THE A-Z OF THE BEST COMPILATIONS OF 2013-PART 3.

THE A-Z OF THE BEST COMPILATIONS OF 2013-PART 3. 

HALL OF FAME VOLUME 2.

Without doubt, one of the most influential record labels in the history of Southern Soul is Fame Records. It released some of the most important music in the history of not just Southern Soul, but soul music. Then there’e the music recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals. The artists who recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals with the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, reads like a who’s who of soul music. Everyone from Arthur Alexander, Arthur Conley, Candi Staton, Etta James, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. That’s just a few of the names who recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals. What about Clarence Carter, George Jackson, Joe Simon, Otis Clay and Prince Phillip Mitchell, who all feature on Hall Of Fame Volume 2, which was released by Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records. 

Featuring twenty-four tracks, Hall Of Fame Volume 2 is a glimpse of the music recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals. Twenty of the tracks have never been released before and are a tantalising glimpse of what might have been. Some of the tracks, the quality is indisputable. You wonder why the songs never saw the light of day? That’s not the only thing they have in common.

The other is they were recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals. Backed by some of the greatest session musicians of all time, they were responsible for a string of hit singles. Then there’s all the other sessions they played on. Not every session they played on, resulted in a single or album. So, there’s no end of hidden gems awaiting discover in Fame Records‘ vaults. This includes those on Hall Of Fame Volume 2. Given its quality, hopefully, further volumes of this Hall Of Fame series will be released by Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Let’s hope they’ll continue to released compilations like Hall Of Fame Volume 2, which cherry picks the hidden gems tucked away in Fame Records’ vaults.

JEROME DERRADJ PRESENTS: BANG THE BOX! THE (LOST) STORY OF AKA DANCE MUSIC, CHICAGO 1987-88.

Having cofounded Sunset Records in Chicago, in 1985, Matt Warren spent the next two years transforming the label into one of Chicago house’s most progressive and innovative labels. Then in 1987, Matt decided to part company with Sunset Records. A couple of months later, Matt decided to found his own label, AKA Dance Music.  Just like Sunset Records, AKA Dance Music continued to release groundbreaking Chicago house. A favorite of dancers and DJs, sadly, AKA Dance Music didn’t enjoy the longevity of Trax, DJ International or even Sunset Records. It was in business for little over a year. Despite this, the music AKA Dance Music released is fondly remembered by discerning dancers and connoisseurs of Chicago music. That’s why Still Music’s latest compilation Jerome Derradji Presents: Bang The Box! The (Lost) Story Of AKA Dance Music, Chicago 1987-88 was one of the most hotly anticipated of 2013. 

Released in October 2013, Jerome Derradji Presents: Bang The Box! The (Lost) Story Of AKA Dance Music is the followup to Still Music’s Jerome Derradji Presents: Kill Yourself Dancing-The Story Of Sunset Records Inc. Chicago 1985-89. Just like its predecessor, it’s a double-album featuring not just classics, but a disc of previously unreleased tracks. Twenty-six tracks are spread over the two discs. This includes contributions from Michaelangelo, Nexus 6, Team, BnC, Michael Griffin, Modern Mechanical Music and Matt Warren. Included are a variety of mixes, including many that have never been released before. For veterans of Chicago house, Jerome Derradji Presents: Bang The Box! The (Lost) Story Of AKA Dance Music is the perfect companion to Jerome Derradji Presents: Kill Yourself Dancing-The Story Of Sunset Records Inc. Chicago 1985-89.

For just over a year, AKA Dance Music rose to the top of Chicago house, with their inimitable brand of Chicago house. The reason for this is simple. AKA Dance Music’s artists and producers were some of the most talented, innovative and influential producers in the first wave of Chicago house. AKA Dance Music may have been short-lived, but punched well above its weight and left a lasting impression on discerning dancers and connoisseurs of Chicago house music. One listen to the innovative, groundbreaking and timeless music on Jerome Derradji Presents: Bang The Box! The (Lost) Story Of AKA Dance Music, Chicago 1987-88 and you’ll realise why.

JERROME DERRADJI PRESENTS: KILL YOURSELF DANCING-THE STORY OF SUNSET RECORDS INC.1985-1988.

