JOHN MORALES PRESENTS THE M&M MIXES VOLUME 3 INSTRUMENTALS.

JOHN MORALES PRESENTS THE M&M MIXES VOLUME 3 INSTRUMENTALS.

Compilations of John Morales’ remixes are a bit like London buses, you wait ages for one, then two come along at once. After releasing the critically acclaimed and commercially successful The M&M Mixes Volume 2 in March 2011, John Morales spent the next years working not just on one compilation of remixes, but two. These were John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 and John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 Instrumentals. Both were released by BBE Music on 29th April 2013. John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 was very much a return to form from one of the greatest remixers of his generation. While much of the focus was on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3, many people have overlooked what is a truly captivating and intriguing project, John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 Instrumentals. Why I hear you ask is John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 Instrumentals such an intriguing and captivating compilation?

If you think about many of the twenty-four anthemic tracks that feature on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3, each of these tracks has one thing in common. Each track features a truly compelling vocal. To prove my point, listen to John Morales’ remixes of Jean Carn’s Was That All It Was, Sandy Barber’s I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own), Loleatta Holloway’s Hit and Run and Instant Funk’s Crying. When you listen to each of these track, you tend to focus primarily on the vocal. You can’t help it, given how captivating and compelling it is. By focusing primarily on the vocal, you’re not listening closely to other parts of the arrangement. Granted, the vocal is central to the songs success, but without the other parts of the arrangement, the track wouldn’t work as well, and wouldn’t be as successful. Not only that, but by focusing primarily to the vocal, you’re overlooking some equally outstanding performances. Although there are numerous examples of this on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals, two that spring to mind are Barry White’s Never, Never Gonna Give You Up and Jean Carn’s Was That All It Was. These are just two examples. There are many more on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals, where seventeen songs reveal their subtleties, surprises and hidden depths. I’ll now tell you about some of them.

DISC ONE.

Disc One of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals features nine John Morales dub remixes of soulful, funky, disco, some of which has a real Philly Soul influence. This includes tracks from the back-catalogues of Philadelphia International Records, Salsoul Records, West End Records and T.K. Records. Among the artists that feature on Disc One are Barry White, Jean Carn, Loose Joints, Sandy Barber and Teddy Pendergrass. Without the instantly recognizable vocals, these anthemic dance tracks are very different. That’s no bad thing. You listen to the music in a different way. Not only that, but you hear parts you’ve previously overlooked. Layers upon layer of music reveal themselves. Soon, you discover previously overlooked subtleties and surprises within John Morales peerless dub remixes. However, what are the best tracks from Disc One of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Back in 1973, Barry White was about to release his sophomore album Stone Gon’ on 20th Century Records. It reached number twenty on the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. One of the singles released from Stone Gon’ was  Never, Never Gonna Give You Up, which reached number seven in the US Billboard 200 and number two in the US R&B Charts. Written and produced by Barry White, this is a stonewall classic. John Morales’ remix transformed the track into a sultry, sensual eight minute epic. Without the vocal, it’s a very different track. Swathes of the lushes string that sweep and swirl, come to the fore. They’re joined by rasping horns while a pulsating rhythm section provide the heartbeat to this bedroom ballad par excellence.

During a five year spell at Philadelphia International Records, Jean Carn, who was blessed with a five octave voice, released a quartet of albums. One of these was her 1979 album When I Found You Love. Featuring Was That All It Was, which was written by Jerry Butler, Linda Conlon and John Usry Jr. With John arranging and producing the track, Jean was transformed into a sassy, disco diva. Good as the original was, John Morales remix transforms Was That All It Was. In his hands, it became a ten-minute epic. The instrumental version however, is shortened to eight minutes. That should be eight captivating, dramatic minutes. Latin percussion, bubbling synths, growling horns and flourishes of disco strings join a chiming guitar solo. Seamlessly, John Morales’ remix breathes new life and meaning to a delicious slice of disco.

Often I refer to a track as a hidden gem. That’s the perfect description of Sandy Barber’s I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping On My Own. This is a track from Sandy’s 1977 album The Best Is Yet To Come, which was released in on Olde Worlde Records. Although The Best Is Yet To Come wasn’t a commercial success, I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping On My Own became a favorite of DJs worldwide. John Morales’ near nine-minute instrumental is akin to embarking on a musical journey. During that journey, John brings out the best in Clyde Otis’ production. This means stabs of keyboards, Latin percussion, an uber funky bass, dancing strings, chiming guitars and later, thunderous drums. The result is a hypnotic, pulsating and captivating instrumental version of a timeless classic. 

