Recently, there seems to be no end of disco compilations being released. Every week, it seems, another batch of disco compilations hits the shops. Many people have been wondering why? Luckily for them, I can put them out of their misery. This is officially the summer of disco. It’s official. Disco, according to tastemakers and fashionistas, is back in fashion. So dust off your flares, polish your disco ball and recreate the heady, hedonistic days of disco. 

With so many disco compilations being released, competition is fierce for the disco Dollar. Compilations vary in quality. So it’s very much a case of buyer beware. There’s everything from cheap and cheerful, budget compilations, right through to box sets of remixes by “superstar” DJs. Then there’s the DJ mix. There seems to be a resurgence in the DJ mix. The latest DJ mix is The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei, which will be released by Octave Japan on 30th July. 

The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei is the third in Octave Japan’s series of DJ mixes. Following in the footsteps of DJ Nuro and DJ Norri, The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei features fourteen tracks from Salsoul’s back-catalogue. This includes The Salsoul Orchestra, Loleatta Holloway, First Choice and Double Exposure. There’s also contributions from Instant Funk, Inner Life, Ripple, Skyy and Silvetti. At first glance, it seems that The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei is crammed full of Salsoul classics. So, will The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei be one of the disco compilation that provides the soundtrack to the summer of disco? That’s what I’ll tell, after I’ve told you about The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei.

Opening The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei is Larry Levan’s remix of Instant Funk’s I Got My Mind Made Up. Released in 1979, it sold over one-million copies and reached number one in the US R&B and US Disco Charts. This was a track from Instant Funk’s Salsoul debut Instant Funk. It reached number twelve in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts and US Disco Charts. Soulful, funky, dramatic and full of hooks, musical genres unite seamlessly to create Instant Funk’s biggest hit.

Shep Pettibone’s remix of Chicago Bus Stop (Ooh I Love It) is the first of three tracks by The Salsoul Orchestra. This was a track from their 1975 debut album The Salsoul Orchestra. It reached number fourteen in the US Billboard 200, number twenty in the US R&B Charts and number four in the US Disco Charts. The Sweethearts of Sigma add breathy, sassy vocals. Baker, Harris, Young lock into a funky groove, while keyboards, guitars and percussion are joined by sassy, sensual harmonies. A sultry alto saxophone enters, as strings dance and the breathy vocal drifts in and out. Dramatic stabs of growling horns accompany the saxophone, while the rhythm section never miss a beat. They’re responsible for the mesmeric, almost hypnotic backdrop, as funk, Philly Soul, disco and Latin music are combined by The Salsoul with style, flair and a flourish.

Love Thang was a track from First Choice’s final album Hold Your Horses. It only reached number 135 and number fifty-eight in the US R&B Charts. Remixed by Tee Scott, a pounding, punchy rhythm section, shimmering strings and percussion combining First Choice add sweet and sassy vocals. With handclaps accompanying them, the track swings along, with Rochelle strutting her way through the track. Horns rasp, strings sweep and swirl, while the rhythm section produce the track’s funky heartbeat that’s got made in Philadelphia stamped right through it.

Inner Life released two albums for Salsoul. I Like It Like, which was remixed by Shep Pettibone, was a track from Inner Life II, which was released in 1982. This a track that you can almost date to 1982. It’s the combination of instruments that accompany Jocelyn’s vocal. The synths have an unmistakable early eighties sound, as do the drums. They’re joined by Jocelyn’s joyous vamp, while the rhythm section and eighties keyboards drive the track along. Having said that, the track still has an infectiously catchy eighties sound, made all the better by Jocelyn Brown at the height of her powers. 

Ripple’s only released one album on Salsoul, 1977s Sons Of The Gods. It featured The Beat Goes On and On. Produced by Floyd Smith, husband of Loleatta Holloway, it’s an oft-overlooked, minor classic that epitomizes disco’s glory days.

Quite different from The Beat Goes On and On, is Skyy’s Let’s Celebrate, a track from 1981s Skyy Line, which transformed Skyy’s career. It reached number eighteen in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. Let’s Celebrate reached number sixteen in the US R&B Charts and number sixty-seven in February 1982. The funkiest of rhythm section joins eighties synths before tight, heartfelt and soulful harmonies sweep in. Solomon’s lead vocal is equally impassioned and soulful and joyous. Stabs of horns punctuate the arrangement, while rhythm section provide a funky heartbeat and a fitting backdrop for the soulful strains of Skyy as soul, funk and boogie unite.

Loleatta Holloway released Love Sensation in July 1980. 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. Providing the perfect accompaniment is an arrangement that’s a mass of lush strings, dramatic drums and blazing horns. Add Loleatta’s powerful vocal and the result is timeless, dramatic, classic.

Let No Man Put Asunder is a track from First Choice’s fourth album Delusions. Released in August 1977, it reached number 103 in the US Billboard 200 and number thirty-seven in the US R&B Charts. Against a backdrop of the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, percussion and handclaps, Rochelle’s sassy vocal enters. She’s full of bravado and confidence, as harmonies accompany her. Rochelle literally vamps and struts her way through the track. Sizzling guitars, punchy harmonies, cascading strings and the pounding rhythm section accompany Rochelle’s fiery, defiant vocal on a true Salsoul classic.

