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DJ Purple (the duke of House): Recommended

House, Vol. 2: From Terence Toy

The selection on this cd is great. If I were to compare this to a dj time slot I would have a tough time choosing. The mix begins in a warm-up fashion, then shoots straight into peak-time mode at Track 7. Track 12 goes into cool-down mode. Phat stuff!

Fanatix - This Thing of Ours

I first came across this triple-pack LP in July 2008 while performing one of my rituals as part of my yearly visit to the hometown of Chicago: shopping at Gramaphone Records. Oscar McMillan had given me this LP along with a slew of other 12" singles and EPs for me to listen to at the listening booth. Three hours later "This Thing of Ours" was still in the final cut of selections that I would purchase. In fact I had to listen to each song at least five times, not because I had to decide whether or not I would keep the album, but because each song stayed in my head right from the moment I dropped the needle onto the wax! [Flashback: I had also been fortunate enough to be able to listen online to Aaron Ross on his BBC 1xtra Soulful House Sessions radio shows circa 2002. I was overjoyed at the ability to keep up with the hottest House tunes even while being stationed in an area where I would have virtually no access to House music (Ft Walton Beach, FL)]

I can only do this album justice by highlighting my feelings on each song - again, they are just that hot!

"Love Connection" - warm, soul-dripping melodies, and sweet vocals!
"Call on Me" - ditto!
"Casa Cubana" - a really slick instrumental tune laced with grooviness!
"Ray of Light" - more pure soul, wicked drumming and serious keys!
"Open Your Eyes" - at the risk of repetition: soul - soul - soul!
"Slow It Down" - this track has "ANTHEM" written all over it!
"Can't Let - smooth!
"Higher" - my favorite track of the album. Beautiful arrangements, vocals, and with capped with an uplifting message!
"In Your Arms" - another smoothie!
"There It Is" - a jackin' track guaranteed to get your body movin!
"Get a Grip" - fierce disco re-visitation!
"Toby's Anthem" - another jackin' joint!
"Moroccan Black" - a track that is as cool as the underside of the pillow!

This is an essential album and it is well worth the price. Mad props to the Fanatix for churning out a fierce work of art. From a personal standpoint I intend to "hammer" these tracks at every DJ-ing opportunity, being ever so careful as not to wear out the album cover!

Tracy Cruz - Universoul Symphony

Art of Noise

Into Battle With The Art of Noise

(Who's Afraid Of?) The Art of Noise!

My mother purchased this album (LP format) for me in 1984. I played it so much that I literally wore out the label, the album cover and some parts of the vinyl itself. Luckily I was able to get another copy and my only disappointment was that the label design was not of the style that was on the vinyl when the album was initially released (Island Records had gone to a new graphic design). This was the beginning of my fascination with England (I had seen the music video for "Beat Box" before getting the album and was amazed!) At the risk of sounding just like the other reviewers "Moments In Love" has to be one of the greatest slow songs ever made. I would be keen to use the song at my wedding! The awesome thing about the album is the group's ability to take ordinary sounds and generate really good musical compositions. My other favorite is "Who's Afraid (Of The Art Of Noise)". It is so much fun to listen and dance to! The same goes for "Realization".
Get the album. You'll love it!

In Visible Silence

On this album the Art Of Noise continued to live up to its namesake: taking noise and making it a form of art! Opus 4 sounds very sweet and soothing, even though it's over right after it starts. Paranoimia is a definite favorite. It has a really nice beat and just sounds plain weird! Eye Of A Needle works the exact same way! Legs -- very danceable; I even tried to mix this record with alot of the House records that were coming out of Chicago in 1986 (what an experiment). Slip Of The Tongue was the other reason I tried to mix these seemingly unrelated forms of music - awesome sound effects! Backbeat sounds more retrospective and laid back. Instruments Of Darkness -- what a song! It is semi-political and yet still funky. Peter Gunn -- doesn't compare to the original 1960's version, but with the AON interpretation you really can't go wrong. Camilla-The Old, Old, Story has to be the best song on the album. Once again the AON showcases the ability to make a serious musical composition; slow records tend to be the best testing grounds. The Chameleon's Dish is more of a concept song, and it is very slick. Beatback...well, I'll leave that one for you to figure out (clue: reprise).
If you're not careful you may find yourself playing this album repeatedly. It's excellent!