Mahogany didn’t exactly have a long and illustrious career at West End Records. They only released one single. However, if you’re only going to release one single, make it one as good as Ride On The Rhythm. Releasing in 1982 and featuring the vocal prowess of Bernice Watkins, whose vocal was key to the track’s success. Without that diva-esque vocal, would it be the same track? Gradually, combining the funkiest of rhythm section, Latin percussion and stabs of grizzled horns John begins to reinvent an eighties classic dance track. Bringing the horns, bass and percussion further forward, they become the focus of you attention. Adding a contrast are lush strings. They glide gracefully and elegantly across the arrangement. Mixing jazz, funk, disco and drama John Morales remix more than makes up for the absence of the vocal. He reinvents and re-imagine the track, in the way only a true musical innovator could.

Although I’ve only mentioned four of the eight tracks on Disc One of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals, there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with the other four tracks. Far from it. The problem is choosing between eight great tracks. Truly, it’s quality all the way. The other tracks include contributions from Loose Joints, Hamilton Affair, T-Connection and Teddy Pendergrass. Just like John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3, John totally reinvents tracks and re-imagining them. In John’s hands, classic tracks are reinvented, bringing new life, energy and meaning into them. Not many people can do this. However, a true musical innovator like John Morales, who has been remixing since 1976 can. On Disc Two of Disc One of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals, John transforms nine other tracks.

DISC TWO.

The quality keeps on coming on Disc Two of Disc One of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals. There’s a real Philly Soul influence, with  tracks from the back-catalogues of Philadelphia International Records and Salsoul Records. Keeping the flag flying for Philadelphia International Records are Teddy Pendergrass andThe Jones Girls. Representing Salsoul Records are Loleatta Holloway and Skyy. Completing the Philly influence are John Davis & The Monster Orchestra. Along with tracks from Marvin Gaye, Third World, Curtis Hairston and Raw Silk, you’ll realize that choosing the best tracks from Disc Two of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals won’t be easy. However, here goes.

Only You is the second track from Teddy Pendergrass on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals. This is a track from his 1978 sophomore album LIfe Is A Song Worth Singing. It reached number eleven in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts, resulting in Teddy’s second platinum disc. John’s original remix features an impassioned vamp from Teddy, accompanied by growling horns and a funky, bubbling backdrop. Having removed the vocal, bubbling synths, a funky rhythm section, hypnotic percussion and stabs of blazing horns take centre-stage. Later, John strips the arrangement backs to the drums, before unleashing a dramatic combination of soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly music. The result is a captivating combination of jazz, funk, soul and disco, which melts seamlessly into one.

In 1976, Loleatta Holloway signed to Norman Harris’ Gold Mind Records, a subsidiary of Salsoul. Her first album for Gold Mind was Loleatta, released in 1976. It featured Hit and Run a stonewall disco classic Loleatta was the first of four albums she released between 1976 and 1980. On its release as a single, Hit and Run sold over 300,000 copies, establishing Loleatta’s reputation as the undisputed Queen of Disco. John’s instrumental version of Hit and Run sees him reduce the tempo from 111 to 108 beats per minute. Without Loleatta’s sassy, strutting vocal, you get the chance to hear The Salsoul Orchestra in full flight. Disco doesn’t get better than this. With the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section providing the pulsating heartbeat, they’re joined by lush strings, blazing horns, percussion and Vince Montana Jr’s vibes. The result is a fitting tribute to the greatest disco orchestra ever…The Salsoul Orchestra, lead by the late, great Vince Montana Jr. who passed away recently.

Mention the The Jones Girls, and many people will instantly think of Nights Over Egypt. However, there’s more to their music than one track. They released four albums between 1979 and 1984 for Philadelphia International Records. Their 1979 debut album The Jones Girls featured a Jones Girls’ classic You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else. It was written and produced by Gamble and Huff, and rivals Nights Over Egypt as the best track Shirley, Brenda and Valerie ever recorded. For John’s instrumental remix, he slows the track down from 107 to 104 beats per minute. This adds to the drama, as do the thunderous drums and bubbling synths which are brought forward in the mix. They’re designed to grab your attention. Listen beyond them, and layers of music unfold, giving the track a really contemporary sound. The result is totally timeless track, that would still fill any dance-floor and sounds as good today, as did in 1979.