Many tracks released during the disco era didn’t stand the test of time. Silvetti’s Spring Rain did. This was the title-track to Silvetti’s 1977 album. Spring Rain is best described as innovative, timeless and a track that influential. Indeed, several generations of house producers have been influenced by Spring Rain.

Not many DJs choosing a track by The Salsoul Orchestra would choose Take Some Time Out (For Love). This was a track from The Salsoul Orchestra’s final album Heat It Up. It featured a very different lineup and sound. Although it didn’t quite match the quality of earlier albums, Take Some Time Out (For Love) and Seconds are the highlights of Heat It Up, The Salsoul Orchestra’s swan-song.

Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael cowrote Make It Last Forever, from Inner Life I.  On its released as a single in 1982, it reached number fifteen in the US Dance Charts. Swathes of cascading strings are joined by the rhythm section and percussion. Then Jocelyn’s vocal heartfelt, impassioned enters. Tight, soulful harmonies accompany her. Her vocal and the way the strings are used are key to the track. They’re the perfect accompaniment to Jocelyn’s vocal. It’s augmented by the rhythm section, keyboards and percussion. As Jocelyn sings “Make It Last Forever,” so good is the track, that you wish this post-disco classic would last forever.

First Choice released the Norman Harris produced Doctor Love in April 1977. The arrangement almost bursts into life. Blazing horns, cascading strings and Baker, Harris, Young set the scene for Rochelle’s vocal. Its a mixture of power, passion and confidence. Behind Rochelle, the rest of the group contribute soulful, harmonies. Feeding off each other, First Choice and The Salsoul Orchestra drive each other to greater heights. A combination of Rochelle’s powerful, passionate vocal and Norman Harris’ production result in one of First Choice’s greatest tracks.

Double Exposure’s Ten Per Cent helped launch Salsoul as disco’s premier label. Released in November 1976, it was produced by Norman Harris. Earl Young’s pounding drums, percussion and shivering strings combine, before Baker, Harris, Young provide the track’s heartbeat. Hissing hi-hats, swirling strings, a sizzling guitar and stabs of keyboards all play their part before the impassioned vocal enters. Accompanied by tight soulful harmonies, the vocal is laden with emotion. As the arrangement unfolds, you realize it has everything you could want and more on a disco track. Strings, percussion, the tightest of rhythm section and an impassioned. It’s impossible to resist this tracks charms and delights of this majestic slice of disco.

Closing he Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei is Runaway, a track from The Salsoul Orchestra’s 1977 album Magic Journey. Here, Loleatta Holloway takes charge of the lead vocal. Earl Young’s thunderous drums are at the heart of the arrangement, as it builds. Rasping horns, swirling strings and percussion accompany Loleatta. Her vocal is confident, defiant and powerful. Meanwhile, drums punctuate the arrangement and lush strings cascade. Vince Montana Jr. lays down a peerless vibes solos as the arrangement sweeps along, with its potent combination of dramatic horns and drums, while percussion, vibes and strings provide a contrast. What makes the track is Loleatta’s vocal, as she confident, defiant, vampish vocal on this timeless disco classic.

Featuring fifteen tracks, The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei is the best of the three mix CDs Octave Japan have released so far. Much of the success of The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei is to do with the track selection. Rather than dig deep into Salsoul’s illustrious, back-catalogue looking for left-field tracks and hidden gems, Towa Tei chooses a selection of Salsoul classics. This includes familiar favorites from The Salsoul Orchestra, Loleatta Holloway, First Choice, Double Exposure and Ripple. Then there’s post-disco tracks from Inner Life, Instant Funk and Skyy. Regardless of whether the music is classic disco or post-disco, it’s always innovative.

The fifteen tracks on The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei demonstrates just how innovative a label Salsoul Records was. Without fail, Salsoul was ahead of the musical curve. This was the case from 1975, when Vince Montana Jr. helped transform Salsoul Records into disco’s premier label. From the release of The Salsoul Orchestra’s Salsoul Hustle in 1975, right through to disco’s near death experience in July 1979, During that period, Salsoul Records continued to push musical boundaries. Salsoul’s fusion of disco, Philly Soul, funk and Latin music was among the most innovative musical of the seventies. It was also some of the most influential music of the seventies.

Between 1975 and 1984, when Salsoul Records closed its door for the last time, Salsoul influenced numerous other labels and artists. However, other labels didn’t have the personnel that Salsoul Records had. This included some of the most talented songwriters, arrangers, producers and musicians of the seventies. They provided the material for Salsoul’s roster of artists, which included some of the most successful artists of the disco era. Among them were The Salsoul Orchestra, Loleatta Holloway, First Choice and Double Exposure. Each of these artists produced music that’s innovative, influential and is also timeless.

Nearly thirty years after Salsoul Records closed its door for the last time, interest in both Salsoul Records has never been higher. The reason for that is simple. Much of the music Salsoul Records released is timeless. Granted, Salsoul Records doesn’t have a monopoly on releasing timeless disco. However, Salsoul released much more timeless music than any other disco label. That’s why there are so many compilations or DJ mixes featuring the music of Salsoul Records. One of these is The Beat Goes On: Salsoul Classics Mixed By Towa Tei, which will provide a hook-laden, dance-floor friendly soundtrack to the summer of disco. Standout Tracks: The Salsoul Orchestra Chicago Bus Stop (Ooh I Love It), First Choice Doctor Love, Double Exposure Ten Per Cent and The Salsoul Orchestra Runaway.


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