In No Sense? Nonsense!

Once again noise is reshaped and molded into musical sounds. This album has more musical overtones than previous ones, but there is still enough noise to sustain the weirdness. Favorite tracks: Dragnet, Fin Du Temps, Opus For Four, Debut, E.F.L., Crusoe, One Earth.

Re-Works of Art of Noise

Terry Hunter

Southport Weekender, Vol 5

For years Terry Hunter has been my favorite contemporary DJ, hands down. Kenny Dope has always intrigued me with his remixes of various tracks. After hearing this particular Southport Weekender compilation I now have an even greater respect for both.

Lets' start with Kenny Dope. As one half of the Masters At Work, he created a buzz with his drum programming and fierce Ken Dog beats. Here he showcases his other talent - the phat mix! Tracks 2 and 3 are a serious throwback to the good old days of the 70's, but there are other tracks more thrown in for good measure; you will seriously move your body! His transitions are right on time, and as a bonus he switches up the flavor so that the genres change slightly. But then again isn't House a feeling???

Terry Hunter does what he does best, and that is going every which way but loose! Right from the start he also shows incredible range by weaving in and out of "sub-genres" all while maintaining the steady beat count and rhythmic flow. A few of the tracks stand to be familiar anyhow, but when Terry Hunter plays them, there is just something different about them! Extra kudos to him for taking us back to how we used to do in Chicago, and then for taking us full circle at the end with a remix of a classic.

I was fortunate enough to experience the Southport Weekender, and to see Terry Hunter. Listening to this CD set is guaranteed to be the next best ting to being there. Highly recommended!!!!!

House Sessions, Vol 1

This cd features one of the most interesting and workable concepts in dance music. A two-cd set; one tough, the other soft; both mixed to perfection. This mix set proves that Terry can mix anything he wants to and still make you dance. The track that does it for me every time I hear it is "Spirits", particularly Terry's mix. There's something about the bassline, the chords, and the horns; reminds me alot of Fred Wesley! My favorite of the two cds is the Soul Disc -- being able to choose between the two extremes just shows Terry's musical range. This mix set was done in true Chicago style. I'm looking forward to future Terry Hunter mix cds!!!

House Volumes 3

A few years ago I created a dj profile on myself, which I still use. One of the headings is titled "FAVORITE US DJs" and Terry Hunter is definitely on the list. This compilation basically put him on the map, and a listening ear wouldn't question why. From start to finish the mix is right on point and showcases what a typical Terry Hunter set would sound like. For him it's all about soul!
The stage is set with track one, a filtered disco record which was a very big hit in the dance community, especially in England. The next two tracks were also very big in England and I'd venture to say that track three is a future classic! At track four Terry shifts back into "track mode" with a funky instrumental (DJ Spen knows what he's doing when it comes to the funky side of house -- the Basement Boys are well represented, and I'd even consider Baltimore to be Chicago's twin city). Track five is funky as well, making it the perfect follow-up track.
We get the vocals again with tracks six and seven. But when track eight hits you look out!!! The vocals and harmonizing are off the chains -- you get a Gospel flavor goin' on here. Then we dip into "track mode" again for track nine and what a track this is! This track is deep, smooth and jazzy; Terry has an obvious appreciation for jazz. Track ten is another British favorite and starts the cool-down that track eleven finishes.
There's not too much more that I can say about this project. Terry Hunter was described as a "maverick in his hometown". As an artist/producer he's hot. As a dj he's explosive! Buy this album, but be careful...this mix may bring the house down!

