TX173 K.G.B. – ‘Respect’
The odd track out, being the only one not made in Chicago. This hiphop version of the Aretha song was produced by Don Was studio collaborator Jack Tann, who turns in five different mixes.
TX174 Kool Rock Steady – ‘Power Move‘/‘I’ll Make You Dance’
As hip-hop was going through something of an electronic-based renaissance itself around that time, it was inevitable some mating would occur and hiphouse was an inevitable offspring. Edward Rudolph had already enjoyed success over at DJ International as Kool Rock Steady, along with Fast Eddie. Now he let Trax have a go, Lidell Townsell producing the regular late ‘80s style rap of ’Power Move’ and quintessential hiphouse of ‘I’ll Make You Dance’; the big one as K.R.S. sent out his housed up old school rhymes over scuttling acid groove.
TX175 Virgo Four – ‘Do You Know Who You Are’
Keep saying this but the Virgo Four are another major revelation of the set, prodding me to track down their 1989 album again, which collated this Trax stuff and what they released as M.E.. Here, the title track becomes a supremely emotional vehicle for the gorgeous combination of uplifting string stabs and sepulchral organ, plus little touches like understated guitar and steady rolling groove. This continues through ’In A Vision’ and its spine-chilling ‘Mystery Of Love‘-stroking string swirls, before the heavenly keyboards of ‘Going Thru Life’ and ‘Take Me Higher’ kick a percolating throb-groove over which warm strings uncurl like floating wisps of technicolour gas from Aphrodite’s luminous bottom, completing one of the seminal deep house blueprints.
This group isn’t to be confused with the Marshall Jefferson outfit. Virgo Four and M.E. are Merwyn Saunders and Eric Lewis, two of the most undersung but pivotal names in the evolution of house music.
It says the first 75 singles but, as some were missing earlier on, the catalogue numbering on the tracks included runs up to Trax 179, with B-sides on a download card.
TX176 M.E. Ride; School Hall
Virgo Four again with two more masterful excursions into the deepness. ‘Ride’ uncorks soft-focus resonance over racing groove, the dream-like pulsating drift effect heightened by ghostly clouds of vocals. The download includes b-sides ‘Never Want To Lose You’ and ‘All The Time’. These two EPs were stuck together in the UK and released as Virgo. It’s been called the best house album ever made and I can understand why.
TX177 Grant & Dezz – ‘You’re Too Good’
We’ve already met Dwayne Grant and Sidney Winters as Willie Wonka, Fat Albert and Dancer. Here they appear in rousing pop-soul form with unison falsetto vocals and piano riff which provided Congress or someone with a massive UK rave hit.
TX178 Scamara – ‘Kisses Never Lie’
Another crack at the Latin hip-hop market but going that extra freestyle mile with lovelorn lyrics and yearning female vocal over ricocheting drums and Shannon synths. I love this stuff as it reminds me of the hot summer when I lived in New York that year (even if I was on smack).
TX179 J.R.S. House Company – ‘It’s About House’
The CDs come to an end with suitably uproarious house rallying call, mixed by Pierre and produced by his mate J.R. Jordan (on ‘Fantasy Girl’ too), Darryl Pandy on keyboards. This motoring vocal outing also marks a very early appearance by Felix Da Housecat on keyboards, the next Chicago generation watching and learning. The flip’s Off Beat Acid mix streamlines everything into a contagious celebration.
That’s it. In 100 years there won’t be many sets held up as definitive – and determinedly faithful – chronicles of a musical genre, but this remarkable document will be one of them, standing like the obelisk in 2001 as a genuine seminal spaced oddity
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