Earlier, I said The Salsoul Orchestra were disco’s greatest orchestra. Coming second were John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. They released four peerless albums for SAM Records between 1976 and 1979. Their sophomore album was Up Jumped The Devil. John Morales has remixed the title-track Up Jumped The Devil, which John Davis wrote. He’s taken the six minute track and transformed it into eight dramatic, pulsating minutes. At the heart of the action are pounding drums, percussion, wah-wah guitars and blazing horns. Action packed and drama-laden funk, Philly Soul and disco are combined. Given the dramatic sound, it could easily be part of soundtrack to a Blaxploitation movie. So good is John’s instrumental, that it almost surpasses the original. One listen, and surely, you’ll agree.

My final choice from Disc Two of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals is Marvin Gaye’s I Want You. Released in 1976, during the most productive period of Marvin’s career, I Want You reached number four in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. When I Want You was released as a single, the Leon Ware and Arthur “T Boy” Ross penned track reached number fifteen in the US Billboard 100 and number one in the US R&B Charts. John’s remix breathes new life and meaning into a familiar track. Even without Marvin’s needy, pleading vocal, it’s a captivating track. Thunderous drums, percussion and a sensual, meandering saxophone combine. Soon, the track begins to reveal its charms. Subtle stabs and flourishes of keyboards and congas are added, before quivering strings enter. Their grace and elegance provides a contrast to the drums and percussion. Almost seamlessly and effortlessly, everything falls into place. The result is stunning remix of one of Marvin Gaye’s classic tracks.

Unlike many double albums, the music on Disc Two of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals is just as good as the music on Disc Two. John’s choice of music is flawless. Every track has been chosen with the greatest care, with one eye on how he can transform the original track. That’s one of the reasons his nine remixes on Disc Two are truly peerless. He doesn’t take a wrong turning once. Every track deserves to be included. Along with the five tracks I’ve mentioned, there’s contributions from Skyy, Curtis Hairston, Raw Silk and Third World. There’s neither faux pas nor filler on Disc Two. Considering this wasn’t an ordinary compilation of remixes, John Morales is to be be applauded.

What made this project doubly hard, was that this was a compilation of instrumental remixes. By taking away the most compelling part of the tracks, John Morales really gave himself a challenge. After all, for many people, what makes the tracks on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals instantly recognizable, are the vocals. The vocals are what people focus on and are the most captivating part of the track. By dispensing with the vocal, he had to reinvent and re-imagine the tracks. This couldn’t have been easy. Indeed, it would’ve been easy to wrong. However, John being an innovative and imaginative remixer managed to reinvent the tracks. To do this, he makes other instruments the focus of your attention and highlights parts of the track that previously, were subservient to the vocal. They play more important parts, in the reinvention of the tracks. Without the vocal, you’re able to hear parts that previously you overlooked. For example on Loleatta Holloway’s Hit and Run, you’re able to hear The Salsoul Orchestra in full flight. Truly, that is a joy to behold. Similarly, hearing John Davis and The Monster Orchestra on Up Jumped The Devil takes your breath away. Never again, will you hear the original tracks in the same way.

For John Morales, creating seventeen instrumental versions of dance-floor classics must have been one of the biggest challenges of his long and illustrious career. However, he managed it and the result is John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals, which was released by BBE Music on 29th April 2013. John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals demonstrates just why John Morales is one of the greatest remixers of his generation. Along with Tom Moulton, John Morales is head and shoulders against any of the new breed of remixers. They are just pretenders to John and Tom’s thrones. Proof of this is John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3-Instrumentals, which is the perfect companion to John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3. Standout Tracks: Barry White Never, Never Gonna Give You Up, Jean Carn Was That All It Was, Loleatta Holloway Hit and Run and John Davis and The Monster Orchestra Up Jumped The Devil.

JOHN MORALES PRESENTS THE M&M MIXES VOLUME 3-INSTRUMENTALS.

2 Comments

  1. Mel Shelton

    I did purchase both of these!! What a great review for a great CD. I love both of these CD’s. One thing you may want to mention was the mastering of these CD’s was incredible!! The sound quality was amazing!!!! Thanks again for the great reviews!! Hey, do you remember the Atlantic CD Everybody Dance???? I picked up the 2 CD set from Zoverstocks for a incredible price. Then I saw they had a 3 CD set….Oh well…. Hey was Vol. 2 of M & M mixes as well done as this???
    Take Care,
    Mel

    • Hi Mel,

      Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed my review of John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 Instrumentals. Both John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 and John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 Instrumentals are incredible compilations. You’re right about the sound quality, absolutely stunning. I can thoroughly recommend the first two volumes. If you’re looking for a copy, try either BBE Music or Amazon. I’ve reviewed both compilations. You’ll really enjoy them both.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek.

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