- "Legend has it that Jackpot's music was an excuse to press records off a narcotic solution in order to smuggle drugs, and that a mishap during the operation explains why we haven't heard these tracks before." So goes the PR blurb for last year's Jackpot reissue, "Uno Dos Tres." It's the sort of vivid apocrypha whose significance is independent of its truth content. It doesn't matter if it's even remotely accurate, because it sounds like it should be, calling to mind a record label run by Philip K. Dick: Custom-cut vinyl you lick before placing on the turntable, insuring better listening through chemistry. So if Jackpot did have any cross-platform synergy in mind, by the sound of their recent reissues they must have been trafficking in some high-grade stuff.
A partnered reissue between Service and Permanent Vacation, "Ragazza" cements Jackpot's reputation as a long-lost dance pioneer, maneuvering in that fertile ground between Italo disco and early house. More or less an oddball one-off project in 1983 by a Swede, Gleen Asp, and an Italian, Marcello Donatello, the Jackpot tunes have remained firmly under the radar for a good quarter-century.
Restless and lean, "Ragazza" is a serious stormer. You can feel the energy of '70s disco boogie getting strapped down and militarized into ruthless yet glitzy machine funk. A fierce, arpeggiated bass synth provides the propulsion in a downward-thrusting riff that wouldn't be out of place on a Stooges record. All the synths sizzle and crackle with such analog warmth and saturation it sounds like they're being fried in a skillet. Mostly instrumental, the track winds through pockets of punchy, distorted vocals, which release bursts of stored-up energy like sparks falling on a powder keg. On the flip, Runaway's remix of "Uno Dos Tres" is in top form, as usual, allowing spare synths to hang over a taut, muscular groove—the same kind of marriage between workhorse house and dub trickery that made their own "Brooklyn Club Jam" such a burner last year.
B Uno Dos Tres (Runaway remix)