A few weeks ago, Masters At Work released their first new single as a duo for a long, long time. The last one I could find was around 2006, so there was plenty of anticipation around it. I reviewed that single called “Mattel” here.
As you might have noticed, I wasn’t very nice about it. Given the sheer legacy of Masters At Work’s productions and remixes dating from the early 1990s, I was bitterly disappointed. “Mattel” had boring drums, a boring bassline and frankly, none of the soul, groove or sense of fun normally present in their work.
So, the new single. It’s called “We Did It For Years”, a choice of title name that leaves me scratching my head. Are they saying they have been doing it for years, or that they did do it for years? Is this their way of telling the world this reunion won’t last long?
Moving onto the single. The drums are a positive step up on “Mattel”, although it’s hard to ponder how they could have been worse. The programming is much more reflective of Vega and Gonzalez’s musical backgrounds – you can actually dance to this!
If this record has a bassline, I don’t hear it much. The drums are doing a lot of the work here. The vocal snippets are nicely placed and manage not to get too repetitive – an impressive achievement since there’s only a handful of them.
Everything else has its place. Is this right up there with what Masters At Work were putting out at their mid-1990s peak? Certainly not. Is it a million times better than the dreary “Mattel”? Absolutely yes.
Perhaps this is not the post-Covid cash-in that I feared it was…
UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, Traxsource have since responded to my request for comment, saying that the lists are based entirely on sales.
It was Carl Cox who said many years ago that the reason house music continues to survive and thrive is because it evolves each year. No year sounds quite the same as the last, giving the music longevity and depth.
If we follow this theory to judge the latest Traxsource feature – the Best of 2021 So Far – house music is well and truly in serious trouble. Even for a genre in which the remix has been held in high regard, house music is now cannibalising itself to an extent never seen before.
The number one is a remix by Full Intention of The Fog’s “Been A Long Time” – a song originally released in 1993.
Number four is a Michael Gray remix, one half of the aforementioned Full Intention, of “In And Out Of My Life” by Adeva. This song first appeared in 1988.
Number 12 on the list is a cookie cutter M1 piano cover of “Respect” by Michelle Ayers, originally out in 1992.
Number 26 is a remix of “Shined On Me” by Andrea Love and E-Smoove under his Praise Cats moniker. The original came out in 2002 on Subliminal, the label of the disgraced Erick Morillo.
And that’s just a few small examples from the main charts. Look into the others and you will find more. It certainly gives away the lie that house music is a meritocracy – unless you’re backed up by the Defected monolith or a label that is in favour with Traxsource A&R, you stand virtually no chance at having a shot at the top.
There also seems to be no explanation anywhere as to how this chart was compiled. Was it through sales alone, recommendations by their staff, a combination of both or something else entirely? Traxsource have not yet replied to my request for comment at the time of publication…
You might have noticed a banner appearing at the top of this website in recent days, and wondering what it’s all about. Well, it’s the title of my new two track EP, soon to be released on 3rd Way Recordings.
The first record is called “Shake Your Lettuce”. Why the weird name? Well, I’d made this track with a few rhodes chords and a big bassline on it, but wasn’t quite sure what to call it. Around the same time, my 4 year old son started saying “shake your lettuce” a lot. No idea why, but I recorded him saying it and stuck it on the track.
And if that’s not for you, the deeper alternative track will be. “Danny’s Analogous House” is a throwback to the olden days when that organ bass sound was everywhere – although I’m at pains to point out this is not the constantly recurring Korg M1 organ patch!
Recently, I wrote about how Masters At Work have made a comeback. Masters At Work Records has been relaunched, with most of the label’s archive now online. Certain releases are missing, presumably due to the rights no longer being held.
I also wrote that you’d have to wait until the Six On Saturday column to find out what I thought of new single “Mattel”. Unfortunately, it came out on the one weekend where the column was taking a break due to Easter. So rather than make you wait until this weekend, I thought I’d post it now!
So, here goes. In the usual Six On Saturday style…
Masters At Work – Mattel (MAW Records) I was looking forward to hearing this one. Back in the day, Masters At Work was one of those names whom you always felt compelled to check, no matter what they were releasing. So when I heard that they were coming back and with new music, I was fairly excited.
Frankly, I need not have been. This is easily one of the most dull, overhyped forgettable records I’ve heard in a long time. The many influences of Masters At Work tracks and remixes many years ago seem to be curiously absent here. The record starts off well enough, but not much seems to happen during the 8 incredibly long minutes it plays for.
It’s no exaggeration to say that I found this release incredibly disappointing. Who are they trying to appeal to with this record? Their fans from the 90s won’t like it because it sounds like literally nothing else they’ve done. And Vega and Gonzalez’s fans now won’t like it either. It sounds like nothing they do now.
Forget the alternative mixes as well – they somehow manage to be even more boring than the original.
We are promised more singles from the duo soon. Let’s hope that the follow-up is better than this – otherwise, we’ll all know that this comeback is about nothing more than a cynical attempt to cash in.
The regular Six On Saturday column returns this weekend.