Sometimes, record labels go through something of hot spells, where they release one great album after another. This has certainly been the case for BBE Music in 2012. It’s been one winner after another. BBE Music started 2012 with a bang, releasing Al Kent’s five disc disco Magnus Opus The Best of Disco Demands, with Johnny D Presents Disco Jamms following hard on its heels, then Boddhi Satva’s Invocation and Invocation Instrumentals, Mathias Stubo’s Mathias Stubo and more recently, Private Wax, You Know How We Dew and DJ Vadim’s Don’t Be Scared. Soon to join this list of illustrious releases will be Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole, which BBE Music will release on 12th November 2012. Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole was compiled by giants of DJ-ing and Sadar Bahar and Lee Collins. Both Sadar and Lee have what can only be described as having impeccable taste when it comes to music. The thirteen tracks on Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole are a lovingly compiled collection of soul, funk, disco and boogie, which I’ll tell you about, after I’ve told you about Sadar Bahar and Lee Collins. 

Sadar Bahar was born in the late sixties, in Newark, New Jersey and as a child, his family moved to the Windy City of Chicago. His interest in DJ-ing started at an early age when his mother bought him a set of Technics turntables. Soon, he knew that he’d earn a living as a DJ. He knew that music was what he loved playing and making. Later, he started hanging around with an older group, who played what Sadar describes as old school house music. This sparked Sadar interest and would influence his style of music. Ironically, later, when Sadar started playing around Chicago’s clubs, the same people thought his music was “too deep.”

By the early eighties, Sadar was a stalwart of Chicago’s club scene, spinning house, deep house and disco. Back then, there were many other DJs playing similar music. However, Sadar decided to go down a different route and have what would now be described as a USP. Sadar started to play rare records, something that made him stand out from other DJs. Quickly, Sadar established a reputation as a someone who was a serious collector of deep house music. This seemed to inspire Sadar to become the King of Chicago’s crate diggers and he spent all his time seeking out rare deep house records.While Sadar sought out those elusive cuts of vinyl, the music changed. DJs spun only what Sadar describes as “beat tracks.” Still these tracks were described as house music. So Sadar’s search for original house music continued and with his friends he helped launch a new scene.

The new scene was called Soul In The Hole, and saw Sadar and his friends seek out the choicest, deepest cuts. Discovering there was this huge supply of rare music that lay undiscovered, this search for the vinyl holy grail continued and nearly took over their lives. It paid off, as soon, Sadar and his friends had an inenviable and totally unique collection of music. Avoiding techno and electronics, and staying true to their principles of only spinning vinyl on the wheels of steel paid off. It allowed Sadar to become a globe-trotting DJ, spinning his own unique sounds worldwide. Still, Sadar Badar is known as Chicago’s best kept secret, but hopefully not for much longer. One of Sadar’s closest friends helped him compile Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole, Lee Collins.

Like Sadar, Lee Collins is something of a veteran of Chicago’s music scene, learning his DJ-ing trade under the wings of legends like Frankie Knuckles, Farley Keith, Robert Owens, Andre Hatchett and Ron Hardy. Quickly, Lee developed his own unique style, which has been described as a progressive funky, soul sound. Lee started a college radio show Disco Madness on WHPK in Chicago in 1983. It was named after an album which featured his favorite song, First Choice’s Let No Man Put Asunder. After this, Lee Collins would go on to DJ at two some of Chicago’s biggest clubs.

In 1986, Lee was asked to play at Chicago’s legendary clubs the Music Box by owner Robert Williams. The night was called Disco Madness and Lee played a number of nights. Three years later in 1989, Lee became a guest DJ at Chicago club Bad Boys. Soon he was asked to be the resident DJ and played twelve hour sets from 10pm to 10am. This lasted for a year, until the club closed. A year later, Lee would collaborate on his first production.

1991 saw Lee and Anthony Nicholson, a long-time friend team up to produce their first single Thill Me, which they released as Rhythm Section. It was after that Lee and Sadar Bahar decided to form their own production company Soul In The Hole. SInce then, Lee and Sadar have worked on numerous reedits, remixes and their own original production. Like Sadar, Lee Collins has since then, DJ-ed worldwide, playing everywhere from Japan to Germany and everywhere in between. Somehow, two of the hardest working and most far-travelled DJs have found time to compile Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole and I’ll now pick some of its many highlights and hidden gems. 

Opening Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole is Johnny Harris’ Odyssey, which was released in1980 on the Sunshine Sound Disco label. Guitars riff as the rhythm section produce a pulsating beat as the arrangement fuses elements of disco, boogie and funk. A pounding bass and guitars play crucial parts in the track, as handclaps and dramatic washes of synths drive this hidden gem along. Sometimes guitars and synths give the track a rocky sound, as this glorious fusion of music styles unfolds. This combination of driving, dance dance-floor friendly music gets Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole to a storming start and are the perfect opening track, leaving you hungrily wanting more.

Poetiquette’s Soul Melody (Yam Who Remix) is the track that drew me to Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole. This is a track from Poetiquette’s Lyrically Speaking Part 1 album, released on Artizan Music in 2008. It’s one of the newer tracks on the compilation. Pounding drums and washes of space-age synths combine before the track reveals its secrets. A sample enters lamenting the state of “modern day America.” Think Dennis Leary meets Timothy Leary with a touch of Hunter Thompson and that’s the sample. Soon stabs of pads and thunderous drums combine deep house with a twist Nu-Jazz keyboards. Then when the heartfelt female vocal things get even better as a hugely dance-floor friendly house track unfolds. Just synths, thunderous drums and a sprinkling of Latin percussion is all it takes. The result is a hugely melodic track, with hooks aplenty that’s quite simply one of the real highlights of Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole.