During 2013, a number of Chicago House compilations were released. Still Music released two of the best. This included Jerome Derradji Presents: Kill Yourself Dancing-The Story Of Sunset Records Inc. Chicago 1985-89. It features twenty-one tracks spread over two discs. This includes some of the most innovative Chicago house music released between 1985 and 1989. There’s contributions from Ben Mays, Master Plan, Matt Warren, Michaelangelo, Razz and Ralphi Rosario. These tracks are a reminder of the golden age of Chicago House. Back then, many small labels sprung up. This includes the pioneering Sunset Records Inc.

Sunset Records Inc. released pioneering and timeless music. It was  music that pushed boundaries and challenged norms. Having watched the birth of house music from the sidelines, Matt Warren, Miguel Garcia and Ralphi Rosario had watched with interest. They were producers in waiting, who had watched and learnt, learnt from the experiences and failures of others. By 1985, they’d waited long enough. Realising they could do if not as well, if not even better, they approached Alex and Robert Rojo. Joining forces with two legends of Chicago’s party and music scene made sense. Through their Sunset Mobile Disco, Alex and Robert Rojo knew their way around Chicago’s music scene.  For the producers in waiting, here was a musical marriage made in heaven.

That proved to be the case. Sunset Records Inc.released innovative and influential music. Sunset Records Inc’s artists were determined to push musical boundaries. This was house, but with a twist. Fusing disco, funk, industrial, new wave and post-industrial, Sunset Records Inc. forged their own unique sound. Inimitable, it was different from other labels. They punched above their weight. That’s no surprise. The cream always rises to the top. Sunset Records Inc’s artists were some of the most talented and pioneering producers in the first wave of Chicago house. Listen to the music on Jerome Derradji Presents: Kill Yourself Dancing – The Story Of Sunset Records Inc. Chicago 1985-89 and you’ll soon realise why. The music is timeless and still sounds innovative, imaginative and influential.

JOHN MORALES PRESENTS THE M&M MIXES VOLUME 3.

Ever since John Morales released The M&M Mixes Volume 2 in March 2011 on BBE Music, one of the greatest remixers in modern dance music has been working on the followup. Believe me, this has been two years John well spent. John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 is a three-disc box set, which features twenty-four brand new remixes from John. It was released by BBE Music on 29th April 2013. Featuring remixes of Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, The Dramatics, The John Davis Monster Orchestra, Loleatta Holloway and The Salsoul Orchestra. The twenty-four tracks on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 encompass Philly Soul, Salsoul, classic soul, funk and disco. Quite simply, John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 is the best instalment of The M&M Mixes.

So good is the music on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3, that this is a possible contender for compilation of the year. John’s choice of music and remixing skills are flawless. John breathes new life and meaning into familiar tracks. Over the three discs that comprise John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 John take you on twenty-four compelling and captivating musical journey. These journeys are soulful, funky, jazz-tinged and dance-floor friendly. Occasionally, he throws a series of curveballs, taking you in a direction you never expected. By the end of the track everything falls into place. Seamlessly, everything makes sense. Not many remixers can do this, but John Morales can. However, that’s what you’d expect from a veteran remixer whose life has revolved around music. Proof of this is John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3. Somehow, John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3 manages to surpass the quality of the two previous instalments in this series. 

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

Compilations of John Morales’ remixes were a bit like London buses this year. 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 in 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. 

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. Many of the tracks feature a truly compelling vocal. When you listen to theses 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.  Not any more. John Morales released a compilation of instrumental version of seventeen songs on John Morales Presents The M&M Mixes Volume 3. The result was one of the biggest challenges of John’s career.

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 go 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. 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. It demonstrates just why John Morales is one of the greatest remixers of his generation. He’s head and shoulders above other remixers. They’re pretenders to John’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.

KEB DARGE AND LITTLE EDITH’S LEGENDARY WILD ROCKERS 3.

Earlier this year BBE Music released Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers 3. It was hard to believe a year had passed since Keb and Little Edith released their critically acclaimed compilation Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers 2. It was a must-have compilation. Incredibly, having set the bar so high with Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers 2, so was Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers 3.It featured twenty-one slices of the rarest rockabilly and surf music from the fifties and sixtes.

Having set the bar high, Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers 3 surpasses the quality of the two previous volumes. This is testament to KBE’s encyclopedic knowledge of music. Quite simply, he knows where to dig for hidden gems. Keb knows where there are a few musical treats lying undiscovered. Many of the twenty-one slices of surf music and rockabilly that feature on Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers. It seems that Keb Darge and Little Edith haven’t exhausted their supply of hidden gems. Not at all. Keb Darge and Little Edith’s Legendary Wild Rockers 3 features another twenty-one glistening rockabilly and surf gems for your enjoyment. 