Ron Trent

Giant Step Records Sessions, Vol. 1

I can't think of a better choice to mix Vol 1 that Ron Trent. He has the knack of making wallflowers MOVE. This cd shows how. Deep, smooth, and earthy vocals combined with a bit of Afro-Funk make this cd stand out. It is a very accurate representation of Ron's production style (if you listen closely you'll be reminded of some Prescription projects). The tracks that grab me are 1, 2, 7, 9, 10 , 12, and 14. The entire cd is very nicely mixed. I hope that Ron Trent is chosen to mix Vol 2, Vol 3, Vol 4...

Mix The Vibe: Ron Trent "Urban Afro Blues"

Ron Trent is one of the few DJs who can entice a person to purchase a mix CD on the strength of just his name. The man has skills! The selection on this cd is perfect and the blends are First Class!! I even love the cd designs; CD One is purple which is my favorite color. CD Two is black, which is always a good compliment to purple. The design of the insert is very haunting, with a photo of Mr. Trent in that "zone" and seemingly rockin' the place. According to the insert, "every person...has a certain choice of sound". Well, Ron Trent's sound is one to be experienced. The only thing left is for a double or triple set to be released with Ron Trent and Kerri "Kaoz 6:23" Chandler on the mix - I'd buy it in a heartbeat!!!
After all is said and done the only thing left to say is, THIS CD IS VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
I forgot to mention that Ron Trent is from Chicago -- just in case any Chi-Town heads needed some more encouragement :)
One more thing - when I got the CD I told a colleague that my life would change after this CD; it did!

Musical Reflections

Ron Trent just secured his "legendary" status with this CD. When I finally got his Urban Afro Blues double CD I could not stop playing it. I finally stopped playing, only to start playing this one over and over again. It is alot like his early stuff on Prescription, especially "Comin Back" - awesome production. "Another Night" is quite addictive as well! Come to think of it, "Just Pilau" is utterly incredible, too! This is my third Ron Trent mix CD and to this point I have to say it was money well spent. I am looking forward to future compilations.

Mark Grant

Get Large, Vol 2

Ladies and gentlemen...Mark Grant is back! But then again, he never left - thank goodness. It's been 4 whole years since his last mix CD, and now the wait is finally over.

Turn the volume up on your computer, on the stereo, in the car, wherever you choose to play the mix. This mix slams right from the beginning. Track One," Shame" is an instant classic - hands down! Track Two is an older track (which I am fortunate enough to own a copy of), but who cares? The sequence/track selection is most important and here the track just naturally fits. Track Three was a pleasant surprise for me as well, just because I have a copy of it, too. Then we have the next track that make you want to just dance in place! Track Five, however, eliminates the dancing in place and all of a sudden you may want to grab a partner! The feel of this song is awesome. The same can be said of the next track, given that you have the awesome vocals of Inaya Day. You can't get too much better than that. Now comes my favorite part - the transition! The transition into the next track is amazing! In true Mark Grant fashion the sound changes and goes a bit deep. Then of course, for the next track we get a little funky. At this time you may even think 80s retro!

Now guess what: another mind-bending transition into the next track with another change of vibe. As the title suggests, "Like Jazz" creates a jazzy flavor (perfect for a jazz resurrection in House Music). Now, since Mark is a jazzy type fellow it is only logical that the next track would be one of his productions. Watch for the horns! Now, just for good measure we need a song that has a "classic" arrangement - enter "The Rain". This is sure to be a future classic!

Now for the finale: "There 4 Me". I have to let everyone in on a secret - I recently witnessed a Mark Grant set in Denver (CD release tour), at the cost of driving 10 hours from my house. The drive and hotel stay was well worth it, especially since the party was at the hotel where I stayed! When Mark dropped "There 4 Me" during his set the crowd went bananas!!!

All in all, this CD is a must have for any House Music fan who want to get the scoop on the latest sounds from the underground. Mark has been credited for being one of those who shaped the New Chicago House Sound of the 90's (a period that was unforgettable, just like the 80s). It appears to me that now he may also be in the midst of shaping the New Chicago House Sound of the 2K's.

