- The great thing about Strictly Rhythm is that they have had numerous DJs celebrate their voluminous catalogue. Back when they were releasing a record every week, things slipped through the cracks. As someone who wasn't buying records during their heyday, I find it to be a valuable education. The bad thing about Strictly Rhythm is that, by and large, the DJs they pick to do so are remarkably unimaginative.
OK. Maybe it's not their fault. What DJ listens to every other mix CD in a series before doing their own? At the same time, though, don't you think that someone, somewhere might have also thought to put "Free," "Set You Free" or "Witch Doktor" on a compilation at some point? It's a celebration of a shared past, sure. But it also neglects all of the wonderful things that Strictly Rhythm has to offer.
That's why Radio Slave's Strictly Rhythms Vol. 5 comes as such a welcome surprise. With as much love for exotica soundtrack music as he does classic house, Matt Edwards seems like the ideal producer for a trawl through the label's back catalogue. Over the course of two mixes, he doesn't disappoint. Ultra Nate's timeless "Situation Critical" sets the scene, a downtempo R&B tune which sounds lovely and normal aside from the gremlins in the background chanting "the rhythm." Things get even more strange from there, with Felix Da Housecat (as Venus) and the silly putty synth line of "Lippstick" and the apologetic phone call hidden in Edwards' mix of Black Magic's "Freedom" and Kenny Dope's "Watch This."
Like some moments on the more straightforward second disc, it isn't always mixed as smooth as you might expect. But you get the sense that Edwards has sacrificed perfect segues in order to fit in as many tracks as he can. Clearly he has a lot he wanted to say with Vol. 5; it wouldn't be two discs otherwise. What's most interesting about each disc, though, is how easily you can hear Radio Slave. The first is him channeling his earlier, more freestyle days with a number of mash-ups and left turns. The second is Radio Slave 2010, a heads-down tribal house update that grooves as hard as possible. Both are among the most interesting label celebrations that Strictly Rhythm has had in ages, a testament to both its varied past and its enduring relevance in the present day.
CD1: Strictly Downtown Mix
01. Ultra Nate – Situation Critical
02. The Wamdue Project – Remember the Memory
03. Angel Morales feat. Sally Cortes – Burnin Up (Sally's Wet Dub)(Radio Slave Re-Edit)
04. Mood Life – Needs (Not Wants) (Original Mix) / Logic – The Warning (Acapella)
05. Venus – Lippstick
06. After Hours – Feel It (Bonus Beats)
07. Mood II Swing – Do It Your Way
08. Black Magic – Freedom (Make It Funky) (Color 4 Frankie Dub)(Radio Slave Re-Edit)
09. Photon Inc – Everybody Freedom (Scream Beats Radio Slave Re-Edit)
10. Black Magic – Freedom (Make It Funky) (Color 2 On & On Strong Vocal Mix) / Kenny Dope – Watch This (Radio Slave Re-Edit)
11. The Mole People – Break Night
12. DJ Sneak – Keep On Groovin (Fat Bottom Mix)
13. Mood II Swing – All Night Long (Radio Slave Re-Edit) / Hardhead – New York Express (Radio Slave Wildpitchapella)
14. Logic – I Got Somethin (Radio Slave Re-Edit)
CD2: Strictly Uptown Mix
01. Barbara Tucker – Stay Together (The Ravin' Mix – Radio Slave Re-Edit)
02. Mood II Swing – I Like It (Radio Slave Re-Edit)
03. Kenny Dope – Tribal Seagulls (Radio Slave Re-Edit)
04. The Mole People – Ocean / Osunlade – Momma's Groove (Accapella)
05. Hardhead – Demon Dreams (Gravedigger Mix)
06. The Stickman – The Drug
07. Black Magic – Freedom (Make It Funky) (Colour 3 Lil Louis Zohz Sub Dub)
08. The Untouchables – I'm for Real / Todd Terry presents CLS – Can You Feel It? (Accapella)
09. The Untouchables – Little Louie Anthem Part II (Factory Bar Mix)