HORSE MEAT DISCO VOLUMES 1-3.

HORSE MEAT DISCO VOLUMES 1-3.

Over the years, I must have bought many hundreds of compilation albums. Some have been brilliant, some good, others average at best, with some being absolutely dreadful, and never should’ve been released. Just now, there are various labels releasing good quality compilations. These include Strut, BBE, Harmless and BGP. Some of these compilations look at music from a specific genre or label, while others just feature a mixture of great music.  One of the compilation series that I’ve been hugely impressed with, are the Horse Meat Disco compilations, which are the brainchild of DJ collective Horse Meat Disco. Since 2003, the DJ collective behind Horse Meat Disco, which includes Jim Stanton, James Hillard, Severino and Filthy Luka, have been putting on some legendary club nights in London. They’re now based in The Eagle in Islington, but take their club nights around the world, allowing other people to experience the now famous Horse Meat Disco club nights. To allow everyone to experience what their club nights sound like, they decided to release their first compilation album in 2009. Since then, they’ve released two further volumes. Each features a wide selection of music, everything from classic disco, Salsoul, electro and eighties boogie. Quickly, these compilations found a niche in the marketplace, with people wanting to hear just what made the Horse Meat Disco club nights just so legendary. Once you’ve heard the music, you’ll realize straight away, that the people behind Horse Music Disco have discerning tastes in music and are crate diggers extraordinary, who’ll go to great lengths to find the rarest music. These three volumes, feature some wonderful music, and I’ll now pick my three favorite tracks from each volume.

HORSE MEAT DISCO.

Horse Meat Disco is a double album that was released in 2009 on the Republic of Music label. It’s a selection of music that you’d expect to hear during the peak time in one of their club nights. The first disc was mixed by the four members of the Horse Meat Disco DJ collective, and features eleven tracks, whereas the second unmixed disc, only features ten tracks. First Love’s Don’t Say Goodnight is omitted from the unmixed disc. However, this volume features some classic dance-floor tracks that are guaranteed to get anyone dancing, and give you the Horse Meat Disco experience. Although it’s difficult to do, I’ll pick my three favorite tracks from the album.

You Can Get Over by Stephanie Mills is my first choice, and opens with an electro sound courtesy of a synth, with crisp drums and handclaps, accompanied by percussion. The tempo is fast, the sound dark and sleazy. Suddenly, it’s transformed when lush sounding strings sweep in, and the darkness lifts. When Stephanie’s vocal enters, she’s every bit the diva, with her voice loud,  joyous and steeped in drama. She’s accompanied by backing vocalists, crisp drumbeats, handclaps, percussion and full orchestra. It’s an impressive, dramatic and soulful sound, one perfect for any dance-floor. Later in the track, the dark electro sound returns, providing yet another contrast in what’s an epic track lasting nine brilliant minutes. Throughout the track, it’s drama aplenty from Stephanie and the arrangement, which incidentally, is absolutely outstanding. This is easily one of the album’s highlights, and almost worth the price of the album for this one track.

Do You Like the Way It Feels by The Tempest Trio begins with drums dull and pounding accompanied by squelchy acid house influenced synths before an atmospheric, drama laden vocal enters, soaring heavenwards. Behind the vocal, the tempo isn’t as quick as the previous track, but if anything, the sound is even more joyous and emotional, in what’s clearly a paean to pleasure, and the pursuit of it. Vocalists unite, while the arrangement electro influenced, reverberates, a combination of drums and synths, which has a slight shrill sound. It gives way to an old school synth sound, which seems to pay homage the early acid house sound. The track pumps and squelches, drums and handclaps the perfect accompaniment to synths and percussion. Together, a marriage of fast paced fulsome arrangement that sees synths, beats, percussion and handclaps combine with a hedonistic and joyous vocal produce a fantastic track, that’s so infectious, it’s almost contagious.

Don’t Say Goodnight by First Love is my final choice from this volume, and it opens with crisp pounding drumbeats and percussion, before the vocal enters. Once it gives way, the arrangement quickly grows, becoming dramatic and almost grandiose. An orchestra, strings, drumbeats and handclaps accompany a soaring, hugely powerful vocal. Horns enter blazing, drenching the arrangement and vocal. By now the track really is an uplifting, totally joyous with a huge feel-good factor. Midway through the track, there’s a really funky breakdown, which is led by bass, drums and rhythm section. After that, the track builds back up and the vocal reenters still sounding sweet and joyful, as it sits atop the arrangement. Quite simply, Don’t Say Goodnight is a track that will fill any dance-floor, and like the Stephanie Mills track, this track alone makes the album well worth buying. 

