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hardtimes (1)

Label: Hard Times
Score: 8.5/10

The resurgent interest in classic house music, whilst going to prove that the genre will always be in demand, is allowing seminal labels like Hard Times to bring their product to a new audience and add a twist to those who were there to appreciate them at the time. In this case Roger Sanchezs first outing in his SMan guise was also his first appearance on Hard Times (the label spun off from the fondly remembered Hard Times club night) so its re-emergence is a little bit of house music history. If you ever admired the Masters at Work/Kenlou or Todd Terry tracks of the early and mid 90’s you could do worse than checking the original mixes, chances are you’ll find this a very familiar track – simply because it captures that moment where house music oozed quality, and dancefloors literally ‘bounced to the beat’.

Sensibly included are the mixes that destroyed floors originally featuring that funky bassline, horn riff, organ and Time To Stop vocal, but there are some wonderful contemporary mixes that utilise the classic parts and bring the overall sound bang up to date.

New kid on the block Brotherton Wing turns back the clock to a time when breaks roamed the land at house tempo and sub-bass ruled the earth. Unashamedly old-school, yet fresh and contemporary with its shades of deep house Brotherton Wing has produced a unique interpretation, both utilising the original vocal and adding his own stamp. A recommended remix if like me you find it difficult to find non four-to-the-floor that fits into house sets well. Rising star Doorly (check his collab with Shadow Child – Climbin’ [Piano Weapon] and various releases on Cajual and CR2) offers a bass-heavy remix to work the floor, a groove to work the bug from your bass-bin and keep the punters sweating. Louis Bayley offers up a bass-led, deep-progressive take with some nice old school melodies and strings and the SMan himself steps up with a brand new remix, getting heavy on the bass with a high octane take aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Quality business.

The real treasure of this package is the Steve Mac & Mat Playford remix. Recorded in Steve Mac’s infamous Brighton studio, the talented duo have created a dancefloor weapon, supremely heavy yet atmospheric, beautifully produced yet raw and uncompromising. Don’t expect any pandering here, the boys have quite rightly used a good amount of parts from the original including that funky, nagging bassline, but you get the feeling this is a remix that ended up in exactly the place they wanted it to he. Lights down, strobe up, the floor will literally have no choice but (as the lyric suggests) to work it. Here’s hoping there are more collaborations from Steve and Mat.

Lovely to see the re-emergence of such classic labels and the long term passion and commitment it takes to run them. Support is well deserved for both the original and the varied remix package. Words: Andrew Treagust