Power / power / power

I went through major Mas­ters at Work and Strict­ly Rhythm phas­es in the first part of the nineties. I still have these large por­tions of my vinyl wall devot­ed to each. I was indis­crim­i­nate as to which MAW records I bought,  I bought em all, and I think I still have a fair­ly com­plete 1990–97 Ken and Louie col­lec­tion.

Even the mix­es by num­bers for the bucks, that became more and more com­mon as the decade wore on, I bought and filed (we obses­sives are like that), but it became an addic­tion of dimin­ish­ing returns. The good records became few and few­er, Louie moved off to an end­less suc­ces­sion of increas­ing­ly light noo­dle house that I couldn’t deal with, and Ken­ny, well, it just became a recy­cling loop: old dis­co and funk records re-edit­ed, or god knows how many dis­co mix discs. I stopped lis­ten­ing and haven’t felt the urge to try since.

Strict­ly I wasn’t quite so obses­sive about. The first 100 or so I think I bought with­out ques­tion, and I at least checked out every­thing they released, but about 93 the shite ratio began to move in the wrong direc­tion. Sim­ply, they released far too much crap. Even the odd killer that fil­tered through couldn’t save a much-sul­lied rep­u­ta­tion, and, inevitably they crashed a few years back.

2007 has, of course, seen Strict­ly revived by the UK’s Defect­ed label. Now, I’m not going to go any­where near the Defect­ed is satan­ic theme rotat­ed ad-nau­se­um in the var­i­ous house forums, but it is fan­tas­tic to see per­haps the great­est cat­a­logue in dance music his­to­ry revived again, even if I don’t need any on vinyl. But, as Chess is to Blues, so Strict­ly Rhythm is to house (and both labels are equal­ly as influ­en­tial, it’s just that Amer­i­cans and the more trad jour­nal­ists missed that slab of aur­al his­to­ry) and more pow­er to the re-issue cam­paign (and even some new releas­es, although I would ques­tion whether the world real­ly needs a Todd Ter­ry All­Stars sin­gle).

You could also ques­tion some of the releas­es com­ing back in the reis­sue pro­gram, the crap-o-meter doesn’t seem to have been repaired at Strict­ly.

What I real­ly want­ed from the new pro­gram though was a bunch of intel­li­gent­ly com­piled col­lec­tions, on CD and vinyl, anno­tat­ed and thought­ful­ly pre­sent­ed.

Much like the one I got in the mail the oth­er day which brings back togeth­er MAW and Strict­ly.

In a mas­sive burst of club nos­tal­gia, I’ve been annoy­ing one and all with the Strict­ly MAW col­lec­tion, a rather good, Louis and Ken­ny cho­sen col­lec­tion of Strict­ly clas­sics, both obscure and so obvi­ous I though I’d not ever want to hear them again. I’ve not lis­tened to most of these for many, many years. There is a dog here and there, but over three CDs (unmixed, I want the full ver­sions not a par­ty mix – it’s about the songs) it’s both a sil­ly rush of nos­tal­gia for house’s gold­en age and a jour­ney back to MAW for me.

I can’t ever see myself enjoy­ing or even tol­er­at­ing most of the slight mush that comes out of their labels these past few years, but this is a hell of a col­lec­tion, from the Mole People’s epic Break Night (Van Helden for that brief moment he mat­tered) from 95, to the cheesy pop dance of Ultra Nate’s Free (in it’s Mood 2 Swing 12 minute mix that kept it deep enough), to the, tell me it’s not the best house record ever made, glo­ry of Under­ground Solu­tion’s Luv Danc­ing. I’d kill for a cou­ple of Untouch­ables tracks or North­ern Lights instead of a track or too that is actu­al­ly on the album, but hey, that’s a whim. How­ev­er, THAT riff on Gen­er­ate Pow­er is enough to make me for­get that, and, the full twelve and three quar­ter minute garage vocal heav­en of Lil Louis’ (as Black Mag­ic) Free­dom is a for­got­ten gem (in that I’d for­got­ten what a great record it is), los­ing itself glo­ri­ous­ly about two-thirds of the way through – they don’t make em like that any­more (and we miss you, Louis).

Seri­ous­ly they don’t….

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