MY SALSOUL MARSHALL JEFFERSON PRESENTS:THE FOUNDATIONS OF HOUSE.

MY SALSOUL MARSHALL JEFFERSON PRESENTS:THE FOUNDATIONS OF HOUSE.

Often when writing about Salsoul Records, I’ve mentioned how important a part Salsoul played in the development of house music. Salsoul’s music wouldn’t just influence the first generation of house DJs, but several generations of producers. Even now, that influence is apparent, with producers paying homage to the many delights of Salsoul. One pioneering house producer influenced by Salsoul was Marshall Jefferson. This influence can be heard in his seminal track Move Your Body. He was inspired by Salsoul tracks he’d heard played by DJs like Ron Hardy at the Music Box and Frankie Knuckles sets at the Warehouse. Frankie Knuckles sets were crammed full of Salsoul tracks, including First Choice’s Let No Man Put Asunder. Given how important a part Salsoul played in Marshall’s career, it seems somewhat fitting that twenty years later, he’d compile a compilation entitled My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House. Released in 2004 by Suss’d Records, this double-album contains twenty-six Salsoul tracks. With tracks from Inner Life, Double Exposure, The Salsoul Orchestra, Love Committee, Instant Funk and the undisputed Queen of Salsoul, this is a compilation absoloutely chock full of quality music. However, with so many classic tracks. what are the highlights of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House?

DISC ONE.

On Disc One of Salsoul Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House, Marshall Jefferson has combined a combination of familiar, Salsoul classics with a few less obvious choice. This includes opening Disc One with Aurra’s Are You Single and Skyy’s High. After that, we’re on familiar territory, with tracks like Loleatta Holloway’s Hit and Run, Inner Life’s Moment of My Life, First Choice’s Let No Man Put Asunder and the gloriously uplifting and inspirational Inner Life’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough which closes Disc One. Truly, there’s classics aplenty in-store for the discerning, Salsoul aficionado. Disco, Philly Soul and funk can all be heard during the thirteen tracks that Marshall Jefferson chooses. He proves to have discerning taste on My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House, as you’ll see, when I tell you about some of the highlights from Disc One.

Loleatta Holloway’s Hit and Run  was a track from her 1976 album. It gave Loleatta a surprise hit single, selling over 300,000 copies. Since then, it’s become one of Loleatta’s best known songs, a favorite of re-editors and remixers. Two things made this a classic track, Loleatta’s vocal and the sound of the Salsoul Orchestra. With the Baker, Harris and Young rhythm section at the heart of the track, driving the track along, Loleatta embarks upon a sassy, sultry vamp. She mixes power and passion, while percussion, guitars, blazing horns and Vince Montana’s vibes accompany the rhythm section. Along with tracks like Dreaming and Runaway, Loleatta Holloway was the greatest diva of the disco era. Here, her powerful and sassy vocal along with the multitalented Salsoul Orchestra, make this not just one of the greatest tracks of the disco era, but a Salsoul classic.

Inner Life’s Moment of My Life was released on Salsoul Records in 1982. Arranged by Leroy Burgess, who co-produced the track with Greg Carmichael, it features a stunning, diva-esque vocal, full emotion and passion, delivered with power. This is delivered against a backdrop of crunchy drumbeats, percussion, keyboards and the funkiest of bass line, while gospel tinged backing vocalists augment the lead vocal. The tempo is 114 beats per minute and like so many of the Salsoul releases, is just a quality slice of disco, with elements of funk and soul featuring in the arrangement.

Double Exposure’s My Love Is Free, from their 1976 debut album Ten Percent, produced by Baker, Harris, Young. The introduction is extended, so that the combination of drums, shakers, swirling strings, guitars and flourishes of piano seemingly last forever. Eventually, the power, passionate vocal vocal drifts in, while punchy, soulful harmonies augmenting it. The arrangement has made in Philadelphia stamped all over it. With rasping horns, cascading string, percussion and the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section providing the track’s pounding, dramatic and uplifting heartbeat, a gloriously soulful slice of disco unfolds. 

Love Sensation written by Dan Hartman, was released by Loleatta Holloway in July 1980. Opening with its combination of rhythm section, percussion, piano and cascading strings, you anticipate the entrance of Loleatta’s strutting, powerful vocal. Accompanied by swirling strings, rasping horns and a punchy rhythm section, Loleatta gives a vocal masterclass. Her voice becomes an impassioned roar, while backing vocalists accompany her. Lush strings combine with dramatic drums and blazing horns, as Loleatta’s powerful vocal is key to the track’s success and timeless, dramatic sound.

First Choice were a group discovered by Baker, Harris, Young, who had the group under contract  Philly Groove. When Baker, Harris, Young left Philadelphia International, they brought them to Salsoul.  The album Armed and Extremely Dangerous had previously given the group some success. Doctor Love was released in April 1977, and produced by Norman Harris. With lead singer Rochelle Fleming, fronting First Choice, they’d become one of the disco era’s biggest groups. The track has a bright and bold introduction with a mixture of blazing horns, cascading strings and a punchy rhythm section combining. Then, when Rochelle’s vocal enters it’s perfect for the arrangement, with its mixture of power, passion and confidence. Behind Rochelle, the rest of the group contribute soulful, backing vocals. A combination of Rochelle’s powerful and passionate vocal and Norman Harris’ stunning arrangement result in one of First Choice’s greatest tracks.