Although this was just the first volume of Horse Meat Disco, they’d hit the ground running, delivering a selection of dance-floor classics. Each of the eleven tracks are of the highest quality, and although you might not have heard some of them, you’ll soon grow to enjoy and love them. The mixed disc is well mixed, by the four members of Horse Meat Disco and if that is what their club nights are like, it must one of the best club nights around. Standout Tracks: You Can Get Over by Stephanie Mills, Do You Like the Way It Feels by The Tempest Trio and Don’t Say Goodnight by First Love.

HORSE MEAT DISCO.

HORSE MEAT DISCO VOLUME 2.

After the success of the first volume of Horse Meat Disco, Volume 2 was released in 2010. This volume was released by the Strut label, a label which over the years, has released many great compilations. Again, it was a double album, with sixteen tracks on the mixed disc and only twelve on the unmixed disc. Like before, there were some great tracks on the album, all perfect for the dance-floor, and representing a night at the Horse Meat Disco club night. However, would Volume 2 be as good as the first volume, or would Horse Meat Disco prove to be a one trick pony?

Detour (Party Mix) by Karen Young is my first choice from Volume 2. It begins with synths reverberating before gradually, drums get louder, and enter the mix, accompanied by bass and guitar, mixing electro, funk and disco. When Karen’s vocal enters, it’s high and clear, surrounded by a melange of synths, percussion, drumbeats, with guitars and bass providing a funky backdrop. Here the tempo is perfect for gradually building a set up, about 104 beats per minutes. Later, keyboards and bass, both get the chance to showcase their talents, with the guitar trying to get in on the act, too. During the track, the arrangement is “busy,” with lots going on, instruments appearing, disappearing and reappearing. Likewise, the vocal drops in and out of the track, but Karen has a good voice. This version is eight minutes long, but I really like this version, it totally transforms the original track, and makes this a great track that will liven up any dance-floor.

I Depend On You by The Two Tons, begins with bass and synths before the vocal enters. The vocal is loud and strong, as it soars heavenwards, with a joyous sound, all the while surrounded by synths, bass and drums. Like the vocal, the arrangement is loud, with synths and the rhythm section driving the track along quickly. Both the vocalists have great voices, powerful yet soulful. Later in the track, there’s a great bass solo, which is both funky and dramatic. Again, it’s surrounded by synths, which become prominent in the mix, taking over from the bass. The track is a dichotomy, with the vocal combining elements of soul and even gospel, with the arrangement a mixture of funk and electro. However, somehow this works, and in the end, the combination of powerful, dramatic and soulful vocal and synth and bass lead arrangement combines perfectly, to produce a great track that crosses the musical genres several times.

Manhattan by Laura Greene is my final choice from Volume 2, and is a track that has a dramatic opening. Drums and percussion open the track, before horns, bass and guitars enter. After that, Laura’s vocal enters. It’s as dramatic as the arrangement, her voice strong, loud as it soars, high, as she describes the delights of Manhattan. When you listen to her voice, she reminds me of a mixture of Marlena Shaw and Esther Phillips. Behind her, the arrangement is a mixture of funk and soul, and sometimes, even something I’d expect to hear on a Blaxploitation soundtrack. Strings sweet and lush sweep, horns blaze, while the rhythm section and guitars combine. Together with Laura’s passionate, powerful and dramatic vocal, a fantastic track emerges, easily one that’s among the album’s highlights. 

After listening again to Volume 2, Horse Meat Disco weren’t a one trick pony. Again they produced another selection of great music, perfect for any dance-floor. On the album were a mixture of tracks that were well known and not so well known. If anything, Volume 2 was even better than the first volume. The selection of music was slightly more eclectic, and proved that the four members of the Horse Meat Disco collective, had searched far and wide in their pursuit of the finest music. Like the first volume, the mixing is of the highest standard, and again, giving a flavour of what of their club nights. However, previously, with other successful compilation series’, the standard of music started to fall after three or four volumes, so would Horse Meat Disco suffer the same fate? Standout Tracks: Detour (Party Mix) by Karen Young, I Depend On You by The Two Tons and Manhattan by Laura Greene.

HORSE MEAT DISCO VOLUME 2.

HORSE MEAT DISCO VOLUME 3.