Sound Design, Vol 2

This cd is reflective of his sets at Chicago's Red Dog club where he holds a residency. Totally smooth blends and nice selection. Favorite tracks: Track 1, Track 2, Track 3, Track 4, Track 11, Track 12, Track 14, and Track 15. I know that seems like nearly the entire album, but that's a credit to Mark Grant and his ability to keep things phat. This CD is a keeper!

A Taste of Cajual

Time for a short history lesson. In 1997 there were alot of records being released out of Chicago that were burning up the dance floors. Many of these were on Cajual Records. And, whenever I went to the Red Dog club (Northside) I would hear these tracks being played by Mark Grant. This album has many of those records. This has to be one of the best-blended mixes ever. Every record is in its place and the mix just flows like a waterfall. One thing I pay attention to is the transition, and my favorite transitions are from tracks 3-4, 4-5, 5-6, 8-9, 9-10, 11-12, 12-13, 13-14. With listening to all those transitions, how could I hear the rest of the mix??? Just by dancing!! After your first "taste" you'll be out of your seat. Don't just take my word for it -- buy the album!

Frankie Knuckles

Motivation

As a true blue Frankie Knuckles fan I was glad when this mix was available for purchase. Once again we are treated to a skillful performance in the mix. One mark of a gifted DJ is the ability to take his/her audience on a journey by weaving in the older records with the newer ones over an extended period of time. With that being said, the Motivation CD is only a snapshot of Mr. Knuckles' musical genius behind the decks.

Let's explore:

1. "Keep On Movin" - Frankie takes immediate control of the mix by beginning with his track, and it's a good one!

2. "Faith" - a VERY popular track in the UK, particularly in the London superclub Ministry Of Sound.

3. "Deliver Me" - another VERY popular track among the UK masses and a future classic. This is the track that put Urban Blues Project on the map!

4. "All Through Me" - gotta love the vocals of Su Su Bobien. It is at this point that you may begin to feel your skin tingle because of the energy in this track.

5. "Alright With Me" - Frankie always tossed in a "feel good" record in his sets; this would qualify as such.

6. "Walkin" - now the the audience is taken on that "journey" thanks to an older track that I consider TIMELESS. Adeva is another recognizable voice that commands attention.

7. "We Are One" - this track is heartflet in not only the vocals but the delivery. Another future classic from a dynamic South Florida label!

8. "He Is The Joy" - speaking of future classics this one is the real deal. Easily one of the most beautiful records of all time.

9. "Higher" - now here is where I get personal. Chicago has always been an diamond in the rough in terms of music. (Right now we have a couple of Hip-Hop heavyweights, but let's step back even further in time: even before House Chicago was a breeding ground for alot of Soul and Blues, but the most impressive ground-breaking movement was in the genre of Gospel)

Here we have a total Chicago-based effort with Ricky Dillard's New G. laying down some serious harmony, Vernessa Mitchell telling it like it is and Steve "Silk" Hurley directing traffic in terms of the "sound". This is one serious Gospel House track that must be 'experienced' (as opposed to just 'listened to').

10. "Father" - another great song. The harmonica adds flair to the overall pitch of the mix.

11. "Hallelujah" - you can easily lose yourself in this track, thanks to its mastermind Kerri Chandler. This one is another older track but again, Frankie is taking the audience on a journey and with this track the time travel is worth the price of admission.

12. "The Pressure-Part 1" - the journey is completed with an awe-inspiring flashback (this is the oldest track of the mix, dating back to 1991). Here Frankie ends the mix like he began -in control (as he along with Satoshi Tomiie had remix duties for this track. This perticular mix of the song is unforgetable!

So, now that we have taken a glance at the journey through some future classic House the decision must now be made; making the purchase will prove to be the right one. Once again Frankie Knuckles comes through!

Choice: A Collection of Classics

What more can be said about Frankie Knuckles. Growing up in Chicago during the (radio station) WBMX era, Frankie's was a household name. This cd set further demonstrates how that was possible. Not only was the sequencing of the songs brilliant but the mixing was right on -- especially on Disc One (where he has the unenviable task of beat matching disco records: that usually involves live instruments). Old School Househeads will really enjoy this double set!