When First Choice released their fourth album Delusions, it didn’t just feature one classic track, but two. These were Dr. Love and this track Let No Man Put Asunder, both produced by Baker, Harris, Young. Rochelle Fleming’s lead vocal is a sassy vamp, from a true disco diva. The interplay between Rochelle’s and her backing vocalists helps build up the drama and emotion of the track. This she does against a backdrop where the rhythm section, percussion and keyboards combine. As Rochelle teases and tantalizes with her peerless, sassy vocal, Frankie Knuckles transforms the track into a near eleven minute epic.

Like many Salsoul tracks, Inner Life’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough has a real timeless sound. It’s hard to believe that it was originally released back in August 1981. This was a track from Inner Life’s 1981 album Inner Life. Produced by Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael. A timeless sounding arrangement is combined and a stunning vocal from Jocelyn Brown. Her vocal is diva-esque, as she delivers Ashford and Simpson’s lyrics. It’s a track that after a subtle, hesitant start, where drums, percussion and then Jocelyn’s vocal combine. Then. the track literally bursts into life. Drums pound, strings swirl, percussion, keyboards and chiming guitars combine before Jocelyn’s powerful, emotive vocal enters. After that, the track just gets so much better. Handclaps and bursts of backing vocalists join the arrangement, combining power and drama. The result is an uplifting and joyous sounding Salsoul classic.

From the opening bars of Disc One of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House you’re introduced to Salsoul classics galore. This includes two from Loleatta Holloway’s Hit and Run and Love Sensation. Loleatta isn’t the only diva on Disc One, with Rochelle Fleming lead singer of First Choice featuring on Doctor Love and Let No Man Put Asunder. Then there’s Jocelyn Brown on Inner Life’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Among the other highlights of Disc One are Inner Life’s Moment of My Life, Instant Funk’s I Got My Mind Made Up and The Salsoul Orchestra’s You’re Just the Right Size. Among the lesser known tracks are Aurra’s Are You Single and Skyy’s High. Both have the quality you’d expect for a release baring the Salsoul label. The thirteen tracks that feature on Disc One of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House show Marshall Jefferson is DJ with quite impeccable taste. Will his taste be just as good on Disc Two of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House and will we hear many more Salsoul classics?

DISC TWO.

While Disc One of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House is chocked full of Salsoul classics, Disc Two isn’t quite as packed full of classics, with hidden gems and well-known tracks featuring. Among the classic tracks are Skyy’s First Time Around and Call Me, Candido’s Thousand Finger Man and Loleatta Holloway’s Catch Me On The Rebound. Hidden gems include Gaz’s Sing Sing, Love Committee’s Law and Order and Carol Williams’ Love Is You. The Salsoul Orchestra feature twice, with the Vince Montana Jr produced Ooh I Love It (Love Break) a real joyous gem. This tracks and twelve others, were chosen by Marshall Jefferson, who certainly knows his way around the Salsoul back-catalogue given the quality of music on Disc Two. However, what are the highlights of Disc Two of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House?

Skyy’s First Time Around was released in May 1979 just before the Disco Sucks movement tried to kill disco. Opening with just a wandering bass. Then a male vocal enters, before sizzling guitars, swirling strings and pounding drums combine. The arrangement is dramatic, while sweet, sensuous vocals drift in and out of the track. This track has a quite different sound, with rocky guitars providing a contrast to the lushness of the strings and the pounding drums. There’s even synths which occasionally reverberate above the arrangement, as the track reveals its charms and secrets. 

Gaz’s Sing SIng is a track that wasn’t originally recorded by Salsoul. Instead, it was recorded by the German label Lollipop. Produced by Jurgen Korduletsch, who also discovered Claudia Barry and brought her to the US, Jurgen wanted Salsoul to distribute the track. Salsoul gave it to Robbie Rivera to remix. This was his first remix and the result is a joyous track with a real feel-good sound. Released in November 1978, and mixed by Robbie Rivera, the track is extended to seven magical minutes. Opening with pounding drums and guitars, they’re joined by the bass, percussion and strings, before Claudia’s vocal enters. As she sings, her vocal is answered by a male vocalist. The track benefits from a strong rhythm section, which is augmented by rasping horns, keyboards and percussion. Robbie Rivera’s mix is excellent, totally transforming the original track, turning it into a Magnus Opus, where the best of European and US disco becomes one.

