- I won't pretend this is universal, but the way I remember it, Romanthony's "The Wanderer (Journey Man Thump)" blanketed 1994 without seeming to have ever exactly entered it. It didn't announce itself; it just seemed like it had always been there, floating off your favorite house jocks' turntables. (I remember it making its way into the odd techno DJ's set, as well.) Spare, spooky, utterly mesmerizing, it was an anthem that snuck up on you: simple drums, subtle yet penetrative atmosphere, Roman yelping and hooting to beat the band, but not going overboard. It remains the definition of New Jersey (or any other) deep house, and one of the most timeless dance tracks ever recorded.
"The Wanderer" has been remixed a lot (the original version is quite different from the "Journey Man Thump," for starters), so it's no surprise to see it surface again on Glasgow Underground. And while neither Kevin McKay nor Rob Mello redefine it, they buffer it up differently enough that comparisons, while inevitable, are also beside the point. McKay's version is pretty formulaic: a gummy, techy thump underscores the vocal, which is filtered to give it a texture that complements the recurring smoke-machine hiss. It's a banger, but that's more descriptor than compliment. Rob Mello's "No Ears Mix" is closer to an updated version of the classic mix, though he wrings the vocal till it's even drier and more cracked. No matter—he grounds a funk-accented bounce that picks up a lot of its energy (surprisingly enough) from a guitar overdub that starts itchy but soon starts sprawling rock-style. It's a bold contrast that adds yet another dimension to a tune that doesn't quit.
1. The Wanderer (Kevin McKay Remix)
2. The Wanderer (Rob Mello's No Ears Remix)