Sometimes, I wonder whether the music industry sets out to take advantage of loyal fans. Too often, the same albums are constantly rereleased, usually under the premise of remastering the album or celebrating the twentieth or thirtieth anniversary of its release. Come Christmas, Greatest Hits and Best of compilations are churned out. Even if the nearest the artist or band has come to a hit is number thirty in the US AOR charts in 1976, record companies feel the need to celebrate this and unfortunately, share this with us…at a price. Then there’s compilations, which I always categorize as the good, the bad and the ugly. Now I enjoy compilations, and often, have discovered some fantastic music on compilations. However, sometimes, the same music can be found the same compilations, albeit with different titles and on different labels. This can be really frustrating, especially if you did what I what I did recently. I’d been looking at the forthcoming releases, seeing whether there was anything interesting being released. It was then that I came across an album that looked interesting. The details were sketchy, there was neither a track listing, nor even photo of the album cover. All it said was SAM Records Extended Play. So I did some digging about and came across an album of the same name released a few years ago. Maybe it was a reissue of that compilation? As I didn’t have a copy, I took a chance and bought it. You can imagine my horror this morning when I discovered that this compilation was one that had recently been released earlier this month on a different label. What I’d bought was SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, released by Nervous Records. Unfortunately, this was the same mix that featured on Disc Two of Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play.

Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play, was the second instalment in Harmless’ excellent Mixology series, which was released on 20th August 2012. It’s a double album, with Disc One featuring eleven reedits and remixes, plus another two on Disc Two and a thirteen-track mix by Jacques Renault, the same mix that features on Disc Two of Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play. Now I wasn’t best pleased about this and if I’d seen the track listing before I bought the album, I’d have realized it was the same album. Looking at SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, it has been released by Nervous Records, a US label. Even the photo of Jacques on both albums is the same. Now this is the first time I’ve come across two labels releasing the same albums, or at least part of the same release a week apart. Having bought SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, I thought I might as well review the album, just to ensure this is indeed the same mix? Given the track listing on SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault is the exact same as on Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, I was pretty sure that this was the same mix. Was that the case? That’s what I’ll find out by telling you about the highlights of SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault.

The track that opens SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, is one of SAM Records’ biggest hits, Vicki D’s This Beat Is Mine. Released in 1981, this gave Vicki D a worldwide hit. Pounding drums, percussion and whispered vocals combine as the track starts to reveal its secrets and surprises. A mixture of yelps, handclaps, rhythm section and keyboards combine before Vicki unleashes a sassy, vampish vocal. Sometimes, her vocal is swathed in echo, while the rhythm section add funk and keyboards give the track its boogie sound. For nearly eight minutes, Vicki D’s vocal is at the heart of the track’s success, as producers Gary R. Turnier and Andre Booth fuse funk, disco and boogie. In doing so, they create a track that’s dramatic and catchy, classic dance track.

One of SAM Records’ biggest acts in the label’s early days were John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. They released Up Jumped the Devil in 1977. The version chosen is the 6th Borough Project’s Jumped Up Jam, where the track’s extended to nearly nine minutes. The Monster Orchestra featured M.F.S.B.’s Bobby Eli, percussionist Larry Washington and Don Renaldo’s Strings and Horns, plus the Sweethearts of Sigma backing vocalists. Percussion, rhythm section and guitars combine, before John’s dramatic vocal enters. Not only do the Sweethearts of Sigma add punchy, soulful backing vocals, but share the lead vocal. Later, Don Renaldo’s Strings and Horns play an important part in the track’s bold, dramatic sound. Strings sweep and swirl, while horns rasp and growl. With percussion, pounding rhythm section and a proliferation of percussion combining, one of the highlights of the compilation reveals its drama and majestic sound.

Gary’s Gang released their most successful single Keep On Dancing in 1979. The version chosen is Todd Terje’s Remix. Pounding drums, percussion and swathes of keyboards are combined as the introduction is extended. Todd Terje teases and tantalizes, unleashing a seemingly never ending groove that has you spellbound. You’re swept along atop layer upon layer of keyboards and synths, while a pulsating, punchy beat ushers in the vocal. Even the vocal is used to tease the listener. The same line is repeated, becoming part of the track’s hypnotic and timeless sound, which now includes bursts of whistles, synths and a myriad of percussion. Here, Todd Terje gives the track a complete makeover. However, he had a good starting point with the original track. The result of his remix is a track that has an uplifting, joyous and contemporary sound. It’s hard to believe it’s over thirty years old.

Convertion’s only release for SAM Records was Let’s Do It, released in 1980. From Convertion, the Universal Robot Band and Logg were born. Produced by Greg Carmichael, the track features Leroy Burgess’ lead vocal and virtuoso keyboard skills. His vocal is almost rapped, while his keyboards are central the track’s sound and success. Percussion, rhythm section and then backing vocalists sweep in. They add tight, soulful harmonies, before the keyboards, percussion and rhythm section head for a prolonged breakdown, where delay adds to the drama of the track. During this innovative, percussive heavy track, the keyboards have an Italian Piano House sound. Sam Weiss’ failure to agree a longer deal for Convertion would prove costly. They signed to Salsoul, becoming Logg, who’d enjoy much more commercial success on disco’s premier label…Salsoul.