The Salsoul Orchestra played a huge part in the success of Salsoul. With musicians of the standard of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, Don Renaldo’s Swingings Strings and Horns and vibes virtuoso Vince Montana Jr. this is no wonder. Ooh I Love It (Love Break), is a Vince Montana Jr.’s production. Like the First Choice version, the tempo is 118 beats per minute, the crispy drumbeats, with percussion, a funky bass line and keyboards combining before backing vocalists enter. Then, cascading strings enter, while the track takes on a Latin sound and influence due to the percussion and bursts of vocal enter. When the lead vocal enter, it’s almost rapped be a female vocalists, while the percussion, drums and strings provide a mesmeric, almost hypnotic backdrop. It’s a new take on a classic track, one with a funk tinged percussive heavy sound.

Carol Williams’ Love Is You, released in March 1977, is a track I’ve always felt was an underrated and overlooked track. It’s one of the hidden gems in the Salsoul back-catalogue. Produced and co-written by Vince Montana Jr., who fuses the sweetest, joyful vocal with a stunning arrangement. This results in five minutes of majestic, magical music. When the track opens, it’s just Earl Young’s drums that you hear, before literally, the track explodes into life. Suddenly, you’re greeted by sweet, cascading strings, blazing horns, percussion and the rhythm section. They give way to Carol’s sweet, beautiful vocal. She’s accompanied by a backdrop of quivering strings, flourishes of guitars and bursts of horns as the track reveals its irresistible sound. Later, Vince adds just the finishing touch to the track with his vibes, playing a lengthy and glorious solo. This is just the perfect way to close this gorgeous track, one with a hook-laden, feel-good sound.

Instant Funk’s Crying appeared on their 1979 album Instant Funk. Pounding drums and powerful vocal enters, with the rhythm section key to the track’s sound. Guitars, keyboards and blazing horns signal the arrival of tight, soulful harmonies. Then at last nearly two minutes into the track the growling, emotive vocal enters. It’s well worth the wait, although the soulful harmonies are the perfect appetizer. From there, tight harmonies, swathes of keyboards, punchy, blazing horns and not forgetting the pounding rhythm section build up the drama. These pieces of the jigsaw are put together by Bunny SIgler who produced this piece of musical perfection.

My final choice from Disc Two is another track from the Queen of Salsoul, Loleatta Holloway, Catch Me On The Rebound. This is a track from her 1978 album Queen of The Night, produced by Norman Harris. It features the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, who combine with blazing horns, keyboard and percussion to create a track that’s steeped in drama. You’re anticipating Loleatta’s vocal, awaiting her grand entrance. You’re not disappointed. Her mixture of power, passion and emotion is present, while Earl Young’s drums pound. The Sweethearts of Sigma add punchy harmonies, before Ron Baker’s bass bounds across the arrangement. As Loleatta vamps, percussion and gospel-tinged backing vocals add to the drama of the track. All this makes this the best track on Disc Two and demonstrates just why Loleatta Holloway was the real First Lady of Disco. No-one else came close.

On Disc Two of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House, Marshall Jefferson eschews many of the more obvious Salsoul tracks, instead digging deeper than other compilers. In doing so, Marshall discovers some real hidden gems, with Gaz’s Sing Sing and Order and Carol Williams’ Love Is You two cases in point. Only recently, has Love Is You been recognized as the quality track it really is. This was a track from Carol William’s ‘Lectric Lady album. Gaz’s Sing Sing is another real gem. It’s a track that wasn’t recorded at Salsoul. Instead, Sing Sing was produced by Jurgen Korduletsch, who also brought Claudia Barry to Salsoul Records. Having said Marshall eschewed the more obvious tracks on Disc Two, a case in point is the Loleatta Holloway track he’s chosen. Catch Me On The Rebound was chosen, rather than a track like Runaway. Tracks like Catch Me On the Rebound demonstrate how at Salsoul, Loleatta was transformed from Southern Soul singer, to the undisputed Queen of Salsoul. Two of her classic tracks, Dreamin’ and Love Sensation feature on Disc One, and show the real Queen of Disco at her very best. First Choice, Double Exposure and The Salsoul Orchestra are among some of the other big names on Disc Two, along with Skyy and Candido who provides Thousand Finger Man and Jingo. Although Disc Two of My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House isn’t as top heavy with Salsoul classics, the quality continues throughout Disc Two. For people unfamiliar with Salsoul Records, then My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House is a good introduction to disco’s most important and best ever label. With is combination of classics and hidden gems, then My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House is a good starting point for newcomer’s to Salsoul. However, for veterans of Salsoul, then there’s nothing new for them. There’s no unreleased mixes, like on John Morales-The M&M Mixes. While My Salsoul-Marshall Jefferson Presents: The Foundations of House, isn’t as comprehensive as Harmless Records’ The Definitive Salsoul Mixes, it has one thing in common…its quality, twenty-six tracks from Salsoul Records, the greatest disco label ever. Standout Track: First Choice Doctor Love, Inner Life Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Carol William Love Is You and Loleatta Holloway Catch Me On The Rebound. 

MY SALSOUL MARSHALL JEFFERSON PRESENTS:THE FOUNDATIONS OF HOUSE.

 

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