KENYA SPECIAL-SELECTED EAST AFRICAN RECORDINGS FROM THE 1970S AND 80S.

Kenya Special is a two disc box set, which features thirty-two tracks recorded during the seventies and eighties. The two discs are enclosed in a sturdy, cardboard box which holds the two discs and a forty-page booklet. Unlike inferior compilations, the discs don’t rattle about the box. Instead, there’s a made-to-measure quality to it. Each disc is enclosed in what resembles the inner sleeve to an old vinyl record, with facsimiles of old record labels on each side. Then there’s Doug Paterson’s sleeve-notes. They’re lengthy, informative and in-depth. As an added bonus, there’s the story behind each track. For lovers of African music, this is Nirvana. Where Kenya Special also differs, is the music. The thirty-two tracks, spread across the two discs don’t just focus on one specific musical genre. Instead, Kenya Special draws inspiration from Ghana Special and Nigeria Special. 

Throughout the seventies and eighties, across the length and breadth of Kenya, in the various regions, artists and bands were producing new and innovative music. Recorded in various dialects, this was music that was funky, soulful and dance-floor friendly. It was music that provided a showcase for Kenyan music, benga and rumba in particular. Benga and rumba were influenced by the music of Kenya’s neighbours Congo and Tanzania. It was also influenced by Western music, including disco, jazz, funk, soul, R&B and rock. Influenced by an eclectic and disparate selection of musical genres and influences, not only did the music that features on Kenya Special provide the soundtrack to much of Eastern Africa, but made stars out of many of the artists on the compilation. Selling ten-thousand or more copies, many of the artists on Kenya Special became legends of Kenyan music. Revered not just in Kenya, but much further afield are Simon Kihara, D.O. Misiani, Nashil Pichen and Sophia Ben, true legends of the Kenyan music scene. They’re responsible for some of the innovative, influential and timeless music that features on Kenya Special, the latest compilation from Soundway Records. 

KEV BEADLE PRESENTS PRIVATE COLLECTION.

BBE Music’s first compilation of 2013 was Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection. This was a very special compilation. It was Kev’s first compilation for sixteen long years. That’s far too long for someone with such an enviable record collection as Kev Beadle. Indeed, it’s twenty years since Kev was last asked to delve into his record collection, and compile a collection of rarities from yesteryear. For Kev, the twelve tracks on Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection are very personal for him. They represent a journey back in time, to when his career as a record collector and DJ began. Since then, he’s established a reputation as one of the top DJs with an enviable record collection. Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection is a tantalising taste of Kev’s record collection.

After an absence of sixteen years from compiling compilations, Kev Beadle certainly hasn’t lost his Midas touch. Quite the opposite. The jazz-tinged walk down memory lane that is Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection, is one that’s filled with memorable moments aplenty. Every track is a winner, chosen carefully from Kev’s ever expanding record collection. He’s delved deep into his collection, dusting off rarities and hidden gems. Generously, Kev is happy to share his music with a much wider audience, especially anyone who loves jazz music. For anyone who loves  jazz music,  Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection is part of your musical education. Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection is a compilation they’ll enjoy and cherish. Not only that, but Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection is the first step on a musical journey of exploration, into the world of rarities and hidden jazzy gems. 

LIBERATION MUSIC-THE SPIRITUAL JAZZ AND THE ART OF PROTEST ON FLYING DUTCHMAN RECORDS 1969-1974.

Looking back at the roster of artists Flying Dutchman Records amassed during the first five years of its existence, one can’t help but be impressed. After all, between 1969 and 1974, Flying Dutchman Records couldn’t just boast true jazz legends, but pioneers of jazz music. Obviously, Flying Dutchman Records is best known for Gil Scott-Heron, and seminal releases like The Revolution Won’t Be Televised and The Bottle. However, as BGP Records’ recent release Liberation Music-The Spiritual Jazz and The Art of Protest On Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974 demonstrates, there’s much more to Flying Dutchman Records that Gil Scott-Heron. Artists like Leon Thomas, Ornette Coleman, Chico Hamilton, Louis Armstrong and Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes also called Flying Dutchman Records home. They feature on  Liberation Music-The Spiritual Jazz and The Art of Protest On Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974 are the perfect primer for newcomers to Flying Dutchman Records, a pioneering jazz label, but one with a social conscience.

Flying Dutchman Records wasn’t shy about protesting about life’s injustices. While other labels would’ve flinched at releasing albums by Gil Scott-Heron and Oliver Nelson, Flying Dutchman felt duty-bound to help right the wrongs their music railed against. So, in many ways, it was the perfect home for artists like Gil Scott-Heron, Leon Thomas, Ornette Coleman, Chico Hamilton, Oliver Nelson and Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes. They feature on an eclectic compilation of  the familiar and lesser known tracks released on Flying Dutchman Records. For veteran jazz fans, Liberation Music-The Spiritual Jazz and The Art of Protest On Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974 will be a welcome reminder of what was, one of jazz’s real innovative labels.

During the first five years of its existence between 1969 and 1974, Flying Dutchman Records released the most important, critically acclaimed and pioneering jazz music of that time. This is music that can be found on Liberation Music-The Spiritual Jazz and The Art of Protest On Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974. It’s music that’s stood the test of time. To use Gil Scott-Heron as an example, his music is equally relevant and socially important over forty years after its original release. That proves how far-sighted Bob Thiele was when choosing the artists he signed to Flying Dutchman Records. Mavericks, pioneers and innovators all called Flying Dutchman Records home, as BGP Records’ recent compilation Liberation Music-The Spiritual Jazz and The Art of Protest On Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974 proves. Liberation Music-The Spiritual Jazz and The Art of Protest On Flying Dutchman Records 1969-1974 is also the perfect starting point for a long and enjoyable musical journey through Flying Dutchman Records illustrious back-catalogue.

LIPSTICK, POWDER AND PAINT! THE NEW YORK DOLLS HEARD THEM HERE FIRST.

It’s no exaggeration to say, that the New York Dolls have been one of the most influential and innovative bands in music history. What people don’t realise, is that the original and classic lineup, only released two albums. They were a tantalising glimpse of a group whose music had a huge and long-lasting effect on music. Forty-two years later, the New York Dolls are still cited by new bands as an inspiration. None of these bands have the same effect as the New York Dolls did. That’s why Ace Records have released a compilation of music that inspired the New York Dolls. Lipstick, Powder and Paint! The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First features the music that inspired the New York Dolls. This includes Bo Diddley, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Wilson Pickett, The Kinks, Erma Franklin and Big Joe Turner. In total, there are twenty-four tracks on Lipstick, Powder and Paint! The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First which us truly eclectic.

I’d go as far as say that Lipstick, Powder and Paint! The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First is refreshingly eclectic compilation of tracks that inspired the New York Dolls. Classics and hidden gems sit side-by-side. There’s contributions from musical legends, including some leftfield choices. After all, would you have chosen Elvis’ Crawfish or Wilson Pickett’s International Playboy? Or how about Bo Diddley’s Pills or The Kinks’ Alcohol? Compilers Ian Johnston and Mick Patrick do, and it works. Too often compilers are scared to take a chance. Ian and Mick do, and pull it off.

Then there’s familiar favourites from Otis Redding, Eddie Cochran, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Erma Franklin. Although they’re tracks we’ve heard before, you never tire of music this good. Sometimes, compilers overlook tracks like The Four Tops’ Reach Out I’ll be There and Eddie Cochran’s Something Else. The reason they do this is to be contrary. Not here. Ian and Mick realise that all that matters is the quality of the music. If it’s good, it’s included on Lipstick, Powder and Paint! The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First. Every one’s a winner and every track influenced the New York Dolls.

Forty years after the release of their debut album, the New York Dolls are still seen as one of the most innovative and influential bands of the seventies. They released two classic albums in the space of two years. Then the New York Dolls split for the first time in 1975. By 1977, the New York Dolls were history. The original and greatest lineup of the New York Dolls recorded just two albums in two years. Rather than fade away like the Rolling Stones or The Who, the New York Dolls burnt out. They split up amidst acrimonious circumstances. Arguments, alcohol and drug abuse saw the New York Dolls scattered to the wind. That’s why when anyone mentions the New York Dolls, they’ll forever be remembered as the five swaggering gunslingers that feature on the cover of their debut album New York Dolls and Lipstick, Powder and Paint! The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First.

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