United DJs of America Vol 4.

Frankie and David have a good sound when they produce a record together; it's only natural that they should have a double cd set that sounds phat too. Frankie's mix is my favorite of the two, but the entire set is phat. Once you get this set you may not put it down.
By the way, don't pay any attention to the date (1995). Some mixes never get old!

Ministry of Sound: Sessions Volume 6

Godfather jacks tall with this double set. I love the concept behind the two mixes. Disc One is the song disc, meaning vocals. Very, very soulful. Disc Two is the track disc, meaning tracks. Again, very, very soulful. It is evident that the man enjoys what he's doing because once you get a hold of this set you'll enjoy it, too. Favorite tracks are "Freedom (Make It Funky)", "I Remember Dance", "Hypnodelic", "Heavy Gospel Morning" and "Alabama Blues"
This is another timeless classic from one of the best years for House Music (1996), especially if you lived in England!

Lil Louis

Journey with the Lonely

This album is the BOMB! From start to finish you can't help but move your feet! At the risk of sounding like the other reviewers I too must say that this album is nothing short of a masterpiece! Based on my feelings towards the previous album release I bought "Journey With The Lonely" right after its release. To play it 10 years later and have the same feeling now that I had then is a testament to the quality of the project. This album further proves that a dj -- whose primary focus is that of playing records -- can also have a degree of musicianship.
1992 saw a shift in the direction of House music in Chicago: jazz influences. This album lays down the perfect blueprint for anyone who needs a history lesson. "Club Lonely" has to be one of the few tracks in which the album version perfectly compliments the EP. Excellent vocals and a simple, but driving bassline. Then comes the perfect segue "New Dance Beats", continuing in the jazz chords and smooth basslines. "Saved My Life" and "Aahhhh!" are just 100% dance tracks. "Do U Luv Me" is a hypnotic melodic tune that is more subtle in the chords but it still has alot of punch to it. "You're My Reason" and "Dancing In My Sleep" feature wonderful vocals. "Funny How U Luv" is another obvious jazz-infusion that moves the soul. Then there's "Thief" and my sleeper track - "Share", which is by far one of the most emotionally tugging songs I know of.
The entire album makes me proud to be a Chicagoan!

From the Mind of Lil' Louis

Lil Louis struck gold by signing a deal with Epic records in 1989. This resulting album showcases what Chicagoans (like myself) knew all along -- this guy has skillz! Louis was always a phenomenal dj and his first few releases on the independent Dance Mania label created a buzz in the Chicago underground dance scene. 1989 was the year in which Louis (and Chicago) would take things to the next level. "French Kiss", one of my favorite tracks (and EPs) of all time, was the catalyst for the growing national interest in Chicago House. The album version is more commercialized with the added vocals but is still able to get the blood pumping. "Wargames", also in a "second" remixed form (and also from the original "French Kiss" EP), is another dance-floor-packer. Other preferred tracks are "I Called U" (something that the guys can definitely relate to) and the sleeper of the whole album: "Nyce And Slo". And then there are a couple of slower tempo tracks to add balance. Basically this is a great introductory album for Lil Louis to "show the rest of the world how we party".

Louis Benedetti

Underground House Authority

This is one CD that is mixed to perfection and as a result induces non-stop dancing! The first track sets the tone: soulful melody, with a heartfelt vocal. After that you get a great mixture of soulful flavors. The last track cools everything down just right. Once you get a taste you won't want to put the CD down. Favorite tracks include It's Alright, Come and Get My Love, Testify, Keep It Simple, and My Desire.

Soulshine's Soulful Session Vol 1

It would be very difficult for me to write this review without sounding a little like the other reviewer; however, I must try :) This CD is simply amazing!! I have always admired Louis Benedetti's productions and remixes for the SoulShine label. I especially love "Live at Soulful Sessions"; the changing of basslines and the overall theme of the track is phenomenal! Once you hear the mix you'll be convinced that Louis Benedetti is the REAL DEAL.
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