Earlier in 2011, Horse Meat Disco Volume 3 was released. Like the two previous volumes, it was a double album. However, this time, both discs were mixed. The first was mixed by Jim Stanton and Severino, the second by James Hillard and Luke Howard. This was an interesting development and allowed the listener to compare the mixing style of the two sets of DJs. Some people may have been disappointed, preferring one of the discs to be unmixed. There were thirteen tracks on disc one, twelve on disc two. As usual, the musical selection was wide ranging, but the inclusion of a Wham track, albeit reedited, seemed to be pushing the definition of eclectic to its limits. However, now onto Volume three, would the quality still be as good, or like previously successful compilations, would the standard of music start to slip? 

For Your Love (Disco Mix) by Idris Muhammad is my first pick from Volume 3. It opens with a piano gently playing, slowly building up the drama, ably assisted by strings and horns. However, what follows, is well worth such a dramatic build up. The rhythm section, guitars, keyboards and strings accompany the Idris’ vocal as the track sweeps along beautifully. Backing vocalists accompany him, as the arrangement combines elements of soul and funk, to produce a dance-floor classic extraordinary. Lush sweeping strings, funk courtesy of the rhythm section and guitars, accompany keyboards and a lovely tender vocal.  As the track progresses and builds, it just gets better and better. There is an impressive, almost grandiose, sound thanks to the strings which sweep beautifully along. Towards the end, Idris’ voice gets stronger and louder, much different from his earlier tender and gentle vocal. A combination of an outstanding arrangement and great vocal, make this easily one of the album’s best tracks.

Just Us by Two Tons of Fun is a track that features both a great arrangement and stunning vocal. The track opens with strong, soaring, vocals uniting against a backdrop of sweeping strings, rhythm section and guitars. This is a potent combination, with the two voices rejoicing soulfully as they sing the lyrics, against the backdrop of strings, drums and rhythm section. The track, sweeps along, before a funky breakdown, where bass and guitars take over, before the vocal reenters, to be joined by piano. Taking their lead from the rhythm section, they ad-lib, before building the track back up, to a euphoric and joyous conclusion. Like Volume 2, Two Tons of Fun are one of the stars of this volume. Their music is a joyful and uplifting celebration that combines soul, funk and disco masterfully.

Stars by Sylvester is my final choice from Volume 3, and is an epic track lasting nearly ten minutes. It’s a dramatic opening, with drums, synth, bass and guitars combining before horns announce Sylvester’s arrival. From the start, the tempo is really quick, perfect for Sylvester’s high soaring voice. Synths sweep, as the rhythm   section and guitars drive the song along. However, Sylvester is very much, the star of the track, delivering a vocal that’s charismatic and dramatic, and made all the better by the addition of backing vocalists. The arrangement flows along, instruments appearing, disappearing only to reappear, including synths, piano and strings. Throughout the song, the tempo relentless, the arrangement building and building until it reaches a dramatic crescendo. When it does, it’s been a magical, musical journey thanks to Sylvester and a brilliant arrangement. 

Thankfully, Volume 3 saw the quality of music just as good, if not better, than on the two previous volumes. Horse Meat Disco hadn’t suffered the same fate as previously successful compilations. Both discs are well mixed by some hugely talented DJs, and if anything the music was better than the first two volumes, In fact, it’s so good, that I’m willing to forgive the inclusion of the track by Wham. After three volumes, Horse Meat Disco, like their by now legendary club nights, was going from strength to strength. Their eclectic selection of music was paying off, and although only three volumes old, people who bought the compilation are eagerly awaiting Volume 4. People can only wonder what delights will be on that album, but if it’s as good as the three previous volumes, then I for one will be delighted. Standout Tracks: For Your Love (Disco Mix) by Idris Muhammad, Just Us by Two Tons of Fun and Stars by Sylvester.

HORSE MEAT DISCO VOLUME 3.

HORSE MEAT DISCO III

If you’ve never heard any of the three volumes, of Horse Meat disco but enjoy dance music, and disco in particular, then these albums are a must have. They feature some brilliant music that lets you experience what a Horse Meat Disco club night is like. Included in the three volumes are some of the finest dance music you’ll ever hear. It’s an eclectic selection of music, brought to you buy some of the most discerning DJs’ in the UK. They’ve searched far and wide to find this music, spending countless hours crate digging, unearthing hidden gems, that they’re willing to share with everyone. So the next time you pass your friendly local record shop, why not ask if they’ve got Horse Meat Disco in stock, you won’t regret it, and very soon, you’ll be eagerly awaiting Volume 4. 

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