cavorters running for the bar or to the booth to bellow ‘play something we know’. CD4’s No Way Back carries on in similar vein. The late, great Armando’s ’Don’t Take It’ is a deliciously woozy vamp topped with words of wisdom by a young lady, getting gradually wobblier; an overlooked diamond from the ‘Land of Confusion’ acid pioneer. Maybe they couldn’t licence any of his Warehouse stuff as this tune appeared on the last decade’s Let’s Pet Puppies label – as did the set’s great discovery Marcus Mixx, whose tracks were actually posted on Youtube a few months ago by Juan Atkins (Real name Marcus Shannon, aka M+M). I’d never heard of him before but his three tracks are out there avant-house masterworks with the jackhammer kick just there as an anchor as he uncorks wonky sheets of barely-controlled synths and ant-hill circuit scuttling on 1987’s ‘Psychousic’ and eleven-minute marvel that is ‘Without Makeup’. The latter comes as one of the few remixes committed by Ron Hardy, synths uncurling like radioactive gas over merciless machine-driven hihat, tom tom and clap combinations. If Sun Ra or Moondog had ever got into house music, it might have sounded like this.
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