- It's official—the late'80s and early '90s are back. Kenny G is on Saturday Night Live with some third-rate hacks regurgitating Vampire Weekend and/or Graceland. Adult women in New York are dressing like Blossom. And before I talked to DFA's Jonathan Galkin for RA this summer he showed me a bunch of stuff he was buying for a dollar off of Amazon—'88 to '92 major-label house compilation CDs. And that's leaving aside all the malarkey about Nevermind turning 20 (even as I acknowledge, fervently, that it changed my life too, along with so much else at the time).
The New York party Body & Soul, of course, has long run on preservationist impulses: Francois K's wide-open playlist and DJ style (closer to a house party than a big-room one) ensures that it's not just new-new-new all the time. But Body & Soul—15 Years sounds less like yet another tribute to the history and influence of the hallowed disco era Francois K came up in than a guide to the turn-of-the-'90s cusp. Sure, disco appears, particularly near the top of disc two—there are five tracks total from '78 to '81, with James Brown's atomic "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose," from 1970, near the end just to remind us of the music's even deeper roots. But that stuff is dwarfed by the kind of music Galkin's obsessed with lately: 14 tracks span 1988-93, and the entire set is keynoted by Whitney Houston's "Love Will Save the Day (The Underground Mix)," an echt-'88 Jellybean Benitez and David Morales syndrum fantasia.
Body & Soul's vision of the universal dance floor is a pretty soft-focused one, which is riveting to encounter in pared-down form. Both sides of a 1990 12-inch by the fabulously named Italian production team Soft House Company, "A Little Piano" and "What U Need," are Mr. Fingers nods per eccellenza, the latter track utilizing a stutter-sampled syllable without running it into the ground. (Other tracks, like the "House Shaker Version" of Jeanette Thomas's 1987 "Shake Your Body," do this less successfully.) Earth People's "Dance (Beats Mix)," also from 1990, is so minimal, so hypnotic, and so badass it ought to be taught in production school. There's also a healthy dollop of generic-bordering-on-drippy love-your-brother stuff—is anything more gauche in the world than the wailing title hook of Tribal House's "Motherland (Vocal Version)"? Gerideau's "Take a Stand" is merely tepid by comparison.
But when a vocal track works there's nothing like it. Sounds of Blackness's "The Pressure" (1991) makes its second appearance on a Ministry of Sound anniversary-led compilation in two months—it's also on MOS's 20-year box, as part of Larry Levan's exhumed set from 1992. It's a jewel both places—the Minneapolis choir-gone-R&B preaching to the night masses. But the track that penetrates deeper is Hugh Masakela's electro-lined Afro-groove "Don't Go Lose It Baby" (1984). The vocals are buried, but the mix is so bubbly and dense you'll never worry about finding them.
01. Whitney Houston - Love Will Save The Day (The Underground mix)
02. Shaun Escoffery - Days Like This (Spinna & Ticklah club mix)
03. Soft House Company - A Little Piano What U Need
04. Bang The Party - Bang Bang You're Mine
05. Tribal House - Motherland
06. Hugh Masekela - Don't Go Lose It Baby (12" version)
07. Detroit Experiment - Think Twice (Henrik Schwarz remix)
08. K-Scope - Latin Blues pt.1
09. Earth People - Dance (Beats mix)
10. The Freddy Turner Project feat. The Three Kings - Spread Love
11. Voyage - Souvenirs
12. DJ Duke - Tribal Journey
13. Vince Watson - Mystical Rhythm
14. Bolla feat. Jephte Guillaume - Afrikan Basement (Bonus Drum mix)
01. Convertion - Let's Do It
02. Ester Williams - I'll Be Your Pleasure (Larry Levan remix)
03. Black Rascals - Keeping My Mind (Vocal mix) / (Dub mix)
04. Round One - I'm Your Brother
05. Gerideau - Take A Stand
06. Coldcut feat. Lisa Stansfield - People Hold On (New Jersey Jazz mix)
07. 808 State - Pacific 212 (Justin Strauss remix)
08. Exodus - Together Forever (Dub)
09. Sounds Of Blackness - The Pressure pt.1 (Classic 12" mix with Vocal Intro)
10. Jeanette Thomas - Shake Your Body (House Shaker version)
11. Instant House - Awade (Joe's Jungle Sounds dub)
12. James Brown with the Original J.B's - Give It Up Or Tunnit A Loose (1970 Album version (Undubbed Unedited mix))
13. Keedz - Stand On The Word (Original version 1981)