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FinalTraxboxExpandedPackShot_zps837e0820.jpgTX154 Evie – ‘Just Stay the Night’

Another uncharacteristic one-off, being more in the Latin hip-hop pop vein then being taken to the top by Madonna and Lisa Lisa, although this sexy little finger-popper also recalls Shannon. According to the notes, the track was one of the rarely-heard fruits of Vince Lawrence’s ill-fated Geffen production deal for the Bang Orchestra, of which Evie was the singer. I’ve got a guilty pleasure soft spot for this kind of twinkingly innocent urban 80s dance-pop but it’s certainly not house, showing how the label could pursue any current direction in the hope of scoring a hit. 

TX155 Rich Martinez – ‘Are You Ready’

Into 1988 with energetic jacking excursion from an artist at the centre of Trax activity in the mid-80s who only managed one release. It’s all there, from floor-whipping vocals to thoughtfully arranged groove embellishment, accentuated on two dubs.

TX156 Mr Lee – ‘House This House’

Mr Lee raised the jackhammer pressure dial here, banging the beats and exhorting the Music Box to ‘house this house until the break of dawn’ in his then semi-singing rap style. Another milestone, this time introducing the snare-on-the-beat jacking sound which would define the minimal sound of 90s labels such as Relief and Dance Mania.

TX157 Pierre’s Phantasy Club – ‘Got The Bug [G.T.B.]’

DJ Pierre created his Phantasy Club for vocal outings which mainly seemed to revolve around the ‘Fantasy Girl’ melody. The vocal glides over sparse, bubbling stomp, taken over midway by Mr 303 and his unstoppable squelch-stiffie. Mixed by Mike ‘Hitman’ Wilson, with mammoth dub, many consider this up there with Pierre’s best. Creepy, wobbly and also catchy dancefloor dynamite.

TX158 Lidell Townsell – ‘Get The Hole’

More stripped-down ghetto tech-presaging whoopee consisting of little more than title, guys bellowing ‘Yeah’ and spikey acid-drum lollop. The deliciously-titled ‘Acid Hole’ dub ups the squelch. The flip is a different track called ‘Under Control’, Lidell going overboard on the reverb as he talks about life in the harsh world outside the Music Box. Lines like ‘Keep your spirit, keep your soul, if there’s a lesson to be learned you must stay under control’ introduce new sense of responsibility, while the melodies flickering out of the dense aural soundscape are unusually complex and sensitive. It also comes with a brisker, stripped down dub. An overlooked gem.

TX159 Curtis McClaine & On The House – ‘Let’s Get Busy’

Basically, ‘Move Your Body’ part two with Rudyard Forbes’ piano and Curtis leading the charge over ‘ooh oohs’ mutated from the Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’. There is a kind of building gospel fervour to the affair, although ‘let’s get busy’ could mean engaging in rumpo as well as shaking a leg. Mixed by Adonis, with fun dub by Farley as he unleashes boingy effects, possibly wearing his penis hat (you think I‘m joking? I bought just such an item in a Chicago store in 1983).

TX160 Dancer – ‘Number Nine’ 

Another weird outing from Sidney Winters, intoning the title – obviously inspired by his todger rather than the Beatles’ track going on the panting ‘It’s so big’ exclamations on the Bedroom and S&F Mixes. Great bass-led grind-groove, though Bill Brewster astutely reckons this is what John Inman would sound like if he made house records. The flip boasts further angles in the cheeky hits-heisting ‘Stars On Number Nine’ (including Prince and Jacko).

TX 164 Pleasure Zone – ‘Fantasy’

Then it’s a leap to Trax 164 (wonder what the missing three were?) as James Anderson and Kevin Jones cook up another unsettling spook-house excursion. Driven by pronounced bass-line and hyperactive snares, they whisper about ‘fantasy’ and ‘ecstasy’, instantly plugging into the new club craze which has just exploded in the UK. The flip sees Kevin going it alone on ‘I Can’t Understand’, a prime slab of claustrophobic subterranean house, distantly related to Knuckles/Principle but hanging on only battering beat, pained vocal and lonely string line. 

TX165 Phuture – ‘We Are Phuture‘; ‘Slam!’; ‘Spank-Spank’

Phuture had to pull out all the stops to follow ‘Acid Tracks’ so brought in vocals for their own theme song. Acid is still in there, mewling against the cavernous drum thud, while Pierre’s fave vocal melody is sung by one Wendel Lewis, who’s not been heard of since. I’ve played this on a big system and the power of that groove is like an incoming invasion of Japanese movie monsters. God knows what it sounded like in the Music Box with Ron abusing it.

The flip’s pair also helped establish Phuture as Chicago’s princes of darkness, ‘Slam!’ a booming acid juggernaut so good they named a club after it, while ‘Spank’ introduces rapid vocal loop action. While Phuture released more corkers, DJ Pierre’s career took off through several twists and Wild Pitch mixes until the present when you can still find him knocking out cutting edge house music.

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