It doesn’t take more than a couple of bars to realize just how good Moses’ Striving For Tomorrow is. This is one of these tracks that you wonder has been all your life. Wah-wah guitars, a Hammond and the rhythm section combine to create the funkiest of introductions. Soon, the lushest of strings and then woodwind enter. They’re joined by an impassioned vocal, with tight, heartfelt harmonies accompanying it. The funky rhythm section is ever-present, while the strings sweep in and out and the Hammond organ helps adds to the funk factor. One minute the track sounds as if it belongs on a seventies Blaxploitation soundtrack, the next is hugely soulful and then later, a jazzy piano joins the fray. While funky and soulful are two words to describe this track, two others are outstanding and brilliant.

Sabar and Lee must have dug deep to discover a copy of Sparkles’ Trying To Get Over It and for that, we should be eternally grateful. Think a combination of a vocal and harmonies from an early seventies soul record, add some synths and lush strings and you’re getting the idea. Truly, it’s a five minute hidden gem. Stabs of keyboards and a dramatic, pulsating, funky beat are accompanied by eighties synths before an impassioned, soulful vocal enters. It’s accompanied by tight, elegant sweeping harmonies, while the dramatic rhythm section is omnipresent. It’s just one of those songs that’s irresistible. Believe me, you can’t help but succumb to its soulful, funky charms.

Saxophonist Carl Grubbs has a good pedigree, his brother is Earl Grubbs and he’s a  cousin of Naima Coltrane, the first wife of jazz titan John Coltrane. He released a series of albums, starting with his debut album Neptune, released on Cobblestone. Scorcher is a fitting description of a track where Carl and his band fuse funk, jazz and Latin percussion, with synths adding a contemporary twist. Blazing horns,  percussion and chiming guitars are joined by a bank of synths, while a driving rhythm section create a disco beat. Stabs of horns, a myriad of percussion and handclaps plus synths that add to the musical drama. It’s a compelling fusion, that results in a slice of dramatic dance music. Think jazz and funk with a pulsating disco beat and you’re halfway there. So good and so compelling is this track that must be heard and experienced at least once. After that, you’ll be glad Sadar and Lee introduced you to its delights.

One track I was really pleased to find on Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole was Sonny Still featuring Eddie Russ’ Tornado. Tornado was the title-track to Sonny’s album on Jazz Masters. It’s a real slow burner of a track, with a really understated sound that gradually, begins to reveal its hidden depths. Just drums take centre-stage before bursts of pounding bass are joined by drums and an uber funky combination of wah-wah guitar and Hammond organ. Adding a contrast is a flute as a near nine-minute fusion of funky and jazzy music unfolds. When Sonny’s saxophone enters, his playing is thoughtful and spacious, before unleashing a blazing solo. Soon, Sonny’s band kick loose. Not to be outdone, Eddie Russ lays down a peerless Hammond organ solo and each of the band somehow, seem to raise their game. Together with his band, Sonny fuses funk and jazz seamlessly, while showing just why he was one of the legends of US jazz.

Closing Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole is Frederic Mercier’s Spirit, that was released as a twelve-inch single in 2009, on Mellophonia. However, Frederic was been releasing albums since his 1978 debut Pacific. Since then, he’s gained a reputation as something of an innovator and pioneer. This is obvious here, where he uses his synths to create a dramatic musical soundscape. He combines banks of synths with pounding drums to create a track that unfolds in dramatic waves. Drums provide the track’s pulsating heartbeat, while unleashing stabs and washes of synths. They’re responsible for the mainstay of the arrangement which is best described as a dramatic, innovative dance-floor friendly soundscape.

The seven tracks from Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole that I’ve mentioned are just a taster of the treats in-store for the discerning listener who wisely decides to invest in this lovingly compiled compilation. However, there’s much, much more in-store, including tracks like Calender’s Comin’ On Strong, Seawind’s Free, Puzzle People’s French Fried Boogie and Chuck Higgins and The Wild Bunch’s Funkyfied. Many of the tracks on Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole will be new to many people. For me, that’s part of the enjoyment of compilations, especially compilations as good as this. They allow you discover hidden gems and meet old favorites. Some of the tracks I was really pleased to find on Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole were Johnny Harris’ Odyssey, Poetiquette’s Soul Melody (Yam Who Remix), Moses’ Striving For Tomorrow and Sparkles’ Trying To Get Over It. Truly, there isn’t a bad track on Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole, with the thirteen tracks featuring everything from funk to soul, and disco to bogie. Instead, each of the thirteen tracks are a winner. That’s to the credit of Sadar Bahar and Lee Collins, who compiled Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole. This means that BBE Music will continue their run unrivaled run of releasing some of the best compilations of 2012, when Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole is released on 12th November 2012. Standout Tracks: tracks I was really pleased to find on Sadar Bahar Presents Soul In The Hole were Johnny Harris’ Odyssey, Poetiquette’s Soul Melody (Yam Who Remix), Moses’ Striving For Tomorrow and Sparkles’ Trying To Get Over It. 



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