- Billy Love and UR's Gerald Mitchell team up for a warm, funky, groovy LP on Moodymann's label.
- While many know KDJ as an outlet for Moodymann's solo output and dance floor records, Mahogani Music releases are notably more varied. This label is home to tracks from close friends, collaborators, and above all, music that appeals to his personal taste across different genres, with a strong preference for studio musicians and live instruments. Celebrity BBQ Sauce, the latest contribution to Mahogani, is the brainchild of Gerald Mitchell and William "Billy Love" Beaver, two artists deeply entwined in the Detroit music scene. Moodymann serves as an executive producer with appearances from Mahogani affiliate Maurice Herd (Piranhahead) on guitar, vocalist Hassan Watkins of Members Of The House and numerous other local luminaries.
Mitchell's collaboration with Underground Resistance predates techno, spanning back to his time in a band called The Mechanics with Mike Banks in the '80s. He's played keys in various forms of the UR live show, such as Galaxy 2 Galaxy and Timeline. A key force in the making of "Knights Of The Jaguar" and founder of Los Hermanos, his contributions to the techno canon are significant.
Beaver is another Detroit mainstay that flies a little more under the radar. He's best known as one of the vocalists for Members Of The House, another pre-UR Mike Banks project. This group laid the foundation for vocal house culture in Detroit, cementing Billy as a go-to vocalist within the dance community. Under his current moniker, Billy Love, he released a solo EP on Sound Signature with production from Theo Parrish, titled Melloghettomental, in 2010.
"Please Don't Fail Me" eases us in with Love serenading over hand percussion and a sample from Paris Gray, the original vocalist of Inner City. A thick bassline keeps the groove steady. An in-the-pocket guitar solo sets the tone for the type of funk that is to come. "Formula Of Passion" finds Love taking the role of both lead and backing vocalist. Love's narration over a programmed drum beat, jazzy piano and oscillating synth drives home the project's overaching soul narrative.
"Make Me Feel" is a percussion-free conversation between lovers with keyboards and vocals taking center stage. This one is an ode to skits on old R&B records, a brief reprieve before diving back into the music. The title track lives up to its name with the largest number of musicians credited. A humorous faux-phone conversation between a mother and son serves as the intro. Subject? Barbecue sauce. This is the most Funkadelic-esque song on the album, with layers of vocal harmonization and ample guitar shredding.
"Music Is My Hustle" is the first of the more dance floor-oriented tracks. Funky synths and jazz scatting bring a human feel to the house beat. P-Funk's influence continues to be felt, with a Bernie Worrel-like synth intro on "Life Line." Here we hear Mitchell stretch out with his keyboard playing on full display, while the deep groove and drum fills show a touch of Moodymann's style. "Girl Ain't Giving it Up" is a typical old school R&B cut, a song about yearning to get physical. Billy's stream of consciousness narration gives a looseness to the track. The closer, "Live It, Walk It, Wear It," is the most upfront house track on the album. This one feels of a piece with a more modern Detroit sound, a style you would hear from the local DJs who were at the formation of techno culture: lush, full-sounding production in the UR style, with vocals encouraging us to be ourselves and enjoy life.
Celebrity BBQ Sauce Band is exactly the type of record dance music needs. As technology made it possible for everyone to pump out tracks, there is a level of time and care that many of today's musicians gloss over. These are fully realized songs with a thought-out narrative in mind. Besides the impressive songwriting, there is heavy use of innuendo and humor, a welcome contrast considering how seriously many modern electronic musicians take themselves. Even the artwork on the sleeves reflects a devotion to detail, with pictures of BBQ collaged in a manner that speaks to the aesthetic of these artists' generation. BBQ is an American cuisine that has been exported to the world. Like a lot of house music, it can be served bland and forgettable, but when done right by those who understand the tradition, everything changes. Flavor makes all the difference, especially when you know where to get your seasoning from.
01. Please Don't Fail Me
02. Formula Of Passion
03. Make Me Feel
04. Celebrity BBQ Sauce
05. Music Is My Hustle
07. Girl Ain't Giving It Up
08. Live It, Walk It, Wear It