K.I.D. released Don’t Stop in 1981. The version chosen is the Runaway Remix. From the opening bars, you can hear how dance music had changed since 1979, and the Disco Suck’s backlash. Gone are the lush strings of disco, with a much more electronic sound replacing it. Keyboards, synths and crunchy beats combine, while punchy backing vocals and an almost haunting, sinister vocal soars above the arrangement. Marauding drums and stabs of synths replace the vocal, before it reenters, displaying a different type of soulfulness. Although many people would criticize tracks like this as soulless, to me that isn’t case. Instead the track has a compelling, hypnotic and electronic soulfulness, which thirty-one years later, has aged well.

Mike and Brenda Sutton were originally signed to Motown, but would release three singles for SAM Records. Don’t Let Go of Me (Grip My Hips and Move Me) was their biggest single. Clinton Houlker’s edit of the track features here, and transforms the track with a 21st Century edit. Although I’m far from a fan of edits, I like this one. Pounding drums, squelchy synths and crashing, flying cymbals are combined before the vocal is unleashed. Bursts of the punchy, dramatic vocal are added, as the drama builds. Swathes of synths cascade, as drums crack and pound, testing the tolerance of your speakers. The vocal is a mixture of sass, drama and power. Clinton repeats parts of the vocal, using it to tease the listener mercilessly. He then deploys filters to add to the drama. Having locked into a groove, Clinton exploits it fully and quite masterfully, resulting in new life and meaning being brought into an old track.

It’s as if the best track on SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault has been kept until last. John Davis and The Monster Orchestra’s version of the Ashford and Simpson classic Bourgie, Bourgie. This one of the real classics from the SAM Records’ back-catalogue and is one of three tracks from John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. The Catz and Dogz Remix is very different from the original. It’s as if the remixers throw a series of never-ending series of curveballs. They’ve deconstructed, then reconstructed the original, resulting in a spacious, dramatic track, where snippets of the track are unleashed. Bursts of the rhythm section, vocals, percussion and keyboards escape from the arrangement, allowing you to hear snapshots of the original. Then crunchy drums, echoey keyboards and bewitching vocals join the mix. They play their part in what’s best described as an atmospheric, alluring ambient exploration of the original, with elements of broken beat added for good measure. Although described as a remix, so different from the original, it’s more like a reproduction, and something new and quite leftfield.

Having wondered whether SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault released by Nervous Records and Harmless Records Mixology series Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play are identical musical twins, who were separated at birth, that sadly, seems to be the case. Much as I really enjoyed SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, that this is the case, is something of a disappointment. Having said that, Jacques a hugely talented DJ, whose mixing is smooth and seamless. Jacques Renault lays down a seamless, peerless mix of the thirteen tracks. Her mixing is smooth, never missing a beat and seamlessly weaving the thirteen tracks into a majestic musical tapestry. The thirteen tracks she mixes are innovative, creative and inventive. Now this is indeed high praise from me, as I’m someone whose not a fan of reedits and sometimes, not overly impressed for what now passes for remixes. Why I hear you ask?

Reedits and remixes, can bring a new twist and new life to familiar and classic tracks. However, reedits aren’t something that I’m a huge fan of. They can be very much a hit and miss affair. Sadly, every wannabe DJ wants to reedit tracks and is being encouraged to do so. Usually, these reedits are just cut and paste jobs, with effects and filters added. Even supposedly experienced DJs who think reedits are a shortcut to doing remixes, lack the required creativity and talent. Why these poor deluded fools even decide to upload their remixes is beyond me? They should have their copies of Soundforge confiscated and made to sit on the naughty step for miscreant DJ whose egos outweighs their talents. So, as someone whose heard way too many third rate reedits, and often thinks of reedits as a poor man’s remix, I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed the reedits on SAM Records Extended Play. They were innovative, creative and inventive, breathing new life and meaning to much loved tracks. 

Similarly, the remixes are innovative, creative and inventive, none more so than Todd Terje’s remix of Gary’s Gang Keep On Dancing and the Runaway Remix of K.I.D’s Don’t Stop. One of the most compelling and imaginative remixes is The Catz and Dogz Remix of John Davis and The Monster Orchestra’s Bourgie, Bourgie. During the track, it’s impossible to second-guess where the remixers are taking the track. You certainly weren’t expecting what Catz and Dogz come up with. You’re taken an a fascinating journey, where surprises aplenty are in-store. 

So having told you about SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, and having previously told you about Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play, my advice is buy Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play, as it’s a double-album featuring the thirteen tracks and Jacques Renault’s seamless mix. Just don’t make my mistake and end up with two copies of Jacques Renault’s mix. Whether you buy Mixology-SAM Records Extended Play or SAM Records Extended Play-Mixed By Jacques Renault, it’s an opportunity to revisit and rediscover one of the most important, influential and innovative labels in the long and illustrious history of dance music. Standout Tracks: John Davis and The Monster Orchestra’s Jumped the Devil, Gary’s Gang Keep On Dancing, Convertion’s Let’s Do It and K.I.D’s Don’t Stop. 


Sam Records Extended Play Mixed By Jacques

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: