Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A while back, a seller I know asked me if there is any Soul Jazz/Strut comps that I'm looking for, so that he could check his collection for any doubles/spares.

I replied by sending my not unsubstantial Discogs wantlist back to him and then promptly heard nothing for a good six months.
I was therefore very surprised when out of the blue I received an emailing offering me Nicky Siano and Larry Levan compilations on Strut.
If you’d told the self-righteously “indie” teenaged me that in fifteen years time, I’d get hot under the collar about career retrospective compilation LP’s for New York Disco DJ’s from the 1970’s, I would definitely not have believed you.
Larry Levan was the resident DJ (and designed the sound system for) The Paradise Garage, a members -gay club in New York, for ten years between 1977 and 1987. Few DJ’s (and later a fine Producer) have as much mystique around them as Levan’s legendary sets, known as ‘Saturday Mass’ by fans (including Francois Kevorkian, whom I’m similarly in awe of). Levan wasn’t strictly a disco DJ, playing long meandering sets, taking in soul, new wave and electronic music and creating (with his best friend Frankie Knuckles) a precursor to House music. (In fact, the more complex beat patterns of what became known as ‘Garage’, is named after The Paradise Garage).

Larry Levan‎ ‘Live At The Paradise Garage’ Strut 3 x LP
I’ve wanted this for ages and got it for $25.00 as its cover isn’t in “collector” condition. I’ve been buying disco for a while, intending to learn how to mix it (including buying a lollipop headphone a la Larry Levan, pictured above in the booth at the Paradise Garage) but basically being too scared to do so. Ultimately though, despite not having decks set up currently (it’s been too cold in my spare room, so I’ve got a single turntable in the living room), I think I’ve cracked it conceptually (largely assisted by my first ever BPM mixer): stick between 116 and 124 BPM – quick cuts are likely the best idea. I’m really looking forward about getting at these when I’ve got my storage (and deck stand) sorted out. I’ve got a more modern re-edit of Crown Heights Affair’s ‘Dreaming A Dream’ by Iain Dewhirst (rumoured – it’s of dubious legality) which I’m looking forward to having a bit of a cut up with. The LP’s really strong, beautifully packaged and I’m totally gutted that I managed to score the cover with a paper knife opening the mailer. I won’t be selling it any time soon though.
Nicky Siano's Legendary 'The Gallery' - The Original New York Disco 1973 – 1977 Soul Jazz 3 x LP
Earlier in the chronology of disco/dance music DJ culture but certainly one of the few DJ’s/Clubs that are as legendary (possibly in trirumvate with David Mancuso at The Loft) would be Nicky Siano. I haven’t listened to this yet, but will be getting in deep over the weekend. It’s mint and certainly worth $30 (especially considering the only copy I've ever found of a 4 x LP set of tunes from The Loft, curated by David Mancuso on the late lamented Nuphonic label, is currently going on Discogs for $149 US – albeit in unopened condition).
Al Kent ‘The Best Of Disco Demands’ Part 1 (with wrong cover – for Part 2) BBE 2 x LP
Al Kent’s ‘Disco Demands’ mixes are the stuff of legend featuring his re-edits for a modern dance floor of all sorts of undiscovered disco gems. This set has got a noticeably more electronic edge but has certainly led me to want to go back and have a look at the other mixes. Al Kent’s certainly considered to be up there in current UK disco DJ terms along with Horse Meat Disco and (the more electro-funk orientated) Greg Wilson. This was $20 and is unplayed. Unfortunately, the previous owner ordered both Parts 1 & 2 and initially received two copies of Part 1, with one in the wrong sleeve. I’ve covered up the lady of the covers ample breasts (which are uncovered on all volumes of the collection) lest I incur the wrath of Blogger security.
Masters At Work Present ‘Stop & Listen Volume 5’ BBE 4 x LP
Why this has got a fat Policeman on the cover, I don’t know, but one pair of modern day house/garage artists that wear their disco hearts on their sleeves has always been the mackdaddies themselves, MAW aka Kenny Dope & Little Louie Vega.
There’s lots here, including hip-hop picks from Kenny Dope and a showing from Joe Claussell, who’s Joe Claussell‎ – Joe Claussell - Music... A Reason To Celebrate (Part One) BBE 3 x LP, was one of the first disco orientated compilations I ever bought. Sadly, my 3 x LP set of that release is now a 2 x LP set, because one slate (the one with ‘Oba La Vem Ela’ by Jorge Ben) happened to be on the platter when my turntables were stolen from my old flat in Bristol. You come and check round my house now: no turntable is ever left with a record on it. Your turntables are replaceable; they’re just a machine – but vinyl can be basically irreplaceable.

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